REFERENCE COMPONENTS-DIGITAL SOURCES

Neither analog nor digital contains all the musical truth, even if that statement upsets the extremists on both sides. Each has its strengths and its weaknesses.

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Digital is preferable to analog in a number of ways:
1. It has superior speed pitch, which is very important with many forms of music (solo piano);
2. It has a quieter background compared to most records, which is important for other forms of music (acappella choir);
3. It is superior in retaining outer details, which is important for all types of music;
4. It can record higher dynamic volumes, which is important for some rare music (Japanese Kodo drums);
5. It has lower amounts of many types of distortions, which is important for all music; and finally...
6. The new digital formats (CD, DVD, SACD) are more practical and can be played countless times without any physical deterioration.

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Since I still owned an audio retail store when I began this website, I decided to both market the components I was representing while also posting all my audio and musical experiences I had the time to share. I even decided to include my audio philosophy and perspective on creating a deeply satisfying audio system. However, I had a serious problem when it came to the evaluation of Digital Sources, since I had limited experience with them and very little interest in catching up. Considering how many different subjects I felt I had to write about at the time, I decided to rely on my most trusted friends ("Associates") to help me in this one area. Since I trusted these people with my own purchases, I felt I could relay the same information and judgments they provided me to other audiophiles, even strangers, without the fear of being hypocritical. Accordingly, my Reference Digital Sources file ended up being dominated by my friends for something like 15 years. Shortly after I started the website, I left the audio business (and Canada) for good, but I decided to not only keep the website going, but to expand on it as far as my capabilities would allow.

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This "controversy" has been around for something like 25 years now. It became prevalent a few years after digital sources (CD players) became popular and commonplace. That's not a simple coincidence. It's routine for the "Musical Or Accurate" ("MOA") argument to directly follow the (also useless) "digital versus analog" and/or "tubes versus transistors" arguments. However, we will focus exclusively on the MOA, since the other two have already been addressed on this website, and are also irrelevant in this particular context.

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Digital recordings also tend to instruments, including human voices, during complex and/or loud musical passages. This is most easily observable within orchestral compositions, especially those with large forces and choirs. The end result is a serious compromise in both the "individualization" and "organization" of the music. This problem also exists in common analog recordings, but to a much less noticeable degree in the finest of that genre (See The Supreme Recordings).

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Unfortunately, it also subtracts those aspects of the sound which are the vital essence of music; the conveyor of individuality and emotions. That is why Digital, at present, is more intellectually than emotionally satisfying. This is especially true for those audiophiles who are very familiar with excellent analog sound.

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On a superficial level, digital is similar in certain ways to analogue, in that all the basics are present, but that is all irrelevant once a direct comparison is made and you hear, almost immediately, what is still missing, and the vital musical importance of what is missing. Example- With the APL NWO-M, I sense (and physically feel) a body for the first time, but it is still somewhat "ghost-like", and not as human, natural or solid as analogue. Accordingly, the critical gut sense of Presence (and directness) is still compromised, especially when compared to analogue. This "gut sense of tactile presence" (and "directness") is evolutionary and primal, and can be felt immediately and instinctively, without any thought. So, when it's missing, a music listener, without even realizing it, may not take what they are hearing . And this is a fatal problem when the ultimate goal is to become "involved" with the music being played.