The CEA is going to do a market research project on high-resolution audio. I talked about this in a previous post (read it here). However, the previous conference call happened before the announcement/press release from The Recording Academy, DEG, CEA and major labels on June 12 that “defined” high-resolution audio and the four audio descriptors that indicate the provenance of the music you purchase online. As I’ve thought about the press release and the research project, it seems that we’ve gone about the process in reverse. [BTW The press release can be downloaded from the FTP site, if you haven’t found it online.]
Doesn’t it make sense to do some research about the high-resolution audio market, customer awareness and future opportunities before making a blanket statement about what it is and isn’t? Given what I heard on the phone during the conference call AND the months of calls/meetings that preceded the press release, a research project about what the insiders know about the issue would have been appropriate. When one person says that high-resolution audio is PCM at 192 kHz/24-bit at the start of the call and then we find out from the labels that any digital delivery file with better than CD specs should be considered a “high-resolution audio” file…it means there’s still a lot of confusion. And I doubt that it will clear up any time soon.
I plan to drill down in the “definition” of high-resolution audio and the four descriptors as handed down from on high from the DEG, NARAS and CEA in a future post, but for now my focus is on doing meaningful market research to determine just how much people know about it, whether they are willing to shell out premium money for supposed “better fidelity” and if the extra time, space and hassle that accompanies high-res audio is worth it.
So before I set up a poll full of questions about high-resolution audio, I thought I would reach out to all of you and ask what you think the CEA research arm should ask. To get us started here’s 20 questions that I think should be considered. [Remember this is not for you but for the average music listener.]
1. Have you ever heard of high-resolution audio?
2. If so, what do you know what it means?
3. Have you experienced high-resolution audio?
4. If so, what did you hear and what system was used? Did you hear it on headphones, a home theater, in a car or a showroom, for example?
5. Would you be willing to pay more for high-resolution audio?
6. If so, how much more?
7. High-resolution files can be 2-4 times larger than standard MP3 files. Would you be willing to download and store high-resolution files on your music players that are much larger than MP3s?
8. If you were unable to tell the difference between a good quality MP3 file and a high-resolution file, would you opt for the higher spec file or continue to be happy with MP3s?
9. Would you be willing to replace some or all of your existing music files with high-resolution versions of the same tunes?
10. If you were given a choice between music in MP3 format or high-resolution and the only difference was the size of the file, which would you choose?
11. Please rank the following attributes from most important to least important:
12. Do you listen to streaming services like Pandora or Spotify?
13. If yes, do you think the sound is acceptable?
14. Do you listen to vinyl LPs?
15. Do you think vinyl LPs are the “best fidelity” that can be achieved in music reproduction?
16. Have you heard of SACD or DVD-Audio?
17. If so, can you share what you know about them?
18. Do you know anything about DSD or PCM recording formats?
19. Where and on what devices do you normally consume music?
20. Would you prefer to listen to higher fidelity music on a portable player or a Smartphone?
So these are some of the things that I would like to know about high-resolution audio and the listening habits of music listeners.
Please share you thoughts as comments or privately. I’m going to set up a poll and see if we can’t get some preliminary information to share with the CEA researchers.