Analog vs. Digital Recordings

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by Darth_Vader-Anakin, May 8, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Moderators: Seagoat
  1. Darth_Vader-Anakin Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 3
    I've seen this mentioned on and off various places, but I can't remember there being an actual discussion about the merits of digital and analog recordings. I'm curious which technique is preferred by most.

    I would much rather have scores recorded in analog. Digital is certainly cleaner, but I don't necessarily think that's a positive. It's too sterile, much like the current trend of recording musicians separately to mix it better. It's meant to be played as a group, and will always sound better as a group. It's ridiculous to try and make the music between sections perfectly mixed. To my ears, the sound is richer and more real in analog recordings -- specifically in the strings and woodwinds. It's imperfect and it's better because of that.

    Thoughts?
  2. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I think it has nothing to do with whether or not it's analog or digitally recorded. It has to do with the people doing their jobs well. If the engineers and recordists and mixers and masterers all do their jobs well, it's impossible to tell if it's analog or digital.
  3. Miana Kenobi Admin Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2000
    star 8
    *points* What Strilo said.
  4. Cerrabore Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 4
    Hold on - digital recording doesn't mean sectional recording. Plenty of digital scores are still recorded with a full orchestra in the room.

    As for the sound quality, analogue is superior.
  5. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    It really depends on the project too. Are we talking about orchestral recordings only? Are we talking everything?
  6. Darth_Vader-Anakin Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 3
    I know not all digitally recorded scores have separately recorded sections. I was just using that as an example of trying to make the recordings too perfect.

    I was originally talking orchestra only because that's what I have the most experience with, but it doesn't need to be limited to that. I have a very good friend who listens to bands that still record in analog and release music on vinyl because they believe the sound quality is superior. I wouldn't call it rock music exactly, but it's a close cousin.
  7. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    Well for music it really depends on the project. Pearl Jam records and mixes analog on a well maintained board from the 1970s. That suits their sound best. Other bands might sound better or fit better with different production. I don't believe that analog is better across the board, nor do I think digital is. Both have their place and both have their strengths. I believe anyone who says one is better than the other is being short sighted and letting their own bias get in the way.
  8. Darth_Vader-Anakin Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2002
    star 3
    I didn't intend to necessarily say one is better than the other. I was wondering if people here have a preference. As a photographer who shoots both with film and on digital, I know both formats have their strengths and weaknesses. I love the look and feel of film -- something that is nearly impossible to replicate in Photoshop, but when I'm on deadline, nothing beats the speed of digital. For me, I find most scores recorded in analog to be more pleasing to my ears.

  9. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I find with classical works that the performance is far more important than being digital or analog. The recording is generally moot, especially when the digital recording is done very well.
  10. obiwanws2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 28, 2004
    star 1
    Very true. I have recorded and mixed two Classical concerts, both in digital, and one sounds better than the other because of the quality of the playing. I even compared them to a few analogs that I have heard and of course there are difference's. However, I could not really pick one and say that the recording quality is better.

    And lets not forget that there are so many other things that can vary in a recording besides whether it is analog or digital. The room matters, the mics matter, the mic positions matter, the type of Pre-amps matter. There are so many different variables that you can not really pin it as digital vs. analog unless you do a controlled experiment.


    As well there are digital tools that people can use to make a digital recording sound more analog or give it that "tape" sound and feel. I did use a little of it on both projects but I am not sure how many would notice if I didn't use it.
  11. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    This is exactly right. I would say each of those elements matters as much, if not more, that the recording being analog or digital.
  12. rich-narco Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 5, 2004
    star 1
    I record orchestral music for a living - mostly soundtrack stuff, movies TV, game and some straight performance driven stuff for Naxos.

    I much prefer digital - done well it is far closer to the performance in he room. I LOVE tape for garage rock - the saturation is part of rock n roll sound. But for orchestral works - I certainly think digital recordings (again, done well in a great recording venue) are vastly superior. MUCH greater dynamic range and no softening of transients . Best heard in 24bit , though! Classical buffs tend to prefer 24bit digital over analogue.

    As for not being able to tell analogue and digital recordings apart - well you can - but i agree that y'need to be doing it for a living to tell the best apart!
  13. Jedi-Washington Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 4
    Yeah, I've heard a lot about the debate between digital and Analog. I've been mixing live sound for many years and analog used to be considered superior because it captured all the harmonics we can't hear that affect the tone of the instruments. Digital for some time couldn't handle that much information, not so much because it couldn't pick it up, they just needed to make the file's smaller for the weak processors and that meant clipping the high end of the spectrum. We now, and for many years now, have more than enough of the audio spectrum covered in digital sound and literally no difference between Analog and Digital. Analog has a little bit of tape hiss and it's own set of problems, but so does digital.

    Given the ideal musical situation, It really comes down to this: what is the mixer more comfortable with? I'd rather hear a mixer use tool's he's comfortable with thus sound much more natural than having to switch over for a superfluous reason that might get in the way. There are certainly more aspects that affect how music sounds to us than what they're recorded on. The microphone, it's placement, and the pre-amp are still probably the most influential parts to audio recording.
  14. rich-narco Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 5, 2004
    star 1
    after the room, the player and the music !!
  15. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    The room yes. The player and the music are about the performance, not the recording.
  16. rich-narco Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 5, 2004
    star 1
    well - the two are inextricably linked. You certainly can't take the music out of the recording! A great performance in a good room is pretty hard to muck up - I work Abbey Road S1 a lot, and y'can stick a mic anywhere and it works! Any faults in the sound would be down to bad performance or writing (frequency build up due to bad arrangement, for example)...

    anyway - i'm being a pedant!
Moderators: Seagoat
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.