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I make music and sounds. I post mostly on newgrounds so people can use them in games and such. My full albums can be found on my home page below.

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The analog verses digital argument understood

Posted by Midnights-Ocean - July 14th, 2021


The problem with the analog verses digital argument is, it can not be made properly, except in person. Once you digitize an audio signal, it is forever changed in ways that are apposed to the physics of analog sound. Computers draw sound waves with straight lines, nature does not. Computers are limited in resolution, nature is not. You literally can’t compare digital sound to analog sound in a youtube video, because all the sound is digitized to be on line in the first place. Half the significance in detectable difference is lost. Mostly what's left is to argue time quantization and harmonic saturation, which can be mostly synthesized in a computer, if you know what you are doing.


Therefor, I think I finally realize in a bigger sense why only those who have spent extended time listening directly to analog sound, fully understand how and why analog is different and desirable. It really is something you have to hear in person. If at any point between your ear and the source of sound, digitization has been applied, you are likely to miss arguably half the entire appeal of analog.


This also explains why it drives some analog enthusiasts nuts, when instrument companies add digital effects to an analog instrument without a 100% dry pass through in the circuit. Or why same enthusiasts refuse to use digital effects on their analog instruments.


It’s like cooking vegetables. Even just a single digitization changes the sound and like a piece of parsley, once it’s cooked, it’s never the same.


This also explains why it seems some think me elitist when I rave about the sound I get from my analog instruments. They can’t hear everything I do, from over the internet.


This is also why, mostly older people who grew up with analog hifi systems, understand why such systems are special or desirable.


So what's the point of analog if next to nobody records/releases purely on analog media anymore? Well, there are things that do translate, like the before mentioned saturation and time signature effects. The other half at this point in history, is something purely for the benefit of those playing/recording the analog source. I guess it's what keeps the art "alive" for the artists. They at least get to hear it the way it really sounds. That is until society looses it's shit from too much digititus and goes back to analog media as the norm.


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Comments

I fall on both sides. I learnt analogue then digital. Each have merits. The digital age lowered the boundary for everyone to make music, money really was a wall that most couldn't climb. The proliferation of cheap pc's, cards and a world of quality vsts has enabled talent to shine. The biggest drawback now is the sheer dilution of the medium. There's little money to be made, any twat with a mic and fruity loops is a producer. I try my best to make sure my digital work can be played live. I also record a lot live.

If i had the money I'd buy the hardware, synthesizers are so over valued though and valve amps when compared to modern solid state amps make a weak argument to be limited to a single tone. My mustang gt 200 allows me to dial any amp, i can go in the settings and adjust things like voltage sag.

I adore tape, i love it's warmth, i love driving it. But the average joe doesn't care. They don't know about mic technique or masking a crash, side chaining the kick to bass with a gate. The ends are all that matters. Digital gets us 95% there. That 5% is for purists and audio snobs. I consider it that if I can get my digital work to transition to stage as a band, then I did it right.

Same here. I grew up on analog but by the time I was an engineer, it was all digital.

It’s a barrel of double edged swords. Digital allows music to be made by anyone. It also allows music to be made by ANYONE. Digital makes music production easier. It also makes it so easy, all you have to do is download a program, press one button and you’ve “made a tune”. Digital allows micro budget producers like us to create music. It’s also made the price of analog gear skyrocket, because the parts infrastructure has shrunk so badly. Digital allows instant distribution and visibility but also allows no one to ever have to pay for music. Artists are supposed to live on air or use time machines to get by I guess.

On the technical side, digital does a pretty good job producing music but only if the person knows what they are doing.

What’s lost when you digitize though, can not be equated with a percent. Can anyone say doing a video chat with a loved one is the same as being with them physically? Most probably would not. As I said, analog is something that can only be measured in person. I have a cloud drum plugin. It sounds great. Like really great. It never leaves me with the same positive charge as hearing my real life drum in real life.

Some people say digital sound has a dead quality to it. This is the subconscious detecting the limited resolution and artificial nature of the computer’s sound waves. Can you create great music in digital? Sure but I would bet good money, in a blind listening test, one of your songs produced/recorded/replayed on an all analog medium, would sound very difference compared to the exact same thing once digitized. There’s an emotional connection that suffers once the sound is approximated as 1s and 0s.