Sunday, January 04, 2009

The rise of digital recordings

Pliable, who worked for EMI back when EMI was a record company, has a fascinating post about the advent of digital recordings.

I knew that Willi Boskovsky's 1979 Neujahrskonzert was the first major-label (i.e., European) digital record, but I didn't know much about why that delightful concert was the first choice. I certainly didn't know about EMI's damage-control. I had always assumed that digital recordings just sort of happened, so it really is intriguing to learn a little bit about the competition and the circumstances surrounding digital recordings.

Of course, I can't say I have the experience to comment with any great authority on the quality of those early records. I'll take Pliable's review of the Boskovsky Neujahrskonzert on faith. In my experience, the perfect signifier for the whole affair comes with the reissue of Glenn Gould's 1981 Goldberg Variations. Originally done as a digital recording, when it came time to remaster the set, Sony went back to the analogue tapes. A lot of those early digital recordings were too shiny, too slick, and not too great on the ears.

Good engineering, now as then, overcame a lot of the problems that digital presented, but -- in the days of spot-miking and already-slick sound -- there were a lot of crappy-sounding records made, digital or not. Well-recorded analogue tapes sound great, even on CDs, as Wilma Cozart Fine's loving remasters of the Mercury Living Presence series and the RCA Living Stereo reissues (either project) can attest. Those records were fifteen or twenty years old, in many cases, when digital appeared. They still sound better than those early digital records.

It is amazing to think that, save for half-hearted stabs toward HDCD and SACD, the technology for recording most classical records burst into the major labels in 1979 (1976 if you count American labels). Analogue recording technology has been around for a long time and was around for a long time when digital appeared, but look at video. In my lifetime, Betamax, VHS, and DVD all rose and fell. Blu-Ray looks like it's the new format, replacing DVD in ten or fifteen years. There has not been a viable contender to the CD (as far as hardcopy music media goes, which is to say, other than the MP3) or digital recording since the introductions of both. One would think, given the essential requirement of accurate reproduction of sound that serious music presents, that wouldn't be the case. One would be wrong, though.

Since classical music is in some turmoil right now, I doubt we'll see much happen any time soon. Interesting reading from Pliable, however, and something about which one should think.


At 10:32 AM, Blogger Karl Henning said...

I live for this turmoil.


At 3:17 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

I mean the financial turmoil, and the turmoil affecting traditional media outlets (like record companies, record stores, and the like).

I didn't know there was "real" turmoil.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous price per head call center said...

This blog is an exact representation of skills. I appreciate the blogger for posting the most excellent thought.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger 柯云 said...

oakley sunglasses
coach outlet
michael kors outlet online sale
abercrombie outlet
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors outlet online
canada goose
louboutin femme
uggs outlet
michael kors outlet
nike trainers sale
uggs outlet
cheap rolex watches
michael kors outlet online
ugg outlet
north face
fitflop clearance
discount jordans
ugg australia
uggs on sale
beats by dre
celine handbags
coach outlet
pandora jewelry
oakley store
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet clearance
hollister outlet
air jordans
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
kevin durant shoes
fake oakley sunglasses
jordan 11 concord
jordan concords
gucci outlet
coach outlet
hollister kids
ugg boots on sale

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

michael kors canada
true religion jeans
michael kors
louis vuitton outlet
true religion jeans
ray ban sunglasses
lebron james shoes
oakley sunglasses
nike roshe flyknit
michael kors outlet
jordan retro 3
timberland boots
louis vuitton handbags
coach outlet
mont blanc
asics outlet
nike blazers
air jordans
michael kors outlet
kate spade
nike air huarache
replica watches
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors purses
adidas trainers
oakley vault
nike uk
louis vuitton outlet
toms shoes
oakley sunglasses
timberland boots
michael kors handbags
nike outlet

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


swarovski outlet
alife clothing
longchamp outlet
michael kors outlet online
polo ralph lauren
cheap jordans
true religion jeans
givenchy jewelry
canada goose outlet
canada goose jackets

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


air max uk
asics shoes
ray ban sunglasses
canada goose outlet
golden state warriors jerseys
polo outlet
oakley sunglasses
ubiq shoes
undefeated clothing
true religion jeans

At 4:16 AM, Blogger te12 said...

tory burch outlet
pandora charms sale clearance
swarovski crystal
oakley sunglasses
cheap jordans
oakley sunglasses
isabel marant shoes
ralph lauren pas cher
ralph lauren polo shirts
adidas outlet

At 11:35 PM, Blogger yanmaneee said...

kd shoes
coach outlet
michael jordan shoes
adidas yeezy
air max 270
michael kors outlet online
golden goose sneakers
lebron 16
kd shoes

At 12:44 AM, Blogger yanmaneee said...

off white clothing
chrome hearts online store
bape hoodie

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Bucketlist Becky said...

Thanks for tthis


Post a Comment

<< Home