Sounds of science: Japan leads push for high-res audio reports that a quarter of a century after the Walkman made music portable and turned Sony into a household name around the world, the company is hoping to set the agenda again with “high-res” audio.

The Japanese tech giant, which recently warned it was expecting a $2.14 billion annual loss this year, is betting that music of superior quality to compact discs is about to leave the niche world of audiophiles and go mainstream.

“It’s exactly one year since we put the first high-resolution audio players on the market and they have been very popular,” Sony’s head of audio Ichiro Takagi told journalists last week.

Now the firm wants to “push the accelerator on the high-res product line”, he said.

Audio purists have long complained that digitized music has to be compressed so much to fit into the standard mp3 file format that it sounds far removed from how the musician or studio engineer intended.

A lot of data is lost in the compression, especially when compared with analogue formats like the vinyl record – which is enjoying a revival despite the ubiquity of music on smartphones.

In contrast, high-res digital music has a sampling frequency – the amount of times every second that the data is encoded – around four times that of a CD.


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