Is HD Vinyl the future of the physical music market?

Par Samuel Haddad, le 13/11/2019

​Vinyl is experiencing a true resurrection. We thought it was extinct, outrun and burried by digital music. Recently, however, vinyl records have granted us with a spectacular rebirth and strongly appeals to music lovers to the point that this year, CD sales could be surpassed by vinyl sales for the first time in more than 20 years! Nowadays, vinyl sees a revolution knockin on its doors: HD vinyl is coming.

What's up with the HD vinyl?

HD obviously stands for "High Definition". HD vinyl should offer more to our ears than the traditional vinyl, of which the manufacturing process hasn't evolved much since its advent. The engraving shall now be done through computer-programmed laser rather than with a diamond chisel. The first promise is 10 more minutes of music on each side of the record, which should bring the total duration between 60 and 80 minutes per disc. This is a result of the superior engraving precision allowed by the use of the laser, able to carve thinner grooves. Such gain in precision also offers a wider dynamic range, which should result in a wider sound.

Better resolution, same record player

Thank god! HD vinyl will not require a special turntable to be played. You'll be able to keep your old player and to enjoy the technical improvements brought by the format.

Is HD vinyl good news?

Well, yes and no. First, let's acknowledge how misleading its name is. Associating the terms "HD" and "vinyl", which is an analogical format, doesn't really make any sense. Also, we are doubtful about the real impact of these technical improvements. Sure, with a state-of-the-art system, audiophiles will notice a sensible increase in quality, but will it be the same for the regular music lover? However, we can only welcome the duration increase of 10 minutes per side, which will be cost efficient since it will bring less double-albums. Finally, we are also happy to acknowledge compatibility with standard turntables.

We'll thus see if HD vinyl will be an appreciated improvement or a major breakthrough!