Since 1976, The Best Seat in the House
Always at the forefront of technical advances!
REFERENCE RECORDINGS records and manufactures award winning, ultimate quality CDs, Hybrid SACDs, Reference Mastercuts LPs, and revolutionary HRx discs: 176.4 kHz/24 bit music on DVD audio discs. Our recordings are also offered as digital downloads through our own website and through multiple sites worldwide, including high resolution PCM downloads and both stereo and surround-sound DSD downloads. We offer recordings from many of the finest classical, jazz, blues and world music artists. We record most of our releases with our own team, and also license select projects for our FRESH! series. Our current artist roster includes The Kansas City Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Utah Symphony Orchestra, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, pianists Joel Fan and Nadia Shpachenko, The Dallas Wind Symphony, blues singer/songwriters Doug MacLeod and Fiona Boyes, organists Jan Kraybill and Mary Preston, and more. Legacy artists available on RR titles perennially in print include: The Minnesota Orchestra, jazz pianist Dick Hyman, Eileen Farrell, Mike Garson, the original Canadian ensemble Tafelmusik, Red Norvo, The Kronos Quartet, The Chicago Pro Musica, Frederick Fennell, Ruggiero Ricci, Robert Farnon, Jose Serebrier, The Turtle Creek Chorale, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, and many others. The RR team believes that how a recording sounds is as important as the music itself. Our goal is to make your listening experience “The Best Seat in the House”.
Reference Recordings are distributed in North America by Naxos U.S.A. and internationally in more than 25 countries through a carefully chosen network of music and audiophile distributors. We have decades of success and experience in marketing and promoting our releases and our artists. See our full distribution list.
There are over 130 releases in the RR catalog recorded by Keith O. Johnson, our chief engineer and Technical Director. He is a true audio legend, having designed and patented many innovative products in the professional and consumer fields. The RR Sound comes from his singular methods and equipment, almost all hand-built or extensively modified by him. Microphone techniques range from purist to complex, depending on the musical forces and the performing space involved. Keith O. Johnson’s investigation of electronic behavior and acoustic perception led to his development (with digital engineer Michael Pflaumer) of the revolutionary High Definition Compatible Digital encoding process, produced and marketed by Pacific Microsonics (recently acquired by Microsoft). Reference Recordings released the first commercial CDs with the process. Currently all Keith Johnson masters are recorded at 176.4 kHz/24 bits, using Pacific Microsonics Model Two HDCD encoders. HDCD brings a high level of accuracy and musicality to digital recordings, whether made into compact discs, SACDs, or released as high resolution digital files on HRx discs or downloads.
Reference Recordings has recorded and licensed multi-channel high resolution masters for many years. We have released many in the SACD format. Our first Surround Sound SACD release won a Grammy® award for Best Surround Sound Recording in 2010. We are excited about recording and releasing more Surround Sound albums, an exciting and uniquely engaging format which fully captures the experience of a live concert performance.
Our FRESH! series showcases outstanding artists and engineering teams from beyond the original RR team. We are extremely pleased to be releasing high quality, hybrid multi-channel SACDs on this series with some of the best American orchestras, recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera, and chamber recordings have received over 80 GRAMMY nominations and awards. FRESH! is part of Reference Recordings’ mission to encourage artists and give them a strong platform for promotion and sales nationally and internationally
Reference Recordings embraces new formats and technologies. Our newest, HRx DVD-R data discs, contain exact, digit-for-digit copies of the original Reference Recordings 176.4 kHz / 24-bit digital masters, never upsampled. These same files are now also available as digital downloads at the same high resolution. This is the ultimate in fidelity for two-channel sound: TRUE high-resolution audio, ready to load onto your computer music server.
The Absolute Sound Review of HRx: “Reference Recordings, a company at the forefront of technical advancements for the past 30 years, has broken through the technical barriers to deliver to listeners the exact high-resolution digital bitstreams created during the recording sessions… Hearing these familiar pieces for the first time in high resolution was an absolutely mind-blowing experience… If you want the undisputed state-of-the-art in music reproduction right now, HRx is one thrilling ride. But consider yourself warned: Once you hear high-resolution digital done right, there’s no going back.” —Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound
Best of Show award for “Greatest Technological Breakthrough: Reference Recordings’ HRx ultra-high resolution (176.4/24) digital music format.” (Alan Taffel: The Absolute Sound)
The Reference Mastercuts series of LP records is winning critical acclaim everywhere. 15 LP titles have been released to date in this new series, with more planned in 2017 and beyond. Disc mastering is done at half-speed to insure maximum accuracy. The lathe system has custom electronics by Nelson Pass. The simple signal path contains no compression, equalization or unnecessary circuitry. Keith Johnson consulted on the design of the system and helped with the rebuilding of the lathe and electronics, which is owned and operated at the RR facility by long-time mastering expert Paul Stubblebine. Reference Mastercuts LPs are 180 or 200 gram pressings made at Quality Record Pressings. They are packaged in heavy, deluxe gatefold jackets from Stoughton Printing. Depending on the program they are issued at 33 1/3 rpm or 45 rpm.