JAZZIZ has seen and documented major changes in the record industry within the past few decades. When the magazine first launched in 1983, most people were listening to music on the radio and turntables, and the articles and reviews we produced reflected those listening habits. But it wasn’t long before we were on newsstands that executives from SONY contacted us about marketing their latest listening technology — the compact disc. The proposal: SONY wanted us to consider mailing a promotional CD inside the magazine to subscribers.
At the time, not many people had CD players, let alone the right audio equipment to take advantage of CD-quality audio. But we saw the potential in those 5-inch musical game-changers, and what was intended as a one-off promotion for SONY’s new technology became the turning point for JAZZIZ. From there, editor-curated CDs were packaged with future issues of JAZZIZ.
Audiophiles may argue that, sans the pop and clicks, vinyl has a warmer sound. That may be true, which is why we fully intend to cover everything we love about vinyl in our HOW TO LISTEN section. But no one can argue that ease-of-access and transportability are what make digital audio so easy to use. Like the CD before, streaming music has the potential to revolutionize the way we listen to music.
Don’t get us wrong: Like any new technology, digital music is still working out its kinks. During the early days of the Internet (when people were using “dial-up” connections) and when hard drives had much less capacity, it was particularly important that the music files be very small. To make this work, a lot of music data had to be removed. And while painstaking procedures were employed to remove what was deemed “inaudible” (or certain things that most people wouldn’t immediately notice), those compressed files — the most famous of which is the MP3 — are of much lower audio quality than CDs or vinyl. Nonetheless, iTunes, Spotify and others have created colossal businesses through the distribution of these small files.
Recently, there’s been a change in the way people consume their media online, and it’s a change for the better. Hi-Res digital audio is a lossless file format that combines the portability and immediacy of streaming with the high-fidelity acoustics of vinyl and CD. Hi-Res audio works by using a higher sampling frequency — typically higher than 96 khZ/24 bit — to maintain the quality of the original sound. Popular Hi-Res file formats like FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) allow for much more audio information to be included in each track, providing for a more detailed listening experience than MP3 or even CD.
While Hi-Res streaming audio has been around for the better part of a decade, a growing number of online services have begun offering streaming music with Hi-Res quality. Companies like Qobuz allow users to download or stream high-fidelity tracks from any device or platform for a yearly subscription fee, similar to Apple Music or Spotify. With the widespread availability of high-fidelity audio equipment and noise-canceling headphones, listening to studio-quality music has never been easier.
JAZZIZ is proud to be a part of the Hi-Res future. That’s why we’re partnering with Hi-Res music streaming platforms like Qobuz and high-fidelity audio manufactures to bring you a jazz multimedia experience tailored to hi-res listening. On all stories, playlists or podcasts that feature hi-res audio, you’ll now see our signature Hi-Res Audio seal, a mark of superior audio quality. Visit our HOW TO LISTEN section regularly for updates on all things related to jazz and high-fidelity audio, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest from the world of jazz.
Thanks, as always, for being a reader.