This year, High-Res Audio is expanding beyond the audiophile niche and pushing its way into the mainstream. There’s a growing market for those who want to hear music everywhere just as it sounds in a recording studio or concert venue—and they’re willing to invest more to get that experience. According to Reuters, Americans spent more on headphones last year than they did on physical music like CDs for the first time. What’s fueling this growing demand for better sound quality?
One could argue that this trend is being influenced by shifts in lifestyle. People are enduring longer commutes, living in smaller apartments and more frequently relying on smartphones and streaming services. Listening to music is a good way to pass the time while commuting, and consumers expect the sound quality of their mobile music experience to be just as exceptional as it is at home. And as our living spaces get smaller, high-quality digital music becomes even more appealing. A digital music library provides access to millions of tracks that occupy no physical space in our homes, compared to the storage needed for physical music collections. Here are five trends that show how the High-Res Audio industry is evolving to accommodate a mobile lifestyle.
Mobile makers are buying into High-Res Audio
Smartphones go everywhere with us, and as consumers rely more on their phones to keep up with their on-the-go lives, device manufacturers are doing everything they can to provide a better mobile experience. Smartphone manufacturers are hoping that better-sounding audio will help them differentiate, which is why they’re investing in High-Res Audio to improve the playback of music on their phones. Renowned device manufacturers including Sony, LG and HTC have all joined in on the trend.
The Sony Xperia™ was created for the hustle and bustle lifestyle of today’s audience. Its DSEE HX™ technology upscales low-res and compressed audio files to almost high-res quality with ClearAudio+, optimizing the balance and providing an unmatched listening experience. Consumers can enjoy music in the pristine quality it was meant to be heard, even on their phones.
High-Res Audio is going wireless
Consumers are cutting the cord, and the wireless audio device space is expected to be worth as much as $38.5 billion by 2023, up from just $6.9 billion in 2014. Futuresource, a specialist research service provider for the audio industry, predicts that all home audio devices will be wireless by 2019.
This wireless trend continues to gain momentum in High-Res Audio devices. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing wireless headphones while working out at the gym or riding public transit to work. Many young professionals find that their commutes are getting longer, and as they look for ways to remain entertained during this time, it makes sense that they’re starting to gravitate toward gadgets that can keep up with their on-the-go lifestyle.
High-Res Audio is now available to stream
On-demand streaming services offer one of the most popular ways that people like to consume music, and services like Spotify and Pandora have seen remarkable growth in the past few years. The latest reports estimate that streaming accounts for more than 25 percent of digital musical revenue compared to just 3 percent in 2007. With more artists, including The Beatles, adding their catalogs to these services, it doesn’t seem as if this trend will slow down anytime soon.
The accessibility and ease of streaming appeals to the masses with its convenience and accessibility. However, this convenience comes at a price since streaming does not typically offer the best in audio quality. But with the industry shifting its focus to High-Res Audio, more music services are expected to join the High-Res Audio streaming trend.
For example, Qobuz, an on-demand streaming service and music store that launched in France in 2008, offers high-res studio master downloads at 24 bit/192 kHz. With a catalog covering 28,000 labels and producers, and more than 20 million tracks available to download or stream, their high-res selections cater to all music tastes.
Achieving a seamless multi-room High-Res Audio experience
Consumers don’t just want music that can travel with them outside their homes, they’re looking for a consistent multi-room experience within their homes as well. Multi-room playback of High-Res Music is expected to increase this year, and consumers will have the ability to enjoy high-quality music from different sources, wherever and whenever they want.
Whether by their smartphone or computer, listeners enjoy audio through multiple Bluetooth® connected devices, so delivering a seamless user experience across every component can be difficult. From the smartphone to the speaker, sub-woofer or soundbar, to the realm of whole-home networked audio, you can expect a more integrated audio chain in 2016.
Converting Vinyl Records to High-Res Audio
As vinyl records continue to make their comeback, it’s now possible to convert your record collection into High-Res Audio with Sony’s PS-HX500 turntable. Vinyl records can’t travel with you, so this feature is a perfect match for a mobile lifestyle. The technology of this turntable makes it possible to breathe new life into analog masterpieces and enjoy a brand new listening experience.
While High-Res Audio isn’t going to be completely phasing out MP3-quality streaming services anytime soon, 2016 will most likely see sizable growth in the High-Res Audio market. People are constantly on the move, and consumers want their audio offerings and technology to keep pace. With these new services and devices, including High-Res Audio streaming and smartphones that offer impeccable sound, there are more opportunities than ever to incorporate an aspect of High-Res Audio technology into your lifestyle.