Looking Towards The Future
As Enjoy the Music.com celebrates our 25th Anniversary this month, I want to focus more on the future than the past. During my 20th Anniversary message, there were highlights of progress within the high-end audio community. Within this month's editorial, I'll be focusing on the next 25. While many of us enjoy amazing music via our turntable and dare we add reel-to-reel system, the future of streaming music is brighter than ever! For some of you reading this, there was a world of music pre-Internet as we searched through that book within the record store to order rare albums. Then came the Compact Disc (CD), and thus began a world of consumer-based digitized stereo audio. For many readers, especially those under the age of 45, digital audio was the norm. It is not lost on me that Fraunhofer's lossy mp3 is also celebrating its 25th anniversary. Within this editorial celebrating 25 years of Enjoy the Music.com I want to focus on the recent past, yet mainly write about the future of music and the high-end audio industry.
If you know what this is... Virtually no one under 40 does, ask them.
An Immersive Experience Is The
Musical innovators, such as Pink Floyd, experimented in quad (four channels of audio) back in the 1970s. Few took advantage of this technology within their home. During the early 1990s QSound, a filtering algorithm that manipulates timing, amplitude, and frequency response to produce an enveloping sound via stereo, arrived. In 1999 we saw the launch of the DVD-Audio format. Fast-forward a year to 2000 and some form of enveloping sound became the norm within virtually all video games. With recent youth being accustom to immersive sound, is it any wonder that today's aural artists are creating music that far exceeds the basics of mono and stereo. As musical creators, they have not been (overly) 'programmed' with creating music for only two channels.
Rest assured that with such a deep collection / selection of albums recorded for many decades in stereo, today's normal high-fidelity two-channel audio system will be around for decades to come. Yet we as an industry must also recognize that new musical artists 'hear the world' in a 'different' manner. Their world has always been filled with aural envelopment. Actually, all of us have always enjoyed immersive sound because that's how humans hear the natural world that surrounds us all. Yet for music, we 'old guys and gals' got programmed that music is a two-channel affair. Two-channel audio has a very solid foundation and will continue to be an important part of many music lovers' lives. Yet this may not be 100% true with today's under 30 music lovers.
The advantage for our industry embracing a multi-channel immersive world is selling more speakers, more amplifiers, etc, while also bringing more realism we desire. As best I can tell, audiophiles have a goal to enjoy the music as it sounded during the live acoustic performance. If the original recording is not 100% acoustic on a standard front of the venue stage, then as the artists intended. It is this last point that should remind us all that many of the albums we love were never 100% acoustic with minimal mic'ing. Just some food for thought.
According to Engadget on July 29th (2020), "Music tracks encoded with Dolby's immersive Atmos Music tech recently started appearing on Tidal and other streaming services, but most are from artists backed by major labels. Now, Dolby and Pro Tools developer Avid are making it easier for independent artists to encode and distribute Atmos Music. That makes it more likely you'll get to hear next-level immersive audio from smaller artists on your streaming service of choice."
Speaking Of Under 35 Year Olds
Many talented technology writers I've e-mailed over the past few years enjoy their freedom of reviewing for their site. In recent years, we've been blessed by having many new web magazines make their mark within the audiophile industry. They are fiercely independent, plus they desire to freely speak their mind without a heavy-handed editor making their reviews sound like just another cookie-cutter review. Many have built a solid reputation, as they serve an enthusiastic audience by paying attention to their requests. Today there is a wider blurred line between reviewing and selling, as in the early days of the web eTown was amongst the first site to review gear, and then you could buy it from eTown too. Back then there were murmurs of conflict of interest. Today, the perceived 'conflict of interest' in reviewing a product, and in selling it directly or via an affiliate program, is a blurry line that is becoming more acceptable. Over the years manufacturers have asked Enjoy the Music.com to help design a product, and then help sell it too. We've always turned down these offers.
The Future Of Hi-Fi Magazines And
Stereo has served us well for many decades and will be with us for a long, long time. Sure we can embrace reel-to-reel, the vinyl LP, and CD too, yet also deliver the 'promise' of recording studio-quality sound within our home and on-the-go too. Today's youthful musicians are more attuned with being a Soundscape CreatorTM, and in turn the very best 'listeners' will be called an ImmersivephileTM. I predict that in the near-ish future this will bring forth the next chapter of our hobby. We want to hear their musical creativity as the artist intended... no matter the format or channel count.
Of course... "That's up to you. Your future hasn't been written — no one's has. For better or for worse, your future is what you make of it. So make it a good one."
As always in the end what really matters is that you...
Note: Soundscape CreatorTM and ImmersivephileTM are trademarked by Steven R. Rochlin.