May 24, 2023

Unveil More Sonic Detail With Hi-Res Audio

Article written by SARAH JONES

Hi-Res Audio used to be an audiophile's dream, but now it's available to anyone with a streaming service like TIDAL, Amazon Music HD, or Apple Music and the right audio gear. If you want to experience today's digital music, movies, and video games with all the detail and clarity that their creators intended, it’s worth exploring Hi-Res Audio-certified speakers. You may be wondering, what’s the difference between “Hi-Res Audio” and regular high-resolution audio? Well, the former makes things “official.”

In the modern digital age, high-resolution audio has become the norm for music, movies, and gaming. With this shift came the need for audio equipment that can reproduce this high-quality content. As a result, Hi-Res Audio certification has emerged as an industry standard to verify a speaker's ability to accurately reproduce higher-than-CD-quality digital audio. At Polk, we take great pride in producing speakers that meet this standard, because we know our customers can trust that they're getting the best possible listening experience.

So, what is “higher-than-CD-quality” audio? For the techies out there, “higher resolution” means a higher sampling rate and bit depth; CD-quality audio is 16-bit/44.1kHz, while Hi-Res Audio can be as high as 24-bit/192kHz. If that spec salad makes your eyes glaze over, here’s a visual analogy: Picture a gallery-quality, high-resolution photograph, versus a low-res JPEG. The high-resolution image contains more detail and is sharper and clearer than the low-resolution image. In a similar way, Hi-Res Audio files contain more detail and depth than standard digital audio files, revealing more sonic nuances and providing a more immersive listening experience.

To earn Hi-Res Audio certification, a speaker must undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it can reproduce frequencies extending to 40kHz—far beyond the limit of human hearing—and a minimum bit depth of 24 bits. Higher-resolution audio conveys finer sonic detail and sharpens the precision of transient sounds like drums. (You may be wondering how extending frequencies past the audible range impacts your listening experience. Extending the frequency range beyond the audible limit of 20kHz allows a speaker to have a more linear response and introduces harmonic elements of sounds that fall above that limit. And many folks argue that while you might not be able to hear those frequencies, they impart an energy you can feel.) The speaker must also meet criteria for maximum distortion and noise levels to ensure that the sound is as clear and accurate as possible.

The Pinnacle Ring Radiator tweeter, shown in the R200AE bookshelf speaker.

At Polk Audio, we take the Hi-Res Audio certification process seriously; all of our current component speaker lines, including Legend, Reserve, Signature Elite, and Monitor XT, are Hi-Res Certified. But we don’t stop there: Our advanced acoustic technologies don’t just contribute to higher sonic resolution, they enable our speakers to deliver an incredibly accurate and immersive listening experience. For example, our Pinnacle Ring Radiator tweeter features a pointed waveguide that reproduces sound images with pinpoint accuracy, for incredible realism, while dispersing highs evenly throughout the room, for the same authentic sound in every seat. Our Turbine Cone Woofer technology achieves a breathtaking level of midrange detail—even at high volumes—while our Column Resonance Control acoustic technology neutralizes resonances that naturally occur in large speaker cabinets, revealing a more open, accurate sound with smoother, cleaner bass and midrange. When you choose Polk Hi-Res Audio-Certified speakers, you can trust that you're getting the best possible listening experience. Our speakers are designed to faithfully reproduce every detail of your audio, delivering a clear and immersive sound that’ll transport you to another world, whether you're listening to music, watching movies, or playing games.

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