April 27, 2019

The Truth About Hi-Res Audio


Why should you care? It can be a daunting prospect and there are many factors involved but if you want the best digital music experience or at least better sound quality, Hi-Res Audio is worth investigating.

There is no single universal standard for Hi-Res Audio. It can be an upgrade that makes perfect sense for superior sonics across all devices. This isn’t new and it gained popularity over the years. As it becomes more accessible this time, several people are willing to spend quite a lot for the privilege of listening to high quality tunes.

What is Hi-Res Audio

Hi-Res Audio is not always what you think it is. It is now being defined by Trade Organizations as anything that has higher resolution than CD. They are also higher-quality than those currently delivered by Apple Music and Spotify. By this definition, it means 48 kHz/20-bit files are already Hi-Res and are allowed to carry the Hi-Res logo. Hi-Res Audio can be stored in WAV, Apply Lossless, FLAC, AIF, DFF, and DSF file formats.



What is Hi-Res Streaming

Some streaming services, compare CD quality files as sometimes Hi-Res because they provide higher quality than MP3s files that usually are provided by most streaming services. Hi-Res represents a significant leap forward in audio quality, one that practically puts you in the recording room with the musicians.

Not Everything that Shines is Gold

Not all Hi-Res files contain genuine Hi-Res music. Unfortunately some companies think they can fool the public by up-sampling CD quality files to higher sampling rates or to Direct Stream Digital (DSD).

Hi-Res Audio refers to music files with higher sampling frequency. Sample rate is the number of times samples of the signal are taken per second during analogue-to-digital conversion process. The more bits there are, the more accurately you can measure the signal at first instance. Hi-Res Audio can be produced at 16-bit to 24-bit.

The Regulators

The Digital Entertainment Group along with the Consumer Technology Association and recording company, GRAMMY.org, defined four categories of audio file.


MQ-P is produced from PCM master source at 48 kHz/20-bit or higher.

MQ-A is produced from analogue master source.

MQ-C is from a CD master sources at 44.1 kHz/16-bit

MQ-D is produced from DSD/DSF master source

Can you hear the difference? That depends. Playing Hi-Res music outdoors or in a car or train may not play off sufficiently. However it can efficiently when played in a well designed stereo equipment. Hi-Res is no guarantee of a good sound. Hi-Res music containers can contain very high quality recordings but also very poor quality recordings.

The truth is a lot of audio information in Hi-Res files falls outside the range of human hearing. The differences between Hi-Res Audio and CD and MP3 is less distinct to the ear even in high-end audio system. The only difference will be very fine details of audio and only if you are paying attention to it. It’s like getting a huge digital file that gives you nothing more than the analogue tape. Will you still pay for all that?

Hi-Res Audio has limitations. But if you are striving to hear music close to the original experience as possible, you must invest in quality payback equipment, quality content, and a quality music provider. If all three elements are present,then you should enjoy your best music experience.

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