The new album by Autechre is worthy of note for more reasons than one.Â Firstly, the deluxe vinyl edition looks really..really nice and I will be very tempted to buy it when it’s released on 22nd March.Â But what I think is especially interesting about this release is what you get as a download with the album.
For a good couple of years now some vinyl releases have come with a download code for the whole thing in MP3 format, which has been a great idea.Â I would always prefer vinyl over CD; the only problem being that there is only one place in my world where I can listen to vinyl.Â Â So having the MP3 too enables me to own something special, yet listen in places that are not particularly special.Â Â I thought it was only a matter of time before bandwidth and hard disk size meant there was no longer any need to compress audio files into the expedient MP3 format for home use.Â Â This Autechre album takes us to this next level and beyond.
For what you get with this new album is not just an MP3 download, and not just a download of the album as 16bit CD quality WAV files, but the option of supersizing your WAVs to 24bit.Â And you get this not just with the vinyl, but also with the CD.Â I won’t get all geeky on you (actually I probably will just a bit, but bear with me) butÂ basically CDs are only 16bit / 44.1kHz. Much of today’s digital recording isÂ done at 24bit / 44.1kHz.Â You might need to be an audiophile (like me) to appreciate the difference, and you might need to be a musical tech-head to understand the difference (even I don’t quite get it), but you don’t even need a GCSE in maths to determine that 24 is a larger number than 16.
There is, of course, no advantage to 24bit mastering if it’s just going to end up on CD, or even worse, in MP3 Â format. Â Â But now, with the option of a 24bit WAV download, what’s on your hard drive will actually be ofÂ superior quality, not inferior, to your CDs.Â You will, however, need a whopping great 1.06GB storage space for the full Autechre album at 24bit.Â But now we’re into multi-terabyte storage capacity, this may soon seem just as convenient as an 80MB MP3 album does today.
I’ll continue to buy vinyl though, in case you were wondering.