LG is taking a modular approach to high-resolution with their new G5 and its modular B&O module. I read an announcement and review at Digital Trends written by Ryan Waniata who claims the new module is “like and ammo clip for astounding audio”. You can read the piece by clicking here. I wrote about the HTC One Harman Kardon Edition phone from Sprint a while ago and was actually very impressed that a portable Smartphone could actually access real high-resolution music AND output reasonably good sound. Do any of these HRA portable devices deliver high-resolution audio? No, none of them do. In fact, most of the so-called HRA hardware doesn’t measure any better than a good CD player. Readers already know my feeling about the content that pretends to be high-resolution.
The forthcoming LG flagship phone is modular in the sense that the DAC and headphones amplifier slide in place at the base of the phone (including the battery). Purchasers don’t purchase a phone with high-resolution capabilities; you buy the phone and then upgrade the audio DAC and headphone module. The article doesn’t say how much the new B&O module will cost but it better be less than $200 or potential customers will opt for stand-alone devices that can do the same tricks.
The Hi-Fi Plus module uses the latest Sabre ES9028C2M converter and Sabre 9602c amplifier, which boast the ability to handle 192 kHz/24-bit PCM files. Sabre does design and manufacture very high quality chips and they certainly know how to deal with high-resolution files. But I’m still underwhelmed by the thought of adding a module that sports higher specifications when there’s very little content that needs specs that large.
You might notice that I posted a couple of comments on the Digital Trends site about this article. I was surprised to read the author misrepresent the Nyquist Theorem in his reply to a comment about the CD spec (44.1 kHz) being “perfect 100% resolution”. Ryan wrote,
“That is simply not true. The Nyquist theorem was an agreed upon spec in the ’80s which essentially allows the digital sample to capture only the peak and trough of a sound wave at the highest frequency humans can hear. The higher that sample rate, the more accurately the analog waveform is represented in the digital realm.
That said, for many, the more important number in digital is the 24bit bit depth, which lowers the digital noise floor to more accurately replicate analog sound.”
I called him out on this clearly wrong understanding of the Nyquist-Shannon Theorem. Ryan replied that he studied music technology in college and had work experience at a Nashville recording studio. However, it doesn’t seem that either one of those experiences provided him a basic working knowledge of digital sampling theory. And follow up sentence about needing 24-bits to “more accurately replicate analog sound is way off base as well. This from someone that studied music technology. I teach music technology and I can tell that my students leave our program knowing the difference between analog and digital.
And he’s not alone in his misunderstanding. I read another post by someone that works at PreSonus about the basic tenants of PCM and she go most of it incorrect as well…including the stair-steps in the illustrations. Why is there so much bad information out there? It can’t all be about money, can it?
So once again, I’m reading online articles and comments that continue to support the high-resolution audio myth and can’t even get the basics of digital audio right. No wonder no one cares about better quality audio. Even the people that are supposed to know what’s going on don’t’.