A reader pointed out that the German version of the QuBuz website is running a promotion for a new “high-res audio” orchestral album that features the JAS “Hi-Res Audio” logo in the graphic that accompanies the promotion. This is the first time I’ve seen the logo used for a piece of content, which happens to be the music of Richard Wagner conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony of Venezuela. The MusicBiz and CEA info graphic that I referred to in a recent post associated the logo with the DEG, CEA, and NARAS definition of high-resolution audio BUT then showed hardware companies that are selling equipment that meets the JAS requirements for the logo. Here’s the graphic:
Figure 1 – The JAS High-Res Audio logo used on the QoBuz website.
I’m actually planning on requesting a license to use the logo for my own label and iTrax website. There is some discussion inside of the organizations that the JAS logo only applies to hardware. Then why is it included on PowerPoint slides at the recent CES panel sessions and used on the info graphic. Doesn’t it make sense to lock down one logo and use it consistently across the entire spectrum of products…at least ones that meet or exceed the requirements as defined by the JAS? I think it does. And I know my recordings meet those requirements so why shouldn’t I sign up with the JAS, pay the $500, and benefit from the growing awareness of the logo? But it seems QoBuz got there first. The CEA has recently communicated that its member companies can apply to use the logo. It will be administered by the JAS.
The members of the CEA are virtually all consumer electronics manufacturers. These are companies that build hardware. In fact, I’m not aware of any other record labels that are members. There might be some software companies but no one that is making content or offering it via downloads.
The QoBuz company may have made an application directly to the JAS. You don’t have to be a Japanese company in order to be a member. Maybe the JAS has already starting making the logo available to companies in the European Union. But if QoBuz were granted permission to use the logo on their site, I would imagine that the JAS would expect them to adhere to the standards (basically getting everything through the production chain with 40 kHz signal width or more). The item that I located and downloaded doesn’t meet the JAS standard. The expected licensing terms that I’ve seen floating around don’t mention any third party verification. If you say something meets the specs then no one will challenge you. It’s the honor system.
The Wagner recording is available in a variety of formats. I downloaded the WAV files and did a quick analysis in Adobe Audition. The sound is just slightly better then a CD. The dynamic range of the movement I examined was only 55 dB or about 10 bits. The frequency response extended to 23 kHz. You can take a look below:
Figure 2 – The spectra of the Wagner recording at 48/24. [Click to enlarge]
This is a very good recording. Lots of clarity and precision. It’s well balanced and a great performance of some amazing compositions. My own personal taste tends towards less reverb and much more intimacy but this is the traditional orchestral sound.
The recording would qualify for the DEG, CEA, and NARAS definition of high-resolution audio but it doesn’t qualify for the JAS logo. This is going to be a problem. Already, the folks that I’ve talked to at the organizations are looking for ways to bring everything into “alignment”. My guess is that means watering down the logo requirements as they apply to content. It’s the only way the logo will survive in the area of content.