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Opinions regarding the market for indie Hi Res mixes, masters


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Hi, joined the forum today. I've been kicking this around for some time, and I thought y'all may give me a little input. If this post is in any way inappropriate, please let me know and I'll nuke it immediately.

 

A little background: I, along with 2 others, are partners in Texas Music, which is a family of previously unrelated business that include Texas Music Magazine, Austin Signal (recording studio), Viva Big Bend (festivals, events), and Big Bend Records (a new, itty bitty label). The premise of the business is to provide Texas-based artists a platform to create and promote their work. Magazine has been around for 13 years, the studio for 3, label less than a year.

 

We've recorded quite a few projects here at the studio - everything from big band jazz to a girl-and-a-guitar. Lots of indie-ish stuff, not as much Texas country as you might expect. We track (at least when I'm engineering) at 96/24, and mix down to either DSD 5.6 or 96/24. Mastering is usually to 44.1/16, but we've done a couple to 96/24. None to DSD as of yet. However, it's very easy to master to 96/24 - not as easy to DSD as not many mastering houses utilize DSD as the end product.

 

So here's my question(s):

 

1. is there any market for relatively unknown indie artists in native high res format? 96/24 and/or DSD? What I mean is, do you think marketing and promotion in the hi-fi arena would open up a new market for these artists? Would the fact that the material is available in high res cause you to check it out?

 

2. as part of a high res package, would UNMASTERED, high res mixes be of interest to this market? So, you buy the album, you get final high res masters, and high res MIXES. I do know that at least from my perspective (and others I've worked with), there are times when I actually prefer the final mix to the mastered product. There is nothing quite like the sound of the stereo-out from the console captured in DSD, for instance. It many times seems to never sound that good again (I guess since the music's fate is usually being dumbed down to 44.1/16). Either way, it does provide an interesting provenance-orientation to an album...one could go even further if documentation were provided as to how the material was recorded...tube pre-amps, transformers engaged in channels recording drums, or whatever. Probably a kettle of fish not interesting to anyone but recording engineers, but I thought I'd ask. Rough mixes, stems, and instrumentals are bits of content that may be interesting - although maybe not to the hi-fi enthusiast.

 

3. The last idea involved digging up old master tapes, and transferring them to DSD or high res PCM. We have a lot of long-standing relationships with our artists through the magazine - and I thought that perhaps re-releasing the stuff on a great sounding, modern, durable format might be cool. Dunno.

 

Now, the music that we're pursuing here at TXM isn't super-hi-fi classical, most-beautiful-silence-you've-ever-heard, purity of sound kind of stuff. There are amps humming, bracelets rattling, beers being spilled (probably), etc. But generally speaking it has a vibe that is enhanced by the gear and methods we use to record it, and I've always wondered if that could translate into a market for our relatively unknown artists. We're just looking for a way to put a little air under their wings, so any new channel would help.

 

If you want to hear a bit of the material I'm referring to, you can hit Big Bend Records to check it out, although there's a lot more that's not on the label that we potentially have access to. We have high res mixes for all of the projects on the site (some DSD), and one project was mastered at 96/24 at Abbey Road.

 

Thanks for listening, and if this has already been hashed out elsewhere, apologies....

 

Jon

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I'd be interested in indie stuff in hi-res.

 

Also, a lot of us think analog tape transfer to DSD is one of the best sounding formats there is, and we'd definitely be interested.

 

Actually, I recently suggested to Blue Coast Records that they explore indie rock bands for their label and recording techniques. They replied that it is something they are actively pursuing.

 

In the end, we have to like the music to buy the product. But, I'd definitely prefer to buy a hi-res version if it is closer to the original recording format.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

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Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Would the fact that the material is available in high res cause you to check it out? [/quote

]There are several small labels doing so,producing music and publishing it as Studio Masters.Blue Coast,Linn,Sound Liaison....and yes if it is true Studio Masters I would definitely check it out.

Good Luck!!!

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I'd be interested in indie stuff in hi-res.

 

Also, a lot of us think analog tape transfer to DSD is one of the best sounding formats there is, and we'd definitely be interested.

 

Actually, I recently suggested to Blue Coast Records that they explore indie rock bands for their label and recording techniques. They replied that it is something they are actively pursuing.

