Microsoft acquires digital audio technology developer

High Definition Compatible Digital, or HDCD, is a process that encodes CDs (compact discs) with 20 bits of musical data, rather than the 16 bits used to other CD processes. The result is a more dynamic range in digitally reproduced music, said to be closer to the original performance.

Microsoft was attracted to PMI by because of its digital audio signal processing, Microsoft said in a statement Monday regarding the deal. Financial terms were not disclosed. Microsoft did say that it intends to add PMI's technology into future "offerings," presumably software, for PCs and consumer devices. Digital media is becoming a key to providing entertainment sources over the Internet through PCs and non-PC devices.

Besides developing HDCD, PMI also licenses the HDCD decoder and filter technology to leading audio manufacturers. HDCD technology has been used to record more than 5,000 CDs across the spectrum of musical genres -- jazz, pop, rock, reggae, classical -- by artists such as Madonna, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, k.d. Lang, The Mystical Revealers, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Phish and Enrique Iglesias, according to the PMI Web site.

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Nancy Weil

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