What you should know about the new recommendations on high res audio

Anyone working in music production today can benefit from the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy’s latest effort, “Recommendations for Hi Resolution Music Production.” This 40-page document outlines best practices for recording, mixing, mastering and delivering high resolution audio files for consumers.

Benefits for artists and audiences

The most obvious beneift is the ability to offer your fans an album that sounds closer to what you intended in the studio: what you heard can now be what they hear.

The often overlooked benefit is that high res audio offers another revenue stream for artists. Places like HDTracks.com, ProStudioMasters.com, and others offer consumers the opportunity to download their favorite album in a higher quality, like they’ve probably never heard it before.

Want to release your new record (or re-release your old record) in high res? Contact us: studio@airshowmastering.

Check out this article on where and how fans can purchase and listen to high res recordings. https://www.whathifi.com/advice/high-resolution-audio-everything-you-need-to-know

The goal with the P&E Wing’s document is to get everyone – from audio professionals to labels, distributors and aggregators – on the same page by establishing consistency and integrity in what is delivered to consumers as high resolution audio.

The music marketplace is constantly evolving; historically speaking, quality and convenience trade their time in the limelight. Think of the trend from LPs to cassettes to CDs to MP3s; each of these formats offered the consumer either a higher quality listening experience or a more convenient one. Now we are starting to see the swing back toward quality through high resolution audio.

The recommendations document is a long, but important read. Here are some of the most useful highlights:

File Formats:

• PCM (wav) audio should be recorded, mixed and mastered at a minimum of 48kHz / 24bit, preferably at 96kHz / 24bit or higher.
• DSD audio should be recorded, mixed and mastered at a minimum of 2.8224MHz, preferably 5.6448MHz
• Avoid using dither at any stage: leave that to the mastering stage.

The justification: Higher sample rates allow for a gentler slope to the low-pass filter that seeks to eliminate aliasing. Higher bit depths result in more dynamic audio and provide greater accuracy and fewer quantization errors. (Want to geek out a little more? Check out pages 7-8 of the doc.)

A quick note about MQA: If you follow the guidelines in the document, your music can be released in the MQA format. Airshow Boulder will soon be an MQA partner, able to provide our clients with MQA masters. Keep an eye out!


• Work at 32bit float if possible when working in-the-box. This provides more headroom for DSP tasks.
•  For tracking, reduce your DAW’s RAM buffer to minimize latency during recording.
•  For mixing and beyond, increase the buffer to increase your processing power.


• Follow the 3-2-1 Rule: Data should be backed up on three drives (either physical or cloud-based), in two separate physical locations and you should only work on one copy.
• Use checksums. Try out Fixity (https://www.avpreserve.com/tools/fixity/, it’s free!). This utility will create checksums on new files and will routinely check file consistency on stored files.

File Naming:

• 2- to 4-letter name code for the ARTIST
• Song Title or an abbreviation thereof (less than 15 characters). Capitalize each word fragment. Use no spaces or punctuation/markings to ensure universal file compatibility.
• Sample Rate & Bit Depth: i.e. “96k24b” (“k” for kiloHertz, “b” for bit
• Mix version or Stem type: capitalize each word, no spaces. i.e. “DrumStem”, “TVMix”
• Date: full date – MMDDYY. (I actually disagree with this format. I recommend YYMMDD. This will better keep your mixes in chronological order.)
• Revision Number: i.e. “Rev1”, “Rev2”, etc.
• Keep the full filename to under 255 characters.

Provenance (and file integrity):

This is a term for the origin of something. In the audio world, this refers to keeping good notes on how something was recorded, what processing might have occurred and what the current state of the file is. It’s documentation that follows a file or a project around and answers these four questions:

  1. What was the format and resolution of the source recording?
  2. What was the format of the mixed master?
  3. What file conversions were performed on the master source?
  4. What is the format and resolution of the commercially released audio file?

The document outlines Master Source Label Codes (page 29) to quickly identify the provenance of an audio file.

High res audio is a fast-growing market. Consumers are ready for it. Are you?

Have questions about high res? Ask Anna

Want to release your new record (or re-release your old record) in high res? Contact us.