If you happened to mention analogue music to anyone born post 2000, they would probably look at you with disdain, after all analogue music is from way back in the past…isn’t it? In truth, even though digital music has taken over since 1983 and it can often seem like we’ve only ever lived in a digital world, analogue music is still remembered fondly.
What is Analogue Music?
Analogue music is where music has been recorded directly onto vinyl and the sound recorded exactly duplicates the actual sound wave. The recorded result is therefore natural, smooth and includes every single detail and accent of the original track. Therefore when the recording is played, it sounds exactly as it would sound live.
Unfortunately, despite the quality of sound you get from analogue recordings, there are two major downfalls, which is why digital music has since taken over. The first downfall is the degradation of sound that occurs each time the analogue recording is played. This occurs due to the physical contact being made between the record player and the recording itself, which essentially wears away at the detail, causing the sounds to be lost.
The second downfall was the lack of portability, in that it was a lot harder to transport your vinyl records everywhere, especially as you couldn’t guarantee you would be able to find a record system to play them on. The 70s then saw the introduction of the music tape and although this allowed people to transport their music easier, the quality of sound was greatly reduced.
The Introduction of Digital Music
Digital technology was fast progressing throughout the 60s and 70s and in 1983; we saw the introduction of the CD onto the music market.
Since 1983, digital music has quite literally exploded and we have seen many firsts, such as: the first MP3 file being invented (1991); the first website allowing people to get access to music online (1997); the first site allowing downloads of digital music (1998); the first portable MP3 player (1998) and the first iPod (2001). We have also seen the growth in popularity of online music downloads through programmes such as iTunes and Spotify.
For those who remember analogue music though, it is obvious the quality of digital sound recordings is a lot less than analogue recordings. However, the ease of digital has won most people over, especially the music industry since it is a lot easier and quicker to produce countless CDs and MP3 and make a profit rather than producing vinyl.
Major benefits of digital recordings include the fact they can last forever without losing quality of sound, unlike recordings made on vinyl. Digital music is also portable. You can now store 1,000s of records in one player or just access what you want to listen to online, whether you’re at home, on the bus or in the library.
Can Analogue Music Compete In This Digital Age?
Despite the consistent popularity of digital music overall, we have seen certain formats lose their status. For instance, over the past 10 years CD sales have fallen to an all-time low and their future does not look positive. MiniDisks were also said to be the next big thing but sales never really took off anywhere other than Japan.
So, even though there is no sign that digital music download sales will slow down, it is worth noting that analogue continues to remain against all odds. It can even be said that analogue remains quite popular, with vinyl sales reported to be higher than ever before. For example, 2012 saw $171 million worth of vinyl sales across the globe. Yes, $171 million is relatively small in comparison to the digital music sales figures but the point is analogue isn’t going anywhere just yet.
As seen throughout the fashion industry, vintage is perceived as cool as vinyl records are nothing if not vintage. Younger music listeners are quick to notice the difference in the quality of recordings between analogue and digital and record companies have responded to the slight increase in vinyl demand by making vinyl easy to come by once again. New vinyl records also often come with digital download cards; which means listeners have access to both an analogue and digital version of the recording, so have the best of both worlds.
So, in conclusion, not only can analogue music compete in this digital age but it can also outlast many of the newer digital formats too. All in all, it seems that analogue music is here to stay.
James writes for Mains Cables R US. When not writing about furutech connectors, he can often be found trying to disentangle various speaker wires around his home.