Mike likes MQA high resolution audio, and he wants to know if Apple has any plans to make MQA music available on iTunes. Jason says that MQA is the latest in compression technology that seeks to improve the audio quality over mp3 or AAC, but still keep the file size manageable. Apple hasn't really talked about their plans for MQA, which is an outside standard. But he says that Apple's branding is all about improving quality and MQA is having trouble getting market share.
high resolution audio
Kevin would like to stream high resolution audio. Leo says there's two services that can do it, both for about $20 a month. There's Tidal and Deezer. Deezer hasn't started in the US yet, but will be soon. Leo says that unless he's listening on a very good stereo, he won't really tell the difference.
Will the Samsung Galaxy S4 play back 24bit audio? Leo says no. He'll need to convert it.
This week's question comes from Phil, who is an audiophile. He bought a Pono Player and he's not impressed by the high resolution tracks, which are more expensive at $8-18 a CD. He only found them marginally better than ripped CDs saved at FLAC. Leo says that's interesting. It's only slightly more expensive in his opinion and Phil can tell the difference.
Joe has several high resolution audio downloads and would like to burn them to CD. He has an SACD player and also a DVD-A player, but he doesn't have a high resolution player like the Pono. Leo says that SACD and DVD audio were two formats created to deliver higher quality than CD. In most cases, it was for surround sound and other features, but it could be higher bit rate. But unless he could make that CD, the fact that he can play it back doesn't really help him here.
Scott joins to talk about high resolution music. He likes to go to AIX Records because they record original music with mainstream musicians. He's also up north for a few days and enjoyed the Monterey Symphony Orchestra live. Scott says that going live is like a gourmet meal while MP3s are like fast food. Listening to a symphony is unamplified. And the emotional reaction you get from it is amazing. Amplified can have a similar reaction, if it's mixed right. But all too often, it's too loud.
Scott attended the Audio Engineering Society show this week (AES). Scott says that high resolution audio was the chief topic at this year's show and that Neil Young is really driving the conversation thanks to the development of his PONO player, which plays uncompressed high resolution audio. And when you compare HRA to MP3s, you can really hear the difference since MP3s are heavily compressed. Leo says that in 1996, we were lucky to have MP3, but 20 years in, and with more bandwidth and memory, it's high time we left mp3 with cassettes and 8 Tracks and embraced high resolution audio.
Scott has gotten some interesting results from the high resolution audio test he was conducting on AVS forum: 80% said they could tell the difference. Leo says that's unlikely and some may have cheated. Scott agrees and says it's more likely that people can hear the difference between MP3 and uncompressed.
Scott had a guest on Home Theater Geeks this week named Michael Fremer. He is a pure audiophile and enjoys it because of his "golden ears" (being able to pick up on subtle musical cues). He says that high resolution audio is a great development. Leo says that paying more for HiRes audio is a subjective thing. Most won't be able to really enjoy it like someone with golden ears, but if it sounds better to him, then it's worth it.