What is High Res Audio?

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You may have been hearing the term ‘High Res Audio’ around these days, particularly for those who have been checking out speakers or headphones from some of the major players in the field.

But what exactly is High Res Audio and what kind of difference could it potentially make to your listening experience? Read on to find out.

The concept of HRA has been around for quite a while, starting as far back as the late 90s. A simple definition is any audio recording with a higher level of quality, dynamic range and bandwidth than regular compact disks.

The compact disk comparison also roughly equates to most online music formats, including downloads and streaming, which max out around 320kbps.

These files, particularly on the internet, are compressed in order to fit more in a download or to play smoothly via streaming. And while compression algorithms are very sophisticated, some of the detail of the original sound is inevitably lost.

That’s where High Resolution Audio comes into the mix.

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It’s a way to ensure that audiophiles are getting more natural and authentic sound reproduction from their favourite artists. The audio is less compressed, with sample frequencies of 96 or 192kHz at up to 24-bit.

Those numbers are just all about fidelity and ‘lossless’ sound which accurately represents the entire range of the recording.

You may have heard of file formats like FLAC which aren’t ‘lossy’ in the way MP3 is and they’re part of the new High Resolution Audio experience. Apple also has their own version and other companies are working on online and even physical copies which are as close as possible to the original material.

While the technology has been around for awhile, it has generally been enjoyed by a small minority of dedicated audio fans who are often willing to shell out for expensive equipment to enjoy the experience. But that’s about to change as HRA heads for the mainstream.

That’s because a number of major companies have started to come around to the idea of better quality audio, including global leaders Sony. They’re starting to introduce their own player which are capable of handling HRA, even bringing the tech to their recent Sony Xperia Z3 mobile handset.

They’ve also invested heavily in new hardware for your home, including high res compatible home cinema systems, amps, headphones and wireless receivers. The addition of a globally recognised company will help to popularise the standards and drive prices down, bringing the quality of high res audio within reach of more and more people.

The latest High Res Audio compatible speakers, receivers and hardware is coming to Harvey Norman soon. Stay tuned for more details.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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