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Entry 2

What is digital recording?

To start this off, here is a brief history. Audio and sound recording has been a developing technique since the mid/late 1800s. This started with early models of phonographs, which was made of a wax-like cylinder that would spin along a needle. This needle would move in the motion of the sound that is being produced. Technology advanced through the years and eventually the cylinder was remodeled to be flat (a vinyl record in today’s time), but still recorded with a moving needle. With the introduction of electricity, recording started to turn to wire recording (think telegraph) and then eventually to tape. This tape records an analog audio signal, as true to the original as possible.
Now the 1980s not only introduced significantly diverse genres of music, the decade also gave birth to the digital recording format. As a matter of fact, any popular new recording invention since 1982 is in a digital format.
Here is the difference between analog (cassette, record, phonograph, reel to reel, 8-track) and digital (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, MiniDisc):

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here is an audio sample. The blue line is an analog signal, an exact copy of the original. The red lines going up are samples of the analog audio. This is the big difference between the two formats.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
I drew a line connecting the dots from the red line. The green represents the digital waves as opposed to the blue line. As you can see, the two lines are quite different. Take a look at the highest points and the lowest points. The blue goes farther than the green. This is because there is a rate that the digital path takes. This is the sampling rate. This is the amount of times the digital recorder reconstructs the analog sound per second. So if there is a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, this means that the recorder grabs 44,100 little chunks of audio per 1 second of sound.
Here are a few different sampling rates that may apply to what a person hears.
8,000 Hz  – Telephone
16,000 Hz – Internet microphone, think web chatting
32,000 Hz – Camcorders (remember those?), FM Radio is usually around this number as well
44,100 Hz – CD
48,000 Hz – Television, consumer based DVDs, films
96,000 Hz – DVD-Audio not to be confused with DVD, this is as if a DVD were made just for audio.
 
As you can see, there is a huge difference between a CD and a telephone. Generally, the higher the sampling rate, the more memory is required to store a file. So you can hear it for yourself, a telephone voice does not sound remotely like how someone does in person because the phone receiver is only picking up a fraction of what is actually being said. It’s like playing music over a phone, it just doesn’t sound right!


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07/09/2013 11:37AM
Entry 2
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