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An insider’s guide to high-resolution audio

AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO HIGH-RESOLUTION AUDIO

One of the hottest trends in the world of speakers and smartphones right now is high-resolution (or high-res) audio. This enhanced method of listening to your favourite digital music and radio stations is offering greater clarity and higher sound quality and links perfectly to the rise of music streaming and listening on the move. So, what is it all about?

Welcome to high-res audio

Put simply, high-res audio is an audio signal that delivers digital sound at a higher quality than standard CDs, MP3s and lower quality streaming services. It aims to replicate the music or sound as it was recorded, allowing the listener to enjoy a higher quality experience that highlights every detail. High-res audio sound and music files can be downloaded in a variety of formats, including FLAC and WAV files.

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, and it enables music to be compressed without any loss in sound quality. This is useful for downloading albums that can be quite large – even more than one gigabit in size in some cases. While FLAC files can be up to six times larger than their MP3 equivalent, they are still far smaller than a CD and offer the same level of quality. WAV is alternatively known as Waveform Audio File and offers an uncompressed digital sound file that produces the sound exactly as it was recorded. While WAV files require more space than FLAC, they offer an added dimension of authenticity for true music purists.

Is it worth the hype?

Music fans have been waiting impatiently for a way to play their favourite tracks as the musicians intended them to be listened to. The rise of high-res audio has coincided with the growth of portable speakers and speaker technology, resulting in the ideal partnership for enjoying excellent quality music on the move. Factor in the almost ubiquitous presence of smartphone tech in our lives, and you have the perfect means of downloading the files whenever and wherever you like. Convenience and quality – what’s not to like?

Just as we heralded the arrival of the CD, high resolution will take our music listening on to the next level, with its emphasis on high quality sound and easy access via multiple music streaming and internet radio apps. The price is increasingly competitive and reasonable now, putting this exciting technology into the hands of the many, not the few. Music storage, too, which was once a problem for larger files is less of an issue as our smart devices are able to cope with larger memory banks and cloud-based technology lets us carry on storing remotely, ad infinitum

How do I make the most of it?

It is well worth investing in as high a quality speaker system and streaming device as you possibly can to take full advantage of the enhancements that high-res audio

have made possible. Do your research when purchasing equipment to see what streaming services are compatible and how much storage you can expect.

Choose your sound system according to how you plan to listen to your music – quickly and easily on the go with a portable speaker, through your computer’s speakers and sound car while you work or relaxing at home with the time to listen in greater depth as part of a sophisticated, multi-room set up. Ask an expert if you are unsure and keep an eye on the media for details of developments and upgrades in this fast-moving area of media, music and digital entertainment

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