T Bone Burnett Announces a New Analog Audio Format, Tested With Bob Dylan

T Bone Burnett
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T Bone Burnett
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Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes / CC by 3.0

T Bone Burnett has developed a new analog audio format he’s calling Ionic Originals. Bob Dylan is the first test subject.

Bob Dylan has re-recorded some of his classic songs using the technology, but they’re not available to the public yet. According to the press release, the producer is hoping to “reset the valuation for recorded music.”

The Ionic Originals format features “lacquer painted onto an aluminum disc, with a spiral etched into it by music.” T Bone Burnett’s development is the first major move in analog music reproduction in more than 70 years as vinyl became the standard.

“An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound,” the press release asserts. “It is archival quality. It is future-proof and 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 analog sound above digital sound, the word ‘warmth’ is often used. Analog sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, and better imaging. Analog has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analog sound is alive.”

T Bone Burnett is also launching a new company called NeoFidelity, Inc. The company will serve as a new platform for the distribution of Ionic Originals.

While the new technology certainly is interesting, there’s no indication for how the end consumer is supposed to play these recordings. There’s also no mention of how much the Ionic Original will cost at retail.

T Bone Burnett has long been an advocate for analog audio. He supported a high-resolution format called Code in 2008 – suitable for DVD players of the time. John Mellencamp’s Life, Death, Love, and Freedom was released in Code in 2008.