[LAU] Pro Audio? OT rant.

Jörn Nettingsmeier nettings at stackingdwarves.net
Sat Dec 29 00:47:15 UTC 2012

On 12/28/2012 03:50 PM, Chris Bannister wrote:
> I am referring to the faithfulness of the reproduction, when
> comparing analogue to digital. On paper, an analogue signal is an exact
> reproduction whereas a digital signal is, by its very nature, an
> approximation of the original, even if it is very close.

chris, i love my vinyls, but this argument is as old and tired as it is 
wrong. any medium this side of the river jordan is band-limited, no 
matter whether it's analog or digital.

the evil little steps in a digital pcm stream are just an upper band 
limit, and they are _low-pass_filtered_ on playback, which makes them 
into a time- and value-continuous signal, i.e. analog.

if you think your lps give you some ultrasonic revelations, measure 
again, and again after playing them ten more times. if the magic were in 
the octave from 20-40khz, then every lp would be a disposable "use once" 
medium. the frequencies below that are reproduced _perfectly_ by a cd.

in the end, anything that hits a microphone diaphragm stops being the 
real thing and ends up a (hopefully good) approximation. analog is 
inspiring, with its clumsiness and limitations to rub against, but any 
halfway decent digital system is having analog for breakfast, always.

now if we talk about sonic preference, ok. but what you prefer in analog 
are _artefacts_, not fidelity.

nothing could be more elegant than a minimal signal chain starting with 
a high-end turntable, through a ten-watt tube amp into a horn speaker 
(anyone wants to try to outdo that in digital with the same number of 
signal stages?), but there is nothing metaphysical in there, and no 
inherent superiority, it's just elegant in its simplicity, and the 
constant degradation of the medium adds value to each listening session. 
if i have an lp on and the phone rings, i raise the needle. if it's a 
cd, i turn down the volume or leave it running while i leave the room, 
because i can always have that perfect copy.
but that's a workaround for how my mind works, and says nothing about 
the fidelity of analog vs. digital. a true zen master would listen to 
digital, undegradable media just as attentively, and could do without 
the haptics of an album sleeve i'm sure.

> Couldn't agree more. Of course, "the sweet spot" can vary from
> individual to individual. Also upgrading, for example say speaker cable,
> can improve the sound of your music collection that much more.

i'm happy for you if you believe that, but i'm more happy for your 
dealer, because he will have an objective benefit :)
loudspeaker cables only make a difference when used with very weird 
interfaces (such as a minimal tube amp), and even then those that are 
hyped the most are electrically the weirdest (read: just wrong). with a 
modern amp, any old piece of copper is just fine, provided it is thick 
if you like to "tune" your sound, get yourself an eq and approach it 
systematically. incidentally, there are speaker cables being sold for 
rates that easily buy you a manley massive passive. now that is a tool 
for tweaking :)

Jörn Nettingsmeier
Lortzingstr. 11, 45128 Essen, Tel. +49 177 7937487

Meister für Veranstaltungstechnik (Bühne/Studio)
Tonmeister VDT


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