JUST WHEN YOU THINK buying music physically is dead in the water, another format comes along for audiophiles and those of us who still want something to hold in our hands.
Record giant Universal Music Group has announced High Fidelity Pure Audio - a range of classic albums on Blu-ray disc. As well as being playable on regular players and games consoles, Blu-ray discs allow the music to be presented in its entirety without any compression, as opposed to the smothering effects imposed by most digital formats.
For the real audiophiles there's a choice of sound formats to choose from. You can choose between standard 2.0 and 5.1 surround sound and even between Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. The first acts to be given the treatment include Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Nirvana, Queen, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder from the pop world, along with a wide range of classical and jazz artists including John Coltrane and Jonas Kaufman.
Of course if you don't have a Blu-ray player to carry around with you, that's fine, as MP3 downloads at a more sedate bitrate are included for your other devices.
Olivier Robert-Murphy, global head of new business at Universal Music Group said, "We are very excited about the potential for High Fidelity Pure Audio, allowing music lovers to experience the work of artists in a way that has never before been possible." He added, "Once you hear High Fidelity Pure Audio you can feel the full richness and depth of an artist's vision."
Spoken like a true press release, but in an era where the yoof are listening to tinny smartphone speakers accompanied by the drone of a bus engine, it's good to know that high fidelity isn't dead yet.
While a lot of our readers will probably scoff at the idea of buying music on a physical disc again, the successes of initiatives such as Record Store Day and Amazon's Auto-Rip programme are proof that there's life in the old dog yet, and for the record collector - as well as the audiogeek - it's an exciting development. µ