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 Jan 17, 2005 - 09:18 AM - by Michael
* The End of Analog

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
The Chicago Tribune covers the end of analog recording:

You don't need to be an audiophile to identify with Powell's account. Listen to any music recorded between the late '40s and mid-'80s, and it was likely made on analog tape. When the music industry ballooned in the '60s and '70s, manufacturers such as Quantegy expanded capacity. Labels afforded artists giant budgets that allowed groups to guiltlessly chew through hundreds of reels of tape while making an album. (Today, records made with tape typically consume five to six reels.)

But just as digital files such as MP3 permanently changed how music is packaged, bought and sold, digital altered the recording-industry landscape. By the mid-'90s, it was the norm. As engineers and studios opted for digital, demand for analog tape plummeted until Quantegy was the last manufacturer, making products in a facility that became cost-inefficient.

Powell, who also runs an analog-tape restoration business, is cognizant of digital's advantages. A reel-to-reel that holds 16 minutes of recording typically costs around $150. For nearly the same price, anybody can buy a computer hard-drive that stores 30 hours of music. Powell notes most contemporary artists -- even local bar bands -- want at least 30 separate audio channels on which they can record instruments, vocals and effects. Two-inch analog tape offers up to 24 tracks. To obtain the often-desired 48, two machines need to be synchronized, an expensive endeavor.
Sad, but true; analog may be superior, but the differences get closer every day, and digital's proven to be far cheaper.
 

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