“Analog” vs. “Digital” Test and Debate

Ever since I started recording on my very first 4-track recorder in the 90’s, to recording on Pro Tools, this has always been a topic of discussion among musicians. We can go on and on, and I’m sure every one of you can find a musician friend that has an opinion about this very topic. I remember using Cakewalk Pro (before Sonar ever existed) and loving it so much, I had to quickly put my Tascam 4-Track recorder on eBay just to get more money to buy updates. The ease of editing in the digital domain allowed my music to become way more versatile and dynamic. My work flow while recording was totally revamped.

I recently ran across an interesting test done by Digidesign in an attempt to shed some light (and possibly put an end) on the subject. The results are very interesting to say the least.

During the analog vs digital “mixing” test, Digidesign proceeds by playing a mix that was summed “in the box,” back to back with the mix running through an “analog” console. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself! I gotta say, the differences were very subtle to say the least.

Solid State Logic XLogic Alpha-Link Analogue I/O Standard
As for sounds and instruments, I still prefer using analog instruments as much as possible, (Akai MPC, keyboards, bass guitars etc.) especially when trying to achieve a phatter sound for my drums and basslines. I don’t prefer it because of the gear’s functionality, it’s a matter of using the analog signal to create a somewhat “wider” spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with the convenience of digital plug-ins as well. It takes a lot less time to process drums using software than on most analog hardware. A good friend of mine suggested to simply get the sounds as “right” as possible before you record it. This saves time and processing during the mix-down stage. A good analog to digital converter wouldn’t hurt either (XLogic Alpha-Link Analogue I/O Standard pictured right).

Simply stated, there’s definitely a reason why some analog equipment seem to hold it’s value to this very day. Companies such as Solid State Logic with products such as Xlogic Super Analog Channel as well as the the digital version of their channel strips, the Duende Console Plug-In Hardware Platform have found ways to help bridge this gap.

I’m all ears and eyes for your opinions and feedback on this!