A representative from the JAS responded to my email today. I was surprised. The person indicated that he was the party in charge of the partnership agreement with the CEA that was announced at the end of 2014. This is the right person to address the concerns that I’ve been reporting over the Qobuz announcement.
There were several sections to the email response. The first section addresses the agreement between the CEA and JAS, which covers only the hardware. The “JAS’s definition for HRA and what we agreed with CEA last December was just for hardware.” This means the Qobuz press release isn’t allowed to include any mention of the CEA. The email assured me that the Qobuz press release will be “corrected to delete CEA issue”.
I didn’t realize the CEA and JAS agreement was “just for hardware” until this email. And I was one every phone call relating to the HRA logo and the JAS. Curious.
Independent of the CEA and JAS agreement on hardware and the Hi-Res Audio logo, the information I received stated, “the HRA logo is not only for hardware but could be applied for contents.” The assumption on the part of the JAS is that the entire high-resolution audio initiative would be accelerated if the “same logo was used for hardware and contents”.
So I’m a little confused here. The CEA agreement applies to hardware and the HRA logo but companies can license the logo directly from the JAS and apply it to content as well? This is bound to cause confusion. We should have one standard and one logo for the entire program…hardware and software. I don’t who decided it was a good idea to break it into pieces.
“In case of hardware, it is simple. Since hardware is a sort of container, it is specified with electrical specification. As you know well, we decided 96/24 as minimum specification. It means HRA logo applied hardware shall be capable to reproduce not only 96/24 but CD and above, and moreover ideally above 96/24 and DSD.” But isn’t content a container too? And can’t it be specified with as much precision as the hardware?
The previous paragraph reverts to the hardware issue once again. If a manufacturer want to license the HRA logo, they will have to demonstrate that their equipment can do 96 kHz/24-bits or better. The mention of “CD and above” may be irrelevant to the current discussion. You can think of it as backwards compatibility for the older format. It doesn’t mean that CDs are considered capable of high-resolution sonics.
Here’s the essential statement from the JAS. “In case of contents, since JAS is the association of audio hardware industry, we are not in the position to define specification for contents. Basically we license HRA logo based on the definition defined by music industry association such as RIAA and RIAJ. At this moment, our understanding is that RIAA would define format specification based on CEA announcement on June 12th 2015…”.
And readers will already know that the DEG, CEA, NARAS, and labels’ definition of high-resolution audio is an ambiguous mess of self-contradictory misinformation. The JAS and the HRA logo is letting the electronics manufacturers get the logo if they meet one set of requirements (a higher and more meaningful set of standards) and content be defined by the DEG, CEA, NARAS, and labels’ definition, which allows virtually every recording ever made to wear the HRA logo.
It all comes down to the “better than CD quality music sources” or “exceed the CD specification” as provided by the RIAA and JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association).
Just when I think I’ve understanding the JAS message, the author of the email wrote:
“In any case, JAS as hardware industry association defines HRA specification to cover any file format from CD to 96/24 or ideally above and we think that contents industry would specify their HRA file format from view point of their own contents recording format if it is ‘better than CD quality’.”
This appears to be backtracking…HRA specification covers CDs and 96/24 or higher. I guess they want it both ways and have decided that the content people can do their own thing.
Finally, something we can agree on. “In addition, we do hope contents side shall mentioned original recording format when they convert to Hi-Res format. Since Hi-Res format is just container, we believe that original recording quality is the most important.”
Bingo! But why can’t we be responsible and appropriately label things. I appreciate the response but find it quite unsatisfying. Here’s the recap:
• HRA Logo when under the CEA agreement applies only to hardware.
• JAS can license HRA logo for content at “better than CD quality”
• JAS defines HRA spec to cover CD to 96 khZ/24-bits (and above?)
• JAS wants content companies to produce their own metrics and logo.
Does anyone else think this is a unified message and bound to accelerate the Hi-Res market as they hope?