We attended a pre-CES show floor sneak peak at the latest trends in high-resolution audio, otherwise known as HD audio, at the High Performance Audio and Home Theater press event. This unique press event seemed more like a music industry CD listening party as several tracks were compared between a downloaded HD audio file from musicgiants.com (24bit 88.2kHz) and a standard iTunes tune (128kbit aac file) including Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones), Temptation (Diana Krall) and a recording of Tchaikovskyâ€™s Violin Concerto. Also played was an original mono recording of Sloop John B (The Beach Boys) which sounded excellent as well.
Of course, the high end system setup in the demo room running Thiel speakers (the much anticipated CS3.7 at $9,900/pair) really showed a dramatic difference between the formats. We disagree at how much of a difference weâ€™d notice using an iPod with the standard headphones that come with the iPod.
Basically, High Definition audio is not a new technology but a marketing speak (made up by CEA) for lossless audio. The â€œtruthâ€ came out when one prickly press guy accused the presenters that HD Audio was just a CEA marketing campaign and not a new technology.
Musicgiantâ€™s FAQ describes High Definition Music Downloadâ„¢ as:
High definition music downloadsâ„¢ are the highest quality download available for your home theater. The sound quality of this download is equal to a CD. It is an uncompressed digital file, unlike the MP3 which is compressed 7 times. The High Definition download is encoded in the Lossless WMA (Windows Media Audio) format.
The Geeks are not sure why you would spend between $15 and $20 for an album download from MusicGiants when you could purchase the Red Book CD (audio CD) for less and have physical media that you could rip in a format without loss.
We did score a couple of tickets to the Benson and Jarreau concert on Tuesday at 10pm in the Venetian Ballroom. Since we canâ€™t make it, if you are interested and at CES, leave us a comment and weâ€™ll pass them over to you Sunday or Monday.