Fraunhofer Pimps New HD-AAC Format
Fraunhofer IIS is pimping its “new” HD-AAC format bigtime at CES. Fraunhofer claims the compressed HD-AAC digital music encoding format is sonically superior to 16bit/44.1kHz audio CDs.
HD-AAC is based on the MPEG-4 SLS (Scalable to Lossless) standard, an extension to the MPEG-4 audio standard jointly developed by Fraunhofer and Infocomm Research. The concerns assert that the HD-AAC encoding process preserves every bit of information in the uncompressed original music track, providing lossless compression of 24-bit music content.
Similar to Fraunhofer’s failed MP3-Pro format, the HD-AAC encoding process embeds a core layer that can be played on existing music players and mobile phones that support the standard AAC format, such as Apple’s iPod and the iPhone. However, these new devices will require a HD-ACC decoder to play the fully lossless signal. HD-AAC files can also be streamed to multiple devices at varying bitrates to help maximize the sound quality under varying network conditions.
The Future: Remember MP3-Pro? Neither does anyone else. This “enhanced” format made its debut in 2001 and died quickly. HD-ACC appears to be very similar to MP3-Pro in its marketing, but doesn’t offer much else to your meat’n’potatoes consumer. (Fraunhofer was involved in the development of both the MP3 and ACC formats. —Ed.) In reality, what difference is it going to make to a consumer to listen to 24 bit files with $20 earphones? Not much. And they sure has heck don’t want to pay extra licensing fees for a marginal fidelity increase. HD-ACC is Dead On Arrival.