Will Apple Be the Next Company to Launch Hi-Res Audio? Could Be.

The consumer electronics industry is like a shark. It has to keep moving forward, offering new gadgets, upgraded specs, new features and new conveniences so the public keeps buying. The moment the industry stops doing this, it dies. So what’s the next big target? It’s looking more and more like Hi-Res Audio.

High-res audio

After nearly twenty years of the “good enough” sound of MP3s and other compressed digital file formats, the industry is mounting a push to convince music fans–especially Millennials who never really saw the need for their music to have proper high-fidelity sound–that they need to return to the era of pristine, high-definition audio recordings. I’m all for it. In fact, this is long overdue.

If you’ve ever done a proper A-B listening test pitching an MP3 recording of a song against the same recording from a CD or a proper vinyl record, you’ll know that the differences can be shocking. Sony, Technics and Neil Young’s Pono now seemed determined to bring the digital experience up to where things used to be with good analogue gear from the 80s.

Now Apple seems interested in getting into the game. Reports suggest that the company is working on some kind of high-resolution audio format that will be brought to market next year. Whatever form it takes will be better than the current Apple Music stream of 256 Kpbs, which is really just average when it comes to the streaming arena.

If true, then this means two more important things. First, say goodbye to the headphone jack on all future iPhones, a port that has insufficient bandwidth for true Hi-Res Audio. Any headphones will have to be plugged in through the Lightning port, something that has been rumoured for some time. Second, it means that iTunes will have to be redrawn almost from scratch. It cannot handle anything like FLAC files, an essential component of today’s Hi-Res Audio initiatives.  This would explain the change in Eddy Cue’s responsibilities regarding iTunes. The App Store is no longer under his command. Tim Cook obviously wants him to focus all his attention on iTunes.

Like I said, bring it on. Once you get a taste of what music really sounds like, you can never, ever go back. More at Gadgets 360.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

3 thoughts on “Will Apple Be the Next Company to Launch Hi-Res Audio? Could Be.

  • December 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I am amazed how many people have unfounded opinions on high res audio. Once you hear a Pono with proper high res files with decent headphones (balanced) it really is an ear opener. Music is so much more enjoyable.

  • December 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I have high-res audio sources, a reasonable DAC/headphone amp (AudioEngine D1) and Sennheiser HD-595s, and can’t tell a difference.

    Guess my $300 headphones aren’t good enough. I think I’m just fine with CDs, and vinyl for the novelty. Hell I can barely perceive any difference from (high-quality) MP3s.

  • December 23, 2015 at 2:54 am

    There is a reason MP3 is never used in a professional recording studio. Because it is a compressed file, the timing goes out. If you play a wave file of a song, then try to match it to an MP3, it can’t be done. The MP3 begins to speed up and soon they are totally out of sync. You still can’t beat the sound of a decent stereo system, which is why people are going back to vinyl. It’s the honest sound of the original recording, and if you have the equipment to reproduce it, you can’t beat it. Us old farts weren’t so stupid after all.


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