By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Arlington, Va. — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) joins CE manufacturers, retailers, music labels and artists in offering expanded support for and promotion of high-resolution audio (HRA).
CEA is exploring initiatives to corral support among consumers and retailers, and plans to leverage opportunities to promote HRA at the 2014 International CES.
Adoption of HRA offers benefits for consumers as well as new market opportunities for the CE and music industries, CEA said, adding that HRA offers the highest digital sound quality while retaining the benefits of digital audio, such as portability and personalization. HRA music files provide greater clarity and detail than MP3s and other compressed digital audio formats, resulting in a listening experience that more closely represents the original recording, it added.
“The time is right for our organization to explore new avenues to help promote this exciting audio technology. Recent market trends and research indicates that consumers are poised to embrace high-resolution audio, creating tremendous new market opportunities,” said CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro. “We expect major HRA announcements over the next year and believe that the technology will have a strong presence at the 2014 International CES.”
Consumers have embraced higher quality video over the past decade as they transitioned to HD TV, and now Ultra High-Definition, CEA said, noting that HRA enables consumers to bring the same immersive, high-quality experience to their audio listening.
CEA said its research shows consumers are ready to embrace HRA, and that the appeal of high-quality audio electronics extends beyond enthusiasts. CEA research finds four in 10 (39 percent) consumers with a moderate interest in audio indicate they are willing to pay more for high quality audio electronics devices. Nine in 10 consumers said sound quality is the most important component of a quality audio experience. Other factors identified include compelling content (85 percent) and superior audio electronics (72 percent) as vital to consumer enjoyment of audio.
“Sony has always been on the forefront of exciting CE developments and feels strongly that a new approach is required to delivering the benefits of high-resolution audio to a much broader audience,” said Phil Molyneux, president and COO of Sony Electronics.
Music labels are expanding their HRA catalogues online with tens of thousands of HRA albums already available for download across every music genre. Every major music label has expressed support for HRA, including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, in addition to leading independent labels. HRA digital music stores are already online, with more being added each day, CEA said.
More than 50 CE manufacturers now offer a growing array of HRA-capable products, addressing a variety of music lifestyle needs. An increasing industry shift toward offering more HRA options will present expanded market opportunities for CE manufacturers, retailers and music labels. Consumers increasingly have the ability to play HRA files across a variety of devices with the convenience they have come to enjoy and expect in digital audio.
“High-resolution audio isn’t about technical specs or bit rates — it is about thrilling fans with an incredible listening experience that places them in the studio with the artists they love. As our industry continues to help bring about ways of making that quality conveniently available for fans, there will be an explosion in new creative and commercial possibilities for artists, labels, device manufacturers and digital services alike,” said Mike Jbara, president, Alternative Distribution Alliance Worldwide, Warner Music Group.
“Music, in the form of high-resolution audio files, now gives us a complete range of playback options, including the highest quality that has ever been publicly available. High-resolution music files are truly superior to the sound of a CD, and are becoming more widely available,” said William E. Low, CEO and designer, AudioQuest. “Thanks to new initiatives in support of HRA, consumers will be more and more aware of the pleasures and practicality of high-resolution audio: One file, nearly infinite applications — seductive, stimulating, relaxing music available as never before.”
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