But what about CDs? For a long time compact discs were the format of choice. You could carry them with you in those cloth bound books that had sleeves for each individual disc. It was kind of bulky and a pain in the neck to haul around but if you didn't want to be without music, it was the way to go. Now you can listen to music on iPods or a “cloud” service like Spotify, which enables you to carry thousands of songs in your pocket. Again, convenience is the key.
Audio Fidelity, a company that prides itself in producing the very best quality audio on 24k gold discs, wants to you to consider choosing CDs again. They have released a series of classic recordings that might have you dusting off your Discman or home CD player and putting it back to work.
Their claim that Audio Fidelity gold discs reproduce “the ultimate sound of a classic recorded performance without the irregular plated surfaces of standard aluminum discs” is a grand one but one they back up with a few interesting facts.
Their engineers use the original mixes played back on a “specially constructed playback deck to create the “best sounding versions of the music ever released.”
They then ship directly to the manufacturing plant for etching in ‘real time’ to create a “warm sound of the original analog master tape combined with a genuine 24 karat gold surface, free of any type of physical defect, to make a 24K gold CD that is truly one of a kind.”
It all sounds great but the proof is in the listening. I’m not a true audiophile but after five decades of listening to music on various devices, I think I’m pretty good at discerning what a well mastered recording should sound like. I sampled the two most recent releases in the series, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James and Heart's Greatest Hits, and found they more than warrant their $24.99 price tag. They are that good. The sound is cleaner, richer, and brighter on these recordings than I can remember them being on either vinyl or non-audiophile CDs.
The packaging is another plus. The booklets contain the original album graphics: in these cases, Taylor’s handwritten lyrics and Ann Wilson’s 1998 liner notes.
Collectors take note: each set is limited and numbered and definitely worth owning if these albums have long been part of your life.
You can find the complete Audio Fidelity catalog at their website.