What does it mean when people describe Digital as Sounding like "Analog"? Best term?

What do people really mean by that?

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Ron Resnick

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#21
May I ask what you mean by "digital sound"?
I am sure that people who prefer analog in general over digital in general have their own personal definition of "digital sound."

Digital has gotten very good. I think this is undeniable. Gone in most digital systems are the "ice cubes in the shower" (Neil Young) and the bright/hard digititis of the late 1980s.

Also gone are the early syrupy tube DAC efforts to soften and smooth out the digital sonic artifacts.

All else being equal today I actually and genuinely prefer to listen to digital recordings on digital playback systems (e.g., Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing, Jennifer Warnes' Famous Blue Raincoat).

For me, today, "digital sound" is that residual hint of "dryness" I hear on most digital recordings and from most digital replay audio systems. And, for me, that dryness alone is enough to send me back into the natural and organic sonic embrace of analog.
 
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Lagonda

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#22
And this is exactly why I have deliberately not tried to put extra effort into my digital. I can easily realize incremental improvements in my vinyl set up for each dollar spent but I suspect I'd have to get to an inordinate price level to achieve anything close in digital. So I'm resigned to having a decent DAC for streaming, discovering new music, figuring out what vinyl to buy, play background music while I work around the house etc...but my sweat and funds will go squarely into the analog front end followed by everything else OTHER than the digital. It's just where my musical priorities are.

BTW - this is my first post here...been lurking a while....very cool forum and I like how courteous folks are (sans drama) ;-)
Oh don’t worry we have our own brand of drama ;)
 

Al M.

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#23
I am sure that people who prefer analog in general over digital in general have their own personal definition of "digital sound."

Digital has gotten very good. I think this is undeniable. Gone in most digital systems are the "ice cubes in the shower" (Neil Young) and the bright/hard digititis of the late 1980s.

Also gone are the early syrupy tube DAC efforts to soften and smooth out the digital sonic artifacts.
Well put, Ron.

For me, today, "digital sound" is that residual hint of "dryness" I hear on most digital recordings and from most digital replay audio systems. And, for me, that dryness alone is enough to send me back into the natural and organic sonic embrace of analog.
I know what you mean. Prior to 2013 (room treatments and then new DAC which is now replaced), digital in my system suffered from this dryness a lot; after that much less so but still to some extent. Now not anymore, especially after my upgrade last year to the Octave HP 700 preamp. Now I have juicy, deep tone colors, great decay and lots of enveloping spatial information. When there is the occasional, rare dryness, it is on the recording, faithfully reproduced.
 
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Joe Whip

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Feb 8, 2014
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#24
Sitting here now with the lights low listening to a rip of the first Fourplay recording. It is a studio recording with tons of space and airiness, deep bass, open, wide and deep soundstage, pinpoint placement and a touch of warmth. Sure they are studio effects but well done.
 

Ron Resnick

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#26
Isn't it funny that no one brags about their analog sounding like great digital? :eek:
This is a brilliant and insigjtful line -- because it is so true!
 

marslo

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#27
My turntable is close to Pacific, but only with best pressings;)
 

Al M.

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#28
Occasionally I get a bit of treble edge/grain/glare only through digital that I never hear through my analog front end.

[...]

I'm not sure if it's inherent to my Auralic Vega G1 DAC or even cabling.
While it could be your DAC, I cannot speak for it since I haven't heard it. It could also be other issues. Is the treble of your digital in general more prominent than the treble of your vinyl setup?

I found that treble problems that I used to ascribe to my digital had other sources. One is my ceiling, which had a nasty metallic 'zing' echo upon hand clapping. Ceiling diffusers greatly ameliorated that, and removed a lot of treble harshness from my system's sound. An upgrade of my preamp was another substantial step forward, also in treble smoothness. Yet while my treble now is really good, it is still not quite as pure as the treble in a friend's system who has the identical digital setup. His speakers have an even better, quite celebrated tweeter, and his room never had the issues of treble harshness that mine does, even though ceiling treatment also was very helpful there, in taking care of frequency response issues.

