Superfly
Topic Author
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Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Wed Nov 13, 2002 8:34 pm

As a diehard advocate of analog, I must ask those here who are in to high-end audio which of the two they prefer.

I love the sound of an LP or Reel to Reel over a compact disc or any other digital format.

I've even came across some 8track cartridges that sound better than CDs.
I am still waiting for CDs to go to 24-bit sampling instead of the current 16-bit. Until then, I am happy with recording on to METAL bias (type IV) cassette tape using DOLBY 'B' from LPs to record music.
Once CD recordings and recorders make the switch, I will still use cassette and 8track tapes to make recordings.



"Analog" refers to information being presented continuously, while "digital" refers to data defined in individual steps. Analog information's advantage is its ability to fully represent a continuous stream of information. Digital data, on the other hand, is less affected by unwanted interference, or noise. In digital computers, data is stored in individual bits, which have a value of either 1 (on) or 0 (off). If graphed, analog signals are shaped as sine waves, while digital signals are square waves. Sound is analog, as it is always changing. Thus, in order to send information over a phone line, a modem must take the digital data given it by the computer and convert it into sound, an analog signal. The receiving modem must convert these analog signals back into the original digital data.



I am happy that artist such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen and many others insist that there new releases come out on LP.






Bring back the Concorde
 
saintsman
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Wed Nov 13, 2002 9:53 pm

I havn't played an LP for over 10 years. I think the sound is better on CD as you don't have to worry about scratches, static electricity and fluff on the needle for example. But the biggest thing for me is that you don't have to turn a CD over half way through.

I do admit though the sound of some CD's are not very good, especially on some of the compilation albums that seem to make up the music charts these days.
 
hartsfieldboy
Posts: 529
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 4:50 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Wed Nov 13, 2002 10:45 pm

Superfly, have you read "Stereophile" magazine (http://www.stereophile.com/)? It's the analog enthusiast's bible.

An LP in perfect condition with a good sound system definitely sounds better than a CD. Unfortunately, analog media will wear out long before something in digital will. You're right about the graphs of the two signals, analog will capture more sound than digital. But one day, digital will surpass analog and that day is approaching soon. Still, I love LPs and listening to something on a turntable is still a great experience.

Also, modern analog equipment looks cool!


 
advancedkid
Posts: 740
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2000 1:27 pm

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Thu Nov 14, 2002 1:15 am

Hi there,
Can't agree with you more Superfly..
Well, in my opinion nothing can beat
the great sound of a vinyl record played
on a Thorens or a Technics SL 1200
and a Luxman tube amp.
Well, I don't know much about the 8 track
thingy. I was too young to know
when they were still around.

Anyways, I am gonna listen to
some R.E.M. for right now. You like R.E.M also?


Kind regards,
Advanced
 
Klaus
Posts: 20649
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Thu Nov 14, 2002 5:02 am

Superfly: As a diehard advocate of analog, I must ask those here who are in to high-end audio which of the two they prefer.

Well... I don´t think I´d really qualify for the "high end" category. But I still try to get quality equipment whenever possible (Denon tape deck, Yamaha tuner, Luxman amplifier, Revox speakers, BeyerDynamic headphone, Macintosh computer). I´m just not rich enough to afford the same cheap crap every two years all over again...  Big thumbs up


Superfly: I love the sound of an LP or Reel to Reel over a compact disc or any other digital format.

I´ve started there more than two decades ago (I´ve had some really ancient open reel decks in my time). But I´ve moved on and don´t regret it one bit (oops! Wink/being sarcastic). Since I never started investing in a large LP collection, the transition to the digital domain wasn´t all that threatening, too.


Superfly: I've even came across some 8track cartridges that sound better than CDs.

There are tons of messed-up CD transfers - especially many of those that were originally fine-tuned for the LP and were not corrected. Analog masters tried to compensate for the deficiencies of the analog medium (especially for the limited dynamic range and the steadily decaying response at higher frequencies); For a digital medium, there is no or very little need for this kind of pre-compensation.

And this is exactly why restoring those "adapted" originals for a digital medium has become a real art form.

Superfly: I am happy that artist such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen and many others insist that there new releases come out on LP.

I´d be careful, there... The "main masters" are usually all digital by now. And there´s a very real possibility that at least some of these recordings will not receive a sepcial complete re-mastering for the LP version, which would be a clear disadvantage.


Superfly: I am still waiting for CDs to go to 24-bit sampling instead of the current 16-bit.

That will not happen in the foreseeable future (a few such attempts have already failed miserably). The main reasons being:

- would be incompatible with every player in the world

- would be more expensive

- does not provide an improvement apart from a very subtle quality increase in some pieces of classical music

- for 99.99% of the music on this planet, the current recording quality is already substantially over-dimensioned

The resolution topic mainly stemmed from the early days of the CD, when the A/D and D/A converters were comparatively crude and the mastering technology was in its infancy. All that has changed a lot since then.


