It’s really very simple. Any recording that was recorded at the time the musicians were present using equipment that doesn’t exceed “CD quality” or 16-bits of dynamic range can’t be called “hi-res music”. This includes any and all recordings that were made using analog tape machines. They simply don’t have the specifications to meet the definition for high-res music as specified in the 2014 press release from the DEG, CEA, NARAS, and major labels. Don’t misunderstand me…this is about the specifications and not about whether analog sourced recordings sound good (of course, they can and do). It also has to do with logos, power and influence, and money…mostly about money.
The major labels don’t have any high-resolution content. But that hasn’t stopped them from contributing thousands of their older standard-res albums to the various high-resolution download sites that we’re all familiar with. At last count, they’ve converted about 5000 albums from analog tapes to high-resolution digital bit buckets. And when they list the specifications of a “hi-res” album they conveniently forget to include the provenance of the album and the date of the original release. Why? Knowing when a recording was made and the original release date provides the best clue for understanding the potential fidelity of a project.
The labels have promised to do their best to give the retailers and customers accurate and comprehensive data about the albums that they are making available in “hi-res”. But using the date of the transfer to hi-res digital bit buckets rather than the original release date doesn’t instill much confidence in their promises. I can get more accurate information using Google and Wikipedia than the information they provide.
If you were launching a website dedicated to listing high-resolution music and asked experts familiar with the label’s current “hi-res” music catalogs to recommend the very best examples of this exciting new format, what would you expect to find on the list? Wouldn’t you think that the producers/labels would want to feature recordings that met their own definition of high-resolution…meaning better than CD? Probably. But that’s not what they’re recommending.
What would you think if a 2015 re-release of an album showed up on the list featuring recordings from 1969-1973 from a major artist on a major label? Looking further at the accompanying information you notice that the “Resolution” is stated as 96/24 or 192/24. I don’t know what you would think, but I would think the people preparing the list don’t have a clue about recording provenance. And they certainly don’t know that transferring an old analog recording to a 96 or 192 kHz / 24-bit digital bucket is a complete waste of digital storage. However, they do know that they can license and sell their new standard-res transfers to unsuspecting customers as “hi-res” music and pocket a chunk of change. And we’re letting them get away with this charade by continuing to support it.
Remember we’re trying to convince music fans that high-resolution audio and music is worth the time, trouble, and expense. Demonstrating or recommending a recording that doesn’t benefit from conversion to high-resolution PCM digital specs is wrongheaded and will only disappoint retailers and consumers. Believe it or not, this is the message that is headed your way. Brace yourself.
The Kickstarter Campaign continues to engage music lovers interested in getting no nonsense information about getting better sound. We’re still ranked near the top of the non fiction publications chart over at KS and last night we topped 500 backers. The campaign has reached 166% of the original funding goal…and thank you for that support! But if you’ve been holding off becoming a backer, maybe now is the time to step up. I added a stretch goal that will see every backer receive the new 2016 AIX Records sampler (as downloadable files) if the campaign reaches 200% of the original funding goal…and that level is within reach. Please consider clicking over to the Kickstarter page and selecting a reward. Thanks very much for your support. Click here.