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Does digital sound better than analog?

        Tech | Audio

Does digital sound better than analog? Author's Note
Author Jonathan Strickland
Author Jonathan Strickland
HowStuffWorks.com

I knew I'd be walking on thin ice with this article. If there's one thing guaranteed to launch a shouting match among music fans, it's the old digital-versus-analog debate. While there are audiophiles who will protest to the grave that analog formats like vinyl records provide a truer, richer sound than digital formats, there's not much hard evidence to support the claim. Sure, if you listen to music on a substandard system, it's not going to sound very good. And if you encode digital music using a low bitrate, the sounds you get as a result may be less than pleasing to the ear. But if you're using a lossless digital format and a decent sound system, it's very difficult -- perhaps even impossible -- to tell the difference between analog and digital. I believe that what some audiophiles truly value is the ritual of listening to analog music. Taking a vinyl album from a sleeve, placing it on the turntable and delicately positioning the needle gives the experience of listening to music a gravity it might not otherwise possess. How could that not sound better?

Sources

  • "Analog vs. Digital." Grunt Productions. http://www.gruntproductions.com/recorded/analog_vs_digital.htm
  • "Analog vs. Digital and Contemporary Analogue Mastreworks." Contemporary Analogue Mastreworks. Aug 19, 2006. http://www.segall.com/atr.html
  • Elsea, Peter. "Analog Recording of Sound." UCSC Electronics Music Studios. 1996. http://arts.ucsc.edu/EMS/Music/tech_background/TE-19/teces_19.html
  • Partyka, Jeff. "Analog vs. Digital: no clear victor." Emedia Professional. Dec 1999. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FXG/is_12_12/ai_63973540
  • "Sensitivity of Human Ear." HyperPhysics. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/sound/earsens.html

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