High Fidelity Pure Audio format brings hi-res audio to Blu-ray

21 Jun 2013

The High Fidelity Pure Audio Group chose to launch at Dolby's Soho Square headquarters yesterday. The HFPA Group will use marketing and promotional activity to drive awareness of the benefits of the High Fidelity Pure Audio format.

High Fidelity Pure Audio releases are, fundamentally, high-resolution recordings mastered to Blu-ray discs and intended for playback on any Blu-ray disc player.

Created from studio master recordings at a minimum of 24bit/96kHz standard, the discs are encoded in three ultra high-quality lossless formats: uncompressed PCM, DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.

Compatibility with any existing Blu-ray player or PS3 obviously gives HFPA an advantage over previous high-definition standards such as SACD. In addition, most discs will include the option to download the same content as either MP3 or FLAC lossless files - this allows the music to be enjoyed across virtually all platforms and players.

Universal Music Group is at the forefront of this initiative, but with support from the likes of Warner Music Group, Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Dolby, DTS and more it's obvious the format has some heavyweight backing.

A number of titles have already been released in France, the sound quality of which have been very positively received. The rollout into other territories will continue throughout 2013 (currently the UK launch is slated for September). Information on UK pricing is tentative, but French retailer FNAC is charging just shy of €20 per disc.

According to research undertaken by Universal's Insight Team last year, the proprtion of music consumers who said they were fairly/very/extremely likely to buy a high-definition audio product within the following six months ranged from 21% (UK) to 32% (US).

By Simon Lucas

 

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Comments

Hey dobyblue, I apologize for confusing anyone, my understanding of the issues is and remains different than yours.  Sorting out who's right and wrong would take all day and you seem to find some joy in making others look foolish, I wont try to fight with you online.  What matters is the end result, the actual fidelity. 

My point then and now is that you can find the best content on Blu-ray; live concerts abound, Bryan Ferry Live In Lyon just came out and is amazing.  http://concertsondvd.com/collections/new-blu-ray-releases

What Hi Fi ran a story today about Blu-ray Pure Audio Music releases, starting now:

http://www.whathifi.com/news/high-fidelity-pure-audio-launch-titles-confirmed?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=EMAIL&utm_campaign=WHFI%20ENews%20Bulletin%20(09.10.2013)&utm_content=article4_readmore

Everything I said previously is the indisputable truth, the Blu-ray format requires an HDMI output, v1.3 or higher to hear,the uncompressed LPCM 24/96K soundtrack.  I have a new DAC with HDMI in, RCA stereo out without video, take a look: http://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/ultimate-dac/

Lets put aside who's right and wrong and focus on the uncompressed audio content, only available on Blu-ray. 

Ciao

Bob

@ dobyblue

 

 Thank you for having the patience to, step by step, sort out the jumble that Bob inflicted on us. Smile

Hi Bob,

No disrespect taken, but there is definitely mis-information in your post, for example you claim 4.9GB is a single-layer DVD which it is not, it is 4.7GB. You claim standard DVD movies use DVD-A, which they do not. You cannot put moving pictures on a DVD-Audio disc. You will never see Dolby Digital EX light up on your receiver if you’re playing a DVD-Audio disc, for Dolby Digital EX tracks would only be contained in the VIDEO_TS folder which is the DVD-Video portion, not the DVD-Audio portion which is the AUDIO_TS folder. I’m not sure how you think this isn’t classified as misinformation, but if you’d like to explain why you think a DVD is actually 4.9GB, or why you think a DVD-A disc is 10GB (and not the 8.5GB I know it actually is providing it’s a dual layer disc which any DVD-Video can also use) with links, I’m all eyes. There is more misinformation in your response, so I’ll address the points individually so it’s easier to follow:

1)      "Uncompressed" is not the same as "lossless compression", lets be clear.

 

Uncompressed is the same end result. To illustrate this please create a new WORD document and type something in it, save it as “Uncompressed Master.docx”. Now make a copy of it, it will be automatically named “Uncompressed Master – copy.docx” I would think. Using WinZip or WinRar or any compression program, losslessly compress this document and e-mail it to yourself. Delete the copy and the zipped file. Save it from your e-mail to your desktop and unzip it. Compare the document that you losslessly compressed to the original and tell me whether what you typed has changed in any fashion. This is exactly what happens with .flac compression or .shn compression or TrueHD/dts-ma. You can convert them from PCM to the lossless format back and forth all day and every time the checksum will remain identical signifying that the audio data has remained unchanged.

