The Light Fantastic

Before compact disks came along, the method of capturing and replaying music had changed little since Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. Conventional records store sound in the form of tiny waves cut into vinyl grooves. When a diamond or sapphire stylus passes over them, its vibrations create a tiny electrical current that is converted back into sound. Tape players work in a similar way, reading sound from magnetized particles on plastic ribbon. Both methods involve a process known as analog recording, in which the music is represented as a physical replica, or analog, of the original sound. The chief...

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