CES 2017: 50 Years of seeing the Future

And each year, I continue to believe we are getting closer to adoption of Hi-Res Audio. I have to believe that the same people who buy all the headphones, vinyl records and turntables, now understand that the mp3 compressed music files kept on their phones are sonic junk food – and that with cheaper storage, faster streaming, larger audio files will become more popular. Last year, Neil Young’s Pono music player made a splash with a successful kickstarter campaign and the promise of portable hi-res audio – and seemed to disappear soon after. This year there were more Hi-res audio players (Astell Kern, Sony, Hifiman, Onkyo, Pioneer, Marantz) and more companies who audio receivers can stream or play hi-res audio files including the relatively new MQA format. But the question remains: what will it take to get millennials to adopt it. This is a subject worthy of its own article and discussion in greater depth. But while at CES, I did discover the answer in all its wondrous simplicity. The short version is: Hi-Res music will become widely adopted when Spotify offers it. In the meantime, the often-maligned and dismissed-as-dead-or-dying Tidal music service, offers a high-res streaming music service ($20 a month) that may yet prove to be its unique selling proposition.

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