Fish People are very pleased to be able to offer our friends true high resolution lossless 24/96 recordings of 50 Words For Snow directly from katebush.com.
The introduction of the CD in the early eighties brought with it a huge change in the recording process. CD’s introduced an era of low background noise listening, they removed the hiss, crackles and pops associated with cassettes and vinyl LPs. However, despite the huge improvements the CD brought with it, the state of technology at the time introduced some limitations in the quality of audio that could be recorded and stored on the CD.
The many advantages of the CD mean that it has continued to be the default consumer format for many years. However digital studio technology has moved on immensely. Now digital download technology allows us to bring you studio quality files for use at home.
To preserve the maximum audio quality in her recordings, Kate mixes all of her audio on to 1/2 inch tape at 30ips. The analogue tape is then digitally mastered using 24bits at 96KHz. Moving to 24/96 increases the dynamic range and frequency response of the digital process well beyond the levels perceivable by the human ear. 24/96 takes full advantage of the low signal to noise ratio of digital technology while still preserving all the aspects of the original sound waves.
In the recording process all of the audio is recorded at a level that ensures there is sufficient “headroom” in the mix to avoid any clipping. Clipping is distortion that occurs when the recording level exceeds 0dB.
Traditionally when mastering for final production on CD, the 24/96 master will be “normalized” to 0dB as part of the mastering process. Normalizing the recording effectively introduces digital amplification to ensure the maximum dynamic range offered by the CDs 16bits is utilised. This normalisation is critical for a 16bit recording as any “headroom” in the recording will have a significant impact on the dynamic range. For example -6dB of headroom in a recording would only utilize 15 of the 16bits available.
Unfortunately the normalization process introduces quantization errors in the recording - i.e. some bits of the recording may be unintentionally rounded up or down as part of this process. However the balance between quantization noise and loss of dynamic range is an accepted part of the 16bit mastering process.
At 24bit resolution, the issues surrounding dynamic range are not applicable as a 24bit recording provides an additional 48dB of dynamic range over a 16bit recording.
With Kate’s high resolution downloads we have chosen to leave these recordings at the level they were mixed on the studio tape. We have deliberately chosen not to “normalize” these recordings to avoid introducing any quantization noise as described above. As a result, you may notice that the 24/96 files sound quieter when replayed on 16bit devices such as MP3 players or portable CD players.
With these files we also wanted you to be able to hear the recordings as close as possible to the way it sounded on the analogue master. For this reason we have chosen only to make available 24/96 .wav files in an uncompressed format. By not using compression we avoid any further possibility of introducing errors or noise into the files. The downside of using uncompressed files is that the files are large and will take a long time to download.
All of us at Fish People are aware that the market for high resolution audio is in its infancy and as such no standards or common practices have yet evolved. We hope that you will agree with our logic in the way we have made these recordings available, and hope you will enjoy the full beauty of the music Kate has created in a way as close as possible to how she wanted it to be heard.
With love as always,
The Fish People.