This morning, Ray dropped a gem into our Slack channel:
So off to Google I went and stumbled across this article from Exclaim.ca claiming that high definition vinyl is possible. I mean… vinyl is analogue right? There is no technical resolution right? Does adding HD at the end of something actually mean anything? Are you telling me that the hallowed allegedly superior sound of vinyl can be improved on? Well yes and no.
The HD in this case packs 30% more music onto the record and with a higher dynamic range too. This comes down to using a laser to cut the master instead of a traditional lathe, which allows more compact and detailed grooves to be cut into the stamper as well as offering a greater frequency range and volume. And on top of making the whole master production process quicker (traditionally a bottleneck), it’ll also allow the stamper to last longer too.
It is claimed to be a fully backwards compatible process, so you’ll be able to play them on any turntable with any needle. But this is where the caveat comes in — you’re probably going to need better needles than those you use for DJing, maybe whole carts, and who knows… perhaps even all new turntables to experience the full glory of HD vinyl.
OLD PROCESS — NEW TECH
I’m struck by how cool it is to see modern technology applied to a process still so entrenched in ancient production workflows. And given that laser cutting masters is seemingly real, does this mean that we’re at a point where regular vinyl can be cut on demand?
In all honesty, I don’t see HD vinyl as being of any benefit to DJs. Who knows — HD noise maps with matching HD DJ carts could appear. And I’m sure many would throw money at it and claim it was better.
Cramming more on a platter is great for pro rock concept LPs, but given the stellar audio quality we already experience from vinyl and digital, HD vinyl is probably best left to the audiophiles, because I’m pretty sure that seeing an HD logo on a record sleeve is going to bump the price. Expect to see classic LPs remastered and reissued, but I wouldn’t hold out for DJ friendly releases any time soon.