What if digital had never happened

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

  1. What if digital never happened ?

    I'd be a lot richer. :tiphat:
  2. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Well, there weren't too many choices back in the 60s!:D

    Agree 100%!
    loudinny likes this.
  3. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    I think that if the CD had failed, the companies would have kept trying at it.

    If digital had never happened, we would never have gotten into space exploration.
    nosliw likes this.
  4. Claude Benshaul

    Claude Benshaul Forum Resident

    The irony of someone using the very same tools that were born from the digital revolution in order to publish an article bemoaning the loss of an all analog area which didn't really exist in the 80's, is almost equal to its selective memory that chose to forget that the CD revolution happened within 3-5 years because it was driven by music lovers who where fed up with LP problems.
  5. Absolutely. If the CD had failed there would have been a different digital format to take its place. It would be inevitable.

    Once Shannon and Nyquist and other mathematicians started exploring and discovering what would become the basics for digital audio theory way back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, digital audio became an inevitable result. They didn't know it at the time. But there it was.

    Similarly, mathematicians sometime in the future will discover some theory that leads to the next evolution in audio. They won't know it at the time as they're discovering that new math. But there it will be. Maybe it will be based on quantum theories? It will be something that we can't comprehend right now. But there it will be.

    A more useful question to ask would be "What if audiophiles hadn't been lied to about the transition to digital audio?". Cause digital audio was going to happen. No use wondering what the world would be like if it hadn't happened. The more useful question to ask is how do you transition from an audio technology like analog where we already knew how to do very good sound to a new technology like digital where theory says the sound is better, but technology is not yet able to actually produce that better sound. How do you do that transition without lying to the audiophiles that the new tech has better sound? Cause audiophile were absolutely lied to during the transition from analog to digital. I'm still bitter about being lied to that by Telarc and similar digital recordings from the late 70s and the 80s were better than analog. I believed the audio press at the time. Didn't have the ears and listening experience to understand the audio press and industry were lying to me at the time. I understand now. And I'm bitter about it. I was lied to. The transition to digital was full of lies about good sound, and those lies set good sound back by about 20 years. For 20 years we had recordings poorly done because of those lies. For 20 years we had people thinking they had good sound when they didn't. 20 years lost because of those lies. How do we avoid that with the next transition in technology that happens in audio? A transition like that is inevitable sometime in the future. How do we make sure that the audiophiles in the future aren't subjected to 20 years of bad sound during that transition like we were during the transition from analog to digital?
    Encore likes this.
  6. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    I'm hardly the one to defend early digital but it was a mass market format (as all of these things are if they are successful). I think for the average person, it probably was better. No more fiddling with a turntable, records, clicks, skips, whatever. Sound Q? Way down on the list compared to ease of use, convenience, no apparent glitches in playback, etc. Otherwise, why would MP3 be perfectly acceptable for casual listening?
    There are a lot of moving parts, aside from the technology, to getting all the factions of an industry "on board" for a format, from hardware, to software, to patent owners, etc. I also don't know enough about the early development of the format to know if there was something better they could have offered, but decided to downgrade it for reasons of cost, complexity or compatibility. There's also vested interests at stake.
    Some parts of the industry may have a favored technology and not want to get on board with someone else. Remember the debacle over HD v Blu Ray in the early higher rez DVD market?
  7. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    Good point, but to be far, the vast majority of people were playing records on anything raging from very average - to total and utter junk. Even the average tables were often not set up right, people didnt bother to replace stylus' etc etc. The format has its flaws, but more so the garbage people often used to try and play it.
    nosliw and Grant like this.
  8. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    it would NOT be a better place in music...digital lower the bridge over the moat.
  9. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    I'd have more space for other things, other than that, not a real big deal for me.

    Probably miss it in the car though, as I never was real happy with even the best car cassette decks, and now FM radio is worse than ever for music programming, I can't find any "oldies" on FM like early 1960's down to the 1950's on the FM dial here in fringe Milwaukee area, so I have a whole spindle of hit's CD's I've burned for in car use. If I ever buy another vehicle though it most likely won't have a CD player. I miss my 5 disc in-dash changer from my last car, but this stock Pioneer single CD has a great speaker system all things considered.
  10. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    we'd never know the difference.: )
    Giacomo Belbo likes this.
  11. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying Sparkling Crystal Clear Digital

    We are all so serious about this subject. I know when I first began listening to CDs, they always sounded better when I was sitting in my den with a roaring fire going. I don't know what it was about that darn fire, but that digital music always sounded better with that fire going strong. Since I moved where there is no fireplace it's just not been the same when I put some of those old CD's on, until I found a way to replicate my roaring fire, now I am totally back to normal, I put my CD on along with this CD normalizing vinyl, and all is well! This will help anyone with CD listener fatigue, especially the 25 kHz kind, which is the worst. Just put this on while listening to your CD and you will experience total relaxation. When you put on the old Telarc Soundstream digital 1812 Overture CD, turn that normalizer up two notches! :uhhuh:

