I received another very informative email from a representative of the JAS on Friday, May 22, 2015. It contained some clarification and additional information regarding their role in the emerging area of High-Resolution Audio. Bottom line...it's not good.
Much to my disappointment, the HRA logo has about as much integrity as the HRA definition issued almost a year ago. If you thought you could count on the HRA logo to indicate real high-resolution audio content, you'll be disappointed. The desire for "consistent messaging" mentioned in the DEG, CEA, NARAS, and major label's PR last June is a fantasy. The HRA Logo is being applied to standard resolution audio to "sell them as Hi-Res content", regardless of the provenance behind them.
The recent correspondence describes a number of associations involved in defining and promoting high-resolution audio. The Japan Audio Society is only one among many. It is described as an "association of consumer audio industry covering direct promotion and education to consumer to let them understand and provide more pleasure of audio as culture". The emphasis here is on the consumer.
Another group working in this area in Japan is the JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association). They work extensively with the government and do a great deal of research into trends occurring in the consumer electronics arena. The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) is roughly the same as JEITA. Their job includes helping consumers understand emerging technologies and to promote the products that their members produce.
Other associations play different roles and cover different areas. The AES Japan (Audio Engineering Society) and its domestic partner the AES handles the production of content from the artists, producers, and engineers. The AES focuses on recording equipment, formats, and standards. In many ways, the AES is better suited to define high-resolution audio but as a member of the Hi-Res working committee, I can tell you that the group is mired in the same issues that I've experienced elsewhere. The traditionalist audio community wants to include analog tape as a high-resolution recording format. In exceptional cases, analog tape can eclipse the frequency response of standard definition PCM, but it fails quite dramatically in its ability to handle the wide dynamic range required for classical music and most jazz. Think tape hiss.
Then there is the RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan). You're probably familiar with the RIAA in this country. They represent the record labels and were the ones that sued Napster and other parties that were making available their products without legal authority.
"JAS is very unique association specialized in the consumer audio field."
"Since our territory is consumer audio field, we are covering consumer audio product from PCM recorder to speaker/headphone. Thus, though we don’t say anything that our definition of HRA is covering only for hardware, it means only consumer audio hardware. Even we mentioned microphone in our definition, it is used for PCM recorder, and it doesn’t include professional use microphone used in the recording studio."
They should help clarify this mistake…even to the CEA and DEG. It certainly came as a surprise to me and I think of myself as an insider.
They clearly are distancing themselves from the studio production segment of the HRA space. The microphones and speakers that are "required" to handle 40 kHz only applies to consumer devices. I guess the AES and NARAS will have to step up and develop standards that assure consumers that high-resolution means something. Honestly, I don't see that happening.
To be continued...