CES

2015 - Day 1

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34 | 2015 INTERNATIONAL CES DAILY | JANUARY 6-9, 2015 BY JOSEPH PALENCHAR H igh-resolution audio (HRA), whose gener- al consumer awareness is still in its infan- cy, is slowly catching on, its most ardent supporters said. To position themselves for future growth, HRA download sites are expanding their selection of HRA-format music while high-performance audio suppliers here at International CES are expanding their product selec- tions with dozens of new products. They range from high-res portables and home servers to portable USB/ headphone DACs and a Sony high- res car audio head unit that plays DSD f les. Download sites expanding their selection include Acoustic Sounds' Super HiRez Service, whose high- res album selection is growing from 2,351 last No- vember to 3,000 in January 2015. Blue Coast Music's Downloads Now Service is ex- panding this month to 2,500 high-res songs avail- able as individual downloads from 2,000 in No- vember, with the number of albums growing to 250 from 203. ProStudioMasters.com is expanding this month to 23,500 individual high-res songs from 21,000 in November, with the number of albums growing to 1,900 from 1,650. All told, about 5,000 albums worldwide are avail- able as high-res downloads, with about 30 to 50 al- bums transferred to high-res formats per week, one music-industry executive said. With more music f les available, more devices are becoming available to play them on. Here at CES: • Sony is expanding its selection of high-res por- table audio products with its second high-res Walk- man and second portable headphone DAC/amp. • Sony is also launching a single-DIN in-dash head unit that decodes multiple high-res formats in- cluding native DSD and WAV and FLAC. • iRiver's Astell & Kern portable-audio brand is launching its f rst high-res music server, which is HOME AUDIO also its f rst home audio component. • Chord Electronics is unveiling a $2,495 Hugo headphone amp/DAC featuring 384kHz PCM and DSD128 (DXD) playback. • Bryston is bringing its highest-resolution DAC to date, the $3,195-suggested BDA-3 that native- ly decodes up to 384kHz/32-bit PCM and up to DSDx4 music. • Auralic is adding Wi-Fi stream- ing of DSD 256 (quad-DSD) music f les from a PC or NAS drive to its $999 Aries streaming bridge, which already streams 2.8MHz DSD (64), 5.6MHz double-rate DSD (128), and Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) over 802.11ac Wi-Fi networks. • Aurender is demoing its new $1,295-suggest- ed Flow headphone amp/DAC with 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD 64/128 decoding. • Cambridge is launching a networked home au- dio player that plays back WAV, FLAC, AIFF or ALAC in up to 24-bit /192kH z resolution and up-sam- ples to 24-bit/384kHz r e s o l u t i o n . A n e w 7. 2- c h a n n e l AV R a n d a n e w s t e r e o r e c e i v e r fe a t u r e 24-bit/192kHz asynchronous USB-au- dio input. • Krell is upgrading its Digital Vanguard integrated stereo amplifier with a digital module whose inputs include USB to de- code WAV, FL AC and AL AC files up to 192kHz/24-bits. • Meridian is launching a second-generation por- table USB DAC/headphone amp that, like its pre- decessor, streams USB audio up to 192kHz/24- bit quality but now up-samples all input signals to 176.4/192kHz . The growing selection of music and music-play- back devices comes at a time when the market is growing slowly but steadily. "You know what they say: Slow and steady wins High-Res Audio Revs Up FIND THEM HERE Astell & Kern VENETIAN SUITE 35-204 Auralic VENETIAN SUITE 29-323 Aurender BOOTH 74739 Bryston VENETIAN SUITE 29-308 Cambridge VENETIAN SUITE 30-216. Chord VENETIAN SUITE 29-222 Meridian VENETIAN SUITE 30-335 Sony BOOTHS N108, 14200 & 15435 ABOUT 5,000 ALBUMS WORLDWIDE ARE AVAILABLE AS HIGH-RES DOWNLOADS, WITH ABOUT 30-50 TRANSFERRED TO HIGH-RES FORMATS PER WEEK CESWEB.ORG #CES2015 the race, and that's what is going in terms of market growth for hi-res digital downloads," said Chas Kas- sem, founder/CEO of Acoustic Sounds' SuperHiRez service. "The majors all have provided us with great catalog titles, but I think over the next year, we'd like to see some of the newer artists become avail- able in high-res. That will create market expansion." "All of the labels have done a great job of getting catalog titles to us as 24-bit f les," he continued. "We get content regularly, and we're adding multiple ti- tles to the site daily. But, like I've said, we're also interested in contemporary content, and that's been tougher to come by with any regularity. The same goes for DSD f les." Kassem sees the business beginning to attract a "younger, more diverse audience," although he said "it's taking longer than we expected. As an industry, we need to make a conscious, collaborative effort to expose younger audiences to hi-res music. Once they hear it, they'll want it." "I think 2015 is the year we need to start ex- panding our [marketing] focus and start going after music lovers rath- er than just the audiophile community," Kassem concluded. At least one mu- s i c - i n d u s t r y e x - ecutive, however, is concerned that high-res consumers will be confused by some of the high-res hype. "There are only about 1,000 albums in the world that have actually been recorded using high-resolution audio equipment and tech- niques," the executive said. "The vast majority of the rest, about 4,000 albums, are older standard-def - nition recordings [by the Japan Audio Society spec- ification]," and those "have been re-mastered or transferred to 96kHz/24-bit or higher digital deliv- ery formats. The f delity is the same as the original source recordings." This executive contended such albums "should rightly be called 'Master or Studio Quality' rather than high resolution." Sony's PHA-1A portable USB headphone DAC/ amp

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