Digital vs analog audio recording – Which one is better

Before we get started, I have to warn you that, this article is not about the professional opinion towards these two type of recording, only based on common knowledge of mine. Have fun, guys!

Analog Recording

Some people love the warm sound of analog tape while others prefer the cleaner sound of modern analog. I personally never get the chance to spend much time with a high-quality analog recorder and only have significant experience with the sound of digital recording, but what I do know, is that good analog recording machines with multichannel are highly costly. Especially those are invented to make about 24 tracks, that what I see on market. Additionally, the tape medium itself is getting more and more out of reach, as demand has gone down, the economy of scale can no longer keep the prices down. Many manufacturers have given up and those who remain basically own a tiny market and charge dependently. Maintaining and keeping an analog machine function is another problem.

Today, even people who totally prefer the sound of analog tape might use it only to record specific elements, such as a drum kit, and after having been recorded, the tape is usually transferred straight to digital as they listen back. Why would they do that, really? Well let’s take a look at the other recording style.

Digital Recording

The first digital recorders are not very good, partly because the AD converters were just new-born, barely matured to be a technology.

Today, the old problems, which are the high price, low bit and sample rates, are completely solved. Both processing power and storage have got many orders of cheaper magnitude, and the AD converters have been developed much, much better. The convenience factor, in which digital copies don’t degrade the way analog copies do. They can be edited and processed in ways that are considered completely impossible with analogue. Even with the best studio headphones for recording, keyboard, … you just can’t do it. I mean, imagine, in order to place a missing beat drum to where it truly belongs, you have to cut the real tape, and not to mention other tricky tasks such as stretching time or pitch that allows a producer to create new harmonies from a lead vocal, change the phrasing, fix the pitch etc, with no noticeable artifacts. Man! Quite a challenge, right? I even need to look up to see what are these methods are all about.

And for the record, digital recording technology is so much more economic than the analog recording that it does not make any economic sense to do the later anymore. Lastly, almost everything that gets recorded ( by analog tape, computer hard drive, digital tape machine) will be released in a digital form at the end, so there really is no escaping it, not to mention the fact that you can’t upload, download, sell, or share analog music over the Internet. Sure, there’s still a bit vinyl, where people push their engineers to over-compress the dynamic range of CD, resulting in the loudness war these days.

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