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New higher quality download partner

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Thursday March 4, 2010

We’ve partnered with HDtracks to offer CD quality, uncompressed downloads of the Beggars Group catalogues (which also includes Beggars Banquet, Mantra and Nation). The range of titles is currently a little limited, with no deep catalogue, but it’s an ongoing process. As more albums become economically impractical to keep in print on CD, this kind of a service is a way forward, especially as they are also interested in offering genuine HD with 96khz/24bit recordings. This is actually ‘Stunning Hi Res Sound’ but confusingly that’s not what’s on offer here. There again, the music industry has exhibited a genius at creating discombobulation amongst the public when selling sound formats, so no real surprise. I think what they are trying to say is that your Hi Res mp3’s are nowhere near as good as your Hi Res CD’s. Confused? – I warned you.

But I’ll let them gush for themselves – here’s the press release…

HDtracks welcomes 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade and XL Recordings in stunning HI RES SOUND!

HDtracks, the world’s premiere high-resolution digital music download store, is pleased to announce the addition of some the greatest, cutting-edge indie rock labels in the world to our catalog through a deal with the Beggars group of labels. Now fans can hear their favorite rock bands in CD-quality 44.1 kHz/16-bit downloads with full liner notes and cover art.

Beggars was founded in 1977 by Martin Mills, owner of the Beggars Banquet record shops. It is made up of the premiere indie rock labels 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, and XL Recordings. These labels feature artists such as Lou Reed, Thom Yorke, Ratatat, Yo La Tengo, The National, Cocteau Twins, The Pixies, Cat Power, Belle and Sebastian, Jarvis Cocker, Pavement, The Libertines, Vampire Weekend, Sonic Youth and many more.

All four of the labels are dedicated to bringing the newest and freshest cutting-edge bands to the fore. And now, they are proud to join forces with HDtracks and its superior downloading technology, allowing fans to hear all of the energy, timbre, pulse and vocal nuance of this exciting music. You need to hear Beggars’ recordings in Hi-Res to hear what you have been missing!

About HDtracks

Founded by multi Grammy-nominated jazz and classical composer and inventor of new sound technology David Chesky, and his brother, Norman, also founders of the world renowned audiophile label Chesky Records, HDtracks raises the bar for digital download sound quality and enjoyment. Developed by musicians for musicians, HDtracks provides a superior listening experience in purity, tone, and expression, presenting uncompressed, CD and DVD audio quality, crystal-clear recordings of each world-class musician, vocalist, and ensemble. HDtracks presents artists in the best possible light, allowing listeners to experience the true depth of their talent and individuality. David says, “The tone is what moves us. It is the poetry of the music. It is what gives artists their own identities.”

HDtracks deepens the listeners’ experience beyond the music by also providing complete liner notes with every download. As David Chesky says, “Listening to an album without liner notes is like going to a concert without a program. The writers add to and enrich the musical experience.”

Go take a look for yourself

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Audio lectures

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Thursday July 23, 2009

Last June the British section of the Audio Engineering Society invited George Massenburg to give a lecture on Critical listening / evaluation – a path to the future of quality music. Always encouraging and enlightening to hear his opinions and his audio demonstration of the ‘noise’ introduced into recordings by ‘lossy’ compression techniques (eg. Mp3) was particularly revealing. For a summary click here
Hopefully a transcript of the talk by Phillip Hobbs from Linn Records on How to make a high-resolution record label will be available soon.

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Tape trouble

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Tuesday July 21, 2009

Problems do seem to like company. After years of getting away with trouble free tape transfers we seem to have hit all sorts of gremlins. First there were a couple of tracks on a unique Gary Numan demo that were damaged beyond repair (see the Numan post) though at least they were over 30 years old and now it’s the digital masters that are going awry. We were hoping to master The Cult‘s Love album from the digital masters as opposed to the analogue master made in 1985 when the conversion from A to D was much cruder. As it turned out the digital masters were the album multi-tracks and not a stereo mix. The bad news is that they are in terrible shape. From two sources about half the tracks have been saved intact but there’s selective instrumental distortion on the rest. All isn’t lost yet as there’s a further set of digital masters but they’re on a redundant format and there’s only 2 studios left in the world Paris and New York) to attempt the transfers. Here’s hoping the album can be saved. (She Sells Sanctuary was recorded earlier on an analog 2” multi-track and is fine.)
Yesterday we found that sonic glitches have developed on some Pixies digital video masters and today I found a note from 1992 saying that the This Mortal Coil masters for It’ll End In Tears were ‘shedding’ – Hopefully it shouldn’t be a problem but I do wonder, with the headlong rush into digital recording and masters on a variety of temporally untested formats – DAT / Hard drive / 1630 etc. – how durable they really are and how many will be beyond salvation in the next 20 years.

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