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Understanding the Analog Obsession


mansr
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I have to wonder why it is that you felt the need to re-post this here. You have been a strong proponent of digital IIRC, and this article seems to be yet another analog bash from yet another objective viewpoint.

 

Yawn...

 

Don't you have something better to do than evangelize your perspective? To be frank, if it was so incredibly clear cut as this, the issue would have been put to rest long ago. Furthermore, the insistence that one camp or the other is nuts/lost/pick-your-derogatory-descriptor only furthers divisiveness, not progress or understanding.

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A frequently discussed topic, but not a bad take on it. I'm sure there are at least some people who are analog "junkies" because they just really like fiddling (not referring to the violin kind). I also thought the "You have to play it louder, so it sounds better" theory was very interesting, and may have some validity.

 

I do think there is room for less absolutist and perhaps simpler explanations. For example, I have a turntable as well as a digital setup, and some LP masterings just sound better to me than some of their digital counterparts. My LP of The Who's Tommy, for example, completely wipes the floor with the DVD-A version (which used to be the HDTracks version, but I think it's since been updated). However, the SACD mastering sounds pretty well equivalent to the LP to me. So some of the fondness for LPs may simply be a liking for better recordings.

 

Along these lines, while digital playback offers the possibility of greater dynamic range, in reality the loudness wars have resulted in many digital remasters having less actual dynamic range than their old LP counterparts. The Clash's London Calling and Nirvana's Nevermind are two examples where dynamics were deliberately squashed in favor of loudness in the digital remasterings, to my ears making the LP a better listen in both cases (especially Nevermind, which to me is one of the great digital remastering fiascoes I've heard).

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The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

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“Despite the number of problems, Harley and BMW owners were among the most satisfied with their bikes.”

 

"Both the Harley rider and the vinylphile carry on about their product experiences in transcendental terms that are difficult to understand."

 

I think, analog and Harley's lovers don't look for safe and easy-to-use product.

 

 

As example, in audio I preffer digital things: less distortions, easy-to-use.

 

But I have same (like quoted above) look to cars. For me emotions are more important, than other aspects.

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A frequently discussed topic, but not a bad take on it. I'm sure there are at least some people who are analog "junkies" because they just really like fiddling.

 

Presumably only analogue can be an obsession and by contrast digital is just about playing the music and would never involve fiddling about with things like: Linear power supplies, OS optimisation scripts, apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players, SQ differences between USB cables, whether wav or flac sounds better, PCM vs DSD, which variant of which OS sounds best, upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime, USB regeneration and isolation devices, SSD power supplies, music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side, audiophile USB cards, SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces, audiophile Ethernet cables, direct play vs DLNA vs NAA, arranging and tagging your music library, writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements', to justify why digital is better than analogue etc etc..no, nothing here that might equally be labelled fiddling or an obsession....

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Agreed, Jud.

 

1. some LP masterings just sound better

 

2. some LP masterings are simply not available in digital (Brian Augur seems to be in that group)

 

3. maybe some of the distortions are euphonic?

 

(I list #3 because I have a euphonic distorting component en route to my house right now... not for a turntable tho)

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I know this is slightly off-topic, but I hope at least some people will find it amusing:

 

A few weeks ago I was giving a final exam. There is no clock in the room, so I took my watch off and put it on a document projector, so the students could look up at the projection screen and see what time it was.

 

I have an analogue watch, which I prefer to a digital display. (It is powered by a photovoltaic cell, fwiw.) No numbers, just a minimal analogue clock-face.

 

About 1/3 of the students did not know how to read an analogue clock. These are Univ. of California students, which means usually among the top 10% in their graduating high school class.

 

I had to find and use a website with a digital timer display.

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Presumably only analogue can be an obsession and by contrast digital is just about playing the music and would never involve fiddling about with things like: Linear power supplies, OS optimisation scripts, apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players, SQ differences between USB cables, whether wav or flac sounds better, PCM vs DSD, which variant of which OS sounds best, upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime, USB regeneration and isolation devices, SSD power supplies, music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side, audiophile USB cards, SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces, audiophile Ethernet cables, direct play vs DLNA vs NAA, arranging and tagging your music library, writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements', to justify why digital is better than analogue etc etc..no, nothing here that might equally be labelled fiddling or an obsession....

LOL...my thoughts exactly. Rational human beings don't get into this hobby.

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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I know this is slightly off-topic, but I hope at least some people will find it amusing:

 

A few weeks ago I was giving a final exam. There is no clock in the room, so I took my watch off and put it on a document projector, so the students could look up at the projection screen and see what time it was.

 

I have an analogue watch, which I prefer to a digital display. (It is powered by a photovoltaic cell, fwiw.) No numbers, just a minimal analogue clock-face.

 

About 1/3 of the students did not know how to read an analogue clock. These are Univ. of California students, which means usually among the top 10% in their graduating high school class.

 

I had to find and use a website with a digital timer display.

