Analog Simulation Insights


Audio mythology

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I went “off topic” into one of my favorite extracurricular activities. (Actually almost one year ago since I wrote Digital vs. Analog: never-ending myths of CDs vs. LPs). Because I spent so many years as an ADC designer, I get especially peeved when mythology is substituted for science in discussions of analog-digital conversion. But this type of lazy editorializing happens way too often, and not just in the never-ending debates over analog vs. digital audio. (For another example, see Analog design is NOT black magic… but it is VERY hard). Is it because science is so hard that, just like ancient cavemen discovering fire, writers find it easier to explain technology in some mystical pseudo-scientific way? Or has the Unstoppable commodization of information goods, as one of my professors at SJSU described it, caused writers to go for the provocative at the expense of the facts?

The stimulus for my rant is yet another case of a “golden-eared” audiophile trying to attribute flaws to analog-digital sampling that just don’t exist. I had an episode of déjà vu yesterday when I picked up a copy of the November issue of Sound & Vision magazine, since I realized that I first wrote an article about this topic more than seventeen years ago! (“Un-debunking the truth about CD specs“, Components in Electronics, May 1991).

If you happen to come across Rob Fraboni’s “The Producer’s Ear” column you will see what I mean. Now, Mr. Fraboni may be an excellent record producer/engineer (after all… he claims to know Eric Clapton personally), but like many before him he just can’t understand how you could possibly sample an analog waveform without losing something. In comparing analog and digital he writes: “The samples, by their nature, leave finite gaps in the wave. These gaps are perceived subconsciously.”

Wow… “gaps in the wave“!

Would that be something like the clicks and pops from your precious vinyl LP? 🙂


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