Yesterday I clicked on a FB link to a recent JAS meeting where Robert Stuart of MQA and Meridian had apparently just given a presentation. You may remember that the Japan Audio Society is the group that was entrusted with the Hi-Res Audio name and logo courtesy of Sony. In one of the photos, I was quite surprised to see another logo for “hi-res sound”. Apparently, Panasonic commissioned and has begun to deploy their own trademarked “hi-res sound” logo. This is disturbing news since we already have two logos…who would have thought that another was necessary?
Here’s the three of them side by side:
Figure 1 – There are now three logos for essentially the same thing…this might lead to some confusion, don’t you think?
Let me see if I can shed a little light on this subject. The first logo to appear was the Sony produced “Hi-Res Audio” logo. It came with a set of requirements (see below):
Figure 2 – The JAS table of requirements for using the Hi-Res Audio logo.
Notice there’s no mention of this logo being reserved for hardware only. I found this out after asking a representative of the JAS. Indeed, I received written confirmation that their logo is to be used exclusively for hardware. However, some folks at some organizations haven’t gotten the message. For example, there is a new guide being written for retailers that hopes to educate those responsible for selling this exciting new format at select Magnolia stores and other retail outlets. Here’s their draft definition on the term Hi-Res Audio or HRA, “A blanket term used to describe digital music files and associated audio playback equipment that allow ‘better than CD’ sound quality, with CD sound quality defined as 44.1-kHz/16-bit resolution”. They know this definition runs counter to the JAS definition but that doesn’t seem to matter.
The Sony/JAS “Hi-Res Audio” logo is ONLY for equipment.
So where does that leave the content people at the labels and the high-resolution download sites? Not to worry, last summer they came up with their own term and logo. They call their upconverted, standard-definition tracks “Hi-Res Music” after they’ve been transferred to high-resolution PCM containers. Their charade should be pretty well known by now…but they keep trying to convince unsuspecting audiophiles to repurchase old recordings in hi-res buckets instead of encouraging their artists and producers to make new high-resolution albums. I haven’t seen their logo in use on any software as yet. Perhaps that’s why they want to tuck content under the HRA umbrella and use the term “blanket” when referring to the old logo.
Initially, the HRA term and logo seemed to establish real high-resolution requirements for the emerging world of hi-res audio. I was very much a supporter of their campaign and when the CEA was approached about coordinating the term and logo in this country, it was discussed and seemed poised to move forward. But things fell apart and we had two logos with contradictory requirements.
And now it seems we have another player. I can only imagine the executives at Panasonic discussing the adoption of the Sony logo and balking. It’s simple enough to design yet another logo and associate that one with their line of products…again hardware only. From what I can tell, this is where we are today.
Remember the press release issued by the DEG, CEA, NARAS, and major labels in the summer of 2014 that tried (and failed) to define “high-resolution audio”…both hardware and content? In the cause of clarity and so as to avoid confusion, they spelled everything out for the press and consumers. I’m not convinced pushing another logo on consumers will help accomplish that goal.
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