Dr. AIX's POSTS — 20 September 2014

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The adoption of the JAS Hi-Res Audio logo by the CEA may or may not happen. As I noted, there is just no way that the minimum specifications outlined in the JAS (originally Sony) document can be reconciled with the DEG, CEA, NARAS, major label definition that was issued in June. But it occurs to me that it doesn’t have to. It may that the JAS organization is offering the CEA the graphic without the qualifications that accompany it. That could allow the CEA to apply the Hi-Res Audio logo to their definition and make it available to virtually anyone that is interested. Why else would the logo proposal be brought to the CEA board?

It’s all a sales job. Advocates for the definition worked very hard to bring all of the interested parties to a consistent message and wording, which was ultimately “approved” by teams of lawyers at the labels. The result is a definition that conveys a consistent message. But the message that it conveys throws a big net around every recording ever produced. It fails miserably to “convey a clear message”, as the press release states. It does nothing to advance the fidelity of recording. It doesn’t advance transparency and provenance about tracks/albums. It does allow the labels and their licensees to resell all of their old recordings at premium prices.

The JAS chart states the minimum specifications for use of the logo. As many have pointed out in the comments to yesterday’s post, the specifications are very broad…too broad. When it speaks about 40 kHz frequencies being required for the microphones or speakers, it avoids the usual additional specifications that give us how much energy is present at that frequency. If a speaker is down 30 dB, does that fit within the minimum? We would prefer that it doesn’t but the document doesn’t specify one way or the other. So there’s lots of rigor that still needs to be included in the fine print. Maybe the JAS has such a document. I’ll try to find out.

Then there’s the whole issue of policing any set of minimum specifications. I can tell you that neither the DEG, CEA, NARAS, nor the major labels are going to review and recommend the use of the logo. If company x decides that their equipment or software deserves the Hi-Res Audio logo then they’re going to use it. There was some discussion of an annual fee mentioned on the phone the other day. If the JAS is going to try and collect anything but a token fee, the logo isn’t going to appear anywhere.

So what are we left with? It’s my guess that the CEA will accept the offer from the JAS to use the logo. There will be some discussion and a board vote. Since the existing definition has already left the station and is unlikely to be altered, the new logo and its minimum specifications will be divorced in the U.S. The logo will be used by CE manufacturers but not by any labels. The various download sites are already on board with calling everything Hi-Res, so we’ll keep on heading down the same path.

Finding and enjoying real high-resolution audio will be like discovering a great restaurant or terrific bottle of wine…they will be rare, expensive, and cherished.

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(15) Readers Comments

  1. Sony’s amps are not there yet.

    Sony’s HAP-z1es (player) specs indicate an upper frequency response of 20Hz-80kHz.

    Other hardware in the same series:

    HAP-s1 (player/amp): 20Hz-20kHz
    .

    ss-ha1 (speaker): 48Hz-50kHz.

    ss-ha3 (speaker): 55-50kHz.

    MDR-10R Headphones): 5Hz to 40kHz

    MDR-10RBT (bluetooth headphones): high resolution capable with wired connection

    XBA-H3 (Ear Bud Headphones): ???

    the following were upgraded via firmware to work with the z1es:

    STR-DA5800ES (9.2 receiver): 20-20,000 Hz (discontinued)
    replaced by the STR-DA5800: 20Hz-20kHz

    STR-DA2800ES (stereo receiver): 20Hz-20kHz
    being replaced by the STR-DA2800ES2: 20Hz-20kHz

    Sony also has a $2K integrated amp (TA-A1ES) that is only 20Hz-20kHz

  2. After working with ISO-9000 and other organizations, it is clear that making money for the registrar matters greatly. This CAN APPLY beneficially to advancing HD-Audio worldwide

    First, JAS may not actually realize the weakness of the US rules. JAS needs to be informed that allowing CES to adopt the logo without conforming to JAS will destroy the value of the logo in the Japanese market – which is a heavily CD market currently and may not change if the value of the logo is destroyed by the US.

    Second, JAS can establish a small office in the US to “authorize” and “publicize” its logo, if money can be made. Obviously, a payment for use of the logo would be available on a sliding scale, but also money can be made by making “Japanese Imports” more valuable. It may be worth it to JVC, even JBL(think exports), etc. to keep the logo pure.

    Third, the above isn’t silly or impossible. Consider all of the chatter and the value to customers of having music that meets Japanese (still deeply respected) standards. Remember, people like “German” cars and “French” wine. And companies like JVC do make money in higher quality CDs.

    Fourth, the simplicity of the JAS chart makes sense and is easily communicable.

    Fifth, the JAS won’t get rich doing this, but having a “respected” standard to counter the marketing to fools standard of the CES would provide money.

    Sixth, the JAS should withdraw the logo from CES immediately for “further study.”

