Dr. AIX's POSTS — 24 June 2015

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I heard about this announcement yesterday at the CE Week conference…and it certainly sounded encouraging. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) “and its member companies today unveiled a new logo designed to help music fans more easily identify the highest-quality digital music. This significant step forward in the digital listening experience allows digital retailers to mark recordings that meet the official definition for ‘High Resolution Music’ that was agreed to last year, in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing.” [NOTE: The definition they issued referred to “high-resolution audio” NOT music.]

The recording industry now has their own logo for identifying the “highest-quality” music being offered through digital retailers. They have adopted the terms “Hi-Res MUSIC” instead of “Hi-Res Audio”, which has been widely used over the past year. Do we really need two ways of describing the same thing each with their own logo?

Here’s the new logo:

150624_new_hi-res_logo

Figure 1 – The new Hi-Res MUSIC logo developed by B2 Communications for the RIAA.

The new design doesn’t have the style and elegance of the JAS logo, which was produced by Sony. I’m honestly surprised that the RIAA found this design compelling…but that’s just my opinion.

According to the report that I found last evening, the new logo “was designed to identify those high resolution recordings that are available from digital music retailers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe for commercial downloads or streaming. The logo has been specifically designed to complement the Hi-Res AUDIO logo that is currently licensed by the Japan Audio Society for use on compatible consumer electronics devices.”

How does having two independent logos “complement” an already confused message about what is and what isn’t high-res. In one case we have a very high quality bar for the gear that plays “hi-res audio” and in the other we talk about the “highest-quality” music. Perhaps the logo should have used the terms “highest-res available MUSIC” since essentially nothing has changed.

Here’s the existing JAS logo:

140702_hi-res-logo

Figure 2 – The JAS High-Res Audio Logo, which applies to hardware only.

The official definition of high-resolution music has morphed since its initial introduction about a year ago.

“High Resolution Music is officially defined as ‘lossless audio capable of reproducing the full spectrum of sound from recordings which have been mastered from better than CD quality (48kHz/20-bit or higher) music sources which represent what the artists, producers and engineers originally intended.”

The press release from the RIAA (You can read it yourself by clicking here) doesn’t mention the four descriptors that accompanied the original definition. And they’ve added the “artists, producers, and engineers originally intended” and the specification of “48 kHz/20-bit or higher”.

I can’t help but wonder why this new logo is being introduced when the existing JAS logo was already being used for both hardware and content. The RIAA announcement does state that the JAS logo is “for use on compatible consumer electronics devices”. Perhaps the JAS changed its mind after the Qobuz site adopted the logo and became a “certified” source for high-resolution audio. Or maybe the JAS realized that a single logo with two drastically different sets of requirements wasn’t a good idea.

So all of the standard-resolution recordings being sold or streamed just got a new logo. And the new logo incorrectly identifies them absolutely as “hi-res MUSIC”, when the press release itself says they are the “highest-quality” digital music, a relative measure not a hard specification driven standard.

Has the new logo helped clarify HRA…sorry, I guess I’m going to have to change the acronym to HRM now. You bet, we’re definitely on the right track to creating a clear and unified message.

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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