Analog or Digital and why?


Computers don't make very good guitars. Back in the 90's the debate raged with digital people saying one day digital will get so good, records will become obsolete. Well it's 25 years later and, well the digital thing never happened and analog never sounded better. However you got to remorgage your house. And buy records. 
D647bf8f e405 4200 83eb 25644c2bb76echrismini
Analog, because.... music!
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digital music reproduction is now as good as analog - they may sound a little different, but very good versions of each is equally enjoyable imo
chrismini
... the digital thing never happened ...
The "digital thing" has very much happened. It is everywhere.
I play analog records, records created digitally and cds,  because....music!
Yes to both.  Why not?
What has happened in the recording industry is the proliferation of Pro Tools, a software program that allows engineers to record, mix, add effects, etc without touching a mixing console. The Smashing Pumpkins wanted to record an album the old fashioned way, but they had a difficult time finding an engineer that couldn’t record an album without using Pro Tools. So what all major studios are doing is purchasing analog mixing consoles, like Neves, that have motorized faders so they can use Pro Tools with a traditional console. Now are they using digital processing and effects when they record and mix down analog recordings? Well they’ve been doing that since the 70’s when a company called Lexicon built the first digital reverb. However if a band wants to issue a vinyl release, they, unless they are complete jerks, are going to do a final analog mix with that in mind and another final digital mix for the CD. So yeah it ain’t like the old days where analog was the only thing that existed and yes vinyl releases today have digital processing, but to say modern records are nothing but CD’s stamped into a record simply isn’t true.
Digital is all I listen to (CDs) unless I go to an audio show or dealer and get a chance to listen to vinyl. Done properly, digital can be the bee's knees. Vinyl has that nostalgic quality, invoking some very strong emotions but it's not enough to win me over anymore, and hasn't, for the longest time.

All the best,
Nonoise
both.

if your focus is on listening to music, and new music, then you are not ignoring digital. so this is a music access question. it it important?

i have invested into really top level digital, and honestly it is very fine to listen to and absent of the sort of gross digital hard sort of sound. so it can be the solitary music source without question.

yet my vinyl and tape are better, sometimes much better. but i’ve also invested to get to the top of the heap of analog performance. so i do enjoy the added musical touch for sure.

bottom line; i listen to 70% digital because of (1) ease of use, and (2) it’s where most of the new music is. especially classical; there is just so much new classical digital to listen to. and........i listen to music in my dedicated room 30+ hours a week.

i love listening to music.
Analog is a very expensive option if you want it to be your primary source of music reproduction. Turntable/tonearm/cartridge/phono amp/stand/record cleaning machine and a host of necessary products from stylus cleaner to carbon fiber record brush to a Zerostat you have to have in the winter. Last Record Preservatives and Stylast. A modest system can be an easy 20 grand and you have yet to purchase your first record and the new audiophile pressings are going through the roof. The new thing is they take a record that was originally a single 33 and third and pressing 2 records at 45rpm and selling them for $50. Guess they sound better? Haven't heard Fremer weigh in on this. The newest thing I read about is the PVC is being reformulated and look out what these will cost. So in my humble opinion, high end analog is for wealthy audiophiles. There are those who may disagree, but my analog front end was $15,000 in the early 2000's and my system had a lot to be desired. 
This is a provocative post because it is so full of generalizations. No, vinyl didn't die, but digital has made amazing strides. 

it's digital for me. My reasons:
1. I love the gear and the passion of assembling systems - I am a System Builder, a fabulous way to enjoy the hobby! - more than amassing a collection. 
2. I put the $ I would have spent on a media collection into the system, which has, imo, meant a far more holistically high end result and more enjoyment for me than being a Mediaphile. 
3. Digital has become so good that now what determines better sound is not analogue vs. digital, but setting up a holistically superior rig. 
4. This is a big one; most of the music I want is not on vinyl. I'm not about to buy vinyl of music I do not want just to have analogue. 


