How to add Hi-Res to your Hi-Fi system

Call it the Apple effect. Since the California giant has been promoting it on its Apple Music platform, high-resolution, high-resolution or “lossless” digital music, as you choose, is increasingly in demand by audiophiles – with or without the famous apple …

MP3, CD, HD…

Because apart from the musical source, the equipment used is of great importance in the quality of the sound obtained. If you’re using a cheap Bluetooth headset, the difference between a song on CD, one that’s digitized on his computer in MP3 format, or one that comes from an online source will be inaudible, even if we’re promised “HD” sound quality. The Bluetooth protocol limits the bit rate of a stereo music source. Even the latest Bluetooth versions compatible with Sony’s LDAC codec are not completely faithful to HD.

In other words, even with the latest AirPods Pro 2 paired with the latest iPhone, it would be impossible to completely distinguish between “high quality” or “lossless” 24-bit 48-bit or 192kHz streams… except for the wireless bill. . wire , if you’re streaming from your cellular network. The best quality song contains up to five times more bytes than an MP3 file.

AirPlay, Dolby Atmos, spatial audio…

Announcing in 2021 the arrival of lossless music on its music platform, Apple didn’t offer a lot of ways to take full advantage of it from a stereo. Apple TV and HomePod speakers can play a lossless format that is limited to 48kHz. The high-resolution (192 kHz) lossless format must necessarily go from a laptop or cable computer to a digital-to-analog decoder (called a “DAC”). It is routed to an amplifier and then to the speakers of your choice. The AirPlay wireless protocol is limited to CD-like audio quality (16-bit, 44.1kHz).

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In the age of wireless technologies and Internet broadcasting, this is cumbersome. Simaudio, the Boucherville-based maker of premium audio equipment, offers another solution: the all-in-one Moon ACE home music player requires only a pair of speakers to produce the highest quality sound possible. The device is not given. It costs $5,200. But it’s entry-level at Simaudio, which sells systems costing $100,000 and up. Moon ACE has wifi connectivity to high-resolution music services, including Deezer, Tidal, and Qobuz.

Properly configured, two speakers connected to a system like the Moon ACE will create a stereo sound environment that is more pleasing to the ear than many systems that offer pseudo spatial or surround sound. These days we hear a lot about “spatial audio” like Dolby Atmos, which is touted as a way to enhance the musical experience in headphones or in the listening room at home.

In headphones, ok. For movie or video, of course. As for the music at home, I’m not sure, says Dominique Poupart, who preaches a little for his diocese. Simaudio’s product manager isn’t necessarily wrong: Boucherville’s Simaudio listening room and stereo speakers prove you don’t need a dozen speakers to get a lot out of it. ears…

To get true Dolby Atmos sound, you need a room with at least ten speakers, while two well-placed speakers in a room with good acoustics will provide the same immersion. In the same budget, two good speakers with two The speakers are of a much better quality than twelve speakers with twelve amps. »

Spotify, Qobuz, Sonos…

As for music services, the big news in Quebec will be the arrival next month of French app Qobuz, which made its first failed attempt in the country in the middle of the last decade. This time will be good, as they say. Qobuz’s peculiarity is broadcasting in high definition at 192 kHz. Tidal HiFi Plus offers the same sound quality as Amazon Music Unlimited.

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So far, the only platform lagging behind in high-quality streaming is Spotify, which promised streaming at the same speed as CD playback months ago and can finally deliver on its promise this year. Hopefully, the folks at Spotify will up their exposure to the higher-fidelity audio format, which can be accessed directly by third-party smart speakers.

Because right now, people who want a taste of digital music in a high-resolution format and who don’t want to completely empty their piglet have the option of pairing a pair of Sonos speakers with Apple Music. Or even less so, a pair of Amazon Music Unlimited’s Echo speakers.

Here again, the question that is likely to be asked most often is: can you really hear the difference?

Qobuz in Canada: “Q” for Quebec

Let’s see in the video

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