HDTracks, the pioneering US high-resolution music store, has confirmed it will officially launch in the UK this year.
The high-res downloads store will launch in Q1 of 2014, with HDTracks aiming to go live in the UK "by the end of March or the first week of April", and in Germany soon after, as the US site finally reaches Europe.
The company says it has now partnered with every major music label, including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner and Universal, to create the world's largest catalogue of high-resolution audio files.
The store will launch with 10,000 albums in the uncompressed, PCM audio format, with new HD audio releases confirmed from Lorde, Bruce Springsteen, Black Sabbath and more, as the service promises to add "legendary groups and contemporary new artists".
HDTracks already offers some 48 artists from the 2014 list of Grammy nominees, including Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney, available in the first time in the higher quality 24/96 and 24/192 bit/sampling rates.
It was hoped CES 2014 would see a number of announcements and developements around high-res music but apart from confirmation of a UK release date and price for the Sony Z1 Walkman and the launch of the Astell & Kern AK240, there was little else of note.
We had previously seen a family of Sony high-res audio products at IFA in Berlin but HDTracks says it will itself be working on an industry-wide campaign to educate consumers and broaden acceptance of the format.
Existing "HDTracks hardware partners" include Sony, Meridian Audio, Astell & Kern, AudioQuest and Fiio.
The news that HDTracks is coming to the UK goes a long way to solving one problem, however – the lack of HD audio content.
The site will join the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, Linn, Naim and 7Digital in offering high-resolution music downloads.
There's no announcement on support for DSD (Digital Stream Direct) as yet, with HDTracks telling us "that could change by the time the site launches, but the biggest priority right now is offering UK customers the world's largest high-res audio downloads store".
David Chesky, co-founder of HDTracks.com, said the response to the service and high-res music has been overwhelmingly positive, the success in the US showing that consumers do want higher quality music.
"What’s also very exciting for us is that we’re now reaching a much larger audience of younger listeners engaged in the personal audio category, and they’re just as eager to enjoy their favorite contemporary artists with a sound quality that truly brings them closer to the music."
by Joe Cox