Now in HD: Umphrey’s McGee
While digital distribution is undeniably convenient, sonically speaking MP3s leave a lot to be desired. Several companies have been at work on audio formats that strive for the manageable size of MP3s while not compromising on sound quality. MP3HD files are currently four times the size of conventional MP3s, but are a lossless format that will be compatible with most MP3 players.
One of the first artists to embrace the upcoming MP3HD format is the jammy neo-prog outfit Umphrey’s McGeeUmphrey’s McGee. Umphrey’s made selections from their recent two-night run at the Murat Egyptian Room on March 13, 2009 available in the new format this past week at http://all4mp3.com/Listen_mp3HD.aspx. Additional recordings will be made available in the coming weeks.
“As one of the few artists who record and make available every show that is played, sound quality is paramount to the entire band. The HDMP3 format is a welcome addition to our existing arsenal of lossless and lossy formats we make available for fans, explains Umphrey’s McGee’s audio engineer and producer Kevin Browning.” Offering a much richer sound spectrum combined with the convenience and familiarity of the MP3 format, we expect HDMP3 to be a hit with the band and fans alike.”
This past Thursday, I was in touch with Francois Thuiliere at Thompson Software about their MP3HD project. He said, “MP3HD is a lossless audio codec based on MP3. It makes a bit-exact copy of CD or wav, and its biggest advantage over similar codecs is its backward compatibility with mp3. So if you play an MP3HD file in a non-MP3HD player, it will simply play the standard mp3 file.”
“We just launched the format a couple of weeks ago and we are already seeing a lot of interest in the musician community. The fact that most of the labels have adopted mp3 (which was developed by Thomson) is very encouraging for the future adoption of mp3HD. We will have the software development toolkit (SDK) ready for our licensees in May, so you expect implementation in commercial products to start in the coming months.”
While it is far too soon to guess who will win the battle for prevailing hi-def digital audio format, the effort promises to bring better-sounding music to the ears of audiophiles in an era increasingly dominated by digital distribution.