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Famous Fun Thread: Analog v. Digital--Which is "The King" of great sound quality
Old 14th July 2005
  #1
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Talking Famous Fun Thread: Analog v. Digital--Which is "The King" of great sound quality

Which technology has the superior sound quality...

A. Analogue

B. Digital
Old 14th July 2005
  #2
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And if you had an unlimited budget...which technology would you choose?...digital or analogue.
Old 14th July 2005
  #3
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I dont think its that black or white- With an unlimited budget I'd have both- Some bands and types of music I feel analog would sound much better than digital, but with others digital would be an obvious choice. They each have their strong points.
Old 14th July 2005
  #4
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I agree with having both rather than one or the other. When you say "analog or digital" are you just refering to the final recording medium? Cus a hybrid type studio with the best of both worlds would really be the "King of Great Sound Quality"
Old 15th July 2005
  #5
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

the engineer.... well the band itself FIRST. then the room. then the engineer. then MAYBE the gear.... the medium is pretty far down the ladder.
Old 15th July 2005
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Whichever one you send through a Flux Capacitor will be superior.
Old 15th July 2005
  #7
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time for a little rant from me which is rare....
i'm just a dumb a** engineer.
i think we could all come back in a million years and still debates would be raging on which gear gives you the best quality.
in summary years ago i realised after talking to lots of AES guys and engineers at AES shows that there was no and never will be a perfect solution.
whether analogue or digital. my degree is in science. and once we talk about electronics then we get into the realm of imperfections.
everything, and i mean everything is imperfect. because recording products are created by humans who are imperfect by our nature.
in summary - every technology has its plusses and minuses.
ive owned both..tape multitrack and digital.
tape multitrack drove me nuts because of worries about wow and flutter, keeping multitracks up to spec, parts costs, noise floors and various issues like constant calibration and maintenance needs and tape costs at 200 bucks a reel. digital drives me nuts for different reasons.
in particular i have to watch i dont hit digital brick walls. mp3 quality etc.
in summary - we can debate this endlessly , but i have never seen any perfect solution. just my 2 cents.
Old 15th July 2005
  #8
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If I had an unlimited budget it would be analogue for tracking and mixing for sure.

The only place digital would enter into the picture would be the very last process in the chain where you have to put 2 tracks on a CD which is a very ****ty format to begin with. Maybe some of the upcomming formats will improve on CD's crappy sound quality.

Nyquist followers and the math and engineering people said the CD format was "all you'll ever need," 16-bits was "all you'll ever need," and 41Khz was "all you'll ever need." These jerks must all have tin ears because they were flat wrong.

This group of idiots deserve a lot of the blame for the deplorable digital sound quality that exists today.

To a lot of people, good analogue gear still is "The King" because it sounds so much superior to digital.

Digital still sounds like ass compared to great analogue.

I wish it were different, but it's not.

Maybe with Next Gen Chips digital will improve the sound quality.
Old 15th July 2005
  #9
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both, so you can pay rent,


sonically, there is no comparison.................

one sounds amazing, has frequency response that your ears can hear
and a beautiful 3-D image - it takes work, but less than the hype would lead
you to believe...........

the other, even when fed by an Amek 9098 costing lots of money, sounds like
demos - thin more of 2-D kinda thing, but in this surreal world we live in, only
Walter Sear and maybe , 4 other people agree with me..........

i never met anyone who's regretted making a record
on tape.............

be well

- jack
Old 15th July 2005
  #10
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carlsaff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom
i never met anyone who's regretted making a record
on tape.............
I'm going to be quoting this for a while. Just thought I'd let you know.

For me, the few tracking/mixing projects I do now are tracked to analog, then brought into the DAW to mix (and, henceforth, will be summed to 1/2" analog... my JH110 arrives within the week!).

But if my budget allowed, I'd definitely do some all analog recordings, maybe ALL analog... all the way til the inevitable mastering conversion. I like mixing in the DAW, but it is primarily a convenience/budget factor.
Old 15th July 2005
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom

[S]onically, there is no comparison....

