One of the most popular sessions at CES was all about HD music with 15-time Grammy award-winning artist Alicia Keys backing a move to HD 24bit high res content which playback is now built into the latest range of smartphones from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and TCL as well as a new generation of speakers with the exception of Sonos whose speakers are not capable of delivering 24bit HHD audio. The Amazon Music session was packed with industry executives spanning music creation to speaker manufacturers and streaming Company executives with the conclusion being that the future for music is 24Bit. For the past three months, Amazon has been analyzing the data on those who upgraded to Amazon Music HD, and they are listening to music 10 per cent more with HD than they had been doing in the standard format. With a large amount of music being streamed, that 10 per cent increase is “quite significant,” according to Amazon executives. Alicia Keys, whose new single “Underdog” went live during CES in HD, was joined on stage by collaborator Emily Lazar, founder and chief mastering engineer, The Lodge, and Andre Stapleton, head of label relations at Amazon Music. The session was moderated by Andrew Hamp, consultant/founder of 1803 LLC. Three months ago, Amazon launched Amazon Music HD, which delivers music in lossless quality in HD (CD quality), UHD (24-bit/192 MHz), and 3D (immersive formats such as Dolby Atmos and Sony 360) and it’s this technology which is now built into Amazon speakers being sold in Australia.
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Keys told the audience “From the inception [of streaming music], there were constraints that made it cost-prohibitive to take the actual recordings from the studio and get them to the listener’s ear—bandwidth and storage issues,” said Stapleton. “As those constraints have fallen away, we set the table around a new vision of HD where we take the music exactly as it was recorded and deliver it in a lossless way to a mass market. Now we have convenience plus quality.” The difference between standard streaming music and the HD formats is staggering, and Keys thinks it will have a profound effect on listeners. “The experience as a listener, as a fan, is what brings us together,” said Keys. “I am excited about mixing ‘Underdog’ in immersive audio and the highest HD. Music creates a spiritual experience that connects us. What is missing in the world right now is the connection between us, which allows these divisions to come to life. We need that connection.” Lazar, herself a Grammy winner, was able to explain the difference in listening to HD vs. standard. “Music is art,” she began. “Music makes us feel things and make those connections we desperately need. I dare anyone to tell me they would pay to go to a museum and see a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of Starry Night and have the same experience as looking at the real painting. How it makes you feel. It is the same visceral experience you get when you listen to music. The idea of listing to a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy does not work for me or any of the artists I work with.”
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