By the way: The image you presented is not an example of any presumed deficiencies of digital audio but rather an example of what to avoid like the plague when doing digital recordings:



It´s called undersampling and it leads to aliasing. Any recording engineer caught at letting it happen deserves to be fired on the spot.

Your image would correspond to a frequency of about 30kHz (ultrasound; only your dog might still be able to pick it up) being sampled at the CD sampling rate of 44.1kHz, which would lead to an "alias frequency" of about 15kHz becoming audible - which is an absolute no-no. (Analog recordings have their own, not entirely unrelated set of problems which are almost completely avoided on the digital path.)

During digital mastering, the original sound signals are usually subjected to relatively "tame" (and therefore clean) analog pre-filters, are then oversampled and at last digitally filtered to completely eliminate errors like that.

On the playback side, oversampling in both dimensions (both amplitude and sampling rate) has become the norm rather than the exception in order to further improve the precision of reproduction.


Superfly: Until then, I am happy with recording on to METAL bias (type IV) cassette tape using DOLBY 'B' from LPs to record music. Once CD recordings and recorders make the switch, I will still use cassette and 8track tapes to make recordings.

No problem... Some people even prefer the "authentic" sound of their crank-operated 78rpm turntables. Good for them!  Big thumbs up

But the more one knows about the actual technology, the reproduction quality issue becomes obvious: The digital recording is it.

Sure, digital media expose even minor production mistakes that had previously gone unnoticed on analog LPs or tapes. But producers have long learned to use the quality of the medium to their advantage (just think of the more complex, noise-ridden mixes in the past!).


Still, music is there to be enjoyed; And if the analog noise and distortions do really add to the joy for you - fine. I just don´t feel that way myself. I love the music. And everything that can give me the music with as little distraction and distortion as possible is right for me.  Smile

I believe giving me a noisy, distorted sound should be entirely up to the musicians, not to unavoidable limitations of the medium.  Wink/being sarcastic Even though some music just can´t be killed even by the most primitive equipment: I´d still prefer those old Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald recordings over most of what´s going on in today´s charts in a heartbeat!  Big thumbs up

But it´s probably similar to loving ancient fuel-guzzling dinosaur mobiles vs. smooth and efficient modern cars.  Wink/being sarcastic Both are absolutely valid subjective choices. A matter of taste, basically.



Peace!  Big thumbs up
 
747-451
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2000 5:50 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Thu Nov 14, 2002 6:05 am

Hey Superfly!!

CD audio today can be as bad as it was at it's inception in the early 1980's. Though not an "audiophile" (though nothing beats the Inifini Audio in my NYer! and have a Sony componentry and a Technics SL235 Automatic turntable cirica 1975 at home), there differences you can certainly hear. (EG: I have an old "Taste of Honey-Another Taste" cassette from Capitol records crica 1980 that sounds a whole lot better than the CD "greatest hits" that was released a few years ago). I will saythat most of the ealy CD stuff was shrill and most of the stuff from the 70's was "remastered" to compensate for the supposed CD benfit ( only really really bringing out the "limititations of the source tape", as the disclaimer said, making it worse than on cassettes from the time). However, look for CD's which have the "enhanced" CD technology on them; they sound a whole lot better and more natural like LP's do...

(The only LP reissue that I remember from the time that sounded really great on CD was "Bonnie Pointer" 1980, Motown (the one with "Sugar Pie Honey Buncch" on it) which was in faxct one of the first digitally mastered tapes ever utilizing Sony equipment and Ampex recorders)
 
Superfly
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Thu Nov 14, 2002 7:38 am

Hartsfieldboy:
That is pretty sweet turntable!  Smokin cool
I am very much aware of Stereophile magazine.



Klaus:
Very good points you made. As far as newer artist recordings. Some are still using 2" analog mastering tapes. These Many recording engineers realized the virtues of recording analog. Most of your throw away acts that you see on MTV or the Grammys are almost all using digital.
Analog certainly has its limitations such as ware and tear but that can be easily avoided with care.

And there´s a very real possibility that at least some of these recordings will not receive a sepcial complete re-mastering for the LP version, which would be a clear disadvantage.

You’re absolutely correct. I have the new RUSH album 'Vapor Trails' on LP. It sounded as if the LP was recorded directly from the Compact Disc. It is a very unimpressive mastering and the CD sounds better. I was disappointed with that pressing.
However, I just bought the new Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album 'The Last DJ' on LP. It sounds excellent on LP.


