In those days ...
music wasn't just music ... it was a sensory experience.
We really need a "old fucker going on again" icon .....
This storage medium progressed from spinning disk to flash and then entered the cloud... Sound familiar? It's the long-playing music album and this year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of its inception. The 33 1/3rpm vinyl long-playing record was devised in 1948 by Columbia Records and was an upgrade on the prior 78rpm 12- …
So very true, the one thing I have noticed is how music listeners now just skim and skip through songs, never listening to the whole song, just bits of songs.
With the LP, you put it on sat back and listened.
I would even buy one on the strength of the Album cover without having heard the music.
I still buy CD's, I like a physical presence for my music.
I also miss such warnings as:
"This stereo record can be played on mono reproducers provided with a
compatible or stereo cartridge wired for mono is fitted. Recent
equipment may already be fitted with a suitable cartridge. If in doubt
consult your dealer."
Of which the best and most memorable example was of course:
"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."
"Remembering the faint pops and crackles after putting the needle on the start of a new album, holding my breath in anticipation for the first track to start..."
I do indeed. Heck, I'm one of the proud few who can say they got all of Metallica's "real" (before the black album) on vinyl. Heck; I even have the Phantom Menace OST on vinyl (no, I'm not a big fan of the movie; it was a gift from a good friend).
Alas, I'm also a sound designer by heart (semi-professional) and did you know that there are dozens of filters and sound effects out there for the sole purpose of re-creating this sound? For example iZotope Vinyl... I'm mentioning this because this company has a very good reputation on "sound scoping" thanks to their Ozone product range (tools for mastering a piece of music).
Oh; and that sound effect is fully free of charge; usable in any DAW of your choosing.
"flash-memory-powered portable players with digital music files swept the Walkmans away after a few years"
The cassette-based Walkman was introduced in 1979, 18 years before the 1997 introduction of the first MP3-playing player, the Audible.com MobilePlayer. And Sony withdrew the cassette Walkman in 2010, thirteen years after that.
So "a few" apparently includes numbers up to 31.
((Source: Wikipedia. Accuracy unknown, except that 1979 sounds about right, as does 1997.))
>Also the iPod wasn't originally flash - it had a 2.5" HDD in it until (I think) the iPod Mini in 2004.
The iPod had a little 1.8" Toshiba disk in it, the same as the iRviver H1xx and H3xx machines, as well as some of the Creatice players, amongst others. Then mysteriously, you couldn't lay your hand on a spare drive for love nor money... and everyone but Apple seemed to move exclusively to solid-state. These days, portable HDD-based players are thin on the ground... there's the iPod Classic, Cowon and Archos, but I can't think of many others. To be honest though, a little Sansa Clip+ with a few microSD cards quickly exceeds all but the biggest music collections.
If your little Sansa Clip+ can hold your music collection, then you are a philistine that doesn't store your music in 96/24 lossless or higher bitrates For those of us that DO, an iPod Classic is now one of the few choices left to actually hold a lot of music and make it portable enough - I keep the old-style Apple dock in my car just because it lets me plug in a capacious Classic for my journeys. When Apple stops supporting the Classic, those of us that relish lossless will be...er, lost.
Pretentious wanker alert. Lossless formats like FLAC are a great archival format but for carrying about on a portable player to listen to, just downsample them to 320kbp MP3, you berk. You will not, WILL NOT, be able to hear the difference. You will still have your precious lossless originals stored at home for converting into whatever formats you might wish in the future, but trying to squeeze them into a portable device is utterly pointless.
I thought it would be cool to re-convert my CD collection to FLAC to put on my DAP after I'd upgraded its HDD...
...until I noticed that doing so resulted in most of the files being larger than the device's buffer, so the HDD was almost constantly spinning. Whoops.
Also it's most often used in the office, with a pair of cheap earphones that I can afford to lose, and in the car. Like you say, the fidelity was never going to matter.
Yeah, that jumped out at me as being a very strange paragraph... The cassette Walkman was king for years, then a very few people bought DAT and DCC, before the CD Walkman became very widespread (though wasn't as portable as its cassette brethren). The MD player started to gain a bit of momentum before it was killed by flash players (more portable) and HDD-based players (more capacious).
I miss my iRiver H320, stolen from my car, one of the few HDD machines that had mic and line-in for recording WAV and MP3, analogue and digital recording was a feature most MD devices had.
