WHAT HAPPENED TO TAPE!?

"Fresh Air" executive producer Danny Miller and Chief Engineer Audrey Bentham. (Paige Pfleger/WHYY)

"The digital age totally revolutionized the industry. No analogue tapes or reel-to-reel machines were needed, just computer software. “Digital came in a couple of different ways,” said Jim Anderson, an audio engineer who went through the transition.

Anderson teaches at New York University, and has recorded and mixed classical, rock and jazz artists.

Anderson says the shift to digital began as people got frustrated with some of the limitations of tape, like the distortion sounds from the recording and playback process. Digital didn’t really have this issue.

“It was a different sound, I think is what people responded to,” Anderson said. “The bass would have been clearer, the top end maybe had a little more transient to it.”

Early digital programs surfaced in the ’70s, such as those from Japan. Sony popularized digital audio with the CD playback system, Anderson said. The technology was clunky at first, and the lack of a physical thing to edit and record on was a hard switch.

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