Digital certainly has come a long way in terms of imitating analog. It's just a shame that the industry standard is 16-bit.  Sad


Advancedkid:
Was the R.E.M. question a joke?  Laugh out loud
Sorry but my ears can't tolerate Michael Stipes'e voice.  Sad
Bring back the Concorde
 
hartsfieldboy
Posts: 529
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Thu Nov 14, 2002 9:14 pm

By the way: The image you presented is not an example of any presumed deficiencies of digital audio but rather an example of what to avoid like the plague when doing digital recordings...It´s called undersampling and it leads to aliasing. Any recording engineer caught at letting it happen deserves to be fired on the spot.


The image is exaggerated, of course, for visualization purposes. But digital IS like that compared to analog, only the bars would be much closer together. It substitutes the real curve of the wave for an approximation, kind of like the integral approximation methods in Calculus, so there will always be some margin of error. Digital does do a good job, and one day the bars on the graph will be so close together, that the human ear won't tell the difference, but the margin of error will still be there, even if it's very tiny.
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 2:46 am

Some people even prefer the "authentic" sound of their crank-operated 78rpm turntables. Good for them!


That isn't a fair comparison. There is no way you can comparre recording on to a metal bias cassette the same as listening to a 78 crank turntable.
Most people don't know how to make a decent recording on to a cassette from an LP. Just about anyone who knows how to turn on a computer can burn a CD.
Bring back the Concorde
 
Klaus
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Superfly

Fri Nov 15, 2002 7:14 am

Superfly: As far as newer artist recordings. Some are still using 2" analog mastering tapes.

Indeed. And many older authors still use typewriters because they never got around to learning how Computers worked (or they only tried Windows).  Big grin


Superfly: These Many recording engineers realized the virtues of recording analog.

Not necessarily. The problem for many older people is that they collected all their decades worth of mixing and editing experience on analog equipment. And not all of that concrete experience really transfers to the digital domain (while most still does, as far as I know).

Sorry, but I´m very certain that most of the talk about "analog is better ... somehow ..." is basically an excuse for not daring to learn from people twenty years their junior. Which isn´t really that embarrassing because I´m pretty certain that the main part of mixing / editing is to know what you want and where you´re going. How to get there must be re-learned when you´re switching your medium, however.


Superfly: Most of your throw away acts that you see on MTV or the Grammys are almost all using digital.

More often than not with very good production quality, however. Wink/being sarcastic They usually "work" for larger and efficient studios who know how it´s done properly. Not that this could really salvage any nonexistent musical quality...  Wink/being sarcastic


Superfly: Analog certainly has its limitations such as ware and tear but that can be easily avoided with care.

Not really. Every time you play an LP or a magnetic tape, the recording quality drops by a certain degree. A part of the music is irrevocably lost with each playback.

It doesn´t always need to be as bad as with my collection of 18cm open reel tapes which have decayed mechanically to a point where they are not playable any more. I couldn´t afford the more expensive tapes, back then. And the glue component of the magnetic layer has been disintegrating over the years.  Sad

But even with top-notch material and perfect care, tape does still age - and so does the recording. Higher frequencies are increasingly attenuated while the base noise level slowly rises. Metal tape should be best in this respect; But it´s still just a gradual difference. Failure to regularly de-magnetize your tape deck´s heads and guide rollers worsens these effects further as do nearby transformers and other magnets... (Just be sure to take the tape deck far away from your tapes, however, when you´re de-magnetizing! Wink/being sarcastic)


Superfly: Digital certainly has come a long way in terms of imitating analog.

Huh? That´s never happened. Recording engineers just had to eliminate their accustomed pre-compensation and to really believe that the final recording does really sound exactly as the master does...  Big thumbs up


Superfly: It's just a shame that the industry standard is 16-bit.

As I said; That fear is really a relic of the past, when crappy A/D converters and immature digital mixing equipment in the studios ruined some of the first recordings, with cheap D/A converters in some of the first players aggravating the problem further.

With a good recording and an excellent player, 16 bits is plenty for almost all recordings. You´d need to be a fan of classical music with a huge dynamic range to really have a chance to hear any limitation (and even then, you´d have to turn volume up quite a bit during these pianissimi - pretty dangerous in some pieces Wink/being sarcastic). With anything resembling pop, jazz, blues, wave or the like, you´d be out of luck hearing a difference to a higher-resolution recording.


Superfly: That isn't a fair comparison. There is no way you can comparre recording on to a metal bias cassette the same as listening to a 78 crank turntable.

No, it´s not - and yes, it is!

No, the quality of a contemporary tape recorder is indeed almost infinitely superior to those old squeaking boxes.

But yes, when we´re really talking about sound quality, there´s no way around it: While there are a few very, very slight advantages of some extremely expensive turntables and pickups over a good digital player, these very subtle advantages are more than outweighed by the substantial and numerous disadvantages of the analog recording formats (noise, frequency response, sensitivity to damage, degradation over time and with every use).


Superfly: Most people don't know how to make a decent recording on to a cassette from an LP. Just about anyone who knows how to turn on a computer can burn a CD.