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  12. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Speaking for myself, I was not fed up with analog. My records played beautifully, and mostly without IGD with my 0.2 x 0.7 mil elliptical. But when the CD was first advertised to hit the market, I couldn't wait to get my hands these jewels of technology. It wasn't dissatisfaction, it was more the curiosity and hyper-ads about how good they were going to be. My first dozen or so CD's were from a catalog of scarcely 200 titles, and what a disappointment. The early players, the DAC's and mastering were not nearly as good as advertised. Sure, the noise floor was low. The sound wasn't good, lacked depth and ambiance, dullish during soft passages, shrill louder passages. No amount of bass or treble adjustment could correct it. So guess what? I went back to listening to my records. I sold my early CD collection, held on the player until about 1987, when again I purchased a few CD's. The second round was better, then again with a new Sony player.

    Not all audiophiles were fed up with records. They were curious. The new format was fiercely promoted, every corner of the world knew the next wave of the future. The 80's decade was all about the future, and great expectations!
    timind, Metralla and nosliw like this.
  13. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    I think it's also time we stop thinking of our ears being the only way our body absorbs vibration.
    Grant likes this.
  14. Tim Müller

    Tim Müller Forum Resident

    Digital saved the music industry and the hi-fi industry at the time.

    Early 80s was the time of a very sudden decline of the disco music boom.
    There were large overstocks of albums, and not yet a new fashion in music, no new music genre on the rise.
    If there was no CD, a number of record companies had collapsed by mid to end of 80s.

    Studio costs still would be high, manufacturing costs as well. With declining sales, revenue would decline.

    With the CD, record companies could sell all their backcatalog again. On a media that would equal the sound quality of the master tape that was used to pre-master the CD. That created revenue.

    Hi-fi companies could sell the new CD players. They also could sell new speakers and amps with the slogan "digital ready" and "sound close to the CD".

    Recording in the first or second decade of the digital era still was either analog. Or, it was onto multitrack open reel digital recorders. Somewhat similar as the analog tape decks.
    Mixing was done on analog mixing desks, just like analog. Even editing could be done by mechanical cutting and splicing of digital open reel tape.
    Had we no CD, record companies would struggle to survive with analog LPs during the 80s. Recording and production budgets would be reduced, forcing artists to record quicker, spend less time in the studio.
    With less production budget, recording studios would have less revenue, and some be forced to close.

    During the late 90s, early 2000s, ProTools and all-digital PC based production became the standard. Tape-less studios. Only a few years later, everybody could have studio gear (microphones, audio-interface, PC with DAW software) in their homes, for relatively very little money.
    With a good sounding room, everybody could make studio grade recordings, provided they had the knowledge and experience... But the gear was there.
    That offered "democracy" for music production, as everybody could do it. You won't need the backing of a record company to pay the studio budget.
    Now, professional studios are under pressure.
    But, that pressure would have been there even earlier, if we had no CD during the 80s.

    Best regards
    Litejazz53, nosliw and Grant like this.
  15. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    SF East Bay, CA
    Some of the posts about how bad early digital recordings were led me to think of some recordings from the 1980s that I really liked.

    Mozart / PC 14 / Bilson / Gardiner / English Baroque Soloists - 1984

    Mozart / PC 22 / Bilson / Gardiner / English Baroque Soloists - 1988

    Haydn / Symphony no. 86 / Bruggen / Orchestra of the 18th Century - 1989

    All those performances are favorites and the recording doesn't in any way diminish my pleasure in listening to them.
    Robert C and Litejazz53 like this.
  16. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    I first want to congratulate you on your hearing, a blessing to be sure. Mine is nearly to 14 kHz, also pretty darn good! We should never take our hearing for granted. In my opinion, the hearing loss risks are high in public places, loud exhaust pipes (Harley) slamming pallets late nights in grocery stores, screaching subway brakes, all at dangerously high dB levels.

    From here it all goes downhill agitator :shrug:

    Of course it was. The 8 track wasn't as big as records. Walk into any department store during the good ol' 70's, stereo consoles had 'em. We still find them in droves on ebay, table top models, all in one receivers with the 8 track, Zenith, Capehart, Wards Airline, you name it, imported directly from Japan with your company logo as per order. The audiophile circle is not mainstream, nothing audiophile is.

    The cassette was not originally designed to approximate reel to reel. It was for voice dictation, a frequency response scarcely to 6 kHz. As tape formulation improved, cassette became a viable music format. During the early to mid 70's cassette was still quite awful, worse than the 8 track. As tape formulation improved to higher density CrO2, and tape heads manufactured to narrower gaps, by 1979 the cassette finally sounded decent. Only after we went to metal, the introduction of the Nakamichi Dragon, the entire Nakamichi line with Sendust heads, top of the line Pioneer decks, now we have 7.5 ips reel to reel. It evolved.

