Is High Fidelity Sound The Future of Audio?

Overview: With the recent explosion of high definition visuals, it looks like sound could be the next thing to get the high definition makeover. But will it be a success? Find out in the article below.

Every year our monitors, TVs and laptops continue to become more high definition and produce higher quality images – from VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray, our viewing experience continues to improve at a rapid rate. But what about audio? It seems that audio has missed out on the HD revolution that has taken the visual world by storm. Let's find out where the improvements in audio have been, and what the future holds.

How Has Audio Improved?

Before iPods, mp3 files and the Internet, there was a large following of high-fidelity audio lovers. These users would buy high-end vinyls and play them on turntables with specialized speakers, taking pride in the sound they were listening to. But with this excellent listening experience already available by the early 70s, there was nowhere for audio to progress in terms of quality. Instead, companies focused on providing audio in a more accessible way, and this meant CDs, MiniDisc players, and then finally mp3 players and digital files.

However, when releasing these more portable formats, it became clear that the next step forward was to increase the number of songs playable. Users had become accustomed to a home collection of CDs and vinyl at their disposal, and so using a portable device that allowed 10 songs was not very appealing.

To compensate for this storage issue, the size of the music file was decreased.

There have been many advantages to these smaller file sizes such as their increased ability to be sent, downloaded, and streamed online, as well as the increase in number of songs that can be stored on any given device. However, there have also been disadvantages.

How Has Audio Become Worse?

The decreased file size that has made audio more available in this digital age has also decreased the quality of audio. To create a smaller file size, parts of the audio file generally have to be removed to make the file more “efficient.” Certain frequencies which are considered to be the least important are often removed, for example.

Not only do digital audio files suffer from a reduction in quality, the way in which they are listened to also plays a large part in the acceptance of these lower quality formats. Mp3s are generally listened to on portable mp3 players, such as iPods, with cheap headphones attached. Due to their portability, these devices are also generally listened to in noisy public places.

As a result, lower quality audio is something that consumers have come to accept as the norm.

What's Next For Audio?

While there will always be a place for efficiently sized and lower quality audio files, there are a few companies that are making a push for high-fidelity audio in the digital world. Both Sony and a company called PonoMusic are making a push to give consumers the ability to enjoy music without any quality loss.

PonoMusic, founded by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, has already started taking orders for their high-fidelity music player “Pono Player.” The device is heavily based on the concept of providing a studio-quality listening experience for the everyday consumer, and it hopes to showcase the intricacies and nuances of music that the mp3 age left behind. Pono players are currently retailing at $399.

Sony music are also interested in promoting the option of a higher quality listening experience. Their new High Resolution Audio line is focused on showing the true difference between high-fidelity audio and what consumers are used to today. One example they use compares listening to a regular mp3 file to watching a pixelated video in an attempt to show what the everyday listener is missing out on.

Bottom Line: While expensive and high-fidelity audio is not necessarily for everyone, both Sony and Pono are convinced that it is more appealing than people currently realize. Now that the obstacles that necessitated mp3 and other “lossy” formats are for the most part gone, there should be no reason for high definition audio to be any less prevalent than high definition visual. However, after years of low-quality portable headphones and mp3 players, it could take a while before people reconsider their perceptions of what audio should sound like.

For more information on how you can make both high definition audio and high definition visuals a reality in your home, contact Alberta Pro Group in Calgary today on 1-855-333-1223.

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