Diving into the world of high-resolution audio downloads can be a bit daunting but the effort is worth it. As your library of super-convenient excellent-sounding music starts to build you'll be hooked on just how awesome music can sound. No matter what kind of music you love, your ears will open you up to a whole new world of musical enjoyment with high-resolution audio.

 

With that in mind, we thought we’d share a few excellent places to find and download high-res audio.

 

But First, Let’s Define High-Resolution Audio

If we start with CD audio as the baseline and call that “standard resolution” for lack of a better way to put it, then high resolution files fall into three categories: 96k/24bit, 192k/24bit and DSD. There are more high-resolution options available, but for now let's just stick with the basics. File types you should be looking for are ALAC, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, WMA, and DSD. No matter where they come from, mp3 are not high resolution. Depending on the source, m4a and cda filetypes can be standard resolution.

 

The Source. It’s All About the Source

Almost all of the music recorded and mastered during the CD era (roughly 1983 to the early 2010s) were done so at the CD Red Book standard of 44.1/16bit or 48k/24bit. So when you are buying downloads from that era, keep in mind that even if the track is “remastered” the source resolution cannot be changed. In short, a file is only as good as the resolution it was recorded at. Period. You simply can’t put back in stuff that was never there in the first place.

 

Songs digitized from excellent analog masters may outperform their digital counterparts, and in those cases 96k/24bit will be worth it. Files rated at 192k/24bit will only shine in their full resolution if the source was recorded at that sample rate and word size.

 

So, new stuff listed at 192k/24bit, DSD and the like will completely be “high-resolution.” Just be careful with older stuff – even if the source recording was digital.

 

Some Really Great Places To Buy High-Resolution Music

With all of that being said, here’s some great places (in no particular order) to get your high-resolution fix. You can also buy direct from most records labels which is a great way to find high-resolution music from lesser-known artists as well. Happy downloading!

 

Acoustic Sounds

 

 

Vinyl, CD, SACD, ALAC, FLAC

Good selection of all genres. Very deep Classical and Blues inventory. New music.

http://store.acousticsounds.com

 

HD Tracks

AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, DSD

Selections above 192k/24bit

Very deep jazz and rock inventory. New music.

www.hdtracks.com

 

 Pro Studio Masters

AIFF, FLAC, DSD

Deep across most genres. New releases.

www.prostudiomasters.com

 

Native DSD

DSD direct from record labels and recording professionals.

Very deep new music catalog.

www.nativedsd.com

 

HighREsAudio

FLAC, ALAC, DSD, DXD-FLAC, MQA

Studio Master Recordings. Deep across most genres.

www.highresaudio.com

 

itrax

One of the oldest digital download sites.

mp3, WMA, WAV, FLAC

Limited maintsream catalog.

www.itrax.com

 

Chandos

New and hard to find Classical.

mp3, CD, SACD, FLAC, ALAC, USB, vinyl

www.chandos.net