Why is it that so many people claim to love music but settle for terrible sound through cheap earbuds, bad headphones, weak speakers, and compressed digital files? Maybe it’s because they’ve never heard music in true high-fidelity.
Although it faces an uphill battle with consumers, I’m a big believe in High-Res Audio, digital files that sound far, far better than any other digital music files. Once you hear a recording in its original studio glory, everything else sounds like a tinny AM radio.
[A] recent technical development has triggered an entirely new wave of streaming digital audio quality. Bang & Olufsen’s most senior Tonmeister (sound engineer) Geoff Martin outlines what’s happened, and how. “For a time, streaming services, in general, made quality worse. But that time has passed. And that’s because the way that streaming services work has changed. Initially, they were sending out low bitrate MP3 in the same way that Internet radio works these days. But what’s happening now with services like TIDAL, Deezer HiFi and Qobuz is that they are pushing a FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) file out to the player.”
A codec (coder-decoder) is the mechanism by which the original master quality audio is encoded into a more portable format, and subsequently decoded for playback. While the “lossy” MP3 codec loses information which is deemed to be of less importance to the listener, FLAC files are lossless, so can deliver full CD quality audio. Geoff explains that this new development stretches the definition of streaming itself. “It looks like streaming, but it’s not. It’s a download for a one-time play; we can dance around the words if you want.”
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