Major Labels Are Working on a New Vinyl Records Specification

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by arisinwind, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. arisinwind

    arisinwind Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Exclusive: The Major Labels Are Working on a New Vinyl Records Specification
    Paul Resnikoff

    September 10, 2018

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is planning a potentially major upgrade to its longtime vinyl records specification.
    The RIAA, which represents major labels Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group, is now planning a major announcement related to vinyl record standards. The announcement will involve the examination of a technical update to the existing manufacturing specification for vinyl records, which apparently hasn’t been revised since 1978.

    The upgrade plans will officially be disclosed at the ‘Making Vinyl’ conference in Detroit in early October, according to word from conference organizers. Also party to the announcement will be the Media-Tech Association, which is focused on various physical media formats.

    The email to DMN was specifically titled, ‘RIAA To Set Updated Standards For Vinyl’.

    “Manufacturing specifications for vinyl were last updated in 1978,” Making Vinyl organizers emailed Digital Music News. “The advent of new manufacturing technologies and resurgent popularity of vinyl prompted music industry leaders to review existing specifications and evaluate whether updated standards could help further advance the vinyl market.”

    A broader announcement could be forthcoming. The official rollout of the new specification is slated for early 2019, depending on the determinations of various work groups.

    One possibility is that the existing specification is maintained. Though, it sounds like some serious changes are afoot.

    The move is happening alongside continued growth in vinyl records sales, though manufacturing bottlenecks are continuing to create supply-side problems. The result is a fairly antiquated manufacturing infrastructure that simply can’t produce enough vinyl to satisfy consumers.

    Also entering the picture is ‘HD Vinyl,’ an overhauled (but backwards-compatible) vinyl format that utilizes lasers to produce a longer-playing, higher-fidelity record. At this stage, however, it looks like the RIAA’s updated standard will apply to traditional vinyl, especially since HD Vinyl has yet to hit the market.

    Meanwhile, there are some signs the format could be slowing or plateauing. Official data in multiple markets show continued gains, with a 10-plus year resurgence. There’s no reason to doubt those figures, though recent intel from Best Buy suggests that things may be cooling off (we’ll have more on that later).
    It’s also unclear exactly why a new vinyl records standard is needed.
    Currently, there’s no product confusion in the marketplace, nor are there any compatibility problems to speak of. A vinyl record from 1964 plays on any turntable released in 2018 — and vice versa.

    Accordingly, it’s questionable whether there’s a problem that requires fixing.

    But according to the initial details shared with DMN, the updated standard will somehow preserve high-end quality standards. “Vinyl records are a premium product — a high-quality experience is essential to retaining consumer confidence and meeting consumer’s expectations,” the alliance emailed.

    There’s also the goal of minimizing counterfeit vinyl, according to the group.

    Aftermath, Rukiki and Lucca90 like this.
  2. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    Anyone else see the irony that Digital Music News is reporting on this story? :confused::shh::laugh:
  3. classicrocker

    classicrocker Life is good!

    Worcester, MA, USA
    Would be nice if they could put some type of spec in place for Mfg to check for warped records.
    vinylsolution, Shawn, uzn007 and 12 others like this.
  4. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Of course the main reason for this is so they can take more money from us.
  5. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    They could put something in place to eliminate "sibilance" when played with a decent .3 x .7 elliptical.
    I believe it is the disc-cutter/recording engineer/producer's fault.
    It sounds similar to digital recording overload. Imho it is roughly the same thing in the different mediums.
    You should not need a $12,000 cart/stylus to get reduced "sibilance".

    It's too late or irrelevant now anyway.
  6. Rukiki

    Rukiki Forum Resident

    Madrid, Spain
    Cool news! Thanks!

    This is how I imagine Michael Fremer while reading about HD Vinyl :D

  7. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    This not the "HD Vinyl" that they were planning to market by 2019, isn't it?
  8. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    If it works with the current turntable and phono stages than OK.
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    It's an inherent limitation of vinyl. $12K cart? Not at all necessary. Many carts in the $300 range will get rid of IGD. Cheaper options are also coming to the market soon, not to mention Jico styli on old Stanton and Shure cart bodies you can easily purchase if so inclined.

    I suppose we could have records all cut at 45pm with 1 track on each side to make you happy, but then they will cost more.

