Tuesday, November 18, 2008

audio wars: analogue vs. digital

The audiophile holy war, analogue vs. digital, has been raging for a couple of decades now. This Economist article (damn I love that magazine) has some interesting thoughts on the matter:

Hear the difference
Nov 14th 2008

Which is best—analogue or digital?

A MUSIC lover but no audio zealot, your correspondent has often wondered whether analogue recordings really are “warmer” than digital ones. In other words, do audio amplifiers and microphones with old-fashioned thermionic valves (“vacuum tubes” to Americans) inherently produce a sound more natural and satisfying than those with transistors and other solid-state devices?

He suspects it’s mostly a myth, stemming from the days when analogue was in its prime and digital recording in its infancy...

I was thinking about this article last night, when Kelley and I were talking about a particularly sad mashup done by a local DJ who obviously didn't understand that you can't just fling two sounds together, you have to clip and shape sound to create space for them to mesh with anything resembling clarity. (At least I assume you do; I don't know the first thing about this--I'm just making shit up as usual--but hey, it's a good story.) And then I fell into my usual What If reverie: what if I'd known about sound engineering as a teenager? Would I have followed that path? I think I might. It's just the right combination of art and science, geekery and cool, that appeals to me. Then, hey, maybe I would have grown up to be Mars (the Mars of "Dangerous Space," available now as a .pdf, for free). Except, huh, I would have been the Sound Guy for some pretty girls, not pretty boys like Noir. Hey, maybe Kelley would have been on keyboards...

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