ISC HiFi releases 20 new (( ROOM RECORDINGS )). Bryan Ling reflects on the inspiration behind these sessions.
The room recordings on the ISC website are meant to start a conversation. A discussion about sound, ceremony and industry. They’re also an argument in favor of a specific kind of experience in active listening: We are selecting pressings of albums from our collection, spinning them on a specific sound system in a well-designed environment and capturing those playbacks with specific mic set-ups.
Do these room recordings sound different than what’s heard on streaming platforms? Absolutely. Do they sound better? That’s your call.
The latest room recordings were done in our new listening space at the ISC HiFi office. You might notice a different sound from the first ones. The following gear was used for these sessions:
Klipsch Cornwall Speakers
Eico HF-81 Amplifier
Garrard 301 Turntable
Thomas Schick Tonearms, Headshells & Cartridges
2 x Blue Dragonfly Microphones
Just as appreciating music is a subjective experience, our mind and body feel sonic vibrations based on how we listen. “High-fidelity” can be defined along a broad spectrum, but it boils down to excellent sound reproduction. The optimal hi-fi equipment contains no audible noise or distortion; and an untinted, neutral frequency response that resides in the sweet spot of the human hearing range.
Some audiophiles argue that compact discs sound better than vinyl, and have differing perspectives on sound quality among streaming platforms. Thankfully, there are more options than ever when it comes to high-definition streaming platforms, Tidal HiFi, Amazon HD, Qobuz and Apple among them. Do the distinctions matter to more than a small subset of consumers? Probably not. Should they matter more? I believe so.
The goal of our in-room re-recordings of albums on the ISC site isn’t to suggest an “optimal” way to consume this music digitally. In fact, from a fidelity perspective, the streaming service links and embeds we use are of higher quality. Some of these recordings might even be a bit noisy. We just wanted to experiment.
It’s true: We don’t have licenses in place for the room recordings. It’s also true that we’re not collecting any streaming revenue, which is likely why no one has issued a take-down notice. Inevitably, that will happen, and when it does we want to make it easy for rights holders by licensing a passthrough approval. That will allow us to continue this experiment and argument while promoting albums in our collection. Hopefully, it will help propel the conversation regarding recorded audio and the various modes of playback.
The business side of streaming is a lot muddier then it should be. You’d think that as accounting becomes automated, the ability to monetize streaming royalties would be more streamlined. I have found this to not be the case. The ways in which streaming money eventually trickles down to creators also seems antiquated. In Sheep’s Clothing isn’t aiming to make money on room recordings that we feature on our site. We consider ourselves to be a discovery platform that curates albums. Eventually, our plan is to release our own exclusive pressings on the platform in collaboration with some of our favorite labels, distributors and — of course — the creators themselves.
Our argument is pretty basic: It’s important to listen to music. It’s important to listen to entire sides of albums, and commit to focusing on whole works. That’s definitely true of the room recordings we feature on this platform. The records are brilliant from start to finish, and to truly understand the artists’ intent you need to go deep into both sides.
If you are a rights holder of any music we showcase on the site and have questions, please reach out to us directly at [email protected].
Thank you again for listening.