At KnowledgeFest this month, Hi-Res Audio took center stage in a packed seminar that overflowed into the halls, led by Bryan Schmitt and recent Installer of the Year Matt Schaeffer.
Schmitt of Mobile Solutions told dealers if you are not demo’ing with Hi Res Audio you are losing money.
The seminar attracted over 250 people with dealers lined up outside the doors.
“The manufacturers have been talking about Hi Res Audio forever, but it hasn’t become mainstream. It’s an esoteric thing ..So what Matt and I did is we said, ‘let me show you how you do this every single day and you are crazy not to take advantage of this technology.’”
He explained, “ If I go into a shop and say ‘show me the best,’ Is your answer ‘listen to this Hi Res track,’ or do you pull out a catalog and say ‘We can order this for you?’ You want to show the guy the best,” Schmitt said.
“You can make a lot of money doing Hi Res in the car. It sounds so good the music is emotional; it’s universal. And when it sounds that good, that’s what sells audio and the sale goes from price, price, price to ‘I had no ideal I could get that sound in my car,’” he said.
Schaeffer explained, “When you go into Best Buy, you are going to see the high end 8K TVs and you are automatically have a new expectation for what a TV should look like. You say…’Oh My God, that’s a beautiful picture,’ and instantly, that’s you’re new expectation. That’s how we upgrade our TV every 3 to 5 years…With audio you don’t have the luxury of continuously being able to hear what sound should sound like unless we as retailers demo it to consumers. It’s something we have to be proactive in doing as dealers.”
The difference between Hi-Res Audio and other formats can be easily heard, said Schaeffer. It’s even more dramatic as people are accustomed to hearing highly compressed MP3 files and streaming music. “The difference is 1000 percent better,” he said, adding that the technology also benefits installers who can better hear where each instrument is coming to better tune systems.
Hi-Res Audio is defined typically as better than CD audio quality, which is 44.1 kHz/16 bit. Hi-Res Audio delivers almost twice the resolution of a CD.
One way to understand the specifications for Hi-Res Audio is the sampling rate, typically at 96kHz for Hi-Res. It can be thought of as lanes on a highway and how wide they are– 96kHz is wider than a CD’s 44.1kHz. Hi-Res has a bit depth that typically starts at 24 bits compared to CD’s 16, referring to how often the music takes a sample of the analog wave, creating digital bits of music.
Schmitt got the idea for the seminar after installing a Hi-Res Audio set up in his Toyota Tundra. “As someone doing this for 25 years-plus I thought… So many dealers out there are using MP3 files from an iPod. The source of music has actually gone down from CD because we’re using compressed music. It was like we all had cassettes and we made the jump to CD; it was that big a difference, and when everyone went to CD players, that’s when car audio started booming again.”
Kris Bulla of Sony and Seth Halstead of Kenwood also presented at the seminar. Sony offers a state of the art RSX-GS9 Hi-Res Audio deck. Kenwood last year added 192k/24 bit Hi-Res Audio capability to its line last year via FLAC or WAV files and recently added DSD capability to some of its decks. Kenwood also offers amplifiers such as the X301-4 that support up to 50kHZ.