44.1kHz/24-bit FLAC, Harmonia Mundi HMC 902148 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

HRA has recently started offering Harmonia Mundi recordings as downloads (at low prices too). This particular programme – a recent classical Album Choice [HFN Jan ’14] – was made in May ’12 at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios only at 44.1kHz resolution. Does this (24-bit) download offer a sonic gain? I thought there was a discernible difference: switching from an iMac/Audirvana/MF V-Link192/DAC to preamp chain to CD player/preamp brought a thicker, flatter sound. The download version opened things out, adding depth to the soundstage and more space around the cello solos. So a preferable alternative – although the gap did narrow with the player fed by the same Chord cable to DAC/preamp. (If you missed the earlier review: the cellist is superb and the BBC SO accompaniments excellent.) CB

Sound Quality: 80%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

There’s little that’s remarkable here as this 44.1kHz download cannot add to the ~20kHz bandwidth of the silver CD version. The 24-bit quantisation (before truncation to 16-bit for CD) may realise some improvement however. PM