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Will Analog Recording Make A Comeback?  
User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2216 times:

Digital recording.....

DAT......CD-R(w), 15 bit sampling.....etc. etc. etc.

Digital technology.....progress....state of the art...wave of the future...here...today...now....the hot new format.




Or is it?

While there is no debate about the technological advances of digital recording, I can't help but wonder if, like the DotCom rage, if digital recording is simply a trendy fad that will eventually simmer to "niche" status in the future and "tried and true" methodlogy will prevail again. And that is to say nothing of the legal battles plaguing digital recording.

Digital recording is great because of perfect bit for bit cloning of sound. Sequencing and sampling, overdubs, etc. can be done flawlessly and with little effort. But if anyone that is familiar with both formats will tell you, digital recording (dubbing and live) simply cannot produce the "warm, natural" sound of analog (tape) recording. Again, you need to be familiar with both formats to know what I am referring to.

I frequently visit professional audio shops (Sam Ash, Guitar Center, Coast Recording, Pro Sound, etc.) and when talking with both other customers and sales staff, they all tell me the same thing: they wish they could find some good analog equipment (preferably reel to reels) to mix down their digital sources and give that analog feel.

Unfortunately, in their effort to be "new and hip", all of the manufacturers have gone all digital. Good cassette recorders are rare, and I know of no open reel recorders left in production.

When I tell people that I am the proud owner of 6 very nice reel to reel machines, I almost have to wipe the drool off their mouth. I've been offered some very good sums of money to part with one of them.

Could this mean that there may be a renaissance in the pipeline for analog and open reel recording again?

If these few and chance meetings I have suggest the demand, how much more is there that I don't know of? Maybe if Teac/Tascam, Denon, or one of the other high end manufacturers get wind of this, they could consider re-introducing a few updated analog open reel recorders.

But don't listen to what the Marketing or Focus groups have to say. They are usually the last to know what's really going on at the grass roots level, and are almost always out of touch with reality. They need to spend a little less time tinkering with "revenue enhancement macro templates" and a little more time hanging around the actual consumers.


I would like to get your take on this. I especially would like to hear Superfly's thoughts.

I don't think that Digital is going to go away by any means. But perhaps there will be room for both formats to exist.


7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLufthansausa From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 188 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2204 times:

I tend to think the opposite. Rather than digital becoming "niche", an analog comeback may become "niche".

User currently offlineDelta-flyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 2676 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2192 times:

I tend to agree with LufthansaUSA. Digital recording allows unlimited flexibility in filtering and storage which is more economical than analogue. Not to mention that a digital recording is permanent and can not deteriorate.

In my work, this question would be analogous to asking whether we will revert from digital modeling to pencil and paper layouts, and performaing stress calculations by slide rule.

Pete  Smile


User currently offlineMatt D From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 9502 posts, RR: 47
Reply 3, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2185 times:

Both of you make good points that, frankly, I have to agree with 100%.

But the nagging question is that why is good analog equipment seemingly so sought after? I would think it to be a bit far fetched to think that there are only a couple of dozen people in the world that share my sentiment, and I just happened to meet with them. I mean surely there must be more.

I'm not suggesting that we take a step backwards and let analog displace digital per se.

I'm simply suggesting that maybe there is enough market potential for both to profitably coexist.


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21495 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2181 times:

A few collectors are eagerly after antique cars; Still, there´s no chance of reintroducing those old designs with their ancient technology.

The only (continuously diminishing) advantage of analog recordings lies in slightly better phase reproduction. But with increasing sampling rates and bit depths, digital recording will surpass the top high-end analog equipment even there (as far as it hasn´t already).

At least 90% of the perceived "advantages" of analog recording could be achieved by distorting the digital signal with specialized filters. It´s an old prejudice that had a lot to do with just pressing analog vinyl masters to CDs without counteracting the vinyl-specific pre-filtering. The comparison between older vinyls and their CD "versions" doesn´t necessarily give a good clue about the technologies involved.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 5, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2175 times:

It's not necessarily true that analogue is just"old" technology. Most musical instruments produce sounds that are inherently analogue, not digital. A good example of this is drums. A casual scan of most CD's will tell you that the drums were recorded on analogue equipment. Put simply, the sound of a drumstick hitting a drum does not just stop, the resonance dies away, and digital equipment cannot accurately represent this, as the fade is linear, rather than stepped.

Some things have to be recorded in analogue, whilst others can be recorded with digital equipment. If you want a comparison, think of a line graph on your computer, it is a digital image, and it is simply not accurate. Same thing with music. That is in fact why the "hollow" sound that people complain of occurs.

In essence, analogue will always have a place, as will digital.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21495 posts, RR: 53
Reply 6, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 2149 times:

Banco: Some things have to be recorded in analogue, whilst others can be recorded with digital equipment. If you want a comparison, think of a line graph on your computer, it is a digital image, and it is simply not accurate. Same thing with music. That is in fact why the "hollow" sound that people complain of occurs.

It´s not that simple.

With analog equipment, every stage between the recording microphone and the speakers in your living room adds another layer of distortions and noise. Some people "like" some of those distortions; Just the way people use equalizers to "pretty up" the sound of their equipment.

With digital equipment, almost all of those distortions and noise sources are eliminated. The only system-inherent distortions are phase noise and quantization noise. And both can be reduced (and are in high-quality recordings) by increasing the sampling rate and the bit depth. The only limit of accuracy lies in the current A/D and D/A converter technology. But that technology is still evolving rapidly and even the somewhat dated 16Bit/44.1kHz arrangement is above most anlog equipment.

What some people perceive as "hollow" sound has a lot to do with how the material is mixed and filtered before mastering. Digital sound processing has come a long way; And especially in the beginning, people just didn´t have the equipment or the skills to modify the recordings digitally the way they were used to in the analog domain. But that´s changing fast.

The straight original sound just isn´t always as "pretty" as our ears would have liked it...  Wink/being sarcastic


User currently offlineSeb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11766 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 2134 times:

And sometimes songs just sound better on tape than in digital. Nostalga maybe. I have a few CDs that just don't sound as good because I first got them on tape.
It could be that some people associate good hard work on their music with the analog systems. As long as there is a market for it, there will always be analog recordings.



Life in the wall is a drag.
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