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Sound recording and reproduction is an
electrical Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its positio ...

electrical
,
mechanical Mechanical may refer to: Machine * Mechanical system A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It may represent human-made or naturally occurring device molecular machine A molecular machine, nan ...
, electronic, or digital inscription and re-creation of
sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

sound
waves, such as spoken voice, singing,
instrumental music An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocals, such as shouted backup vocals in a big band setting. Through Semantic change, semantic widening, a broader sense of the word song may r ...
, or
sound effect A sound effect (or audio effect) is an artificially created or enhanced sound, or sound process used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media. Traditio ...
s. The two main classes of sound recording technology are
analog recording Analog or analogue may refer to: Computing and electronics * Analog signal An analog signal is any continuous signal In mathematical dynamics, discrete time and continuous time are two alternative frameworks within which to model variab ...
and
digital recording In digital recording, an audio Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural scienc ...
. Acoustic analog recording is achieved by a microphone diaphragm that senses changes in
atmospheric pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer A barometer is a scientific instrument that is used to measure air pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer), is the ...
caused by
acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicole EP) * Acoustic (Joey Cape and Tony Sly album), ''Acoustic'' (Joey Cape and Tony Sly album), 2004 * Aco ...
sound waves and records them as a mechanical representation of the sound waves on a medium such as a
phonograph A phonograph, in its later forms also called a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name in the UK since 1910) or since the 1940s called a record player, is a device for the mechanical and analogue recording and reproduction ...

phonograph
record (in which a stylus cuts grooves on a record). In
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of . It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on . Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic tape are s and s respectively. A ...

magnetic tape
recording, the sound waves vibrate the microphone diaphragm and are converted into a varying
electric current An electric current is a stream of charged particle In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, ...
, which is then converted to a varying
magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. For instance, a vector field in the plane can be visualised as a collection of arrows with ...

magnetic field
by an
electromagnet An electromagnet is a type of magnet A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each poin ...

electromagnet
, which makes a representation of the sound as magnetized areas on a plastic tape with a magnetic coating on it. Analog sound reproduction is the reverse process, with a bigger loudspeaker diaphragm causing changes to atmospheric pressure to form acoustic sound waves. Digital recording and reproduction converts the analog sound signal picked up by the microphone to a digital form by the process of
sampling Sampling may refer to: *Sampling (signal processing), converting a continuous signal into a discrete signal *Sample (graphics), Sampling (graphics), converting continuous colors into discrete color components *Sampling (music), the reuse of a sound ...
. This lets the audio data be stored and
transmitted
transmitted
by a wider variety of media. Digital recording stores audio as a series of
binary number In mathematics and digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical engineering that deals with the emission, behaviour and effects of electrons The electr ...
s (zeros and ones) representing samples of the amplitude of the
audio signal An audio signal is a representation of sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order ...
at equal time intervals, at a
sample rate Image:Signal Sampling.svg, 300px, Signal sampling representation. The continuous signal S(t) is represented with a green colored line while the discrete samples are indicated by the blue vertical lines. In signal processing, sampling is the reducti ...
high enough to convey all sounds capable of being heard. A
digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital audio, the sound wave of the audio signal is typically encoded as numerical Sampling (signal processing), s ...
signal must be reconverted to analog form during playback before it is amplified and connected to a
loudspeaker A loudspeaker (or ''speaker driver'', or most frequently just ''speaker'') is an Acoustical engineering#Electroacoustics, electroacoustic transducer, that is, a device that converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. A ''spe ...

loudspeaker
to produce sound. Prior to the development of sound recording, there were mechanical systems, such as wind-up
music box A music box (American English) or musical box (British English) is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces Musical note, musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder (geometry), cylinder or disc to pluck ...

music box
es and, later,
player piano A player piano (also known as a pianola) is a self-playing piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicol ...

player piano
s, for encoding and reproducing instrumental music.


Early history

Long before
sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

sound
was first recorded, music was recorded—first by written
music notation Music is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelli ...

music notation
, then also by mechanical devices (e.g., wind-up
music box A music box (American English) or musical box (British English) is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces Musical note, musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder (geometry), cylinder or disc to pluck ...

music box
es, in which a mechanism turns a spindle, which plucks metal tines, thus reproducing a
melody A melody (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

melody
). Automatic music reproduction traces back as far as the 9th century, when the
Banū Mūsā The Banū Mūsā brothers ("Sons of Moses"), namely Abū Jaʿfar, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (before 803 – February 873); Abū al‐Qāsim, Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century); and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th cen ...
brothers invented the earliest known mechanical musical instrument, in this case, a
hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and th ...
ed (water-powered)
organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (biology) In biology, an organ is a collection of Tissue (biology), tissues joined in a structural unit to serve a common function. In the biological organization , hierarchy of life, an organ lies betwee ...
that played interchangeable cylinders. According to Charles B. Fowler, this "...cylinder with raised pins on the surface remained the basic device to produce and reproduce music mechanically until the second half of the nineteenth century." The Banū Mūsā brothers also invented an automatic
flute The flute is a family of musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the objec ...

flute
player, which appears to have been the first programmable machine. Carvings in the
Rosslyn Chapel Rosslyn Chapel, formerly known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, is a 15th-century chapel located in the village of Roslin, Midlothian Midlothian (; gd, Meadhan Lodainn) is a historic county, registration county A registration county ...

Rosslyn Chapel
from the 1560s may represent an early attempt to record the Chladni patterns produced by sound in stone representations, although this theory has not been conclusively proved. In the 14th century, a mechanical bell-ringer controlled by a rotating cylinder was introduced in
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
. Similar designs appeared in
barrel organ A barrel organ (also called roller organ or crank organ) is a mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows A bellow or pair of bellows is a device constructed to furnish a strong blast of air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Co ...
s (15th century),
musical clock File:Organ clock tf1 ok.jpg, Musical "flute clock" with mechanical organ, organ manufactured by Matthias Naeschke A musical clock is a clock that marks the hours of the day with a musical tune. They can be considered elaborate versions of striki ...
s (1598), barrel pianos (1805), and
music box A music box (American English) or musical box (British English) is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces Musical note, musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder (geometry), cylinder or disc to pluck ...

music box
es (ca. 1800). A music box is an automatic
musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. A person who play ...
that produces sounds by the use of a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc so as to pluck the tuned teeth (or ''lamellae'') of a steel comb. The
fairground organ A fairground organ is a pneumatic musical organ covering the wind and percussive sections of an orchestra. Designed for use in a commercial public fairground setting to provide loud music to accompany fairground rides and attractions, mostly u ...
, developed in 1892, used a system of accordion-folded punched cardboard books. The
player piano A player piano (also known as a pianola) is a self-playing piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicol ...

player piano
, first demonstrated in 1876, used a punched paper scroll that could store a long piece of music. The most sophisticated of the piano rolls were "hand-played," meaning that they were duplicates from a master roll which had been created on a special piano, which punched holes in the master as a live performer played the song. Thus, the roll represented a recording of the actual performance of an individual, not just the more common method of punching the master roll through transcription of the sheet music. This technology to record a live performance onto a piano roll was not developed until 1904. Piano rolls were in continuous mass production from 1896 to 2008. A 1908
U.S. Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a coun ...

