A couple of weeks back I wrote about how I would not be attending a Nickel Creek's summer concert due to the venue. About a week later I received my pre-order CD copy of their new CD, A Dotted Line. It's a wonderful album, full of the sort of subtle ear-stretching tunes that each of the three members have been creating while pursuing their solo careers.
After about a week of daily airplay, I received the latest email blast from HDTracks, and there, much to my delight, was a 96/24 AIFF version of A Dotted Line. I got it, naturally, eager to hear if the 96/24 version offered any sonic advantages over the CD.
But before I discuss sonic issues, or lack of them, I'd like to devote some time to pricing. HDTracks has often been accused of pricing their releases too high, but in the case of A Dotted Line, the HDTracks 96/24 version was only slightly more expensive than the pre-order CD! The CD cost me $13 plus $3.81 for shipping for a total cost of $16.81. HD Tracks charged $17.98 for the download. For slightly more than a buck extra I could have gotten the 96/24 music files the very same day that my pre-order copy arrived. Also the HDTracks came with a PDF of all the cover art. If I wanted a PDF from the CD I'd have to scan it myself. All in all, I consider the HDTracks 96/24 version of the album a better value - so much for the criticisms of "rip-off" pricing...
Sonically, the 96/24 version of A Dotted Line sounds better than the CD. The higher resolution files have slightly better inner detail and are definitely easier to "listen into" than the CD. Many of the subtle and not so subtle effects and EQ choices on the record make more musical sense and are better articulated on the higher resolution copy.