    In conclusion, a US competitor to the CES logo will not succeed – we all know that. On the other hand, an exotic (ie Japanese or German) logo can succeed by establishing a higher standard that has “appeal.” If any one has contact with the JAS, this is the time to use it. Currently, there is little value in the JAS letting CES use the logo, and it may actually be negative. Letting the JAS set a higher standard may yield benefits (ie money) to the JAS.

    • I’m going to reach out to the JAS. I also know some people that might have some connections.

  3. Hi Mark,

    your conclusion is sad – but true!

  4. Well, where do I start. There all kinds of juicies in this blog: “It’s all a sales job,” “teams of lawyers,” “it fails miserably,” “specifications are too broad,” “resell old recordings at premium prices,” “issue of policing,” “calling everything Hi Res,” “the train has already left the station,” “its a divorce.”

    But Mark’s real summary of all this is in quotes below.

    Which brings me to the point. Yesterday I listened for an hour intently to a 2L recording from Norway captured by a DXD machine in 24bit/352kHz and played back by my equipment in 5.1 – 24bit/192kHz format. The presence of those musicians and their instruments was palpable.

    “I felt like I just had a fine bottle of audio-wine, rare, expensive and cherished.”

    I would really like to see a site dedicated to listing existing and new Hi Res Recordings (in disc formats) in various musical genres. Hi Res like Mark defines it. Think how this would narrow our searches!

    • Jack…Morten from 2L does make really wonderful recordings. I’m working on the site you seek…it’s HRADB.com and will list every high-resolution recording, have the spectra and dynamic ranges etc. Stay tuned.

  5. Certification is a device that presents a marketing opportunity to cynical commercial interests. It’s like organic certified food. What’s in or left out of organic certified food that qualifies it for the certification? Who knows. Chicken can get organic certification even though the eggs from which they’re produced were injected with antibiotics. But on the other hand, audiophilia is a niche vocation and avocation. Those who perceive themselves audiophiles should be approaching the acquisition of the highest resolution recorded media (within the limits of technology when recorded) with the passion that they pursue the acquisition of the most accurate playback equipment they can afford. Even with a pure JAS certification, the recording engineer may have done a sloppy job or just lacks talent. I don’t think there’s any industry standard for audiophile playback equipment, and what is and what isn’t in the final analysis is subjective.
    For the sake of those who don’t know what high resolution is in the best sense of the term, I wish that all labels would adopt the original Sony standard. It’s kind of the inverse of “you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it anymore.” Good to hear you’re developing HRADB.com. I recently relapsed with a case of audiophiia, so I’ll be on the hunt for hi res material.

  6. I am a senior, 68 years old. My hearing abilities are limited to a barrier at 15KHz. Do you believe, or better, is there any scientific proof that the HRA audio produce higher frequencies that can modulate the lower ones in a way that they produce an audible effect favorable to the audio listening? If I cannot hear nothing above 15KHz is there any advantage on HRA records for seniors in general? Please comment since I have much difficulty identifying the subtleties, the nuances of an HRA record from a CD standard record. Please convince me that HRA is not intended exclusively for young people that can hear up to 20KHz.

    • I’m not that far behind you and I believe that I can tell the difference between CD quality and HD-Audio. I proved that I could distinguish between the 44.1 and 96 kHz versions we used in the AVS Forum test. There is something that affects us by including higher and higher frequencies. Difference tones are real.

      • Dear Mark,

        As you said: ” ,,, there is something that affects us by including higher and higher frequencies” . Do you think that higher frequencies modulate or influence the lower ones in such a way that the audio tonality is affected? Is there some scientific study on that? Thanks in advance for your response.

        • Yes, the interference of two close tones does create additional audible tones in the hearing band.

  7. I was at Meijer today and had to poke around their electronic section for the fun of it.

    I noticed that they sell the Sony MDR-10R Headphones there for $150. They do have the HiRes Audio symbol on the packaging and they were hooked up to listen to a hidden player of some kind.

    They sounded pretty good but I have to wonder what the source was playing. They had other head sets playing the same songs so I have to believe it was just an MP3 player of some sort.

    • I doubt it was an MP3 player. My guess would be a looping CD player through a splitter.

  8. Will this be like the “Digital Ready” logo on speakers, receivers, amps etc that was used when the CD (seedy) was the new format in the 1980s? In 1984 I was trying to decide whether to buy the A/D/S (later a/d/s) 300i 5 1/2 in plate speaker or the Polk Audio 5 1/2 plate. I preferred the sound and build quality of the 300i, but they were not “digital ready” as were the Polks. Hmmm… Anyway, I bought the Polks because they were waaaay cheaper.

    • It’s a logo that will be applied to hardware that meets a certain level of performance. I hope it will be meaningful.

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