Indeed... But the question is if that´s really a reason to prefer analog...  Wink/being sarcastic

There´s really nothing to be said against using analog when it´s just about liking the way these things work, a bit in the way of a zen meditation when handling and playing those original LPs... No problem!

Using digital audio is almost prosaic by comparison:

- tiny, lightweight disks

- almost nothing to clean, adjust or to fiddle with

- just "insert and play"

I´ve got a bit of the impression, that many high-end analog fans just don´t want to accept the loss of their "high priest" status... "Plug and play" must be anathema for anybody who used to happily invest the monetary equivalent of a family car into a device that doesn´t really do much more than rotate vinyl disks at 33rpm (every lacking convenience costing extra, of course! Wink/being sarcastic)

Analog audio wasn´t really all that simple, but still somewhat understandable for a normal person (the finer points of tape recording and FM tuner design still testing the limits, usually).

Digital audio (or video), on the other hand, has essential disadvantages for diehard fandom:

- it´s embarrassingly simple to use - even tiny old ladies can do it

- most of the stuff is tiny (no half-ton turntable stands required, either)

- the actual technology involved is so esoteric and the scientific background so abstract that the gap is just too wide for most people: advanced optics (laser readout and tracking), number theory (encoding), statistics (error detection and correction), signal theory (digital filtering and signal recovery) and a big package of various engineering disciplines are heavily involved in making it so incredibly simple on the outside.

Especially the last point has been the main reason why any number of weird "digital myths" have sprung up over time (as discussed above). Most of them are just not valid, some have become obsolete over the years and some don´t really have as much significance as they´re alleged to have.


For me as a hardware and software developer, the development of the CD was a stroke of genius (a whole bunch of those, actually). A system of incredible technological elegance, reproducing sound more precisely than almost any analog equiment could, on the way eliminating a host of problems that have ridden analog recordings for a century.


As I said, I don´t see anything wrong or bad in sticking to the "analog way". It may not really be top quality any more, but if it´s what you like to use, then it´s perfect for you - which is all that counts in the end.



P.S.:
Superfly: Sorry but my ears can't tolerate Michael Stipes'e voice.

Even better: Michael Stipe together with Kate Pierson of the B-52´s in "shiny happy people"! Talk about an "acquired taste"!  Big thumbs up
(I´ve actually managed to acquire it, though! Big grin )
 
Klaus
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Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

Hartsfieldboy

Fri Nov 15, 2002 8:36 am

Hartsfieldboy: The image is exaggerated, of course, for visualization purposes. But digital IS like that compared to analog, only the bars would be much closer together. It substitutes the real curve of the wave for an approximation, kind of like the integral approximation methods in Calculus, so there will always be some margin of error. Digital does do a good job, and one day the bars on the graph will be so close together, that the human ear won't tell the difference, but the margin of error will still be there, even if it's very tiny.

That´s another one of those myths.  Smile


In reality, the signal that comes out of your CD player doesn´t look anything like those popular blocky diagrams used to explain the basics of digital signal reproduction (as opposed to the complete reality). In fact, it looks almost exactly like the original analog signal, no sharp edges anywhere in sight.

The reason is that the underlying math is very well understood. And when reproducing a digitally transmitted signal, the digital-to-analog conversion is far more complex than just switching the voltage at the output to the numerically indicated level at fixed intervals.


It goes roughly like this:

The digital CD audio signal has a frequency range of 0..20kHz, sampled at 44.1kHz.


Some of the earliest players just drove this digital data stream "as is" to the D/A converters (which produced a signal like the one you described), but then applied strong and steep analog filters to get rid of any signal component above 20kHz. Since the "steps" in the raw signal consist of frequency components well above 20kHz, those steps were almost completely suppressed and the curves were "rounded out" to what the original signal looked like (there´s actually a lot of math involved in the precise description of what´s going on there).

The trouble with this simple approach was twofold: It is very difficult to make those analog filters as steep and as strong as required for this setup. In practice, those players suffered from phase distortions in the music signal at the upper end of the frequency range and weren´t really able to completely suppress the unwanted noise and aliased frequencies on the other hand (only 4.1kHz to separate the "wanted" from the "unwanted" signals).


This was the reason why Philips (the inventors of the CD) used a much more demanding, but also much better approach: Instead of driving the raw CD data to the D/A converters at the nominal 44.1kHz and using strong and distortion-prone analog filters, they applied digital oversampling filters which mathematically interpolated the original sine waveforms at a multiple of 44.1kHz (176.4kHz in their first players - I´ve still got one of those  Smile ) and then drove the resulting data stream to the D/A converters. In the resulting raw analog signal, the "quantisation noise" components (the "steps") together with the "aliased side band" of the actual music signal have both been "mathemagically" moved to much higher frequency bands which can be filtered out a lot easier with much "cleaner" (and even simpler and cheaper Wink/being sarcastic) analog filters which leave the music signal undamaged and still eliminate the "steps" much better than in the "simpler" players.


