Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Digital gaps

It’s common wisdom that because digital breaks up sound into bits there’s missing information between those bits—information not lost with analog. But is that accurate?

The comparison between the uninterrupted straight line picture of analog and the chunky digital copy might lead us to imagine differences that don’t necessarily exist.

If I were to side with the measurementists I could pretty definitively demonstrate there is nothing measurably missing in a proper digital recording.

If were to then take the opposite side and agree with the analog proponents that correctly point out the audible differences between digital recordings and analog recordings, we would then be at a stalemate.

If nothing is missing in digital what explains the differences in sound quality?

We can say with absolute certainty that a PCM recording of a live music feed sounds different than an analog or DSD recording of the same event.

Yet, it is also true that a PCM recording of the analog playback is nearly indistinguishable from the analog playback.

Tomorrow I am going to suggest what might be going on.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Internal EQ

As we age our ability to hear diminishes. Other than protecting our hearing there’s little we can do to stop the inevitable march of time.

Does this mean we enjoy our stereo systems less and less? Does our loss of hearing impact our abilities as listeners?

I would suggest no. In fact, I would go so far as to posit I am a better listener today that I was a decade or two ago.

There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is what our ears do, listening is the combination of ears and brain.

You identify differences in instruments by listening: a violin from a viola, a trumpet from a trombone, a piano from a harpsichord. None of these distinctions requires excellent hearing, but rather trained listening.

The art of listening involves comparisons of what we hear to the models of sound in our brains. As our ears age, the models adapt themselves as if we applied an internal EQ to compensate.

Some of the best listeners I know wear hearing aids. This works because over time they have adapted to their changed hearing.

Let’s not confuse listening with hearing.