I've even done several A/B comparisons digital vs vinyl on the same album to confirm it wasn't part of the master.
This is a comparison that is useful only to some extent. Even though it's the same album, mastering may in fact be different between the two media. And it often is; above I posted links to the specificities of vinyl mastering.

Sometimes the frequency response is quite different. I admired the sound on a friend's system of the Debussy string quartet on an LP with the Budapest Quartet playing. While string quartets mostly sound good to excellent on my system, the CD of that recording sounded disappointingly harsh and bright on it (as it does on my friend's system), nothing like the LP. Then I decided to attenuate the treble by about 5 dB with the excellent tone control on my preamp, and voila, the sound was so much better, and much closer to the vinyl (my friend agreed). The CD apparently had a mastering mistake.
 
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spiritofmusic

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#29
Ron, how would you know anything about stellar digital? You visit guys w SOTA rigs like Audioquattr's Pacific/Extreme and Mike's MSB/Extreme...and proceed not to listen to them, either at all, or to any extent to form an opinion.
 

spiritofmusic

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#30
While it could be your DAC, I cannot speak for it since I haven't heard it. It could also be other issues. Is the treble of your digital in general more prominent than the treble of your vinyl setup?

I found that treble problems that I used to ascribe to my digital had other sources. One is my ceiling, which had a nasty metallic 'zing' echo upon hand clapping. Ceiling diffusers greatly ameliorated that, and removed a lot of treble harshness from my system. An upgrade of my preamp was another substantial step forward, also in treble smoothness. Yet while my treble now is really good, it is still not quite as pure as the treble in a friend's system who has the identical digital setup. His speakers have an even better, quite celebrated tweeter, and his room never had the issues of treble harshness that mine does, even though ceiling treatment also was very helpful there, in taking care with frequency response issues.



This is a comparison that is useful only to some extent. Even though it's the same album, mastering may in fact be different between the two media. And it often is; above I posted links to the specificities of vinyl mastering.

Sometimes the frequency response is quite different. I admired the sound on a friend's system of the Debussy string quartet on an LP with the Budapest Quartet playing. While string quartets mostly sound very good to excellent on my system, the CD of that recording sounded disappointingly harsh and bright, nothing like the LP (same on my friend's system). Then I decided to attenuate the treble by about 5 dB with the excellent tone control on my preamp, and voila, the sound was so much better, and much closer to the vinyl (my friend agreed). Obviously the CD had a mastering mistake; possibly they forgot to correct for Dolby noise reduction when transferring from analog tape.
Al, as a total vinyl nut who has got totally satisfying sound from his cdp, then realised his analog had a long way to go, caught up, and now in a situation:- where analog beats digital it's not a close thing, where digital is superior, it's not a close thing, and it comes down mainly to the recording, or should I say mastering, which has the edge.
Analog guys who claim their vinyl walks all over their digital 100% should really spend a bit more time, money and effort sorting their poor choices/implementations/install details of digital.
 

XV-1

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#31
Even more regretfully I notice a trend in turntables to imitate digital sound. Quite a few tonarms and in particular cartridges are also guilty. Convergence? User expectations? Not sure, but today there seems to be lots of analogue equipment that sounds neither analogue, nor natural. All imho of course and I would prefer not quoting names as this will only create needless controversy.
what examples are you talking about here as I can't think of any .
 
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Al M.

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#32
Al, as a total vinyl nut who has got totally satisfying sound from his cdp, then realised his analog had a long way to go, caught up, and now in a situation:- where analog beats digital it's not a close thing, where digital is superior, it's not a close thing, and it comes down mainly to the recording, or should I say mastering, which has the edge.
Analog guys who claim their vinyl walks all over their digital 100% should really spend a bit more time, money and effort sorting their poor choices/implementations/install details of digital.
Agreed. I think that some people must have really screwed up digital. For example, recently someone who listens to digital streaming reported that he could get decent sound from jazz cymbals only from 24/96 files, but not from Redbook CD files, where he found them thin and tizzy sounding. That's just wrong. First off, it's much harder to get files to sound right (stationary or streaming) than physical CD, even though it can be done. But apart from that, something else is likely a problem.