 

2)      Only the tangible hard copy Blu-ray disc contains the uncompressed multi-channel audio, it would be illegal to download it from anywhere, its not possible.

 

That is incorrect. You can buy the exact same files that are on the Blu-ray Disc of “GRR!” from HD Tracks. It is legal to download the files from HD Tracks I assure you, they’ve been in business for years.

 

3)      Without HDMI v1.3 or higher, you cannot hear and see the best content.

 

That is incorrect. HDMI v1.1 and v1.2 both support PCM multi-channel up to 192kHz sampling rate. With a receiver that supports HDMI v1.1 there will be zero difference selecting the24/96 PCM 2.0 track from the Rolling Stones’ GRR! Blu-ray Audio disc. There is also nothing in the Blu-ray Specification that requires HDMI v1.3 for 2D video content, HDMI v1.1 and v1.2 both will allow you to watch 1080p24 Blu-ray discs with no differences from an HDMI v1.3 connection. The only differences for Blu-ray would be that you cannot send dts-ma or TrueHD as bitstream.

 

4)      I've compared the HDMI digital throughput to the analog version from the OPPO, there is a modest increase in clarity, resolution, and dynamic range when you stay in the digital domain.

 

This is because of your set-up though. My set-up too is geared to digital, but there will be others with superior analogue chains that will get superior performance out of their systems using their analogue outputs. Oppo even state in their BDP-95 manual “To listen to high resolution audio formats in their best quality, please use the HDMI connection if you have a receiver that handles HDMI audio or use the multi-channel analog outputs if you do not”. They do not agree that one will provide more clarity than the other. In fact they wouldn’t sell their higher end model with analogue outputs if they felt that wasn’t one of the primary reasons driving consumers with all analogue set-ups to buy it.

 

5)      Where we get into trouble is thinking that DVD-A is a one to one copy of the original recording because its 24/96K

 

If the original stereo master is 24/96 and the DVD-A is also 24/96 then yes, it IS a bit for bit reproduction of the original stereo master. If the original stereo master is 2” 30ips analogue tape then a digital format cannot be a bit for bit reproduction. However DVD-A isn’t limited to 24/96, it can also do 24/192 for stereo (see REM’s Green for example) or it can be 24/44.1 or 24/48 for multi-channel, heck 24/88.2 as well. They absolutely CAN sell you whatever they want, there is nothing illegal at all about a company selling you a higher file format than Blu-ray can even handle, like a Digital eXtreme Definition file (DXD) for example which is 24-bit/352.8kHz. In fact 2L from Norway offers studio master quality DXD downloads of many of their catalogue titles, which you’ll have to DOWN sample to 24/192 before you can burn them to Blu-ray. See their online catalogue right here - http://www.2l.no/hires/ - sorry but the notion that it’s illegal to offer a studio master recording is completely unfounded and 100% not true.

 

6)      HD soundtracks at 24/96K can be copies of the commerical CD

 

That doesn’t make sense, a commercial CD is 16/44.1 so how can an HD soundtrack at 24/96 be a copy of the commercial CD? If it was a copy it would also be 16/44.1.

 

7)      There are downloads of the PCM 24/96K "losslessly compressed" versions, those are better than CD

 

Not so at all. First of all PCM is uncompressed, lossless compression refers to any compression scheme that doesn’t lose audio data like FLAC, dts-ma, TrueHD, MLP, Shorten, Ape, etc. In addition you cannot make a blanket statement that they are better than CD. The 20th Anniversary Edition of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” suffers from massive amounts of over-zealous dynamic range compression. The HD Tracks 24/96 download is equally as bad as the CD, registering a dynamic range score of DR6. The original 1991 Geffen CD scores DR12, so in this case the original CD handily outperforms the 20th Anniversary 24/96 download unless you actually enjoy lifeless music. Will there be instances where a 24/96 download bests the CD? Of course when done right, but this brings me to one of the most important things to remember about music, just like computers – GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT. The mastering is the most important part of the chain providing the producer hasn’t baked in disgusting levels of brickwalling and drc to the master mix. Give me a dynamic well-mastered 320 Kbps lossy .mp3 file any day of the week over a hyper-compressed loudness wars enhanced 24/96 lossless or uncompressed download.

