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Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic
Foto © Berlin Phil Media GmbH

Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic now in Hi-res Audio

It is a new quality standard that is now being introduced as the world’s first video stream on-demand provider in the context of the Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, offering video in Ultra HD TV as well as an audio track in hi-res quality.

In the so-called Digital Concert Hall of the Berliner Philharmoniker, around 40 concerts have been available every season since 2008, which are broadcast live from the Philharmonie and added to the digital archive.

Over the years, this has built up a concert archive comprising hundreds of recordings, including recordings with many of the great names of classical music.

Digital Concert Hall – The archive of the Berliner Philharmoniker with a unique offer

A special feature of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is that it can be accessed not only via any web browser, but also via smartphones and tablets, selected streaming solutions, and above all directly via smart TVs from a wide range of manufacturers, using a corresponding app.

Raised to a new level of quality

Classical music lovers will be pleased to hear that the services of the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall are now to be raised to a new level of quality.

As the world’s first streaming service, the platform will now combine ultra-high-resolution video with the best possible audio quality, thus offering lossless signal transmission in studio quality.

The Berlin-based company is convinced that it will set a new standard by guaranteeing its online audience nothing less than hi-res audio for an acoustically authentic concert experience, free of data loss, and thus unadulterated and direct, as if they were sitting in the recording studio of the philharmonic orchestra.

Internet Initiative Japan as technology partner

All this is realised in cooperation with Internet Initiative Japan, IIJ for short, the streaming partner of the Digital Concert Hall. The audio stream is based on FLAC, the format that has become widely accepted by download providers with CD or hi-res audio quality.

The special feature of this data format is already in the name: FLAC stands for nothing other than Free Lossless Audio Codec, which means that it is not associated with any licence fees for providers and, not insignificantly, has long been supported as a kind of standard by almost all consumer electronics devices.

“From the very beginning, our ambition for the Digital Concert Hall has been to offer our global audience a digital concert experience that is as authentic and immediate as possible through the highest quality picture and sound. So I’m delighted that we’ve taken another significant step towards this ideal with the introduction of Hi-Res Audio, becoming the first video streaming platform to broadcast classical music in lossless studio quality.”

Olaf Maninger Solo Cellist, Chief Media Officer and Managing Director of Berlin Phil Media GmbH

From a purely technical point of view, this looks like offering video in Full HD and thus 1,920 x 1,080 pixels as well as audio in AAC at 320 kbit/s in stereo at 48 kHz for the standard quality.

For the new offer, video is available in 4K and thus 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and audio in FLAC with 24 bits and 192 kHz.

To be more precise, the following overview is given:

Standard:1.920 x 1.080, colour space BT.709 in H.264/H.265 with up to 4,500 kbit/s
Stereo 16 Bit 48 kHz, 320 kbit/s, AAC
UHD Video Hi-res Audio:3.840 x 2.160, colour space BT.2020 in HDR/HLG H.265 with up to 17.500 kbit/s
Stereo 24 Bit 48 kHz / 24 Bit 96 kHz, 1.400 kbit/s  / 2.800 kbit/s, FLAC 

“The sound of an orchestra in the concert hall is certainly the most formative impression a live concert can leave. That is why it fills me with pride that we in the Digital Concert Hall team have technically succeeded in ushering in a new era of video streaming with the introduction of Hi-Res Audio. We can now offer the Digital Concert Hall audience in our video streams the concert sound we hear in the Philharmonie’s studio without any transmission losses.”

Christoph Franke, Creative Producer of the Digital Concert Hall

Concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra can now be accessed from the Digital Concert Hall archive in an audio quality that is far superior to that of a CD, according to the provider. At a later date, live broadcasts from the Philharmonie will also be available in hi-res audio.

Hi-Res Audio is already available in the apps for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as via the app for Apple TV.

The apps for various TV sets will soon be adapted accordingly, so that the full quality will also be offered.

Getting to the point

Classical music lovers in particular are usually also audiophile hi-fi enthusiasts who want to rely on the best possible quality. First and foremost, of course, Super Audio CDs and hi-res audio downloads are available, but now the Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra also offers a corresponding service. Not only is the picture available in the highest resolution, but the soundtrack is now also Hi-res Audio, so that a concert experience at the highest level is offered.

Provider:Digital Concert Hall Berliner Philharmoniker 

About Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.com, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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