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High fidelity is here to stay, or so we thought.

After reading chapter 10, I couldn’t help but be reminded of of the format wars that seem to regurgitate every ten years or so, whether it is new audio formats or video or even E-readers, which sooner or later the wars are decided by the consumers. But unlike elections, companies who spend the most money in promoting their products don’t always win. Consumers ultimately want products that are non obtrusive, convenient, and it must be able to fit in people’s lifestyles. That’s the reason why why people chose disc formats over cylinders in the beginning of the records history. Later on when when the fidelity became improved people didn’t realize how important fidelity became one the main reasons to switch formats once again. Also purchasing high quality receivers became the norm as the listeners became older and HiFi’s became the norm in the 70’s and the eighties.

Although tape recordings became the norm in the late sixties, it wasn’t until the late seventies early-eighties that they became really popular in the eighties when people preferred them over LP’s. In the early eighties¬† SONY introduced the Walkman and portability became the winner of the format wars again. But this time fidelity took a back seat because tape cassettes were notoriously noisy due to the contact of the tape’s contact with the head of the player. Their were attempts to reduce this noise with the introduction of DOLBY B & C noise reduction but the only people who would use this were usually audiophiles. Later on equalizers were included with Walkmans but this usually meant lowering the treble to mask the hissing and that resulted in muddying the sound.

SONY and Phillips introduced the Compact Disc or, CD format, to replace the cassette tape as a more of a high fidelity format and eliminating the tape hiss due to the fact that the only contact is a laser light reading the grooves in the CD, like an LP player, but without the physical contact of a needle touching the plate itself. Also the quality of sound is now 16 bit 44,000 Khz quality meaning the fidelity surpasses the tape and LP format combined. All in a small disc that is portable and more durable that tape. But just because its durable, this just mean it wasn’t fragile since they are prone to scratching and dust can interrupt the flow of laser light hitting its target. Also earlier portable disc player were susceptible to skipping if you weren’t careful with the¬† CD players. This was sort of rectified with the introduction of built in memory in which some of the song was stored in the internal RAM chip’s and if the disc player was shaken, a few seconds of music were played of the RAM and continued after the the shaken had stopped to have an uninterrupted flow of music.

This gets to my final point, in the nineties, a format was introduced in which a song could be compressed to a smaller format while losing some fidelity but making the song file much smaller. And when computers became more affordable for the masses to afford coupled with the introduction of high speed Internet, it was just a matter of time when song sharing became the norm and the lower quality of music became accepted as the norm as well.

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~ by Nelson Torres on October 16, 2010.

2 Responses to “High fidelity is here to stay, or so we thought.”

  1. I’m glad that you also picked up the same vibes of the recent past as I did when reading this article. I actually remember having those recording cassette players to listen to music and actually growing up through the years watching the formats change and having to toss away the older medium. Those pictures definitely show how people want more sleeker designs and more compact contraptions that would fit into their lives a lot less obtrusively.

  2. In exactly the same way as the Apartheid Afrikaaner government murdered black south Africans. They too are also murderers and they too should have been sent to Robben Island for life. These black people were murdered for thier beliefs.
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