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Analog sound vs. digital sound

Since the first publication of digital sound recordings listeners have disagreed over the respective sound quality of analog and digital sound.

Briefly, an analog recording is a mechanical print of the sound on a surface such as the groove of a gramophone disc or a magnetic tape. The reproduction of the sound will include the sound of the material and any imperfections on its surface.

A digital recording, on the other hand is produced by encoding the sound received into digital information which is then decoded for reproduction. It does not include the surface sound of the disc or tape, though the reproduction of the sound may be affected by severe imperfections in the medium.

Many people claim that the analog sound is "truer" because it is not reconstructed. They claim that digital sound simply does not sound as natural. Others claim that digital is more natural because in is not subject to the same imperfections as an analog meduim. And some suggest that analog is technically of lower quality than digital but sounds subjectively better. For the general listener, however, there appears at present to be no simple way of demonstrating or proving the difference in fidelity.

Similar claims have been made about the sound of analog synthesizers compared with the sound of digital synthesizers.

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