The RIAA Anoints Streaming Services with the High-Res Logo (ouch)

I was very tempted to reduce the size of this image to reduce its pain-inducing impact

First things first—who the hell designed that logo? If the message you want to convey about high-res music is that it's very old-fashioned, has little real money behind it, and it sounds kinda painful and spiky and stings like a bee, bravo, a job well done. I know that's harsh, so let me apologize to whomever RIAA member's son or daughter designed that logo.

From the press release dated May 11, 2016:

WASHINGTON – Music streaming is officially going high resolution. The industry’s official logo mark for Hi-Res MUSIC – previously applicable primarily to high quality digital download services – will soon be available for adoption by music streaming services as well, according to an announcement today from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and its member companies Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, in cooperation with the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.
Cool! I guess. But who is streaming high-res content?

The press release continues:

A number of data packing technologies are being developed that can support the streaming of hi-res music files to consumers in a more efficient manner, including MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) and MPEG 4 Audio SLS. These and other approved technologies will enable licensed services to display the Hi-Res MUSIC logo mark on their landing page or next to an individual album or track. If the resolution of a recording falls below the required minimum standards of the Hi-Res MUSIC definition at any time, the user will be made aware of this change.

“We are looking forward to the Hi-Res MUSIC logo being associated with services that adopt MQA,” said Bob Stuart, Chairman of MQA. “MQA is a revolutionary new technology which enables the sound quality of hi-res music with the convenience of efficient streaming, something that wasn’t possible even a few short years ago.”

Can you spell Tidal?

mlknez's picture

So, I recorded myself playing guitar in 1977 on a $30 Radio Shack cassette recorder onto a $1.79 cassette tape. I can now digitize that song using my laptop's ADC at 96khz/24bit. I can sell the resulting file as Hi-Res and use the above logo! If I want, I can even encode it using MQA.

Something is wrong in this chain...

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...the entire High-Res thing is, or should be, dead. In reality, I want to buy or stream as close to the original recording quality as possible.

I also, really!, have a recording of myself playing guitar on cassette from the '70s and I don't think I ever want to hear it again.

mlknez's picture

I agree, Michael... just let's not call it hi-res.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Let's call it music.
Chriscom's picture

No. We must call it MUSIC.

The logo conveys the message that you will damage your retina if you look at it for too long.

dbtom2's picture

(and please correct me if I'm wrong) according to what I've read on Computer Audiophile's Q & A with Bob Stuart, you can - if you've licensed that MQA studio equipment - call that 70's vintage cassette-to-Hi-Res transfer an Official MQA recording.

Hey, no one needs to convince me of the benefits of MQA. I'm one of the "faithful". But I sure would like to know the provenance of recordings before I buy them.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...the MQA licensing fees will prevent such one-offs from happening, not to mention the hardware requirements to actually make that happen. Plus, how would one actually sell such a thing...

My understanding of the MQA process means that an MQA-encoded recording has been made from the best source available. In some cases that will be a true MQA-MQA encode/decode, from studio to file, in others a remaster from tape, and others yet a conversion from a digital source.

Hi-Reality's picture

I agree with you Michael, that logo is really bad from several perspectives:

- Look & Feel,
- Font (and its gradient used in late 90's),
- Perhaps the worst component is those vertical edgy shapes (which is a perfect metaphor to early days of digital edgy-ness),
- On the 'MUSIC' in the 'Hi-Res MUSIC': I think it is a misrepresentation and limits the potential use-cases (i.e. what if the recording is just a person speaking / plain voice, a 440Hz tone, or an ambient sound?)

If I was at RIAA I would:

1- Remake that logo entirely
2- Rename it to 'Hi-Res RECORDING' (especially when the 'R' in RIAA stands for 'Recording') or 'Hi-Res SOUND' to broaden its application scope that it could and should cover

A relevant comment regarding MQA: in order to speed up the MQA adaptation I would broaden the scope so that MQA is also applicable to other than just 'MUSIC' recordings. I'm thinking of many ways early fans, enthusiasts (other than just studios), and specialized applications could help to spread the words via their own captured/streamed sounds encoded in MQA.

What MQA needs to do is to make available a free/light-version MQA software encoder that supports a number of inexpensive and popular ADCs.

Do you think they will do that soon enough? (at this stage, the MQA ADC/encoder we heard is planned is from high-end brands such as MyTek)

Regards, Babak
Hi-Reality project

hifitommy's picture

the logo refers to the ORIGINALrecording method for which hi-res does NOT apply.

hifitommy's picture

the logo refers to the ORIGINAL recording mode which does NOT include compact cassette.

Maury's picture

From the grooveyard of I guess forgotten press releases here is something from 2 years ago:

"Arlington, VA – 06/12/2014 – DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® and The Recording Academy®, announced today the results of their efforts to create a formal definition for High Resolution Audio, in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

The descriptors include:

MQ-P. From a PCM master source 48 kHz/20 bit or higher; (typically 96/24 or 192/24 content)
MQ-A. From an analog master source
MQ-C. From a CD master source (44.1 kHz/16 bit content)
MQ-D. From a DSD/DSF master source (typically 2.8 or 5.6 MHz content)"

So MQ-A/MQA means not only from an analog master source (whatever that is) it now means a proprietary audio file processor.

Incidentally to clear up any confusion (/sarc) MPEG-4 SLS is not related in any way to MPEG-4 ALS (Audio Lossless Coding).

Notice also "The industry’s official logo mark for Hi-Res MUSIC – [was] previously applicable primarily to high quality digital download services. Who knew??

jerseyd's picture

The "High Res" label is a terrible idea. Companies should be forced to use a badge with the actual bit depth and sample rate being used. The new label is akin to a whiskey bottle's label having a badge that says, "The Strong Stuff" instead of telling us if it is 80, 90 or 100 proof (you know, the actual contents).