I'll shut up after this. Analog is also very labor intensive. When you get these expensive records they have to be cleaned with a decent vacuum record machine even before you think about playing it. New records have a substance called mold release compound in their grooves or your record would not fallen out of the stamper. After that comes the Last Record Preservative. This stuff is magic. I found a Bowie Ziggy Stardust mofi issue. I lost count at 100 plays. No record wear, no increase in surface noise. They also make a product called Stylast you put on your just cleaned stylus  After applying this, now your ready to play the record.(don't forget to dust off the record with a  nice, meaning expensive, carbon fiber brush.) But is your cartridge's overhang/azimuth/tracking force/anti-skating and VTA set. Ha, many records are of different thickness so the vertical tracking angle has to be properly set. All good tonearms allow you to adjust this while the record is being played.
Or you can open the music player software of your choice and click on what you want to listen to.

Still if I somehow suddenly became a rich guy, as in $100,000 to buy gear, it would be back to vinyl. Done right, it can sound that good and digital just can't match the magic...
Analog is also very labor intensive.
And that’s why I went digital! :) I *am* sorta lazy, but truly love the convenience of digital. I am a bit A.D.D., and when I listen sometimes my mind wanders and I can restart the song. Or, sit there and listen to a favorite track 2, 3, 6 times in a row without leaving the chair.

I get that in the best rigs analog can sound better, but for me digital is good enough and I have a decent system. I just don’t have the "fiddly" gene either ... having to clean, tweak, fiddle, dust, etc for analog is so tedious. For me. But different strokes for different folks. I can’t wait to spend some time with my friend’s newly overhauled $50k system (incl Vandersteen Quatros and an AR Ref preamp) when he gets his new turntable set up. All the benefits, none of the work for me!

If I ever win the big lotto, maybe I'll hire my own personal analog tech to set it up and maintain it for me. Maybe! Or, I'll buy a T+A or other best-of-the-best digital rigs which even analog fiends says comes close enough to sounding analog, and better in some ways, that no vinyl will be desired.


good thread, good discussion
How many LPs made today are pure analog from the microphone to the vinyl?
Victrola here, I don't care, I like music...From Bali to the Highland music of Scotland. Analog or Digital.

Just no Yoko Ono

Regards
mikelavigne
both. if your focus is on listening to music ...
Exactly. I don’t understand why some seem to insist this is an either/or question.
I am into analog bigtime - both LP and tape. But that’s because I grew up in the analog era. If I were starting out today, I’d stick with purely digital. Others might think differently. Good for them! It's still not a black/white, either/or, A vs. D issue.
Its good some are happy listening only to digital. This is why they are happy. I was happy with digital too, when all I listened to was digital. Then one day made the mistake of listening to a record. Took a while. Playing a record takes skill. You don't just push a button. Records aren't perfect. They're fragile, noisy, and temperamental. No two ever sound quite the same. 

They also have a magical quality digital cannot touch. That's why people defending digital always take an engineering approach, or the modern music approach, or any of a dozen other irrelevant arguments, all of which have in common the defensive fear of the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it just doesn't sound as good. There's no there there. 

We all know it. And really, its fine. Times myself I just want some sound without having to worry about cue up at the end, have it go on for 40 or more minutes instead of 15, and so on. 

When listening to my iPod I don't complain that its not a record. That would be silly. There's plenty of times something halfway decent will do, and digital is tailor made for just those times. 

Just please don't go all crazy trying to say its up there with analog. I mean seriously. Even Joe Biden would say, "Come on, man!"
I love high end digital. If the recording was poorly engineered it’s not going to matter which format is used. Anyone that disses current digital sound quality simply hasn’t heard a good recording on a good digital playback setup. Again, bad recordings will sound bad no matter what. IMO analog gear is fun and currently cool but it’s not better. I get it though.
Totally disagree digital can be better then analog R2R dacs sound very analog dcs their own code is great,
msb, Metrum, the best value and is 
best value per dollar is Denafrips.
i just bought the latest Pontus 
great natural sound li sold my Schiit Yggsdrasil which was no slouch as well as Lampizator dac3
I am only digital but we build our own components.  The phono stage ($15,000) beats the crap out of any digital we have built or heard period.  Not even close but our digital ($10,000) beats the crap out of most analog systems.  So IMO in comes down to mostly the components.  While different recordings have an impact, some of the poorest analog recording sound better than the best digital recordings with our components.

