Understanding High-Resolution Audio


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The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

For customers looking to buy new audio equipment — be it speakers, headphones or a host of other devices — the process can be daunting. Products are advertised with all sorts of certifications and standards that most of us have seen. But let’s face it: Most of us have no idea what they mean.

Perhaps the most important standard is high-resolution audio. Three leaders in audio are Sony Group Corp. (NYSE: SONY), (Sonos (NASDAQ: SONO)) and WiSA with 70+ brands (Summit Wireless (NASDAQ: WISA)). Lossless high-resolution, wireless audio is a key component of WiSA’s (NASDAQ: WISA) stringent standards. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the best quality possible, but let’s look at what it actually means.

High Resolution

When it comes to picture quality, high definition is a clearly defined standard: 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. For years, there wasn’t an analogous standard set out for audio. However, in 2014, the Digital Entertainment Group, Consumer Electronics Association and The Recording Academy got together with some major record labels and settled on a standard. They defined it as “lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources."

Quality in digital audio is measured by bit depth and sampling frequency. In this case, bigger is better. To be high res, it must be greater than 16 bit/24.1 kilohertz. What does this actually mean? When a digital recording is created from an analog source, you are essentially breaking up a smooth signal into individual data points. The bit depth is how accurate each data point is and the frequency is how many points there are.

Think of skating down a ramp. It’s a smooth ride. That’s analog. It is the perfect ideal. Now imagine you try to skate down a set of stairs right next to the ramp. Let’s say there are 10 steps and they’re each 1 foot deep. You probably wouldn’t make it far. This is poor-quality digital.

But let’s say you were to make the stairs incredibly shallow, say a ⅛ of an inch each, and now there are 960 stairs. You make it down the stairs even if it’s not the smoothest ride. This is a more accurate digital representation of the ramp. This is an MP3.

Now let’s say each stair is the width of a hair and there are tens of thousands of them. You’d skate down those stairs smooth as butter. Just as if it were an actual ramp. This is high-res audio.

Hopefully, this analogy helps you understand what is happening on a technical level. Digital audio technology is about creating the most faithful representation of the original analog sound. With high-resolution audio, you can be sure your ears won’t be able to tell a difference.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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