I grew up in the 80s and in my day (that is a phrase that automatically makes you feel old) everything audio was Hi-Fi. We even called the stereo stacking system in our lounge our “Hi-Fi”. But as technology progressed the onus bizarrely changed from the sound quality to physical size with everyone wanting more from a smaller playback unit.
CDs were the start of the change with a move from analogue to digital format necessitating the need to remove information from the sound to fit everything onto the little shiny disc. Then mini-disc followed suit removing even more information to fit your favourite tunes in even smaller places and finally all this was superceded by the mass invasion of mp3s which now allow you to fit 16gb onto a hardware player smaller than a mini-disc!
This is all very impressive when you think of how quickly we’ve managed to progress technologically in the last 30 years but it seems strangely paradoxical that in order for the technology to advance the end product has to suffer.
However, this is looking to change according to an article on USA Today website. Due to artists and studios pushing to get better audio quality in their recordings using systems like Chris Estes’ CLASP technology there has to be a better way for playback otherwise this care and attention will all be in vain.
Pat McMakin, director of operations at Ocean Way Studios on Music Row, said:
“The irony is that we’ve been making better- and better-sounding records in the studio, but the technology has been dumbing them down for years. All of us —the engineers, the artists, the musicians — put a lot of heart, a lot of time, a lot of care into making music. For us to hear the same piece of music on an MP3 or radio sounds disheartening”
Vinyl still offers a true reflection of the recording because it isn’t compressed in any way but in the digital arena Blu-ray offers the largest space. The only issue with this is audio-only Blu-ray hasn’t really taken off yet and it is about twice the price of other mediums.
Klaus Heymann, classical music label Naxos president and founder stated:
“We are trying very hard to get other labels on board. Some who are not as financially strong as us don’t want to spend money on something that’s not yet a sure thing. But we think it will be because we’re seeing more people buy surround-sound TV systems, and we think consumers are going to understand that equipment is not only good for their video, it’s good for audio.”
He also predicts that a proliferation of Internet-ready televisions in the near future probably will make listening to music on computers a short-lived phenomenon. Increasing Internet bandwidth to allow for bigger files that capture more sound information to stream or download also is critical. That would allow for bigger digital files — a step that a handful of recording label executives also want to see.
This is great news for musicians, producers and audiophiles alike.