The startup Rebeat Innovation, based in Austria, has just received $ 4.8 million in funding for a new way to make discs called "high definition vinyl," according to Pitchfork. The process, whose patent was originally filed in 2016, claims to allow records with longer playing times, higher volume and higher audio fidelity.
To create HD vinyl, first the audio is digitally converted into a 3D topographic map. Then, the lasers record the map on a stamper, which makes an impression on the vinyl. Conceptually, this is not very different from how traditional vinyl is made: a needle records grooves in rotating lacquer, which is used to create a mother copy that is then used to form the stamper. Rebeat Innovation is betting that by using more precise tools to perform comparable tasks, it will create a better quality piece of vinyl with less loss of audio information (and in the process, it will eliminate some manufacturing steps).
Rebeat Innovation says that by using this method, vinyl records can have up to 30% more playing time, will be 30% more noisy and will have a more faithful audio reproduction. It also eliminates the chemicals that are traditionally used in the manufacture of traditional vinyl.
These HD records will work exactly like regular records. They will work on existing turntables and can be used with common optical pens (although, no doubt, how much better the experience will also depend on the quality of the equipment used to play it).
There is still a long time before the HD vinyl arrives on the shelves. The company has ordered a $ 600,000 laser system that it expects to receive in July. Once the system is up and running, it will create test stamps with the goal of presenting them at the Making Vinyl conference in Detroit in October. If everything goes according to plan, CEO Günter Loibl tells Pitchfork, "[then] will take another eight months to make all the necessary adjustments, so by the summer of 2019, we'll see the first HD vinyl in stores."