If I mistakenly turn the television channel to a standard definition broadcast I am instantly aware of the low-resolution picture and switch to the HD version—which has now become standard for me.
That same degree of difference is not so obvious in audio. CDs sound so good these days that I am hard pressed to tell the difference without a direct AB. A testament to how good it’s gotten.
I could live with CD quality playback without batting an ear.
There is another definition of high-resolution audio—the resolving power of the system itself—the ability to resolve fine and minute details in the same way we see through a magnifying glass (and unlike the murky resolution of many systems).
I have fielded arguments both for and against system resolution. On the one hand, it can be said low-resolution masks recording and system defects homogenizing music into a more palatable oatmeal. On the other hand, oatmeal misses the revelatory bursts of concentrated flavors in the same way the rough cut highs and lows—the raw energy—of music are smoothed out of notice.
For me, I’ll take the excitement and the mistakes magnified in full high definition resolution, for it is the bumps and dips that make both music and life interesting.
Oatmeal’s for kids.