Analog vs. Digital Recording

July 18, 2008

We’ve been recording sounds since the late 1800’s.  In the time between the 1880’s and the 1970’s quality was improved and methods were made more simple; though everything remained analog.  During the early 80’s the recording industry was turned on its head with the introduction of digital recording methods and CDs; recording would never be the same.

Since that point recording methods have gotten simpler and simpler, and quality became as clear as can be.  What could be better?  A recording that sounds great and is simple to create sounds like the holy grail of recording.  But there’s one thing missing from these digital recordings: personality.

When a record is recorded digitally and pressed to a CD there is definitely something lacking.  Although the sound is “perfect” it is also dry and bland.  Part of what makes music great is its personality; what kind of mood seeps out of the stereo when you press play?  There is nothing I like better than putting an actual vinyl record on my record player; not only because I love music but because I love the sound.  Sure, those crackles and the overly warm sound may not be the true sound, but I’d rather have a record that has a life of its own that one that is just a document of a song.

Many artists, from underground to mainstream, have taken this analog feel and run with it.  The White Stripes‘ sound relies greatly on their analog recording techniques, and while bands in the mainstream like The White Stripes are holding steady on the analog side the greatest analog population resides in the underground.  Bands like Racoo-oo-oon are determined to keep the analog trend going and resort to a half-dead media, casette tapes, to do live recording and even some home recordings.

With that said digital shouldn’t be completely ruled out.  It is incredibly useful in the creation of sounds, and without it we wouldn’t have half the genres we have today.  Personally, almost all of my instruments are digital; I think that they do a great job creating unique sounds and I love them for that.  But as for recording and media, I’ll stick to analog.


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