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'HD vinyl' records could hit store shelves next year

By Shawn Knight · 16 replies
Apr 12, 2018
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  1. A 2016 patent filing for a high-definition analogue audio storage medium appears to be taking shape and Austrian start-up Rebeat Innovation is leading the charge.

    CEO Günter Loibl recently told Pitchfork that his company has received $4.8 million in funding to develop “HD vinyl.” According to the publication, HD vinyl involves converting audio digitally into a 3D topographical map. That data is then inscribed onto vinyl using lasers.

    Loibl said the technique allows for records to be made with greater precision and less loss of audio information. There are also other benefits, Loibl notes, as LPs made using this method reportedly have 30 percent more amplitude, up to 30 percent more playing time and an overall more faithful sound reproduction.

    The technique would also eliminate the use of certain chemicals used in traditional vinyl manufacturing. What’s more, new HD vinyl would be compatible with existing record players.

    Vinyl has been making a comeback as of late, thanks in large part to both hipsters and middle-aged sentimentalists. In 2017, sales of physical music surpassed digital music download revenue by a margin of $200 million. That may seem surprising but considering the impact streaming services have had on the industry, it’s a bit easier to digest.

    Loibl said they’ve already spent $600,000 on a laser system that should arrive in July. By September, he hopes to have the first test stampers ready. If all goes according to plan, the first batch of HD vinyl albums could arrive in stores as early as next year.

    Permalink to story.

  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,425   +1,822

    If it is compatible with existing players, then there will still be degradation unless you get a laser player. At some point, even with ECC, the degradation has to effect the output.

    However, if the material is digitized, then this might dissuade audiophiles from purchasing this since the complaint, with them, is that digitizing the audio loses information. The audiophile likes the purity of the analog recording.
    jobeard and senketsu like this.
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,035   +1,443

    "... thanks in large part to both hipsters and middle-aged sentimentalists."

    HEY! Who you calling middle-aged? And a sentimentalist? :p
    Reehahs, mbrowne5061 and Berty Boy like this.
  4. Here we go, grab the popcorn..........If their claims are true "the technique allows for records to be made with greater precision and less loss of audio information. There are also other benefits, Loibl notes, as LPs made using this method reportedly have 30 percent more amplitude, up to 30 percent more playing time and an overall more faithful sound reproduction." This is a confession that traditional LP's lose some audio information, lose some amplitude and have a less faithful sound reproduction (than these HD LP's and IMHO I would add hi-res digital).
    Then there is the matter of the recording. I thought all recording today would be digital, but I found this from Bad Racket Recording Studio (in Cleveland).
    "analog recording is very expensive compared to digital. Expect to spend hundreds if not thousands on tape if you’re recording to 2″ analog tape for a full length album. So digital is by far cheaper....but don’t digital recordings sound sterile and lifeless? They don’t have to. We have plenty of gear that can give a unique sonic signature and flavor to your songs. But what really is going to make a difference in how things sound is the engineer."
    "Making a really organic fuzzy analog warm awesome record with plugins isn’t as hard as it once was. Plugins and emulators are better than they were before, and the old analog gear is still deteriorating and sometimes who knows if it will work. Analog gear is expensive to maintain and inflexible compared to “in the box” effects. The old stuff is reaching the end of its service life, and plugins are getting better and better. There’s no way you could get anyone to differentiate between a digital emulation vs tape machine recordings these days. In fact Daft Punk did their last album on all digital AND all analog so they had the chance to choose between whatever was best… and guess what… Get Lucky… the hit single… was all digital. Well blah.. That’s boring you might say…I want it recorded in the old way the way they did back in the day when real bands had real talent. Well guess what, it took a lot more money and effort to do what we can do now in an afternoon might have taken a whole week to accomplished using only a tape machine. Try telling someone they only have one shot to do a punch in and there's no undo these days and you’re going to get a few raised eyebrows"
    "Its not what you have, its how you use it. There’s a lot of star worship and nostalgia for the old way."
    note: he is speaking about the recording process, not the final output (CD, LP or digital download), but many LP's are recorded and mastered digitally.
    so even though I don't buy vinyl, this is still a great development for those who do (should the claim match the hype) and I'm happy they can eliminate some of the chemicals used in vinyl manufacture.
    trgz likes this.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,864   +3,310

    We've got both stores and a disk pressing company in Nashville and he simply cannot keep them on the shelf ......
  6. Fuchsia2020

    Fuchsia2020 TS Rookie

    Modern times certainly has some quality recording methods, but is truly lacking is the talent of the 1960s. Think of the Beatles era, and all the great groups and individual stars of the day. And those slightly before, such as Buddy Holly, and those following the 60s, or late 60s such as Led Zepplin, and David Bowie. Do they have new writers matching Paul Simon? Are there any whole albums which are new and worth buying? From ABBA to Supremes, the thought of any singers using auto-tune would have been ridiculous.
    So technically great is fine and all, but personally I would rather listen to a scratchy old recording of real talent any ol' day.
    trgz likes this.
  7. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 591   +578