 

LOL, and they don't know how to write in cursive, if they can write by hand legibly at all.

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I don't either. I can only sign my name in cursive.

 

Once you get past all the motorcycle rhetoric in the article, it does make the points that analogue sources potentially sound better because they don't have wide frequency extremes that lead to distortions, which seems fairly sensible. In fact, it seems to suggest one of the virtues is less need for tweaking the signal, which is opposite to the point presumably being made by the motorcycle analogy.

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I know this is slightly off-topic, but I hope at least some people will find it amusing:

 

A few weeks ago I was giving a final exam. There is no clock in the room, so I took my watch off and put it on a document projector, so the students could look up at the projection screen and see what time it was.

 

I have an analogue watch, which I prefer to a digital display. (It is powered by a photovoltaic cell, fwiw.) No numbers, just a minimal analogue clock-face.

 

About 1/3 of the students did not know how to read an analogue clock. These are Univ. of California students, which means usually among the top 10% in their graduating high school class.

 

I had to find and use a website with a digital timer display.

 

My first thought was that the lack of numbers was the culprit.

 

However... Having taught high school for 15 years, I can definitely say that the top 10% of students is not where you will find talent, creativity or originality. There are exceptions, but the vast majority of the top ten percenters know how to play the high school game. Give them inquiry-based labs and they fall apart.

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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Presumably only analogue can be an obsession and by contrast digital is just about playing the music and would never involve fiddling about with things like: Linear power supplies, OS optimisation scripts, apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players, SQ differences between USB cables, whether wav or flac sounds better, PCM vs DSD, which variant of which OS sounds best, upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime, USB regeneration and isolation devices, SSD power supplies, music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side, audiophile USB cards, SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces, audiophile Ethernet cables, direct play vs DLNA vs NAA, arranging and tagging your music library, writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements', to justify why digital is better than analogue etc etc..no, nothing here that might equally be labelled fiddling or an obsession....

 

Just to say I would have liked to click "Like" twice on this post! :D

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I know this is slightly off-topic, but I hope at least some people will find it amusing:

 

A few weeks ago I was giving a final exam. There is no clock in the room, so I took my watch off and put it on a document projector, so the students could look up at the projection screen and see what time it was.

 

I have an analogue watch, which I prefer to a digital display. (It is powered by a photovoltaic cell, fwiw.) No numbers, just a minimal analogue clock-face.

 

About 1/3 of the students did not know how to read an analogue clock. These are Univ. of California students, which means usually among the top 10% in their graduating high school class.

 

I had to find and use a website with a digital timer display.

 

Why does it occur to me they could read an "analog" watch perfectly well and simply wanted to distract you with searching for a website with a digital timer?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Presumably only analogue can be an obsession and by contrast digital is just about playing the music and would never involve fiddling about with things like: Linear power supplies, OS optimisation scripts, apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players, SQ differences between USB cables, whether wav or flac sounds better, PCM vs DSD, which variant of which OS sounds best, upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime, USB regeneration and isolation devices, SSD power supplies, music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side, audiophile USB cards, SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces, audiophile Ethernet cables, direct play vs DLNA vs NAA, arranging and tagging your music library, writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements', to justify why digital is better than analogue etc etc..no, nothing here that might equally be labelled fiddling or an obsession....

 

I'm definitely in the digital camp, but don't have any issue with those who like or prefer analogue playback systems. (My sister for example is fairly strictly vinyl-analogue.) But my impression is that at least a large subset of the examples you list are from the subjectivist vs. objectivist debate, where the former point of view tends to be informed (and more often, misinformed), by a preference for analogue.

 

From my digital-objectivist viewpoint, for example:

 

Linear power supplies -- unlikely to make an audible difference

 

OS optimisation scripts -- although I wrote one once when requested to do so, I don't think these make any difference

 

apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players -- within the confines of bit-perfect (no upsampling, etc), I cannot hear any differences

 

SQ differences between USB cables -- I've never heard one sound different let alone better

 

whether wav or flac sounds better -- nonsense: they all get uncompressed to bit-identical input to the DAC

 

PCM vs DSD -- I struggle to hear a difference, and think DSD is more trouble than it is worth

 

which variant of which OS sounds best -- another imaginary problem

 

upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime -- this at least makes sense, but I often struggle to hear any differences

 

USB regeneration and isolation devices -- no experience, but am skeptical

 

SSD power supplies -- no difference in sound quality

 

music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side -- huh?

 

audiophile USB cards -- more nonsense

 

SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces -- minimal differences if all are properly implemented

 

audiophile Ethernet cables -- more demonstrable nonsense

 

direct play vs DLNA vs NAA -- this is more of a mechanical issue (gapless, etc)

 

arranging and tagging your music library -- not a sound-quality issue, and straigtfoward unless people insist on using wav

 

writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements' -- most of which are made in the analogue domain!

