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Old 18th May 2018
Gear Nut

Does analog gear really sound "better", or is it just a learned response?

I've been wondering for awhile why most of us prefer the sound of analog gear generally speaking. Yes, I know digital has come a long way, however much of the progress has been to make it sound more analog!

I've considered whether there is something innate in human biology that makes us prefer analog, or perhaps it's just because that's what we've been used to for so long.

Consider film- it has always played at 24 frames per second. This is apparently because at 24FPS it allowed a minimal amount of film to be used without us perceiving it as stuttering (thanks to persistence of vision). However, some newer films are recorded at 60FPS or with lenses that allow for a greater depth of field. Many people perceive this as less "movie like" or harsh.

I've noticed young people, who've grown up in the world of digital, are way more tolerant of what plenty of musicians would find offensive. I've even seen some younger people prefer digital sounding tracks and describe them as more "clear" or "real" while I would probably label them "harsh" or "sterile".

Do you think as tech changes we will move away to a more digital sound and come to prefer it? Or is there something intrinsically pleasing about the "analog sound" that will always be appealing to people as a whole?