iTrax, my high-resolution digital music download site, was launched in November of 2007, which makes it the very first hi-res audio download site. AIX Records was founded in 2000 and was among the first high-definition audio labels. I was intent to producing REA HD tracks instead of repurposing standard definition materials. To this date every track available on iTrax.com is a bona fide high-resolution audio track…nothing from analog tape and nothing from standard definition digital audio. All of the files were sourced from labels producing new HD tracks. I’m proud to have my own AIX Records materials on the site as well as hundreds of albums from other labels including 2L, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, SFS Media and others.
But you know as well as I do that these labels aren’t part of the hit machine. And plenty of audiophiles want the very best sound for albums in their collection from the major labels. This, of course, was part of the business model that HDtracks pursued…and they’ve been very successful with it. Recently, other labels are moving in to the same territory. Some are trying to capitalize on the recent hype around DSD while others like HighResAudio are emulating the success of HDtracks in other territories.
I agree that the world deserves to have access to classic recordings from the past regardless of whether they were recorded on analog tape or a Blättnerphone…but tracks of any era and technology MUST include two essential pieces of information. The provenance of the album or track should be prominently displayed on the web page AND the delivery format/specifications. The current situation of saying everything is “hi-res” just because the delivery container specs out as a high-resolution bit bucket is misleading, dishonest and is creating distrust in the marketplace.
This is bad news for everyone involved in high-end audio. If we aren’t provided with accurate information about the tracks we’re purchasing then everyone loses…hardware companies as well as audio labels and digital download sites.
iTrax.com will be expanding to include standard definition content in the first quarter of next year. I’m headed to Las Vegas to participate in the High-Resolution Audio “Techzone” showcase during CES and hoping to bring some clarity to the unfortunate situation that dominates the high-end download opportunity.
The new iTrax design will provide several innovative features that I believe will benefit audiophiles that want and deserve. The slogan for the revamped site is “Quality Audio – Honest Marketing”.
Here’s some of the things that will be part of the new site:
• Full provenance information on the source and format of the master
• Spectragrams of the tracks/albums
• High-resolution samples to audition prior to purchase
• Multiple delivery format options including downloads, discs and even analog tape
• Processed tracks for headphone surround and acoustic models
• Stereo and multichannel albums/tracks
• High-resolution PCM and DSD file types
• PDF files of the artwork (when available)
• Full technical information for each album
• Comprehensive production credits
I’m open to all comments, suggestions, criticism and ideas regarding the new site. I don’t have a ton of advertising money to spread around purchasing banner ads and magazine pages, my hope is that word of mouth will make iTrax, the ultimate place to acquire the best quality music downloads in the world. I want this to be a site for passionate audio lovers and not just a place to drop $25-30 on smoke and mirrors. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting images from the new design over the next week or so.