U.S. Supreme Court
copyright case noted that, in 1902 alone, there were between 70,000 and 75,000 player pianos manufactured, and between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 piano rolls produced.


Phonautograph

The first device that could record actual
sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

sound
s as they passed through the air (but could not play them back—the purpose was only visual study) was the
phonautograph The phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through S ...
, patented in 1857 by Parisian inventor
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (; 25 April 1817 – 26 April 1879) was a French printer, bookseller and inventor. He invented the earliest known sound recording device, the phonautograph The phonautograph is the earliest known device f ...
. The earliest known recordings of the human voice are phonautograph recordings, called ''phonautograms'', made in 1857. They consist of sheets of paper with sound-wave-modulated white lines created by a vibrating stylus that cut through a coating of soot as the paper was passed under it. An 1860 phonautogram of
Au Clair de la Lune "" (, lit. "By the Light of the Moon") is a French folk song Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional f ...
, a French folk song, was played back as sound for the first time in 2008 by scanning it and using software to convert the undulating line, which graphically encoded the sound, into a corresponding digital audio file.


Phonograph


Phonograph cylinder

On April 30, 1877, French poet, humorous writer and inventor
Charles Cros Charles Cros or Émile-Hortensius-Charles Cros (October 1, 1842 – August 9, 1888) was a French poet and inventor. He was born in Fabrezan, Aude, France, 35 km to the East of Carcassonne Carcassonne (, also , , ; ; la, Carcaso) is a F ...

Charles Cros
submitted a sealed envelope containing a letter to the
Academy of Sciences An academy of sciences is a type of or academy (as special scientific institution) dedicated to s that may or may not be state funded. Some state funded academies are tuned into or royal (in case of the i.e. Royal ) as a form of honor. ...
in Paris fully explaining his proposed method, called the paleophone. Though no trace of a working paleophone was ever found, Cros is remembered by historians as the earliest inventor of a sound recording and reproduction machine. The first practical sound recording and reproduction device was the mechanical
phonograph cylinder Phonograph cylinders are the earliest commercial medium for Sound recording and reproduction, recording and reproducing sound. Commonly known simply as "records" in their era of greatest popularity (c. 1896–1915), these hollow cylinder, cylindri ...
, invented by
Thomas Edison Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from s ...

Thomas Edison
in 1877 and patented in 1878. The invention soon spread across the globe and over the next two decades the commercial recording, distribution, and sale of sound recordings became a growing new international industry, with the most popular titles selling millions of units by the early 1900s. The development of mass-production techniques enabled cylinder recordings to become a major new consumer item in industrial countries and the cylinder was the main consumer format from the late 1880s until around 1910.


Disc phonograph

The next major technical development was the invention of the
gramophone record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
, generally credited to
Emile Berliner Emile Berliner (May 20, 1851 – August 3, 1929) originally Emil Berliner, was a German-American inventor. He is best known for inventing the lateral-cut flat disc gramophone record, record (called a "gramophone record" in British and American En ...

Emile Berliner
and patented in 1887, though others had demonstrated similar disk apparatus earlier, most notably
Alexander Graham Bell Alexander Graham Bell (; March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish-born inventor, scientist, and engineer who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also co-founded the (AT&T) in 1885. , grandf ...

Alexander Graham Bell
in 1881. Discs were easier to manufacture, transport and store, and they had the additional benefit of being marginally louder than cylinders. Sales of the
gramophone record A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
overtook the cylinder ca. 1910, and by the end of World War I the disc had become the dominant commercial recording format. Edison, who was the main producer of cylinders, created the
Edison Disc Record The Edison Diamond Disc Record is a type of phonograph record marketed by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. on their Edison Record label from 1912 to 1929. They were named Diamond Discs because the matching Edison Disc Phonograph was fitted with a permanent ...
in an attempt to regain his market. The double-sided (nominally 78 rpm) shellac disc was the standard consumer music format from the early 1910s to the late 1950s. In various permutations, the audio disc format became the primary medium for consumer sound recordings until the end of the 20th century. Although there was no universally accepted speed, and various companies offered discs that played at several different speeds, the major recording companies eventually settled on a ''de facto'' industry standard of nominally 78 revolutions per minute. The specified speed was 78.26 rpm in America and 77.92 rpm throughout the rest of the world. The difference in speeds was due to the difference in the cycle frequencies of the AC electricity that powered the
stroboscope A stroboscope, also known as a strobe, is an instrument used to make a cyclically moving object appear to be slow-moving, or stationary. It consists of either a rotating disk with slots or holes or a lamp such as a flashtube A flashtube, ...
s used to calibrate recording lathes and turntables. The nominal speed of the disc format gave rise to its common nickname, the "seventy-eight" (though not until other speeds had become available). Discs were made of shellac or similar brittle plastic-like materials, played with needles made from a variety of materials including mild steel, thorn, and even sapphire. Discs had a distinctly limited playing life that varied depending on how they were manufactured. Earlier, purely acoustic methods of recording had limited sensitivity and frequency range. Mid-frequency range notes could be recorded, but very low and very high frequencies could not. Instruments such as the violin were difficult to transfer to disc. One technique to deal with this involved using a
Stroh violin The Stroh violin or Stroviol is a type of stringed musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it i ...
which uses a conical horn connected to a diaphragm that in turn is connected to the violin bridge. The horn was no longer needed once electrical recording was developed. The long-playing 33 rpm microgroove
LP record The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by: a speed of  revolutions per minute, rpm; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the "microgroove" gro ...
, was developed at
Columbia Records Columbia Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other seller ...

