Sony’s Web Content Claiming High-Resolution Music Sounds Better than CDs Banned in UK for False Claims

I recently explained how high-resolution music is a marketing ploy to get you to pay more for the same music you’d get on a CD. I noticed an interesting ruling recently by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, banning content on Sony’s website which claimed that high-resolution audio sounds better than CDs. The content includes some of those stair-step graphs, which are often used to “justify” high-resolution audio, with the following text:

Simply, it gives you digital audio formats that deliver better than CD quality sound to your ears. That’s because it converts analog music to digital at a higher rate than CDs. CDs are standardised at 16bit/44.1kHz, while high resolution sound is normally 24-bit/192kHz. The result? You get to hear performances exactly as they were recorded, without any sound compromise.


The ASA rejected the ad, saying:

Whilst we acknowledged that the technology used in HRA allowed more data to be captured and greater frequency range and wider dynamic range reproduced, we had not been provided with any evidence that the differences were perceptible by the average person. Although we considered that whether or not different sounds were better or more pleasant to listen to was a matter of subjective opinion, we considered that the graphs implied that the sound quality produced by HRA was perceptibly different to CD audio quality. Because we had not seen evidence that was the case we concluded that the ad, and in particular the graphs, misleadingly exaggerated the capabilities and benefits of high-resolution audio.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

The ASA cited the following action to be taken:

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sony Europe Ltd to ensure that any use of the graphs in their advertising did not exaggerate the capabilities and benefits of high-resolution audio.

As of this writing, the Sony website still has the offending content online.