The Music Industry looks back to the future to launch Hi-Res music to the masses

hodg100

Distinguished Member
The colour of music

The music industry has undergone many drastic changes in recent years, more so, one could argue, than the video industry which seems to struggle to settle on anything and - when it does - regularly manages to undermine itself at every turn by shoddy hardware implementations and/or half thought through standards; but that's another subject entirely.

Where music has shown the way to video, at least in terms of convenience, is in the manner in which it is distributed and then subsequently enjoyed by the end user. Of course, we largely have Apple to thank for that and although the iPod was in no way the first MP3 player and might have never attained the stellar success it did, had Apple not taken the decision to open the device up from its enclosed, Mac-only compatibility prison nearly 10 years ago.

Undoubtedly what the iPod managed to achieve was based on its compactness, useability and downright desirability in a time when it would have been generous to term a digital music system as clunky. Just like Sony's Walkman, a generation before, the iPod became a must have product, only it allowed you access to your entire music catalogue, not just however many 'tapes' you could stuff in to the pockets of your baggy jeans.

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The opening of the iTunes store just before the mainstream uptake of the iPod took hold was also another watershed moment in the music industry. Mention DRM to your 'average' gamer and they'll likely turn an unpalatable shade of crimson but when it comes to music the market lapped it up and it's now <i>The Chart</i> when it comes to gauging the commercial success of an album or single.

So it's all good then and everyone is happy in our wonderful world of convenience and choice? Not quite, we've yet to mention the 'C' word - compression. It's all very nice having the world at your fingertips but if the quality of what your listening too isn't up to that offered by a technology first produced around a hundred years earlier, then it's somewhat difficult to ultimately consider it as advancement.

Sure, we now have a variety of lossless digital audio formats to enjoy and the markets for their distribution are gradually opening up but the high potential for them being pirated and illegally distributed might mean we won't see the major record distributors pushing out their content in high definition audio formats, via the internet, in any meaningful way any time soon.

So what's the answer, do we all boycott AAC, MP3 and the rest and lobby the record companies to only release on vinyl? Well, no. Despite the relative resurgence for the old medium, that's never going to happen so perhaps the record industry needs to look a little less further back to see the future with a new physical format that ties more aptly in with the digital age. Step forward the Blu-ray Disc.

At a launch event held last week, the High Fidelity Pure Audio Industry Group was launched in Dolby's headquarters to drive the development of Pure Audio. Produced directly from original studio master recordings, High Fidelity Pure Audio brings the promise of allowing music to be heard at a level of quality, rarely experienced outside of a recording studio and which can be played on any Blu-ray player or PS3 console.

The launch featured companies from across the whole spectrum of music with representatives from recording, manufacture, distribution and retail including Universal, Warner Music Group, the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) Live, Dolby, Bang & Olufsen and Bose to name but a few. The event follows a number of pilot releases of High Fidelity Pure Audio albums in France recently which seem to have been very positively received.

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High Fidelity Pure Audio releases are created from studio master recordings at a minimum of 24bit/96kHz digital high definition, compared to 16bit/44kHz with CDs, and then encoded in three ultra high quality lossless formats &#8211; Uncompressed PCM, DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD &#8211; just like the HD Audio soundtracks on your Blu-ray movies. The Group says most discs will also offer an option to download the same content in either FLAC lossless or MP3 digital formats, giving consumers the flexibility they've grown accustomed to.

&#8220;We are very excited about the potential for High Fidelity Pure Audio, allowing music lovers to experience the work of artists in a way that has never before been possible,&#8221; says Olivier Robert Chairman of the new High Fidelity Pure Audio Industry Group. &#8220;Once you hear High Fidelity Pure Audio you can feel the full richness and depth of an artist's vision. The enthusiastic reaction across the whole industry is very encouraging and we're looking forward to welcoming many more members to this exciting industry group in the coming months.&#8221;

The group says that the international roll out of Pure Audio releases will continue over the course of 2013, from various music labels but is it destined for success? We know many of our readers value quality above all else and lossless digital files can soon eat up all that hard drive space or cloud storage limits but are a public now used to listening to crappy MP3's - through even-worse tinny headphones - going to be bothered enough to make it a commercial reality? We certainly hope so as we'd love to see a much wider choice of lossless music available but, much like 4K in the video world, it's all up in the air at the moment.

Is the future of music Blu? Have your say in the comment section below.
 

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Phox

Standard Member
Greatly overdue. CDs are created using 30-year-old technology, which was soon surpassed by the average CD player. I just hope it's industry-wide and available at a reasonable price.
 

Nostromo71

Well-known Member
Sadly, a high percentage of consumers are quite happy with average or poor quality digital music and video. When you have a fantastic HD video format like Blu-Ray, that takes third place in popularity behind streaming and Dvd, it pretty much gives you the answer about the future of Hi-Res Blu-Ray music. It will be a niche market, and I can't see it being any more popular than the current resurgence of Vinyl.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Greatly overdue. CDs are created using 30-year-old technology, which was soon surpassed by the average CD player.
This statement makes no sense. You are criticising CD, which is just the medium, by referencing advances in playback technology, in a thread about a new format.

CD's allow for 16 bits and 44.1 ksps of unadulterated music. More than enough to capture all the fidelity. A problem CD is usually problem equipment or a sound engineer who do not know what they are doing.
 

Tigerlaser

Active Member
Unlikely to do any better than DVDA or SACD in terms of uptake or releases. I'd be interested but I'll be in the vast minority.
 

herosrule

Active Member
Hd audio formats are all well and good, but with the way music is mixed for loudness there may not be much point for modern albums. e.g death magnetic is so loud its a barrage of clipping and distortion. will this be the case with blu ray audio?
 

Phox

Standard Member
This statement makes no sense. You are criticising CD, which is just the medium, by referencing advances in playback technology, in a thread about a new format.

CD's allow for 16 bits and 44.1 ksps of unadulterated music. More than enough to capture all the fidelity. A problem CD is usually problem equipment or a sound engineer who do not know what they are doing.

My point was that technology has advanced (inc in CD players) but that used to record (or covert to) digital music is antiquated compared to what is now available. An improvement in the standard of digital music available is long overdue but will only be worthwhile if accepted by the music industry at large and is available at a reasonable price.
 

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