It happened three times yesterday. Advocates for analog tape touted their favorite format as the unrivaled “ultimate format” came by my sales table, chatted in the halls, or wrote a comment on the blog. My recent adventure with analog tape and the copying has brought my analog past to the present. But I have to push back when specifications and facts are ignored. It’s perfectly fine to prefer a particular “sound”. I would never argue with someone that says they like the sound of vinyl LPs or analog tape. I would try to nudge them into a really great surround room playing some of my favorite recordings but ultimately they can like what they like.
There are a couple of retired gentlemen sitting next to me selling expensive foil speaker cables and interconnects…expensive cables. A 6-foot length is $7000. I guess if they can get that kind of money for a short cable (and I’m sure that it delivers great sound), more power to them. But one of the partners mentioned while we were setting up the “nothing beats the sound of analog tape”. What he should have said is, “I love the sound of well recorded album on analog tape above all other formats.”
Analog tape can capture and deliver about 72 dB of dynamic range…enough said. That’s the printed specs and translates to about 12 bits of PCM digital.
Later in the day, a young guy came by after sitting through one of the seminars. I think it was the one on affordable high-end audio. According to this guy, a woman on the panel said, “of course all analog tape is high-resolution”. I’m not certain how she came up with that idea. I guess if you lower the specifications of what constitutes “high-resolution” (which is not uncommon), analog tape could qualify as “hi-res” music. This is exactly what the major labels and well-known “ultimate fidelity” download sites are doing…establish a “revisionist” definition of high-res and then selling older analog transfers as “hi-res”. All you have to do is look at the specifications and you’ll know what analog tape can deliver.
After the show ended, I sat in the lobby and wrote yesterday’s blog. It was the first opportunity I had to check recent comments and I read and approved one that hit pretty at my positions on analog tape and high-resolution. You know you’re in for a debate when the opening sentence is, “The majority of what you said is simply ridiculous”.
I’ll spare you the gory details but the last few lines read, “As an engineer, I personally do not care for digital recordings and still record to analog tape as I feel that analog offers much more of a realism for vocals and instrumentation, and a full spectrum of sound. This is something that digital will NEVER be able to imitate. Remember that’s what Digital is. Just an imitation, and not a very good one if you ask me.”
Once again we’re back to personal preference. This gentleman prefers to record and listen to productions made using analog tape. Ok fine. His personal belief is that “vocals and instrumentation” sound more real on analog tape. That’s his personal preference. Moving from there to saying digital can’t measure up to his tastes is a leap off the factual cliff. High-resolution digital does deliver the “full spectrum of sound” and in fact, it does it with more fidelity than any analog tape machine.
I would finally ask why I’m supposed to remember that digital is “just an imitation” of real music? This gentleman has a fundamental misunderstanding of what digital audio is.
I had a gentleman come by the sales table yesterday and start piling up discs to purchase. It turns out he’s got a shop in Taiwan and was looking for great sounding demo stuff. I mentioned the Kickstarter campaign and the reward that would get him every recording I’ve made for AIX Records. This morning he became the first backer at the $2500 level. We’re going to get together on Thursday and spend the afternoon listening. The campaign has 17 days to go and is only $4500 short of the first stretch goal. Check out the campaign at:Click Here