MAU Art & Design Glossary

Recording Media



At the dawn of the history of the computer, paper punch tape and cards were used as recording media but today, methods such as magnetic, optical, optical magnetic and semiconductor recording are used in the materials and devices for recording information.

In the history of the evolution of recording media, we have seen improvements in recording density which, in turn, has been the driving force behind miniaturization and lower prices. In recent times, a wide range of recording media types has appeared on the market. The three elements: media type, recording format and data format, are connected by the standards and specifications related to their establishment and also by their purpose to maintain compatibility. But these are not necessarily integral to their use since there can also be a degree of options in their selection, depending upon the objectives of the user. The CD (compact disc) is one example. The recording format on the pressed disk-shaped medium is the standard CD-DA (Compact Disc Digital Audio) (as specified by the Red Book). This means that the sampling frequency of the data format is 44.1 kHz with 16-bit linear quantization. However, it is also possible to rebuild this on other media such as the CD-R and CD-RW. (Caution is required with interoperability since readability depends on the capacity of the drive mechanism.) When recording a computer data file onto a CD-R as well, ISO9660, HFS+ recording formats, etc. can also be selected. When audiophiles want to keep CD music for a long time, they rip the data from their computers and record it to a CD-ROM. By changing the recording format, they are able to make use of error correction and overcome deterioration of the medium.

Many recording media have a short life span (compared to books which are readable until the support medium wears out). They are also affected by the product cycle of the drive mechanism and cannot be used forever. Even long-lasting CDs gather corrosion on the metal film that makes up the recording sector and some cases have been reported where they are rendered useless after a few years. Therefore, it is better to always keep a back up of the data.



  • Recording media for use with computers