And while the former approach has mostly been dropped (except for some of the cheapest players), the latter has largely prevailed in ever-more sophisticated variants (using resolutions of more than 16 bits for the digital filters and D/A converters, among other things).


No steps. Just clean sine waves as in the original signal.


Don´t panic!  Big thumbs up
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 11:35 am

Klaus:
Sorry my friend, but you really lose a lot of credibility with statements like:

- "The problem for many older people is that they collected all their decades worth of mixing and editing experience on analog equipment.

-somehow ..." is basically an excuse for not daring to learn from people twenty years their junior. Which isn’t really that embarrassing because I’m pretty certain that the main part of mixing / editing is to know what you want and where you’re going. How to get there must be re-learned when you’re switching your medium, however.

-Indeed... But the question is if that’s really a reason to prefer analog...

-Using digital audio is almost prosaic by comparison



You make a good ‘argument’ although, that's not what I am looking for , however you aren't making much sense with your argument.


You mean that your just reducing all of this to just a difference in generation?  Confused
Klaus, you are one of the smarter members in these forums and I usually agree with you on other topics. Please tell me your aren't serious with your argument.
You have totally dismissed the importance of analog. If analog was sooooo much inferior to digital, how come analog LPs, cassette and reel tape are still in production?
Yes I know it's a smaller market share but is still important.


Don't give me this 'generation/age' mumbo-jumbo because there are a lot of younger guys including myself that prefer analog.



Bring back the Concorde
 
victech
Posts: 541
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 9:46 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 12:48 pm

In my many jobs as a sound technician, I've had the opportunity to use both digital and analog mixing and recording systems. While I tend to prefer analog's "warmer" sound (namely with tube amps), I really love digital (especially the 24/96 recorder units and ADATs) because I know that what I'm hearing is exactly what's there (no additional harmonics caused by analog reflections and no missing frequencies due to idiosynchracies of the media)--and that precision I truly appreciate. I also prefer digital because, once the system is digital, we can use a shared clock (like our beloved Sigma TSG-470) to synchronize the audio directly to our video feeds. Which is sonically better? I really can't make a judgement call--both have their strong and weak points, but given a chance to choose, I'd choose digital any day of the week--for me, at least, the precision is worth it.
 
hartsfieldboy
Posts: 529
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 4:50 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 9:42 pm

Klaus-I won't even attempt to argue with someone who knows about this subject WAY more than me  Smile. I've actually NEVER owned a decent sound system, evn though I've installed a few in peoples' cars. Howver one day, I'm buying the most expensive sound system I can find, which will include both digital AND analog components Big grin
 
KLAX
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 10:50 pm

Tapes dont skip!. Which is especially usefull for me when I ride my bike to school. My CD player just can't take flying up and down curbs, weaving through traffic and going down stairs...

-Clovis

Then again, I could get an MP3 player!












250$...Nah...
 
Klaus
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Superfly

Fri Nov 15, 2002 11:14 pm

Superfly: You mean that your just reducing all of this to just a difference in generation?

Relax, relax...  Big grin


I know from experience that "older people" (I myself ain´t all that young any more Wink/being sarcastic) sometimes have a hard time adapting to new technologies through their fear that they might not "get it" as well as the young guys. Which is usually unfounded, since the experience in the respective field of application usually outweighs any acquired know-how about "which button to push when" in the long run.

It´s mostly an unfounded fear, but it very obviously exists.


Superfly: You make a good ‘argument’ although, that's not what I am looking for , however you aren't making much sense with your argument.

Please excuse my sarcasm in some of my statements above; It wasn´t really directed at you, but rather at some of the more extreme die-hard digital naysayers who basically don´t care what they´re listening to as long as they´re able to brag about it.  Wink/being sarcastic

My impression of you so far was that you really care for the music rather than the bragging factor (although it´s still always nice to talk about the "hardware" one´s using to get there... Wink/being sarcastic).

I´ve bought all my equipment using my ears rather than looking at the manufacturer or at the price tag. (The speakers took me a few hours of sorting them out in the store, but they´re still worth it! The poor sales guy was suffering a bit...  Big thumbs up)


Superfly: Klaus, you are one of the smarter members in these forums and I usually agree with you on other topics. Please tell me your aren't serious with your argument.

As I said, I was a bit heavy on the irony at times, but the fundamental argument still stands.


Superfly: You have totally dismissed the importance of analog.

No... I didn´t, really. I´ve argued why digital audio has objectively taken the crown of "top quality" away from analog recording formats, not that a subjective preference of analog equipment was foolish in any way.


Superfly: If analog was sooooo much inferior to digital, how come analog LPs, cassette and reel tape are still in production?

