Sony's hard-drive hi-fi making tracks at home

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Sony's NAC-HD1 is capable of recording digital tracks without compressing them.

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.