[O]ne sounds amazing, has frequency response that your ears can hear
and a beautiful 3-D image - it takes work, but less than the hype would lead
you to believe...

"[O]nly Walter Sear and maybe , 4 other people agree with me..."

- jack
I suspect the group that prefers the sound of analogue is far larger than you think, however, please share with us your short list of 4 or 5 people.
Old 15th July 2005
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny B
Nyquist followers and the math and engineering people said the CD format was "all you'll ever need," 16-bits was "all you'll ever need," and 41Khz was "all you'll ever need." These jerks must all have tin ears because there were flat wrong.

This group idiots deserve a lot of the blame for the deplorable digital sound quality that exists today.

It was not the Nyquist followers and the math and engineering people who said Red Book CD was "all you'll ever need." That was the marketing people.

And, for the sake of arguement: while the advantages of 24-bits seem obvious, the jury's still out on whether high sample rates really sound better (recent posts on gearslutz to the contrary notwithstanding). The problem with so many 96kHz versus 44.1kHz comparisons (as well as most analog versus digital comparisons) is that it's REALLY DIFFICULT to actually get All Things Being Equal. Just getting our expectation biases out of the way can prove nearly impossible; yet doing any comparison doesn't attempt to eliminate expectation bias (eg., a sighted listening test where you are aware which example is the high sample rate, or which example is analog) is by definition fraught with error in the pure sense.
Old 15th July 2005
  #13
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It's true that marketing people hype things, but their main source of information was that group of idiot Nyquist-following, Math-enamored, Propeller-headed engineers who truly deserve the blame for Digital being such an emasculated technology which simply sounds deplorable when compared to great analogue.
Old 15th July 2005
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny B
It's true that marketing people hype things, but their main source of information was that group of idiot Nyquist-following, Math-enamored, Propeller-headed engineers who truly deserve the blame for Digital being such an emasculated technology which simply sounds deplorable when compared to great analogue.
I believe the real issue is that people seem to confuse simple sample playback with sample manipulation.

For straight sample playback, I believe it is generally the case that the Nyquist principle holds true. However, it is when manipulating those samples, as in a DAW, where the added fidelity of higher sample rates comes into play. The math required to manipulate the samples definitely benefit from the added headroom higher bit rates/depth provide. I believe we are talking apples and oranges here.
Old 16th July 2005
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny B
It's true that marketing people hype things, but their main source of information was that group of idiot Nyquist-following, Math-enamored, Propeller-headed engineers who truly deserve the blame for Digital being such an emasculated technology which simply sounds deplorable when compared to great analogue.
For some reason I really doubt that the people to actualy DEVELOPED cd technology would not understand the benifits to higher sampling and bit rates. If they could tell the difference between 4 bit and 16 bit, couldn't they see that 24 bit would of course be better? And don't you think those math geeks realize that there is a LOT more to a wave form than a positive and negative peak, which is all that 44.1khz audio can record at high frequencies? I think it was more the matter of digital mediums still being too expensive to use the highest bit and sample rates, and the lack of the technology to put all that data on such a small disc. It the inventors of the CD thought people wouldn't mind Laser-Disc sized discs for their car stereo, we'd probably have 24-bit, 96khz audio as a standard right now. But they decided to half-ass it, and go with 44.1, which is the minimum rate you can get away with. I don't really think they thought it was the holy grail of audio, but I do agree that they marketed it that way.
Old 16th July 2005
  #16
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What kind of analog? Tape machine? Which one, Studer, Otari, MCI, 3M, Ampex... they all sound different. What kind of tape? Basf, Quantegy... Different as well.

As for digital, which converters are you using for the A/D?? What clock? What bit depth?

Steve
www.bangrecording.com
www.blacklinerock.com
Old 16th July 2005
  #17
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studer
digidesign
apogee
gp9/ emtec 900 / 499/ 456/ 996


to me, i think the two worlds are
still so different that the differences
you suggest are very subtle relative
to the enormous leap of the
conversion itself
that's what my ears
tell me

be well

- jack
Old 16th July 2005
  #18
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Gee... not another one of the debates. It seems we had quite a period where we were free of one of these.

