Friday, January 8, 2016

Everything old is new again

By Don Keith

The largest convention in Las Vegas each year is the CES...the Consumer Electronics Show.  As of this writing, this year's meet is just now wrapping up and there is a perplexed look on many of the faces of the 176,000 folks who trudged from booth to booth to see what technology is new and exciting and can't-miss.

Perplexed because there really wasn't much new.  Same old drones, 4K TVs, smaller and smaller ear buds and digital storage devices, and the like, but all those things were there last year, too.  But even more perplexing to attendees was what was hot and what "new" technology attracted lots of attention.  It was...well...ancient technology.

Ancient technology like record turntables, speakers, high end audio amps, and even a Kodak video camera.  See an article HERE for the surprising story.

I do this blog to keep an eye on rapidly advancing technology and how it affects media, society, and even--occasionally--my favorite hobby of Amateur Radio.  But I confess that I rue the day when people started thinking that listening to music was best on a tiny ear bud that reproduces a frequency range that is so narrow most of it sounds like a mouse caught in a blender and those low bass notes are non-existent.

Maybe people accept this travesty because some of today's music (and I am showing my curmudgeonly nature here) actually sounds best when you can't hear most of it.  But for the real experience you need to not just hear the full range but to be able to FEEL it, too.  Terms like distortion and dynamic range mean something.  And I do dislike some of the digital brittleness found in much music reproduction, brought on by having to compress and modify in order to change everything to 1s and zeroes to cram the music onto web sites, digital storage media, and fit such a wide range of potential playback devices out there.

It is a fact that music from well-mastered vinyl sounds better and warmer than a digital download or CD, especially if reproduced on a quality turntable with a good stylus, amplified with minimal distortion by a nice amp and fed into well-designed speakers.

What's my reaction to the new old stuff attracting so much attention at CES?

Hallelujah!  And you can play that back loud and proud.
de N4KC

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