Huawei and Sony Select Have Reached Cooperation Bringing Hi-Res Music Library to Smart Speakers
At the recent Chinese press conference of the Mate 40 series, in addition to new smartphones, Huawei also launched the Huawei Sound smart speaker. It is worth noting that this speaker comes with Sony’s selected Hi-Res technology. This is also the first time Sony has provided audio sources for IoT outside of smartphones.
One of the highlights of the Huawei Sound smart speaker is the sound quality. Huawei has launched in-depth technical cooperation with French high-end audio brand Devialet, adopting a full set of Devialet acoustic speaker structure design and professionally tuned by Devialet.
In addition, Huawei Music has also reached a cooperation with Hi-Res streaming music service provider Sony Select to simultaneously launch a high-resolution streaming music library on the Huawei Sound smart speaker series.
Naofumi Yazaki, Business Director of Sony China Music Division and Editor-in-Chief of Sony Select Hi-Res Music, said that Huawei Music and Sony Select pursue the same goal and direction. It is to provide Chinese users with the best music experience. In addition, the quality of Huaweis terminal equipment, such as Huaweis smart speaker Sound series, and Huaweis music and other content services provided by Huaweis terminal cloud service, provide the necessary hardware conditions and content platform for displaying the high quality of Hi-Res music.
Huawei Pays Much Attention To Hi-Res and Other Sound Quality Certificates
Wu Bin, head of the full-scene solution department of Huawei Consumer BG Cloud Services, said that Sony’s Hi-Res selection library covers many well-known music labels around the world. Also, it covers multiple styles and genres such as classical, jazz, and pop. The cooperation provides quality support for the content of smart speakers. For users, they can enjoy high-quality music selected by Sony Hi-Res in the Huawei Music App and smart speakers at the same time by logging in to their Huawei account.
Wu Bin believes that for users, in addition to smartphones, smart speakers, smart screens, and in-car solutions will all be the main scenarios for music. The full-scene experience and ecology of music content is one of Huaweis main directions in the future. Huawei will continue to introduce partners music and other high-quality content to 1+8+N devices such as smart speakers, smart screens, and in-vehicle solutions to provide rich content support for terminal hardware devices. For example, Huaweis HMS for Car will cooperate with high-end luxury car brands. And Huawei will simultaneously consider bringing Sony and other premium music content services online to more devices.
Personal Audio Systemh.ear go (SRS-HG1)
The speaker enters the USB mode.
The following settings are required on “Sony | Music Center for PC” when using “Sony | Music Center for PC.”
- Select [Settings] from the [Tools] menu.
- Click [Audio output settings] . Then, select [ASIO] or [Exclusive WASAPI] under [Output mode]. Select the dedicated driver*1 or connected device*1 from the pull-down menu.
*1 “Sony Audio Driver” or “Speakers (Sony Audio)” may be displayed.
- Follow the instructions on the PC screen to operate.
For details on the procedure, refer to [How to use] on the “Sony | Music Center for PC” support website.
High-resolution audio: everything you need to know
After years of niche positioning in the music world, "high-resolution audio" (or "hi-res audio") finally hit the mainstream, thanks to a huge raft of support in streaming services (such as Tidal and Amazon Music HD) and products (from smartphones to most digital hi-fi components).
So why should you care about hi-res audio? If you want the best digital music experience possible or at least better sound quality than you're currently used to (and why wouldn't you?), hi-res audio is definitely worth investigating.
It can be a daunting prospect. After all, what exactly constitutes hi-res audio, what do all the different file formats and numbers mean, where can you download or stream these high quality files, and what devices do you need to play it?
Indeed, where do you even begin?
That's where we come in. Our handy guide will take you through the ins and outs of hi-res audio. By the end, we hope you'll know everything you need to know (and then some) and will be well on your way to enjoying your new and improved sonic lifestyle.
What is high-resolution audio?
Unlike high-definition video, there’s no single universal standard for hi-res audio. In , the Digital Entertainment Group, Consumer Electronics Association and The Recording Academy, together with record labels, formally defined high-resolution audio as “lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources".
