Soundkeeper Recordings

Frequently Asked Questions

Formats:
Why are Soundkeeper Recordings offered in multiple formats?
 
Can I preview the differences between formats?
 
What about provenance?
Artists:
How are new artists chosen for Soundkeeper Recordings?


Formats

Why are Soundkeeper Recordings offered in multiple formats?

Our stated goal is to bring the listener to the performance, to create the feeling the listener is in the presence of the musicians, in the space where the performance actually took place.  In keeping with this goal, we will work with the replicators to ensure the highest quality pressings possible.  However, our experience has been that even the best replicated discs do not sound exactly like the digital masters from which they are made.  While the difference can be subtle, a slow burned CD-R does a better job of capturing the fine detail and focus of the original.

With this in mind, we have decided to offer our customers the option.  For those who want the absolute highest quality CD possible and whose players can play back a CD-R, we will make available a CD-R version, recorded one at a time, directly from the computer hard drive CD master.

NOTE: The benefits of the CD-R version pertain to playing the disc in real time, in a CD player or transport.  If you intend to extract the files to hard drive for use with a music server, there will be no advantage to the CD-R.  You will attain the same performance at less expense with our CD pressing.

To take it another step up on the quality ladder, for those whose DVD players can play back a DVD-R, for some projects we will also offer a high resolution DVD-R version of our recordings.  These will be 24-bit, 96k sampled stereo audio, recorded one at a time, directly from the high resolution computer hard drive DVD master, onto DVD-R.  Note this is not a reference to DVD-A (DVD Audio) discs, which require a special player.  We are referring to ordinary DVD-R discs that will play in most standard DVD players.  Soundkeeper Recordings DVD-Rs will utilize the stereo PCM tracks that have been part of the DVD-V (DVD Video) standard from the beginning.  In this way, listeners can enjoy the sonic benefits of our high resolution recording system.

The DVD-R version will not contain video other than a navigation menu.  However, these discs do not require use of a video display and can be navigated just like a CD, using the front panel controls on the DVD player or those on the remote.

NOTE: Our 24/96 (audio only) DVD-Rs are in DVD-V (video) format and contain 24/96 stereo PCM audio.  These will play in most DVD players.  They do not contain .aif or .wav files.

Next come our files-on-disc formats, for use with computer music server applications, such as iTunes.  These are high resolution, 24-bit files at either 96k or 192k, in uncompressed .aif or .wav format, custom burned to DVD-R.  The sample rate and format are customer's choice at order time.  Simply import the files into the music server program of your choice.  High-quality album cover art and a pdf of the liner notes will be included.

Our original recordings are now done at 24/192 and for the first time, you can hear them in that format too.  For folks whose DAC (digital to analog converter) only goes up to 96k, we offer versions at this rate as well.

As an added bonus, the artwork with the first 25 copies of each of the custom burned formats (the CD-R, DVD-R, 24/96 .aif files-on-disc, 24/96 .wav files-on-disc, 24/192 .aif files-on-disc and 24/192 .wav files-on-disc) will be autographed by the artist.

NOTE: Our files-on-disc DVD-Rs contain files for use with computer music servers only.  They will not play in CD, DVD or SACD players.  Note also that many hardware players that claim to play computer files will not play all computer files.  Our files-on-disc DVD-Rs are intended only for playback from computers.

Finally, many folks nowadays are enjoying the superior playback quality and convenience of having a computer music server.  A lot of these folks prefer to purchase their music as downloads, which they can simply drag into their favorite music player application (such as iTunes, Amarra, or any of a wide range of others).

Soundkeeper offers our releases in up to six different download formats: 16/44 .aif files, 16/44 .wav files, 24/96 .aif files, 24/96 .wav files, 24/192 .aif files (the format in which we record and master), and 24/192 .wav files.  All downloads come with high-quality album cover art and a pdf of the liner notes.  Our .aif format downloads also come with all metadata (cover, album title, artist, track title, composer, etc.) already included in each file.  Our .aif and .wav downloads are delivered in .zip format.

For more details on our downloads, see The Lowdown on Downloads in the Soundkeeper Blog.

So, to sum up, we offer our releases in up to seven different disc formats. In addition to the regular CD pressing, our six custom burned formats are:
CD-R
DVD-R (in DVD-V format, playable in most DVD players)
24/96 .aif files-on-disc
24/96 .wav files-on-disc
24/192 .aif files-on-disc
24/192 .wav files-on-disc
And we also offer our releases in up to six different download formats:
16/44 .aif files-on-disc
16/44 .wav files-on-disc
24/96 .aif files-on-disc
24/96 .wav files-on-disc
24/192 .aif files-on-disc
24/192 .wav files-on-disc

Every Soundkeeper Recording might not be available in all thirteen formats.


Can I preview the differences between formats?

Yes.  We have provided a Format Comparison page where you can audition the differences between 16/44 (the CD standard), 24/96 and 24/192.  The latter two being the formats we use for our high resolution releases.

When comparing the files, be sure your system is not performing any sort of resampling and/or dithering to either one.  Some will by default, either upsample the 16/44 version or downsample and dither the 24/96 or 24/192 versions.


What about provenance?

When high-resolution downloads first became available, many customers found that some of their purchases were in fact upsampled Redbook files.  That is, a number of vendors were selling what were essentially CD-resolution files in a "high res"' package, at high res prices.

Astute customers want to know the provenance of the files they purchase.  That is, they want to know the origin and nature of the sources used to create the downloads.

The very first Soundkeeper Recording (Work of Art's Lift) was recorded at 24/96 resolution, so this is the highest resolution in which we offer it.  All Soundkeeper Recordings made since then have been recorded at 24/192 resolution, so this is the highest resolution in which we offer the rest of our catalog.  Our releases are all recorded and mastered in the .aif format.

All our recordings are made direct-to-stereo using the stereo microphone array described in Barry's article entitled Recording in Stereo.  Attention is paid to every detail, from AC distribution, to cabling, to vibration isolation.


Artists

How are new artists chosen for Soundkeeper Recordings?

At Soundkeeper Recordings, we're interested in all styles of music.  Once we find an artist whose music we enjoy, the next step is to ensure they can be recorded using the methods we employ.

All our recordings are done on location, live to stereo with no overdubs or mixes.  All music must be original (unless it is in the public domain).  Artists must be able to play live, without a public address system and without headphones.  All takes are complete performances, balanced by the artist.

If you are a musical artist and are interested in Soundkeeper Recordings, please contact us via email, and we'll see if we can arrange an audition.