Hi-Res Audio What it is and why you should want it

If you’re an audio fan, you know that the goal of any home audio system is to get as close to the live experience as possible. That’s why, even with decades of audio innovations, vinyl is still the gold standard for its pure analog audio reproduction. But for all its positives in sound quality, records will never fit in your pocket, play in your car, or join you for a run. And so the search began. 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, MP3s. The quality got pretty bad, then much better with CDs, then when music went digital, it seemed most people just gave up and said, “the heck with sound quality, I can put 300 songs in a pen-cap-sized file and I’m happy with that.”

But the true audio fan kept looking, wanting hi-quality sound in a format that would satisfy the world’s need to make everything small, digital, and able to float through the ether. Up popped high-resolution digital audio and our problems were solved. Except the files were so enormous you needed a turntable-sized player just to hold your 10 favorite albums. But today, with components the size of a smartphone that can hold these giant file sizes, finally Hi-Res audio can come out and play.

Defining High Resolution Audio

Unfortunately, there is no single standard definition for High Resolution audio. At Magnolia, we’ve chosen to define it as content that is CD-quality or better. That’s any audio that delivers at or above 16-bits of information taken 44.1k times per second. For clarity, we can compare it to the video world this way: if MP3s are like standard definition TVs, then Hi-Res audio is like 4K Ultra HD TVs.

The reality is that the majority of Hi-Res content is better than CD quality. The main reason to call it CD-quality or better is that live streaming content currently cannot exceed this level of sound quality. But you’ll find most Hi-Res content reaches the specifications of 24bit/96kHz and 24bit/192kHz, a level that starts to rival vinyl.

“Hi-Res audio is the future of digital audio”

Why go Hi-Res?

Beyond its incredibly convenient digital size format, portability and streaming convenience, High Resolution offers three really unique benefits over the music you’re probably currently listening to:

1) Improved Dynamic Range: More detail and greater difference between quiet and loud passages and notes.

2) Improved Harmonic Performance: This is the ability to keep the tiny changes in a complex performance, giving you the feeling of being there. Instruments sound more full and real, notes carry out to their natural conclusion.

3) More Realism: The end goal of any system is to get you to the point of perfectly reproducing what the artist intended. Hi-Res audio gets you closer to this.

Get it, got it, it’s good

Hi-Res audio is the future of digital audio, and unlike 4K HD when it first came out, there is plenty of content, from a host of online resources that allow you to stream, download and play your Hi-Res audio. Furthermore, there are a number of different devices you can use to play Hi-Res audio. Magnolia offers multi-room players like Bluesound wireless speakers and amplifiers, as well as DTS Play-Fi enabled speakers from Polk, Definitive Technology and MartinLogan. Sony, Arcam, Rotel, Denon and Marantz all offer amplifiers and digital-to-analog converters that let you bring Hi-Res music to your home’s audio system. And for that convenience that turntables will never provide, you can get Hi-Res portable players from brands like Sony, with their latest Hi-Res versions of the Walkman®.

To experience Hi-Res for yourself, visit your nearest Magnolia Design Center, where you’ll find the players, the speakers, the know-how and everything else you need to make Hi-Res a reality.

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