During my discussions with Paul McGowan, we chatted about his PS Records effort and the slicing up of the pie amongst artist, studio, and record label. They intend to retail the new 2-disc high-resolution compilation for almost $40. This makes it a reasonably high priced collection of 10-12 tunes. Have you ever wondered what goes into the production of an album? As a label owner and producer of new high-resolution projects, I’m happy to “peel back the curtain” and provide readers with a little “record production accounting”.
I also read a press release put out by Astell & Kern, makers of portable high-resolution players, that highlighted their partnership with Warner Music and the release of the Maria Callas Remastered – The Complete Studio Recordings (1949-1969) Box Set in high-resolution, 24-bit audio. This is quite a collection and is being delivered in a rather unique way…on microSD cards. Here’s how the press release describes it:
“Conceived as a true collector’s edition, the Maria Callas Remastered Box Set presents each individual opera or recital MQS (Master Quality Sound) Album on microSD card with its original artwork. The box set contains a 132–page hardcover book with essays, a biography and chronology, rarely seen photos and reproductions of revealing letters written by Maria Callas, Walter Legge and other EMI executives. The opera librettos and aria texts are provided on each MQS Album.”
The Callas Box Set is currently available for $1,200. That’s a lot of money for a set of microSD cards. I applaud the A&K folks for creating a really beautiful book and packaging but the price seems a little over the top. Especially, since all of the recordings are from a period in recording history that doesn’t come close to requiring 24-bits or 96 kHz sample rates! I would challenge anyone to detect any difference between a CD of the new masters and the files that you will load onto your portable player.
What’s wrong with providing digital downloads of the project?
“Astell&Kern wants consumers to hold the media in their hands, experience and feel it and not worry about losing a digital download and being unable to recover it. The owner can simply re copy the track or album to their portable player, computer or other device from the physical microSD card.”
Is there really a thrill associated with holding a microSD card in your hand? And when someone downloads a track from the iTrax.com site, they have it forever. If you lose a hard drive, simply log in to your profile and download the track again.
Of course, you could opt for the “Astell & Kern Blue Note 75th Anniversary Box Set: Limited Edition is also currently available for $5,500”.
It seems that A&K is moving away from hardware and becoming a premium…very premium…provider of standard definition content in high-resolution bit buckets…with elaborate packaging. This goes right along with $5 per track downloads of DSD files and $40 album downloads of DXD content. The right price is the price that people…at least a few people…will pay. I’d love to get my hands on a few of these files and do some analysis. The projects do not bring “more high-resolution audio to consumers”. They perpetuate the myth that you can magically convert older standard definition recording into high-resolution products by simply remastering them and capturing the output at 96 kHz/24-bits.
I’ll have to keep an eye out for the first reviews of these titles. I have good friends at A&K; maybe they’ll send a few files to me to check out.
To be continued…