Columbia Records
and introduced in 1948. The short-playing but convenient 45 rpm microgroove vinyl
single Single may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Single (music), a song release Songs * Single (Natasha Bedingfield song), "Single" (Natasha Bedingfield song), 2004 * Single (New Kids on the Block and Ne-Yo song), "Single" (New Kids on the B ...
was introduced by
RCA Victor RCA Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Br ...
in 1949. In the US and most developed countries, the two new vinyl formats completely replaced 78 rpm shellac discs by the end of the 1950s, but in some corners of the world, the 78 lingered on far into the 1960s. Vinyl was much more expensive than shellac, one of the several factors that made its use for 78 rpm records very unusual, but with a long-playing disc the added cost was acceptable. The compact 45 format required very little material. Vinyl offered improved performance, both in stamping and in playback. Vinyl records were, over-optimistically, advertised as "unbreakable". They were not, but they were much less fragile than shellac, which had itself once been touted as "unbreakable" compared to wax cylinders.


Electrical recording

Sound recording began as a purely mechanical process. Except for a few crude telephone-based recording devices with no means of amplification, such as the , it remained so until the 1920s. Between the invention of the phonograph in 1877 and the first commercial
digital recording In digital recording, an audio Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural scienc ...
s in the early 1970s, arguably the most important milestone in the history of sound recording was the introduction of what was then called ''electrical recording'', in which a
microphone A microphone, colloquially called a mic or mike (), is a device – a transducer A transducer is a device that energy from one form to another. Usually a transducer converts a in one form of energy to a signal in another. Transducers ar ...

microphone
was used to convert the sound into an electrical signal that was amplified and used to actuate the recording stylus. This innovation eliminated the "horn sound" resonances characteristic of the acoustical process, produced clearer and more full-bodied recordings by greatly extending the useful range of audio frequencies, and allowed previously unrecordable distant and feeble sounds to be captured. During this time, several radio-related developments in
electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical engineering that deals with the emission, behaviour and effects of electrons The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than ...
converged to revolutionize the recording process. These included improved microphones and auxiliary devices such as electronic filters, all dependent on electronic to be of practical use in recording. In 1906,
Lee De Forest #REDIRECT Lee de Forest #REDIRECT Lee de Forest#REDIRECT Lee de Forest Lee de Forest (August 26, 1873 – June 30, 1961) was an American inventor and early pioneer in radio and in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures ...

Lee De Forest
invented the
Audion The Audion was an electronic detecting or amplifying vacuum tube A vacuum tube, electron tube, valve (British usage), or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an ...

Audion
triode A triode is an electronic (or ''valve'' in British English) consisting of three s inside an evacuated glass envelope: a heated or , a , and a (). Developed from 's 1906 , a partial vacuum tube that added a grid electrode to the (), the trio ...

triode
vacuum tube, an electronic valve that could amplify weak electrical signals. By 1915, it was in use in long-distance telephone circuits that made conversations between New York and San Francisco practical. Refined versions of this tube were the basis of all electronic sound systems until the commercial introduction of the first
transistor upright=1.4, gate Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands of Java">Indonesia.html" ;"title="Candi bentar, a typical Indonesia">Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands o ...

transistor
-based audio devices in the mid-1950s. During World War I, engineers in the United States and Great Britain worked on ways to record and reproduce, among other things, the sound of a
German U-boat U-boat is an anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand i ...
for training purposes. Acoustical recording methods of the time could not reproduce the sounds accurately. The earliest results were not promising. The first electrical recording issued to the public, with little fanfare, was of November 11, 1920, funeral service for
The Unknown Warrior The British grave of the Unknown Warrior (often known as 'The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior') holds an unidentified member of the British armed forces killed on a European battlefield during the First World War World War I, often abbre ...
in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
, London. The recording engineers used microphones of the type used in contemporary telephones. Four were discreetly set up in the abbey and wired to recording equipment in a vehicle outside. Although electronic amplification was used, the audio was weak and unclear. The procedure did, however, produce a recording that would otherwise not have been possible in those circumstances. For several years, this little-noted disc remained the only issued electrical recording. Several record companies and independent inventors, notably Orlando Marsh, experimented with equipment and techniques for electrical recording in the early 1920s. Marsh's electrically recorded Autograph Records were already being sold to the public in 1924, a year before the first such offerings from the major record companies, but their overall sound quality was too low to demonstrate any obvious advantage over traditional acoustical methods. Marsh's microphone technique was idiosyncratic and his work had little if any impact on the systems being developed by others. Telephone industry giant
Western Electric The Western Electric Company was an American electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electricity, electronics ...
had research laboratories with material and human resources that no record company or independent inventor could match. They had the best microphone, a condenser type developed there in 1916 and greatly improved in 1922, and the best amplifiers and test equipment. They had already patented an electromechanical recorder in 1918, and in the early 1920s, they decided to intensively apply their hardware and expertise to developing two state-of-the-art systems for electronically recording and reproducing sound: one that employed conventional discs and another that recorded optically on motion picture film. Their engineers pioneered the use of mechanical analogs of electrical circuits and developed a superior "rubber line" recorder for cutting the groove into the wax master in the disc recording system. By 1924, such dramatic progress had been made that Western Electric arranged a demonstration for the two leading record companies, the
Victor Talking Machine Company The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American recording company and phonograph A phonograph, in its later forms also called a gramophone (as a trademark since 1887, as a generic name in the UK since 1910) or since the 1940s called a ...
and the
Columbia Phonograph Company Columbia Records is an American record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other selle ...

Columbia Phonograph Company
. Both soon licensed the system and both made their earliest published electrical recordings in February 1925, but neither actually released them until several months later. To avoid making their existing catalogs instantly obsolete, the two long-time archrivals agreed privately not to publicize the new process until November 1925, by which time enough electrically recorded repertory would be available to meet the anticipated demand. During the next few years, the lesser record companies licensed or developed other electrical recording systems. By 1929 only the budget label
Harmony In music, harmony is the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitch (music), pitches (timbre, tones, note (music), ...
was still issuing new recordings made by the old acoustical process. Comparison of some surviving Western Electric test recordings with early commercial releases indicates that the record companies artificially reduced the frequency range of recordings so they would not overwhelm non-electronic playback equipment, which reproduced very low frequencies as an unpleasant rattle and rapidly wore out discs with strongly recorded high frequencies.


