With increasing hard drive sizes and falling costs per gigabyte, it's inevitable that uncompressed digital audio, which has been the preserve of high-end audio buffs until now, will become more mainstream. Players like Sony 's new NAC-HD1 are part of that trend.

The ¥105,000 (£442) home-audio separate is capable of encoding audio from a CD or DVD in an uncompressed linear PCM format to its 250GB hard drive. That space allows it to hold around 380 full hi-fi albums.

Lossless copies

The appeal, of course, of uncompressed audio is in its lossless nature, meaning none of the original audio is discarded, as happens when creating a heavily compressed MP3 file, for example.

Among the HD1's many features are a 4.3-inch colour screen, a single button for transferring compressed versions of the audio files to a portable player and a copy of the Gracenote CDDB album database for correctly naming ripped tracks. A Wi-Fi adapter can be added to keep things up to date.

On the downside, copying a CD to the hard drive without compressing the music takes around an hour. Available in Japan from 21 May.