Digital music recorded at a higher sampling frequency and bit depth than CD can be considered high deï¬ nition, but no hard and fast standard has yet been set.
24-bit/ 192kHz are the numbers you most often see associated with high-resolution downloads, and these denote the bit depth and sampling frequency. 96kHz is also popular because it still trumps CD’s 16-bit/441kHz.
There’s also a confusing list of high-res ï¬ le formats to choose from, and few players can read them all. The usual suspects are:
- FLAC – lossless compression
- ALAC – lossless compression
- WAV – uncompressed
- AIFF – uncompressed
- DSD – lossless compression
But remember, not every one of these formats is necessarily high-resolution. If you rip a CD to FLAC, for example, it will still be CD quality. It just takes up a lot more memory. So when shopping for highresolution tracks, you’ll need to ï¬ nd some assurance that they were created from the studio master.
Portable high-res players
Take your high-res music with you wherever you go.
Sony NW-ZX2 - £950
Sony’s ï¬ rst real foray into portable high-res audio is a beast of a player. Running on Android with a four-inch screen, the player has 128GB of storage and will play for approximately 33 hours on a single charge.
Astell & Kern AK JR - £389
The mack daddy of audiophile-grade portable players, A&K has released the AK JR, a more affordable device with a 3.1-inch screen and 64GB of on-board storage. It’s also tiny, being 6.9mm thin.
Ponoplayer - $399
Pono is ageing rock star Neil Young’s venture, and it’s the quirkiest-looking high-res device out there. Underneath its yellow, Toblerone-esque exterior, you’ll ï¬ nd 64GB of storage and support for most formats.
iBasso DX90 - £249
This Chinese player isn’t going to win any awards for its looks, or its screen for that matter, but it sounds the part – thanks to dual ES9018K2M DACs – and is a relatively cheap way to experience the thrills of high-res.
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