I also agree, the Walkman kept marching on for *decades*, not just a couple of years. In fact, it ended up being more portable than its CD counterpart, the Discman. I have a 1998 Walkman, it still works, and I still use it from time to time.
The place where cassette did get displaced was on the car stereo.
>>The cassette-based Walkman was introduced in 1979
I remember selling the first Sony version of the Walkman in 1979, when it was called a "Stowaway" and had the model number TPSL2.....
Of note to Apple might be the fact that, in 1982, Sony made a product called a Watchman.....except that this was a portable TV, rather than something you wear on your wrist and listen to... :)
The statement in the article is correct for suitably large values of "a few".
My knockoff portable cassette player died after a mere ten years or so, but I still listen to cassette tapes once in a while. Yes, the audio quality is poor, in theory, but my car's cabin isn't an opera hall, either.
..I've just realised that I'm very, very old. Witness conversation with friends son:
"What's a tape?"
"We used then to put in walkmans, because LP's could only be played on a record player"
"I don't know what any of those words are...how do you download music to it [the tape]? How many mb was the tape?"
...and I think you know where it goes from here. And it's all downhill (for me anyway...).
Ironically, the days of downloadable individual songs mean "albums" have been replaced with "playlists".
How long is a piece of string (LP groove)?
Digital media have a precise number of bits, or an upper limit defined by the system and the physics of the media. With an analogue medium, it depends on the bandwidth, modulation method(s), use of lossy or lossless compression, etc, and also the ability of the hardware to resolve such signals.
For example, the audio bandwidth of the human ear, and thus the hi-fi disc, is generally agreed (hi-fi has at least as many nazi pedants as computing) to be 20 Hz-20 kHz. However the short-lived CD-4 quadraphonic system used frequencies up to 45 kHz. One of the reasons for the demise of this system, was the difficulty in decoding the signals from less-than-perfect media. Define your storage system, and you can work backwards to storage volume.
It's worth noting that analogue recordings are subject to a form of compression vs capacity trade-offs. The issue is that if the producer wishes to squeeze a longer run time onto a side of a vinyl record, this can only be achieved by reducing the modulation, especially at the bass end of the spectrum, or adjacent parts of the spiral groove will interfere. For this reason, many "budget" compilation vinyls sounded rather "thin" as the bass had to be disproportionately reduced in amplitude. Taken to more extremes, this has to be done further up the frequency range (that is amplitude reduced) and thuse the SNR will suffer. So compression is an issue on vinyl too - it's a trade-off with capacity. Note that vinyl recordings roll off amplitude with lower frequencies anyway using an RIAA equalisation curve, or the lower frequencies would lead to adjacent parts of the grooves "interfering" with one another as the physical modulation has to be higher. The lower frequencies were boosted on replay, at least with magnetic pickups; to a certain extend ceramic/crystal pickups provided their own natural boosting of bass frequencies. This boosting of bass frequencies can lead to "rumble" being heard, where low frequencies due to the turntables rotation will be boosted.
Note that this is a rather different issue to dynamic range compression, which is driven by the record producers wish to boost the quieter parts of musical tracks to make them sound "louder" or "brighter". This is a plague. Radio stations tend to do this as well in order to hide what was often rather poor SNR of the broadcast medium in marginal reception areas - or, for that matter, listening in noisy environments.
I think it best to say that vinyl sounds notably different to CD reproduction, although, in theory, a CD recording of a vinyl playback ought to sound identical assuming that it's done competently. Thus the vinyl lover should be able to hear all the peculiarities of the vinyl recording and playback without damaging their precious bit of plastic...
Reminded me of a comment by a DJ regarding 'dead air', which was found in a station's operating manual:
"The VU meter shall never fall below -3dB for more than 3 seconds, otherwise listeners will think we have gone off the air. Failure to keep program audio at sufficient levels will result in your immediate termination."
That sort of shit convinced me that working in commercial radio was a mistake to be avoided; as it was infested with individuals whose competency was questionable. Much later on in life, did I learn the correct term to describe this type of individual: damagement.
$DEITY help us all, because they still walk the earth.
@ Steven Jones
" ......in theory, a CD recording of a vinyl playback ought to sound identical assuming that it's done competently."
In normal practice, the CDR can sound better. That's if you record from the turntable using headphones to monitor, rather than having speakers on at full whack.
The reason is that even good and well suspended turntables -- I have, Technics SL1210, classic AR Turntable and Thorens 125 -- feed back to some extent. To demonstrate this, record from a turntable with the stylus resting on a stationary disk while playing another source loudly in the same room. The stylus works pretty well as a microphone, muddying the sound of all music played on a turntable.
