The History of Audio Recording

Thomas Edison & The Phonograph

Advancements in audio quality have made leaps and bounds throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. From the most primitive needle recording method to multimillion dollar pieces of sound engineering equipment in multimillion dollar studios, the way people listen to music has changed incredibly, to say the least.

Thomas Edison perfected the phonograph in the late 1800’s to primitively introduce music recording. This device employed impressionable material as the recording medium. On the material a needle would impress etchings to reflect the original recording. These impressions then transmitted sound through a needle which would respond to air pressure changes produced by the original recording. It was essentially a primitive record in a cylinder form. The design was incredible innovative for the time.

About a decade later, the first records were introduced. These didn’t employ recording with different depths based on air pressure, rather the depth of the track was constant. This was compounded with the introduction of electric recording during the depression. This was an important step because it facilitated the use of microphones and cables to eliminate a lot of popping and cracking and background noise.

Electric recording was refined even more with the advent of magnetic recording. This introduced a magnetic method for attaching the music to the medium. This was further refined with the introduction of magnetic tape. This was the initial creation for what would later make possible the introduction of the eight track and, later, the cassette tape.

This brings us to the digital audio recording method we employ today. The introduction of the compact disc in the early 1980’s changed the way music is recorded forever. Digital recording made music more transferable and subsequently more accessible than ever before. This made it possible for the introduction of music files, which take up even less space on your computer.

Ever since Edison perfected the phonograph, the sound recording industry has given rise to a brand new profession. A profession focused on producing the best sound possible for music recordings, movie editing and live concerts. From a needle in wax to invisible digital pockets which transmit sound through a laser, sound recording is among the most evolved industries of our time.