The beginnings of recorded music lie in the late 1880s when the first device for recording and playing back sound was invented by Thomas Edison. The phonograph was a cylindrical machine that could play back recordings that had been embedded in tin foil. The technology was swiftly overtaken by a cut disc recording that was to be the first embodiment of the gramophone record that we are all familiar with. Within ten years of recording and playback technology being discovered, wax disks were being played and within another 15 years, the record as we know it was in mass production, taking pride of place in the world of sound recording. This is how the situation remained until a hundred years after the first phonograph recording, the compact disk pulled the rug from under the record's feet.

Those many years of domination led to playback technology being constantly developed and refined to give the listener an experience that had the potential of matching the quality of a live performance. Gramophone players morphed into turntables, and the advancement in amplification systems produced DJ equipment that could entertain an audience with music as well as the live act could themselves. Then the bubble burst with the introduction of the CD. Initially, the only effect this had on the mediums available was in making the recorded cassette obsolete. The quality of the music on the compact disk was derided as tinny and soulless, and therefore DJs and the public continued to demand music on vinyl.

It wasn't just the CD's that were to blame for the poor quality of sound reproduction, the technology for playback was less than adequate, often not having the right analogue converters to offer high quality playback. It wasn't long however before these glitches were ironed out, and because the CD is a more portable medium than the record, it became the consumer's choice. DJ equipment on the other hand remained as it always had, and continued to improve by incorporating digital and automated functions in the playback on analogue recordings.

Audiophiles were adamant that vinyl recordings were of a superior quality, and DJs continued to play their sets through turntables and using mixers and faders. It has only been in the last couple of years that the technology of DJ equipment has advanced and become digital, but not necessarily because of the CD. At the turn of this century, MP3 and Wav recordings were becoming the technology that everyone wanted for listening to music. The major advantage was once again portability. The launch of MP3 players, and the release of the iconic iPod heralded an age where a physical format for music was not needed, as thousands of tracks could be stored on a portable player.

Computerized audio files are where the DJ equipment really changed. By hooking up digital faders and mixers to a computer with specialist software, DJs are playing to crowds that are hard pressed to tell the difference between this and traditional vinyl sets. Ironically, the move from vinyl to digital files on the club scene have boosted the demand for vinyl. As CD's are experiencing dwindling sales whilst the world shops on iTunes, those that do want to invest in a solid format are generally music enthusiasts who choose vinyl over CD. So the record remains triumphant despite the digital revolution, holding onto its crown over a hundred years after it's emergence, not something I believe the CD will be able to boast in 2090!

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