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New blu-ray audio format - a dinosaur in the digital delivery age?
Saturday 12 October 2013 11:57:46 by Andrew Ferguson

The audio CD has on the high street for over twenty years and after various other formats a new one has launched, High Fidelity Pure Audio utilises the capacity of a blu-ray disk to provide high fidelity sound by offering an uncompressed format that should play on any blu-ray player. This should mean an exceptional sound quality, though since it is still digital there will be the absolute purists who will still prefer their vinyl.

The format has been available in France for a short while, but has now launched in the UK and is now available in the UK, Amazon list some 186 titles in the Blu-Ray audio section, though not all titles appear to be in the new Pure Audio format. Pricing seems to be in the £10 to £20 region, so there is a premium compared to standard formats. You should get access to a MP3 version of the album for download as a bonus.

What we find surprising is that the music industry is trying another physical format, when paid digital downloads now form a massive sector of the market. This may be partly down to the fact that Pure Audio track that is 4 minutes long is around 1GB of data, or to put this into broadband speed terms you would need 40 Mbps connection which is within the scope of the actual speeds we are seeing from the FTTC 80 Mbps service.

So while a 1GB music file is a very large file it is not outside the realms of sensible download speeds for a good many people, and remember that MP3 as a format was extremely popular at a time when dial-up was the normal level of Internet connection speed, which meant a single track would take 13 minutes to download. So while its great to have a new higher quality format for music, the appeal is going to be limited by the lack of immediate access millions are accustomed too.

Comments

Posted by sbeck201 over 3 years ago
I bought one of these Blu-ray discs last year. I estimate it would take more than 2 days to download it with my connection speed but I'd always prefer the physical disc over download anyway. Hopefully physical formats will be around for a good few years yet.
Posted by legume over 3 years ago
1 GB for 4 minutes seems artificially inflated, some sort of phoney multichannel mix?

24/96 stereo is way less than that say 85 meg flac 135 wav.

TrueHD and MA do losless compress.
Posted by zelly over 3 years ago
Physical is better than digital
Posted by ScubaGirl over 3 years ago
The Audio CD has been available in the UK for 32 years.

As for the file size, it does mean that currently most people will not be putting them on their phones in the new format for a long time.

It would also be nice to know if the new albums will be making use of the fact that many Blu-ray players will be connected to surround sound systems. This doesn't seem to be present in the current releases which is a shame.
Posted by drummerjohn over 3 years ago
The file size is large because it looks like many of the titles are 5.1. Which means you will be using an AV amp... which means HiFI enthusiasts won't be interested. Pointless for music that was badly mastered anyway. Adeles 21 is probably the worst mastered album ever. Check out this video to understand why higher bit rate and higher sample rate don't often equate to better quality: http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml
Posted by drummerjohn over 3 years ago
"Created from studio master recordings at a minimum of 24bit/96kHz standard." How does that work for the old back catalogue (which is the majority of releases at the mo) which was recorded in analogue.
Posted by swetman over 3 years ago
I take issue with the phase "absolute purists would prefer vinyl". Absolute purists would go for this blu-ray version as it's a faithful copy of the original. Vinyl, by definition being analogue contains distortion, dirt and scratches so only those who don't wish for fidelity prefer vinyl.
Posted by garyhawkins01 over 3 years ago
Sounds like someone in the music industry hasn't read http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html yet ... :)
Posted by swetman over 3 years ago
On the contrary, I have and it does not contradict what I said but confirms it. I'm not comparing digtal systems but comparing these to specifically vinyl discs which apart from collected dust and scratches, produce distortion by the inherent inertia in the stylus tracking the groove of the disc. Also, I'm in the broadcast industry not music.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
@garyhawkins01 I have not read all that but last Christmas Linn released some free downloads. Even to my old ears the 24/96 files are a bit clearer than the 16/44.1. I suspect that most high resolution music is just available as downloads.
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
Pure analogue is always better than digital. Vinyl has limitations but there are far better recording techniques. Digital, be definition is not better than pure analogue as digital has to sample at set intervals to produce the digital 'word' used to represent the signal amplitude at the sample point - but there are large gaps between samples. A sample rate of 44.1 kHz means there is an upper frequency limit of 22.05 kHz (Nyquist principle). Most
people will have very long waits to download that amount of data as few have a fast enough service yet.
Posted by slackshoe over 3 years ago
Can't help but laugh at some of the stuff audiophiles believe. Pure analogue is a misnomer.

The signal degrades every step of the way in analogue recording and playback. It is impossible to make a pure analogue recording.

Digitally audio can be reproduced perfectly every time. The limit of hearing is 20khz (with perfect hearing). For most people, it drops to 15 or 16khz by middle age.

As per sampling theorem, a rate of 44.1khz is more than enough to reproduce all perceptible frequencies. with shaped dithering, aliasing noise is pushed into barely audible frequency range
Posted by peterwnimmo over 3 years ago
@michaels_perry as slackshoe says digital audio can be reproduced perfectly every time. Once you've followed the rules of the sampling theorem there is only one mathematical path through the samples and that is the original analogue wave as outlined in the second video by Monty of xiph.org - http://www.xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml
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