Well a CD is about 600MB but CDs can have about 60 minutes of recording so that's way above an LP. Also CDs are sixteen bits of pure digital stero joy whereas LP comes in at around 12 bits (yes it does) - and you have to reduce that because of the noise floor for a typically dusty and worn LP.
The answer is about 150MB.
Your talking complete nonsense. You can sample as fast as you like and as deep as you like, but unless the original analogue source has sufficient bandwidth and SNR you are just digitising noise. The signal to noise ratio of a vinyl LP is, at best, 60-70db and that's assuming it's absolutely pristine, pressed from an absolutely top quality master in prime condition (and most will not be after a few thousand pressings) and the vinyl is of the best quality. Those sort of discs are expensive, and are damaged during playback. Bandwidth is limited by a mixture of the materials used, the ability to actually cut masters with very high frequencies and the ability of vinyl to actually record such fine details. A 20Khz frequency signal near the inside of an LP will require features only about 12 microns in size. Indeed, in producing masters for vinyl pressing higher frequencies will actually be filtered out as the presence of such signals can cause other problems.
It has been mathematically proved that its only necessary to sample at twice the highest frequency component in order to reproduce the waveform. Go beyond that, and you are digitising randomness. There some utility in higher sampling rates and bit depths in the actual mastering, but purely to avoid "aliasing" problems in the production process (which these days tends to be done using digital, not analogue processing such as filters). There's absolutely no point if the aim is to just digitise vinyl output as there simply isn't sufficient information in the analogue output to justify it.
This is quite apart from the little matter of the ability of the ear to actually distinguish signals above about 20Khz. The ability to distinguish high frequencies deteriorates with age.
These aren't negotiable things - they are fundamental to information theory and the nature of the materials in use. Vinyl pressings simply don't contain more information than a CD - indeed, quite the reverse.
Actually I always kinda wondered about the modern day Data Capacity of your average LP Disc, and or Cassette. Anyone have a clue about it?
It's difficult to answer because an LP and tape are on sliding scales. You not only have to cater for the quality of the medium (and there's a few options for tape), but it changes as it ages, and as it's used.
As a record is played, the saphire gouges a deeper groove than the one that is already there, not only reducing the high end pitch of the source material, but the scratches introduce noise as well. Tape stretches, the metallic layer flakes off or gets thinner with use, the record needle and tape heads are a variable, tape is open to "data" corruption through rougue magnetic fields, records warp through exposure to adverse environments - the list goes on.
Both records and tape have speed variation specifications that are virtually unheard of within the digital realm, you can't just equate that to tighter digital compression because it doesn't work that way.
Just to complicate the issue, are you limiting yourself to domestically available compact cassettes, or do you count studio grade tapes?
Within the domestic market, and with exception of some very special circumstances, you can safely say that CD beats everything before it. So, to answer your question: 44.1Khz 16 bit (stereo where applicable), less with compression.
There was one interesting part to that conversation though...he found the concept of measuring in minutes, not mb amusing. Specfically, that the quality of the recording was "fixed", and that quality did not affect capacity. AM, FM, or CD quality...if a song was 3 minutes, it only used 3 minutes of "capacity". A 60minute tape always contained 60 minutes of music, whether it was recorded off the AM radio, or off a CD.
He only knows a world where a crappy DVD rip is 500mb, full DVD quality is nearly 3gb, and Blu-ray is 25gb. Yet the film is still 2hrs long in each case.
Kids can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but they are refreshingly useful for reminding you that sometimes things look very different if you approach them with an uncluttered, inquisitive mind.
Edit: Actually Mike, that might answer your query, in a roundabout way.
I have a CD recorder in my home stereo and record LP albums to CDs. Per the data amount, since I can fit two LPs on one 700 MB CD in terms of time, I'd say there's about 350 MB of data per LP, so 175 MB per side, and since there are usually 6 tracks per side on the LPs I convert (usually old Command/Phase 4/etc ones), that works out to about 30 MB per song.
Ignoring the whole "well the CD recorder uses WAV format so that's just one way to measure the data" line of reasoning--
I then of course rip the CD to FLACs or MP3s and put the files on my various flash-memory devices. I do love my car stereo with an SD card slot.
