What if digital had never happened

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Giacomo Belbo, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    That means high res and SACD would be the worst offenders. This would also exclude any digital recordings that were sourced from analog.
  2. Not to mention the fact that I've read the exact opposite contention. IIRC, someone did a study where they found that listeners who were listening to recordings with extended high frequency response were actually more relaxed. So, once again, I'm glad we cleared that up here at the Steve Hoffman Music Forum. Be sure to tip your servers.

    P.S. I'm inclined to believe Bob Katz's theory that the digital PCM with extended frequency response doesn't need such aggressive filtering and that can help the sound in the audible range.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    Sid Hartha likes this.
  3. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    I was merely expressing the logic, not identifying with theory.
  4. Sid Hartha

    Sid Hartha Well-Known Member

    The Midwest
    Understood. I was just trying to follow this logic to its conclusion.

    My theory: One of the earliest symptoms of age-related hearing loss is a pronounced sensitivity of high frequencies at moderate to high levels. It could be that the clinical accuracy that digital reproduction provides is actually displeasing to people who are beginning to experience such hearing issues.
    The good news: Once this early stage of hearing loss is over, the listener loses all perception of high frequencies... so everything sounds equally good. No more fatigue!
  5. PlushFieldHarpy

    PlushFieldHarpy Forum Resident

    It's pretty obvious that beginning in the 80s there was an increasing lack of value put on artistry. Heck, just avoiding those bloated 70 min. albums of the 90s would have done wonders all around.

    "Had the major record labels not p**sed away the 1980s and 1990s by reselling their massively more profitable (zero recording costs) back catalogs on CD at artificially high prices that ignored the usual price-lowering factors of ease of manufacturing and far lower volumes of returns for defects, might they have developed a lot more new talent? In short: Would music now be better off had digital never happened?"
    Read more at What If Digital Had Never Happened?
  6. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Music is created in spite of the industry. What's sad is that there was a lot of money available from the labels in the '80s to seed development of new artists. That business model is now gone. I'm not suggesting that the industry had no part in its own demise but when people were bitching about being forced to buy whole albums to get a single track, and advocated file "sharing" as an alternative to the established system, they signed the death warrant for the major labels. Now, artists can't get a dime unless they work the road. And, for most of them, it's still a pittance. The issues are never entirely black and white. I dealt with some folks who could have been selling widgets, and others who were passionate about the music, even though they were suits.
    nosliw likes this.
  7. nosliw

    nosliw Forum Resident

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    His other articles whinging and crying about digital killing music certainly didn't help either... :crazy:

    Will digital audio ultimately cause the music business' demise?
    When the Music's Over

    And his claims that lossless audio is not the same as WAV files or a regular music CD:

    Does lossless audio guarantee good sound?
  8. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    SF East Bay, CA
    Some of the themes in Guttenberg's article appear regularly on audiophile forums. Put them all together and they sound absurd.

    I'm sure that Guttenberg will be back writing enthusiastic reviews of portable music players, headphone amps and ear buds.

    It does remind me how little I have in common with luddite audiophiles.
  9. SquishySounds

    SquishySounds Definitely not two dogs in a people costume.

    New York
    Maybe it's time to switch hobbies to wristwatches.

    "Quartz works really well. And it's cheap"
    "But history! But tradition! But In-house- manufacturing!"
    "Seiko grows their own quartz crystals and still sells a watch for $9"
    "Shut up! I'm not listening lalalalalalalalalaGenevaStripeslalalalalala"
    Tim Müller and Agitater like this.
  10. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979 Thread Starter

    Admittedly there is nothing wrong about being a purist: personally I have only respect for people that have passion and take an absolute view of the world - we all have our vices. Having said that I believe there is no reason to try to prove that what turns you personally on is actually the better option. I might like blondes but there is no way I can prove that they are better than brunettes.
  11. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    SF East Bay, CA
    I have no interest in 1st world hobbies whose real purpose is conspicuous consumption. If others want to indulge in private, that's OK.