 

8 )      I can reach higher SPL's than ever before on Blu-ray

 

That’s not because of Blu-ray, there is nothing about Blu-ray that makes it louder than DVD-A or VHS or a vinyl record, it’s all in the mastering.

 

9)      To recap, MLP on DVD-A, or DVD movies,or broadcast tv, is not HD, not as good as Dolby TruHD or dts MasterHD even though its 24/96K.

 

Your statement is completely jumbled up here by including MLP in the same sentence as DVD movies and broadcast TV and then calling it HD. First of all, of course DVD-Audio isn’t HD, because it doesn’t contain any video footage. It can contain JPEG files only alongside high resolution audio up to 24/96 5.1 and 24/192 2.0. HD starts at 720p, so I can assure you that broadcast TV is HD when it’s broadcasting in 720p or higher. Is it the same quality as Blu-ray video? Providing the Blu-ray is authored to use the full potential with a decent source, of course not. However it is utterly incorrect to suggest that MLP on DVD-A is not as good as Dolby TrueHD or dts-ma. There is simple no difference from an audio data perspective. TrueHD and dts-ma on Blu-ray differ only from an audio standpoint in that they allow 24/192 up to 5.1 and 24/96 up to 7.1. There is ZERO difference between the 5.1 MLP track of Rush’s Moving Pictures on the DVD-A disc of the CD+DVD-A set and the 5.1 PCM track on the Blu-ray disc of the CD+Blu-ray release. Likewise there will be zero difference between the 24/96 5.1 tracks on the DVD-A and Blu-ray discs of XTC’s “Nonsuch” that Steven Wilson is working on. If you don’t believe me feel free to ask him yourself on his Facebook page.

 

Perhaps a lot of what you’re trying to say is getting lost in translation, but there is definitely lots of misinformation in both your posts. If you really care about this subject, which based on your home theatre set-up it sounds like you do, then please take the opportunity to broaden your knowledge on the subject. Were you to take this discussion to any of the AV forums like High Def Junkies, Blu-ray.com, AVS Forum, etc., you’d quickly see that I’m providing you with good information here.

Cheers,

~dobyblue

I can honestly say that this is music to my ears (no punn intended).  This is my favourite format for music, although until now there's been prescious few releases.  About bloody time.  Hope it takes off.  Maybe the times right now, cos a suprising amount of people now have systems capable of getting something out of one of these discs and some have got  very good system that rival many normal stereo set ups.

For me personally 5.1 to stereo is like the difference between stereo and mono and thats before we talk about high def sound formats.

Bloody great, bring it on baby.

@ Bob Rappaport

Your 1st little message was confusing and inacurate. You might later try to excuse it by saying it's 'down to semantic's, but Dolby Blue was right. Your 2nd diatribe seems much more accurate, but again it becomes confusing because there is just too much of it.

That kind of stuff (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) is more expensive  in France. Even French films! Look up Amelie on a UK website, and then 'Le fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain' on a French website, and the price doubles...So, it might be a bit steep at the beginning, but I'm sure we'll end up with good deals on those eventually.

The only issue being that SACD and DVD-A did not take off because they were too expensive, and people don't really like change. Now, we have a format that's a bit more universal, and that could be cheaper (well, it already is if I don't need to change my BD player), but where people are more and more acting along the fact that discs are done for. Personally, I'd be very sad not to be able to buy music on a disc, but it really looks like this is what's going to happen...

Yes but you can buy cds for £1-£2. Last cd i bought was Led Zepp Remasters, double cd for £1.41 why pay something like £10 for the mp3 version? I can rip the cd if I want to, I don't see the point.

I totally applaud more high resolution music releases. HOWEVER, why oh why on Bluray?! None of those machines are built for very high quality music playback, and more importantly, discs are finished. Everyone is streaming now - dont these people actually look at the way the market is moving? All my CDs are ripped to Flac now and played back through a very high quality streamer/DAC which frankly is as good, if not superior, to even the very best CD playback.

There is hope in this article, mentioning that 'most' [sigh] of the titles will be available in Flac too, which IS great, and MP3, which is mystifying as it is lower quality than CD, so why on earth would you pay for an HD download of that?! Very mixed messages and marketing overall, I'd say.

Dobyblue, with all due respect, there is no mis-information in my post. The semantics can trip up most people. Everyone thinks 24/96K is the same thing as the original recording, which is different from the studio master. Its complicated and confusing.

