October 02, 2008 by Arlen Schweiger
Maybe it was the exclamation point at the end. Maybe it was seeing “96/24” in there. The email came to my inbox this morning and as a music enthusiast (to put it mildly) I was pretty stoked to read “HDtracks 96/24 Store Now Open!” as a subject line.
HDtracks was the brainchild of Chesky Records that launched earlier this year, offering CD-quality downloads (like AIFF, FLAC and 320Mbps MP3s) from audiophile record labels and everything from smokin’ jazz to classical to bluegrass to world music and more.
When the online music store opened, it also promised the delivery of really high-resolution 96-kHz/24-bit files for download. Apparently that time has come, as HDtracks has opened its 96/24 store, with albums selling at $15.98 and individual tracks at $2.49.
Chesky’s own label is providing some of the initial offerings, as well as labels such as the esteemed Reference Recordings, 2L Records, Dorian and Koch Records. Downloads are available in the FLAC format.
The offerings upon opening appear somewhat modest, but HDtracks assures it will be adding plenty of new albums to come.
Sounds like David Chesky, even as a golden eared audiophile, is more than pleased with how the recordings have turned out. “When I first downloaded one of my own 96/24 albums and played it back on my home system, I was not prepared for what I heard. I have never heard any disc with this caliber of clarity, sound staging, and openness in the top end. The sound had none of the digital artifacts we all hate, so the sound was totally relaxed.”
It will certainly be a world of difference to anyone used to 128Mbps MP3s.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.
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