This is after Beer O'clock so the mental arithmetic might be askew, but an LP was about 40 mins, Top frequency about 18Khz. Nyquist says two samples per Hertz, 2 bytes per sample,, so 18,000 * 2 (stereo) * 2 ( samples, nyquist) * 2( bytes/sample) * 60 (seconds /minute) * 40 (minutes) = 691,2 Mbytes, so vinyl about the same as CD. (except CD was 60+ minutes) Cassette not that much different, but top frequency unlikely to exceed 15 Khz (more like 10-12) You do the maths.
Because vinyl was analogue, noise was more evident, giving the impression that Cds were much higher quality. In fact vinyl probably contained more "information", even though we couldn't hear it. (and most record decks introduced up to 10% tracking distortion, anyway)
Sorry Graham, but your execution of arithmetic is off today. The basic concept is sound, but the result should be more like 345.6MB (decimal). And it certainly shouldn't be the same as a CD - the CD uses a higher frequency (22050Hz versus 18000) for much longer (originally 74 minutes versus 40 for the LP). It looks like you tapped in one more *2 than you should have (345.6 * 2 == 691.2)
On the basis of this formula, a 74-minute CD contains 783.216MB(dec) of audio bits.
" vinyl: 33.3, 45 RPM. "
There was also 16 RPM for audio recordings like Linguaphone courses.
Before 78 RPM became a standard the records could differ in speed. The ancient wind-up gramophones, with thorn or steel needles, had a lever to control the speed. As kids we would play my grandfather's "Messiah" set of 78 records - and annoy him with a dying HAL "Haaaaaaallllleeellllluuuujjjjjjaaaaah" followed by a Pinky & Perky "hliljah - hliljah" repeated several times as we slid the speed control to its extremes. The record set came in a bound album about 3 inches thick.
A 60minute tape always contained 60 minutes of music
Up to a point, Lord Silverburn. Open-reel tape recorders could record at several speeds. The trade-off between quality and capacity was the same as the bit-rate trade-off with digital recording. Admittedly, the expression "60 minute tape" implies a cassette, as open-reel tapes were measured in length, rather than time.
I recall once (in the '70's) visiting a commercial radio station that had 10.5" open reel machines in a rack, most of them ran at tape speed of either 7.5 or 15 ips (inches per second). A typical 2400 foot reel of of 1.5 mil tape gave you nominally 60 (@ 7-1/2 ips) or 30 (@ 15 ips) minutes of run time.
There was one machine all by itself, which was referred to as a `logger recorder`, whose purpose I later found out was to be able to "prove" that the station actually aired the commercials they billed for. It had a mono signal from the board in its left channel and a time code signal from WWV (IIRC) fed into its right channel. If memory serves me correctly, that machine ran at a molasses slow speed of 15/16 of a inch per second. The point was to be able to keep the number of reels needed to "archive" the day's transmissions down to 2 per day. Getting the tape wasn't much of a problem, since this station had its entire broadcast day on reel-to-reel tape, when a tape started to get a bit too worn for on air use, it got shunted to logger duty. Those cheapskates ran those tapes until the oxide was worn off.
"Witness conversation with friends son"
This reminded me of a conversation I had with the 13-year old son of a neighbour here in France. The neighbour and her husband are both not technologists (euphemism), and I was there to administer first aid to an elderly WinXP box that had been too near to too many questionable web sites. Their son is technologically aware, but clearly has no concept of adults who know anything about computers, which was annoying for me - heck, I've only owned a PC (not the same one, duh) for a dozen years longer than he's been alive... A few "Oui, je sais"s waved in his direction put him in his place, though.
Tesco today a decent DVD is €6
But Fleetwood mac Rumours is €12.99 on CD. I did buy it on LP at original release and again on CD many years ago. There are also OLD less quality CD titles promoted at Checkout for a "bargain" €17
C R A Z Y !
(1 Euro about 83 pence Sterling yesterday)
Downloaded files need backed up and entire Albums are over priced.
Buy a CD and rip it at your desired quality and you have a decent backup automatically.
BTW 33 & 1/3 RPM was released about 1929 on plastic, 16" for cinema and then 1931 on 12". But same size grooves as 78 rpm.
"Stereo" as done on 33 & 45 was demoed by EMI in 1933 or 1934.
1948 was the microgroove version. LP
1949 was the 45 rpm
Prototype Wurlitzer jukebox 1929. Common production 1934 (10, 12 or 15 off 78s)
BTW the CDs are PRESSED, not etched.
argh that's done it - flashback in quad & technicolour !