Other recording formats

In the 1920s,
Phonofilm Phonofilm is an optical sound, optical sound-on-film system developed by inventors Lee de Forest and Theodore Case in the early 1920s. Introduction In 1919 and 1920, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patents on a sound-on ...
and other early motion picture sound systems employed optical recording technology, in which the audio signal was graphically recorded on photographic film. The amplitude variations comprising the signal were used to modulate a light source which was imaged onto the moving film through a narrow slit, allowing the signal to be photographed as variations in the density or width of a ''sound track''. The
projector image:IFA 2012 IMG 5767.JPG, 200px, Acer inc., Acer projector, 2012 A projector or image projector is an optical device that projects an image (or moving images) onto a surface, commonly a projection screen. Most projectors create an image by shin ...
used a steady light and a
photodetector Photodetectors, also called photosensors, are sensors A sensor is a device that produces an output signal for the purpose of sensing of a physical phenomenon. In the broadest definition, a sensor is a device, module, machine, or subsyst ...
to convert these variations back into an electrical signal, which was amplified and sent to
loudspeaker A loudspeaker (or ''speaker driver'', or most frequently just ''speaker'') is an Acoustical engineering#Electroacoustics, electroacoustic transducer, that is, a device that converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. A ''spe ...

loudspeaker
s behind the screen. Optical sound became the standard motion picture audio system throughout the world and remains so for theatrical release prints despite attempts in the 1950s to substitute magnetic soundtracks. Currently, all release prints on
35 mm movie film 35 mm film is a film gauge used in filmmaking, and the film standard. In motion pictures that record on film, 35 mm is the most commonly used gauge. The name of the gauge is not a direct measurement, and refers to the nominal width o ...
include an analog optical soundtrack, usually stereo with
Dolby SR First prototype of Dolby SR encoder / decoder, built by Ray Dolby on perfboard. The Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) noise reduction format was developed by Dolby Laboratories and has been in common use in professional audio since 1986 and in cinem ...
noise reduction. In addition, an optically recorded digital soundtrack in Dolby Digital and/or Sony SDDS form is likely to be present. An optically recorded timecode is also commonly included to synchronize CDROMs that contain a DTS soundtrack. This period also saw several other historic developments including the introduction of the first practical magnetic sound recording system, the magnetic wire recorder, which was based on the work of Danish inventor
Valdemar Poulsen Valdemar Poulsen (23 November 1869 – 23 July 1942) was a Danish engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are Professional, professionals who Invention, invent, design, analyze, build and test Machine, machines, complex systems, a ...
. Magnetic wire recorders were effective, but the sound quality was poor, so between the wars, they were primarily used for voice recording and marketed as business dictating machines. In 1924, a German engineer, Kurt Stille, improved the Telegraphone with an electronic amplifier. The following year,
Ludwig Blattner Ludwig Blattner (1881 – 30 October 1935) was a German-born inventor, film producer, director and studio owner in the United Kingdom, and developer of one of the earliest magnetic sound recording devices. Career Ludwig Blattner, also know ...
began work that eventually produced the Blattnerphone, which used steel tape instead of wire. The
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
started using Blattnerphones in 1930 to record radio programs. In 1933, radio pioneer
Guglielmo Marconi Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi (; 25 April 187420 July 1937) was an Kingdom of Italy, Italian inventor and electrical engineering, electrical engineer, known for his creation of a practical radio wave-based Wireless ...

Guglielmo Marconi
's company purchased the rights to the Blattnerphone, and newly developed Marconi-Stille recorders were installed in the BBC's
Maida Vale Studios Maida Vale Studios is a complex of seven BBC sound studios, of which five are in regular use, in Delaware Road, Maida Vale, London. It has been used to record thousands of classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted in t ...
in March 1935. The tape used in Blattnerphones and Marconi-Stille recorders was the same material used to make razor blades, and not surprisingly the fearsome Marconi-Stille recorders were considered so dangerous that technicians had to operate them from another room for safety. Because of the high recording speeds required, they used enormous reels about one meter in diameter, and the thin tape frequently broke, sending jagged lengths of razor steel flying around the studio.


Magnetic tape

Magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of . It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on . Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic tape are s and s respectively. A ...

Magnetic tape
recording uses an amplified electrical audio signal to generate analogous variations of the magnetic field produced by a
tape head A tape head is a type of transducer A transducer is a device that energy from one form to another. Usually a transducer converts a in one form of energy to a signal in another. Transducers are often employed at the boundaries of , , and s, wh ...
, which impresses corresponding variations of magnetization on the moving tape. In playback mode, the signal path is reversed, the tape head acting as a miniature
electric generator In electricity generation Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from sources of primary energy. For electric utility, utilities in the electric power industry, it is the stage prior to its Electricity delivery, deliv ...
as the varyingly magnetized tape passes over it. The original solid steel ribbon was replaced by a much more practical coated paper tape, but acetate soon replaced paper as the standard tape base. Acetate has fairly low tensile strength and if very thin it will snap easily, so it was in turn eventually superseded by polyester. This technology, the basis for almost all commercial recording from the 1950s to the 1980s, was developed in the 1930s by German audio engineers who also rediscovered the principle of AC biasing (first used in the 1920s for
wire recorder file:Telegraphone wire recorder 1922.jpg, Poulsen Telegraphone recorder from 1922 Wire recording or magnetic wire recording was the first magnetic recording technology, an analog signal, analog type of audio storage in which a magnetic recording ...
s), which dramatically improved the frequency response of tape recordings. The K1
Magnetophon Magnetophone, or simply Magnetophon, was the brand or model name of the pioneering reel-to-reel tape recorder developed by engineers of the German electronics company AEG in the 1930s, based on the magnetic tape invention by Fritz Pfleumer. AEG cr ...
was the first practical tape recorder, developed by AEG in Germany in 1935. The technology was further improved just after World War II by American audio engineer John T. Mullin with backing from
Bing Crosby Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer, comedian and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He was a leader ...

Bing Crosby
Enterprises. Mullin's pioneering recorders were modifications of captured German recorders. In the late 1940s, the
Ampex Ampex is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
company produced the first tape recorders commercially available in the US. Magnetic tape brought about sweeping changes in both radio and the recording industry. Sound could be recorded, erased and re-recorded on the same tape many times, sounds could be duplicated from tape to tape with only minor loss of quality, and recordings could now be very precisely edited by physically cutting the tape and rejoining it. Within a few years of the introduction of the first commercial tape recorder—the
Ampex 200 Ampex is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
model, launched in 1948—American musician-inventor
Les Paul Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 12, 2009), known as Les Paul, was an American jazz guitarist, jazz, country guitarist, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor. He was one of the pioneers of the solid bod ...

Les Paul
had invented the first
multitrack tape recorder Digital audio interface for the Pro Tools computer-based hard disk multitrack recording system. Digital audio quality is measured in data resolution per channel. Multitrack recording (MTR), also known as multitracking or tracking, is a method o ...
, ushering in another technical revolution in the recording industry. Tape made possible the first sound recordings totally created by electronic means, opening the way for the bold sonic experiments of the
Musique Concrète Musique concrète (; ): " problem for any translator of an academic work in French is that the language is relatively abstract and theoretical compared to English; one might even say that the mode of thinking itself tends to be more schematic, with ...
school and avant-garde composers like
Karlheinz Stockhausen Karlheinz Stockhausen (; 22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th 20 (twenty; Roman numeral XX) is the natural numbe ...
, which in turn led to the innovative pop music recordings of artists such as
The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

The Beatles
and
The Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...

