If analogue’s so superior, why is most recording now done digitally?
That’s a long conversation probably best kept for a winter’s night over a bottle of good brandy! Very briefly, analogue recording was the norm until the early 1980s, around which point most recording studios moved over to digital. Why? A host of reasons. The technology was there. Recording engineers perceived greater scope for sound manipulation. Digital files on hard drives don’t degrade over time as physical tapes do. The music market was booming and hence moving away from artisan quality to mass production. And of course the old favourite – cost. Analogue recordings are time-consuming and expensive, requiring a host of high-quality equipment plus teams of experts to operate and maintain it. In contrast, a basic digital recording can be made by one person and a computer.
Fast-forward to the present day and we find that the continuing rise in digital recording and playback formats is, at the same time, spurring a renewed debate over sound quality and hence a rediscovery of all things analogue. So we’re starting to see one or two recording artists and a couple of small, independent record labels beginning to make analogue recordings again. Watch this space!