Hi-res audio: More than just a marketing term
July 18, 2016

Here’s what you need to about high-resolution audio.

For some users, listening to music isn’t just a hobby but also a necessity. And while some users already are content with music they get from CDs or download online, audiophiles may beg to differ. Aside from using more premium and undoubtedly high-end equipment, a major component is also needed to deliver the best experience: hi-res audio.

But what does hi-res audio mean? Short for high-resolution audio it simply describe a music file capable of delivering fidelity and range more than what the standard norm offers. In this case, CDs are usually the benchmark for determining audio quality. CDs have a sampling rate of 44100 Hz with a bit depth of 16, so any audio file with specifications that go beyond this is already considered as high-resolution audio.

The term high-resolution audio mean that the audio is file uncompressed, giving more bandwidth and detail to the sound that is playing. MP3s are examples of compressed music, but with hi-res audio there is no single file format. Hi-res files could come in FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF and DSD. FLAC is usually the most common format.

Additionally, listening to hi-res audio doesn’t mean that you simply copy them to your audio device (or smartphone) and start listening to it. To flesh it out, you would need more than just a headphone and an audio device to enjoy hi-res audio.

A typical listening setup would require you to have an audio player capable of handling music files of higher frequencies. Smartphone typically don’t fall on this list, but recent ones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 can now decode hi-res files (you would also need a space music app for it). Computers are also good audio players, but of course, they aren’t as portable.

Additionally, the use of a DACs (digital to analogue converter) and AMPs is also needed to process the files. In a nutshell, DAC is a device that converts digital signals from into an analog signal. AMPs (short for Amplifiers) on the other hand boosts the volume of the sound output.

The last component is of course the sound output device. This may be in the form of a headphone or a speaker. But those ordinary headphones and speakers don’t count – since you would need a device that is able to properly play the sound files that belong to higher frequency.

Once you get those in place then you’re ready to listen to high-resolution audio.

The benefits are great, but not all listeners are still convinced. But there has been a big push for marketing various peripherals for hi-res audio, some of which carry the standard hi-res audio branding.

Another factor to consider is that most equipment designed for hi-res audio usually cost a lot. For example, a high-end headphone like the HiFiMan HE-1000 (which has been getting rave reviews from audiophiles) would set you back at least $3000  (11,000 AED).

The technology of hi-res audio hasn’t been around that long, and just like Blu-ray was first introduced, the prices might go down well enough for everyone to afford it.

What do you think of hi-res audio? Is it something you are keen on trying? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. Has passion for all things tech - you’ll normally find him tinkering with the latest gadgets and computer peripherals. He is an avid collector of Blu-ray discs and occasionally plays campaigns on his Xbox.
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