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An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

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An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

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The Analogue Renaissance (part 1)

Analogue is dead, long live Digital. When did we first say that? Without doubt, digital audio technology is superior in every respect to analogue, and those who seriously consider that analogue is in some way equal to or better than digital is either mad, or simply old.

Analogue is dead, long live Digital. When did we first say that? Without doubt, digital audio technology is superior in every respect to analogue, and those who seriously consider that analogue is in some way equal to or better than digital is either mad, or simply old. This can be easily demonstrated. Look at the prices of analogue tape recorders in used audio dealer’s ads. They are at absolute rock bottom and if they go any lower then it will probably be more cost-effective simply to put old machines in the skip rather than spend time and effort doing anything else with them. Also, consider the people who continue to use and promote analogue technology. Either they are cranks and eccentrics, or they have used analogue since the glory days of their youth, and will retain a nostalgic affection for it until the day their editing block goes in the drawer for the last time. The only sensible conclusion is that analogue is as dead as the Tasmanian tiger, and in the not too distant future will only be known from blurry old films and photographs

I might have written the above, but a little bit of Devil’s advocacy might be a good thing in this situation. There is too much irrelevant nostalgia surrounding analogue technology these days. And even the old-timers who love it and can’t bear to be parted from it keep saying, seemingly at every opportunity, that it’s on its last legs and it can’t go on much longer. The analogue tape manufacturers say things like, “We will continue to manufacture analogue tape as long as there is a market for it” implying that there won’t always be a market for it, as though they can’t wait to see the end of something that has been at least a moderately profitable business for them for many years. Even the last major manufacturer of analogue tape recorders - Studer - has this to say: “The products will remain available as long as there is strong market demand and the customers are willing to spend the amount of money which is necessary to sustain a analogue recorder.” Can you imagine Sony, for instance, being so negative and backward looking about their digital products? It’s all rather pathetic and, in my humble opinion, it’s time to change this attitude.

Let’s say some more positive things about analogue:

  • Analogue technology is a fantastic way of recording that offers a warm, rich sound with an incredible top end.
  • Analogue tape records music in the most direct way possible. You don’t have to convert someone’s artistic creation to numbers first.
  • With analogue tape, you can feel and handle the music. It doesn’t sit behind a screen and cumbersome interface.
  • With analogue technology, you use the equipment to make music. With digital technology you have to be a rocket scientist just to switch the damn thing on.
By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004