Blu-ray High Resolution Audio seeks to succeed where SACD failed

Japanese group promises high-quality, multi-channel audio discs

1 Oct 2012
Blu-ray disc association

A conglomerate of Japanese companies has announced a new high-definition audio format designed for use with Blu-ray discs, dubbed High Resolution Audio.

The Promotion Group for Blu-ray Disc High Resolution Audio is comprised of Japanese companies Memory-Tech, Krypton, Q-tec and Camerata Tokyo. Their proposed format extends the use of Blu-ray discs beyond high-definition films and into audiophile territory.

Similar in concept to Super Audio CD (SACD), a format launched in 1999 designed to offer an increased number of channels and significantly improved quality over traditional audio CDs, the proposed High Resolution Audio format makes use of the high capacity of Blu-ray discs - typically used to store high-definition compressed video footage alongside uncompressed audio tracks - to store extremely high quality audio alone, offering audiophiles a new format for maximum quality reproduction.

Exactly how the format encodes its data is not yet clear, and neither is the compatibility aspect: if High Resolution Audio represents the use of a new format entirely, rather than just using one of the existing Blu-ray audio formats such as Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio or TrueHD, new software will need to be written to cope. At best, this means those who want to take advantage of the new format will likely need to upgrade the firmware in their Blu-ray players by connecting them to the internet; in the worst case, it could mean buying an entirely new Blu-ray player.

That may be something audiophiles wish to do anyway, of course: if the new format focuses on producing CD-style albums that contain no video content whatsoever, there will likely be a market for audio-centric Blu-ray drives capable of reproducing the High Resolution Audio tracks and with a user interface designed for use without a connected TV.

Currently, the group is keeping full details of the specification a secret but according to a report in Softpedia promises to release a complete set of tools for High Resolution Audio creating following the launch of the first three albums in the format in November this year.

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