Digital isn't trying to be like analog... Designers of digital gear (ie Dan Lavry) are aiming for a recording medium that has as minimal artifacts as possible, as you all know analog gear doesn't offer, or intend to offer this. Its like comparing a car to a plane. Both can get you across the country, one is much more expensive to own, both require very different techniques... but both get you to where you are going. Everyone has there preference...

I've heard some really great recordings on both platforms... I've heard some really **** recordings on both platforms too....

DeeDrive the CD was invented as a replacement for vinyl. Not because vinyl was sounding bad, but because of civil war in kuwait and the fear that rising oil prices would push vinyl records beyond the grasp of your average consumer (vinyl = byproduct of oil refining for those who did not know).

Step back in time to the early to mid 1980's. Think of the computer technology we were using. A lot of people struggle to get 2 dozen tracks at 24bit 44.1khz today, it was not heard of in 1985. It's easy to look back today and say that they half-arsed it. But people forget how limited digital technology was in in 1980's.

Since you're at it, why not yell at nasa for only using 4kb of ram in there apollo spacecrafts (thats rigth 4KB, not MB), why not yell at reel to reel creators for not introducing a 24track studer in late 1949, why not yell at the creators of vinyl microgroove records for not introducing vinyl LP's in the 1930's instead of 1960, why not yell at the creators of ferrari for not inventing there streamlined, V12, leather interior, 0-100km in 3 second beast in the early 1800's. Hell... why didnt they invent computers in the 1500's. Better yell at them for that.

The majority of this world lives its existance based on consumerism. The music industry lives its existance based entirely on consumerism. The replacement for vinyl record had to be cheap enough for the average consumer to afford... as did the device required to play them. The first 24bit converters didnt even appear till what 1995? a 24bit digidesign 888 cost the better part of $3000US when it was released. How much do you think a theorical 24bit 96khz CD player would have cost the average consumer in 1983 when the first CD's were introduced in the USA? Keep in mind that the latest computer technology was the Commodore 64 running a stunning 0.985mhz CPU with a massive 64kb of ram (with a price tag of $5000US). That was STATE OF THE ART TECHNOLOGY. So how much would a 24bit 96khz CD player cost? A hell of a lot... as too the actual CD's to play on them, regardless of size. A price well beyond the majority of consumers. It defeats the purpose of CD's very existance as a cheap alternative to the rising price of vinyl.

The compromise (or half-arsed job as you put it) was made to ensure the continuous flow and distribution of music to consumers. It was this compromise that ensured the continual success of the music industry. It had to be affordable, easily distributed and an appealling replacement. An attempt at a lazer disc sized audio disc with beyond state of the art technology would not only have been beyond 99% of consumers reach but it would have destroyed the comsumer basis that the music industry has existed on for the last 30+ years.

16Bit 44.1khz was state of the art "holy grail" technology in the 1980's. Just like shellac records were in the 1940's and 1950's and that huge 4kb of ram was on board the first moon walk.

Perhaps you should ask yourself why aren't we recording at 100bit 1000khz right now?



Old 16th July 2005
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom
studer
digidesign
apogee
gp9/ emtec 900 / 499/ 456/ 996


to me, i think the two worlds are
still so different that the differences
you suggest are very subtle relative
to the enormous leap of the
conversion itself
that's what my ears
tell me

be well

- jack
These two worlds aren't going to meet in the middle like you suggest, they are only going to continue to differ to great extremes.

Analog - Methods with such anomalies like distortion, compression and other artifacts that prove to be "musical" in general.

Digital - a strive for audio capture as true to the original source as possible with as little artifact or anomalies such as distortion and natural compression as possible. Designers are aiming for clean and accurate audio reproduction.

With the improvement of digital conversion this differences will only become larger and more apparent.

So if analog and digital are not destined to have the same qualities, your comparison is kind of mute in terms of one ever being the other, and is more along the lines of "neve is better than API". Subjective.

