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Why does Your Dad's Old Stereo System Sounds Better than Your Fancy New One

Old amplifier

Have you just invested a large pile of cash to purchase the latest sound system, and are bit disappointed by its sound quality when you compare it to your dad's old stereo system? If you are an audiophile, this issue can be quite frustrating, as analog sound from Vinyl records seems richer and deeper than the digital sound from your compact discs. However, before you throw your arms up in despair, let us see what the differences between analog and digital are.

Analog vs. Digital Signal

The differences pop up when you are recording sound. When you consider natural sound, it has an analog signal, which is continuous. This means one note will flow smoothly into the other with a change in pitch, but without any breaks. Hence, in an analog recording you are capturing sound in its natural form.

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Digital signals on the other hand are not continuous, as digital technology uses specific values for representing specific information. So stemming from this information a sound wave will be represented by series of values representing varying pitch and volume, which means a piece of sound will be a collection of smaller sounds.

Analog Sound vs. Digital Sound

Now, analog recording can be considered better than digital recording because it is able to capture the natural representation of the sound with all the subtle nuances, which the digital recording could miss. However, with development of digital recording technology it is now possible for devices to be more precise by using higher rates of sampling. This means, even though the signal is not continuous, the increased rate of sampling will produce sound that is very close to the original.

Storing Sound

Hence digital sound is coming close to analog sound, but not quite there. However, when you store analog recording on analog media it will deteriorate fast because of the characteristics of the media. For instance, magnetic tape will wear down, while Vinyl records can be scratched or they could wrap in time.

vintage hifi receiver

On the other hand, digital media like a USB stick or compact disc can play the same sound quality even after hundred years has gone by. Another advantage of digital media is that it records sound information, which means you can make innumerable copies of it without damaging the original recording, which is not possible with analog media, since there will be deterioration of the original piece.

It Boils Down to the Original Recording and Media

Now, we come down to the final verdict, which is better, analog or digital sound. Well, there are still two important factors to be considered, which are the recording method and the media. According to experts, if the artist has used analog recording to create the original track, then it is best hear it from analog media. On the other hand, if the artist has recorded the piece digitally, then it would best to hear it from a CD or digital download.

The sound quality will always suffer when you try to convert formats. However, it is important to mention that evaluating quality of sound is often subjective, and hence two audiophiles might have differing opinions about the same recording.

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