You shouldn't have to go to higher bit/sampling rates to get great cymbal sound from digital. A friend always admires the sound of jazz cymbals from my CD replay when he visits. He thinks the tone is excellent and has lots of realistic "meat on the bones" in terms of fullness, and it also has great resolution (the latter would not be possible if my system had an undue treble roll off to achieve better tone). And my friend has a great vinyl rig to compare.
 
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spiritofmusic

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#33
Even more regretfully I notice a trend in turntables to imitate digital sound. Quite a few tonarms and in particular cartridges are also guilty. Convergence? User expectations? Not sure, but today there seems to be lots of analogue equipment that sounds neither analogue, nor natural. All imho of course and I would prefer not quoting names as this will only create needless controversy.
There's no point to a thread like this just to rehash well rehearsed lines going back to 1983, or make statements about certain gear, but not expand further.

I knew that the moment I heard piano thru my Eera Tentation, my analogue had a long way to go. And yet the Eera couldn't nail what my tt was magical at. But those piano notes FINALLY on a cdp that was doing tonal discrimination and timbral accuracy way better than any digital I'd heard before, and tts up to £30k, was a real epiphany moment. And was the start of a real cognitive disconnect period where digital absolutely could play in, and exceed, really good analog.

From that moment came the drive to maximise my analogue (vibration management, careful synergy of tt/arm/cart, and a choice of cart that approximates as close to live music imho that I've ever heard), and maximise my digital (clean power in particular, vibration management), so both sources both converge twds being equally enjoyable, equally impressive, only diverging where both mediums have individual stengths (bass w cd, mids texture w vinyl), and re particular pressings/masterings...so Miles Davis Nefertiti absolutely superior on vinyl, On The Corner superior on cd.
 
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PeterA

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#34
Many of these posts are the typical analog versus digital discussion or debate. They don’t really address the question Cesar raised in the OP which is a good one.
 

spiritofmusic

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#35
Ok Al, in answer to Caesar's Q, what makes digital sound like analog.
If digital possesses:

Continuousness ie seamless lows to highs without highlighting any frequency band, allied to a smoothness that doesn't blunt resolution.

Midband texture and palbabilty, a real reach out and touch feel to the sound.

Jump factor and total immersion simultaneously.

Tonal discrimination, so every album sounds different to the last, resolving the full character of the acoustic and instrumental flavours.

Timbral accuracy, so instruments and voices absolutely sound accurate and familiar, no syntheticness.

Zero fatigue so one can get totally caught up in the moment w no archetypes in the sound to break the spell or trigger lack of concentration.

...I'm sure there are more things.
 
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May 30, 2010
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#37
Ok Al, in answer to Caesar's Q, what makes digital sound like analog.
If digital possesses:

Continuousness ie seamless lows to highs without highlighting any frequency band, allied to a smoothness that doesn't blunt resolution.

Midband texture and palbabilty, a real reach out and touch feel to the sound.

Jump factor and total immersion simultaneously.

Tonal discrimination, so every album sounds different to the last, resolving the full character of the acoustic and instrumental flavours.

Timbral accuracy, so instruments and voices absolutely sound accurate and familiar, no syntheticness.

Zero fatigue so one can get totally caught up in the moment w no archetypes in the sound to break the spell or trigger lack of concentration.

...I'm sure there are more things.
Surely there are a lot more things. Analog seems to be so much better than real, provided we have a great imagination ... ;)
 

spiritofmusic

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#38
FB, my Eera pretty much ticks all those boxes, but still comes up short on the one I've never heard digital fully satisfy on...midband texture and palpability. This still feels the preserve of analog. And since the midband is where most of the music resides, well sorted analog still convinces more than the majority of digital in the realism/suspension of disbelief X factor.
 
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spiritofmusic

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#40
Surely there are a lot more things. Analog seems to be so much better than real, provided we have a great imagination ... ;)
Caeasar wanted a list...that's mine. These things and others all add up to the whole.
 

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