Just a thought, I too love the sound of analog tape... but digital isnt analog, and is never going to be analog or vice versa.
Old 16th July 2005
  #20
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i don't think they are going to meet
i just like tape..........
i think it sounds good, right now, this summer, 05
same with the vinyl, even if its destroying the earth: i don't drive - it sounds
better to me than anything digital - no pain in the highs, lotsa lows, nice.......
i was just trying to answer someone's question.......



be well

- jack
Old 16th July 2005
  #21
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it really has to do with the brand rather than the format. go with Behringer. they make analog and digital, and are the best at both. you can't lose.
Old 16th July 2005
  #22
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all of my studio revenues are now directed
towards the behringer electronics that i am having
modded into the studer........

thank you !


- jack
Old 16th July 2005
  #23
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Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themaidsroom
i don't think they are going to meet
i just like tape..........
i think it sounds good, right now, this summer, 05
same with the vinyl, even if its destroying the earth: i don't drive - it sounds
better to me than anything digital - no pain in the highs, lotsa lows, nice.......
i was just trying to answer someone's question.......



be well

- jack
I dont think Vinyl is destroying the Earth. It uses the waste "sludge" that is left over after oil refining... vinyl is just a good use for what would usually be a hazardous waste product.

I understand where you are coming from... its just these comparisons are silly. They are both just tools of the trade that both provide different functions...
Old 16th July 2005
  #24
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DeeDrive's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy!!
Gee... not another one of the debates. It seems we had quite a period where we were free of one of these.

Digital isn't trying to be like analog... Designers of digital gear (ie Dan Lavry) are aiming for a recording medium that has as minimal artifacts as possible, as you all know analog gear doesn't offer, or intend to offer this. Its like comparing a car to a plane. Both can get you across the country, one is much more expensive to own, both require very different techniques... but both get you to where you are going. Everyone has there preference...

I've heard some really great recordings on both platforms... I've heard some really **** recordings on both platforms too....

DeeDrive the CD was invented as a replacement for vinyl. Not because vinyl was sounding bad, but because of civil war in kuwait and the fear that rising oil prices would push vinyl records beyond the grasp of your average consumer (vinyl = byproduct of oil refining for those who did not know).

Step back in time to the early to mid 1980's. Think of the computer technology we were using. A lot of people struggle to get 2 dozen tracks at 24bit 44.1khz today, it was not heard of in 1985. It's easy to look back today and say that they half-arsed it. But people forget how limited digital technology was in in 1980's.

Since you're at it, why not yell at nasa for only using 4kb of ram in there apollo spacecrafts (thats rigth 4KB, not MB), why not yell at reel to reel creators for not introducing a 24track studer in late 1949, why not yell at the creators of vinyl microgroove records for not introducing vinyl LP's in the 1930's instead of 1960, why not yell at the creators of ferrari for not inventing there streamlined, V12, leather interior, 0-100km in 3 second beast in the early 1800's. Hell... why didnt they invent computers in the 1500's. Better yell at them for that.

The majority of this world lives its existance based on consumerism. The music industry lives its existance based entirely on consumerism. The replacement for vinyl record had to be cheap enough for the average consumer to afford... as did the device required to play them. The first 24bit converters didnt even appear till what 1995? a 24bit digidesign 888 cost the better part of $3000US when it was released. How much do you think a theorical 24bit 96khz CD player would have cost the average consumer in 1983 when the first CD's were introduced in the USA? Keep in mind that the latest computer technology was the Commodore 64 running a stunning 0.985mhz CPU with a massive 64kb of ram (with a price tag of $5000US). That was STATE OF THE ART TECHNOLOGY. So how much would a 24bit 96khz CD player cost? A hell of a lot... as too the actual CD's to play on them, regardless of size. A price well beyond the majority of consumers. It defeats the purpose of CD's very existance as a cheap alternative to the rising price of vinyl.

The compromise (or half-arsed job as you put it) was made to ensure the continuous flow and distribution of music to consumers. It was this compromise that ensured the continual success of the music industry. It had to be affordable, easily distributed and an appealling replacement. An attempt at a lazer disc sized audio disc with beyond state of the art technology would not only have been beyond 99% of consumers reach but it would have destroyed the comsumer basis that the music industry has existed on for the last 30+ years.

