The meaning of analog
“That sounds so…analog.” What does that actually mean? And what are we saying when we suggest something sounds “digital”.
I wonder if our terminology isn’t out of date. We offer praise when a digital reproduction sounds analog yet we know analog has limitations that digital does not.
I would never suggest that while listening to a live performance that it sounds either analog or digital. I might say it sounds natural, perhaps full and rich, but analog or digital? Never.
I wonder why then we cling to these antiquated terms. And I am not pointing the finger at anyone but me. I am a big offender and want to work on my language at every opportunity.
Perhaps when I slip up you all can help remind me.
There’s no such thing as the sound of analog and digital. They are antiquated terms and I can do better.
Moving picture film appears continuous when running at 24 or 36 frames per second, just like digital audio sounds continuous when sampled at 44 thousand times a second. Yet, slowed down we understand the magic trick.
As long as the choppy images or audio are faster than what we can perceive as changing, we agree to accept them as continuous.
Of course, nothing is really continuous. Take our old friend analog as an example. Many will assume that analog is continuous while digital is chopped up as previously described. What we take for granted as a steady tone—say the continuous press of an organ note—is in actuality a series of on and off modulations occurring too quickly for us to hear as anything but continuous.
Our seemingly unbroken analog world is an illusion.
As long as change occurs quicker than we can perceive it’s all analog.