Thursday, July 6, 2023

Music Storage

If you're old enough to remember cassette tapes (at left), you know you could buy them in various lengths. One of the more popular lengths was 60 minutes. That meant you could record 60 minutes of sound on the tape, usually music. Usually.

I was curious how much music is currently on my iPhone and what that would mean in 60-minute cassettes. According to my phone, I have 7.66 Gbytes of music on it. About two-thirds is classical, I would guess. I have 1,662 "songs" on my iPhone. Although not all are songs because a song technically has someone singing and most of my classical music is instrumental.

So I did some research and found that a 60-minute cassette tape could hold 4.5 Mbytes of data. That's 0.004395 Gbytes.

Simple math shows it would take 1,743 60-minutes cassettes to hold all the music on my iPhone.

What about CDs? A CD holds 650 Mbytes. So that means it would take 12 CDs full of data to hold what's on my iPhone. To be honest, that doesn't seem to be enough. 

But that is still amazing. Rather than carry 1,743 cassettes or 12 CDs, I carry one iPhone that has other functions and data (lots of pictures of our cat). 

Another way to calculate it: According to iTunes, I have enough music on my phone to last 4.9 days. That's 117.6 hours so I'd need that many 60-minutes cassettes. (I'm a little concerned that that number is approximately 10% of the 1,746 number I got above. Did I make a magnitude error?)

What about vinyl records. A 12-inch vinyl record (LP size) can hold 46 minutes of music using both sides. So that's 153.4 LPs to hold the music on my iPhone!

I know some people say vinyl sounds better, especially with tubes and not transistors in the stereo equipment. But I never heard the difference and LPs are fragile. Look at them wrong and you get a pop or scratch

Since CDs hold 74 minutes of music, I'd need 95 CDs. That seems like too many. Way too many. Maybe it's because of compression.

What do you think about this older technology? Let me know in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. It could require ~1700 cassette tapes to hold your iPhone music in digital form, but how would you play it back?
    The analog form of the music would not require near as many cassette tapes.
    Assuming the average length of each song is 4 minutes and there are 1662 songs, that would require
    4 X 1662 / 60 = 110.8 60-minute cassette tapes