Thursday, 27 September 2007

Digital VS Analogue

Whether it's about image or sound, in homes or specialised shops, the debate is still on, and the relevant misconceptions are abundant...

A great portion of the general population will have an opinion, whether they actually know what it's about or not. And there's the ones who are pro-analogue, just because it's older and more "established", without them actually realising what it means - just because e.g. film is considered better than digital images for the time being in the industry, or because analogue sound capturing produces different results than digital. And then there's the people who prefer digital just because it's new and cooler, and most of them have no points to support their claims, or take them further than they make sense. It's funny.

Most people just go with the flow, using whatever's handier for them, not caring about which format is actually "better". But among the elitist few who will state their case, it's odd how few of them actually have an opinion or will realise what one or the other has to offer. Examples like vinyl records - where it's ok to prefer their sound or large album covers or whatnot, but to say that their analogue sound is better than that on a cd is just plain wrong, since they've been through digital channels anyway and they can't possibly remain unaffected by the dust or the number of times you replay them, so how on earth can they be a more "reliable" or "direct" format? - or even film for your automatic photo camera, videotapes Vs DVDs or whatnot, just don't say it if you don't know it to be true or you don't realise what one or the other means, you guys...

I've heard things like "oh, come on, VHS is analogue, it's better" or "mp3 is compressed, you can't possibly listen to a song with its crap sound" (even when we're talking about good compression and a person who just wants to hear a song, not the slight nuances in its sound that only their dog can discern). And overall, it all comes down to what level of detail you need from your device, what you're going to use it for and what serves your own needs best. But there's so many people who will try to state "ultimate truths" and make absolute value judgements about a format, without even knowing what the differences really are, what digital or analogue really means in each case, what formats each thing has been through, what pros and cons it has and what they mean for you at the end.

I know what I use in each case, and I know why. I'll have mp3s for my music, because I want to keep a mean of around 120 gigs of songs that I can carry around with me ever since I was a teenager, moving from country to country, make playlists and compilation CDs with, classify them any way I choose and not feel as bad when I delete some and download others, and my ear is not as well trained as my friend Nick's, who's a sound engineer, to listen to anything other than the basic melody and the lyrics of each song. I'll use a digital camera for filming, just because it's easier for a wannabe film producer to use without having to pay for reels upon reels of film, and capture onto a hard drive and edit on Adobe Premiere and After Effects. And I know what analogue is better for, I know what difference an SLR photo camera has from my cellphone's one, what a megapixel means or why VHS and audio cassettes are ultimately dead right now even if film crews use, erm, film, which is analogue.

And in some cases, I know I'm getting inferior quality, but that's the quality I need for the time being, with the practical benefits it offers in other areas. Or I might just want the quality one way, not caring about what I'm missing somewhere else. Which holds true for me, my mother, my friend the professional, or my other friend who just cares passionately about some aspect of things. So quit trying to convince us otherwise, there's no "ultimate truth" behind it, and your penis won't grow any bigger if you make huge statements about stuff you heard mentioned one way and translated in your brain to mean 102 different things.

No comments: