The argument about vinyl vs. digital is something that anybody who has even dipped their toe into the music world has heard about, and now that vinyl has become popular again, we hear this anymore. So what’s the truth? Does one really sound better than the other? Or are they exactly the same thing? I mean music is music no matter how it is recorded and stored, right?
So what is the real difference between vinyl and digital? Well for starters they record two different things. Analog recording, used to record for vinyl, records fluctuations in filed strength of magnetic recording. Basically this means that they record the fluctuation of air pressure caused by sound waves. Obviously digital recording records digital signals. But that’s not the only difference. Especially with music now which is made for the radio, digital recordings are compressed to make them smaller, which is why you can have hundreds and even thousands of songs or your iPods and phones. This compression effects the sound in a stifling way. It quiets the music, and even cuts out instruments because it has been compressed to the max to make it the file so small. Now vinyl has its faults too. For starters, there’s no logical way to carry a record player.
There’s also a storing issue, vinyl warps, badly, when it’s no stored properly, ruining the album you paid $15+ for when you could have gotten it for $10 on iTunes. With digital, the only problem with warping you could have really isn’t the file itself, but what it’s saved on (sorry iPhone 5). The next biggest downfall over vinyl is surface noise – no matter what you do you will always have the grinding noise of the needle gliding over the grooves of the vinyl, and that is a huge turn off for people. Now you may be thinking “I don’t like vinyl. It’s not practical and it can get expensive” and that you can just buy the digital copy of an vinyl, but truth is, that’s not going work. Analog recordings are essentially perfect recordings, because you can’t play with analog records. They had to be exactly right when recorded. Any compression or editing, they’ll sound wrong and kinda muddy. Now the same can be said when taking a digital recording and pressing it on a vinyl, compressed audio is not made to be played on vinyl.
So which one is truly better? The answer, neither, and both. You see it really is an argument of whether digital or vinyl is your personal choice, and therefore it’s an discussion that’s never going to go away. My challenge to you is to explore it for yourself; I mean you’ll never know which one you like more if you don’t try. As for me, I’m definitely not getting rid of my iPod anytime soon, of course; I’m not throwing out my record player either.