    Cassette put more than a dent in LP sales, but at no loss to the record labels as they're lower cost to produce. By the late 80's cassette sales soared (I have not looked this up, just from personal experience, dept store shelves lined with them) By the early 90's the LP was dead, the cassette still popular concurrent with CD's. Why? because the cassette was lower cost. Most titles were available on cassette, but still limited on CD. Technology further improved pre-recorded cassettes, CrO2 option (audiophile) Capitol XDR, expanded dynamic range cassettes, and Dolby HX-pro on pre-recorded cassettes. As the "loudness war" had begun in part to "improve" the sound of CD's, cassette packaging advertised wider dynamic range.. the irony of that. An estimate on when the CD finally took over was probably about 1992. (prices had come down and the catalog more comprehensive)

    Piracy and copying is perhaps the leading cause for monetary loss in the music industry. Artists count their losses too. I do agree the artists should have freedom of creativity, a balance of economic interests vs artistic freedom. But historically were the artists better off with the "stranglehold" by the industry? Because of the ease of copying, and lossless by choice, piracy, etc., the industry and artists are losing perhaps 70% or more of their sales, and that's not good for the industry.

    Steve VK, (agitater the 2nd) :p
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
    timind and Dave S like this.
  17. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    If digital had never happened, the only thing left to be smug about, would have been being able to appreciate the extra $500 you spent on equipment that your friends never did. In fact, smugness would have been the only thing in this hobby worth being smug about.
    timind likes this.
  18. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    If digital had never happened, we'd have had 35 years or so of people complaining about crap quality vinyl.

    Now, thanks to digital, we have expensive vinyl reissues and people complaining about crap quality vinyl.

    Plus ca change...
    timind, Bubbamike, Litejazz53 and 2 others like this.
  19. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Hey Brother Rael,
    If digital never happened, record quality would be right up there. Remember, just as CD was introduced, we had direct to disc, (bypasses tape) and superior direct metal (DMM) mastering technology. Laser turntables were under development, but the advent of the CD made it instantly obsolete.
    Now thanks to digital, we have 20 years of hibernation, the old worn out pressing machines are re-started, and they produce defective records, off-centered, warped, cupped, noisy, crap records.
    nosliw likes this.
  20. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Vancouver, BC, CA
    What if digital had never happened?

  21. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Essex UK
    This is a difficult debate for me because i love the sound signature of analogue.I love the sound of a lot of 70's recording that emerged from that era also.But over the years i have come to the conclusion that analogue does not sound more natural/lifelike/airy.But simply more pleasant (if invariably) less accurate that a truer representation of the recording that digital offers.I do find it unfair that digital gets flak for it warts and all accurate representation of the source recording or instruments.Analogue recording/mixing and playback invariably smooths any nasties in the higher frequencies.Blooms out the lower-mids and slightly softens and fattens the lower bass register.This sounds lovely in many recordings and many feel this is a more natural sound.Or less accurate.You pay your money you take your choice.Even early digital recordings can sound as good if not better than anything recorded in the 70's.Take Dire Straits -Brother In Arms..Recorded on an early 16 track sony digital recorder..Its the quality of recording/enginerring and mastering that determines a good sounding recording.And unfortunately this has deteriorated at the very same time digital entered the fray.Giving digital a bad name.If you record any live band in the studio via analogue tape or digital .The digital version will sound closer to the sound you hear in the studio than the analogue version.But i concede the analogue may sound more pleasant.
    Robert C likes this.
  22. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    OCD on no space after the period, pls edit or I will pull out more hair, haha!
  23. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979 Thread Starter

    On the same train of thought and stretching it: what if recorded music never existed and we had only live music? That would force a massive number of musicians actually performing LIVE (much better than any recording - I think we can all agree to that) as there is simply no other option, resulting in a piano in every house (like it used to be) with someone knowing how to actuallly PLAY music. Wouldn't that result in the ultimate sound quality and also a boom on the number of musicians actually getting paid for every single performance, just saying :p
    Balthazar and The FRiNgE like this.
  24. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    A collector friend of mine once said he liked the ticks and pops, God bless him, he's gone, but not forgotten.
  25. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    I think live music would be better, musicians trained only for playing live. I disagree on the quality, exceptional to hear a live rock band that sounds as good as the controlled environment in a studio. Jazz bands and symphony orchestras tend to present better, live, than the typical rock/ pop show. I make this point again, the controlled environment of the studio, or post-production of live events can improve their sound. Bad acoustics in the live setting can be improved in the recording via careful mic placement. In my experience, a truly great sounding live event is exceptional. One memorable show was the Cowboy Junkies (Margo Timmons) at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, a small venue. They had no shrill sounding sound reinforcement, just their amps, and their own fantastic PA system. Another was a jazz band at Washington Square park NYC, however outdoors, so the acoustics were not ideal.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
    Ham Sandwich and Giacomo Belbo like this.

Share This Page