Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fast food music and a 25th birthday

Apple's Steve Jobs newest emperor's no clothes maneuver included the release of the iPod Touch with a mere 4GB of memory.

That not being room for much music, an application brazenly called ShrinkMyTunes has been released by a third party. The supplier claims that this app will reduce the size of mp3 files by 50%.

That's enough (deficient?) to make this old man pine for the days of LPs, and even early-release CDs. Then, the point was to EXPAND dynamic range and IMPROVE sound quality. The 'fast-fooding' of music continues.

I download mp3s at the highest bit rate I can: 320 kbps. And even that level involves compression. That's the point of the Moving Picture Experts Group-1 Audio Layer 3 (that is, mp3). It's a lossy compression algorithm, compressing sound while attempting to sound as if it hadn't.

And speaking of compact discs... last month was the format's 25th birthday. The CD was developed jointly by Philips and Sony, and officially released 17 August 1982.

It seems like only yesterday.

I remember walking into a high-end audio store in Charlottesville, Virginia and watching a dramatic demonstration of the supposed durability of a disc. The clerk took his car keys out and gouged a disc. He popped it into the player ( $1,000+, back then), and it played! Imagine if you had done that to a record, he told the potential customer. I, being the smart aleck youngster I was, mentioned that he had scratched the label side.

Trivia: The duration of a disc was set by engineers at Philips at 74 minutes so that it could contain the entire 9th Symphony of Beethoven; the first commercially released disc was of ABBA. How's that for a juxtaposition?

I like this blogger's take, especially on the cover art of a CD versus that of an LP.

Heavy rotation on personal playlist now:
Patti Scialfa: Play It As It Lays
The Boss is a lucky man. Gorgeous lady singing her own 'Bonnie Raitt-ish' southern (Jersey?) rock 'n' blues.

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