Back in the 60’s, our toys were Tonka trucks, lunchbox-sized record players and Barbie. Our parents had large pieces of furniture called HiFi’s and collections of vinyl records. Album play is limited, though and CD technology has improved music production for continual play. Even so, we did learn from these what real music sounded like. Finally there is an opportunity from which we will, just as our parents did, educate our children about real music and true sound.
In 2005 our toys are Runco, Ferrari and Ohm Walsh speakers. While many of us have home theaters and sound systems in our home, our children expect to have cell phones, pagers and portable players because all their friends have them. Our toys have gotten better as we’ve aged, just like wine, but now that we have them, it brings up some questions. Would you put low octane gas in your Ferrari, or 100 octane racing fuel? Would you listen to low-resolution or high-definition music on your quality home sound system? Do you eventually want your kids to know who Bach, Glen Miller and Miles are and what their music really sounds like in high fidelity?
According to Forrester Research the digital music market will grow from $700 million to $4.6 billion by 2008. While investors and young music consumers are still cooing over their iPods, they are missing out on something even better – high definition music and a service that can deliver it. If you are listening to compressed music using iPod earbuds you may notice some difference from a store bought CD, but once you play that same music on a good home stereo system, the difference is huge.
If you do the math, it is simple. The majority of compressed music offered by on-line services is downloaded from 128kbps to 192kbps. While all of these services claim their music is CD quality, it’s not. Anyone can hear the difference.
Well funded start-up, MusicGiants, has spent the past two plus years developing software, hardware and signing licensing deals with all of the major music labels to deliver high definition music in Microsoft Windows Media Lossless (WMA) format. Music originally recorded on high resolution masters is delivered over the Internet from 470kbps to 1100kbps to your PC, running XP, and is directly connected to your stereo. That same music can be downloaded directly to a MusicGiants media player called SoundVault and the SoundVault directly connected to your stereo. Media servers are in development by other manufacturers. MusicGiants’ SoundVault comes with a 380-gigabyte hard drive, its software, a state-of-the-art sound card and additional features. With the SoundVault connected in your stack, you can use your big screen TV to manage your music collection. A wireless keyboard or Crestron panel really enhances the experience.
Companies like HP are building PCs dedicated to home entertainment. The price of storage is very affordable and high-quality sound cards for the PC provide interesting ways to acquire and listen to music. On the portable front, Creative Labs, Samsung and others have products that include larger hard drives and an alternative for music lovers to play and store WMA Lossless music in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player.
The discerning listener, who cares deeply about music and its reproduction, can easily hear a massive quality difference. Just download a track in WMA Lossless from MusicGiants, then download the same track from any other download service at 128kbps, copy the tracks to a CD and play the CD on your home system. You will hear the difference loud and clear.
It has taken several years for HDTV to take off. Now that satellite and cable services are providing consumers with HD content, we are seeing the adoption of HDTV. MusicGiants may be a contributor to digital music’s evolution to an all digital future in which CD racks are no longer needed and where the highest resolution music formats are offered. While only time will tell, you can decide whether you want to try the elegant software developed by MusicGiants that allows you to really enjoy and add to your collection with many unique features. MusicGiants’ software allows you to see what you own in high fidelity and low fidelity and to add music track by track, or buy a complete collection in high definition.
If you agree that a Ferrari requires high-octane fuel and that your home system needs high definition music, then you may also agree that your toys too have evolved again. You may also find your children listening to your music.