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Opinion Take: You're Kidding, Right?

Cassette tapes are definitely a thing of the past. When I was a kid I listened to a lot of vinyl, but I loved the portability of cassettes. I always had music on, and cassettes were the best way for me to enjoy the music I wanted to listen to on the go; so I’d dup. my favorite vinyl to take with me. Car stereos, boom boxes, and “Walkman” type devices made music accessible via road trips, parties, or bus rides. But when the CD became part of my world in the late 80’s, I was in Heaven.

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I bought my first CD player on sale at Radio Shack. It had a red light up display that I thought was unusual at the time. The display reminded me of those ugly, red light alarm clocks everyone had when I was a kid. You know, the kind that would keep you company if you couldn’t sleep? There’s nothing like a red glow to light the darkness of a night blessed by insomnia. So what if my first CD player wasn’t that sexy, it sounded good.

CD’s brought a brand new level of fidelity that even the best turn tables and cassettes couldn’t touch. There was no more need for Dolby Noise Reduction because CD’s were quiet then (and still are): no more tape hiss, just simple, pristine digital bliss.

In the late 90’s I was exposed to mp3’s. I had a hip, computer nerd friend who downloaded a free mp3 player to my PC…  I didn’t think it sounded all that great, so it didn’t really take with me, but I kept my eye on the technology because it was making waves in the industry. People seemed to like the idea of having a collection of music on their computer that they could download for free, even if it was generally considered stealing and it didn’t sound as good. The cool thing about the mp3 is that it was the most portable medium yet.

A lot of people credit the ADAT machine and Pro Tools for revolutionizing the music industry and they did, but I think the Mp3 had a lot to do with why recording technology had to be cheaper. The Mp3 shifted unit sales to companies who developed devices which could store and play Mp3 files. It made the music industry more about hardware sales than music units sold… which, of course, hurt artists and record labels. And with the rise of the mp3, the final nail was placed firmly in the cassette “coffin”… even if CD’s are kind of still hangin’ on.

If you haven’t visited the link that prompted to me write this post (see above), the title of the link doesn’t tell the whole story. You see, the article also points out that not only have car manufacturers long ago stopped offering car stereos with an optional in-dash cassette player, but Ford Motors announced in July they will no longer be offering in-dash CD players. For me the cold realization has set in…

With the advent of Super Audio CD’s and other emerging technologies, I had hoped, even a few short years ago, that audio might have been headed for even greater resolution. But I was wrong, and I have no idea where the future will take us. It looks like convenience has robbed us, everyone. Are there any, new “lossless” codecs I should be researching? What are your thoughts?



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