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Sweetwater Backs New Audio Format

Sweetwater Sound has announced that it is partnering with major professional audio gear manufacturers and industry-leading recording, mixing, and mastering engineers to promote a new high-resolution audio format.

On rare occasion—let’s say one day every April—we get sent press releases about unusually extraordinary products. On that given day, instead of editing the information or looking closely for details (also known as “facts”), we instead run these press releases ‘as-is’ so that the public can fully appreciate these intriguing new creations in the raw without the filter of such things as “journalistic and ethical standards.” Today is one of those days.

Fort Wayne, IN (April 1, 2016)—Sweetwater Sound has announced that it is partnering with major professional audio gear manufacturers and industry-leading recording, mixing, and mastering engineers to promote a new high-resolution audio format.

Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack remarked, “At Sweetwater, our focus is on our customers and helping them achieve their dreams of success in the music industry. This new format is poised to give musicians a new avenue for distributing and selling their music to fans in a convenient format that cannot be pirated, and that offers the highest-resolution audio yet heard. We’re proud to sign on as charter supporters for this brilliant new format.”

The new format, dubbed HD8t, includes patented technology for locking pirates out of the media — HD8t is not “rippable” using any current or future techniques. It is designed for maximum fidelity, yet is compatible with home stereo equipment, professional studio gear, car audio, and portable playback in boombox-style players and even in compact players using ear buds. Numerous manufacturers have already signed on to develop playback hardware, and artists and labels have committed to issuing new releases on the audiophile-grade HD8t format. Duplication plants have already begun adding HD8t manufacturing lines to meet the anticipated demand for the new media.

EveAnna Manley, president of Manley Labs, manufacturers of premier professional audio gear as well as audiophile consumer audio equipment — and the first manufacturer to combine tube technology with HD8t — stated, “With HD8t, you’ll hear things you never heard before — the resolution is astounding. You can actually hear the electrons moving through the vacuum in tube gear used in the studio. The noise floor is non-existent, and the frequency response extends well beyond 1MHz for totally accurate harmonic reproduction and imaging. Finally, we have a format that delivers a true representation of music. The fact that it is an analog format only makes it warmer and sweeter to my ears.”

Mark Hornsby, Sweetwater Studio’s Director of Operations and acclaimed music producer/engineer stated, “We’ve been aware of HD8t since it was first proposed, and we have been optimizing Sweetwater Studios to take advantage of the improved dynamic range — the analog equivalent to 64-bit, for hundreds of dB of dynamic range. This new format requires the best in studio equipment; we recommend 5-8 high-powered 18-inch subwoofers to handle the additional low end, as well as a bank of high-frequency drivers driven by a minimum of 10,000 watts to showcase the enhanced clarity, frequency response, and dynamics of this amazing format.”

Chris Lord-Alge, celebrated master mix engineer to the stars, said, “My clients demand the best audio quality possible, and now we can deliver that quality not only in the studio, but to home stereos, in cars, in elevators, and even to portable backpack players. I predict a renaissance in music listening because of the HD8t format. It’s going to change everything.”

HD8t features the return of the most popular analog format from the golden era of the music industry: the 8-track tape cartridge. Much loved for its convenient form factor, durability, ergonomic simplicity, and audio quality, 8-track tape was introduced in 1964 by a consortium of manufacturers including Lear Jet, Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, RCA Victor, and Motorola and ruled the consumer market until the late 1970s. It serves as the basis for the new HD8t (“High-Definition 8-track”) tapes. Utilizing analog tape, but with 50% more play time and up to 75% better resolution, HD8t trumps high-resolution downloads, high-definition audio players — such as Neil Young’s Pono — and even the new high-definition LP format, which promises only 30% better resolution. Purists will be thrilled to know that the beloved characteristics of the original 8-track cartridges are retained, such as the silences as the tape switches tracks that often occurred in the middle of a song. Manley adds, “Our engineers have been really working hard to get not just the forward and reverse tracks to sound their best, but also to maximize response in the lateral jumps. The music really lives in between the gaps, as we all know.”

HD8t tapes are backward compatible, and many will be available with relic’d cartridges for those listeners nostalgic for an earlier time. A patented matchbook simulator will be offered for wedging HD8t tape into the player to reduce wow and flutter. The unique “tape dump” feature will unspool tape from the cartridge and randomly wind it into the innards of the player, providing hours of enjoyment as the listener attempts to extract the tape and resume playback.

Sweetwater will be spearheading the new HD8t-UG (High-Definition 8-Track Users Group) to promote the new format along with pro audio manufacturers, makers of consumer audio equipment, major and independent record labels, and a roster of golden-eared artists, engineers, and producers.

Hornsby concludes, “I fell in love with 8-track tapes back in the ‘glory days.’ I still think it’s strange to hear a song play straight through with no pause in the middle when the track changes. I’m anxious to once again hear music the way it was intended, but with even better sonic quality. HD8t is a dream come true. We’re 100% behind this exciting new format!”

Sweetwater Sound