Hi-res audio is coming to streaming services

Hi-res audio is coming to streaming services

High quality sound on streaming services got a major boost yesterday, after the world’s three major music companies, streaming services and several leading electronics organisations came together under the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) banner at the CES show to announce plans to support the expansion of the technology.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vagas, representatives from Rhapsody, Pandora and HD Tracks said they would explore opportunities to add new premium music offerings to their respective distribution platforms, which could open the door to new paying tiers on streaming platforms.

To boost the hi-res audio market, the DEG will be running a new consumer awareness campaign called Stream the Studio. The campaign will comprise a variety of event marketing and social media "to educate and engage Millennial music fans on the benefits of studio quality hi-res audio”.

“Numerous consumer research studies [have shown] that sound quality remains the most important factor in the music listening experience," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). "This new premium streaming tier is one more example of how consumer technology and music companies are using innovation to reinvigorate an entire industry."

Until now, hi-res audio recordings, which deliver the same quality as the studio master, could only be purchased from a select number of music download stores. Few streaming services aside from Qobuz and Tidal have so far tried to engage consumers with a higher sound quality. This is bound to change now, especially if major labels get involved. Universal, Warner and Sony are jointly sponsoring the Hi-Res pavilion at the CES, as a sign of their commitment to the technology.

Ty Roberts, chief technology officer of Universal Music Group, said in a statement: “Universal Music has been laser focused on hi-res audio, across all of our label groups. But without the involvement of our technology and distribution partners, all of this would be in vain. Today we’re pleased to acknowledge the support of a number of leading digital providers for this new streaming concept."

Craig Kallman, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records, added: “As someone who works with artists every day and sees them work tirelessly to create fantastic sound in the studio, I am thrilled that the technology has evolved to the point that the authentic studio experience can now be streamed to the mainstream listener. Fans love hi-res audio when they hear it, and I believe we’re finally at the tipping point of converting the enormous streaming audience to the amazing Hi-Res musical experience.”

According to Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics and an officer of the DEG Board of Directors, “Sony Electronics and Sony Music have been committed to Hi-Res Audio from the beginning. Now working with other leading companies via the DEG, we can use this high level program to bring a unified hi-res message to a wide range of storefronts, which will encourage more consumers to experience this incredible ‘studio quality’ sound for themselves.”

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy, organisers of the Grammys, said that premium music services focusing on better sound quality would better serve musicians and consumers: “The Recording Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing is extremely excited about the possibilities that this new studio quality music tier affords to both our members and music fans alike. Gone are the days where hi-res sound was reserved for those ‘behind the glass’, as we are seeing a greater appetite and demand for better quality recordings, specifically through streaming. This announcement marks a transformative moment in the way music is consumed.”

Yesterday, Tidal announced that it was introducing a new hi-res audio function to its offering dubbed Master Audio.

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