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December 2017
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
We Say Goodbye To 2017 And Hello To 1999
Yes, welcome to 1999 music lovers, and here's why...
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

  Sometimes one can't help but to look back. Perhaps it is December and one begins to realize that 2017 has passed by so fast! Many music lovers have just starting streaming Hi-Res Audio during 2017 and are rediscovering, and discovering, some great tunes. Dare we mention the massive variety of new analog hardware and software available today? Vinyl LP, reel-to-reel, cassette tape....

It should surprise no one that, in a sense, what's old may be new again as we are enjoying our music in a variety of ways. Yet there's one particular item that brings Yours Truly some serious déjà vu. It is this whole better than CD sound quality thing. So I bring you Enjoy the Music.com's Industry News for November 1999 (yes, 18 years ago!). 

 

11 / 18 / 99
Soon we will all be able to record our own 24-bit/96 kHz or better audio DVD discs... inexpensively! Panasonic has announced plans to offer two different model DVD-RAM (recordable DVD) drives. These units are capable of storing 4.7GB and are expected to ship in mid-2000. Combined with high-quality sound cards like those from Digigram, consumers can now record their own very high resolution music with the possibility of software "upsampling" coming into the software market making many things possible. Of course videophiles can also make their own movies too using currently available software! This spells not just convergence, but the ability of the consumer to improve upon the original software!

 

11 / 22 / 99
We all are now hearing about web enables cellular phones, but what about MP3 music from your wireless phone device? The folks at Micronas, makers of high-quality chips for audio and video needs, are now having their chips embedded within personal wireless phone devices. Already used within the popular Diamond Multimedia Rio and other devices, MP3 will soon be coming to a phone near you! With higher demands of e-mail and web-ready devices in strong demand, various companies also see the benefit of adding MP3 playback to the list of features too. Expect even more devices, such as a wider variety of palm and handheld type devices, to be MP3 enabled in the near future as well.

 

11 / 23 / 99 
The new very small SanDisk postage stamp sized memory has reached new heights of offering 64MB of storage capacity! This reporter feels that one day we will need absolutely no moving parts as our music will be sent via wireless technology or sold on memory chips. These new 64MB cards can hold roughly one full hour of "near CD quality" MP3 music. Meanwhile Sony is trying to offer their own MP3 player using their proprietary "Memory Stick" technology (which Sony claims will be shipping over 3 million units by the end of 1999). This could spell disaster for the product as most MP3 devices use standard SanDisk and Smart Media memory cards. It is still very noteworthy that Sony has also joined the portable MP3 fray. Who will win the memory card race is anyone's guess as the consumer seems to only want a simply single standard to use in devices from digital cameras to portable MP3 units.

 

11 / 28 / 99
The audience is listening... and the music industry may finally be "getting it" by making the soon to be release DVD-Audio format backward compatible while keeping within the WG-4 specification. Working on ways to make the upcoming new DVD-Audio fully compatible with current models of DVD-Video players, Warner Music and Universal Music are making inroads to placing uncompressed 24-bit/96kHz music within their future DVD-Audio releases.

Warner's technology VP Jordan Rost said his company's first DVD-Audio discs will include a compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 mix playable on current DVD-Video players. Meanwhile Universal Music's production director Jim Belcher said his company is "looking at" uncompressed 96kHz/24-bit stereo PCM tracks on its future DVD-Audio discs. This could possibly spell the demise of and real mainstream acceptance Sony's new SACD format whose only real advantage seems to be the backward compatibility with legacy systems low bit and sampling rate 16-bit/44.1kHz CD systems.

 

"You've felt... that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad." – The Matrix (also in 1999, hmmmmmm)

 

Substitute a few words, perhaps change MB to GB (perhaps TB if you're reading this 18 years after 2017) and does anything seem even a teeny tiny bit familiar? Frankly, there were many, many more items I could have posted that almost seem like headlines and info from today; if you merely swap the word CD for Hi-Res Audio download, or, now on TIDAL in MQA, or Cactus Data Shield.... 

 

 

MP3pro -> HDCD -> DSD -> MQA (which separates the signal akin to mp3PRO)

 

As we all simply swap one format for another as time passes. Isn't that what many of us have done as we moved from:

Vinyl LP -> CD -> Digital Download -> Hi-Res Audio Streaming -> Vinyl LP (wait, what?)

 

What's old is indeed new again. Look around as people are wearing the now-fashionable ugly sweaters. But I digress, so back to audio.

Look, we all know what's going on. Or at the very least, you have some splinter in your mind of what's going on in the audio and music biz and you just want to enjoy the music on whatever format type/way it happens to be at this very moment. There's virtually never been a greater time to enjoy your tunes, be it via physical or virtual format. Vinyl playback in the main listening room. Hi-Res Audio streaming within your car. Grab your custom in-ear monitors and digital audio player for the airplane ride to ____. Sure 1999 was a great year for the early digital, and 18 years later we've come a long way in availability and music choices. What took the major music industry 18 years to adapt / adopt is a discussion for another time.

Let's all give thanks to musicians, recording/mastering engineers, equipment manufacturers, record labels, online sales/streaming music services, and many others. Something tells me that 2018 could be something quite special for music lovers worldwide. Who knows, maybe a Hi-Res Audio commercial during the Super Bowl? Maybe some popular and influential people breaking out the promotion to finally move mainstream music lovers into re-discovering their fave tunes? How is Big Industry going to get everyone excited about Hi-Res Audio? Is Sony going to give more than a mere two minutes during their CES keynote to Hi-Res Audio (not musical light bulbs and/or a Hi-Res Audio... $400... wait for it.... turntable).

 

 

Yes, a $400 Sony Hi-Res Audio vinyl LP turntable. What's old is new again.

 

Are we there yet?

 

As always, in the end, what really matters is that you...

  

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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