    Talent still definitely exists, and arguably there's even more of it around nowadays. But the musical styles and genres have moved on. So you're not going to hear new bands emulate the old sounds. If you like 60s and 70s music, great! But listen to 60s and 70s music and don't expect modern stuff to sound similar. But that's a whole different thing to there not being talent around today.
  8. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 580   +1,140

    It's not so much the technological limitations ("sounds warm", "I love my snap, crackle & pop", etc) of the medium that "audiophiles" like but rather the overall lack of dynamic range compression "rat race" that came with the pre-80's era on which older media was mastered (ie, back when "we need to make everything as loud as possible so it just ends up a wall of noise with little depth to it" was the exception rather than the norm).

    Some early CD's enjoyed this and most audiophiles admit they sound great. SACD / DVD-Audio both flopped hard because everyone pushing it completely missed the point as to what "better" music actually is - actually mastering music with some "vertical depth" to it and not just sticking the same (dynamic range) compressed "wall of noise" (and worse auto-tuned manufactured 'talent') on a medium shaped like Vinyl purely for the retro novelty factor.
    regiq likes this.
  9. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    Yep, you're right.
    CD theoretically has a lot better quality then vinyl - especially nowadays, when engineers understand digital to analog conversion better and know how to handle things like jitter - but modern albums use only a fraction of it's possibilities, mostly because of the loudness war.
    NightAntilli likes this.
  10. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    Modern vinyl albums are made of digital masters. Fully analog recording chain is very rare.

    Refining of the vinyl pressing process is a good thing, but adding the HD sticker everywhere turns me off...
  11. Berty Boy

    Berty Boy TS Rookie

    Way too late for this in a professional sense !

    I would much rather carry my whole arsenal of tracks on a couple of usb sticks that sit in my pocket over lugging around heavy record boxes again ..... them days will never return !!!

    and yeah as regiq says, you can guarantee it will be digitally mastered so no full analog chain and will of course be done for loudness rather than dynamic range
  12. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,553   +1,440

    :grin: Yes, the harmonics are much richer at both ends of the spectrum. The Wiki notes

  13. NahNood

    NahNood TS Booster Posts: 104   +34

    Well, if there's a market for it, it's all good. lol
  14. HyPeroxya

    HyPeroxya TS Enthusiast Posts: 65   +6

    But hasn't this already been done , to some extent , by simply improving the the whole vinyl pressing eg with better quality cutters and better quality vinyl (18oz vs 12oz). I fear that simply sticking the HD label on discs is a way of soaking the "Hipsters and Sendmementalists" of vast amounts of cash. So they can buy a fourth or fifth copy of Rumours by Fleetwood Mac , costing 25-30 Gbp .. just like the whole water cooling and RGB fad.
  15. merikafyeah

    merikafyeah TS Addict Posts: 164   +113

    There are true audiophiles, and then there are simply audiofools. A true audiophile cares about sound quality so they would have studied digital to analog conversion and vice versa, at least enough to know that when done properly there is no loss when converting an analog signal to digital thanks to a little something we call "dither". Noise is inherent in an analog signal due to the fact that no electronic circuit is perfect, so the audiofools believe quantization errors to be evidence of loss of information during digitization, but this is only true without dithering. Dithered quantization is precisely what allows us to perfectly reproduce an analog waveform from a digital source. Dither is simply controlled noise, the same noise present in an analog signal, so when going from digital back to analog, the resulting analog waveform is in every way identical to the initial analog waveform, at least to the limits of the precision of our analog measuring tools. Naturally, if we cannot even measure a difference, then hearing a difference is out of the question except for placebo.

    The myth of "digitization loss" is almost as prevalent as the myth of the square "stair step" waveform often presented to illustrate a digital waveform. However such waveforms don't exist and Chris Montgomery explains this far better than I ever could:
  16. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Sounds like we're going backwards but I guess they figure it's the best way to save on profits..
  17. Fuchsia2020

    Fuchsia2020 TS Rookie

    I would sure like some names of these new talents. Moving on is a good thing -- this is what the Beatles did during their years. Always something new and exciting. I switch on the radio now and find techno music -- wasn't good in the 70's and certainly is not new. I hear little in depth to any lyrics, but a lot of thumpty loud drums, which is to drown out the singer and poor lyrics, I assume. Then there is some bad poetry, put to old riffs using some bad English and swearing which evidently makes millions. It would be wonderful indeed to have something NEW, something which grabs you from the first song and holds you through an album. It doesn't have to sound old - it has to sound good. Most of the new hits sound old and tired to these old ears, and about as exciting as listening to polka with the Laurence Welk band.

    Perhaps it is the radio stations of today and how they operate which is to blame. The talent is never heard?

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