16Bit 44.1khz was state of the art "holy grail" technology in the 1980's. Just like shellac records were in the 1940's and 1950's and that huge 4kb of ram was on board the first moon walk.

Perhaps you should ask yourself why aren't we recording at 100bit 1000khz right now?



Forgive my use of the term "half-assed", you are absolutely right that this was state of the art technology at the time. Everything else you said proves my point exactly, if you're going to bicker about the quality of the CD, just think about the time it was created. 44.1khz is the BARE MINIMUM sampling rate you can use and still have a bandwidth of 20-20khz, which leads me to believe that because data storage was so expensive and digital technology hadn't yet reached what it has today, the industry decided to use a 44.1khz, 16-bit CD as the new "standard" medium. Makes sense to me, if I was sitting on that technology, I would want to release it and make a profit, not claim that it wasn't good enough, and every one is going to have to get along with cassette's for a few more years until we can fit more data on a CD. I agree with everything you said it your post, did you read mine? I think you misunderstood me. CD technology is what it is because the industry has invested BILLIONS of dollars into CD's and they're not going to back out, because the sampling rate isn't good enough.
Old 16th July 2005
  #25
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Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeDrive
Forgive my use of the term "half-assed", you are absolutely right that this was state of the art technology at the time. Everything else you said proves my point exactly, if you're going to bicker about the quality of the CD, just think about the time it was created. 44.1khz is the BARE MINIMUM sampling rate you can use and still have a bandwidth of 20-20khz, which leads me to believe that because data storage was so expensive and digital technology hadn't yet reached what it has today, the industry decided to use a 44.1khz, 16-bit CD as the new "standard" medium. Makes sense to me, if I was sitting on that technology, I would want to release it and make a profit, not claim that it wasn't good enough, and every one is going to have to get along with cassette's for a few more years until we can fit more data on a CD. I agree with everything you said it your post, did you read mine? I think you misunderstood me. CD technology is what it is because the industry has invested BILLIONS of dollars into CD's and they're not going to back out, because the sampling rate isn't good enough.
In 1983 16bit 44.1khz wasn't the bare minimum, it was the most advanced. Cutting Edge! It was THE technology. 22khz is the upper limit of human hearing so in 1983 there was no reason, let alone technology to prodive the higher sample rates. The amount of data on a CD is only half the issue. You seem to be suggesting that digital audio developed very quickly, but it really didnt. 24bit devices didnt exist until the early 1990's. 96khz devices didnt exist until 1996. Thats 13 years after CD's were commerically released. It is easy to compare these two technologies today with todays technology, but in 1983 one of them didnt even exist... Its kind of like predicting the future, like waiting for the next protools system to be released to invest your money but not knowing when that might be. 2 years, 5 years, 10years, 13years? Yet in the mean time your business is losing money from not having a protools system for customers to use. It was the same situation in 1983 with CD's. Technology takes time to evolve, and digital audio has a large reliance on computer technology. In 1997 DVD and DVD players were first released. 24bit for the masses! but why don't we use DVD instead of CD's today? well... did you buy a music DVD in 1997? not many people did... they all kept buying CD's.

Sampling rate isnt good enough today according to who? Audio Engineers? The basis of this industry lies with music buyers and it has been proven that 80% dont care about this apparent issue with audio quality. I doubt most of them don't even have a clue as to what "sample rate" even if. Its a business! Supply and demand! Why would they change technology when the greater percentage is more than happy with CD's? Have you ever downloaded an MP3? If you have, you are one of the billion reasons the Music Industry has invested, and now considers MP3's a valid audio media.

Hardly a solution to the "better sample rate" everyone needs right? Thats because we are in the minority. mp3 player sales are predicted to increase 50% a year for the next 3 years... The Bottom line is its business and you have to swing with the supply and demand. Illegal MP3's were causing huge losses to this industry, so it was a natural business step to use them as a legitimate audio sales medium.

