Downloads

The CD is slowly disappearing.
You don't buy CDs anymore; you download the audio from a website.
Most websites offers MP3. Slowly the bit rates are rising as bandwidth and the cost of storage becomes less of an issue.
The availability of lossless formats is rather limited but growing.

Hi-res

In the debunker style forums you can find claims like
‘High bit rate MP3 is indistinguishable from CD’ or
‘High resolution recordings (anything > 16/44.1) is indistinguishable from CD’
Some draw the conclusion that high bit rate MP3 therefore sounds the same as 24 bit/192 kHz recordings.

 

The only way to find out is to try.
2L offers a couple of highres downloads FLAC, DSD and DXD.

 

If you pay a premium for a Hi-res recording, you expect to get the same resolution as the master recording made by the studio.
This might be a bit too optimistic.
Often the audio is re-sampled to a common format like 24/88 or 24/96.
Sometimes there is no audio signal above 20 kHz. Obvious the original was not Hi-res but plain CD quality.
There is indeed a risk you are scammed now and then.
More can be found here.

An overview of downloads with CD quality or higher can be found on the What’s Best Forum

Shops

 

A website for musicians to sell direct.

They encourage using hi-res FLAC

Offers CD quality and hires.

Although part of the Chandos group, other labels are available as well.

 

Channel Classics

 

Recordings in DSD and hires PCM (FLAC).

eClassical

Classical music in MP3 and FLAC in CD-quality and hires.

HDtracks has 88 kHz/24 bit and 96 kHz/24 bit files in FLAC.

They offer no information about the resolution of the source.

Sometimes they sell upsampled recordings as high res.

Highresaudio

24 bits audio with various sample rates including some 352.8/24 material
Beside some smaller labels Hiresaudio  features  ECM, Naxos and Sony.

 

Linn Records

One of the few ‘traditional’ audio brands who recognized the impact of computer audio early.
Not only do they have UPnP media players but also they offer lossless recordings for quite a while.

You can get various formats (WMA, FLAC, MP3) in 16/24 bits and sample rates from CD (44.1) to 192 kHz depending on the recording.

PlayClassics is a small company run by Mario Martinez, a Spanish recording engineer.
You donate a small amount and download a 24/96 FLAC
I tried the Albinez recording (solo piano).
It sounds very natural to me, indeed almost live like.

Excellent recording.

Qobuz albums sold as "Qobuz Studio Masters" are provided directly by the labels.

They are not re-encoded from the SACD and we guarantee their coming directly.

 

 

Low-res

The Internet Archive: Listen to this collection of 78rpm records and cylinder recordings released in the early 20th century. These recordings were contributed to the Archive by users through the Open Source Audio collection.

Artists available here include Ada Jones, Caruso, Eddie Cantor, Edison Concert Band, Harry MacDonough, Len Spencer, Paul Whiteman, and many others.

 

If you like this, pay a visit to Sounds like Shellac too.