I used to get back from sea (3 to 6 months away) & head for my sister's flat in London - 1st job sort out my brother-in-law's quad so the speakers were in phase & in the right corners (12 foot squre basement 'flat' - 'Art; leave the friggin quad alone ! ' ) - only one decent record to do that with ... Dark SIde of the Moon.
Then having got the aucostics right - turn the volume waaay up; light up; grab a home brew (bro in law was a Master Brewer..) & chill out in the middleof the room ... Dark SIde - Umaguma (also in quad) a couple of Moody Blues; Clapton/Cream ......
Good quailty speakers; good acoustic environment (damp walls don't reflect much..) not much in this world gets better than that ....
I wonder if I can buy a quadrophonic record player and get a needle for it.....
you don't need a quadrophonic record player (or even a quadraphonic one) and a needle as they don't exist. The idea behind quadraphonic LPs was that the extra two channels were encoded into the exsiting stereo channels so that (1) they could be extracted, presumbly in a quadraphoic amplifier, to provide 4 channel sound or (2) could be listened to unprocessed as a normal stereo signal.
How to do it in darkness, when drunk, and sometimes under the influence of drugs*:
1. Plug in some headphones
2. Switch off the power to the turntable
3. Put the stylus as close as you could to the start of the track
4. Move the turntable back and forth by hand until you located the transition from silence to music
5. When the record on the other turntable finishes, optionally gabble something annoying into the microphone
6. Fade up the turntable with the LP on it, and switch on the power to it - with practice you will be able to position the stylus so you don't hear a horrible wind-up noise
7. Repeat until everybody goes home. If they won't go home when you want, start playing selections from your store of records you should never have bought.
*The guy in the icon seems to have rolled a decent-sized joint for himself.
Do you not have anyone on your staff, or even retired from it, that either grew up with shellac/vinyl or is currently one of the growing number of vinyl freaks and who knows something about it?
I don't think we are talking about "albums" here: what was invented in 1948 was the LP, and "albums" were just one thing that came about as a result. Playing single songs was not a hit and miss affair: the tracks were clearly marked by a gap in the dense grooves. It took a steady hand, yes, although there were/are gadgets to raise and lower the arm; a blessing to the shaky-handed!
Odd that these LPs, like their 78RPM predecessors, were recorded in "analogue." Hmmm... I wonder when digital recording was invented!
<<-- Get me my coat! ...and stick. And help me out of this chair!
Interestingly, it actually goes back to the 78 records. If you wanted to play a whole symphony on 78's, you needed several records. They were sold in boxes which were called albums.
So actually, albums pre-dated the 33 1/3 Long Playing Record Album.
If a piece of music was on 3 records, you would find that sides 1 and 6 were on one record, 2 and 5 on another and 3 and 4 on another. You piled them up on the autochanger, and played sides 1, 2 and 3, then turned the whole pile over and played 4, 5 and 6.
Actually, that was even the case with some double-LPs. "Tommy" had sides 1 and 4 on one LP, and 2 and 3 on the other - again, so that they could be played on an autochanger.
The word "album" is a carry-over from the 78 era when sets of records were sold in books which had hard covers and record sleeves for pages. So they were a bit like photograph albums. I'm not aware that 78s were sold in boxes though it's entirely possible. Box sets really came in with LPs.
Rio was a cracking player, limited to 32MB IIRC which is insane to imagine! I had the next generation 500 and loved it (a heady 64MB). Not convinced by the claim of inspiration of the iPod though, Jobs wanted to do a portable player, Rubenstein said it couldn't be done yet, until he saw Toshiba's 1.8" hard drive. It was more a combo of the PMP500's form-factor, and the Creative NOMADs capacity if I recall the presentation.
The only thing I miss (a bit) is the artwork. I owned a vinyl copy of Tusk and I was quite disappointed when I saw what came with the CD. It's a shame that's all some people will ever know. Other than that cracks and pops, lack of portability and the fact I can now stream my collection 24/7/52 across a network means I don't miss vinyl.
I wish I could also say that I appreciate the improved dynamic range but sadly most of today's record producers squander that in a pointless loudness war. I've given up on ripping CDs to a lossless format as a result and succumbed to the convenience of downloading MP3s. Maybe the quality drop masks the worst of the producer's efforts.
Time was when I chose media and equipment that enhanced the producer's work.
The loudness war is sad, since most digital player have to ability to normalise the levels if the user requires it.
What would be good is for more portable players to support 192Khz/24bit playback, since music is available in this format- and a good quality external DAC fgor a PC is relativily cheap compared to Hi-Fi components of old.
