Analog versus Digital Sound

When we setup home theaters, we still get asked about the differences between analog sound, such as that from vinyl records, and digital sound, such as that from CDs. While most people are perfectly content with CDs given budget limitations and poor listening environments, analog vinyls will still produce the best sound if you use the most expensive high-end equipment.

michaelfremerSimilar discussions occur when comparing solid-state amps with tube amps, and when comparing digital synthesizers and samplers with analog synthesizers.

With the advent of SACDs, even extreme audiophiles can not distinguish between digital samples and the analog vinyl versions of songs. Similarly, modern digital synthesizers such as the Nord Lead are now considered indistinguishable from true analog synthesizers by most musicians.

Gizmodo has an article about audiophile Michael Fremer and the subject of digital versus analog. Their main point is that while most people shouldn’t spend hundreds of thousands on a music theater, it is important that some people are obsessed with having the best listening experience.

After hearing I’m a Bowie fan, Fremer drops into his near limitless stacks and spins a pressing of “Heroes” with part of the title track’s chorus in German. I’m giggling with pleasure at the frankly obscene level of detail I hear (Ich! Ich werde K├Ânig!), but of course, I’m hearing the pops and crackles that a 30+ year-old record is likely to have. Shouldn’t a $350,000 stereo system be completely free of such impurities?

“It’s like when you go to the symphony, and the old men are coughing-same thing,” Fremer says. Necessary impurities. Reminders of being in the real world.

This 1993 news story from MTV featuring Michael Fremer is still applicable today:

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