The Beach Boys
. The ease and accuracy of tape editing, as compared to the cumbersome disc-to-disc editing procedures previously in some limited use, together with tape's consistently high audio quality finally convinced radio networks to routinely prerecord their entertainment programming, most of which had formerly been broadcast live. Also, for the first time, broadcasters, regulators and other interested parties were able to undertake comprehensive audio logging of each day's radio broadcasts. Innovations like multitracking and
tape echo Delay is an audio signal processing Audio signal processing is a subfield of signal processing that is concerned with the electronic manipulation of audio signals. Audio signals are electronic representations of sound waves—longitudinal wave ...
allowed radio programs and advertisements to be produced to a high level of complexity and sophistication. The combined impact with innovations such as the endless loop
broadcast cartridge Image:NAB-cartridge.jpg, Top view of a Fidelipac cartridge The Fidelipac, commonly known as a "NAB cartridge" or simply "cart", is a magnetic tape Sound recording and reproduction, sound recording format, used for radio broadcasting for playback o ...
led to significant changes in the pacing and production style of radio program content and advertising.


Stereo and hi-fi

In 1881, it was noted during experiments in transmitting sound from the Paris Opera that it was possible to follow the movement of singers on the stage if earpieces connected to different microphones were held to the two ears. This discovery was commercialized in 1890 with the
Théâtrophone Théâtrophone ("the theatre phone") was a telephony, telephonic distribution system available in portions of Europe that allowed the subscribers to listen to opera and theatre performances over the telephone lines. The théâtrophone evolved from a ...
system, which operated for over forty years until 1932. In 1931,
Alan Blumlein Alan Dower Blumlein (29 June 1903 – 7 June 1942) was an English engineer, notable for his many inventions in telecommunications, , , television and radar. He received 128 patents and was considered as one of the most significant engineers and ...
, a British electronics engineer working for
EMI EMI Group Limited (originally an initialism for Electric and Musical Industries, also referred to as EMI Records Ltd. or simply EMI) was a British transnational conglomerate Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to: * Conglomerate (compan ...
, designed a way to make the sound of an actor in a film follow his movement across the screen. In December 1931, he submitted a patent application including the idea, and in 1933 this became UK patent number 394,325. Over the next two years, Blumlein developed stereo microphones and a stereo disc-cutting head, and recorded a number of short films with stereo soundtracks. In the 1930s, experiments with magnetic tape enabled the development of the first practical commercial sound systems that could record and reproduce high-fidelity
stereophonic sound File:Carsoundstereoshift.png, Time difference in a stereophonic recording of a car going past, 250px Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that recreates a multi-directional, 3-dimensional audible per ...
. The experiments with stereo during the 1930s and 1940s were hampered by problems with synchronization. A major breakthrough in practical stereo sound was made by
Bell Laboratories Nokia Bell Labs (formerly named Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) and Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984)) is an American industrial research and scientific development company A company, ab ...
, who in 1937 demonstrated a practical system of two-channel stereo, using dual optical sound tracks on film. Major movie studios quickly developed three-track and four-track sound systems, and the first stereo sound recording for a commercial film was made by
Judy Garland Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. She is widely known for playing the role of Dorothy Gale Dorothy Gale is a fictional character created by American author L. Frank Baum ...
for the
MGM Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is an American media company, founded in 1924, that produces and distributes feature films and television programs. It is based in Beverly Hills, California ...

MGM
movie ''
Listen, Darling ''Listen, Darling'' is a 1938 American musical comedy film starring Judy Garland, Freddie Bartholomew Frederick Cecil Bartholomew (March 28, 1924 – January 23, 1992), known for his acting work as Freddie Bartholomew, was an English-American ...
'' in 1938. The first commercially released movie with a stereo soundtrack was Walt Disney's '' Fantasia'', released in 1940. The 1941 release of Fantasia used the
Fantasound Fantasound was a stereophonic sound Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that creates an illusion of multi-directional audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two or more independent au ...
sound system. This system used a separate film for the sound, synchronized with the film carrying the picture. The sound film had four double-width optical soundtracks, three for left, center, and right audio—and a fourth as a "control" track with three recorded tones that controlled the playback volume of the three audio channels. Because of the complex equipment this system required, Disney exhibited the movie as a roadshow, and only in the United States. Regular releases of the movie used standard mono optical 35 mm stock until 1956, when Disney released the film with a stereo soundtrack that used the
Cinemascope CinemaScope is an anamorphic format, anamorphic lens series used, from 1953 to 1967, and less often later, for shooting widescreen films that, crucially, could be screened in theatres using existing equipment, albeit with a lens adapter. Its cre ...
four-track magnetic sound system. German audio engineers working on magnetic tape developed stereo recording by 1941. Of 250 stereophonic recordings made during WW2, only three survive: Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto with Walter Gieseking and Arthur Rother, a Brahms Serenade, and the last movement of Bruckner's 8th Symphony with Von Karajan. Other early German stereophonic tapes are believed to have been destroyed in bombings. Not until
Ampex Ampex is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States ( ...
introduced the first commercial two-track tape recorders in the late 1940s did stereo tape recording become commercially feasible. However, despite the availability of multitrack tape, stereo did not become the standard system for commercial music recording for some years, and remained a specialist market during the 1950s. EMI (UK) was the first company to release commercial stereophonic tapes. They issued their first ''Stereosonic'' tape in 1954. Others quickly followed, under the
His Master's Voice His Master's Voice (HMV) was the name of a major British record label created in 1901 by The Gramophone Company, The Gramophone Co. Ltd. The phrase was coined in the late 1890s as the title of a painting depicting a terrier-mix dog named Nipper ...

His Master's Voice
(HMV) and
Columbia Columbia may refer to: * Columbia (personification), the historical female national personification of the United States, and a poetic name for the Americas Places North America Natural features * Columbia Plateau, a geologic and geographic regio ...

Columbia
labels. 161 Stereosonic tapes were released, mostly classical music or lyric recordings. RCA imported these tapes into the USA. Although some HMV tapes released in the USA cost up to $15, two-track stereophonic tapes were more successful in America during the second half of the 1950s. The history of stereo recording changed after the late 1957 introduction of the ''Westrex stereo phonograph disc'', which used the groove format developed earlier by Blumlein.
Decca Records Decca Records is a British record label A record label, or record company, is a brand A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. ...