 

In the end, we have to like the music to buy the product. But, I'd definitely prefer to buy a hi-res version if it is closer to the original recording format.

 

Speaking of indie artists, singer David Elias is really the one leading the charge recording to and releasing in native DSD. His music is available as Multichannel and Stereo DSD over at his web site as well as Super HiRez (Stereo DSD) and NativeDSD.Com (Multichannel DSD and Stereo DSD)

 

More recently, the group Elephant Revival worked with Gus Skinas over at the Super Audio Center in Boulder to record their album "It's Alive" in DSD. It's Alive is available as a Stereo DSD Download over at Super HiRez. I understand that the group also has a Multichannel DSD version that probably will surface in the future as a download.

 

So it is starting to happen. A welcome development !

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Jon,

 

I too think that getting "high resolution" music to the people is (almost ;-) ) always the right thing to do.

 

Especially if it is not mixed/mastered "to death", as most music today sadly is.

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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Jon,

 

I think the important thing to have in mind is PRICE.

If you price your albums at $25 or higher, like most sites do, it will simply become harder for the impulse purchasers. Make it $10 or so, and, on a proper site with audio clips (like Bandcamp), and you're all set.

Oh, BTW, you should look into Bandcamp. Don't think they support DSD downloads, though.

 

alexandre

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Couple of points

- DSD is not universally accepted as being better. Many don't have access to it on their DAC and have read mixing mastering professionals comments that it's less than PCM 24/192 in quality. It's a niche market in a niche market

- international availability is important. audiophiles are a niche market, you need to go worldwide to get more punters despite America being a big market. I understand a minimum of 1000 units is required at premium prices to make an audiophile mix worthwhile.

- $10 is a dream mate, you are niche, you pay niche - 20 bucks is fine.

- the master, recording quality is the most important thing. I was lucky enough to chat to Goyte via email about his last album. He recorded at 24 bit 44.1 and that is what he made available on his web site. Recording quality is key, not bit rate, although that is nice. Dynamics and a live sound are worth more than 192khz or DSD to audiophiles. Listen to Missy Hiiggin' s Hearts a mess on YouTube. This is an audiophile favourite at get togethers ( and is a Goyte song by chance). Sounds awesome on a decent setup, even $50 k systems .

 

 

There's a lot more stuff on JJJ like a version and it sounds awesome, that's the alternative market to my mind. Stuff that sounds live, raw and exciting. Laney lanes cover of Gold on the Ceiling, Abbey May's Pony, and non Aussie stuff too like Austra and other touring artists in oz, lots of independent radio stations capture this great sounding dynamic live music. That's the market for audiophile alternative content in my opinion.

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Jon,

 

I think the important thing to have in mind is PRICE.

If you price your albums at $25 or higher, like most sites do, it will simply become harder for the impulse purchasers. Make it $10 or so, and, on a proper site with audio clips (like Bandcamp), and you're all set.

Oh, BTW, you should look into Bandcamp. Don't think they support DSD downloads, though.

 

alexandre

 

Blue Coast/Downloads Now has been experimenting with new Stereo DSD Downloads at $12. No word yet on whether that introductory pricing is increasing the number of DSD Downloads they are selling.

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As with anything, it will depend a lot on execution. I would like to check out new, local indie talent if it were available in hi res (DSD preferred but 24 bit is great) and with as little "extra" compression added (keep the dynamics, please). I think price point is difficult if it too high. I can get my favorite albums in the world for $25 so half that to try a new artist in hi res is about the limit for me.

 

One thing I would like to have is a way to experience the music directly. Austin is a music destination city, that we all know. Perhaps there is a way to link the various elements you offer together?

 

As a suggestion, I could get a discounted ticket to see a band if I ordered a hi res download or perhaps I could get a discounted download if I went to see the show live. And anything "special" from time to time would be very cool: perhaps a chance to see/hear a recording session in person, perhaps an "after hours" event for members of the download site, etc.

 

Perhaps I am thinking these things because I live within an hour of Austin but I think a lot of folks travel from around the country (and world) to experience the Austin music scene and you could make that a much richer experience and reap loyal customers and a long term relationship.

 

Best,

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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