In its simplest terms, hi-res audio tends to refer to music files that have a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than CD, which is specified at bit/kHz.
Sampling frequency (or sample rate) refers to the number of times samples of the signal are taken per second during the analogue-to-digital conversion process. The more bits there are, the more accurately the signal can be measured in the first instance, so going 16bit to 24bit can deliver a noticeable leap in quality. Hi-res audio files usually use a sampling frequency of 96kHz or kHz at 24bit. You can also have kHz and kHz files too.
Hi-res audio does come with a downside though: file size. A hi-res file can typically be tens of megabytes in size, and a few tracks can quickly eat up the storage on your device or be cumbersome to stream over your wi-fi or mobile network. Thankfully, storage is much cheaper than it used to be, so it's easier to get higher-capacity devices. And technologies such as MQA (see below) have arrived to help tackle that.
That's not all: there are also several different hi-res audio file formats to choose from, all of which have their own compatibility requirements.
They include the popular FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) formats, both of which are compressed but in a way which means that, in theory, no information is lost. Other formats include the uncompressed WAV and AIFF formats, DSD (the format used for Super Audio CDs) and the more recent MQA (Master Quality Authenticated).
The relative merits of each of the formats can be argued, but the most crucial issue will be the file's compatibility with your chosen products and software.
Here's a breakdown of all the main file formats:
MP3 (not hi-res): Popular, lossy compressed format ensures small file size, but far from the best sound quality. Convenient for storing music on smartphones and iPods, but doesn't support hi-res.
AAC (not hi-res): An alternative to MP3s, it's lossy and compressed but sounds better. Used for iTunes downloads, Apple Music streaming (at kbps) and YouTube streaming.
WAV (hi-res): The standard format all CDs are encoded in. Great sound quality but it's uncompressed, meaning huge file sizes (especially for hi-res files). It has poor metadata support (that is, album artwork, artist and song title information).
AIFF (hi-res): Apple's alternative to WAV, with better metadata support. It is lossless and uncompressed (so big file sizes), but not massively popular.
FLAC (hi-res): This lossless compression format supports hi-res sample rates, takes up about half the space of WAV, and stores metadata. It's royalty-free and widely supported (though not by Apple) and is considered the preferred format for downloading and storing hi-res albums.
ALAC (hi-res): Apple's own lossless compression format also does hi-res, stores metadata and takes up half the space of WAV. An iTunes- and iOS-friendly alternative to FLAC.
DSD(hi-res): The single-bit format used for Super Audio CDs. It comes in MHz, mHz and mHz varieties, but isn't widely supported.
MQA(hi-res): A lossless compression format that efficiently packages hi-res files with more emphasis on the time domain. Used for Tidal Masters hi-res streaming, and product support is picking up pace.
What’s so good about hi-res audio?
The main claimed benefit of high-resolution audio files is superior sound quality over compressed audio formats such as MP3 and AAC.
Downloads from sites such as Amazon and iTunes, and streaming services such as Spotify, use compressed file formats with relatively low bitrates – such as kbps AAC files on Apple Music and kbps Ogg Vorbis streams on Spotify.
The use of lossy compression means data is lost in the encoding process, which in turn means resolution is sacrificed for the sake of convenience and smaller file sizes. This has an effect upon the sound quality – those formats aren't telling the full story of our favourite songs.
This might be fine when you're listening to Spotify playlists on your smartphone on the bus on the morning commute, but serious audiophiles and music fans should want better. This is where high-resolution audio comes in.
To illustrate why it should sound better than MP3, for example, let’s compare the relative bitrates. The highest quality MP3 has a bitrate of kbps, whereas a bit/kHz file has a data rate of kbps. Music CDs are kbps.
The hi-res bit/96kHz or bit/kHz files should, therefore, more closely replicate the sound quality the musicians and engineers were working with in the studio. And they could be that very same recorded file, too. These files are labelled as "Studio Masters" in some cases.
