Sunday, 20 January 2013

when did hi-fi become A/V?

#uksnow cars
An unexpected diversion, what with de-snowing the cars and the drive. I was surprised how much time it took, a function of it being an unusual occurrence. Little things like finding the proper snow boots, not seen since last time at Jungfraujoch.

Having abandoned the day's original plans, it was an excuse to practice Being Idle.

I flipped on some music and let the system select the tracks for me, which was perfectly fine, within the limits I had given it.

My idleness led me to doodle a quick picture of what used to be called Hi-Fi (does anyone still say that?) and nowadays is probably called 'Audio Visual' or similar.
HiFi goes AV
So here we are. Probably of no interest to anyone but me, but it somehow illustrates the demise of the Gramophone.

There used to be a simple path from a record shop to a record player and then to a listening experience. I still use that route for occasional purchases.

I still like the artwork of 12 inch LP albums, which could be quite special. Not so with most CDs, which bang a cover shot of the band on the front and big words in the top third that can be read from across the store.

Of course, that's dying out too, with digital downloads. If I'm honest, I used to surprise people quite a few years ago because I didn't keep those little brittle plastic boxes that most CDs came in. I'd always thrown away the outer packaging, just keeping the CD and the booklet.

OK, except for properly created artworks, of which there are still some around. I do still keep that type of CD intact.

So I guess I've been heading to digital for quite a few years.

Cue digital downloads, which signalled the potential demise of HMV and Blockbuster. Canals and railways.

Nowadays even the amplifiers are network attached. My last amplifier came with a little cardboard box in it containing a USB stick with the latest firmware upgrade to be applied before use. Of course I downloaded the more recent one online.

To be honest, I'm not sure how many people even bother nowadays with amplifiers and receivers, instead using little speaker units into which they can drop iPhones and similar.

My scribbly diagram illustrates some of the listening routes available now.

Buy from:
  • (a) an independent band or store. Still get physical product, good artwork, usually a download as well and some personal engagement.
  • (b) a record shop or store. Harder to find, yet places like Fopp and Rough Trade in London are still jam-packed with people.
  • (c) online, from Amazon or iTunes, or via a broker like which will point to the cheapest source. Amazon still gives a choice of CD or online product, but increasingly it's becoming online biased on price.
  • (d) Supermarkets. Xfactorish. Nope.
Then there's all the cloud services. Everyone wants to suggest that you don't need the physical product at all.

Even with my throwing away of CD boxes, I find this one step too far. T'interweb is strewn with failed companies. It would be a tragedy to see all the licences to listen go up in a puff of Chapter 11. I download everything. And back it up.

What it means, though, is that nowadays, there's both the stuff you own and also a good range of relevant listening suggestions from the likes of or spotify.

And they do work quite well, suggesting and playing music of the type I like, rather than just blanding me out with 'Top of the Pops' pap.

So I'm with the direction. Even if it does take a bit longer to wire up than an old Dansette.


Bilbo said...

Interesting topic, and you've inspired me to a write a future post along similar lines. I remember going from a "record player" to a "stereo" to today's integrated A/V system with all the content options you mention. Technology is a wonderful thing ... until it isn't. And there's a point for further discussion. Great post, thanks!

Pat said...

I remember when people used to have great old fashioned chimneys in the corners of their living rooms asamplifiers.
Since I got Genius speakers with my latest computer I have been quite thrilled with the sound.

rashbre said...

Bilbo Thanks and I shall look forward to reading your thoughts.

Pat I remember those big towers too.

Ellie said...

You made me think of a recent translation I was looking for: Artes Plásticas in Spanish. It's not quite fine arts (because doesn't include song, poetry etc). Some of the folk in the forum translated it as 'visual arts' that didn't sit well with me because of the connotations w/ media. Off topic. Kind of. xx

rashbre said...

Ellie I think I understand the mind flip and agree that 'plastic arts' wouldn't be a good read across to A/V. Let alone the neoplasticism of De Stijl ...