August 04, 2017

When Quality matters, shouldn’t you go for the best? If you love cars, you’d prefer buying an Audi over a Maruti. Similarly, when it comes to Audio, go for High Resolution.

High Resolution Audio (HRA) or High Definition Audio (HD Audio) is a term used by recording and hi-fi audio retailers for Audio files having highest quality sound reproduction.

 

What exactly is High Resolution Audio?

Most digital audio systems encode analog – the sound we hear – into digital for storage and transmission using a system called Pulse Code Modulation(PCM). Two factors determine the quality of a digital recording: bit depth and sampling frequency. Bit depth is the detailed information stored in each sample. Sample rate is the rate of frequency being transmitted per second.

If you got tired understanding these technical names, let me explain to you in a simpler way. Consider you are running a relay race. The distance you are running is the bit depth and the speed you’re running at is the frequency.

If you are a fan of music, you’d want HD audio. Then, shouldn’t you know how to determine what is High Resolution? Let’s get into the details.

When a file is recorded, it is above 16 bits and 44.1 kHz that is around 9000 kbps. If you have ever purchased a CD of your favourite band, you get Audio in this format at 1400 kbps. The mp3 files you listen to everyday are at a lower and compressed rate ranging between 64 to 320 kbps. So, now you understand the difference in everyday mp3s and high resolution music.

Other than mp3, there are many other file extensions. A file extension is a format for saving data. Let us go through some file extensions and understand how they affect our music.

There are lossless audio formats like WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF. These audio formats are used for highest quality digital recordings in studios. The file size for such a format is around 10 to 15 mb per minute of audio. So, one song in this lossless format would be around 50 to 70 mb. 

 

How can you carry music, if it is so heavily sized? That’s the reason music is compressed into formats like MP3, AAC, WMA and many more. These audio files range between 64 to 320 kbps. Such an audio file would fit your song in 5mb. Convenient, isn’t it? But what about quality? You can fit more songs into your device, but you are compromising on the quality. Normally, you won’t notice the difference as mp3 is coded for a continual experience. If you use a good headphone, you understand the difference.

How different is high resolution audio and compressed mp3 files? Other than the bitrate and quality difference, It is evident that if the size is smaller, some information is missing. This of course results in a reduction in audio quality, but a variety of techniques are used, mainly by exploiting psychoacoustics, to remove the parts of the sound that have the least effect on quality. This makes the audio lossy.

 

Now that we perceive the difference, how do we upgrade and listen to High Resolution music?

There are many sources for getting a high quality audio experience. If you like carrying music around in your pocket, portable music players are your option. Companies like Astell&Kern, Sony, Fiio and Acoustic research make perfectly excellent sounding players. Mobile phones like Sony Xperia Z5, Huawei p10 plus, Samsung galaxy S7 support High-Res audio, if you didn’t know.

If you are listening to HD audio, there should be a store to buy more when you need it. You can buy an official CD and rip it and add those files to your player. A less tiring affair is using Tidal or Qobuz, which are online High-Res streaming services.

As people desire better, High Res Audio is getting into mainstream music. With hi-fi brands like Bowers and Wilkins, Linn; Mobile brands like Samsung, LG getting into this market, High Resolution Audio is definite to impress masses in the future.

As bright and happy your mind gets when you listen to music, HD audio makes you happier times 100. Better your music, higher your spirits. Have a musical experience listening to your favourite tracks in High-Res on your headphones.

 

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