With more information on the file to play with, hi-res audio tends to boast greater detail and texture, bringing listeners closer to the original performance – provided your system is transparent enough.
What do I need to play hi-res audio?
There's a huge variety of products that can playback hi-res audio. It all depends on how big or small you want your system to be, how much your budget is, and what method you'll mostly be using to listen to your tunes. But it's never been easier to get involved, now that plenty of the digital and streaming ecosystem supports hi-res, and especially as popular streaming platforms such as Google Chromecast (although not AirPlay 2) do.
These days, even, you don't have to completely abandon your vinyl collection to go hi-res, either; turntables such as the Sony PS-HX let you digitise your vinyl collection by ripping your record tracks into hi-res audio files.
If you're going portable, smartphones are increasingly supporting hi-res playback. This is restricted to higher-end Android models, though – Apple iPhones so far don't support hi-res audio out of the box (though there are ways around this by using the right app, and then either plugging in a DAC or using Lightning headphones with the iPhones' Lightning connector).
Phones that have USB-C sockets instead of mm headphones jacks for music playback – as is becoming the norm – can boost their USB-C output with adapters such as Zorloo's Ztella USB-C DAC.
Hi-res audio is increasingly easy to stream wirelessly thanks to new advancements in Bluetooth. Phones with aptX HD Bluetooth support (which many these days have, although Apple's iPhones are an exception) can wirelessly transmit hi-res audio to aptX HD-supporting headphones (such as the Sony WHXM4 and WHXM3 and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 noise-cancelling headphones).
Portable music players
Alternatively, there are plenty of dedicated portable hi-res music players such as various Sony Walkmans and Award-winning Astell & Kerns and Cowons that offer more storage space and far better sound quality than a multi-tasking smartphone. More digital players than not support hi-res audio, although again an Apple product is the exception, this time the iPod Touch.
For a desktop solution, your laptop (Windows, Mac, Linux) is a prime source for storing and playing hi-res music (after all, this is where you'll be downloading the tunes from hi-res download sites anyway), but make sure the software you use to play music also supports hi-res playback. Apple iTunes, for instance, doesn't support it, even if your MacBook does, so you'll need to buy and download separate music playing software. The likes of Channel D's Pure Music and Amarra are worth considering for a Mac. On a PC? Try JRiver Media Center.
We wouldn't just rely on your computer or phone's internal DAC to do hi-res audio justice, either. A USB or desktop DAC (such as the Cyrus soundKey, Chord Mojo or Audiolab M-DAC nano) is a good way to get great sound quality out of hi-res files stored on your computer or smartphone (whose audio circuits don't tend to be optimised for sound quality). Simply plug a decent digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) in between your source and headphones for an instant sonic boost.
If you're after a proper hi-fi set-up, you'll need to look into music streamers that support hi-res, and highly recommendable contenders include the Audiolab N Play, Cambridge CXN V2 and NAD C This is especially if you'll be storing your growing hi-res library on a NAS (Network Attached Storage, essentially a hard-drive with processing built in), which we would recommend.
There are plenty of other products that also support hi-res playback, including hybrid DAC-amp-streamer systems (Moon Neo Ace), speaker systems with everything built into them (KEF LS50 Wireless II), just-add-speaker systems (Marantz PMN) and current AV receivers (Sony STR-DN).
The ever-popular Sonos multi-room system still has no plans to support hi-res audio, and neither does Apple. But that has led rival companies such as Bluesound to offer hi-res playback across their range of connected products (for a higher price, of course).
At the higher end of the wireless speaker market you'll find hi-res support the norm. The likes of the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation, Linn Series 3 and Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge are all able to handle hi-res file playback over wi-fi.
Where can I buy and download hi-res music?
Now that you're armed with all this information on hi-res music, your next question should be: where can I get all these glorious hi-res music tracks?
There are currently a handful of UK download sites that let you buy and download single tracks and full albums in various hi-res formats. There are also plenty of US and European sites, though not all of them let you purchase from the UK.
