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Let’s Get Physical: Why Analog Always Trumps Digital

Music is a physical experience, the result of a column of air rushing through a reed, a larynx or a hammer, a stick striking a string or a membrane. So it only seems logical that a storage medium that preserves a physical analog of that physical phenomenon would be the most faithful, most accurate reproduction of the original musical performance. The old-fashioned vinyl record is such a music storage medium, and to many-yours truly included-vinyl is still the best-sounding vehicle for music out there. Digital, for all its wonderful attributes, will never offer more than a sampled representation of music, and thus it’s next to impossible for it to convey all the nuances available on those supposedly outmoded LPs.

Peter Lederman, chief engineer of the Soundsmith Corporation, manufacturer of fine phono cartridges, analyzes the digital dilemma this way: “It is the events lost between each sample, and the multiple errors that are introduced by attempting to both digitally capture, decode and filter your way back to the original analog sound that makes CDs inferior in critical respects when compared with analog. It has been said that once you take filet mignon and grind it up into hamburger, you can never find a chef that will make it taste like filet again.”

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