Analog Audio's Comeback
By Robert ArcherWith soaring record sales and consumers rediscovering tube amplification products, CE pros should consider adding analog technologies to their repertoire.
Many audiophiles say one of the electronic industry's most glaring unfilled promises is that of digital audio superiority.
Back in the early 1980s when the CD was first introduced, it was promoted as a format that would provide listeners with a less noisy, more dynamic and more inclusive sound experience.
Nearly 30 years later, many old-school audiophiles, and some Generation X and Y consumers, are turning to technologies that were abandoned by the masses, hoping to restore the visceral impact that's allegedly eluded engineers designing digital components.Why the interest after so long?
Annual year-end sales figures from the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) show vinyl sales have increased after a dip the past two years. Billy Wright, president and CEO of Cary Audio, says the increase is likely a combination of factors.
"It is quite obvious how much people enjoy music by the sheer dollars and time spent on electronics, as well as music," says Wright, whose company manufactures tube and solid state electronics. "Unfortunately, the majority of the music listened to is in a highly compressed format. However, I do think that with the migration of the purchasing dollars moving from disc-based systems to computers and hard drive, server-based systems, consumers are starting to become aware of and more knowledgeable about higher quality [music]."
Wright says the audiophile build-up of "tubes are what high-end sound is all about" and "nothing sounds better than vinyl" are other factors contributing to the analog phenomenon. He says mass-market retailers are starting to sell entry-level analog equipment and LPs.
"Another reason may be the ‘cool factor,'" Wright says. "Whether it is the glow of tubes or the ritual of changing of a record, it transforms the listening of music into a hobby instead of a pastime. It transports us to a different place. With our hectic schedules, this represents an oasis for us."Click here to continue.