Why physical music media, and 78RPM records, are still important.

Nostalgia should never be an important factor when a business has to make a decision, right? Otherwise, there wouldn’t be progress.

So, the decision of the major Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers to reject Sanju Chiba’s business proposal for the manufacturing of a vinyl record turntable with the ability to playback records using laser beams, and therefore eliminating wear caused by the needle touching the disc’s grooves, seemed justifiable during the early 1980’s, didn’t it? After all, the Compact Disc was coming to take the industry by storm.

The consumer electronics companies were right. The music industry’s sales during the Compact Disc era surpassed all expectations. Who needed vinyl records anymore?

But Mr. Chiba was stubborn. He continued searching for funds and, finally, during the middle 2000’s, managed to create his own company which now manufactures and sells the ELP Laser Turntable. You can visit the website here.

In one of his website’s previous incarnations, there was a page with demo recordings from the ELP. In one of them, the ELP was used to read a broken 78RPM record. What was amazing, apart from the fact that due to the use of a tray the machine could playback a broken record, was that the recording featured high and low frequencies that the ELP managed to reveal updating the record’s quality to match this of recordings made at least 40 years after its date of manufacture!

Many people along the years have invested in physical music media, mostly CD’s and vinyl records. Even though these records may be worn out, that doesn’t mean that their owners should throw them away. Actually, the first use of a recording is exactly what its name implies, to record alas to create a reference with historical value. Much music that was made available in vinyl, didn’t make it to CD, and much music that was made available in CD didn’t make it to the modern digital music curators’ databases. If you don’t believe me, just try to find 12″ mixes of Chicago House classics in the Apple Music library. You might find a few, but not a lot, and certainly not all. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I definitely would not want to lose my 12″ Maxi Singles collection if I weren’t a hundred percent certain that I could find those juicy extended mixes in digital hi-res uncompressed sound.

Physical media are, up to now, the closest thing we have to the original master tapes, and maybe the future holds enough surprises regarding better playback technologies that will make Mr. Sanju Chiba’s persistence justified.

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