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Re: Digital vs analog

On Thu, 26 Mar 1998, matthew hahn wrote:

> Dave said:  
> In the digital realm, my Audio Alchemy DDE D/A converter
> >sounds "warm" in comparison to my Sony Discman.  Is this distortion?
> >Highly unlikely, given the quality differential between the two.  
> It is that the sampling rate is higher for audio alchemy?  What is the
> reason for better warmth, quality, what does that mean?

The Audio Alchemy DAC is a quasi-hi-end piece of hi-fi gear.  I think the
key to its sound is that it uses an entirely passive analog filter.  That,
and careful attention to the power supply.
> What kinds of instruments do you, or do you run into Audio Alchemy, etc?

None.  This is my hi-fi system!  However, i'd like to get another one to
use with a high-quality sound card with digital out.  The inside of a
computer is FAR too noisy an environment electrically to produce really
good sound, and the average sound card just uses the HORRIBLE computer
power supply.

> Do you find yourself goind more digital?  Why?
> Do you think that this warmth of sound can be actually higher in digital
> equipment than analog?  

My own musical performance for some time now has been unplugged.  My other
hobby is homebrew hi-fi, mostly tube amps.  This is one of the reasons i
have almost totally rejected what the mainstream audio engineers consider
the recipe for "good sound".  Antique triode tubes with no global
feedback?  It doesn't figure low distortion on paper, so it MUST sound
bad!  Or if it sounds good, it's some poor fool liking "euphonic
distortion".  Sarcasm aside, i think that if audio engineers would listen
to music rather than oscilloscopes and THD meters, the world would be a
better place (no offense to Kim or the other engineers here!)

And no, i don't believe digital can sound better than analog in the long
run, *especially* "CD quality" digital.  In fact, the most *musical*
sounding digital delays i have used are the ones that had the worst specs
from an engineering point of view... the EH16, my DeltaLab Echotron, and
the Lexicon Vortex and JamMan.  On paper, the various Digitech, ART, etc
boxes have blown these away for years.  In the real world of music,
though, the "warmth" comes through.  It's not distortion... it's a sense
of ease and naturalness that is lacking in the more electronically
"perfect" devices.  I think digital sound suffers from a lot of inherent
unnaturalness, such as linear rather than logarithmic conversion.
However, to obtain certain musical effects, we MUST use digital devices.

So, rather than worrying about what is ultimately better, we should do the
best we can to achieve the most *musical* sounding reproduction.  If that
goes against the stuff in the textbooks, so be it. 


Practice beautiful randomness and act kind of senseless.