decades of fun

Praise The Wire

In our rush to modernize and upgrade the conveniences in life we can forgo quality for convenience. Often times the better way gets out-marketed and replaced by the new way, and life goes on.

Wireless digital was the new thing in the 1990’s. In the oughts it was deployed everywhere -from offices to battlefields and mountain summits. By now we simply expect most things to be wireless, because wireless is how we do it now.

But when it comes to the world of pro audio, the wire has not been replaced, at least not yet. A wire is called interconnect and it’s going strong.

A wire can move analog data better than wireless and offers easily synced bandwidth without any conversions needed for the digital transfer.

The connection between the amp and speakers is always analog. The connection between traditional instrument and the mic is analog. Just about everywhere else these days the audio is digital.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 8.55.00 AMBut those two analog links on recording and playback are critical. In those places, wires cannot be easily replaced with wireless because of sync & timing issues.

Headphone makers know this and are working on digital headphones, where the signal arrives digitally and is decoded and then amplified right by your ears.

Recording studios know this and have deployed things like Rednet for when you need to distribute digital media around a facility. [Rednet are I/O boxes with pro ADC & DAC chips, various audio and ethernet jacks for plugging cables into, giving in-sync digital distribution over ethernet]

My point? You still can’t replace a wire where quality sound is needed.

Bluetooth speakers are popular now, and if you are only playing mp3 through them they are good enough to blast that paper-quality file. But wireless bluetooth has to do some digital compression to handle 16/44 or higher quality and the stereo timing is far less accurate than wired speakers, making your soundstage a mess at best, unlistenable at times.

It could be another 10-15 years before they develop versions of bluetooth and wifi with better bandwidth and timing than hard wire, allowing for truly professional wireless audio. But that time is not now. Wireless digital audio is still for amateur and mp3 use only.