When you listen to hi resolution audio, you are listening to music the exact same way we listen to it in the studio during production, with the same true sonic values. To make a few analogies, the difference between listening to CD audio vs Hi Resolution audio can be compared to watching a VHS tape vs a DVD, and lo resolution mp3s, the difference between watching a VHS tape vs a Blu-ray.
During the production of an album – first in the recording studio, then at mastering - critical listening environments are crucial to insure the quality of the end product. Most professional studios have superb, high end playback systems, where every little nuance is heard, and decisions are based on these nuances throughout every stage of the production. Unfortunately, many of these nuances, like imaging, depth, panning and reverbs, get lost or blurred at the final stages when we have to dumb it down to comply with the limitations of CD specs (16bit / 44.1kHz), and even worse, lo res mp3s. I have to say, this has always been a let down for engineers and producers.
However, more important than the high end audio equipment used, is the resolution of the recording. The higher the resolution, the more detail can be heard, reverbs become clearer, imaging opens up, the frequency spectrum widens, and much more.
In the analog days, a whole different set of circumstances and challenges that would affect the outcome of the product came into play, like choice of recorders, tape speed, brand of tape, bias, tape degradation from overuse, mix format, etc., etc., but when you got everything right – the warm and punchy sound of analog was pretty hard to beat.
Since the early days of digital recording, we have always recorded at the highest possible resolutions available at the time, in an effort to come close to reproducing the beauty of analog. As media storage became cheaper and technology advanced by leaps and bounds, we were able to record at higher and higher resolutions. We’re now at a point where recording at resolutions of 192kHz and higher is commonplace.
Some of our earlier music was recorded on analog multitrack and mixed to ½” tape. These tapes are now being transferred to digital using an Ampex ATR-102 ½” analog machine via DSD 128 format (5.6 MHz). Our first native digital recordings were recorded at 24bit/44.1kHz, 48kHz, and 88.2kHz, then 24bit/96kHz, and 192kHz.
Now the technical stuff:
FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Coding) is a lossless digital audio coding format, which can compress an audio file by up to 60% of its original file size. When decompressed it becomes an identical copy of the original audio data. Our FLAC files are derived directly from the original DSD master source files. ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), is the Apple equivalent of a FLAC file. Sonic qualities of a FLAC and ALAC file are identical – they’re both lossless and an exact replication of the original file. There are many FLAC to ALAC converters on the market. For your convenience, we have included a FREE FLAC to ALAC converter that also preserves all metadata and artwork. Click here to download.
Pure Audio Blu-ray is a hi resolution physical format via Blu-ray, developed in Germany by Stefan Bock at msm-studios. It is a screenless navigation hi res format, with up to 4 audio streams, in stereo and surround sound up to resolutions of 24bit/192kHz.
Available formats from Alma:
Pure Audio Blu-ray - physical Blu-ray disc. We are planning to launch our Pure Audio Blu-ray line in January, 2015
FLAC - 24bit/192kHz We are recording most of our newer material in this resolution. As older ½” tape masters are transferred, we will make them available on our store in every hi res format. Keep checking.
FLAC - 24bit/96kHz is a hi res format that most consumers can handle without much fuss. iPhones and most other smartphones can handle 24/96 files, as will players like the Logitech TOUCH, connected to a normal stereo receiver.
MP3 – 320Kbps (16bit/44.1kHz) - Hi Quality MP3. Available now!!