Decca Records
in England came out with
FFRR FFRR Records (sometimes credited as Full Frequency Range Recordings) is a dance music label previously run and founded by England, English DJ Pete Tong. Originally the dance music label of London Records, FFRR is currently a sublabel of Parlop ...
(Full Frequency Range Recording) in the 1940s, which became internationally accepted as a worldwide standard for higher quality recording on vinyl records. The
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recording of
Igor Stravinsky Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (6 April 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor, later of French (from 1934) and American (from 1945) citizenship. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential 20th-century cla ...

Igor Stravinsky
's
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was key in the development of full frequency range records and alerting the listening public to high fidelity in 1946. Until the mid-1960s, record companies mixed and released most popular music in monophonic sound. From mid-1960s until the early 1970s, major recordings were commonly released in both mono and stereo. Recordings originally released only in mono have been rerendered and released in stereo using a variety of techniques from remixing to pseudostereo.


1950s to 1980s

Magnetic tape transformed the recording industry. By the early 1950s, most commercial recordings were mastered on tape instead of recorded directly to disc. Tape facilitated a degree of manipulation in the recording process that was impractical with mixes and multiple generations of directly recorded discs. An early example is
Les Paul Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 12, 2009), known as Les Paul, was an American jazz guitarist, jazz, country guitarist, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor. He was one of the pioneers of the solid bod ...

Les Paul
's 1951 recording of ''
How High the Moon "How High the Moon" is a jazz standard with lyrics by Nancy Hamilton and music by Morgan Lewis (songwriter), Morgan Lewis. It was first featured in the 1940 Broadway theater, Broadway revue ''Two for the Show (musical), Two for the Show'', where ...
'', on which Paul played eight overdubbed guitar tracks. In the 1960s
Brian Wilson Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer who co-founded the Beach Boys. After signing with Capitol Records in 1962, Wilson wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits for t ...

Brian Wilson
of
The Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...

The Beach Boys
,
Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity Nonconformity or nonconformism may refer to: Culture and soci ...

Frank Zappa
, and
The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compou ...

The Beatles
(with producer
George Martin Sir George Martin (3 January 19268 March 2016) was an English record producer, arrangement, arranger, composer, conducting, conductor, audio engineer, and musician. He was referred to as the "Fifth Beatle" in reference to his extensive involv ...

George Martin
) were among the first popular artists to explore the possibilities of
multitrack recording Multitrack recording (MTR), also known as multitracking or tracking, is a method of sound recording Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and mo ...
techniques and effects on their landmark albums ''
Pet Sounds ''Pet Sounds'' is the eleventh studio album by the American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals i ...
'', ''
Freak Out! ''Freak Out!'' is the debut studio album packaged in book form, like a photograph album A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some book-fo ...
'', and '' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band''. The next important innovation was small cartridge-based tape systems, of which the
compact cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for , made of a thin, magnetizable coating ...

compact cassette
, commercialized by the
Philips Koninklijke Philips N.V. (in Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer t ...

Philips
electronics company in 1964, is the best known. Initially a low-fidelity format for spoken-word voice recording and inadequate for music reproduction, after a series of improvements it entirely replaced the competing consumer tape formats: the larger
8-track tape The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the compact cassette ...
(used primarily in cars) and the fairly similar ''Deutsche Cassette'' developed by the German company
Grundig Grundig (; ) is a consumer electronics manufacturer owned by Arçelik, Arçelik A.Ş., the white goods manufacturer of Turkish conglomerate Koç Holding. The company made domestic appliances and personal care products. Originally a German consum ...
. The Deutsche Cassette was not particularly common in Europe and practically unheard-of in America. The compact cassette became a major consumer audio format and advances in electronic and mechanical miniaturization led to the development of the
Sony Walkman Walkman (stylized WALKMAN) is a brand of portable media players manufactured by Sony is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. The co ...
, a pocket-sized cassette player introduced in 1979. The Walkman was the first personal music player and it gave a major boost to sales of prerecorded cassettes, which became the first widely successful release format that used a re-recordable medium: the vinyl record was a playback-only medium and commercially prerecorded tapes for reel-to-reel tape decks, which many consumers found difficult to operate, were never more than a niche market item. A key advance in audio fidelity came with the
Dolby A A Dolby noise-reduction system, or Dolby NR, is one of a series of noise reduction Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from a signal In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield tha ...
noise reduction system, invented by
Ray Dolby Ray Milton Dolby (; January 18, 1933 – September 12, 2013) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United State ...
and introduced into professional recording studios in 1966. It suppressed the background of hiss, which was the only easily audible downside of mastering on tape instead of recording directly to disc. A competing system, dbx, invented by David Blackmer, also found success in professional audio. A simpler variant of Dolby's noise reduction system, known as Dolby B, greatly improved the sound of cassette tape recordings by reducing the especially high level of hiss that resulted from the cassette's miniaturized tape format. The compact cassette format also benefited from improvements to the tape itself as coatings with wider frequency responses and lower inherent noise were developed, often based on cobalt and chrome oxides as the magnetic material instead of the more usual iron oxide. The multitrack audio cartridge had been in wide use in the radio industry, from the late 1950s to the 1980s, but in the 1960s the pre-recorded
8-track tape The 8-track tape (formally Stereo 8; commonly called eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, and eight-track) is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when the compact cassette ...
was launched as a consumer audio format by the
Lear Jet Learjet is a Canadian-owned aerospace manufacturer of business jets for civilian and military use based in Wichita, Kansas, United States. Founded in the late 1950s by Bill Lear, William Powell Lear as Swiss American Aviation Corporation, it has ...
aircraft company. Aimed particularly at the automotive market, they were the first practical, affordable car hi-fi systems, and could produce sound quality superior to that of the compact cassette. However the smaller size and greater durability — augmented by the ability to create home-recorded music
mixtape A mixtape (alternatively mix-tape or mix tape) is a compilation of music, typically from multiple sources, recorded onto a medium. With origins in the 1980s, the term normally describes a homemade compilation of music onto a cassette tape, Compac ...

mixtape
s since 8-track recorders were rare — saw the cassette become the dominant consumer format for portable audio devices in the 1970s and 1980s. There had been experiments with multi-channel sound for many yearsusually for special musical or cultural eventsbut the first commercial application of the concept came in the early 1970s with the introduction of
Quadraphonic Quadraphonic (or ''Quadrophonic'' and sometimes ''Quadrasonic'') sound In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge ...
sound. This spin-off development from multitrack recording used four tracks (instead of the two used in stereo) and four speakers to create a 360-degree audio field around the listener. Following the release of the first consumer 4-channel
hi-fi High fidelity (often shortened to Hi-Fi or HiFi) is the high-quality reproduction of sound. It is important to audiophile An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity High fidelity (often shortened to Hi-Fi or HiFi) ...
systems, a number of popular albums were released in one of the competing four-channel formats; among the best known are
Mike Oldfield Michael Gordon Oldfield (born 15 May 1953) is a British musician, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter best known for his debut studio album ''Tubular Bells'' (1973), which became an unexpected critical and commercial success and propelled him ...
's ''
Tubular Bells Tubular bells (also known as chimes) are musical instruments A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through pur ...
'' and
Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compo ...
's ''
The Dark Side of the Moon ''The Dark Side of the Moon'' is the eighth studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 1 March 1973 by Harvest Records. Primarily developed during live performances, the band premiered an early version of the suite several ...
''. Quadraphonic sound was not a commercial success, partly because of competing and somewhat incompatible four-channel sound systems (e.g.,
CBS CBS is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S ...

