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Audio: Decline of the Decades

  • Here’s how to get good quality audio back into your life!
  • AudioNote is a VALVE -BASED audio equipment manufacturer, with a worldwide distribution network.

By: Aernoud Dekker, Representative in India of AudioNote UK

Progress is a straight line. We might think that if we look how computers, televisions and phones have developed the last decades. Whereby today’s version is clearly superior to that available yesteryear.

Since the dawn of time, music has played an important part in human life. Whether at the top or bot-tom of society, people have participated, and listened to music in its many forms as it has developed through countless generations to the present day.

In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison invented recorded sound. His first cylindrical recording was nothing more than a rough approximation of reality, but crude as his technique may have been, sound was recorded, and recognisably produced for the first time in history.

Thomas Edison recording the first sounds

Listen to worlds first recording

The limiting factor in Edison’s first experience was not his idea, but his hardware; further improve-ments could only come from refinements in technique.

So here we are, over 140 years after the invention of sound recording, and how much further have we really got?

The limiting factor in Edison’s first experience was not his idea, but his hardware; further improvements could only come from refinements in technique.

So here we are, over 140 years after the invention of sound recording, and how much further have we really got?

It appears that progress is not a straight line when it comes to music recording, and it’s associated recording, and reproduction equipment. The development has fluctuated greatly, and peaked in several areas of performance in the early 1950s.

Yes, you heard that right… Today’s music systems don’t sound fundamentally better than those used over 70 years ago. Most of today’s systems found in the average home sound actually (much) worse.

So, what happened?

Well, in short commercialism happened. As literally -everybody- now listens to reproduced music, the market has become immense. And as the quantity rose, the quality came down.

Audio Music Valves

Where 100 years ago music systems and associated electronics were tailor made for just that… recording and listening to music, today we listen to computers which also happen to reproduce and record sound.

Valves (the original ‘amplifying’ components) were replaced by transistors at large in the 70’s. Why? Not because the resulting sound quality was higher, but because transistors are cheaper to make, last longer and have more power. More of everything, except… sound quality.

Vinyl Records (LP’s) were replaced in the 80’s by CD. “Perfect Sound Forever” was the Marketing decree, but as specialists know (and the public is catching up), the arrival of ‘Digital’ did nothing for sound quality, only for the pockets of the electronics and music industry (who could sell new equipment and the same music again).

Now we live in the age of ‘streaming’ where the Internet is used to play music in ‘original studio master quality’ on digital assistants. And oh boy… have we drifted further down in the “Decline of the Decades” when it comes to sound quality. The industry of course profits from new boxes to sell and sales of (the same) music at zero distribution costs, because… Internet.

But, why does sound quality matter? Is it not enough to recognise the song and happily tap along with it?

Music is Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. Todays audio systems (your phone connected to some wireless earbuds via bluetooth for example), are not able to reproduce Melody and Harmony in a convincing way. Only Rhythm can be reproduced, and as a result, all of today’s popular music contains mostly Rhythm.

When listening to Indian Carnatic Music (or Western Classical) via your earbuds, lifestyle system or sound-bar, the music just doesn’t appeal. Hence it is dismissed as being ‘unlistenable’. However it’s not this timeless music that has become unlistenable, it’s your audio system.

Luckily, not all is lost. There are a few, dedicated and highly specialised manufacturers who still design and produce music system ‘the old way’. Bringing you the experience of listening to music as it was intended by the artists. Not the designer of your lifestyle system or your architect.

Enter the world of Audio Note UK. It is, in our opinion, of the utmost importance to study the historical development of each branch of the music reproduction chain, in order to ‘glean off’ the best (most interesting?) developments, and then resurrect them to compare the overall result with what is considered the ‘state of the art’ today.

For over 50 years we design and craft all equipment needed for ultimate music reproduction, like turntables, CD-players, amplifiers and loudspeakers. In our higher level products you’ll find the finest silver in wire, capacitors, resistors, transformers and other components, all hand crafted in-house in accordance with our heritage. We even make our own recordings, published under our own label; Audio Note Music. This all in order to achieve our ultimate goal; Musical Ecstasy.

The listening experience at AudioNote in Mumbai

Audio Note today is without competition. It’s not without reason that Audio Note was featured in Rolls Royce’s Book – ‘A Legacy Of Luxury’, as one of few companies who strive for perfection, re-gardless of cost or difficulty.

As home-theatre systems are designed to create special effects, and lifestyle systems to provide aural wall-paper, Audio Note systems are designed to create Musical Ecstasy. They seamlessly blend audio into music with vivid and lively power.

Our products are designed for the music loving connoisseur. Those who want to own the best mon-ey can buy, to enjoy an ecstatic experience at home. No amount of words will convince, we invite you to experience.

Audio came into my life at a very young age. My father used to excuse himself frequently, only to find retreat in his listening room. On more than one occasion I joined him, as I very much enjoyed listening to music, brought to life by his Garrard 401 record player and Quad ESL loudspeakers. It was an outer worldly experience for a child.

Purchasing a Rs. 2 Crore luxury car makes you a hero. Investing the same into an audio system makes you an outcast. Such is the outcome of a world where outward moving expression is pre-ferred over inward flowing joy.

But, I just -had- to share my experience with others. And that is why in 2002, I founded the Audio Note Auditorium in The Netherlands, and 4 years ago I founded Audio Note India in Mumbai, where you can experience a new world of music in our experience centre.

Feel free to visit our website at to learn more about our offerings. Personal demonstration can be booked online also.

Every day we straddle the border between science and art. You don’t know where one finishes and other begins. For the love of music. That universal language capable of creating a shared visceral, emotional experience, regardless of what language you speak.

Aernoud Dekker, is the India Representative of AudioNote UK, manufacturers of the finest domestic audio reproduction equipment money can buy, using the best available technology and the finest components.

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