Because people are buying them. Simple as that!

You´d probably have no trouble finding the latest Mark Knopfler album as a 78rpm disk set if the demand would justify the cost of production. For some reason, however, the demand appears to have died down a while ago...  Wink/being sarcastic

Again, it´s just an illustration, not an appropriate comparison of the differences in quality.

While digital audio is practically perfect (zero loss of quality between the studio output and the output of a good CD player), the best analog LP and tape recordings are also very, very good by now. Most people have a hard time recognizing the difference unless they know what to listen for.

But there´s no way around it: 96db of signal-to-noise ratio, perfect channel separation and a perfect frequency response over the entire spectrum up to 20kHz are significantly ahead of what any analog medium is capable of. And it´s still recognizable.

Some people prefer the somewhat blurred images from a cheap camera. And others want to see every wrinkle and imperfection as they really are. The choice comes down to a matter of taste, at that point.

I for myself prefer to disable the tone control circuitry in my amplifier...


Does that justify throwing out all your valuable analog equipment and summarily replacing it with digital players and recorders? Certainly not!

I myself occasionally use my cassette tape deck for listening to old recordings and I still listen to analog FM radio. And both are still working nicely. But the objective quality argument is mostly decided.
 
Klaus
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Fri Nov 15, 2002 11:27 pm

Hartsfieldboy: Howver one day, I'm buying the most expensive sound system I can find, which will include both digital AND analog components. Big grin

It´s not the price tag that really counts. Beyond a certain point, the actual increase in sound quality gets negligible while the prices continue to climb exponentially...  Wink/being sarcastic

(With the possible exception of speakers; They´re still the most critical part of the chain while almost everything else is optimized pretty well...)

Have fun!  Big thumbs up



KLAX: Tapes dont skip!

Correct... but they whine...  Wink/being sarcastic
And very few portable players seem to have Dolby C, which makes a substantial difference in noise levels.

KLAX: Then again, I could get an MP3 player!

Exactly! Or a CD player with better skip protection...  Smile

 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sat Nov 16, 2002 7:31 am

Klaus:
Thanks for clarifying.  Smile
I was afraid that an innocent topic like this was turning in to a flame war. We certainly don't want that. Big grin
There aren't too many audio 'purist' in the world as it is, so it's good that we are kind to each other.  Smile

As far as price of equipment, the most expensive isn't always the best. Keep in mind; buying used is sometimes a good thing.
-My Marantz 4400 Quad receiver and two Marantz 510 Amps. were all purchased for under $1,000. Receiver originally $1250 in 1974, amps originally $1000 each in 1976
-Luxman PD-444 turntable was $500 originally $850 in 1976
-My Marantz 5220 cassette deck was only $5 at a yard sale and my Yamaha K-550 was only $35. $300 in 1981
-Teac A-3340 Reel-to-Reel deck was $120 at a pawnshop. $1700 in 1977
-My Technics 858 Quad 8track cartridge recorder was $10 at a thrift shop. $250 in 1974
-Marantz/Superscope TDR-830 8track stereo deck was free.  Smile $200 in 1978
-Harmon Kardon CD changer was a Christmas gift.  Smile

The only components I bought new was my Blue Point phono cartridge, Technics SL-1200MK2, Sumiko phono cartridge and ATN-15 quad (CD-4) cartridge and stylus.
My 4 Tannoy speakers were bought new but I an looking to upgrade soon.


I know what you mean about people who are in to the equipment more than the music. That is just silly. I enjoy listening to Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 on an 8track just as much as I enjoy listening to Steely Dan on a Half-speed master LP.
Bring back the Concorde
 
Klaus
Posts: 20649
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 7:41 am

Superfly

Sat Nov 16, 2002 8:23 am

You´ve got some nice gear, there...  Big thumbs up


Superfly: I was afraid that an innocent topic like this was turning in to a flame war. We certainly don't want that.

Not really; I agree...  Wink/being sarcastic


Superfly: There aren't too many audio 'purist' in the world as it is, so it's good that we are kind to each other.

[Elitism ON] Right! So the crap-buying masses can´t bring us down!  Big thumbs up [Elitism OFF]


Superfly: As far as price of equipment, the most expensive isn't always the best. Keep in mind; buying used is sometimes a good thing.

Exactly... Though my strategy is rather buying in somewhat longer intervals and then spending a bit more on well-selected stuff. I still like to buy new things, though...  Wink/being sarcastic
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8103
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sat Nov 16, 2002 12:03 pm

Hey now. I run a record label releasing albums by some seriously big names and I'm also a musician. I spend plenty of time in studios and cutting rooms and I've been doing it for ages now. My opinion is digital wins hands down.

