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Music lovers India embracing high-resolution audio (HRA): JBL by Harman

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New Delhi, April 24, 2017: Over the last decade, India has witnessed a revolution in the way music is heard. With a growing tribe of audiophiles who won’t settle for anything less when it comes to experiencing music, high-resolution audio (HRA) is emerging as the first choice for them, a top executive from US-based audio electronics company JBL by Harman has said.

As we shift from records, cassettes, CDs/DVDs and MP3 to live streaming where convenience takes precedence over fidelity, the content as envisaged by the artiste is diluted, nuances are lost and the overall experience is mediocre.

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Here is where HRA comes as a saviour. It is an audio format that has a sampling rate of 96 KHz/24 bit and can reproduce very close to original sound as recorded in a studio or a concert hall.

“Quality and durability drives the Indian audio market. Audiophiles who are passionate about the quality of sound will go an extra mile and spend an extra penny on a good quality audio product. This audience understands the technology behind audio products and equipments,” Prashant Govindan, Senior Director, Harman Professional, India Operations, Engineering/R&D, told IANS in an email interview.

As a key player in Harman’s extensive portfolio of legendary brands, JBL contributed to an overall sales increase of 18 per cent in India for the entire lifestyle audio division in the 2016 fiscal year.

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For Harman’s lifestyle audio division, the fiscal 2016 operating income increased 36 per cent to $267 million from $196 million (On a GAAP basis) in the country as compared to 2015.

According to Govindan, it is essential for consumers to understand how the difference in fidelity and overall quality is immediately discernable when the same content is played back in high-resolution audio equipment.

“The consumers who have been exposed to the difference in quality immediately appreciate the better quality,” Govindan told IANS.

With high-resolution audio, listeners can experience fine details of audio like subtlety and depth.

Better frequency sampling rate and high bit rate makes the playback audio very close to the original audio track — which a CD recording cannot capture. Popular formats for storing high-resolution audio are FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AIFF and DSD.

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Sampling rate means the number of times samples are taken per second during the conversion of analog sound waves to digital. Thus, a precise audio signal can be produced with more bits like 24-bit in high-resolution audio.

“We have observed mass-market heavyweights bring HRA to a larger audience so that people are able to understand what high-resolution audio is and the benefits it can bring to music. The future of HRA certainly looks bright and promising and is fast becoming a hot and trending topic in India as well,” Govindan stressed.

While most streaming providers have a paid premium ‘high-resolution’ option, the content is still lacking in terms of overall fidelity and tonal quality.

For a more accurate and fulfilling experience, music needs to be recorded at the highest sampling rate possible (preferably 96KHz and above) and stored in a lossless format that does not compress and take away the fidelity (WAV, ALAC or FLAC).

High-resolution audio tends to reveal every music nuance with fine integrity — from deep sub-bass lows to crystalline highs — bringing listeners closer to the original performance.

“We will continue to push audio boundaries through innovative, connected and personalised sound technology to the benefit of consumers worldwide,” Govindan added. (IANS)

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Audio Equipment Maker JBL Aims to Grow 200% in India in 2019

The company said it would also focus towards voice-enabled platforms, without revealing much details

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Working Out, headphones
JBL E45 Wireless Headphones

Enough of Bose, Beats or Sennheiser. Audio equipment maker JBL by HARMAN, owned by South Korean tech major Samsung Electronics, is aiming big to expand its footprint in the Indian audio market that is forecast to grow over 15 per cent in 2019.

JBL forayed into the e-commerce sector in August last year by launching its online store. The company is now working towards expanding its retail presence.

The company’s online brand store sells the entire range of consumer products — from headphones and Bluetooth speakers to home and multimedia solutions.

“We will double up on our revenue and will grow by 200 per cent this year in India,” Sumit Chauhan, Vice President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN India, told IANS.

“You will see that the audio segment in the category that we deal in — headphones, smart audio and connected homes — is slated to grow somewhere around 12-14 per cent. In India, the market is slightly better, growing at 16 per cent against the global forecast,” he added, quoting market research firm Forrester.

The company is also working towards entering the smaller towns. “There is positive expansion happening in the tier III and IV cities. Whether you take data from online players like Amazon and Flipkart, or from offline players like Croma and Reliance, both will tell you that much of their growth in 2019-20 is expected to come from Tier III and Tier IV cities,” Chauhan noted.

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“We are probably the only brand in India where our business split is 50:50. Most of the other brands are skewed, either towards offline or towards online,” added Chauhan.

As part of its strategy to increase penetration into the Indian market, JBL by HARMAN is also working towards collaborating with sports and music brands.

“Under Armour is the fastest-growing fitness brand and has just been launched in India. We are very closely associated with them at global level and will try and bring that synergy here.

“We have co-branded products which are branded as Under Armour and JBL. We would bring those products into India and market them aggressively,” added Chauhan.

The company said it would also focus towards voice-enabled platforms, without revealing much details.

“We have a close relationship with Google on the Assistant side, with Amazon on the Alexa side and with Microsoft on the Cortana side. This would be a key focus in the future,” Chauhan said. (IANS)