This week, the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing published recommendations for best practices for high-resolution audio production, along with updated guidelines for the delivery of recorded music projects. Although these guidelines were developed with recording in mind, they offer important takeaways for anyone working in live sound—particularly in relation to high-resolution audio.
The P&E Wing’s new "Recommendations for Hi-Resolution Music Production" (available here) addresses a glaring disconnect: Although today’s technology lets consumers easily experience uncompressed, full-resolution audio, there are no standards for high-resolution production.
The guidelines were drafted by a committee chaired by Leslie Ann Jones, a Grammy Award-winning engineer and the Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, and the Grammy Award Telecast’s Advisor to House Audio. “Even though our guidelines are for the production of music for records and engineering music for records in high res, in the period of time we were working on the document, which was almost three years, several things kept reinforcing the implications for live sound,” says Jones. “Examples include Hamilton, which I think would have been extremely difficult soundwise had they not gone 24/96, and the Grammy telecast, as well. We've been using DiGiCo consoles in the house now for several years, and every year it's just a real eye opener in terms of how much better things sound and how much more detail you actually get by going at a higher resolution.”
Even though the guidelines for production have little to do with live sound, Jones says, aiming to take productions high-res whenever possible has universal benefits. “Not only will it sound better, but people will enjoy it more. I even think you’ll be able to mix more creatively,” she says. “You won’t have to overly compress or EQ stuff to be able to hear it, because you’ll be getting so much more detail.” And these are surely concepts that we can all relate to.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.