2016 was the year in which the sales curves of physical and digital music crossed. From that moment on, record sales (CD or vinyl) were, and have remained, below digital sales. The recorded music industry finds itself in a situation in which vinyl continues to sell as a prestige medium and has offset, to a small extent, the decline of CD, but digital music does not enjoy the same quality as physical music. In this context, the producer T Bone Burnett has announced the creation of a new type of support that he has called Ionic Originals and that will be marketed by his company NeoFidelity Inc. As a hook for the future release: a contract with Bob Dylan to re-record in the study some old classics of the author and press them in this new technology.
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The announcement, made this Wednesday, is more full of unknowns than certainties. It is unknown when this disc will appear and what device will be able to play it. In the photograph of Burnett distributed to the press, along with a note, the producer is seen holding a metalized record that appears to be about the size of a 12-inch vinyl. According to company information, these are “newly developed discs that advance the art of recorded sound and represent the first breakthrough in analog sound reproduction in more than 70 years.”
Burnett has highlighted the audiophile “quality” of the format, has ensured that it maintains the “warmth” of vinyl and that it is made “future-proof”, alluding to the limited durability of optical discs. Technically, the company claims that it is a “lacquer painted on an aluminum disk, with a spiral engraved with the music” and that it will be reproduced with a stylus. This support “has a depth, resonance and sound fidelity that exceeds that of vinyl, CD, transmission or any other means of experiencing recorded music,” they say.
T Bone Burnett has been looking for a new format for some time. In 2008 he announced that was working on a new hi-fi system called Codein which he had made an investment of his own capital and which was recorded on DVD discs.