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The vexed question of the sound quality of digital downloads of classical recordings seems to have been resolved. Linn Records, which has been making available Studio Master quality downloads for the last five years, has teamed up with Universal Music to distribute the major’s vast classical back catalogue in high quality digital format.
Universal, which owns labels such as Decca, Deutsche Grammaphon, Impulse! and Verve, will be the first British label to make available classical music in Studio Master quality. The first batch of releases ready for download include Solti’s recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lorin Maazel conducting Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite at the relatively tender age of 27 and the premier recording of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.
Gilad Tiefenbrun, Linn’s Managing Director, said: "We were the first to release music at Studio Master quality more than five years ago and we know there is a great appetite for high quality digital music in the home. We welcome the move from Universal Music to partner with us in releasing their catalogue as Studio Masters which appeal to aficionados who are tired of lesser quality downloads, and this move marks a pivotal moment in the history of recorded music."
An equally enthused Barry Holden, Universal Music Group International’s Director of Classical Catalogue, said: "It’s a red letter day for music aficionados – most of whom never fell for the MP3’s compressed charms and stuck to the trusted CD. Today’s agreement with Linn marries legendary recordings to a download format offering demonstration sound, superior even to the CD. That’s good news for audiophiles, artists and the future of digital music."