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Author Topic: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?  (Read 31269 times)

Johnny B

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How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« on: December 10, 2005, 03:43:22 am »

Yeah, I know...it may seem like a dumb question on the surface...

Perhaps it's like asking "Why do guitar players love their tube amps?" This is still true despite the fact that guitar players have for years been hearing certain design engineers tell the guitar players that they are crazy and that solid state amps are just as good or superior to tube amps. I dunno if any of you have ever tried to take a tube amp away from a guitar player but that is something I would never attempt because I like living and I also do not want to end up in a hospital with broken body parts.  

In the same way that guitar players must have tube amps, many musicians and engineers prefer the sound of analogue even though digital is suppossedly cleaner, more accurate, easier to edit, and possibly cheaper to get into...yamma...yamma...yamma...

Now I do need to make a disclaimer that I truly do NOT believe any of the hype that those who market digital products spew forth...I'm just trying to summarise some their claims...

I know what my ears like to hear and it's not Dijee-Tools...but I could be in the minority these days...

Given who the host of this forum is (hopefully we will show him the respect he deserves) I'd like to hear why others feel that Analogue is still the King of Great Sound Quality.




 
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"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality,
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---Albert Einstein---

I'm also uncertain about everything.

Jack Schitt

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2005, 09:07:23 am »

I think you get the sounds you hear and like in your formative years ingrained in your mind and that defines 'good' for you. I'm a guitar player and you wouldn't be able to pry my old Marshalls and Fenders out of my cold, dead hands but solid state and digital have places. They aren't 'bad' or 'worse' they are just different than what most people have formed in their minds as ideal. I use them and record with them. They do things the amps can't do. They can do things the amp can do pretty well also.

The other side of it is literally all in their head. People's mind and beliefs have powerful impact over how they percieve what they are hearing. I've done blind tests with people asking them to pick out what amp they like better. It was a PODxt with settings unchanged but when they thought it was a Bogner it was killer. When they thought it was a Crate it sucked, and when they thought it was Line 6 they thought it really sucked. No one is immune to this. As engineers we are capable of being more discerning because we are trained to find isolate and correct subtle aspects of audio production but what we hear is still very influenced by what we believe.
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Vertigo

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2005, 10:06:47 am »

I've been playing guitar for 20 years now, and I've played through just about every amp under the sun. Digital amp modeling is absolute crap, and solid state amps just do NOT play or sound like tube amps. That's not to say that there aren't some pretty nice sounding solid state amps out there or that solid state can't sound good in certain situations. But they can't match the responsiveness to playing dynamics that a good tube amp can.

That said, I came across a technology a couple of years ago that absolutely blew my mind. And it's tube-less...

Check out Pritchard Amps:

http://www.pritchardamps.com

This guy is a genius - he's created his own analog technology (XGPA) that's actually BETTER than tube. I haven't seen a guitarist yet that wasn't absolutely blown away by the way these things sound and play - even die-hard vintage tube and boutique amp fanatics.

-Lance
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bblackwood

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2005, 10:11:04 am »

How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Digital?

It's subjective. I prefer analog almost every time a client send both types in for mastering, but it's purely subjective...
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Brad Blackwood
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Ged Leitch

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2005, 10:24:04 am »

very subjective!!!
All i know is, as a guitar player i dont care if i'm playing through a marshall stack or a POD or even IK's Amplitube, if I like the sound I use it.
  Sure I've played through some crappy solid state amps but I've also played through valve amps that I didnt care much for the sound too.
  So, i'd say theres no definitive right or wrong here,
just what sounds good to you
be it digi or annie (10 out of 10 for the cliche Laughing )
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Klokkern

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2005, 11:02:49 am »

OK, I have to throw in my 2 cents...

Personally I think the whole disussion about "what is better" is a bit far fetched... I think a well maintained Studer A-80 or A-800 goes in circles around all pro tools/logic systems I have tried. So in that case, analouge beats digital. But what about an old Tascam 24 track / 1" tape that has been neglected for a couple of months compared to a top notch soundscape system?? (I strongly claim that the Soundscape system with good converters is the best DAW I have ever heard) In the last case, analouge would be seriously pissed on....

Producer John Cornfield (of Supergrass/muse fame) has got both 24 track 2" analogue and a Soundscape DAW in the studio he usually works, and on Sydecs homepage (the makers of Soundscape DAW´s) he´s been telling about how 95% of the clients who want to use analouge ends up thinking the Soundscape DAW sounds better in blind tests.... So this is both a very subjectiv and also very much a psycho-acoustic phenomena.

Bottom line: What sounds better, analouge ar digital?? None, really. Top notch equipment will in most cases sound better than cheap / neglected equipment (at least today, this might not have been so with the first mitshubisi digital 32 tracks....), no matter if it is digital or analog.

regards
larsK
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danickstr

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2005, 11:13:46 am »

good post from scandinavia.  I agree. Cool
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kraster

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2005, 11:47:45 am »

Klokkern wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 16:02

OK, I have to throw in my 2 cents...

