DEG Hi-Res Audio Update
Thursday, January 5 was the first day of the show and also the date of the Digital Entertainment Group's Hi-Res Audio Update. For the most part I felt a strong sense of déjà vu (not the CSN&Y song but that would kinda make sense too) as the language used to describe the hi-res listening experience had more goosebumps and raised hairs on the backs of necks than a tower of giraffes in a blizzard.
While Millennials remain the prime target of the message, the issue I have with the message, like most messages, is it's oversimplified and over-inflates the promise: Sure, hi-res audio can sound great but everything else is more important. I agree that this message is much less appealing if you're hanging your hat on nothing more than the message. But we're not.
Music, and its enjoyment, is the message and I've had goosebumps and raised hairs listening to 78s on a flea market find console, in a car, on a train, in a plane, etc. No hi-res needed.
The one shining light at the DEG presentation was Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records, who stated, "We are the only industry that has spent 30 years downgrading the sound quality of its product", true that, adding, "Quality and convenience of delivery can now be in perfect harmony."
With the announcement of Pandora and Rhapsody/Napster adding hi-res streaming later this year and the truly BIG NEWS of Tidal streaming MQA NOW, I am of the opinion that the entire hi-res message can be shelved and the promise is there for the listening.
Here's the catch—if you and your music listening apparatus do not give you goosebumps or raised hairs when listening to hi-res and it may not since a) some gear won't get there, b) some people simply don't care, and c) some hi-res sounds worse than a CD, no harm no foul. Seeing as all Tidal HiFi subscribers just got the MQA hi-res on steroids upgrade for free, you can take it or leave it as you see fit.
That's always been the real promise—the medium should contain all of the musical magic and its up to you whether or not you want to tap into it.
I would hope that with the wider adoption of delivering the best digital file quality available, CD-quality on up, the word will trickle all the way back to the music makers in the studio so they turn an attentive ear toward capturing and delivering their craft.