Primary tabs

Do You Prefer the Sound of Digital or Analog Audio Media?

Graphic courtesy Steve Guttenberg

Here’s an old chestnut for you. These days, analog recordings are available almost exclusively on vinyl LPs, whereas digital audio abounds on CD, DVD-Audio, SACD, and multitudinous online sources. (Okay, "abounds" is probably an overstatement for DVD-A and SACD, but you get the idea.) And music lovers have strong opinions about which sounds better.

Steve Guttenberg cleverly explored this debate in his Audiophiliac blog with two separate entries—"Why does analog sound better than digital?" and "Why does digital sound better than analog?"—though in both cases, he clearly states that he prefers the sound of vinyl, at least when played on a good system. Of course, as Guttenberg points out, digital beats analog hands down in terms of measureable distortion and noise. But he maintains that analog has a certain je ne sais quoi that reaches the human psyche more deeply, which is why vinyl survives and encourages people to actually sit and listen to music rather than playing it in the background as they do other things.

So which sound do you prefer, the technical "perfection" of digital or the ineffable character of analog vinyl? Keep in mind that I'm talking about uncompressed digital audio here—CD specs or better—not MP3 or other compressed formats.

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice; I look forward to reading your thoughts on this one.

Do You Prefer the Sound of Digital or Analog Audio Media?