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, and Reference Mastercuts LPs. 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. 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”.
Our current artist roster includes The Kansas City Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Utah Symphony Orchestra, Bach Aria Soloists, 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.
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 150 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. This brings a high level of accuracy and musicality to digital recordings, whether made into compact discs, SACDs, or released as high resolution digital files.
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 135 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.
The Reference Mastercuts series of LP records is winning critical acclaim everywhere. 20 LP titles have been released to date in this new series, with more planned in 2023 and beyond. Disc mastering is from original high resolution digital masters, with lacquers cut by industry experts to ensure maximum accuracy. Reference Mastercuts LPs are 180 gram pressings made at audiophile-favorite pressing plants, currently Record Technology Inc. or 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.
In 2008, we created a new sound format, HRx DVD-R data discs containing exact, digit for digit copies of the original Reference Recordings 176.4 kHz/ 24 bit masters as WAV files. At the time, high resolution audio was not available to download off the internet at our standard of quality. The files on HRx discs could be copied to computers and played through various digital music servers, and there were specialty players which could play the discs directly. This invention won a Best of Show Award for “Greatest Technological Breakthrough: Reference Recordings’ HRx ultra-high resolution (176.4/24) digital music format.” from The Absolute Sound. HRx was monumental for its time. The format has been discontinued as of 2022. Most of our customers now prefer to download (or even stream) the same quality of audio from our website or other sites. Our original HRx titles are still available to purchase exclusively from Elusive Disc.