The recorded music industry has gone through all kinds of formats since Thomas Edison first demonstrated the phonograph in 1877.
- Wax cylinders
- Gramophone records made of shellac
- Vinyl LPs
- The 7-inch single
- Reel-to-reel tape
- Music DVDs, SACDs, and HD-CDs
- A million different digital formats, including MP3s and WMAs.
What’s left to be invented? Well, we have something new: a medium dubbed Ionic Originals. Producer T Bone Burnett has developed a rotating disc format that he says attempts to “reset the valuation for recorded music.”
As reported by Pitchfork, Burnett describes Ionic Originals as “lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music.” Sounds a lot like an old-school vinyl record, doesn’t it?
But technically, this is brand new. This is the first new type of rotating disc since June 1948 when the industry moved from shellac 10-inch 78 RPM singles to 12-inch vinyl albums. The 7-inch single came along in March 1949.
Here’s Burnett’s full description:
An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound. It is archival quality. It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting. It is lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music. This painting, however, has the additional quality of containing that music, which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it.
When describing the quality that raises analogue sound above digital sound, the word “warmth” is often used. Analogue sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, better imaging. Analogue has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analogue sound is alive.
Nothing is available to the general public yet, but Ionic Originals will be available through a new company called NeoFidelity Inc. The first release might be something from Bob Dylan, who served as a testbed for the tech.