Neil Young has been beating the drum about high-resolution sound files, resulting in much debate here and elsewhere. His putative Pono player and its accompanying high-resolution audio format are designed to bring digital music closer to the smooth curves of analog, although some doubt about whether such a thing is possible.
Sorry, cats, but apparently, there are more than one way to skin you.
Yes, the battle to distribute compressed music has already been won, according to Singapore-based mp4sls CEO Frankie Tan, by iTunes for downloads, and Spotify for streams. But that still leaves the door wide open for a company to embed up-to-lossless music in apps for smartphones and better-than-CD-quality music via the web, which is what he hopes to do with his Orastream platform.
It works by encouraging fans to install an app (demo here) where they can buy an album that streams at the highest sound quality a connection can support, or lets users download the music within the app at as high a quality as their hardware can handle. On a smartphone, that’s CD quality, but the same purchase lets the buyer stream the music over the web to their computer as a 24-bit/192 kHz stream, if their sound hardware can handle it.
“You can choose streaming bit-rates for both the ‘in-app’ sync (for offline listening) and ‘live’ streams,” said Tan via email. “For live stream, the current default is 512 kbps — change this setting to ‘lossless.’ When you are on a good network, the mobile music streams will be 16/44 full CD-audio quality.”
You might not have heard of it yet, but a slew of smaller artists are already using it, including Brendan Benson, Freddy Clarke, Ora’s Musical Wonderland, and Sydney Wayser. Tan told Evolver.fm that classic rockers Crosby Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne, and Creedence Clearwater Revival are currently working on their own Orastream releases.
“The product concept is new and evolving,” added Tan. “Very soon, a buyer purchasing music albums in digital LPs will be able to store a copy in a personal cloud account; so as to be able to also access the albums from iOS and Android mobile devices and PC web-browsers. With web browser access, we will introduce up to 24/192 audio playback capability.”
Between Neil Young’s Pono player/format and these other bands getting in a similar spirit via Orastream, we’re sensing a movement on the part of classic rockers to preserve their legacies at the highest sound quality available, even if that means circumventing the dominant distribution mechanisms for music.