Happy Listening. 
Agreed Bigkidz. Every resistive element, every dielectric, every active device has its own sonic signature. There is nothing like the sound of first class parts, whatever Carver thinks he proved way back when. But they do cost, don't they? I mean vacuum caps ain't cheap, etc. etc.
When CD's first came out, there was a disclaimer stating the crappy sound is the result of the crappy analog source. The discs had AAD printed on them that stood for analog/analog/digital. The only full DDD discs were classical recordings. So maybe a lot of you guys don't remember the bad old days of early CD's. You're very lucky to have the good sounding digital recordings of today. No one had cell phones or GPS either. Or computers...
I have a lot of CD's (3000+) and a lot of Vinyl (2000+) albums. Like them both and play them both...a lot.
Digital because streaming changes the equation--the access to virtually all recorded music outweighs the obsession of optimizing your private, itty-bitty percentage of the whole.. And streaming/DAC's have evolved to phenomenal performance.
+1 @electroslacker

this is what shifts the balance massively towards digital

truly the world’s music collection at your fingertips, especially new music ... so even if digital reproduction sq is 1-2 percent less good sounding than analog (not debating this point here, it is such a pointless debate)... to hear, sample, experience any and all recommended and heretofore unknown music to me is such a huge upgrade in the whole enjoyment factor and happiness!

don’t get me wrong, i love my tt/cart/phono stage i have poured so much time and money into it to make it sound great... but digital streaming is just da bomb... sooo much fun  :)
What’s this either/or crapola?
Too much like religion or politics.
Bloody useless except for power mad sociopaths.

Besides it’s not the components as much as the recordings.
It's the sum total of program possible to acquire or have access to any time.
And the ease of playback.

If I SHOULD spend a proper ratio of $$ on analog vs digital, I've already spent too much for the volume of recordings available.
And that ratio is diminishing daily.

Okie dokie, this is only one comparison. DSOTM on SACD versus DSOTM on vinyl doesn't compare. Have a decent system to give each a fair shake. In non-technical lingo, analog just sounds more real.
I don't own a high end sound system. It's mostly restored vintage equipment that would probably be considered very good mid-fi. Nevertheless, the most natural, best sounding recordings I have are vinyl LP's from jazz recordings mastered in the 1950's and 1960's. 

That doesn't mean I do not listen to digital. I listen to more digital than analog and I appreciate many digital recordings, especially those either recorded in the last 15 years, or remastered in the last 15 years from analog tapes.

But I have to tell you that there are some digital recordings, especially ones from the 1980's and early 1990's, that sound so unmusical, so "grainy" and harsh, that I have to turn them off. They were probably made when digital technology was in its infancy or near infancy, and I prefer almost any modern analog recocording to them. I can hear their "graininess" most clearly in recorded string sections. At least that is where I hear sounds that I feel are not at all "musical".


No, I’m not offended that my nearly magical streamer/DAC was just compared to a frigging iPod. I find tremendous pleasure in both my digital and my analog rigs.  I just love listening to music - to me that’s what it’s all about. YMMV. 
I still occaisionally spin vinyl out of nostalga. I like the liturgy of record cleaning, stylus cleaning, azmuth and overhand adjustments and all that really cool analog tweeking that goes on. But ultimately, I think vinyl is a pain in the ass. In reality, I stream music about 90% of the time. I don't even have high res premium services. My audiophilia is waning along with my hearing and disposable income.
@fuzztone

"What’s this either/or crapola?
Too much like religion or politics.
Bloody useless."

