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
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
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
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
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
Digidesign Pro-Tools v6.4
A/V Rack Mount Drives by Glyph
Alesis ML-9600 Masterlink Studio CD Burner
Audio Technica ATH-M40
Adam P11 Active
Alesis M1 MK-II Active
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