Back to the Future: Digital Resolution to Rival best Analog of the Past?
With the oncoming advent of 5G technology and the increasing availability of 24-bit audio quality, consumers will soon be able to listen to music that sounds better and do so with greater ease. 5G will make streaming more efficient and the advantage 24-bit resolution over the MP3-standard 16-bit will make all kinds of music more sharp and whole sounding. For the first time in the digital age, there will be a significant evolution in how we hear music.
How these new technological innovations will change the music industry on the consumer end is more-or-less predictable. About a month ago, Amazon was the first major company to baseline high-resolution quality across its music streaming services. Amazon’s success, as well as that of other companies who employed this superior quality, proved that listeners notice the difference are willing to pay for better audio. Therefore, once 5G makes high-res music more accessible, it will raise expectations.
What people are currently overlooking regarding this innovation, however, is the question of how high-res and 5G will change music on the production end. When CDs were first introduced in the 1980s and everything had to be converted, many albums and tracks were remastered for the new medium. The same thing happened with the arrival of the iPod in 2001. Music became digitized. No longer were songs ingrained in the vinyl of a record, but rather stored in pixels on computers.
24-bit audio may not warrant equally radical changes, but it very well could affect how musicians and producers chose to make and mix new content. Consumers’ ears will soon grow accustom to this new quality, so when future tracks are released, they will have to be fit for this new standard.
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On the simplest level, this introduction of higher-quality audio might just make our music sound a little bit more full. On the other end of the spectrum, however, these changes in tech could herald in entire new genres. Over the past two decades, as computers, phones, and MP3 players became the most popular platforms to listen to music on, there has been a noticeable correlated change in mainstream music. Hip-hop and rap have had renaissances in the twenty-first century, and EDM and dubstep are all but products of the digital age.
These latest 5G and 24-bit improvements in how we hear and appreciate music could bring about similar stylistic transformations. As quality increases, musical tastes can change, and innovation can come about as a result. Who will create this new kind of music and what it will sound like is impossible to foresee. Such is where artistic ingenuity comes into play. At its core, music remains one of the original essential art forms. No amount of technology can change that, but the artist can understandably embrace the technology to advance the craft and discover new horizons.
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