It's the world of one for whom life is endless labor in an economy of prestige and self affirmation. All social exchange becomes an opportunity to gain esteem and fill a deficit, at a cost to others. The zero sum game replaces sharing and exchange. There is only what is right and superior, all else is worthless and wrong.
Digital as well as analog has seen continual evolution throughout the decades and both will continue to improve.  Neither is perfect, nor does either fully recreate the live event (is that even possible?).  Either your system draws you into the music or it does not.  So many different paths to audio Nirvana with the available technology out there.
daj dropping knowledge, yo?!?

A knock out vinyl system is very costly (so there's that too). 

Fewer and fewer of us here have grown up with vinyl.

Digital is easier.

Sound of both can be stellar or poor.

To some vinyl is the holy grail.
"What’s this either/or crapola?
Too much like religion or politics.
Bloody useless."

It’s the world of one for whom life is endless labor in an economy of prestige and self affirmation. All social exchange becomes an opportunity to gain esteem and fill a deficit, at a cost to others. The zero sum game replaces sharing and exchange. There is only what is right and superior, all else is worthless and wrong.


Thank you for sharing your wisdom, master daj.  Say, would you please go over to the Tekton Design Moab thread and have a chat with millercarbon?
No one special here. And I don't mean to hijack anyone's thread, just pointing out something I see happening frequently. Actually, I'm sympathetic. We're all a product of our traumas to one extent or another. Sorry for the outburst.
A lot has to do with Who mixes the recording ,For example Alan Parsons did a lot for the Beatles and they sound very respectable, also good companies and single miked recordings make big difference and use Vacuum tube recording stations.
a record can only put out maximum 12 bits  when roughly 21 bits is actually possible ,without estimating and adding resampling. That is why I mentionedGood ladder dacs or proprietary like DCS .Big bucks though.
the Denafrips dacs sound like good analog  as digital does in good dacs.
Digital does ,better dynamic range, lower bass, better S/N ratio, and yes has a reel to reel sound without being too warm or Too soft. Best for value money spent if looking for a analog detailed sound look at Denafrips , their Terminator  everyone knows
the $800 Ares -2 awards everywhere under $900 beats dacs 3-4xthe $$.
the Pontus I just bought ,sold my Schiit Yggsdrasil is noticably better still at $1800 and wil beat Any turntable setup in the $5-6k range in many areas I have heard, just do a search . They have dacs 3  better still ,$6400 max and you would never look back .with these even older recordings sound better , not etched and cold.
I think I already made the point that an analog front end is/will cost a fortune compared to a similar quality digital front end. I've heard nothing but amazing things about PS Audio's DirectStream DAC for $6,000. An really good analog system can easily set you back 20K and that's before buying any records. Yeah there are cheap turntables with cheap arms cheap MM cartridges and $100 phono stages, but this is an attempt for companies to bamboozle people into thinking analog is affordable. There's several online dealers who are absolutely shameful in perpetuating this myth.
Analog can sound great if recording was done right, terrible if poorly recorded, mastered, etc...
Digital is no different. It all has to do with each individual recording. To generalize is impossible. I have 10 times more vinyl than CDs but while most of my best sounding records are analog vinyl, some are digital CDs. I worked hard all my life and I love hard work. At 66 I still love hard work and that's why I love analog. Lazy people or ones who can't make the time should stay away from analog is my recommendation. It takes a lot of work to make your analog system sing, but there is no greater satisfaction than when you can achieve it. That being said digital fits perfectly into the instant gratification mode we live in now. Different kind of enjoyment is all.
Chintziphiles desperately want any sort of analogue to be better than all digital. 
Either way  no matter what, people will always say that digital sounds sooooo analog or that high res file sounds sooooo much like vinyl.  Analog formats will always be the baseline or reference for discussions like this.
Also in 30 years you look back and say to your grandkids, here ,you can have all these files or oops I don’t know where they went or you can say, pick out any records you want and then help me to EBay the rest
Oh wow this ones worth $500 now!  You will never say or experience this with a file of any kind.  
Enjoy the music Will-T
Chrismini, analog is not near as inconvenient if you know what you are doing. All I have to do to play a record is take it out of it's jacket and toss it on the table. The only difference between it and a CD is you have to flip it over. Then both have to go back into storage. I do not have or use any of that stuff you mention and my records are in like new condition. 

