Vinyl record spins on a turntable, photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images
“High Definition Vinyl” has moved closer to a turntable near you. In 2016, a European patent filing described a way of manufacturing records that the inventors claimed would have higher audio fidelity, louder volume, and longer playing times than conventional LPs. Now, the Austrian-based startup Rebeat Innovation has received $4.8 million in funding for the initiative, founder and CEO Günter Loibl told Pitchfork. Thanks to the investment, the first “HD vinyl” albums could hit stores as early as 2019, Loibl said.
The HD vinyl process involves converting audio digitally to a 3D topographic map. Lasers are then used to inscribe the map onto the “stamper,” the part that stamps the grooves into the vinyl. According to Loibl, these methods allow for records to be made more precisely and with less loss of audio information. The results, he said, are vinyl LPs that can have up to 30 percent more playing time, 30 percent more amplitude, and overall more faithful sound reproduction. The technique would also avoid the chemicals that play a role in traditional vinyl manufacturing. Plus, the new-school HD vinyl LPs would still play on ordinary record players.
What’s next? Rebeat Innovation has ordered a big laser system, for about $600,000, with hopes that it will be shipped by July, Loibl said. Once that system is up and running, Loibl said he plans to produce test stampers for five to-be-determined “early mover” pressing plants. In September, the first test stampers would arrive at those plants. “Our goal is to officially present our test stampers at the Making Vinyl conference in October,” Loibl said, referring to the vinyl trade event held in Detroit. “It will take another eight months to do all the fine adjustments. So by summer 2019 we shall see the first HD vinyls in the stores.”