Producer T Bone Burnett announces new analogue disc format and promises “the first breakthrough in analogue sound reproduction in more than 70 years”

T Bone Burnett Ionic Originals
(Image credit: Jason Myers)

While the big streaming services are currently espousing the benefits of lossless listening and Dolby Atmos, T Bone Burnett is taking a markedly different approach to audio innovation.

The acclaimed producer has revealed that he’s just completed a series of special studio sessions with Bob Dylan, during which the singer-songwriter revisited some of his most iconic songs. The results of these sessions will be released as Ionic Originals - newly developed discs that we’re told represent “the first breakthrough in analogue sound reproduction in more than 70 years”.

To mark the release of this new format, Burnett has formed a new company, NeoFidelity, which will focus on recording artists across a wide range of genres and serve as the distribution platform for the Ionic Originals. We’re assured that the discs “possess a depth, resonance and sonic fidelity that exceeds that of vinyl, CD, streaming or any other means of experiencing recorded music.”

Explaining what makes his new technology special, Burnett says: “An Ionic Original is the pinnacle of recorded sound. It is archival quality. It is future-proof. 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 aluminium 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.”

Discussing his love of analogue, Burnett explains: “When describing the quality that raises analogue sound above digital sound, the word ‘warmth’ is often used. Analogue sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, better imaging. Analogue has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analogue sound is alive.”

Burnett has previously won Album and Record of the Year Grammy Awards for his work on Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Raising Sand, and soundtracked movies such as True Detective, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski, Cold Mountain, The Hunger Games, Crazy Heart and Walk The Line.

A release date for the Bob Dylan Ionic Originals is still to be confirmed.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.