"Uncompressed" is not the same as "lossless compression", lets be clear. Only the tangible hard copy Blu-ray disc contains the uncompressed multi-channel audio, it would be illegal to download it from anywhere, its not possible. For playback, the content must be transferred in the digital domain from the source to the preamp/processor or AVR. HDMI is the interface to use, its high speed and data rate Bitstream were developed just for this purpose, with a specific security protocol called HDCP. In the age of DRM, the studios make us "authenticate" a secure connection that cannot be copied or hacked.  Without that, the audio content is down rezzed to the still-compressed Dolby Digital EX or DTS Digital Surround ES, both at 24/96K.  For most people, thats still fine. However, if you are looking for the ultimate listening experience at home, you must conform to the security protocol.  Without HDMI v1.3 or higher, you cannot hear and see the best content.  The OPPO player is the last to offer analog outputs, it can do the audio processing on board and output the Dolby TruHD, dts MasterHD, and LPCM 2.0 fold-down of the Dolby TruHD.  I've compared the HDMI digital throughput to the analog version from the OPPO, there is a modest increase in clarity, resolution, and dynamic range when you stay in the digital domain, as you said, its worth the cost of the upgrade to HDMI, of that there is no doubt.

Where we get into trouble is thinking that DVD-A is a one to one copy of the original recording because its 24/96K  The people trying to sell you another copy of an old vinyl album or CD want to believe it too so they dont tell you about Blu-ray, they cant sell you those via a download, that would be illegal.  Makes you wonder, what are the studios protecting?

HD soundtracks at 24/96K can be copies of the commerical CD, which as we know are bound by the RedBook standard, compressed 4 to 1 to fit 12 songs in 60 minutes on a single sided disc. Upsampling and reclocking these does not increase the dynamic range.  There are downloads of the PCM 24/96K "losslessly compressed" versions, those are better than CD but be careful, there are a lot more CD copies than original masters when downloading. 

In order to hear the difference, it takes a big system and the privacy to turn it up. I am fortunate, my HD projection system has a screen 111" diagonal, with electrostats and double subs in surround, I can reach higher SPL's than ever before on Blu-ray, its better than live. Shows like Adele at Royal Albert Hall can make you choke up you are so close to her, so intimate, those eyes and voice on those songs, its simply sublime.  SADE produced new ultra 4K video, with multiple projectors creating a staging event that raises the bar to a new art as well. 3D texture mapping is creating new realities in space, live shows are evolving.  Roger Waters The Wall will be out on Blu-ray this year, just wait till you see what can be done now.

To recap, MLP on DVD-A, or DVD movies,or broadcast tv, is not HD, not as good as Dolby TruHD or dts MasterHD even though its 24/96K. For the best resolution, a secure connection must be established. DRM allows them to manipulate the output of the disc and control its use, thats legal now. 

[EDITED BY MODS - House Rules]

Bob

It'll never take off. I want a quality revival as much as the next person but this is just too late to make it. And it doesn't take a genious to predict that prices will stay artificially high and this will inevitably contribute to it becoming yet another defunct format that only a select few will tittilate themselves with. HQ Audio should have always been mainstream...vinly was accesible to rich and poor alike. Quality for all. That's why this will fail.

CD had massive potential but the opportunity was wasted and ruined by fools cramming as many radio quality audio tracks onto a single disc as possible to provide 'value'. They turned music into "Poundland sound" (what I call it) and music became about value for money not quality. Now it is too late to turn back the tide.

 

Or something like that....

 

They were recorded analogue in many cases of these titles coming out, which is even better than 24/96.

They were recorded analogue in many cases of these titles coming out, which is even better than 24/96.

Bob there is a lot of misinformation in your post.

Compression is irrelevant if it's lossless compression, TrueHD is the same as MLP but allowing for more metadata and channels. RCA cables can handle the bandwidth of Blu-ray no problem, you can run 24/192 5.1 or 24/96 7.1 over analogue if you have the right equipment, but I agree that HDMI is preferrable even if it's simply from a cable perspective. Standard movies do not use DVD-A, DVD-A cannot contain moving pictures, only jpegs.