Major music labels such as Sony, Warner and Universal have made their extensive music catalogues available to these hi-res download services – which is a real shot in the arm for fans of high-resolution audio. With all sites, make sure it’s clear what file format and bitrate you are buying. Ultimately, you may end up with a favourite go-to site, but even then, it's worth checking across the different sites for the same album or track, too, as some stores can offer better prices than others.
Here are the top UK hi-res download sites:
With a strong catalogue offering hi-res music from all genres and a website that makes buying music easy, 7digital is an excellent all-rounder. There's an accurate search function and the website is simple to navigate. You can easily spot hi-res recordings thanks to a '24bit FLAC' badge on an album or song's thumbnail, and there's also a dedicated hi-res section. The sole drawback is that it only offers downloads in the FLAC format. Prices are affordable, though, and you can buy individual tracks as well as full albums.
Music discovery and front-end intuitiveness get full marks on French download store Qobuz. Both the website and dedicated app are easy to navigate, and you can search by genre or new releases, which can be sorted by sample rate. There is a strong Francophile focus, although the catalogue is growing more varied every day. Pricing is competitive, but if you opt for the hybrid download-and-streaming Sublime+ service you do get discounts when buying hi-res albums.
HDtracks may be one of the most established hi-res download stores, but it's in need of a refresh in looks and catalogue. It can feel aimed at an older audience (there's strong focus on jazz, classical and dad rock), which can be off-putting for wider audiences, especially fans of more current, popular music. On the other hand, whereas other download sites offer FLAC as default, HDtracks lets you choose between FLAC, ALAC, WAV and AIFF (and the sampling rate for each) before downloading. There's a selection of DSD tunes, too, which is great for audiophiles.
Where can I stream hi-res music?
Not ready to download hi-res files, or simply prefer streaming? Tidal and Qobuz streaming services have offered hi-res and CD-quality streams for years, putting them ahead of rivals Spotify and Apple Music. And now that Amazon has joined the party with its HD service, hi-res streaming is now firmly in the mainstream domain.
Tidal and MQA's partnership has brought us one step closer to mainstream hi-res music streaming. You'll need to subscribe to Tidal's HiFi tier (which offers CD quality streaming) to unlock the Masters section, and then you can stream hi-res MQA files through the desktop app and Android/iOS mobile apps.
Tidal's catalogue of MQA files is now well into the millions, with a resolution of up to bit/96kHz (any kHz files will be unpackaged to 96kHz by MQA's core decoding). With the right kit, the streamed tunes sound great, too. It's a solid foundation from which the hi-res streaming experience can only evolve.
Qobuz strikes again here and says its hybrid download-and-streaming tier is '"the best music subscription in the world." This top-tier package offers hi-res streaming up to 24bit/kHz files (as well as CD quality tracks) on its desktop and mobile apps, with its million-track catalogue including more than , hi-res albums.
The big downside is the price - you have to pay an upfront £ annual fee to use Sublime+ and all its perks (which does include good discounts when buying hi-res albums). And in comparison, we found Tidal offers more drive and dynamism when it comes to sound quality. Qobuz's hi-res streaming tier is a great venture, but only if you're fully committed to hi-res streaming.
Amazon Music HD
The most recent entrant into the hi-res streaming service world is Amazon – and its arrival at the end of largely marked hi-res streaming going mainstream. The cheapest hi-res service of the three, the value-packed streaming service is up there with the best thanks to its Intuitive desktop and mobile apps, good CD-quality and hi-res library and excellent value.
What's next for hi-res audio?
With more support than ever before, hi-res audio is a viable choice for anyone interested in audio quality, whether part of your home audio system or when on the move.
Whether the biggest players – Apple, Sonos and Spotify – will ever natively support hi-res remains to be seen, but there are plenty of other, increasingly affordable ways that you can start delving into the hi-res audio world. (Interestingly, degree or surround sound formats such as Sony Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music respectively are also making headway in offering higher quality, if not necessarily 'hi-res', music experiences, so they're other options for melomaniacs to explore.)
