It’s easy to think of sound recordings in the present tense. Thanks to modern marketing, we’re fixated on this week’s downloads, who’s doing well on America’s Got Talent, and what Lady Gaga is wearing. (Whatever happened to that meat dress, anyway?) But a very cool thing happens once something is recorded.
Aah, summertime. Lather on sunscreen, pump up the bike tires, and you’re almost set. What’s missing? Music! And we’re not talking about those antisocial earbuds that cocooned you through the dark winter. We’re talking about actual speakers that you can take along with you on outings.
I recently received a thoughtful e-mail from S+V reader Michael Kiley. He commiserated with my perception that the general level of sound quality has declined. Like me, he worried that the rise of mobile phones as our preferred playback source, the popularity of listening to compressed files stored or streamed (and through earbuds), isn't exactly making for audiophile heaven. Mr. Kiley's letter provided some perspective and got me to thinking…
Neil Young likes to criticize things: war, environmental abuses, indifference to homelessness, the plight of small farmers, Presidents of the United States, etc. Name an activist topic, and you can probably find several well-crafted lyrics, ranging from subtle to confrontational, on the issue. Neil Young is also critical of sound quality. Highly critical.
You’ve got to hand it to Walmart. First, they make a zillion dollars selling DVD and Blu-ray discs to everyone. Now, they’re set to make another zillion dollars so you don’t have to actually use the discs. Brilliant, simply brilliant.
Michael Jackson is back in the news, and as usual, not in a good way. This time, at least, it’s no fault of his own. Rather, it’s his employer, Sony, who assumes the blame. It was imprudently careless with the keys to Jackson’s bank vault.
8-track tape, cassette, MiniDisc, DAT. They all have two things in common. You don’t find them in new cars anymore. And, like lots of other technologies that have come and gone, car radios have easily outlasted them. Actually, add CD to that list. Within a few years, that’ll be gone. But is AM/FM radio on the endangered species list too?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting this week on the future plans of two corporations. As with any corporate news, there is a certain dry and brittle quality to it; most WSJ readers really only care how news will affect share prices. But there's also high drama playing out. Right before our eyes, one company is withering away, while the other soars higher and higher.