Analogue Vs Digital: Which is Better?
This month at Gospel Oak, we’re focusing on all things classic – from retro and vintage music gear to musical greats throughout the years! Here, we take a look at a question that’s been hot topic for some time now. With technology rapidly becoming more advanced and sophisticated, and a growing nostalgia and love of all things old school, we ask which is better – analogue or digital recording?
First things first, perhaps we should explain exactly what is analogue and digital audio, for those of you who aren’t in the know! Well, simply put, analogue audio is so-called because the shape of the audio signal is analogous, or looks like, the original pattern of the sound wave. Digital audio, on the other hand, is recorded by taking samples of the original sound wave at a specified rate. So, examples of analogue mediums are cassette tapes or vinyl records, whilst digital mediums are CDs and Mp3s.
But which is better? We’ve investigated the pro’s and con’s of both analogue and digital to see if we can settle the debate once and for all…
ANALOGUE: THE PROS
- Accurate representation of sound
- Tried and tested format
- Once recorded to tape, audio is stored/archived
- Many classic analogue hardware processors (EQ, compressors, etc)
- ‘Warm’ sound that listeners like
- Editing limitations discourage constant tinkering/over-effects
ANALOGUE: THE CONS
- Noise interference
- Tape is expensive, hard to source and vulnerable to deterioration
- Copying deteriorates sound
- Difficulty editing specific sections
- Sharing and portability is restricted
- Requires regular maintenance, alignment& occasional demagnetising
DIGITAL: THE PROS
- Easy, non-destructive editing
- Total recall of session set up
- Variety of recorder options
- Highly portable
- Easily integrated into multimedia
- Exact multiple copies and replication for sharing
DIGITAL: THE CONS
- Computers crash!
- Data can become corrupted
- Some listeners feel early stuff sounds ‘colder’ or sterile
- Some believe ease is prioritized over quality
So, what have we found? Well, that both analogue and digital recording have their many advantages and disadvantages! There’s no real clearcut winner – it’s really a matter of preference, experience and situational factors, although it seems perhaps the experts are swaying towards digital.
LA engineer and producer Adam Kagan says: “I think that almost everyone is now satisfied that by using good sounding analog gear and even affordable converters, digital recording is not only acceptable, but can sound downright amazing.”
Our in-house engineer Baz seems to agree, adding: ‘the time and cost involved in running analogue isn’t viable from a business labour”
Still not sure which is right for you? Check out these blogs for more: