When a CD or vinyl record is manufactured anywhere in the world, it has to conform to certain international standards so a disc or record made in, say, South Africa can be played on equipment made by anyone, anywhere.
Vinyl has been with us in its current form–i.e. microgroove records–since 1948. The last time there was an update to the medium’s technical standards was 1978. When it looked like vinyl was dying out at the end of the 20th century, no one thought that these standards would ever have to be updated again. But now that the vinyl resurrection is in its second decade, it’s time to reopen the situation.
A company called HD Vinyl has the edge when it comes to determining the next generation of records. Their technology and patents use a laser to cut the grooves on a master, which is far more accurate than the old pressing method. The result, they say, is more accurate storage of music within the grooves (i.e. better sound–up to 30% better, in fact) along with more music per side of a record. Old-school vinyl can hold about 22 minutes per side; the new HD vinyl records–which, by the way, don’t require any new equipment–can store about 30 minutes.
Another benefit is that the new technique is much more environmentally friendly by eliminating a series of steps that creates all manner of waste. Plus an HD Vinyl stamper (the piece of metal used to press a record) lasts up to 10,000 copies. Current stampers wear out after about 1,000.
HD Vinyl has announced a series of partnerships with pressing plants around the world, including a company called GZ Media in the Czech Republic. This is important because GZ has the means to retrofit older plants with the new technology.
Viryl, a Toronto-based pressing plant, is on also on board. They apparently have a deal with Jack White’s Third Man Records to manufacture HD Vinyl-type product.
So when will this new tech hit stores? The first HD Vinyl pressings could be available as early as the first half of 2019. Can’t wait.