How did oversampling come about?In brochures of the manufacturers from the 80's one reads frequently that oversampling was necessary for technical reasons and besides the sound quality increase. But how did it really come about?
It was a coincidence. Without it, the history of the CD standard could theoretically have been quite different. Very early, the British BBC broadcaster had propagated a digital-to-analog conversion with 13 bits. Philips developed a digital soundcard as early as the 1970s, but it was unsuccessful. The equipment was far too expensive, only 400 pieces were sold, the Dutch quickly stopped production. But after all - the know-how from this optical disc player flowed at Philips into a 14-bit digital-to-analog converter for audio purposes. Then Sony came as a partner for the CD introduction into play. The Japanese recommended a 16-bit standard. After some back and forth, Philips and Sony finally agreed on the digital standard of 16 bit and 44.1 kHz.
But Philips had no finished 16-bit converter. What to do? Delay the launch of CD technology? Nobody knows the background of such stories better than the people who were involved at the time. Kees A. Schouhamer Immink was co-developer of this first CD player from Philips, the CD 100. The origin of oversampling he described in a report: "We at Philips argued that it was impossible to redesign the finished 14-bit converter to 16 bits in a short time. But my colleague Karel Dijkmans said: No problem, I know a little trick to turn our 14-bit converter into a 16-bit converter. The trick is called oversampling. Marketing will then make the virtue out of necessity.
The more building density grew in the further development of the chips, the more functions were implemented, the more the chances of correcting the wrong direction had disappeared. Today, there are hardly any converter chips that do without built-in oversampling and complete output stages of the simplest design. Although these converters make it possible to cheaply produce millions of small cell phones and MP3 players. From the ideal lifelike rendering they increasingly remove. Thus, they have nothing to look for in a high-quality music playback device. The dilemma of developers today is that they can no longer rely on other chips.