Music Technology in the 90s

The 1990’s saw one of the most rapid rates of technology innovation in the 20th century. An increase in the availability of mass media and a time when new music technology was shaping the sound and methodology of recording, transforming not only the songs of the 90s, but changing how music was to be consumed and made for decades to come.

  • At the centre of the new wave of technological innovations in the 90s was the digital revolution. Bricky, single-purpose mobile phones were turning into smaller devices loaded with lots of embedded functionality. The internet became incredibly popular and became a digital communication and information super highway used by 50% of Western Countries. Helping to increase the dominance of the internet was Intel’s Pentium chip.
  • 1990 brought the arrival of the third generation of Macintosh musicware enabling many new concepts:
      • The use of internal computer cards for direct-to-hard-disk recording systems
      • MIDI sequencers with 512 channels and linkable to patch libraries
      • MIDI sequencers that could incorporate digital audio tracks
      • The use of patch libraries and sample editors
      • MIDI programming language became visual
      • Notation became compatible with the Standard MIDI files format
  •  Digidesign introduced their two-channel Sound Tools package which used their Sound Accelerator internal NuBus card, which was followed by their four-channel software using their Audiomedia card. Later came their 4-16channel ProTools package.
  • In 1991 Alesis unveils the ADAT, the first “affordable” digital multitrack recorder.
  • In 1992 software distributors Mark of the Unicorn released Digital Performer and Steinberg released Cubase. Both of these boasted CD quality audio and used the latest audio cards.
  • in 1996 Record labels begin to add multimedia files to new releases, calling them “enhanced CDs.”
  • Experimental digital recordings are starting to be made at 24 bits and 96 kHz.
  • In 1998, the first Mp3 player was released. By the mid 2000’s the Mp3 format would overtake the CD player in popularity.

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