Digital Audio World

Musings and information on podcasting, digital audio, online streaming audio and home studio recording from Tim 'Gonzo' Gordon of

Friday, January 19, 2007

Digital Audio is Everywhere

Let’s go back, oh, say, thirty years. The late 70s. The Bee Gees owned the pop charts. The Clash and Elvis Costello were busting out of England with what was referred to punk sounds. They were surrounded by the Buzzcocks, The Jam, Nick Lowe, Television, Wire, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

We’d buy the music from those artists on vinyl LP’s. The singles would be pressed as 45 RPM records. Cassettes were in full bloom. And the artists were all still recording on analog tape.

Commercial digital recording of classical and jazz music began in the early 70s, pioneered by Japanese companies, according to Wikipedia. While experimental digital audio recordings exist from the 60s, it wasn’t until the early 70s that digital audio slowly moved nearer to the mainstream.

Back then, if a recording was digitally recorded, mixed and mastered, it was referred to as DDD. If the first step was an analog (tape) recording, but digitally mixed and mastered, it’s be called ADD.

After Ry Cooder recorded the first all-digital rock/pop album in late 1978 (Bop Til You Drop), the gates opened.

Now of course, digital audio is literally everywhere. In fact, it’s hard to find a source of audio that does NOT have a digital component. Your cell phone’s audio is ditigally processed. That CD you’re listening to is digital. iPods, iRivers and other portable music sources all rely on digital audio. If you load up your computer with CD’s or even transfer your old records to your computer, it has all now become digital bits.

There are digital jukeboxes, digital car stereos, digital audio receivers, and digital HD radio receivers in which the audio is transmitted and received in digital audio form.

In 2006, digital music (downloaded off of various legitimate websites) accounted for 10% of all music sales – about $2 billion. Yeah, Billion with a B. That’s expected to rise to 25% of all music sales within the next four years.

You can’t escape digital audio.

If you are an online business person and you do a teleseminar and make that conversation recording available, you’re dealing with digital audio.

If you podcast, you create, edit, sweeten, mix and publish using digital audio.

“But I do a video podcast,” you say. Right. Your audio is still digital.

High quality, small digital audio recorders are becoming lower in price. I’ve had a Marantz digital recorder for two years and it literally goes almost everywhere with me. If I take a trip, it goes into the backpack. I use it to take notes, record ambient sound, record conversations and meetings. I sleep with it to describe my midnight dreams, albeit in a somewhat muzzy voice sometimes!

There are small pen-sized digital audio recorder that can be used discreetly to make audio recordings. The digital note-taker has replaced the micro-cassette (although I still have a micro-cassette recorder that is still quite useful).

What’s the point of all this?

Simple. If you want an edge in technology, one good way is to learn how to record, manipulate, edit, and publish digital audio. You’d be surprised (perhaps not?) how many people who are fairly computer savvy – yet totally in the dark about digital audio. But really, it’s not that difficult.

This means – for starters – getting a piece of audio software, a decent microphone and perhaps even a small mixing board to control the level of the sounds into your computer.

It means being able to rip a CD’s contents into your PC or MAC. Learn how iTunes works. Learn how Audacity (the free audio recording software) works. Explore other software, such as MusicMatch or WinAmp. Listen to online radio stations.

With digital audio being ever-present it only makes sense to get up to speed on how it works. It becomes a marketing tool. It shows people you’re on top of things. It gives the perception that you know more than most.

Digital audio is everywhere. Now it’s up to you to add to the noise!



  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger NSAreject said…

    We now know, that with 75% of Americans aware of HD Radio, at some level, the number of HD radios sold each year, will probably decline:

    To check on-going interest in HD Radio, which is flat:

    To check interest in HD Radio versus Satellite and Internet Radio:

    Even after a $200,000,000 advertising campaign, by the HD Radio Alliance, the popularity of HD Radio, Satellite Radio, and Internet Radio, are just blips on the screen, compared to iPods and MP3s:

    HD Radio/IBOC is a farce - IBOC causes adjacent-channel interference and has only 60% the coverage of analog. The HD channels are only low-bitrate streams of the same old repetitive material, and will eventually, contain comercials.

    Senator Sununu, may put an end to FCC mandates, anyway:



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