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
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
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
They usually "work" for larger and efficient studios who know how it´s done properly. Not that this could really salvage any nonexistent musical
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.
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!
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
as the master does...
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
). 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.
, 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
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
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
- 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!
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
- 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.
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"!
(I´ve actually managed
to acquire it, though!