Comparing Digital vs. Analog Audio

We’re living in an increasingly digital world, but there are still plenty of people who rely heavily on analog audio systems, believing them to have the better sound. So, which is actually the better type of audio system—digital, or analog? Is there even a noticeable difference between analog and digital audio in Seattle, WA?

To understand whether or not there’s a sound quality difference, you have to understand the differences in function between analog and digital systems. Here’s a quick overview of what you should know.

Analyzing analog and digital

The term “analog” refers to constantly changing representation of an ongoing variable quantity. In a digital system, though, those variable quantities are identified by actual numbers (digits). Let’s say, for example, that there is an infinite number of values between one and two. Analog represents that infinite number of possibilities between one and two, but digital will only look at fixed points between one and two, such as 1.25, 1.5 and 1.75. Analog takes the whole line and all possible values into account, while digital only looks at a certain number of spots.

You can also think of the difference between analog and digital as the difference between seeing something happen in real life and seeing something happen on film. Film is actually a series of still photographs taken extremely rapidly, so while it may resemble a continuous flow of motion, it’s not actually the same thing as seeing something happen live. Just don’t confuse this with digital video vs. film—that’s an entirely separate issue!

Taking these comparisons and putting them into the world of audio and music, here’s what you should know. Sound naturally occurs in analog form, because there is a continuous set of waves that we hear. Analog sound involves capturing the sound in a way that can account for all possible frequencies, while digital involves the use of computers to translate the sound into numbers that are approximately what you’re hearing in real life.

A fully analog recording would be recorded on tape and produced with manual equipment for mixing and mastering, resulting in it finally being pressed into a vinyl LP. A pure digital recording is recorded on a computer program, mixed and mastered with digital software and turned into a digital file, such as an MP3.

A lot of today’s music is a combination of the two—the song might have been recorded on analog tape, but then either mixed and mastered digitally or released in digital form as an MP3 or other audio file.

Ultimately, your brain won’t really be able to pick up on the spaces that exist between digital values, just like how you can’t really pick up on the difference in watching movies. But there are people who believe analog has a warmer, more textured sound that is truer to the original recording.

You can listen to both digital and analog sound for yourself and see if you notice a difference. For more information about the difference between analog and digital audio in Seattle, WA, and to learn about how our equipment can help you get an accurate and high-quality audio recording, contact Efficiency, Inc. today.

Leave a Reply