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A regular Philistine, you are! ;)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I mostly agree with Paul. People like vinyl records (talking about vinyl playback here, not tape) because of its foibles. What is most telling to me is that I have been witness to the following many times:

 

When played needle drops (or vinyl rips if you prefer) of an album, all the "wonderful" qualities of vinyl playback remain!

I remember the year at RMAF when PS audio was playing vinyl with their new phono stage. Many, many listeners expressed relief that they could hear analog in the PS room. But the reality was that listeners were being tricked: the phono stage was making an A/D conversion and outputting digital to the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC via I2S, and then the PerfectWave was converting back to analog. Paul would play a few tracks, and everyone would agree how great "analog" sounds, then he would reveal that the system was digital, many people got highly confused looks on their faces.

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I mostly agree with Paul. People like vinyl records (talking about vinyl playback here, not tape) because of its foibles. What is most telling to me is that I have been witness to the following many times:

 

When played needle drops (or vinyl rips if you prefer) of an album, all the "wonderful" qualities of vinyl playback remain!

I remember the year at RMAF when PS audio was playing vinyl with their new phono stage. Many, many listeners expressed relief that they could hear analog in the PS room. But the reality was that listeners were being tricked: the phono stage was making an A/D conversion and outputting digital to the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC via I2S, and then the PerfectWave was converting back to analog. Paul would play a few tracks, and everyone would agree how great "analog" sounds, then he would reveal that the system was digital, many people got highly confused looks on their faces.

lol, that's just mean :)

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Presumably only analogue can be an obsession and by contrast digital is just about playing the music and would never involve fiddling about with things like: Linear power supplies, OS optimisation scripts, apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players, SQ differences between USB cables, whether wav or flac sounds better, PCM vs DSD, which variant of which OS sounds best, upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime, USB regeneration and isolation devices, SSD power supplies, music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side, audiophile USB cards, SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces, audiophile Ethernet cables, direct play vs DLNA vs NAA, arranging and tagging your music library, writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements', to justify why digital is better than analogue etc etc..no, nothing here that might equally be labelled fiddling or an obsession....

 

Post of the day award. Hell, post of the month. *(This is the first time I have awarded a Post of the Month Award)

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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I know this is slightly off-topic, but I hope at least some people will find it amusing:

 

A few weeks ago I was giving a final exam. There is no clock in the room, so I took my watch off and put it on a document projector, so the students could look up at the projection screen and see what time it was.

 

I have an analogue watch, which I prefer to a digital display. (It is powered by a photovoltaic cell, fwiw.) No numbers, just a minimal analogue clock-face.

 

About 1/3 of the students did not know how to read an analogue clock. These are Univ. of California students, which means usually among the top 10% in their graduating high school class.

 

I had to find and use a website with a digital timer display.

 

Ha!

 

What field?

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They never had a Mickey Mouse watch? I'm an engineer who can't use a slide rule. I'm not sure if that's the same idea.

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lol, that's just mean :)

 

Haha. BTW, i have been buying vinyl records for the past few years, and am looking forward to having a turntable set up sometime in the future. Will not be giving up my digital though!

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When played needle drops (or vinyl rips if you prefer) of an album, all the "wonderful" qualities of vinyl playback remain!

 

Audio quality haven't single definition, unfortunatelly.

And the quality may be understanded as "low distortions" as "subjective nice sound".

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ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

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wgscott

 

Here is my take on it:

 

Linear power & battery supplies -- good ones do make an audible difference

 

OS optimisation scripts -- don't know if these make any difference, no experience

 

apparent differences in SQ between bit perfect rips or players -- I doubt there are any noticeable differences

 

SQ differences between USB cables -- they do sound different, ones with GND lift (you have to DIY) sound the best because they cure ground loops

 

whether wav or flac sounds better -- they sound the same to me and should on any fit for purpose renderer

 

PCM vs DSD -- I struggle to hear a difference, and think DSD is more trouble than it is worth

 

which variant of which OS sounds best -- doubt there's a noticeable difference

 

upsampling, downsampling, transcoding, offline vs realtime -- I often struggle to hear significant differences, some DACs might prefer a certain data rate?

 

USB regeneration and isolation devices -- Intona Industrial is excellent, W4S Recovery helps my digital chain (both powered by good LPS)

 

SSD power supplies -- possible difference in sound quality, good power is always better than bad

 

music replay software that takes longer to start playback than it takes me to get part way through an LP side -- huh?

 

audiophile USB cards -- make sense given the often shoddy electronics in motherboards

 

SPDif vs USB vs i2s vs AES interfaces -- minimal differences if all are properly implemented

 

audiophile Ethernet cables -- utter nonsense, use FMCs and isolate with fiber

 

direct play vs DLNA vs NAA -- this is more of a mechanical issue... play from local copy such as Aurender makes best sense

 

arranging and tagging your music library -- not a sound-quality issue, and straigtfoward unless people insist on using wav

 

writing endles forum posts quoting 'measurements' -- ears, ears, ears first!

 

 

:-)

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