CD Video 12-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 12-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc format was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still had analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Digital-S / D-9 (1995 – early 2000s)

Digital-S (or D-9) was a professional digital video tape cassette format introduced by JVC in 1995.

The cassette shell was very similar to JVC’s VHS format, but despite this Digital-S is not compatible with the later consumer D-VHS format as the tape formulation and data format are different.

Digital-S competed with other professional formats such as DVCAM, DVCPRO and Digital Betacam, and was a commercial failure. However, it saw some use in the US, Asia, and Europe, including at the BBC.

Digital-S was given the designation D-9 by the SMPTE in 1999. A high-definition version, D-9 HD, was announced but doesn’t appear to have been launched.

D-9 doesn’t appear to have lasted much beyond the early 2000s.

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CD Video 8-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 8-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc 8-inch disc was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still has analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Centre-start phonograph record (1905 – )

Centre-start (or inside-start) phonograph records date back as far as 1905 with the Pathé vertical-cut disc record, that in addition to other unusual features such as being vertically rather than laterally cut and running at 90rpm, required the stylus to be placed in the area that on other records would be the run-out grooves. In 1915, Pathé switch to a more conventional outside-start.

Later, Electrical transcription discs (1920s – 1980s) often used centre-starts, sometimes on both sides and sometimes alternating with an outside-start on the second side, possibly to reduce changes in sound quality between the end of one side and the start of the other. As the stylus moves to the centre of a record, the linear groove speed decreases and there can be more ‘end-groove distortion’.

Since then, centre-start records have tended to be uncommon, and were usually used as a novelty or promotional feature. A couple of examples include King Kurt’s Destination Zululand 12-inch single (1983) and more recently Jack White’s Lazaretto 12-inch LP (2014), which had a centre-start on side one.

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Extended Definition Beta (1988 – early 1990s)

ED (Extended Definition) Beta was introduced in 1988 and was the last variation of the Betamax format that Sony created for the consumer market (the Betacam family of formats for professional use went on to have much greater success). It was announced shortly after JVC ‘s rival S-VHS format.

ED Beta offered 500 lines of resolution (compared to S-VHS and LaserDisc‘s 420 lines) by using special metal formulation tape and some tape transport improvements. Because of its special formulation, ED-Metal tape was expensive, as were the machines.

Two ED Beta decks and a camcorder were produced for the US market, but Betamax had already lost the format war to VHS and ED Beta was discontinued in the US market after just a couple of years. It’s not clear when it was discontinued in Japan, where Betamax machines were still produced until 2002.

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Gold CD-R (1996 – )

Gold CD-Rs (sometimes called archival CD-Rs) are intended to have a much longer life than standard CD-Rs. The main difference is that these CD-Rs use gold as the reflective layer to prevent oxidation (also known as laser rot), and they generally also use higher-quality dyes (preferably phthalocyanine). Being write-once also means the data cannot be accidentally overwritten.

Gold CD-Rs were introduced by MAM-A (Mitsui Advanced Media – America) around 1996.

Some gold CD-Rs suggest that they can offer data storage for to 300 years. Unfortunately there is no way to tell if this will be the case, and the future obsolescence of optical drives means they still should not be relied upon for long-term data storage.

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Preservation / Migration

DTS 5.1 Music Disc (1997 – early 2000s)

The DTS 5.1 Music Disc was a Compact Disc format offering surround sound audio, usually in the 5.1 configuration. The discs would play in a standard Compact Disc player, but without the use of a DTS decoder all that would be heard is white noise. The potential confusion between DTS 5.1 Music Discs and standard Compact Discs meant some retailers were reluctant to stock them. There is some compression applied to the audio, so sound quality is arguably slightly lower than a standard CD.

Formats such as DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD, launched a few years later, could also offer surround sound and meant an end to the DTS 5.1 Music Disc, though several hundred titles were released on the format.

DTS surround sound technology is also used in movie theatres, on DVD-Video and on Blu-ray. It was also used on a small number of LaserDiscs.

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QSound Compact Disc (1991 – 2001)

QSound is an audio processing system introduced by QSound Labs. It was applied at the sound mixing stage and attempts to produce a surround sound effect from a stereophonic source. It was used on around 65 Compact Disc albums from 1991 to around 2001, which display the QSound logo. The first album to use QSound was Madonna’s ‘The Immaculate Collection’ and all the tracks were either re-mixed or mixed using the system.

No additional equipment was necessary to play a QSound Compact Disc, and the discs comply fully with Red Book standards.

As well as Compact Disc albums, the QSound technology was also applied to computer game audio, television programmes and film soundtracks.

On mono devices, music mixed using the QSound system can have elements missing.

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Stereophonic LP (Long Play) 12 inch record (1957 – )

The current system for creating stereophonic (2 channel) phonograph discs date back to 1933 when Alan Blumlein, a senior sound engineer at EMI in London, demonstrated a single-groove system in which the stylus moves both horizontally and vertically.

When the 12-inch Long Play record was launched in 1948, it was initially monophonic, and it wasn’t until 1957 that stereophonic LPs were released, by now using a refined version of the EMI system developed by Westrex (a division of Western Electric) called Westrex 45/45 in which each channel drives the cutting head at a 45 degree angle to the vertical.

In late 1957, Audio Fidelity Records and Bel Canto in the US released demonstration stereo LPs, with the the Bel Canto release on multicoloured vinyl. The first mass-produced stereophonic LPs were released in early 1958.

Mono LPs continued to be released alongside stereo LPs for the next ten years or so with major labels ceasing production in 1968, but 7-inch singles continued to be mono for longer, into the 1970s in some cases.

Stereo records produced using the Westrex system played well on a mono record player, and mono records could be played on a stereo system.

In the 1970s, quadraphonic (4 channel) LPs were produced, but were not a great success partly because there were several competing and incompatible systems.

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U-matic SP (1986 – late 1990s)

U-matic SP (Superior Performance) was a variant of the U-matic video cassette format, and was introduced by Sony in 1986. It used chrome tape and offered an improvement in performance over previous generations of U-matic (low-band and high-band) with a a horizontal resolution of 330 lines, a better signal to noise ratio, and Dolby C noise reduction.

Like previous generations of U-matic, the SP variant was analogue and used ¾-inch tape. SP tapes can be played on a standard U-matic deck, albeit with a loss in quality.

Two sizes of U-matic SP tape were available, with the smaller one aimed at the electronic news gathering market.

U-matic tape was replaced in broadcast applications by Sony’s own Betacam family of video cassette formats in the 1980s, and for other applications in the 1990s.

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