The changes in audio recording in my lifetime have been
phenomenal, bringing high-end recording and distribution to the
I've seen vinyl LPs and singles, 8-tracks, two-track cassettes,
and digital audio tape. (Remember the silly disclaimer on 8-track
cartridges? "The silent portion at the end of the tape ensures the
integrity of the performance". Yeah, right, it couldn't be leftover
tape.) I've seen fire and I've seen rain...oops, sorry, random
brain spew there.
I've listened to AM radio, FM stereo radio, Internet "radio." I
lived through the (mercifully) short-lived quadrophonic sound fad.
I have snatched my precious vinyl away from cretins who would put
it on a changer. I still have my original Discwasher brushes, which
is a good thing because the contemporary incarnations are junk.
They do not have a real nap, and they are linty.
I have had energetic arguments over perfect listening chair
placement, and perfect speaker placement. Tubes vs. solid state,
"cold" vs. "warm", forty-slider equalizer vs. bass-midrange-treble.
Though those are trivial in comparison to the modern trend of no
tone controls, but only nasty push-button presets for "Rock",
"Jazz", "Classical", "Pop", and so on. Ick.
Now in this shiny new digital era the audiophile who just wants
good-quality recordings to listen to paradoxically has both the
best and worst of times to contend with. It's either horrid lossy
MP3s on lo-fi mobile devices or insanely agressive powered
subwoofers that might be good for busting up kidney stones, but
nothing else. Hi-deaf TV with gadzillions of speakers hanging all
over the place is the hot trend. Replicating the movie theater
experience, too loud in all the wrong places, subwoofers kicking in
a fraction of a second late, and no nuances whatsover. Yay.
But contrarily, digital audio is fabulous, and don't let grumpy
old analog-lovers persuade you otherwise. Every copy is perfect,
and no matter how many times you play a digital file it doesn't get
worn or damaged. The dynamic range and the signal-to-noise ratio
are far beyond what analog could ever deliver. Remember the olden
days of cutting and splicing tapes? Adjusting the spacing on
recording heads? Endlessly rewinding and fast-forwarding? Timing
errors caused by stretched tapes? Scratches on your precious vinyl?
Pointy-clicky on a computer is ever so much better.
Here are some of the amazing digital audio feats you can do with
an ordinary Linux PC and a little bit of audio gear:
While commercially-recorded audio from the traditional big-name
music companies is on a downhill slide in both technical and
artistic quality, it's never been better for the do-it-yourselfer,
the serious hobbyist, and independent artist. All this hooey about
Linux needing to be more "business friendly"-- why should we even
care? Look at what business has done for us: the RIAA, BSA, DMCA,
insane copyright extensions, "intellectual property", patents, the
near-death of Fair Use, corporate spyware, unchecked privacy
invasions, a complete abdication of responsibility, a barren
computing marketplace...who needs friends like that?
- Make top-quality live recordings
- Create top-quality studio masters
- Export a single master track to any number of playable formats:
lo-fi, hi-fi, network streaming, CD, DVD, media server
- Convert legacy media to digital
- Easily create custom mix CDs
- Join the podcast legions
- Do your own Internet broadcasting
- Tailor your music for different listening environments. One
size does not fit all.
- Store hundreds of hours of audio on a tiny Flash storage
- Make your own multiple-track surround sound recordings.
OK that's a bit of a tangent, sorry, just my usual blend of
mixed feelings coming out: immense sadness at the overall sorry
state of affairs, and immense gratitude that we have such a strong
lifeline in Linux and FOSS.