HD Vinyls – Is this the ultimate return of the LP and a true contender to streaming


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Looking back, it is with a big “I told you so!” as we now in retrospect watched our friends trashing or selling of  their vinyl collections, first in favor of the CD and as of lately in favor of streaming media channels like Deezer, Pandora, Spoitfy, Tidal etc, and now in recent years vinyls are clearly outcompeting CDs and are seen as high street fashion objects among hipsters and DJs alike. Our catalogue of vinyls here at Stereoklang may not be any record holder, but the pleasure of playing that pure analogue sound while reading through the backside of the covers of orginal editions from Gary Numan, John Foxx, or limited editions and bootlegs from KLF, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb do spring some sweet memories.

So why are we teasing all this? Well, apparently we are up for a real treat that may revolutionize the booming vinyl industry. Austrian company Rebeat Digital has developed a method of making HD vinyl. Rebeat founder Günter Loibl has discovered a way to increase play time and frequency range on records, which means you’ll be able to put more stuff on a record without compromising quality. This could mean a revolution in vinyl production. And it gets even better since these new HD records are compatible with any standard record player, so you may just as well hold on to your vintage HiFi gear  going forward. This is all according to the players involved, the HD Vinyl disc will play on all currently manufactured turntables, though more intelligent features will be available and realized on upcoming, HD-compatible turntables.  “This is a completely backwards-compatible technology,” said Guenter Loibl, Rebeat CEO.  “It will play on any existing turntable, you don’t need to buy a new system to enjoy the benefits.”

To provide a bit of perspective on things – today producing a vinyl record is roughly 4x the price of producing a Digipack CD, at least if you are in the range of producing 100s, rather than several thousands. Rebeat is currently searching for investors to kickstart this new technology, which cuts the vinyl using lasers rather than old mechanical methods.

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So, instead of the manual and time-consuming process currently used for creating vinyl LPs, the ‘HD Vinyl’ process involves 3D-based topographical mappingcombined with laser inscription technology to more quickly generate a far superior product.  Not only will the end product be vastly improved, but the time required to produce the LPs will also be radically reduced. The method implies using a 3D modeling imprint before any physical manufacturing takes place:

“We adjust the distance of the grooves, we correct the radial/tangential errors, and we optimize the frequencies,”.  “You could say we ‘master’ the topographical data, which is a totally different approach.”

After that, a ‘pulsed high-energy Femto-laser’ burns the audio directly onto the stamper.  Distance between the grooves and depth adjustments happen automatically, with a 90-degree burning angle eliminating possible distortions.  All in, Rebeat and Joanneum estimate that stamper-related costs will be reduced by 50 percent, while the time required to produce a new piece of vinyl slashed by 60 percent. To us this may be the starting point of a revolution in music consumption and a revival also in the HiFi space. Today we have been accustomed to listeing to low quality MP3s in often low quality headphones in busy streets on the commute with high noise in your surroundings, while at the same time the large electronic retail giants are doing their best to sell home-HiFI equipment tailored to bring the max out of the streaming media solutions your subscribing to. Not to mention paying for every month, while a vinyl once bought is yours to keep and play as much as you want.

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The music industry witnessed another surge in vinyl demand last year, with sales booming 29.8% in the United States alone, according to Nielsen Music.  That is being followed by an echo of turntable sales: late last year, Amazon reported that a $50 Jensen turntable was its best-selling home audio product for the holidays.  Even better, the vinyl resurgence could be having a spillover effect into retail, with smaller record shops suddenly resurfacing.  Bands are also realizing greater revenues from vinyl: according to financial details surfacing last year, vinyl is actually producing more revenue than ad-supported streaming.