In this first article, I wish to explore a realm that I master perfectly. Although my current focus is almost entirely on moving images, my beginnings, dating back to around 2006 formally, are rooted in audio engineering and music.
The choice to address this topic often arises in the questions posed to me, and my response is always articulated in two well-defined perspectives: one of a technical and theoretical nature, and another simply based on my personal preferences.
First and foremost, it is crucial to understand what we mean when we talk about analog and digital. The sound we perceive through our ears is essentially analog, manifesting in waveforms measured in Hertz. On the other hand, the digital involves a conversion to binary language so that electronic devices interpret it through combinations of “zeros” and “ones.” In answering the question of how both coexist in our sonic experience, the answer lies in the presence of analog-to-digital converters (A/D) at the input of any audio-capturing device and digital-to-analog converters (D/A) at the output of such devices, such as speakers or computer speakers that translate this binary language back into waveforms.
With the exponential advancement of technology, this digital language surrounds us completely, extending not only to the audio realm but permeating every sector of our existence, from communications to photography and cinema. In this context, I always emphasize the importance of understanding both the best and the worst of both worlds.
Is analog better?
Is digital better?
What to choose when faced with these questions?
The answer is not a simple “better” or “worse,” but rather lies in the pursued purpose and the desired outcome. In addition to considering economic factors, portability, genre, type of art, and a crucial element: personal taste.
Knowledge is the key
In any aspect of life, it is essential to know the goals and how to achieve them. Researching and understanding how both analog and digital technologies sound, look, and function becomes fundamental.
Comparison and the formation of one’s own criteria are imperative
Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, an analog distortion effect can offer a unique and pleasing character to the ear, while digital distortion, although more controllable and portable, may be perceived as less natural. The precision of digital effects, such as delay, contrasts with the distinctive and pleasant coloration of analog ones.
The perfect fusion between both trends may be the key. Tape machine plug-ins, for instance, are an excellent option to simulate analog character in digital environments. Knowing the sonic peculiarities of each technology and genre allows challenging conventions. Why not merge analog and digital to explore new sounds?
Extrapolating this dilemma to other realms
It’s tempting to fall in love with the aesthetics of analog cameras and film. Although some argue for the superiority of analog quality, adapting to the digital tools available in these changing times becomes essential for creativity.
In summary, the choice between analog and digital is not a matter of superiority but understanding the possibilities and limitations of each and finding the right synergy for the desired outcome.