ANALOGUE AUDIO AND ITS FORMATS.
Analog refers to audio recorded using methods that replicate the original sound waves. Vinyl records and cassette tapes are examples of analog mediums. Digital audio is recorded by Taking samples of the original sound wave at a specified rate.
Analog audio was brought about when sound recording first started. The process involves using a microphone to turn the original sound into electrical analog signals, and imprinting them directly onto analog master tapes (either large reels or cassettes) through magnetization or on vinyl records with spiral “grooves.”
One disadvantage of analog audio as compared to digital recordings is that they degrade in time. For example vinyl records and cassette tapes age over time as they are played or copied over the years.
Since the beginning of audio being recorded many audio formats have been discovered. Let us discuss a few of them:
- Sound recording began in the 1850’s with the invention of the Phonautograph by a guy named Edouard-leon Scott de Martinville. It had limited usage capabilities though as it was unable to reproduce the sounds it had recorded, this led to the invention of a similar device named the Phonograph by the inventor Thomas Edison. The phonograph, also called a record player, reproduces sounds by means of the vibration of a stylus, or needle, following a groove on a recorded disc.
- The iconic Gramophone, invented in 1887 by Emile Berliner, is next in the analog audio timeline as an upgrade to the Phonograph. The gramophone used flat discs of a vinyl acetate material on which to record and playback music via the gramophone system, which used a stylus to read indentations made on the surface of the disk. The gramophone is what led to the vinyl record player, but it still did not produce an especially high quality reproduction. The gramophone did not produce an especially high reproduction.
- Telegraphone and Magnetophone, the telegraphone, was invented around the turn of the 20th century by Valdemar Paulson. It used magnetisable steel wire to store electrical signals similar to those used to broadcast over the radio. When Fritz Pfleumer invented the magnetophone in 1935, recording devices were beginning to resemble reel-to-reel tape machines which were a staple for audio recording later on in the century. Using a very similar process to the telegraphone, but instead recording to paper strips line with iron filings ( which could store a magnetic alignment).
- Reel-to-reel magnetic tape machines came about in World War II, when German engineers discovered a method to reduce recording distortion by applying a current to the recording head of the device.
Extrapolation of the reel-to-reel devices led to audio cassette and DAT tapes in later years.
In the 21st century analog audio has become almost obsolete as storing audio files have become simpler and more efficient, and can last longer with the introduction of digital audio and platforms such as Roon and Tidal where creating and storing albums is a synch.
Although there are some who still prefer analog devices such as vinyl players as they produce a more natural sound that is as close to the possible recording.