I can not speak for the younger crowd but those of us that have been at this for 50 years have analog material that never made it to CD or when it  did the music was tortured. On the other hand there are excellent high resolution digital downloads that are spectacular. The big problem with CDs back in the early 80's was the machines. They had not figured out how to do the filtering right resulting in butte awful sound quality. Early CDs played on modern machines do not sound near as bad.
I have records that sound better than any high res download. Many records do not sound as good. I do not have digital copies of most of my records and vise versa so it comes down to two things, what music I want to listen to and what I am doing at the time. If I am in the shop then I select one of my digital play lists which run for many hours. If I am just listening then it is only a choice of music not digital vs analog.
Obviously digital is way more flexible than analog particularly if it is on a hard drive. I have probably 100 instances where I have both analog and digital copies. I have A/Bed many of them and it can go either way. 
Looking through this thread it looks like most of us are in the "both" camp.
I can certainly understand why young people who have no history with records want to stick with digital. I think that most of us vinyl jockies have a thing for turntables, I know I have.

Douglas, what is a "chintziphile"?
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I'm 60 so I grew up in the bad old days of vinyl records. No one took care of them or we would use a Discwasher which destroyed more records than it cleaned. Instead of coughing up $10 for a new stylus, guys would tape quarters to their headshells so it wouldn't fly across the record. Or turn up the anti-skate all the way up.(Like that's what it's for.) We didn't know any better. So when CD's hit the scene, wow! If you wanted to hear a certain song, you didn't have to drop the stylus as close as possible without spilling any beer. Oh those were glorious times. You could see the Grateful Dead for $7.

I have fallen into the audiophile curse of concentrating on the gear instead of what the gear is for: reproducing recorded music the most satisfying way we can. If you want to do MQA because that's what you like, then do it. I'm not going to but I grew up at a different times. This country was torn apart by the War in Vietnam. Jimi Hendrix was rocking. Jim Morrison too. Vinyl records cost $3.99. Everyone had an 8 Track in their vans. Oh man you want to talk about a hideous sounding medium. Done .
Digital all the way!  Jumped on the CD bandwagon from it's inception and handed down my record collection to my younger brother. Later ripped my CD collection to FLAC and never looked back (I'm a poet and....).  

Vinyl is too ritualistic and (for me) CD's started to approach that too. So much fussing and faffing around. Now I listen to my music collection or stream CD quality, anywhere I am.  I have a main and bedroom system and use Roon to pick and poke my way through whatever pops into my head during listening time.

Instant gratification should never be underestimated!
chrismini
I'm 60 so I grew up in the bad old days of vinyl records. No one took care of them or we would use a Discwasher which destroyed more records than it cleaned. Instead of coughing up $10 for a new stylus, guys would tape quarters to their headshells so it wouldn't fly across the record. Or turn up the anti-skate all the way up.(Like that's what it's for.) We didn't know any better.
Wow - you were running with the wrong crowd!
I used a (gift from my mother when I was maybe 17) KLH Model 20 compact system (great speakers) for many years, and it had a Pickering cartridge with a little dust brush attached...adorable...my records bought new from the 60s and 70s still sound great in spite of whatever that Pickering was doing to them, and I clean 'em once and then simply brush them each time I play them with an anti-static AQ brush. This doesn't seem very difficult...most of my listening is "red book" level digital that can sound astonishingly good, but vinyl also sounds great when I'm in the mood to mess with it. Besides, you can't enjoy a vinyl collection unless you listen to it. It's not a push-up contest, and if you're not able to enjoy both formats you're obviously not actually into music so much.