ANALOGUE VINYL RECORDS
These records are issued under the product name ARTISTIC FIDELITY | REFERENCE RECORDING, providing a reference for reproductive fidelity to the artistic performance in front of the microphone. You can find out more further down or go directly to the catalog:
ARTISTIC FIDELITY | REFERENCE RECORDING
The vinyl record as a contemporary medium for culture-conscious music lovers
While some people are actually speaking seriously about the impossibility of hearing the differences between mp3 and CD and the music industry – conforming with the mainstream – is increasingly being deformed into a kind of "constant stream of sound to cover the silence" another community of listeners is forming for whom the sound carrier still represents a piece of culture and for whom listening to music is still seen as a special form of enjoyment. For audiophile hi-fi fans there is absolutely no question which medium represents the measure of all things. It is precisely these people who are currently causing a real renaissance for the good old vinyl record; just as much for its acoustic advantages as for its external appearance and the particular attraction of the apparatus on which it is played.
The CD marched to victory 25 years ago because it had some very tempting advantages from a superficial point of view. Some people always knew it but others – also including the younger generation who grew up only with CDs – are now re-discovering it: canned music can transport much more than we are accustomed to from the CD. This is true both for musical, artistic aspects and for matters of sound technology. The LP can transfer many more of the finest details of an artistic performance at the microphone and can therefore give the listener a far more intensive listening experience than a CD ever could. We must also never forget the lure that is emitted by the apparatus used to play the music, which is usually very aesthetically pleasing, the ‘celebration’ involved in placing a record on the turntable and, most importantly, the value that is expressed by the size and the design of a well-made record sleeve. The vinyl record in its entirety is simply a medium that awakens the emotions.
A development process
From around 1998 onwards ACOUSENCE was one of the companies at the forefront when digital technology finally entered into a stage of development with the introduction of 96 kHz technology in which it could be a real alternative to the best, professional, analogue recording technology. In the meantime, almost a decade later, there is no longer any question that the latest digital recording technology with double or quadruple sampling rate of 96kHz or 192kHz is superior to even the best analogue studio technology in every way and the achievable master quality has thus increased enormously.
Time, however, seems to have been at a standstill for 25 years with regard to consumer sound carriers. At ACOUSENCE it is, therefore, an everyday occurrence to observe how a substantial portion of the quality in the High Definition Master is lost on the sound carrier CD. Because we only convert to CD format at the very end of the production process our CDs do profit clearly from the high resolution studio technology – this is how these CDs display a really impressive spectrum of colour and high artistic and emotional potential – but we still have the desire to also transport the remaining facets of the master to our clients. Recent attempts by the industry to establish high resolution sound carriers such as SACD and DVD-Audio have not been widely accepted for various reasons: SACD is very problematic because of its sound in comparison to the analogue standard and DVD-Audio is rather the victim of a marketing error in the shadow of DVD-Video.
The situation today
Today there still remains a seemingly not so small group of people, the size of which appears to be increasing steadily, who are not willing to accept high-speed mass consumption via the ‘super-practical’ mp3 download as the future for all music consumers. These, obviously still particularly culture-conscious music fans are now looking more and more to the classic vinyl record. The largest group manifests itself – at least in the classical music sector – in strong demand for productions from the golden age of analogue recording technology from the end of the 1950s until the late 1970s, both second hand and as a current pressing. The direction that this demand is taking is surely partly related to a certain nostalgia but it is also partly inspired by the fantastic artistic quality of these old recordings. Since the introduction of digital technology and the CD this quality has been achieved increasingly rarely, approximately to the extent to which the budgets and the perceived value of the production process are diminishing.
Technical development versus music
An important aspect in technical terms is that CDs, including those with industry standard digital technology involving a 48 kHz sampling rate, disregard important capacities of the human auditory perception system (see next side). The technology was introduced in the 1980s primarily for reasons relating to the politics of the market. It has its own undoubted advantages and has indeed so far also acquired many satisfied customers. However it was not a true enhancement compared to analog technology and the LP, but – if we disregard for a moment the handier design and lower background noise – rather the opposite. Particularly in terms of musical potential proper it has even been a retrograde step.
The real evolution: ARTISTIC FIDELITY | REFERENCE RECORDING
As already stated there is, on the other hand, also a real evolution in audio technology and today’s digital technology is far better than its reputation in audiophile circles. In the end the real, future-oriented solution for LP fans cannot be to always be forced to fall back on older recordings.
At ACOUSENCE we therefore came up with the idea of manufacturing real, new productions of the good old LP using the very latest technical developments. In doing this there were to be no ideologically initiated prohibitions on thinking or purism at any price. Beyond the nostalgia of old recordings, which really is sometimes a bit romantically glorified, the LP should prove that it has the potential to become one of the most modern sound carriers in the best possible sense. Only the LP can transport the master quality that we are able to achieve with a sophisticated combination of the best technologies from the past 50 years of audio technology to the listener; seasoned with all the popular characteristics of a good, old, analogue record. A plea for a real future for the LP, which continues to be the best sound carrier, and also a plea for the sound carrier as a cultural artefact in its own right.
At the end of a process of approximately one year of preparation and optimisation we now have our first sample. The record will be released as part of our LIVING CONCERT SERIES, which is already established on CD but it will have the additional designation ARTISTIC FIDELITY | REFERENCE RECORDING, and it now really opens up whole new dimensions of music enjoyment: with a distinctly sonorous sound, majestic dynamics and rousing musical intensity.