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.
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.