What’s the difference between analogue and digital masters?

The quality of any digital recording, regardless of resolution levels, can never match that of analogue due to the simple fact that music, or sound, is not digital! In recording music digitally, you’re basically sampling a highly complex collection of sound-waves and approximating them into a series of ones and zeros. In doing so, by definition you’re losing a great deal of information right from the start. In contrast, a good quality analogue recording is actually capturing the complete waveforms, so you’re getting the full information.

The final quality of any subsequent tape/record/CD/digital file will of course depend on a whole host of additional factors, from production processes and format to playback systems, each of which will result in some small degree of loss of, or interference with, the original information. Which is why, when it comes to recorded music, nothing can better an original analogue master tape. It contains more information than any other source, or than anything subsequently derived from that source.