Singapore-based digital-music services provider Soundbuzz on Dec. 18 launched what it claims is the first online music store in Asia to offer high-fidelity downloads.

Soundbuzz says the store - at www.soundbuzz.com/sls - uses a technology called Scalable-to-Lossless (SLS), which was jointly developed by Soundbuzz and Singapore-based Exploit Technologies, the marketing arm of the Singapore government's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Standard-quality files recorded at a rate of 256 kilobytes per second are available on the site for $2.50 Singapore ($1.72) each, while high-fidelity MPEG4 audio tracks sell for $3.00 Singapore ($2.06). Users can also upgrade standard-quality downloaded tracks to higher-fidelity versions by paying an additional $0.80 Singapore ($0.55).

The service also includes a "synch to mobile" function that lets users transfer to their mobile handsets tracks they have downloaded to their PCs from the Soundbuzz hi-fi online store.

"Exploit Technologies is pleased that we have successfully commercialized A*STAR's technology in digital media, and offer a Singapore company like Soundbuzz a competitive edge in this growing market," said Exploit Technologies executive chairman Boon Swan Foo in a statement.

Said Soundbuzz Asia GM Yen Ong in a statement: "It is critical with any new digital music offering that we give consumers a number of flexible and simple options so they can tailor the experience to their own tastes. With A*STAR's technology, consumers can now purchase incredibly high-quality songs that they can enjoy on the most sophisticated home entertainment system, but can also transfer easily to their mobile handsets if they want to take their music with them."