Spyder Byte Studios
7999 W. Long Lake Road
Alpena, MI  49707
phone: 989.595.3306
email: spyder@fetzir.com



Digital vs. Analog;  the Audio Industry Battlefield

Whether it's Chevy vs. Ford, Microsoft vs. Apple or Titleist vs. Taylormade, we all like to believe that our preference is better.  It's not our intent to try to convince anybody that analog recording is inferior to digital.  We can however, share with you the general pro's and con's that caused us to go the direction we did.  We fully understand that there are varying opinions, and all these points could be argued until there is no more dirt to dig up.  The items pointed out below are only some of the things to consider, they do however, target many of the key issues you should consider when choosing a studio for your project.

What are the great things about analog?
There is a common perception that analog has more character, is warmer sounding and doesn't suffer from any sampling rate or dither artifacts.  In reality, the perception of "warmth" and "character"  can often be attributed to the natural compression and distortion that occurs when analog tape reaches it's point of saturation.  When you exceed the maximum resolution in the digital realm, you get an ugly crackle and pop, while analog tape will softly distort the signal, producing a warm and natural sound to the ear.  This is not to say however, that digital recording can't be warm and fuzzy, all it takes is an engineer skilled in the requirements of digital recording. 

What are the disconcerting things about analog?
The cost to properly maintain and record in the analog world can be a very expensive endeavor.  Most people don't consider that analog tape heads should be aligned (and demagnetized) after nearly every session (who pays for that?).  Also consider that every time analog tape passes over a record or play head, the friction causes the existing recorded signal to degrade (you lose quality and clarity).  It's like your child playing his favorite VHS copy of the Lion King tape over and over, eventually, you can start to see the picture getting worse.

To edit an arrangement in analog recording without further generation loss, you need to pull out your razor.  Want to sync a synthesizer to your analog tape?  You can, but you'll need to do extra striping of sync signal to one of your tracks.  Speaking of tracks, how about track bleed?  A natural phenomenon of magnetically recorded tape is that you may sometimes hear some of track 2 and 4 coming thru track 3.

Let's consider a client that has recorded 12 songs, with your analog console, how do you restore a song to exactly where you left off last time you were mixing?  Unless you have $250,000 invested in your analog board, you're pulling out your notepad and spending 45 minutes manually resetting every knob and fader on the board (who pays for that?).

Do you want to try different takes of parts of a song?  I'm not aware of any analog recording devices that allows virtual takes that do not affect your final track count.

What are the great things about digital?
Once a digital signal is properly recorded, it can be tweaked, cut, shifted, pasted, edited, copied and yes, even deleted, without any generation loss or permanent damage to the original file.  With most digital recording devices, you can create unlimited takes of particular tracks, and effortlessly assemble the best parts into the final track.  That means as an artist, you sound your best.

Our digital consoles and audio workstations allows complete session recall as well as full real-time automation during playback.  Do we need to go back to the mix we did on the first song two months ago?  No problem, load up the session and the board snaps to exactly where it was when we finished the mix.  You don't need to pay me to pull out my notes and spend 45 minutes manually resetting the console.  That means you just saved some money.

You may have heard somebody talk about sampling rates and dither, and that you can hear the difference.  Let's face it, you can't hear the difference, and neither can 99.5% of the people in the audio industry.  Consider your current CD collection; that's digital, in fact at 16 bit/44.1 KHz, it's some of the lowest quality digital on the planet, but you still revel in the crystal clear quality they provide over and over.  Consider that a CD is more than likely the format your project will be distributed on. 

We could keep going on and on, but let us sum up by saying;  We've selected our equipment with the artist in mind.  We use what we feel works best and provides the most cost effective flexibility for their projects.  We've considered where technology will lead the industry in the future, and have chosen a direction that allows growth and advancement.

Current Equipment List

In The Studio

Mackie D8b Automated Digital Console in an Argosy Console Enclosure
Mackie MDR-24/96
Digidesign Pro-Tools v6.4
Alesis ADAT
A/V Rack Mount Drives by Glyph
Alesis ML-9600 Masterlink Studio CD Burner

GT Electronics

AKG K240M's
Audio Technica ATH-M40

Reference Monitors
Adam P11 Active
Alesis M1 MK-II Active

Outboard Gear
TC Electronics
Applied Research and Technologies

In The
Remote Rig

Presonus Digimax LT Pre's
Focurite Octopre Pre's
Mackie SDR 24 Track Digital Recorder
Behringer RX1602 Line Mixer (For Monitoring Only)
Behringer PowerPlay Headphone Distribution System


2004 Spyder Byte Studios