T Bone Burnett Reveals New Analog Reproduction Technology

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“An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound,” said the analog-obsessed producer, who’s worked with Bob Dylan to launch the format

T Bone Burnett

T Bone Burnett, photo by Jason Myers

T Bone Burnett has developed a new medium for recorded sound, a disc format he’s dubbed Iconic Originals. He’s tried out the technology with Bob Dylan re-recording some of his classic songs, but those recordings are not yet available for the public to hear. A press release indicates that the project is part of Burnett’s attempts to “reset the valuation for recorded music.”

According to a statement from the producer, one-of-a-kind Iconic Originals are “lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music.” Burnett’s project is the first major development in analog music reproduction in more than 70 years, when phonograph discs shifted from being made of fragile shellac to the polyvinyl plastic material still used in the present day.

The rest of Burnett’s statement about Iconic Originals reads in full:

An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound. It is archival quality. It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting. It is lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music. This painting, however, has the additional quality of containing that music, which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it.

When describing the quality that raises analogue sound above digital sound, the word “warmth” is often used. Analogue sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, better imaging. Analogue has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analogue sound is alive.

According to a press release, Burnett has also launched a new company called NeoFidelity, Inc., which will “provide a platform of distribution for Iconic Originals.” Although Burnett has never formally produced a Dylan LP, he was a member of the Rolling Thunder Revue.

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