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Author Topic: George....what's the resolution of analog?  (Read 58640 times)

jazzius

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George....what's the resolution of analog?
« on: May 14, 2004, 12:56:30 pm »

George, we hear about the resolution of digital all the time.....24 bits, 44.1, 192.....2.8 million whatevers....

...do you know if anyone has ever worked out the resolution of analog?.....how many bits would it be equivelent to?.....i know this is bit of a strange question, but i'd love to be able to give my customers a smart-arse answer for why analog sounds better then digital...

...cheers.....Darius

bblackwood

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2004, 01:12:18 pm »

Well, I'm not GM, but resolution certainly isn't the answer as to why some feel analog sound better. IME, good analog machines have a S/N ratio of about 13 bit and a useable hi-freq limit of about 20kHz or so...
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Ethan Winer

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2004, 01:16:40 pm »

Darius,

> do you know if anyone has ever worked out the resolution of analog? <

Yes, Arny Krueger from www.pcabx.com has assessed this and commented several times in the audio news groups.

> i'd love to be able to give my customers a smart-arse answer for why analog sounds better then digital <

Uh oh, then I'm afraid you won't like Arny's results. Cool

In any way you care to measure, even a $25 SoundBlaster sound card beats pretty much any analog tape recorder.

--Ethan

malice

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2004, 01:44:01 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 19:12

Well, I'm not GM, but resolution certainly isn't the answer as to why some feel analog sound better. IME, good analog machines have a S/N ratio of about 13 bit and a useable hi-freq limit of about 20kHz or so...


Sometimes the bandwith is less than that (+/- 3db of course)

malice

jazzius

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2004, 02:38:27 pm »

why does it sound better then?

Surely analog works at a higher resolution then digital?....electrons, atoms, eeeerrrrrr.....quarks?! (yeah, i don't actually know what the hell i'm talking about!)

Loco

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2004, 03:17:06 pm »

jazzius wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 14:38

why does it sound better then?


It's not that it's better. It's just easier to get more musical results.

Providing that you are working with a good piece of hardware, of course.
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jazzius

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2004, 03:22:40 pm »

why why why?

bblackwood

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2004, 03:32:27 pm »

Tape saturation (essentially freq-dependant compression).
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ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2004, 03:41:51 pm »

From what I understand, digital has no dimension called "resolution". There are sampling rates and wordlengths, but those are not "resolution". Nika has talked to me about this a bit, and my own experiences seem to corroborate it. There's no analogy between pixels in a digital picture and digital sound- when it's converted back to analog, it's continuous.

When you say analog, it seems everyone is assuming you mean analog tape- there are in fact many analog tape machines with frequency response well up above 20kHz, even up to 30 kHz. That's not really unusual. There is a noise floor that is rather high compared to digital, but infinitely more pleasant, and even musically useful.

Now if you are talking about analog in general, not just tape, the limits are pretty extreme- response up to 60hz and beyond happens, and down to 1 or 2 hz. Noise floors can be very, very low, but almost always higher than digital. Good thing the analog noise is there to mask the digital noise in most cases- the digital noise is pretty nasty.

There's a lot of stuff called digital out there, and a lot of stuff called analog. That by itself doesn't tell you much.

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jazzius

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2004, 03:53:59 pm »

sorry...to clarify.....real tape compared to plugin tape simulation......same thing for comps, EQ's, FX, whatever....

Nika Aldrich

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2004, 04:05:36 pm »

jazzius wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 19:38

why does it sound better then?

Surely analog works at a higher resolution then digital?....electrons, atoms, eeeerrrrrr.....quarks?! (yeah, i don't actually know what the hell i'm talking about!)


"Better" is a subjective term.

Some people may like analog equipment for some projects because the way that analog systems are implemented add noise and distortion in pleasing ways.  Some people like digital equipment because good digital systems do not add that distortion.

Clearly, for poorly designed analog or poorly designed digital systems the performance degrades, and digital systems, when poorly designed, generally add distortion that is very "non-musical."  Therefore, many people like analog equipment over mediocre digital equipment, and some people also like good analog equipment over good digital equipment just because they like the more "euphonic" noise and distortion.

Nika.
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ted nightshade

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2004, 04:14:27 pm »

It's true, implementation is everything, and it's very difficult to do, analog or digital! Kudos to those who do it well.
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raw-tracks

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2004, 04:16:03 pm »

I could be way off base here, but shouldn't the correct answer be that analog recording has INFINITE resolution. Here is the way I see it:

In a digital system, the sound is stored as samples. Each sample is basically a representation or picture of the audio at that given time. You have the sample rate, which is how many times a second a picture is taken. You also have the bit depth, which represents how many ones and zeros we have to take that picture with. The way I have always understood it, was that the bit depth is the resolution. Therefore, you can have 16 bit resolution, 20 bit, 24 bit, etc. At any given bit depth, the chances of that picture being a perfect representation of the actual audio that is taking place, are next to none. In other words, the system will have to decide how to represent a value that is in between the numbers it is given to work with. I guess this also applies to what is happening in between samples as well.

In an analog system, it is not taking snapshot of the audio. It is continuously representing what is happening. Therefore, it is my belief that analog resolution is infinite.

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malice

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2004, 04:34:17 pm »

raw-tracks wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 22:16

I could be way off base here, but shouldn't the correct answer be that analog recording has INFINITE resolution. Here is the way I see it:




Unfortunately it has not infinite resolution...

Unless I don't understand physics right

those quanta you know ...

well, even if they are very very small

Wink

malice

sfdennis

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Re: George....what's the resolution of analog?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2004, 04:35:43 pm »

I'm surprised the thread got this far without anyone mentioning this:

Digital Word Length <=> Analog Noise Floor
Digital Sample Rate <=> Analog Bandwidth

So for example, in an ideal converter system at 96kHz would correspond with an analog bandwidth of 0-48kHz. A digital word length of 24 bits would correspond with an analog noise floor of about -132dBFS, notwithstanding dither.

The correspondences are not perfect for many reasons, and you have to take some care in applying them, but I always start with these. Ignoring distortion for a moment, all real instruments are bandwidth limited and have a non-zero noise floor.

-Dennis
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