Following on the heels of Qobuz and Hyperion, the latest arrival on the downloads block is Analekta, the largest independent classical record company in Canada, which is producing some great stuff and has some excellent performers on its books.
Like many other independents, Analekta offer both MP3 and FLAC (lossless) formats. They charge a premium for the FLACs, but the exchange rate means that it’s still a good deal (the asking price of Can$ 14.99 works out at about 10 euro 70). FLACs are available either in CD-quality or as what’s now widely described as ‘Studio Masters’, which means exactly what it says: these are better than CD-quality, exactly equivalent to the sound heard by a sound engineer while recording. (FLAC quality varies from album to album. It isn’t a question of both CD-quality and Studio Master versions being available for everything.) The asking price for MP3 versions is Can$ 9.99 (7 euro 14), so the exchange rate helps out here also.
Rather than go into any further boring detail here about Analekta’s online store, why don’t you see for yourself what they have to say about it (words of warning about technical stuff: Analekta give the distinct impression that FLAC is a new format — it isn’t — and that there’s something special and remarkable about their MP3s — there isn’t). Happy downloading!
p.s. One further point about the Analekta site (nothing to do with actual downloading) is its approach to music samples. The norm on iTunes and most other places is a mere 30-second soundbite, which really isn’t enough to give more than a simple confirmation that what you’re buying is what you intend to buy. Bucking the trend, Analekta first provided 50% of each track as a listening sample, and have now gone one better by offering full tracks. As they say on the site: ‘We thought 30 seconds was not enough!’ Well done, Analekta.