About Me

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Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom

I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.

Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Electric Dreams Or White Elephants?

With mp3s becoming the preferred method of listening to music these days, I’ve been going through a few old magazines to remind myself of some of the developments in home hi-fi in the last twenty years or so which didn’t quite live up to expectations…

One article in particular (in Vox magazine from May 1992) extolled the virtues of  DCC (Digital Compact Cassette to give its full name), which was about to be launched by Philips that year.  While it claimed to bring digital recording into the reach of ordinary punters like you and me, it wasn't the first attempt at such a move.  Digital Audio Tape (DAT)  was launched with similar claims to that of DCC, but there was considerable resistance from the record companies, who were understandably nervous of letting the general public own equipment that was capable of creating master-quality tapes.  This led to Sony, who was one of the companies behind DAT,  buying Columbia/CBS records, which ensured that such a software deficiency situation could never arise in the future.  DCC's biggest selling point was that it was able to play ordinary cassettes as well - which meant that you didn’t have to dispose of your existing tape collection. 

However, Sony launched the MiniDisc format in late 1992, with a record capable machine becoming available the following year.  For a while, the minidisc was seen as the compact cassette's fiercest competition as far as home recording was concerned.  Around the same time Philips brought out a recordable CD machine which could be connected to a home Hi-fi setup which sold for around £400.

So what did happen to DCC and minidisc?  Well, both formats never really  took off as expected. However, you can find second-hand machines on websites like eBay, and blanks are available for both formats if you know where to look.  Even audio CD recorders failed to catch on as it was just as easy to make your own music CDs on your home computer.

Mind you, vinyl hasn’t been rendered obsolete as the experts have predicted, mainly due to a handful of companies like Steepletone in the UK and Crossley in America  bringing out music systems which include a 3-speed turntable - just in case anyone still has some of the old 78 rpm discs in the collection as well as the LPs and singles. They even brought out a record player which looked like the old-style Dansette machines complete with an autochange record deck!  And with USB turntables and cassette players becoming common as people look to preserve their favourite tracks in digital form or transfer them to their mp3 players, the old formats are far from being killed off…

…which is one good reason why I’m hanging on to my old equipment!