There are two or three very expensive 24bit portable audio players available, or you could use a high-end portable audio recorder for output, or you could use an iPad connected to a 24bit DAC... (and possibly Android devices too, with the USB Audio feature added to Jelly Bean... but I don't know for sure)
I have a Logitech Touch so in theory lossless digital can be better quality than a CD since there should be zero jitter. In practice I doubt my ears would tell the difference. I doubt they ever could and at 46 surely not.
Anyone else remember the vinyl single of I am The Beat by The Look? A never ending track because the groove leads back to itself at the end.
I am the Beat!
Regarding that repeating groove - was it supposed to do that? There were some oddities in vinyl pressings: I remember buying a single of "Mull of Kintyre" by Paul McCartney (don't judge me - it was a birthday present for one of the parents) which, when I checked it once I got home, had no lead-in groove. I had bought the record from a notoriously grumpy record shop owner near school (probably explaining why he was grumpy!), and thought twice before taking it back because of the crap he would undoubtedly give me. However, when I did, he very quickly looked at it and handed me a replacement disc (the UK spelling was acceptable in those days) with no sarcasm. Only later that day, when I related the tale to my more sophisticated(!) friends, did I find out that such records are like unperforated or misprinted postage stamps, and worth several times their retail price ... D'oh!
And, on the topic of the comments scratched on the singles, for some unknown reason I found the comment "I am a Panama Blanket" scratched into "Una Paloma Blanca" by Jonathan King (bought as a present for my younger sister - honest!) to be absolutely hilarious - I still get the urge to giggle out loud as I think about it now!
I think it was Monty Pythons' Paper Handerchief that had 4 groves - 2 on each side which meant some people never did hear ALL the tracks on the record; IIRC they manged just over 15 minutes per grove to give a total of 61 odd minutes actual playable time.
I think it was Monty Pythons' Paper Handerchief that had 4 groves - 2 on each side ...
ITYM Matching Tie and Handkerchief ... yes, it had two grooves on one side but only one groove on the other. Try doing that with an MP3!
Sad old git icon because ...
"...messages scratched into the vynyl matrix..."
Oh yes. It seemed back then that Bilbo was the only cutting engineer in the country. If he liked (or loathed!) an album, his comments were on every copy that went out.
For some reason, RCA albums were the only ones I remember that didn't at least have the word 'bilbo' etched in the runout, just a set of machine stamped numbers. Sign of things to come, I suppose. Now where did I leave my translucent green Greenbelt ('bilbo was there - where are ATF?') double album
When was the last time anyone bought a recording based on the artwork. (quick calculation - a CD box has about one-sixth of the area of a 12-inch. )
And what's the limit of the info you can store in the comment section of an mp3 track? a matter of a few bytes? Hardly count as extensive liner notes. (I've a feeling Queen's Night at the Opera had the lyrics on the inside of the gatefold sleeve - but it's been a while)
"And what's the limit of the info you can store in the comment section of an mp3 track? a matter of a few bytes? Hardly count as extensive liner notes."
Limit of the info in a comment (or lyrics) section is huge with ID3v2, in the region of MB without checking the details, so put what you like in there. There's also APE.
A much more recent fragment of audio history.
It's strength was the ability to record with decent quality, far better than anything on cassette, with a pocket machine.
I had a portable and a full-size machine, but I was being a late-starter music student at the time, for which they were invaluable. Sony killed the whole thing by being so restrictive with the compression protocol and digital access.
Although I'm sure it'll happen eventually, the Compact Disc is not dead yet as a medium, and reports of its demise have been exaggerated. There is still a greater selection of music available on CD than in the form of files, and of course the quality is generally better than file downloads unless the files were created losslessly. With any luck, the combination of convenience and quality that lossless files offer will win out in the end, but it's not certain at this point whether people actually care about quality enough for that to happen.
At the same time, the LP really has virtually gone away. It accounts for a tiny percentage of the current market, and while that percentage has risen significantly over recent years, a significant rise in a tiny percentage is still not very large. It's a fraction of the size of the CD market for example. Its popularity is due primarily to fashion and nostalgia, as it really isn't a very good representation of what the artist and producer intended. The same can be said of the overcompressed, over-"maximised" files and even CDs release in recent times thanks to the "loudness wars" of course, but while digital files can be created properly, the issues of the LP can never be fixed.