With this wider availability, more people are able to learn and understand exactly what high-resolution audio is, and the benefits it can bring to music. There's plenty of content out there, and there's plenty of hardware to go with it.
So if you want the ultimate sonic solution, you know what to do.
Where is Spotify Hi-Fi? And do we still want a lossless Spotify tier?
3 of the best high-res audio systems
Here's a superb-sounding hi-fi system with streaming skills
Best hi-fi systems
SRS-X9 Ultra-Premium Hi-Res Bluetooth® Speaker
watts, eight digital amps, seven speakers, engineered to deliver pure high-resolution audio bliss. Stream your favorite music from apps and devices via Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi. And together with Sony's best sound technologies, you'll enjoy the lowest bass and the highest harmonics in pure J 92kHz/24bit High-Res audio. The X9 can even upscale your existing music to high-resolution quality. Fill the room with sound,
Eight S-Master® HX digital amplifiers delivering improved sound reproduction and watts1, complement seven speakers: Super Tweeters 2, Front Tweeters 2, Mid-Range 2, and Subwoofer, deliver quick response with rich and deep bass. S-Master® HX digital amplification circuitry, uniquely developed for high-resolution audio playback, delivers faithful wide-frequency audio reproduction including all the details from the highs to the lows.
These seven speakers are specially tuned to deliver clear sound with minimal distortion. The four Super Tweeters generate a wide soundstage ideal for Hi-Resolution listening4. Two Magnetic Fluid Speaker Mid-Range drivers deliver crisp melodies. A subwoofer and dual passive radiators round out the mix delivering precise and powerful low end.
The SRS-X9 supports native playback of Hi-Resolution music files up to kHz/bit including: MP3,
WMA, WMA lossless, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, and ALAC. Simply connect your PC to the speaker via built-in
Stream and control your Bluetooth® audio experience with your compatible music devices, digital music player, smartphone tablet, or computer.2
Built-in AAC and aptX® codec support avoids signal quality loss when streaming music wirelessly.
Two Sony-unique technologies for improved audio. DSEE HX revitalizes and extends audio frequency response to near hi-resolution sound quality. Via the SonyPAL APP, ClearAudio+ renders incredibly vibrant sound with more powerful bass and crisp highs.
Bluetooth® connectivity with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Align and touch NFC logos in compatible devices to: power the speaker on, activate Bluetooth®, pair devices, and stream music. When done, align and touch the NFC logos to disconnect.
Embedded Wi-Fi® audio streaming capability lets you either enjoy your favorite iTunes® content via your Wi-Fi® network or access the music files on your DLNA compatible PC or Home Media Server3.
Two USB ports are available3. One USB A port for streaming audio from and charging your compatible portable audio sources, including: digital music players, smartphones, or tablets. The second is a USB B port for complete digital audio transmission from a PC.
An auxiliary audio input lets you connect digital music players to the speaker dock for easy access to your music (cable not included).
The free SongPal APP4 (available at Google Play and the App Store) lets you discover and connect to various online music services while also controlling the speaker from across the room.
High quality materials paired with the neutral, Definitive Outline design compliments any decor without overpowering it.
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|In The Box|
Res sony speakers hi
Sony HG1 Portable Wireless Speaker with Wi-Fi® & Hi-Res Audio
The h.ear go wireless speaker blends stunning sound with easy connectivity and total portability. So when fun comes calling, you're ready.
The stylish h.ear go wireless speaker combines impressive sound with easy connectivity and portability.
High-Resolution Audio compatible
Easy Bluetooth connectivity with NFC One-touch
EXTRA BASS for deep, punchy sound
Lightweight, portable design
Up to 12 hours of battery life
- Speaker Type
- Full range
- Speaker Size
- Full range: Approx. in diameter x 2
- Output Power
- 12 W+12 W
- Battery Life
- 12 hours
- Input and Output Terminals
- Micro USB, Stereo mini-jack input
- Chromecast built-in
- Spotify Connect
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