Provenance Series: Introduction

In an earlier post I described the difference between Provenance and the many, arbitrary and sometimes confusing technical definitions of High Resolution.

At MQA, we are working back through archives, on the lookout for the definitive masters that capture the moment when the producer or artist agreed on the sound, whether in the recording or mixing or mastering studio.

Of course, some popular recordings have been revisited by the artists, the producer or a label, perhaps to take advantage of later technology or to conform to a different release format. Occasionally it takes quite a bit of detective work to be sure of enough facts to be certain of a transfer and, as we will discuss in future ‘White Glove’ posts, it can sometimes take months to track down the right asset or a machine that can play it back. Other times, a recording is easy to find, but there are contractual difficulties (such as missing artist release approval).

The technology of the recording has quite a bearing on the outcome. My first few posts will tend to feature recordings from the birth of the digital era, late 70s to mid 80s – although every era of recorded music presents its own challenges and opportunities.

Naturally, our processes are always on the lookout for technical oversights such as accidental format errors, aliasing, glitches, wilful oversampling, upscaling, etc. But most often people did the very best they could with the technology to hand. A sympathetic and musically sensitive approach is also needed.

We search for the most authentic good sound and hope you will find the illustrative examples interesting as we add to the list.

Provenance Series: #1 Madonna

Provenance Series: #2 Christopher Cross

Provenance Series: #3 Led Zeppelin