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

Not soft, if it’s a good analog front end.

Is analog soft?

When we think of the analog sound we’re inevitably referencing a reproduction. This is because we experience analog sound through our stereo systems which, of course, are reproduction playback systems.

And every analog reproduction is either captured on vinyl or magnetic tape. This of course means everything we associate with analog has passed through analog electronics and analog storage mediums—all of which have an analog “sound” to them.

True analog sound is what comes directly out of the recording microphone. But, unless you’re at the recording studio at the time a record is being made your only means of hearing that analog microphone feed is after it’s been processed through the storage medium of vinyl or tape.

And if we dare to suggest capturing that feed with digital means, either PCM or DSD, we have then violated the analog label’s definition. By default it can no longer be “analog” (even if it sounds identical).

When I listen to music captured on pure analog means I hear a softness to it. Hard to describe, actually, but a softening of the original signal is about as good as I can come up with. And maybe the opposite is helpful. On many digital captures, there is a sharpness that colors the sound.

The perfect capture is when we can tell no difference between the source and the output.

Nice if we had a name for that.

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