Analog purists have always sang the praises of vinyl’s audio qualities – citing its warm, robust tones as superior to any other musical format... but are these claims true, or merely nostalgia disguised as technical knowledge? Let’s take a detailed look at how records stack up to the MP3 – and determine once and for all which medium will best satiate your audio appetite.
Sound, by definition, is an analog signal. It travels through the air at a speed that varies according to temperature, humidity, and other atmospheric factors. When a master of your favourite song is created, it is recorded in an extremely controlled environment and converted into a digital medium via powerful computing equipment. This audio file differs greatly from the analog signal which created it. An MP3 contains a series of digital snapshots, which are played back at such a rapid pace that the gaps between these sounds become consciously inaudible.
During the golden age of music, songs were recorded entirely with analog equipment. Each track was pressed onto a vinyl platter via one continuous process.
Pros & Cons
So what are the limitations of the digital recording process? Consider for a moment that certain sounds happen very quickly. The high chirp of a tin bell, or a tightly wound snare drum, might occur too rapidly for the digital sampling process. Not being able to capture the complete waveform, the subsequent recordings wind up distorting their representation of the original noise.
Vinyl is not bound by the same limitations. Since “fast” noises are captured using a non-stop, uninterrupted process, true analog recordings possess a richness and authenticity not found in their digital counterparts.
Digital wins this category – hands down. When it comes to physical storage, a simple iPod Touch can contain an astonishing quantity of music. Portability of this type is largely taken for granted today, but older readers can remember a time when owning a sizable music collection wasn’t just an investment in dollars – but in space as well. A substantial collection of records would often justify a dedicated music room, where your vinyl could be kept safe from sunlight, cold, and dust. An enormous library of tracks can now be carried in a single pocket – granting all of us an incredible luxury which was once relegated to the realms of science fiction.
The Best of Both Worlds
With the advent of the USB turntable, vinyl fans have been granted an opportunity to create studio-quality digital masters from their existing record collections. Combine a device like the Sony PS-LX300 with the versatility of a well-rounded laptop, and you can customize digital versions of your favourite analog tracks from the comfort of your living room couch. All it takes is a robust audio editing software package to adjust the EQ of each song to your personal preferences.
Sony’s fantastic USB turntable comes loaded with a built-in pre-amp, dual speed support for records of any size, and a belt drive for easy maintenance. Act before September 13th, and you can take advantage of Future Shop’s unbelievable sale price of $129.99.
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