Why does analog sound better than digital?

Analog was the original sound "format"; it's what humans were "designed" to hear.

But even the most devoted digital disciple will have to concede that analog hasn't shriveled up and died in the nearly three decades since the CD debuted in 1983. There's a never-ending stream of new turntables and phono cartridges from mainstream and high-end manufacturers on the market. Somebody's buying this stuff.

If analog's naysayers would like to think vinyl's appeal is strictly limited to aging baby boomers living in the past, they're in for a rude awakening. There's an ongoing flood of new LP releases (Amazon currently lists 938,000 LP titles). Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift, Nine Inch Nails, and Kanye West all have their latest releases available on LP. Sad to say, only a small minority of the people who grew up in a (nearly) all-digital world are turned on by analog's sounds.

So if you really love listening to music--not just as background sound to accompany work, exercise, or driving--but if you love music enough to give it your undivided attention, then analog ought to be worth checking out. There's something going on; do you know what it is?

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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