    That or cut at a lower level via DMM to get wide deadwax, but then you'll get a lower S/N ratio and more surface noise.

    Can't have everything. Cutting records is a compromise.
    MLutthans, Mitsuman, snorker and 3 others like this.
  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    I'd like to see mandatory SPARS codes on all vinyl releases in nice big print.
    uzn007, wgb113, Opeth and 10 others like this.
  11. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    I'm talking about"sibilance", not IGD. If there is sibilance with my best cart, anywhere across the disc surface, I believe it is the cutter's fault. Otherwise I wouldn't have 100 discs with no sibilance for every one disc with sibilance.

    IGD is something else, but I'll still maintain about that that a properly aligned common .3 x .7 should not have IGD.
  12. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    I'm not sure about HD Vinyl but this suggestion can be really helpful.
    patient_ot likes this.
  13. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    The update probably will be very minimal since it addresses mfg and not consumer use. There are probably more 12", 10" and 7" being produced so size tolerances need to be looked at as well as almost all new records are pressed on 180g and 200g, so again more attention to those tolerances need to be looked at and updated.
    How many minutes per side is still left up to the mastering/cutting engineer....I don't expect any fireworks over this revision.
    OldSoul, eddiel and patient_ot like this.
  14. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    A lot of times sibilance is baked into the recording itself. Not much to do in that case unless you want to muck up the recording with DSP plugins or whatever.
    Jim in Houston, VU Master and c-eling like this.
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    To take it further, how about clear info on the jacket itself about source used, mastering and cutting engineer(s), and manufacturing plant. Of course that would never happen.
    Madness, MrRom92, nosliw and 5 others like this.
  16. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Then as I noted it is the producer/engineer's fault.

    It's not my fault, it is not my cart or stylus' fault.

    One could say something related about digital recording - that it's inherent to the medium - like "If you record above the specified 0db level you will get horrific distortion, that's an inherent limitation to the medium, you should be able to go as far above 0db as you want" but of course that is not so.
  17. doak

    doak Forum Resident

    New Orleans
    I am not buying another phono preamp. :shake:
    ls35a, Kyhl, HiFi Guy and 3 others like this.
  18. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    There would be no need for a new RIAA specification if record companies simply started mastering and pressing records as well as they did in the '60s through '80s. It is so common for new records today to be poorly mastered, warped, and even dirty and scratched right from the pressing plant that I hardly buy any.

    And considering that almost 9 out of 10 new turntables sold today are Crosleys, Victrolas, and AT-LP60s, don't expect any tremendous revolution in sound quality. The industry still needs to work within the limitations of what can be played on entry-level equipment, just like in the '70s when most people had a GE Wildcat or BSR record changer.
  19. Shak Cohen

    Shak Cohen Forum Resident

    United Kingdom
    I love vinyl and listen to it every day, but there are inherent limitations to the format. A limiter (basically a compressor set at minimum 10:1 ratio) must be used during the cutting process, restricting the dynamic range, whilst bass has to be summed to mono. Perhaps "HD Vinyl" will lift these analogue laser LP (that is maybe dual-layered, and "backwards compatible") might do the trick...
  20. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    We could get some kind of disc that is cut with a laser, then played with a laser.

    I hope someone gets working on that.
    mikeburns, MLutthans, uzn007 and 21 others like this.
  21. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    Rukiki likes this.
  22. Rukiki

    Rukiki Forum Resident

    Madrid, Spain
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  23. doak

    doak Forum Resident

    New Orleans
    I’d always wondered why the old 12” laser discs were not adopted as the “new LP.”
    After all, it was a completely analog process - both audio and video.
    OldSoul, empirelvr and Shak Cohen like this.
  24. Musical Maxis

    Musical Maxis Digalog... What's That?

    I think of the ELP laser turntable everytime I hear HD vinyl mentioned. The RIAA are a crock, big deal the process hasn't been updated since 1978. If it has been good since '78 to current day, it has stood the test of time. Why change it? I bet they'll try laser cutting the lacquer with seriously brickwalled digital masters. I hope not.
  25. Brian Barker

    Brian Barker Forum Resident

    Reliable intel from Best Buy regarding vinyl "cooling off"? I think I'd trust just about any source before I'd believe anything Best Buy says.

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