But that's not the point of the LP of course. As one cutting engineer put it after trying - and failing - to get a decent representation of the source material on to a disc, "Just sit back and hear what you want to hear".
That for many years after the CD appeared, it could nowhere near beat the more detailed sound quality of a mid-level hifi record deck. Even today you should spend £200+ on dedicated a CD player or get a decent outboard DAC to hear comparable sound quality to what was available already on vinyl in the 1960s.
"it could nowhere near beat the more detailed sound quality". Oh dear, an audophile using the sort of vague, undefined qualitative words like "detailed" without any form of technical definition or measurability in an area which has been thoroughly defined by Claude Shannon (and others). This is the audio version of homeopathy or aromatherapy.
Possibly the author has mixed up production quality with reproduction capability, as many CDs were poorly produced. However, that's nothing to do with the technical quality of the media and everything to do with poor techniques and some faults in some early digitisation processes.
Also, the vast majority of audio (even that committed to vinyl) is now digitally processed, albeit using higher sampling rates and bit depths than CD. However, these higher rates are only really required during the production process as the production process inevitably reduces the original information content (as with digital photography) so the higher initial resolution helps avoid these aliasing effects. However, once committed, then the differences are inaudible between CD rates and higher rates - that's unless you count maxing out the volume control in very quiet parts, when you might just get some aliasing effects; but then your ears would bleed during the louder sections.
Most likely, reported differences are down to care during the recording/production process, which vastly outweighs technical differences in the digital replay (assuming its been done competently).
Yes, but 35 years ago I remember a school trip to a "museum" of mechanical musical instruments (*) run by a complete mechanical music fanatic who had anm old warehouse/workshop full of stuff he'd colleceted and he maintained that playing music on a pianola (**) using a roll that had been recorded by the composer was giving a high degree of "fidelity" than even the most expensive turntanble/amp/speaker system
(*) was astonished to discover last year when visiting London and staying at a Hotel in Kew that as we walked to the train station we walked past a new building which turned out to be the "museum of mechanical music" or something like that and quick google revealed that this was where this collection now was ... when we had the tour 35 years ago a major part of talk we got was on how his ongoing battles with the local council who he thought had a duty to provide him with a museum building!
(**) pianola - pianos that had a mechnaism to automatically play music from a "recording" on long rolls of paper with holes etc to indicate which notes were to be played when etc
Last year I've been to a flea market, and I bought some LPs. Now the wonderful thing about those today is that they are darn cheap. You can get one for one Euros. Sometimes even 5 for 4 Euros. And there's lots of different stuff in there.
Then when you get home, you carefully pull them out of their sleeves and put them onto the turntable, curiously waiting for what's on there, as the stylus tracks the groove. That way you get to know lots of unusual music you would have never bought in the first place. You may find lots of it shit, but nevertheless you might find a new band you like... only to find out it dissolved in the 1970s. :)
...a happy 50th birthday to Compact Cassette (first introduced at the Berlin Radio Show in 1963, I believe).
We do have a decent turntable in the house, but it is mostly of interest to the wife (a collector of vinyl since the 1960s). To paraphrase someone-or-other, it is surprising how good vinyl can sound considering the limitations and compromises of the system.
I've never been taken by the vinyl sound, although am guilty of loving valve amps. I think in both cases, it is a case of finding the inherent distortions pleasing to the ear. Euphonic colourations, I believe they're called.
Recently read in Hi-fi News about an album that had been digitally recorded, mixed and mastered, but then cut as a vinyl disc before being re-digitised and released as a CD. Of course, it was praised for having a 'nice, warm analogue sound'. I'd always maintained 'vinyl fans' were being seduced by the colourations of the system. It just gets on my moobs when they tell me that the 12" record is the One True Way.
Sorry, rambling. Beer o' clock came early at Cornholio Towers today.
I have read the fine article, and all the comments up to now, but...
No mention of 8 track tapes?
The format lasted from the late sixties until its last gasp in the mid(?) nineties, and it's probable that more than a few Reg readers were conceived while an 8 track played in the background.
Sure, the sound quality was aweful, and the players had the nasty habit of eating them, but for a generation, the darned things were in every car and truck driven by a teen!
And yet they get no mention here...
The less said about those abominations, the better.
We had one in the works Simca van in the late 70s, and it ate tapes at an alarming rate. That and the constant track switching, frequently in the middle of a song. WTF! And you couldn't record on them.
We switched to the radio when it had eaten all my mate's cartridges...
