The continuing confusion over which terminology and logo to use when referring to the emergence of the “hi-res” market received a little clarity this week as reported by Twice’s website. Joseph Palenchar posted an article about the adoption of the Hi-Res Music logo by a number of the largest “hi-res” music sites including Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez, Blue Coast Music, HDtracks, IsoMike Recordings, ClassicsOnline HD*LL (operated by the Naxos Group of Companies), PonoMusic, and ProStudioMasters.
Figure 1 – The new Hi-Res Music logo. Any digital transfer of an old analog master or new production done at 48 kHz/20-bits qualifies. It is even possible to apply this logo to a CD that gets upconverted to 96 kHz/24-bits or higher.
I took a brief trip to several of these sites and didn’t manage to find the logo. It seems the process is just beginning to happen. I should mention that I wasn’t contacted by the people behind this effort with regards to using the logo on iTrax. iTrax, the first high-resolution download site in this country and the only one that actually offers exclusively high-resolution content, isn’t among the major sites listed above because I haven’t entered into licensing agreements with the major music labels. The content on my site is limited to new recordings done with high-resolution capable equipment. iTrax offers the real thing.
Marc Finer of the Digital Entertainment Group rolled out the logo at the CE Week events back in June of this year during a presentation. The Twice article credits the development of the logo to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that represents the major record labels.
Figure 2 – The original Hi-Res Audio logo, which is restricted to hardware.
As for the reasons why another logo was deemed necessary after the JAS “Hi-Res Audio” logo was already well established, I don’t find the explanation provided by the reasons mentioned in the article plausible. According to Joe Palenchar:
“The Hi-Res Music logo, unveiled in June, was created at the request of Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to help consumers find high-resolution recordings available from digital music retailers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe for downloading or streaming. Under terms of a licensing agreement, the logo must be accompanied by the name and resolution of a song’s digital format.”
They should say “resolution of the delivery container of a song’s digital format”. The idea or provenance is critical but ignored.
If you search around the web for references to the Hi-Res Audio logo, you’ll find plenty of press releases (including some from the CEA/CTA) that make it clear that the logo applies to music as well as hardware. But the requirements for using the JAS logo are much higher than the rather weak definition for the Hi-Res Music logo. The lower standard, which is barely more than the CD spec, was described in the Twice article:
“The logo designates songs produced in lossless audio ‘capable of reproducing the full spectrum of sound from recordings which have been mastered from better than CD quality (48kHz/20-bit or higher) music sources that represent what the artists, producers and engineers originally intended’.”
This description is virtually meaningless when you think about it but it was necessary because none of the content on the sites mentioned above qualify for the “Hi-Res Audio” logo. When confronted with this obvious problem, the people and organizations punted the ball and opted to create a new term and logo to qualify their standard-res transfer for “hi-res” status. After all, there would be no “hi-res” content at all if they had to meet the higher standard.
The use of either one of these logos won’t help consumers identify the highest quality files…the myth continues. The use of the new logo is another ploy to duck and cover from the truth about so-called “high-resolution” music. As PonoMusic’s Bruce Botnick said in a interview, “it’s a case of buyer beware.” I couldn’t agree more.