Three Reasons the Music Industry is Pushing Hi-Res Audio

One of the best panels of the day at the Music Matters conference here in Singapore had to do with the music industry’s push for public acceptance of Hi-Res Audio, digital music files that sound as good as (and in many cases, better) than the best-recorded compact discs.

“Wait,” you say. “What’s the point? I’ve got my MP3s and my streaming music service. Everything sounds good enough. Why should I care?”

Well, you might not care until you actually hear some music in Hi-Res Audio. It can sound immeasurably, indescribably better. By allowing you to hear the most subtle and finest details of the recording the experience of listening is so much better, which leads to a greater emotional connection with what you’re hearing. Trust me on this.

There is a concerted push within the music industry as those concerned with hardware (the gear and gadgets) and the software (the music itself) tries to get these digital files in front of consumers. There are three main reasons for this.

1.They want us to buy new hardware

No surprise here. They gotta keep us consumers upgrading to the newest and coolest if they’re going to stay in business. This extends to the mobile phone business with handsets in the pipeline capable of playing back Hi-Res files. LG just became the first major handset manufacturer to include circuitry in new models.

2. Re-releasing older material in Hi-Res Audio creates new masters, meaning..

…copyright on those works is extended by at least another 50 years. That’s big news for composers and publishers.

3. The demand for better-sounding music seems to be increasing.

Hi-Res Audio isn’t just for audiophiles. New studies people are increasingly willing to spend more for better-sounding music. About 50% said they’d pay a premium for Hi-Res Audio, with more than 60% of 25-34s expressing interest. This is spurring growth in technologies like MQA, which can be applied to streaming. Deezer (available in 185 countries) and 7Digital (a provider of digital tracks) are already deep into providing Hi-Res Audio files for streamers.






Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Three Reasons the Music Industry is Pushing Hi-Res Audio

  • September 12, 2017 at 10:00 am

    They missed control of the content. It’s not an open format, and I’d bet there will be some sort of DRM added. It’s sad, as there are better *open* formats available, in both lossy and non-lossy.

  • September 12, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Hearing definitely us believing though!
    Found myself on the Technics site and downloaded a hi-res.version
    out of the Tom Petty catalogue.
    Unbelievable transparency !!!
    “Jamin’ me”never sounded that good in years!!!

  • September 12, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I’m so not convinced. Seems/feels to me that high-res audio sounds better just because more attention has been paid to mastering it.

  • September 12, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Is this substantially better than a FLAC version of the same song? the trouble with FLAC was its size and in the many years since its release cost of digital storage has plummeted.

    • September 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      MQA is about the same size as 16/44 FLAC and about the same quality.

      MQA doesn’t use DRM as such – what it has is a light that goes on on the equipment if this is the “genuine” MQA file.

      Unless you’re a dog or a bat, the only thing hi-res brings to the table is a lack of LOUDNESS WARS mixing.

      I would love to know how MQA does against a 16/44 made from it in double-blinded or A/B/X testing. There’s a curious lack of this amongst all the hype surrounding it.

      (I have a less polite piece I wrote about the MQA scam here.)

  • September 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    So I can just listen to my CDs, great!


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