MLP doesn't double storage space to 10 gigs, and there is no jump in dynamic range over lossy compressed 24/96 dts on DVD-Video. 24/96 is the bit depth and sampling rate, it doesn't matter how large or small the storage medium is, it matters how much you're trying to store! (ie - running time). Sure you couldn't fit the entire Beatles catalogue on one DVD-A, but certainly the Love DVD-Audio disc sounds great. No difference in the end result from 24/96 as MLP on DVD-A and as PCM, TrueHD or dts-ma on Blu-ray other than you could add video on the latter if you wanted, but then we're discussing audio discs here not video discs or concerts (and yes, Blu-ray rocks for concerts).

DVD single layer discs are 4.7GB, dual layer discs are 8.5GB, MLP is just an encoding, it's the single or dual layer DVD you're using that determines how much storage space you have.

If it's missing SACD playback then it's not a universal disc player.

Greed on pricing of these discs could quickly kill the format just like it did for SACD. Many universal disc players now miss SACD out, so I am guessing the format is becoming moribud.

The audio circuitry and DAC on many Blu-Ray players is not of high quality, so to get the benefit of this quality, most will need to use a decent external DAC. As others have said, wider availability of 24/96K and 24/192K at a modest mark up on 16/44K files, is probably the way to go for the mass market. More and more people are going to have music streamers and as fibre optic FTTC rolls out thoughout a lot of the UK, the download time will become less relevant. 

I find it offensive that yet again the "Music Industry" tries to get us to pay premium prices for the same old songs "mastered in HD". Reality check: they weren't originally recorded like that, so no amount of remastering or upsampling will be able to recreate what's not there. Read here for some background: http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-mark-waldrep-aix-recordsitrax-part-1-3. Thera are also some very valid, scientific  reasonsnot to go beyond 24/96, see :http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html.

DVD-A was the last generation, still compressed 2 to 1 or 1.5 to 1 depending on the content.  Standard DVD movies use DVD-A, so do most TV broadcasts, so you will see the Dolby Digital EX light up on your AVR. 

Blu-ray audio has been around for 5 years already.  Stunning live concerts on Blu-ray by artists like Adele, SADE, U2, Sting, Led Zeppelin, are "uncompressed", you hear a one to one copy of the studio master recording, matching the bandwidth and dynamic range of the original performance.  With 50 Gigabytes of storage space, there's room for the audio and video in HD, but you should upgrade to HDMI because RCA cables are not capable of handling the datarate and bandwidth of Blu-ray.

This link has 922 concerts on Blu-rayhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=MoviesBDBB_Genre_Music?ie=UTF8&bbn=2625373011&field-format_browse-bin=2650305011&field-theme_browse-bin=2662339011&node=2625373011&page=1&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=left-1&pf_rd_r=0VN8TGPVST9R8EWGMBQ2&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1520897242&pf_rd_i=2901953011. 

btw, the 24/96K label means nothing if the storage media is small.  DVD originally could store 4.9 gigs.  MLP doubled that to 10 gigs for DVD-A, big jump in dynamic rangeb but still compressed 2 to 1

So what happened to DVD audio?

I thought that could do 24bit 192kHz stereo

This is great news!
I started a thread a few years ago asking why there weren't any aufio only blurays and it now looks like we finally have them.
We just need a broader catalogue now Smile

Good idea - suddenly, a universal CD/SACD/Blu-ray disc spinner makes much sense. 

Prices start at about £12 if you have a look at Amazon, which doesn't seem so bad.

Some nice classical works in the list, too.

In rip off Britain I expect discs to be dearer than anywhere else.

£12-15 would be a fair price but I suspect nearer £25 at launch in the UK.

linnrecords charges around that or more for a HD download and half or less for  MP3. You want more quality you have to pay more if you're ok with MP3 you play less than half. Your choice.

I hope they don't take half an hour to load.

They will have to drop the price significantly to make it mainstream for the older generation, and make the downloads available on-line for the younger generation. (As phisical media has no relevance to the younger generation)

Bill

Progess. If  they improve on the clunky menu of  the Grrr disc, which does sound excellent and is great value, it will be worth it. The Neil Young Psychdelic Pill and Rush's 2112 show the potential...

Another format? On a physical disc? Fantasic!

seriously, who needs that?

The Rolling Stones 'GRRR' in this format is £12 on Amazon (inc delivery).

And for that you get 50 tracks

FNAC charges close to €20 for a standard CD, so I wouldn't take their pricing to mean it will be similar in UK.

Pricing? If it's £20-25 per disc it won't fly.