The marketing people at Sony let me know that their new website designs have launched. They passed along two URLs that deal with high-resolution audio. The first features their entire line of hardware and some discussion about high-resolution audio. Click here to visit this new Sony site. The second focuses on sites that offer “high-resolution audio” content…or as the DEG, NARAS, and labels now call it “high-resolution music”. This continuing confusion of terminology is not going to make the subject any clearer. Click here to take a look at the content site.
I’m very pleased that Sony included iTrax in their list of places to acquire high-resolution music. In addition to my site, you’ll find a number of other digital music download sites. There’s ProStudioMasters, SuperHiRez, Blue Coast Records, Native DSD Music, Linn Records, Naim Label, and 2L. Notable omissions include HDtracks and PonoMusic. I can only guess why these services, admittedly the largest sites offering high-res transferred music, are included on the new Sony site. Maybe…just maybe…the chose to feature sites that are offering new recordings made using high-resolution audio equipment. Although, that would rule out the ProStudioMasters site, which is a basically a copy of HDtracks’ offerings. They sell the same catalog of major label content that has been transferred to big bit buckets as the other two.
Figure 1 – The section of the Sony site that highlights itrax. These are covers from some of our most popular and best sounding albums. [Click to enlarge]
I may have issues with Sony’s DSD technology and marketing push, but I’m very grateful that they are tilting to the right concept of new recordings. But the other site has the dreaded “resolution” comparison chart. You know the one…I’ve copied it below:
Figure 2 – A chart from the new Sony high-resolution audio website showing the relative qualities/resolutions of audio in CD-res and High-Res. [Click to Enlarge]
Why this type of chart continues to be used is a mystery (although I admit I’ve used similar graphics in the past and on this site…sorry). I even mentioned that this could be embarrassing…but there it is. What’s wrong with this image? It does seem to make sense on a simplistic level. An analog signal is nice and smooth…it’s a continuously variable analog audio signal. The images with the vertical slices and the icon of a clock are meant to show how the higher 96 kHz/24-bit system is visually more similar to the analog original than the CD res illustration.
Each digital representation uses vertical bars to show the energy available at each sample. They should be instead points of amplitude. At each sample, the vertical bars in the diagram, the amplitude value is measured. The closest available amplitude value (among the 65K or 17K available discrete values available) is then stored. These are the only values we know about in a digital conversion of an analog signal. An actual diagram is equally compelling.
I’ll show you an example tomorrow…got to make some more progress on the newsletter that I’m preparing. It’s all about the “Music and Audio” book.
To be continued…