Personally I think the whole disussion about "what is better" is a bit far fetched... I think a well maintained Studer A-80 or A-800 goes in circles around all pro tools/logic systems I have tried. So in that case, ana
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bushwick

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2005, 12:04:41 pm »

I just finished tracking a band to tape over the last few days that got dumped to PT. The project went to two inch first and then takes were dumped into digital via AD8000's as the keeper takes were recorded to save on tape costs. This time as in all other times bands want to do this, the difference was very noticeable and the relaxation, the sense fullness upon listening to PT just wasn't quite the same. There have been advances in converters - this I know. Arguably, these are very good converters. You may read opinions that people prefer these to Digi 192's. There is no doubt in my mind that for most things tape will be far and away a better sounding medium.

Best,
joshua
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Joshua Kessler
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rnicklaus

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2005, 01:06:29 pm »

bushwick wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 09:04

I just finished tracking a band to tape over the last few days that got dumped to PT. The project went to two inch first and then takes were dumped into digital via AD8000's as the keeper takes were recorded to save on tape costs. This time as in all other times bands want to do this, the difference was very noticeable and the relaxation, the sense fullness upon listening to PT just wasn't quite the same. There have been advances in converters - this I know. Arguably, these are very good converters. You may read opinions that people prefer these to Digi 192's. There is no doubt in my mind that for most things tape will be far and away a better sounding medium.

Best,
joshua



Why not just stay on analog 2" then?  What are you gaining going to PT that makes up for the loss you hear leaving the analog format?
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R.N.

CCC

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2005, 01:47:29 pm »

awesome.

analog vs. digital.

tube vs. solid state.

unexplored territory!

so fresh, so exciting - let's break some new groud.

i can't wait to see what is posted next! whoo hoo!
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bblackwood

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2005, 02:36:41 pm »

John Sorensen wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 12:47

awesome.

analog vs. digital.

tube vs. solid state.

unexplored territory!

so fresh, so exciting - let's break some new groud.

i can't wait to see what is posted next! whoo hoo!

Those topics have been beaten to death, we need something fresh, like a Mac vs. Wintel discussion...
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Brad Blackwood
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kraster

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2005, 03:16:00 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 19:36

John Sorensen wrote on Sat, 10 December 2005 12:47

awesome.

analog vs. digital.

tube vs. solid state.

unexplored territory!

so fresh, so exciting - let's break some new groud.

i can't wait to see what is posted next! whoo hoo!

Those topics have been beaten to death, we need something fresh, like a Mac vs. Wintel discussion...


i prefer the more analog feel of wintel...I can't explain why it just is more "there".... Wink
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chrisj

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Re: How Come Many Musicians Prefer The Sound Of Analogue?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2005, 03:47:24 pm »

How about some technical reasons?

Digital specializes in inharmonic distortion. Think 'ring modulator' or something- overtones that aren't harmonically, but mathematically related to the desired sound. Any time you have truncation, you get a little more inharmonic distortion.

Digital processing is good at slightly moving the apparent locations of high-frequency spatial cues. If you work on sample values (which is almost invariably what is done) instead of working on the relationship between samples, the tendency is to modulate what the sample 'is'. But the sample is meaningless unless it's in context with surrounding samples and indicating what the underlying waveform is doing. If you are altering samples as if they are the wave form, you're very likely to shift the timing of information in the underlying waveform the samples are supposed to imply. The result is more inharmonic distortion, in the manner of 'jitter'.

If people were working with infinitely high-res infinite-bandwidth data this wouldn't be an issue, but they aren't.

Over to analog.

Analog can react in unexpected ways. You can produce exaggerated 'groove', for instance, by taking the extreme low frequencies and making them a bit slower to respond, or a bit weaker than the midbass. You can produce 'lushness' by having a boost such as a tape head bump which boosts up to a certain point and then gently saturates and doesn't boost beyond that point. You can produce 'air' by having subtle high frequency sounds amplified, but controlling the louder high frequency sounds with tape saturation, gradually reaching a point of total saturation as the frequency rises and combines with the bias tone, so the very highest frequencies are quite compressed.

I can't help but think it's fortuitous that the problems with digital linearity are invariably horrible-sounding, but maybe half the problems with analog linearity are great-sounding. You might not always want to apply them but when you combine the absence of most inharmonic distortions (you can still get switching distortion on AB transistor circuits, etc) with the presence of music-helping distortions, it's not hard to see why many people prefer analog.

Nostalgia factor has diddly-squat to do with it in my opinion, and I'm a DSP guy.

vernier

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Proof is in the pudding ...
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2005, 06:44:53 pm »

Listen to Nat Cole's "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire".
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