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To my fellow Western Hemisphere friends: raise your hand if you know that Onkyo has been operating a Hi-Res music download service since 2005.

**silence**

You are not alone. At least I think you’re not alone.



Onkyomusic.com is rolling out in the United States, Britain, and Germany.


There are two possible outcomes to today’s article. Either I’ve had my head (and wallet) buried so deep in Apple’s toxic wasteland of music compression depression that I’m about to reveal an embarrassing level of e-music ignorance. Or, I’m about to enlighten you, my fellow enthusiasts, with breaking news that Onkyo has been in the Hi-Res download game for nearly a decade. And to be quite frank, I’m not sure which is the more likely outcome.

Over the past year, we’ve discussed the AV industry’s abrupt gravitation toward marketing Hi-Res playback. It has become an all-out FLAC attack. Of course, there has always been a core group of enthusiasts that have refused to relinquish high-quality musical material. For those of you in that group, I tip my hat (and being a staunch Blu-ray film fan, I understand your calling). But, this is not the case for the vast majority of the music consuming Joe Public. Nope. Not at all. You see, Joe has been blindly lead down a path to a world of Low-Res music downloads, jam packing every miniaturized electronic device with music that simply sounds serviceable to accommodate convenience. But, these times they are a changin. A convergence of technology and an industry looking for new inroads to consumer wallets (the ratio, of which, is up to interpretation) is gaining momentum and is beginning to steer Joe back to tunes that will tingle the eardrums with waves of sensational soothing sonic bliss. All Joe needs to do is open the wallet, grit the ole teeth, and watch as the bills fly out.

Onkyo claims that its Japanese operated e-Onkyo Music Hi-Res download site was the world’s first Hi-Resolution Music Store. Here in the U.S., our familiarity with such a service leads us directly to sites such as HD Tracks, Pro Studio Masters, iTrax, and Acoustic Sounds…. not e-Onkyo. One would think that e-Onkyo, being the first, would somehow more readily ring a bell. At least for me, that’s simply not the case.

Onkyo has partnered with a digital music platform company (7digitial) and is rebranding their e-Onkyo Music site for three new territories (United States, Britain, and Germany). In these markets, Onkyo’s service will be known as onkyomusic.com. The company says that users of the site will be able to “access hundreds of thousands of 24-bit/44.1kHz up to 192kHz hi-res tracks and millions of CD-quality 16-bit FLAC” songs. Albums will cost between $15-$20 US, while individual tracks will cost between $3-$4 per song; expensive, yes, but perhaps a stroke of genius on Onkyo’s behalf. Onkyo has loads of Hi-Res playback equipment to sell, and now it’s offering several large markets the songs to feed it.

Onkyo says the onkyomusic.com site is currently in beta form and that Android and iOS apps are in development.

I decided to put Onkyo’s new site to a popularity smell test by checking to see if it currently carries the Top 10 most popular albums on iTunes. Here are the results:

1) Big Sean “Dark Sky Paradise” -- Not Available on onkyomusic.com
2) Drake “If You’re Reading This It’s To Late” -- Not Available
3) Various “Fifty Shades of Grey” -- Not Available
4) Skrillex & Diplo “Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U” -- Available
5) Kid Rock “First Kiss” -- Available
6) Chris Brown X Tyga “Fan of a Fan the Album” -- Available
7) Taylor Swift “1989” -- Not Available
8) Imagine Dragons “Smoke + Mirrors” -- Not Available
9) Ed Sheeran “X” – Available
10) Red “of Beauty and Rage” -- Available

That makes for a 50-percent hit rate on Onkyo’s part. Take from that what you will. It’s worth noting that the company’s beta site is a tad clunky with a noticeable search delay. However, it’s early in the game and entirely impossible to criticize a beta site. Hopefully Onkyo is in the process of tailoring its site to accommodate those of us with quick-click happy fingers.

For more information (or to investigate Onkyo’s beta site) visit www.onkyomusic.com.



Image Credit: Onkyo Entertainment Technology Corporation
 

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Not available to canadian customers... I did a search for Jamiroquai with no results, and Daft Punk (One result in "high res", although 24/44.1 is not high res in my opinion) Really cool none the less, didn't know it existed.
 

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No, unfortunately this is only going to be expanded to the US, UK, and DE... they are obviously going to need to beef up their catalog a bit. I'm sure they'll expand to other countries if they have success.
 

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For a while a lot of us in canada were able to "work around" the whole non-US customer thing with "HD tracks" but eventually they caught on. I'm told some are still able to buy... I wonder if i could work around this one as well. It's pretty annoying to not be able to buy something in high res which is available in canada in cd form.
 
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