The millions invested in CD technology isnt the only reason for staying put with CD's. I can't see the market supporting another audio medium on a Consumer level. MiniDisc and SACD are two technologies that were released and are having a hard time winning sales. The majority of consumers are happy with CD & MP3...

If people are happy, and still spending money... where is the problem? Business wise, none. When people stop spending money, then we'll see some changes. Any idea when that is going to happen?

Dont get me wrong, im not trying to argue. I agree that CD's and MP3's dont sound as good as the recording quality we have avaliable, but like anything digital that was going to happen, atleast to CDs. In the 1980's there was no sample rate issue because 44.1khz 16bit was the absolute highest possible technology for both recording and reproduction. Just like todays protools system is going to be outdated with something even better... It seems it is spreading like a disease, the number of unsatisfied people with the quality of audio. But until that number outweighs the number of people happy with CD & MP3 quality audio... CD's & MP3's are bound to stay on the shelves.
Old 16th July 2005
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy!!
I agree that CD's and MP3's dont sound as good as the recording quality we have avaliable,... It seems it is spreading like a disease, the number of unsatisfied people with [bad digital sound] quality of audio.
That pretty much says it all.

One of the things that is being underscored here are all the "anomalies" introduced by the IC chain, here is but one example of the problems that must be overcome:

http://www.analog.com/UploadedFiles/...omaly52605.pdf

Of course there are even more anomalies out there for other IC's.

For example, see:

http://search.analog.com/search/defa...alies&local=en
Old 16th July 2005
  #27
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Another point is that since digital sound quality is so low and is under attack for good reasons, *all* of the underlying technology can be farily attacked and must withstand further tough scrutiny.

Even the idea that Nyquist's theory can accurately respresent extremely complex waveforms with only two data points can be subjected to further challenge and may be superceeded by newer or better alternatives. Nyquist might work great for the phone company, but the pro-audio community demands sound quality that greatly exceeds telephones.

CD's sound as bad as telephones IMHO. MP3's are worse! In general, digital sound quality is deplorable when compared to great analogue.

Exactly why digital sound quality sucks and sounds like ass is a matter open for debate and that means *all* the underlying tech can be blamed for digital's poor sound quality.

I hope the chip makers are listening to the complaints and will do better with the Next Gen Chips and come out with chips that the "ear people" say are now as good as great sounding analogue.
Old 16th July 2005
  #28
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Interesting stuff J.B... One of the points commonly made is that an IC needs to be designed purely for digital pro audio. Instead of appropriating IC's designed for telecommunications.

Maybe a company like TC electronics will step up to the plate...


Out of curiousity do you consider IC based analog gear bad?
Old 16th July 2005
  #29
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

you all are fools shooting the messenger...

i have heard CD's that sound absolutely GLORIOUS! of course it was also through a system that cost a pretty penny with some VERY nice speakers.... in the sweet spot of them, actually LISTENING. something people dont really do anymore to music. but when the message is worth the time, the messenger CAN deliver it to extreme satisfaction, of course you have to take the time to listen.


but music is a backdrop for peoples lives now.... and topics like this are as stupid as rocks placed on top of audiophiles speakers for a "better" sound.

you all are operating on a dillusional self serving utopia that doesnt exist PERIOD. even live.
Old 16th July 2005
  #30
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Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphajerk
you all are fools shooting the messenger...

i have heard CD's that sound absolutely GLORIOUS! of course it was also through a system that cost a pretty penny with some VERY nice speakers.... in the sweet spot of them, actually LISTENING. something people dont really do anymore to music. but when the message is worth the time, the messenger CAN deliver it to extreme satisfaction, of course you have to take the time to listen.


but music is a backdrop for peoples lives now.... and topics like this are as stupid as rocks placed on top of audiophiles speakers for a "better" sound.

you all are operating on a dillusional self serving utopia that doesnt exist PERIOD. even live.


Just in case you missed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy!!
I've heard some really great recordings on both platforms... I've heard some really **** recordings on both platforms too....
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