What is HDDS?
In simple terms, HDDS, or High Definition Digital Sound is pure, lossless, multi-channel, digital audio sent from a HDDS server on the cloud to a HDDS Player over the Internet. Think of the HDDS server as your music storage, the Internet as your HDMI cable, and the HDDS Player as you Hi-Fi system. HDDS is not audio streaming. For example, it is not streaming of a FLAC file over the Internet.
What is the purpose of HDDS?
Indeed it is quite possible to listen to digital audio in the way it was actually produced. Pure digital music is audio that is perfect in sound, crisp in clarity and plays-back naturally without any flaws or degradation, as it was intended to when recorded in the studio. The majority of digital audio file formats use compression to keep the file size to a minimum. However, there are numerous audio file formats available today that can allow you to listen to lossless, glitch-free sound, but, what about on the Internet? The purpose is to provide superior-quality music over the Internet which is processed, transmitted and played-back as pure, lossless, multi-channel, digital audio.
We call this High Definition Digital Sound or HDDS. Yes, you have read correctly. It is possible to play true high definition sound across the Internet!
Did you know most multi-channel audio streamed across the Internet is not actually pure, lossless multi-channel audio? The Internet carries this audio in bit-streams which are linear in operation. The audio detail is compressed in Internet packets which are later uncompressed by the player’s codec. In this process, some audio information is either of low-grade, or missing sometimes. Both sides of this process are not always fully compatible. Most audio players ‘compromise’ a fair bit with the audio stream. The weakest link is really the Internet.
How does HDDS work?
Very basically, a HDDS audio file is stored on the cloud as a FLAC file. This file is actually not just a regular FLAC file. It has been digitally-remastered and optimised to transmit across the Internet. This file has a .hdds file extension and it is much bigger than the original FLAC file of the audio track. As an example, the original FLAC may be 32MB in size but the corresponding HDDS file would be 1.2GB! That is a big file to send down the Internet you may think. But this file is not downloaded – but contains lots of rich information about the audio. We call this meta information and this file stays on the ‘server-side’ which basically means clever servers and hardware in our data centre.
Also, on the server-side is the HDDSe, or the HDDS Engine we affectionately call it. This is really the clever stuff and is made up of several very expensive appliances and digital audio equipment. It has several jobs, but the main one is to process the .hdds (very large FLAC) file. It does this by what we call ‘Spinning up the SOUNDPL8Z’ (soundplates). If we went into this properly then this would be a very long explanation consisting of deep and complex mathematical algorithms and busy diagrams! Essentially, the HDDSe spins up 8 channels in real-time from the .hdds file and transmits 8 channels which are served downstream to the HDDS Player.
The HDDS Player is usually on the user’s computer or device, which is normally copied in the browser’s cache. Its job is simple – to receive the 8 channels and basically put them into sync and then play them in union. That’s basically how it works!
How do I listen to Lossless, multi-channel audio?
You need is a sound device on your PC that will understand multi-channel music and decode FLAC (a FREE, open-source, audio codec commonly available for most media players). A typical sound system set-up may consist of a 7.1 audio card in your PC connected to multiple speakers. or a PC with a HDMI-out connection to a 7.1 A/V processor. If you have not invested in a 7.1 setup, then HDDS can also be output to your 5:1 (S/PDIF) or 2:1 (stereo) speaker or headphone configurations – although this would not be classified as pure digital audio or true lossless sound – the quality will nonetheless be far superior than any audio format using lossy data compression such as MP3.
What about casting HDDS?
This is a bit more of a tricky area. If you have the HDDS Player on your mobile device, and then cast it over Wi-Fi to your TV or Hi-Fi amplifier then really you are breaking the HDDS end-to-end transmission of 8-channel, lossless digital audio. The reason for this is that the player will only send the audio content in Stereo, or strictly called PCM 2.0. The HDDS Player basically re-samples the HDDS content, which still sends very high-quality digital audio but it only has two channels. The good news is that there is still plenty of rich information in the the player’s bit-stream (sent across the Wi-Fi) that any A/V processor connected correctly to the TV or Hi-Fi capable of multi-channel audio (such as Dolby Prologic, Dolby Digital, DTS Neural-X, etc.), can re-sample the receiving HDDS content to near-perfect HDDS playback. The even better news is that the HDDS will almost certainly be more superior than just compressed stereo, such as MP3. We call this playback HDDSduo – and it’s the next best thing to HDDS!
OK, but why HDDS for me?
Let’s just level here now – HDDS is not for everyone! HDDS started off as an ambitious project where it could have become a ‘standard’ for Hi-Fi systems and audio devices. But, there is simply no significant appetite for high-definition playback over the Internet any longer. Audiophiles tend to store their lossless digital content locally on their PCs or NAS devices, and the vast majority of casual listeners are fine with their cloud setups like Spotify and Google Play. HDDS does have a place. Portable music is about portability, and not so much about an ultra premium listening experience. The average ‘ear’ is good with 128Kbps 2 channel MP3. HDDS s for those who are really, really serious about storing large high quality audio on the cloud, and are committed to absolutely ensuring it travels straight to their premium multi-channel receiver and out to their normally very expensive speakers. It is for those who are committed to a perfect and immersive listening experience with not even an ounce of compromise. For this HDDS works perfectly and is simply second to none!
More about the HDDS Engine
PUNN.org hosts its exclusive HDDS Engine which consists of a complex combination of sophisticated sound streaming software and ultra-fidelity audio processing hardware – uniquely allowing lossless audio (encoded to our own HDDS file format) to be transported across the cyber waves straight into your living room. The HDDSe is available for hire to audio professionals for the purpose of enhancing FLAC audio to experience HDDS content for private-use. HDDS is also available to the music and movie industries under a controlled license. Please inquire for applicable fees.
To know more about HDDS, or how we can convert your FLAC collection into HDDS ready for Internet-use, simply contact us.