Does digital sound better than analog?

Does digital sound better than analog? Author's Note

Author Jonathan Strickland
Author Jonathan Strickland

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?


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