    My watch is an analog dial Casio. It replaced a digital display Casio when that watch's band broke.
  12. Dude111

    Dude111 An Awesome Dude

    Ahhhhh it would have been grand!!!
  13. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979 Thread Starter

    Ways to avoid facing existential issues.
  14. mdent

    mdent Forum Resident

    New England
    Generally speaking, file sharing and streaming has had a huge impact on re-shaping the music industry. In recent years Joe Walsh and Steve Lukather made some valid rants on the topic.

    The bulk of future of music recording/production will be done in home studios.
    Giacomo Belbo likes this.
  15. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    SF East Bay, CA
  16. Aura

    Aura Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    Extrapolating from the 'simulation hypothesis (aka the matrix)' via Philip K. Dick in 1977 and more recently and regularly debated by theoretical physists with titans of industry like Elon Musk occassionally weighing in, then there is no analog, only vintage and modern digital. In that case, I believe the vintage simulation coders were perhaps the most creative, and I tend to prefer their implementation for recorded playback.

    Giacomo Belbo likes this.
  17. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    You sure will have fun trying though.
    And, that's where the hobby/pursuit goes astray.
    When the fun goes out of it.
    It's one thing for somebody designing equipment or testing it to go full nerd, but, at the end of the day, most of us are consumers of end products- both hardware and "software" (I really hate referring to records as 'software.'). We have little control over the sound of the material, the mix, the production and try our best, within our means and level of interest, to get something that sounds "good." (whatever that means to you).
    I've lost faith in absolutes. I've heard so many different iterations of 'good sound,' from restored transcriptions and 78s to kilobuck systems that I'd rather listen than argue.
    The digital v analog debate is over for me-- I love analog but accept, and will soon more fully embrace, digital as yet another medium to get more music into my home.
    Do I care about this stuff? Absolutely.
    But, there is only so much any one person has time to assimilate.
    Do the folks who mix, record and master debate the same issues? Probably. But, they have a lot more control over the end product than we do, as end users. The best we can do, I think, is to put together systems that work well in a given room, for a given budget and steer clear of broad brush pronouncements and predictions about the future. According to the popular press in the '60s, we'd all be living like the Jetsons by now.
    Giacomo Belbo likes this.
  18. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Really? And how do you think discussions on this forum about all manner of high end audio gear are regarded by people without the disposable income to participate in the actual purchase of such gear? I'm sure some of them think of the specific threads as your so-called "1st world hobbies", but that sort of description is pointlessly derogatory.

    In fact, this forum and the wristwatch forums are active with a percentage of people who own high-priced gear, a percentage of people who own mid-priced gear, and a percentage of budget-priced gear. Not being able to afford certain audio gear or wristwatches does not constitute a reason to avoid participating in positive and productive discussions about them. In part at least, that's precisely what online discussion forums are about - the facelessness of online discussion forums is highly democratizing in that regard. Score a point for the Internet.

    I happen to regard boutique wristwatch makers as one of the last bastions of the highest quality, fine craftsmanship. Some of the high-end, large makers fall into that category as well. The chase for a particular model in a particular metal from a particular year or run, containing a particular calibre, with a particular dial, is both interesting and satisfying. I think your casually levelled phrase "conspicuous consumption" is inappropriate, and has no place in a forum in which audio gear ranging into the thousands and thousands of dollars for a single piece of kit is discussed from time to time without rancor or jealousy or derogatory reference.
    Bill Hart likes this.
  19. RiCat

    RiCat Forum Resident

    CT, USA
    If there was no digital there would be no computer technology as we know it, most folks would still be using their fingers to count and do simple math, no cellular.....on and on. Applying the technology to audio is (remember besides our hobby digital manipulation of sounds is applied in many other fields) just a minor offshoot of the knowledge. The momentum in audio was already moving towards smaller and denser storage with portability(reel-reel>8tracks>cassettes; 78's>45's>LP's and others). Digital audio has extended the appreciation of music to way more of the worlds population that analogue ever could.
    Robert C, Grant and nosliw like this.
  20. Steve G

    Steve G Forum Resident

    los angeles
    wait, I used to know Neal Sugarman and I have exchanged a few emails with Steve over the years and these are pretty cool people. I'm glad they are passionate about sound and it's not hurting anybody
    Giacomo Belbo likes this.
  21. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    SF East Bay, CA
    I've been interested in audio for more than 50 years because I enjoy listening to music. Good audio gear enhances my enjoyment of music. It has a purpose. When acquiring audio gear goes beyond that purpose and is a subject for bragging I think it is conspicuous consumption. That's not for me.

