When was the last phone call you made? How long did it take to connect and where were you when you called? A simple act of calling someone, immediately connecting, in the middle of anywhere, was just a dream for people a couple of decades ago. No hassle of ‘call transfers’ and ‘landlines’. This advancement in audio technology, that makes us oblivious to the convenience we experience, helps us convey our minds in the simplest version of communication known to mankind, our voice.
The History of Audio
Every house, office, store, or institution has a sound system set up. This can range from elaborate speaker systems to small alarms. Sound is a vital part of our day. The capability of recording sound was once non-existent. Let’s walk through the history of audio and witness the advancement in sound technology.
Beating Alexander Graham Bell by just one year, David Edward Hughes constructed a carbon microphone in the year 1875. Shortly after, the next two decades saw a variety of such devices, out of which the most momentous ones were Bell’s telephone and Oliver Lodge’s loudspeaker. Sound technology developed further in the early 1900s with the electrical amplification of sound. By the early 1930s, the industry had adapted sound-on-film technology, in which the audio signal to be recorded was used to modulate a light source, allowing it to be photographed as variations in the density, which played as the soundtrack of the scene.
After this, the focus of sound shifted from amplification to quality. The problems posed by recording and reproduction were resolved through magnetic tape recorders. This brought upon a drastic reshaping of what was once reality. People were unable to distinguish live music from recordings, resulting in gigantic sales of tapes and stereos.
The need for evolution
It's very well known that "Necessity is the mother of all Invention." With a plethora of new technologies and devices, people’s imagination and needs kept increasing. The revolutionary product Sony Walkman, was made to fulfil the co-founder Masaru Ibuka’s wish to be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of being able to listen to opera music while in flight on an aeroplane. This was the first portable music player that enabled people to listen to music anywhere across the globe. The ability to erase or record over certain files resulted in modifiable tapes, which helped with cost-cutting as well as transmutability in the field of audio quality and audio itself. The very invention of such a device, opened the roads of evolution to modern audio technology.
The present audio technology
The days of carrying a 500g device around, solely, for the purpose of listening to music or turning cassette reels to play your music are gone. All sounds are available on our smartphones and can be listened to in a few taps. Devices, as small as our fingertips, allow us to listen to high quality music wherever and whenever we want. While it took us several decades over a century to go from gramophones to magnetic tapes, the rise of the most revolutionary era of sound technology took only a little over 20 years. The rise of the digital era of technology saw the hike in CD sales and by 1986, over 2 billion CDs had been sold. But the end of the 20th century was the end of their short prominence too. Digital audio files, music applications and devices surged in popularity a decade into the 21st century.
A Glimpse into the Future
Before Steve Jobs said, "A thousand songs at your fingertips", it was difficult to even imagine music in that sense. With the evolution of audio, nothing seems impossible. The world is moving at a rate faster than ever before. With Elon Musk's NeuraLink and other such technologies, it's only more reasonable to argue that the progress of audio technology is going to move forth, unhindered, to a point where in a few years, imagining a song or tune to have your brain play it from the internet seems like a reachable goal.
Humans are known to have an audible range of 20Hz to 20KHz. It seems entirely possible that humans will surpass those limits. The applications of this are in millions. Imagine humans using sonar and ultrasound using barely their ears. At the other end of the spectrum, imagine how useful it would be to study the intrinsic sound frequencies which are emitted by every living thing and discover more secrets of the universe.
The universe started with a loud bang and the sounds have never stopped ever since. The future might hold for us an entirely new definition of audios and sounds and its applications. Audio has the power to change everything and that's what the future is going to prove to us
Audio is central to our lives. We consume various kinds of audio content regularly and often forget that this technology was not as accessible or existent as it is now. Listening to music required you to go to live performances. Honing your skills or learning something new could only be done through live lectures. The evolution of audio was life changing for all. The world hasn’t been the same. It would almost be unfair for such great power, if not harnessed in the correct manner.
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