One of the key themes at the recent CES Show was the surprising number of Hi-Res Audio product introductions.
Some industry members say Hi-Res Audio may help fuel the return to high end audio that has been slowly gathering momentum for may car stereo retailers.
Also, there is a fair amount of buzz about Hi-Res Audio (HRA) in the consumer press which is causing some excitement among enthusiasts.
Hi-Res Audio delivers almost twice the resolution of a CD. “Think of it as the difference between a DVD to Blu-ray. It’s that much of a difference,” said Mobile Solutions’ Bryan Schmitt, a leading car audio installation trainer. “I think it’s going to get people excited about music again. The quality is so much better than just good-enough audio.”
According to rumors, Apple is expected to make Hi-Res Audio files available through Apple Music (iTunes) in the near future, which would give a big boost to the market.
A recent CTA study found that more than half of people who recently bought audio technology are interested in Hi-Res Audio (HRA).
At least a half dozen car audio brands showed Hi-Res Audio support at CES.
The time may be right for a new digital format as MP3 technology is growing outdated. It’s been more than a decade since the launch of MP3 compressed files, which were great at the time because they let you carry around thousands of songs in your pocket, but consumers sacrificed sound quality as a result, said Marc Finer, Technical Director of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group that advocates for new entertainment platforms.
He added, “Some say that many consumers can’t tell the difference between Hi-Res Audio and the CD version of the same recording. While this may be so, it conveniently ignores the obvious—there are millions of others who can. It also fails to address a more harsh reality—very few compressed music files come remotely close to CD sound quality.”
At CES this year, Hertz entered Hi-Res Audio, joining its sister company Audison.
Dual won an Innovation Award for a new Hi-Res Audio player that lets you stream lossless music files over WiFi from a phone. The model DWF916L supports multiple HRA files up to 24 bit/192kHz.
Sony just began shipping the first Hi-Res Audio player with support for multiple HRA formats, the RSX-GS9 at $1,400.
Kenwood introduced four eXcelon receivers that now support FLAC files at up to 192kHz /24 bit audio. (Last year, Kenwood supported FLAC but at a lower bit rate).
Pioneer also supports higher resolution FLAC files but it down-converts them to CD quality. Alpine also introduced two CD players that can play Hi-Res Audio FLAC files, but it down samples them to 16 bits.
JVC’s new KW-V820BT plays HRA FLAC or WAV files.
AudioControl announced a pair of new amplifiers and two digital signal processors (DSPs) that all support Hi-Res Audio. The two DSPs let you stream HRA over Bluetooth at 96kHz from a phone to the car system.
Phoenix Gold entered the Hi-Res Audio fray with the first 56-bit digital signal processor (DSP) expected to ship in March at $1,100.
Clarion Corporation announced a new navigation deck that supports Hi-Res Audio FLAC files and that works its revolutionary new Full Digital Sound Components system. The deck is expected to carry a suggested retail price of $799.99.