Victech is right, you can't beat the precision and ease of use. No one records onto analogue tape anymore, it's all done on ProTools or whatever. I did a session at the BBC the other day and I worked out it was the first time I'd played onto real tape for five years. And if music is made on digital (ie the HD of a Mac, or a format like RADAR), it should be kept in the digital domain, it's mastered onto DAT then through the cutting room to the CD plant. It's designed for digital all the way through. If you go onto vinyl nowadays it's still a digital source. If you're talking about a Sex Pistols or Curtis Mayfield record on good vinyl that's been cut from the analogue quarter inch then it'll probably sound great but that new Tom Petty album was recorded and mastered digitally and to go to an analogue format at the end of the process is pointless.

Also, working with tape is goddam nightmare and I'm glad those days are gone. The clarity and top end you can get these days is absolutely incredible. The other reason I love digital (especially in the studio) is you can effortlessly assemble a take that is actually pieced together from loads of takes, and so you can get these wonderful solos, vocal lines or whatever that would have taken an engineer day to create, chopping the tape to bits and putting it back together on a cutting block. Basically, you can more interesting records digitally, and they should stay in that form right to the consumer.

I don't buy that "analogue warmth" line for a second either. You mean it sounds muddy. I like stuff to sound really really bright and clear. Anyway that's a personal preference but a lot of the rest of what I've said is empirical. Digital rules over analogue.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
cedarjet
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sat Nov 16, 2002 1:11 pm

I should also add that vinyl pressing quality these days is crap. Some specialist audiophile labels like Simply Vinyl in the UK use 180g virgin vinyl but normal LPs these days are pretty poor compared to the old days. In fact when the majors were encouraging consumers to dump vinyl for CD, vinyl pressings were deliberately downgraded in quality. If you've ever heard the vinyl pressing of Kate Bush's album The Red Shoes (released in that period, early 90s) you'll know what I mean.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
Guest

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sat Nov 16, 2002 1:44 pm

Superfly,

You've got some cool stuff.

For me, analog wins hands down, simply from it's *warmth*. I'm not a big audiophile but unless you have some very high end digital stuff (I have a *reference* version of a Sony DTS & 5.1 receiver / amp) that really is sweet - with some incredible speakers to go with it - you can't match analog.

I guess it also has to do with what *equipment* you have and how the original recordings were done, same with CD's too. I have some really bad CD's that are crud, but then some very good ones. I have a couple of DTS CD's and they are quite good too.

Does anyone remember *metal* tapes? *WOW* the sound of those was incredible for it's time.

Cedarjet says:

"""I don't buy that "analogue warmth" line for a second either. You mean it sounds muddy. I like stuff to sound really really bright and clear. Anyway that's a personal preference but a lot of the rest of what I've said is empirical. Digital rules over analogue."""

In my experience you can cross the line in that respect by having very high end equipment and good recordings, the problem for the average punter is they get crappy stuff from both sides (equipment and recordings) that leave digital sounding like fingernails on a black board.

Excellent equipment and recordings are the way to go. When I buy classical CD's (yes it's not all gayboy dance music anthems) I will listen to them in the store first for clarity.

mb

clown=drown
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sun Nov 17, 2002 5:47 am

Cedarjet:
Are you sure that ALL new recordings today use ProTools?
Two inch reel tape and machines are stil in production and are still being used.

I amvery familiar with the cheap recycled vinyl from the 1980s. In terms of record quality, I have to say pressings from 1987 to about 1991 were the worst.

As far as the "warm" sounds of analog, it's very real. I understand that some older recordings are "muddy" on LP but then there are those that sounds warm and clear. A good example of an 'warm' analog LP is Steely Dan album 'Aja' (1977). More recently is Lenny Kravitz 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' (1993) It may be hard to find an LP copy now .
A an example of a bad analog recording is The Doobie Brothers 'The Captian and Me' (1973) .
It sounds great on Reel-to-reel but the LP master isn't all that great unless it's the quadraphonic master.  Smile



Mx5_boy:
I still use METAL bias blank cassette for recordings mainly for in the car. TDK-MA metal tape is still around and Radio Shack still has there MPX metal bias tape. Do you have Radio Shack in 'The Land Down Under'?  Smile

Bring back the Concorde
 
cedarjet
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Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sun Nov 17, 2002 12:40 pm

I know a lot of studios still have 2" 24 track machines (and even the occasional E-16), but I simply can't imagine why anyone would go to such a place. There are simply so many things about tape that are crappy compared to HD recording. Just one is the time spent between takes while the tape winds back. Musicians hate that, they want to go straight back in for another run at it. With HD all the locate points are set and it instantly goes back, or loops automatically and saves every performance.

I'm in a studio about once a week, either popping into a session the label is involved in, or I'm recording. And last week was the first time I've had anything to do with a tape machine in six years. Of course if someone books a session I'm playing on and the recording medium is tape then fine, I don't avoid tape compared to HD, but simply tape-based studios are only being used for demos these days (at least in the UK).