CBS
,
JVC The , usually referred to as JVC or the Japan Victor Company, is a Japanese brand owned by JVCKenwood corporation. Founded in 1927, the company is best known for introducing Japan's first televisions and for developing the Video Home System (VH ...

JVC
,
Dynaco Founded by David Hafler and Ed Laurent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founde ...
and others all had systems) and generally poor quality, even when played as intended on the correct equipment, of the released music. It eventually faded out in the late 1970s, although this early venture paved the way for the eventual introduction of domestic
surround sound Surround sound is a technique for enriching the fidelity and depth of sound reproduction In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiolo ...
systems in home theatre use, which gained popularity following the introduction of the DVD.


Audio components

The replacement of the relatively fragile thermionic valve (
vacuum tube A vacuum tube, electron tube, valve (British usage), or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric voltage, potential difference has been applied. The type kn ...
) by the smaller, lighter-weight, cooler-running, less expensive, more robust, and less power-hungry
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transistor
also accelerated the sale of consumer high-fidelity "
hi-fi High fidelity (often shortened to Hi-Fi or HiFi) is the high-quality reproduction of sound. It is important to audiophile An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity High fidelity (often shortened to Hi-Fi or HiFi) ...
" sound systems from the 1960s onward. In the 1950s, most record players were monophonic and had relatively low sound quality. Few consumers could afford high-quality stereophonic sound systems. In the 1960s, American manufacturers introduced a new generation of "modular" hi-fi components — separate turntables, pre-amplifiers, amplifiers, both combined as integrated amplifiers, tape recorders, and other ancillary equipment like the
graphic equaliser Equalization in sound recording and reproduction Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical, Mechanical system, mechanical, electronic, or digital inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instru ...
, which could be connected together to create a complete home sound system. These developments were rapidly taken up by major Japanese electronics companies, which soon flooded the world market with relatively affordable, high-quality transistorized audio components. By the 1980s, corporations like
Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from mult ...

Sony
had become world leaders in the music recording and playback industry.


Digital recording

The advent of digital sound recording and later the
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
(CD) in 1982 brought significant improvements in the durability of consumer recordings. The CD initiated another massive wave of change in the consumer music industry, with
vinyl records A phonograph disc record (also known as a gramophone disc record, especially in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language va ...
effectively relegated to a small niche market by the mid-1990s. However, the record industry fiercely resisted the introduction of digital systems, fearing wholesale piracy on a medium able to produce perfect copies of original released recordings. The most recent and revolutionary developments have been in digital recording, with the development of various uncompressed and compressed digital audio file formats, Microprocessor, processors capable and fast enough to convert the digital data to sound in Real-time computing, real time, and inexpensive mass storage. This generated new types of portable digital audio players. The minidisc player, using ATRAC compression on small, cheap, re-writeable discs was introduced in the 1990s, but became obsolescent as solid-state non-volatile flash memory dropped in price. As technologies that increase the amount of data that can be stored on a single medium, such as Super Audio CD, DVD-A, Blu-ray Disc, and HD DVD become available, longer programs of higher quality fit onto a single disc. Sound files are readily downloaded from the Internet and other sources, and copied onto computers and digital audio players. Digital audio technology is now used in all areas of audio, from casual use of music files of moderate quality to the most demanding professional applications. New applications such as internet radio and podcasting have appeared. Technological developments in recording, editing, and consuming have transformed the record industry, record, film industry, movie and television industries in recent decades. audio engineering, Audio editing became practicable with the invention of magnetic tape recording, but technologies like MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), sound synthesis allowed greater control for composers and artists. These digital audio techniques and mass storage have reduced recording and marketing costs so high-quality digital recordings can be produced in small studios. Today, the process of making a recording is separated into tracking, Audio mixing (recorded music), mixing and Audio mastering, mastering. Multitrack recording makes it possible to capture signals from several microphones, or from different takes to tape, disc or mass storage, with maximized headroom (audio signal processing), headroom and quality, allowing previously unavailable flexibility in the mixing and mastering stages.


Software

There are many different digital audio recording and processing programs running under several computer operating systems for all purposes, ranging from casual users (e.g., a small business person recording their "to-do" list on an inexpensive digital recorder) to serious amateurs (an unsigned "indie" band recording their demo on a laptop) to professional sound engineers who are recording albums, film scores and doing sound design for video games. A comprehensive list of digital recording applications is available at the digital audio workstation article. Digital dictation software for recording and transcribing speech has different requirements; intelligibility and flexible playback facilities are priorities, while a wide frequency range and high audio quality are not.


Cultural effects

The development of analog sound recording in the nineteenth century and its widespread use throughout the twentieth century had a huge impact on the development of music. Before analog sound recording was invented, most music was listened to by hearing a live performance, or by singing or playing a song or piece. Throughout the Medieval music, medieval, Renaissance music, Renaissance, Baroque music, Baroque, Classical music (period), Classical, and through much of the Romantic music era, the main way that songs and instrumental pieces were "recorded" was by notating the piece in
music notation Music is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelli ...

music notation
. While music notation indicates the pitches of the melody and their rhythm, the notation is not like a 2010-era sound recording. Indeed, in the Medieval era, Gregorian chant did not indicate the rhythm of the chant. In the Baroque era, instrumental pieces often lack a tempo indication and usually none of the ornaments were written down. As a result, each performance of a song or piece would be slightly different. With the development of analog sound recording, though, a performance could be permanently fixed, in all of its elements: pitch, rhythm, timbre, ornaments and expression. This meant that many more elements of a performance would be captured and disseminated to other listeners. The development of sound recording also enabled a much larger proportion of people to hear famous orchestras, operas, singers and bands, because even if a non-wealthy person could not afford to hear the live concert, she or he might be able to afford to buy the recording. The availability of sound recording thus helped to spread musical styles to new regions, countries and continents. The cultural influence went in a number of directions. Sound recordings enabled Western music lovers to hear actual recordings of Asian, Middle Eastern and African groups and performers, increasing awareness of non-Western musical styles. At the same time, sound recordings enabled non-Western music lovers to hear the most famous North American and European groups and singers.