    I said "I have no interest in 1st world hobbies whose real purpose is conspicuous consumption" in response a suggestion that switch hobbies to wristwatches. I don't see any purpose to fancy wristwatches. It is exactly the sort of hobby that I would avoid like the plague. It would be conspicuous consumption for me.

    If collecting boutique watches is your hobby, that's your choice.
  22. Jim N.

    Jim N. Forum Resident

    So Cal
    Most artists back catalog would be missing. How many remember just how many albums were out of print by the early 80's? I still remember the day in 1982 when I found an import pressing of Love's "Da Capo" simply because it had been out of print domestically for over a decade. Yeah, you had the used record stores and may well have been better off there anyway given how badly the US pressing had gotten by that time. Way too many paper thin, noisy, warped, off-center with bleed through. I was spending a small fortune on Japanese pressings. Without the digital internet you were limited in your access to better quality LP's simply by where you happened to live.

    I have nothing against analog LP's. I grew up on them and loved them greatly for many years. The industry just kept giving me crappier product (it's as if they were following the US auto makers path of intentionally lessening product quality). I was taping most LP's anyway for convenience at home and on the road.

    I do often feel the pull of nostalgia to go back but every time I attend an audio show I "hear" no reason to do so. I never had a problem with any kind of listening fatigue until the loudness war. I can sit in my recliner and use the remote for my player with my eyes closed. If I want to listen to "Deacon Blues" ten times in a row all it takes is tapping one finger. Talk about "getting in to the music"!. When I was making DVD-A's I could get a 2 1/2 hours of up-rezed 24/96 on a single disk.

    I can't see where life would be better without it. Glad to see analog LP's back even though I have no use for them. In many ways digital reinvigorated my passion for listening to music. I love having hundreds of songs on a usb stick in my car now. Convenience plus good sound (better than my old custom car cassette rigs of old).

    I utterly fail to see how the lack of digital would have led to better analog LP's. The trend was in the exact opposite direction before digital reached the mainstream.
    Robert C, nosliw, lonelysea and 2 others like this.
  23. loudinny

    loudinny Active Member

    Phew quite a few snarky ass comments being spewed over really not much....

    Ya like digital go for it, I prefer vinyl have since the late 60's. I have a nice rig & I've always found the vinyl experience relaxing.

    Like I said for me digital has its place and has allowed music to become very portable in large volumes for me, that's great and convenient.

    I just don't prefer it..

    BTW listeners fatigue is real just because some don't experience it doesn't mean it doesn't exist!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  24. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    The other advantage- and why I am finally going into it, what?-more than 30 years after the commercial introduction of the CD-- is that a lot of older obscure records are now astronomically priced and there were some which were legitimated licensed for Redbook release at one point. So it's pretty much a question of the old CD or nada. (Some of the vinyl reissues are "unofficial" and you know what that means).
    I'm a vinyl guy too, and had a dismal view of commercial CD SQ, but I think it has improved to the point where it is good, sometimes better than good. I don't want to provoke a digital v analog or LP v CD (or other more modern digital format debate). My point is just as it has it's place for you in portability, it has a place in my home. I get the fatigue thing-- I heard that early on, despite the promise. As somebody who has devoted a lot of time, money and resources to extracting everything I can out of the grooves, I also need access to digital to get some of this material. It's sort of an adventure for me-- as a late adopter when the format (at least CD) is now going by the boards too.
    loudinny likes this.
  25. Uri Cohen

    Uri Cohen Forum Resident

    Jacksonville, FL
    Without digital technology wouldn't had gone far as it did. Without CDs we would still be using floppies. Without digital we wouldn't have all these advances in electronics (we still need digital for all data on our phones and video games).
    caupina likes this.

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