Sunday, February 19, 2017


EVOLUTION OF SOUND - The first recorded music technology was the phonograph which worked by rotating engraved wax cylinders. It ran on a hand crank system and didn’t need electricity, pulling faint music through a needle into the horn. The next generation was a hand cranked Victrola which played flat records that could be printed and mass produced. Broadcast radio and the Electrola were next, run on electrical power, each coming onto the market around the same time. Music volume was amplified. Vinyl records and transistors improved electric record players as did the LP (long playing) album format. The compact audio cassette tape could also store data in early microcomputers. It was wound between two miniature spools, held inside a protective plastic shell and once flipped, it played the other side. For the first time music was portable. Options included a boombox, Walkman and car audio systems played through a console to listen while driving. The digital compact disk (CD) succeeded the analog gramophone because it didn’t have background noise. And of course it was smaller. Then, the hard drive rendered other physical storage mediums obsolete. While the MP3 file loses some of the sound richness--of the vinyl record or CD audio--right now it’s the prevailing 21st century format. The iPod and iTunes gave consumers anywhere access on portable devices, a user friendly experience and the bonus of affordability. With the popularity of Netflix and YouTube, streaming media (Pandora, Prime, Spotify) now eliminates the need for physical media altogether. What will be the next step in the evolution of sound?