I haven’t made it to the Venetian Towers to check out the high-end audio vendors yet…it’s on my agenda for today. But I don’t think I have to stand in front of the new Sony PS-HX500 turntable to evaluate the “hi-res audio” capabilities of this new addition to the Sony line of HRA devices. However, I will make my way to their rooms in search of answers about how the “hi-res audio” logo found it’s way on to the front of the elegantly designed turntable.
But there it is. Recall that the logo was developed by Sony to assist in the promotion and “standardization” of their new high-resolution audio initiative. Then they gifted the logo to the Japan Audio Society in an attempt to extend its reach. Soon other companies began to use the logo on their hardware. Even some software companies like Qobuz, the French download site that offers “hi-res transfers” as downloads and streams, applied the logo to the recordings on their site.
The logo made it to the CEA Audio Board but was contrary to their HRA definition so a separate “hi-res music” logo and definition were created. They’re all contradictory and meaningless.
Figure 1 – The new Sony PS-HX500 “hi-res audio” turntable. Notice the logo in the front right corner of the device.
The requirements for using the JAS logo are hardly rigorous (not specifying any tolerances to their specs) but they do say that a device must be capable of recording and reproducing 40 kHz. Here’s the page from the JAS requirements document.
Figure 2 – The requirements for using the JAS “Hi-Res Audio” logo.
Vinyl LPs played on a turntable…even the best turntable on the planet…don’t meet these requirements. So including the HRA logo on the device further diminishes the credibility of the whole “hi-res” initiative. If they powers behind the “hi-res audio and hi-res music” campaigns have any credibility left (and in my mind they don’t…just read the “Guide to Hi-Res Audio” that S&V created in conjunction with the CEA Audio Board), they ought to counsel their member companies to be consistent in their messaging.
The Sony PS-HX500 may be a reasonably priced turntable but it’s being marketed as a transfer station too. It can connect to a Mac or PC and convert the analog output via USB to a hard drive in either DSD or WAV format. I was unable to learn whether they are using SACD level DSD at 2.8224 MHz (DSD 64) or one of the higher rates. I suspect they stuck with 64 x times the 44.1 CD rate. But the PCM spec calls for 96 kHz/24-bits, which is a definite step above the noise ridden and unusable DSD 64 spec. I was surprised to read that Sony will offer “editing” software along with the PS HX500 so that users can modify their newly digitized vinyl collections.
But knowing that you can’t do any postproduction processing using native DSD, I wonder what conversions the software will do to the DSD conversions prior to converting back to DSD. Sticking with 96/24 PCM is far simpler, better sounding, and universally playable.
I’m headed to the show for several hours and will provide a complete report ASAP.