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Lo-Fi: A History

Ongoing History of New Music

03-04-2024 • 31 minutos

For the first 60 years of the recorded music industry, things sounded awful…the quality of the recordings people had to put up with were terrible…the old 78 rpm records played on gramophones were no match when it came to hearing music live…we just didn’t have the technology to capture audio so that when we listened back, it sounded real… That began to change in the late 1940s with the introduction of vinyl records: the 33 1/3 rpm vinyl album and the 7-inch 45 rpm single…it changed further with the switch to magnetic recording tape in the early 1950s… New microphones, better tape machines, and further understanding of acoustics when it came to building recording studios…then came better turntables, amplifiers, and speakers…recorded audio started to sound more and more like the real thing… In the middle 50s, people started to hear about something called “high-fidelity”…it was a marketing term invented by the audio industry to describe equipment capable of producing music properly… Once stereo recordings came along in the late 50s, music fans went wild and started buying hi-fi gear for their homes…then their cars…and then for going mobile… It was an endless pursuit for perfect sound, music that was loud, clean, clear, and accurate…meanwhile, recording studios were constantly in a state of retrofitting and refurbishment because artists demanded the best for their music… That was the 1970s…in the 1980s, there was a reaction, a backlash, an artistic regression, after the introduction of the compact disc…for some, this music was too perfect, too shiny, too unreal… They felt it contained none of the imperfections that made it human…beauty, they thought, was in the mistakes…that’s what made music authentic…audio quality mattered less than being able to listen to music that obviously came from the heart… These music fans even had a name for this approach…if the best-sounding audio was high-fidelity, then what they wanted was the opposite: low-fidelity…and that aesthetic continues today…this is the history of Lo-Fi music… Learn more about your ad choices. Visit