Vinyl records may be an old-school form of technology, but that doesn’t mean more advancements aren’t on the horizon. In particular, it looks like “high definition” vinyl is about to give the purists something new to fawn over (or even complain about).
Pitchfork reports that a 2016 European patent filing describes a new way to create vinyl records that have higher audio fidelity, longer playing times, and a louder volume than their standard definition counterparts. Furthermore, an Austrian startup called Rebeat Innovation just received $4.8 million in funding to bring the technology to market, and the company believes the new HD vinyl could be available as early as 2019.
Rebeat Innovation founder and CEO Günter Liobl explained that the promising tech involves digitally converting the audio to a three-dimensional topographic map. That map is then inscribed onto the “stamper” (using lasers, of course), which stamps the grooves into the vinyl. Since the records are able to be made more precisely and with less loss of audio information, HD vinyl LPs can have up to 30% longer playing times, 30% higher amplitude, and more exact sound reproduction. Additionally, the manufacturing process requires fewer chemicals than traditional vinyl manufacturing, and the HD LPs can still be played on a normal record player.
“Our goal is to officially present our test stampers at the Making Vinyl conference in October,” Loibl told Pitchfork. “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.”
Loibl and the Rebeat team may have a real money maker on their hands with this one. After all, while CDs are clearly going the way of the dodo, vinyl records sales recently hit a 25-year high, turning a once-dead medium into a billion dollar industry (and a more reliable cash cow than increasingly-popular-yet-dubiously-profitable music streaming services).