CDs still have some artwork capability if the insert folds out. Boychoirs often sell CDs at live performance venues - specifically for the audience to get them autographed at the end. You need fold out artwork to accommodate the doodles of 20 singers plus DoM and musicians/technicians. As boychoirs are a conveyor belt of maturing singers then the autographs are likely to be a set that is unique to that concert.
this article reminds me of that seen in Woody Allen's Sleeper when the scientists from the future are quizzing woody on 20th century artefacts and their knowledge of history is slightly mixed up.
I had a sharp vinyl player, can't really call it a turntable because there was no table part, the vinyl went in vertically and there were two needles. At the end of side one the record direction was reversed and the second needle played the other side.
A friend had a similar device but the records were horizontal and a single needle played the top side then travelled round the edge of the disc and played the second side from below.
ELP has the new LT-500 model laser player, the perfect thing for zero wear on your old 33.5RPM discs/disks, and the perfect instrument to play noise caused by dust. Only $8,000 - a bargain.
And you will need a wet LP cleaner, with a vacuum system, to clean the records - only $140!
No needle was as good as this.
Goldmark, who was hired by CBS in 1936 as its chief TV engineer, enjoyed classical music and was frustrated with having to flip the records over every few minutes. He set about solving the problem for himself and thus we have (had) the long playing record. His target length was for the record to play long enough to encompass an entire symphony on one record. He also moved the disk from shellac to vinyl, thus making it much less breakable (although not as easy to glue back together...) Interestingly, Sony president Norio Ohga had a similar motivation for the development of the CD, setting its length so that it would encompass Beethoven's 9th in its entirety.
I suddenly feel like I'm a billion years old. I used to record my masters to a Revox B77 two track reel to reel, and cart the tape to a cutting room with vast valve compressors hand made by Massenburg and Drawmer. They would then run my master through the valvey goodness to warm it up and stop it bursting the grooves on the acetates with nasty spikes. I think I topped out at 17 minutes on one side of a 12" plate, and 12 minutes on a 10". The acetate would then be mercilessly played to death in sweaty clubs on gorgeous Nakamichi and Technics dd turntables with stylii that cost as much as a fancy ipod. Drum n bass producers still create limited runs of vinyl for the analogue beatmixers to play with, but the master will be straight from disk. The valve compressors are still used to warm up the digital before it gets to the lathe.
I also remember burning 2 seconds of 8bit sample onto 32 kb EEproms with Oberheim and Simmons prommers, prior to the introduction of quickdisks. And worse...I remember those music magazine 7" cover discs that really were floppy. Best listened to on a mono Garrard or Dansette with the lid closed.
I'm "lucky" enough to do occasional digital restoration work on beat up shellac and vinyl recordings. The most obvious difference with pre-cd era reproduction is the vast dynamic range. There wasn't much room for loudness wars if a whole jazz band were sharing two microphones that were cutting directly to disc. I choose not to adjust the original dynamics, but I do try to drop the noise floor a bit to the point where I can hear a squeaky drum pedal and the occasional toe tapping episode.. There's also a ton of pisstaking, whooping, and hollering going on away from the mics on old jump jive dance tunes. In the pre-psychoacoustic spectrum analysis and deadly soundproofing days, the room and mic placement contributed massively to the character of the sound.
What we have today is mostly overcompressed dynamic range, maximised loudness, and tinittis on demand.
I'm wary of buying digitally remastered CD reissues of vintage material because the cheap way of doing it is to just normalise the hell out of everything with a preset plugin, and hope that nobody cares enough to raise a stink.
Actually, vinyl sucked. Yes, it's analogue (good) and it has a wide dynamic range (good) but add the slightest dust contamination, and it all goes to hell. And it wears out. And lots of them were very poorly pressed, so they would never sound good even on a £100,000 system.
Laser turntables (which predate the CD) are interesting because you can play LPs without wearing them out and also get error correction for scratches and dust. This isn't a pure analogue system, of course, but it's pretty good.
Personally I find CDs just fine. When I first got a CD player I took it round a friend's house and we played some of the same albums (The Stone Roses was one of them) on his Linn turntable and on my Philips CD610 (still going strong 23 years later), through the same high quality amp and speakers. They sounded different; the CD player gave a warmer sound, possibly because of the absence of any mechanical stylus noise, but we agreed that neither was "better" than the other. I would have been 21 at the time, with more high-frequency hearing range than now.
128k MP3 though, I can't cope with. When it gets to 256k, it's fine.
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