Sound can be visually represented on a graph as waves. By comparing this wave to the graphics below, you can easily see how digital sampling processes sound data.

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Which is better, digital or analog sound? Is there really a difference? Do you have to own really expensive audio equipment to discern any differences? And does it really matter?

Before we jump into the argument, we should take a quick look at what makes a sound digital or analog. It all has to do with how you record a sound. An analog recording copies sound as a continuous electronic signal. A graph of an analog signal might look like this:

Digital media includes CDs, DVDs and sound files. Uncompressed digital sound files tend to be very large. Often, audio engineers will compress these files to make them more manageable, but this can affect the sound quality.

Today, advances in analog-to-digital conversion methods have improved the quality of digital recordings. Some people say that high sampling rates and increased precision have erased any distinction between digital and analog. Others disagree -- sometimes passionately. There's a sizeable population of audiophiles -- people who want the highest quality in sound systems possible -- who insist that analog systems provide a better sound.

What are the differences in the actual sound of analog and digital recordings? Keep reading to find out.­