The history of sound recording is the development of the technique to record, record, edit and replay sound or audio.

Sound recording

While all types of sound can be recorded, including verbal communication, much of the recording involves music, which has also been the main driver of the development of the technique. In interaction with this technique, the music developed in a way that would not have been possible without recording and editing it. This also created the music industry, on the one hand artists can grow from local fame to world fame, while on the other hand that industry has an important musical influence. This makes the history of the sound recording an important part of the history of the music. Recordings made it possible to disconnect music from musicians and increasingly become part of everyday life. In doing so, there was an interaction between technological innovation, consumer demand and artistic creativity, which is always giving music new directions. The increasing availability means that influences from certain genres can be taken over faster and are much less place-bound. Music styles such as jazz, blues and country have themselves emerged as mixed forms and in turn have produced new forms, referred to as fusion and crossover. Sound recordings are therefore not neutral observations, but influence the culture. In the twentieth century this contributed to Americanization, which critics have labeled cultural imperialism.

The decoupling also means that artists are no longer limited by Baumol’s law and can earn many times more with the recordings than with performances, although piracy does diminish this. At the same time, scalability means that large artists, due to economies of scale, the self-reinforcing effect and the matte effect, push small artists out of the market because the need for local musicians decreased when entertainment venues could play recordings.

The earliest sound recordings were completely acoustic and mechanical in nature, later becoming partly electric. This developed further with magnetic and electronic components and eventually the transition to digital recordings. Where an acoustic signal was still necessary for fully mechanical recordings, it was possible from the development of electrical instruments to record the signal directly, direct injection or direct input. With software synthesizers and instrument plug-ins, physical instruments are no longer necessary.