Legal status

In copyright law, a "phonogram" or "sound recording" is a work that results from the fixation of sounds in a medium. The notice of copyright in a phonogram uses the sound recording copyright symbol, which the Geneva Phonograms Convention defines as ℗ (the letter P in a full circle). This usually accompanies the copyright notice for the underlying musical composition, which uses the ordinary © symbol. The recording is separate from the song so copyright for a recording usually belongs to the record company. It is less common for an artist or producer to hold these rights. Copyright for recordings has existed since 1972, while copyright for musical composition, or songs, has existed since 1831. Disputes over sampling (music), sampling and "beats" are ongoing.


United States

United States copyright law defines "sound recordings" as "works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds" other than an audiovisual work's soundtrack. Prior to the Sound Recording Amendment (SRA), which took effect in 1972, copyright in sound recordings was handled at the level of the several states. Federal copyright law preempts most state copyright laws but allows state copyright in sound recordings to continue for one full copyright term after the SRA's effective date, which means 2067.


United Kingdom

Since 1934, copyright law in Great Britain has treated sound recordings (or ''phonograms'') differently from musical works.''Gramaphone Company v. Stephen Cawardine'' ''Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988'' defines a sound recording as (a) a recording of sounds, from which the sounds may be reproduced, or (b) a recording of the whole or any part of a literary, dramatic or musical work, from which sounds reproducing the work or part may be produced, regardless of the medium on which the recording is made or the method by which the sounds are reproduced or produced. It thus covers vinyl records, tapes,
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compri ...

compact disc
s, digital audiotapes, and MP3s that embody recordings.


Notes


References


Further reading

* Barlow, Sanna Morrison. Mountain Singing: the Story of Gospel Recordings in the Philippines. Hong Kong: Alliance Press, 1952. 352 p. * Carson, B. H.; Burt, A. D.; Reiskind, and H. I.
"A Record Changer And Record Of Complementary Design"
''RCA Review'', June 1949 * Coleman, Mark
''Playback: from the Victrola to MP3, 100 years of music, machines, and money''
Da Capo Press, 2003. * Fred Gaisberg, Gaisberg, Frederick W., "The Music Goes Round", [Andrew Farkas, editor.], New Haven, Ayer, 1977. * Gelatt, Roland. ''The Fabulous Phonograph, 1877-1977''. Second rev. ed., [being also the] First Collier Books ed., in series, ''Sounds of the Century''. New York: Collier, 1977. 349 p., ill. * Gronow, Pekka
"The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Medium"
''Popular Music'', Vol. 3, Producers and Markets (1983), pp. 53–75, Cambridge University Press. * Gronow, Pekka, and Saunio, Ilpo, "An International History of the Recording Industry", [translated from the Finnish by Christopher Moseley], London ; New York : Cassell, 1998. * Lipman, Samuel,"The House of Music: Art in an Era of Institutions", 1984. See the chapter on "Getting on Record", pp. 62–75, about the early record industry and Fred Gaisberg and Walter Legge and FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording). * Millard, Andre J., "America on record : a history of recorded sound", Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1995. * Millard, Andre J.
" From Edison to the iPod"
UAB Reporter, 2005, University of Alabama at Birmingham. * Milner, Greg
"Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music"
Faber & Faber; 1 edition (June 9, 2009) . Cf. p. 14 on H. Stith Bennett and "recording consciousness". * Moogk, Edward Balthasar. ''Roll Back the Years: History of Canadian Recorded Sound and Its Legacy, Genesis to 1930''. Ottawa, Ont.: National Library of Canada, 1975. ''N.B''.: In part, also, a bio-discography; the hardback ed. comes with a "phonodisc of historical Canadian recordings" (33 1/3 r.p.m., mono., 17 cm.) that the 1980 pbk. reprint lacks. (pbk.) * Moogk, Edith Kathryn. ''Title Index to Canadian Works Listed in Edward B. Moogk's "Roll Back the Years, History of Canadian Recorded Sound, Genesis to 1930"'', in series, ''C.A.M.L. Occasional Papers'', no. 1. Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Association of Music Libraries, 1988. ''N.B''.: Title and fore-matter also in French; supplements the index within E. B. Moogk's book. * Read, Oliver, and Walter L. Welch, ''From Tin Foil to Stereo: Evolution of the Phonograph'', Second ed., Indianapolis, Ind.: H.W. Same & Co., 1976. ''N.B''.: This is an historical account of the development of sound recording technology. pbk. * Read, Oliver, ''The Recording and Reproduction of Sound'', Indianapolis, Ind.: H.W. Sams & Co., 1952. ''N.B''.: This is a pioneering engineering account of sound recording technology. * , University of San Diego, San Diego University * St-Laurent, Gilles, "Notes on the Degradation of Sound Recordings", ''National Library [of Canada] News'', vol. 13, no. 1 (Jan. 1991), p. 1, 3–4. * Weir, Bob, et al. ''Century of Sound: 100 Years of Recorded Sound, 1877-1977''. Executive writer, Bob Weir; project staff writers, Brian Gorman, Jim Simons, Marty Melhuish. [Toronto?]: Produced by Studio 123, cop. 1977. ''N.B''.: Published on the occasion of an exhibition commemorating the centennial of recorded sound, held at the fairground of the annual Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Ont., as one of the C.N.E.'s 1977 events. Without ISBN * McWilliams, Jerry. ''The Preservation and Restoration of Sound Recordings''. Nashville, Tenn.: American Association for State and Local History, 1979.


External links


Audio Engineering Society

Oral history of recorded sound
Interviews with practitioners in all areas of the recording industry. British Library
History of Recorded Sound. New York Public Library

Noise in the Groove
– A podcast about the history of the phonograph, gramophone, and sound recording/reproduction.
Audio Engineering online course
under Creative Commons Licence
Archival Sound Recordings
– tens of thousands of recordings showcasing audio history from 19th century wax cylinders to the present day. British Library
International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA)

Recorded Music
a
A History of Central Florida Podcast
* Millard, Andre

''Lost and Found Sound'', interview on National Public Radio. * {{DEFAULTSORT:Sound Recording And Reproduction Audio engineering Mass media technology Sound production technology, Recording and reproduction Sound recording, Recording and reproduction Sound technology, *