High Definition Vinyl

Austria-based startup Rebeat Innovation has just received $4.8 million in funding for a new way of manufacturing records called “high definition vinyl,” according to Pitchfork. The process, the patent for which was originally filed in 2016, claims to allow for records with longer playing times, louder volume, and greater audio fidelity.

To create HD vinyl, the audio is first digitally converted to a 3D topographic map. Then, lasers engrave the map onto a stamper, which makes an impression in the vinyl. Conceptually, this is not too dissimilar from how traditional vinyl is made — a needle etches grooves in rotating lacquer, which is used to create a mother copy that is then used to form the stamper. Rebeat Innovation is betting that by using more precise tools to essentially carry out comparable tasks, it will create a better quality piece of vinyl with less loss of audio information (and in the process, eliminate some manufacturing steps).

Rebeat Innovation says using this method, vinyl LPs can have up to 30 percent more playing time, will be 30 percent louder, and boast more faithful audio reproduction. It also eliminates the chemicals that are traditionally used in manufacturing traditional vinyl.

These HD records will operate exactly the same as regular records. They will work on existing turntables, and can be used with ordinary styluses (though certainly, how much better the experience is would also depend on the quality of the equipment used to play it).

There’s still quite some time before HD vinyl will hit shelves. The company has ordered a $600,000 laser system it hopes to receive in July. Once the system is operational, it will create test stampers with a goal to present them at Detroit’s Making Vinyl conference in October. If all goes to plan, CEO Günter Loibl tells Pitchfork, “It will [then] take another eight months to do all the fine adjustments. So by summer 2019 we shall see the first HD vinyls in the stores.”


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