High-Resolution Music needs a website. If you go looking for a central location dedicated to providing accurate information, audio demos, testimonials, tech information, interviews…minus the spin and hyperbole, you’ll have a very hard time finding a reliable source. The sites that do exist are either highly commercialized typical magazines, collections of “curated” semi-related articles, or propaganda sites developed to skew the facts of the topic.
What curious consumers want and need is a single site that offers the facts about high-res without the spin. Unfortunately, that site has not yet been constructed (This site does its part but is not meant to be comprehensive). If I was tasked with preparing the specification document for a site called “HiResMusicDemystified.com”, this is what I would include:
1. The site will have a section on what is and what isn’t high-res music. The definitions currently circulating in articles and on websites would be explained and discussed. A backgrounder on the evolution of the term high-res as it applies to audio and music would also be helpful.
2. There would be a technical section explaining the basics of digital sampling technology. FAQ and Glossary sections would cover the basic processes (ADC and DAC) and provide clear and concise definitions of most associated terms (from aliasing to zenith and everything in between).
3. Graphs and charts would illustrate the frequency and dynamic ranges of various formats and playback systems. This would be very helpful in establishing a baseline level of fidelity. The capabilities of each format could be compared and examined.
4. An in depth exploration of the recording methods used over the years and the reasons why fidelity has waned and the “loudness” wars have come to dominate commercial recordings. The practical realities of high-res audio/music could be discussed. Does heavily compressed pop music benefit from using 24-bits?
5. There should be a section explaining data compression vs. audio compression and the effects of both on the fidelity of music. The fact that major organizations and companies have confused these two concepts makes it clear that a careful explanation is needed.
6. The concept of recording “provenance” needs to be discussed and an infographic developed that illustrates how different production paths produce different audio experiences.
7. Audio examples should be included on the site. These should be real high-resolution recordings not rehashed versions of standard-definition tracks from yesteryear. It might also be cool to present some examples of immersive surround mixes presented via headphones.
8. There should be technical articles by respected audiologists, audio engineers, record producers, musicians, and equipment designers (both analog and digital). The articles should not be commercials for specific recordings or equipment, but should provide readers with unbiased information.
9. There should be listing of resources for both hardware and content…what will interested visitors need to acquire to appreciate high-res music.
10. The site needs to regularly updated with the latest news, articles, artwork etc. A static site is certain death. Some of the existing sites don’t have a single comment…I seriously doubt whether anyone is actually visiting them.
The marketing effort behind “high-resolution” music has been haphazard and unfocused. There needs to be a concentrated, coordinated effort on the part of all interested parties to make better quality music happen with accurate information. So far, I’d give the effort a C.
Part 9: Start small and expand the audience. Hi-res music is not going to get a “buzz” if we can’t sell it first to avid music lovers.