Mac DeMarco questions industry-standard 44.1kHz mastering: “I haven’t bought a CD since I was a teenager”

The Canadian music-maker recently released an album’s worth of music in high definition quality

Image: Steve Jennings / Getty

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Mac DeMarco has commented on the traditional ways of mastering music at the quality of 44.1kHz – the industry-standard level for CDs.

The Canadian artist recently addressed this standard in an interview with Associated Press. The interview follows the release of his One Wayne G album, a whopping 199-track collection of unreleased demos and new tracks released digitally at a “high-definition sample rate”, he says.

“I record at a high-definition sample rate when I’m recording at home on tape. When it’s coming into digital, [I] get it captured nice[ly]. So, I thought ‘why not get it mastered at a high definition?”

According to a 2022 World Economic Forum report, streaming takes up 65 per cent of music consumption while just 19 per cent of music is listened to in a physical form. However, as DeMarco says, much of today’s music is still being mastered at CD-quality sample rates. With digital music dominating consumption habits, some streaming platforms now offer music in a lossless format.

“Most stuff is mastered at 44.1kHz which is CD-quality. I haven’t bought a CD since I was a teenager. Why? There are funny things about the way the industry is and the standards. It’s interesting – not to force people – but be like ‘here’s a weird thing. Will you interface with it? Will you not?’ It switches things up for people a little bit.”

Also in the interview, the Chamber of Reflection creator talks about his DIY approach to music creation that lowers the bar for younger producers and how non-independent artists are “pretending to be DIY”.

“Independent doesn’t really mean anything anymore. It’s funny that it’s become an aesthetic, as opposed to a way of doing things,” he says.

Listen to the nine-hour, 199-track album, One Wayne G, via Bandcamp.

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