Not surprising Lenny Kravitz sounds good on vinyl, his stuff is recorded on analogue tape and he even does bounce-downs (rerecording on different tracks) to increase tape hiss. This man takes his post-modern retro thing very seriously. Superfly, as a Rush fan yourself, I should point out two of my favourite albums on vinyl are Hold Your Fire and 2112.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
Guest

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sun Nov 17, 2002 2:39 pm

Superfly,

Yeah, we a branded version of Radio Shack called *Tandy*. It was my ex of many years who was the audiophile and that is how I learned of the *many* different things that were out and about. I love good sound, and used to use Metal Tapes in the car but switched to car CD players very early in the 90's.

Whilst I recommend SONY high end digital stuff I wouldn't recommend them for portable CD players (Panasonic / Technics were and still are the best) - MD players or car CD's. Which are dreadful. Phillips stuff delivers wonderful sound, but Pioneer are probably the best in the car department.

I regularly drag out my Pioneer Turntable (with actual arm weights if you can belieive that) to play my old 80's stuff - hook it up to my Sony *Monster* Pro-logic speakers and the wonderful sound that comes out is amazing.

I love playing *Thompson Twins* - You take me up. It sounds so wonderful.

I also have some excellent Bose speakers that are very old but connect to the Pioneer Analog AMP and Tape Deck. *WOW*

Cheers,

mb

clown=sewer
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Sun Nov 17, 2002 9:55 pm

Cedarjet:
You picked two great Rush LPs!  Smokin cool
Living in the UK, are you familiar with some of the early Jamiroquai albums?
They were very into the whole 'retro' thing and analog sound. In fact, on there first LP 'Emergency On Planet Earth' (1993), the songs are much longer than the CD. There first three LPs are excellent and the music is brilliant. Too bad there lead singer has an ego the size of Texas and ran all of the talent out of the band. They are terrible now.  Sad



Mx5_boy:
I am very familiar with the Tandy name.
I use my stock Chrysler stereo in my car. It's awesome because it's a CD/Cassette combo deck that matched the rest of the electronic instrument panel on the dash. I actually like stock stereos that come with some cars.
My Lincoln still has the stock 8track player.  Smile
Bring back the Concorde
 
cedarjet
Posts: 8103
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 1:12 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Mon Nov 18, 2002 9:16 am

To be honest I always thought Jamiroqui was terrible. No-one who has ever heard Innervisions by Stevie Wonder would ever spare more than three seconds of their time for Jay Kay & Co. I've seen them twice in the line of work and hated it both times. After the second gig I was talking to someone afterwards and he said (whinged, more like), "They didn't play 'When You Gonna Learn'." My only response, considering how bland and samey their songs are, was, "How could you tell?" Jay Kay himself is a small, ratty looking bloke who made a pass at my date for the evening.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Mon Nov 18, 2002 10:47 am

Cedarjet:
I have almost every Stevie Woner LP. Yes Jay Kay is a rip off and he is the weakest member of the band. I like there instrumentals from there earlier albums. The band had really good musicians that could really groove.
I've seen them four times. The first time was the best because they were at a small club back in 1994 in LA. This was before they were big here in the U.S.
The second time was really good also. That was following there release of 'Space Cowboy'.
There last two shows were pretty lame (Travelling Without Moving and Syncronized Tours 1998 and 1999) and When I heard 'Little L', I just put the CD sample 4own 998and just wrote them off completley.
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RayChuang
Posts: 8029
Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2000 7:43 am

RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Mon Nov 18, 2002 12:48 pm

Analog sounds superb on the first play, but because of the fact analog music storage mediums involve physical contact (whether tape or LP disc) their sound quality will start to degrade over time.

Fortunately, digital audio technology has advanced quite a lot since the introduction of the Compact Disc in 1982. Sony's recently-introduced Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) uses a new way to digitally store audio information, a way that preserve sound waveforms even at high frequencies with superb accuracy.

I've heard SACD-encoded discs and the sound quality is nothing short of breathtaking. Cymbals sound extremely clear, and the high notes on a violin are no longer harsh-sounding like with normal Compact Disc. As a result, SACD's have a warmer sound because of the lack of harshness in the treble range.

In short, SACD offers the clearer, warmer sound of the best analog setups plus the advantage of much longer media durability that is the hallmark of Compact Discs.  Big thumbs up
 
Superfly
Topic Author
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RE: Analog Vs. Digital Audio

Mon Nov 18, 2002 4:14 pm

When I heard 'Little L', I just put the CD sample 4own 998and just wrote them off completley.

 Embarrassment Embarrassment Embarrassment

I hate making typos. Embarrassment.

That was to say; "When I heard 'Little L', I just put the CD sampler down and just wrote them off completley.
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