G5 for HD-Audio?

Samsung announced a new networking protocol this morning that raises the bar on bandwidth to portable devices to at least 1 Gbps (gigibit per second) with bandwidth up to 15 Gbps promised soon. That’s enough wireless bandwidth to deliver Blu-ray or even Ultra HD quality video to a smart phones and tablets. The ability to stream UHD data to your devices is coming soon. Just what the makers of the devices will do with that bandwidth remains to be seen.

Here’s the press annoucement:

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., announced today that it has successfully developed the world’s first adaptive array transceiver technology operating in the millimetre-wave Ka bands for cellular communications. The new technology sits at the core of 5G mobile communications system and will provide data transmission up to several hundred times faster than current 4G networks.

At the end of the article, the PR states:

Samsung’s new technology will allow users to transmit massive data files including high quality digital movies practically without limitation. As a result, subscribers will be able to enjoy a wide range of services such as 3D movies and games, real-time streaming of ultra high-definition (UHD) content, and remote medical services.

So we’re on the verge of having the needed bandwidth for HD-Audio. But the question is does anyone care? I think they do. Here’s why.

Technology companies are always looking for the competitive edge when it comes to new innovations and inventions. They develop faster chips, better processors, new algorithms and longer lasting batteries so that they can compete and carve out market share. It doesn’t really matter if the music consuming community is demanding better quality of not. The fact is that the capability for better audio will be available in the hardware anyway. So why not use it?

It turns out that the audio processing chip in the Apple iPhone 5 has the ability to run at 96 kHz/24-bits right now! But it’s locked at 48 kHz because moving to the higher sample rate would shorten the battery life. And the executives at Apple don’t see the market for the higher quality materializing any time soon AND the record labels have other worries than to think about high quality recordings.

However, there are lots of people looking at “better” audio quality streaming and higher fidelity for portable devices. And believe it or not the hardware and now the bandwidth are available. It will be too obvious and easy for the digital music services, Pandora and Spotify to elevate the quality of the music they deliver when everything is in place. What is the time frame for better streaming and downloads? Within the next 12-24 months.

The hardest part is going to be the music itself. The heavily mastered and compressed files that are the norm within the business are not going away. Radio is still a very powerful marketing tool although diminishing in importance. Too many of the technology people at the labels believe that putting their mastered tracks out as .WAV files rather than MP3s is going to magically elevate the experience…think “Mastered for iTunes”. But it won’t. The record business, artists and entire ecosystem is going to have to embrace more delivery options. The dawn of personalized music delivery is upon us. Finally.


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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