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Old 19th May 2018
Originally Posted by Gears View Post
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?
A tool is a tool is a tool. Can you believe that when SSL first came out everyone hated them and said they sounded "sterile" and the EQs sounded "crunchy" compared to other consoles of the time?!?! But, the automation systems on them were great and function outweighed fidelity...

Just because something is analog does not make it good. just because something is digital does not make it bad.

Case in point... albums from the mid 80's onward have been using DIGITAL reverb with GREAT success. The sought after Lexicon 480L, 300L, etc are all "digital" reverbs as were a lot of the delays. The Eventide H910 Harmonizer and subsequent H3000, H4500, etc are all "digital" delays. The Synclavier, which was used on most hits in the 80's and early 90's, was a "digital" synthesizer.

Does that mean all those albums that used 480Ls and H3000s and Synclaviers are crap because the gear they used was "digital"? Nope.

I also remember a lot of crappy analog gear too. Anyone remember Teac and Realistic from the 80's and 90's? Anyone remember the Tascam Porta Studios? They were "analog" but they sounded like crap. But how could they sound like crap if they were analog?!?!?! Analog is supposed to sound great, right?!?!

It doesn't matter. There is really only two types of gear... good gear and bad gear. It comes in all shapes, sizes, flavors and varieties.

It's not that a piece of gear is analog that makes it sound good... it's that it is good and/or is well designed that makes it sound good.

changes in the tools also create changes in the music, ultimately creating new genres of music. Do you think something like Tropical House or Dubstep would have been possible to do back in 1969 with "analog" synthesizers like Moog or Arp?

At the end of the day, everything is just a tool to help you (or your client) create what you hear in your head and turn it into a reality for others to hear. Analog vs Digital is really a moot point and seems to be spurred on by two factors... first and foremost by marketing efforts by the manufacturers making the gear... and second by people using the gear outside of its normal operating range either knowingly or unknowingly.

Anyone remember the when "distorted" guitar first started to become a thing? People were pushing the volume of the guitar amp past it's normal operating range and the output started to distort. At the time most people who had been listening to a lot of guitar heavy jazz (like Les Paul's or Wes Montgomery) hated the sound and thought it sounded terrible. But... younger people liked it and started experimenting with it more... and more... and more... and then whole new genres of music were born out of it. Can you imagine what Dimebag or Mustaine or Eddie Van Halen would have sounded like if all they had were Gibson ES-175s or L5s and a Fender Champ?

Anyway... I say embrace the change, embrace the new innovations in gear and see where it takes you musically. While it will definitely sound different... "good" vs "bad" is in the ears of the listener and is very subjective.