The Redemption of Sound
I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s and music has always been my favorite thing. When I was a little kid, around six years old, my father would let me play 45rpm records he kept in this cool case with a handle that was made for storing them. Then when I was much older - eight years old - I began to form my own taste in music and started buying records and I bought a lot of records in my childhood through to adulthood until CDs came along and I bought hundreds of CDs. I was already in my twenties when CDs came out.
While I was a teen, I would go to my room and listen to records and get lost in the songs for hours. I fell in love with music and it is a very deep, emotional connection. I can really say that music is one thing that I cannot be without and it brings me so much joy. And I love all types of music!
The digital age of MP3 and other types of audio files has made music so portable that a person like me can have my music everywhere and anywhere, but I don’t listen to music on devices with little, in-ear headphones as much as you might think. I prefer to listen to music played on a HiFi with good speakers. And you probably would too because that is the way the artists meant for you to hear their recorded music… so you can appreciate the whole experience and fidelity of the recording.
I have known since the introduction of the CD that digitizing music eliminates some of the frequencies that can be felt or detected by the human body, even if you cannot or barely hear them. MP3 files are super compressed from the original audio files and analog versions of songs which strips a lot more frequencies from the original recording for the sake of being a smaller size file and a faster download. What seems like a gain, quicker downloads and less file space required, is a loss for you because to really connect with music you have to feel it to really hear it. You hear music with your whole body. This is not news to you if you’ve ever gone to a live concert performance, especially a symphony.
The problem with the loss of frequencies and dynamics of a recording gets worse in online and satellite streaming music services like Sirius XM, Pandora, Spotify and now Apple Music. I can detect this so blatantly when I hear a song from a non-digital era like the 1970s and the song just sounds flat, lifeless compared to the original record. It’s not a wonder that “Baby Boomers” just can’t get into a lot of current music because it lacks the depth required to physically and emotionally connect with the song. Well some would say it’s because a lot of new music sucks, but that’s a matter of musical preferences and tastes. If all new music had its original dynamic range then maybe it would get a chance with a lot more people.
Is there no hope for the future and the real enjoyment and experience of recorded music? The thought is depressing to me to think that the younger generation would miss out on an enriching part life. Sure, kids love their music, but I bet they have no idea how it could blow their minds if they could really hear it. A small sector of the population is starting to enjoy albums/records again but I see that mostly small, low fidelity and novelty record players are sold in stores.
Then it hit me… The younger generation is going to save my music! That’s right you millennials, LISTEN-UP! Are you familiar with the HBO series “Silicon Valley?” In that series the characters, brilliant millennial nerds, (and I say that will all due respect) have figured out way to compress huge media files without degrading the quality and content of the file. In this instance I truly believe that life should imitate art. So get to it because I have a LOT of music to listen to and I demand to hear and feel it all! Also, as in the story told on “Silicon Valley,” the first company to invent and implement this technology will become very profitable, like really rich!
If my rant has not convinced you that this is a “real” issue, then watch this very informative and well produced documentary titled “The Distortion of Sound,” and let Quincy Jones, Slash, Hans Zimmer, Snoop Dog, Steve Aoki, Kate Nash, Mike Shinoda and others convince you.
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