What is Analogue?

What is analogue?

People really like to talk about “analogue sound” but the way we talk about it often isn’t as clear as it could be especially to people with no prior experience of working with hardware.  So it is not surprising to me that we also hear a lot of people asking “what is analogue – what specific thing is it that you are hearing that makes something sound analogue?”  Although this is a valid question it also a bit simplistic and will not really get a good answer.  It’s human nature to over-simplify as they try and understand things they aren’t familiar with, or don’t believe, but do want to learn about.

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Behold the lovely picture of my colleague Antonio that I have gone and drawn here, isn’t he handsome? (Aren’t I talented? Ok it wasn’t me, I admit it I am a fraud) Now, as a little thought experiment I want you to grab a pen and piece of paper, write down the ONE thing about the picture I drew that makes it look “unrealistic” or different to a photograph, remember it’s only one difference and you win a massive prize if you spot it.

Are you struggling? What do you mean it’s more than just one thing? Oh really? …..I can see what you mean..but that makes my point quite succinctly.

That’s the thing about reality, it is always more complex than it first appears. Analogue isn’t ONE thing, nor is it simple or fully scientifically understood yet. It is fully based in reality and physics and therefore Analogue is a collection of 100′s if not thousands of sonic effects that add up to the whole, and this is exactly the kind of complex situation we human beings are good at picking up on almost subconsciously but find difficult to understand when listening critically and trying to quantify what’s going on. We have an innate sense when something’s right or when it’s different, and subconsciously we can take in a whole lot of tiny bits of information that consciously we might not be able to keep track of. This is how we get feelings and vibes about things, most of the time it is completely real just our direct senses can’t quite grab it. So in this blog I wanted to talk about some of those many aspects, and also the music benefit and side effects they can give. Hopefully adding a few tools to the toolbox of even the most stalwart of the digital purists and vice versa.

So we all agree analogue is a complex beast, the effects and physics of what happens in even a simple circuit are difficult to model with computers EVEN TODAY. For two reasons:

1. The computers just aren’t powerful enough yet, to do everything. At least not in the real world usage environment of a DAW working on a song and even if they were powerful enough…

2. Although our intrepid vst programmers and scientists work tirelessly to understand what’s going on, we still don’t understand everything that is happening; there are still elements of what makes up “that sound” elusive to our understanding however small these elements are.

The more astute of you will have noticed that these issues are not insurmountable obstacles, and the day where we start to get TRUE 1:1 sound available right inside the computer is nearer than you might think, but there is still more work to do.

So what? Analogue is just distortion right?

For years I have heard this argument from the more fanatical proponents of the digital audio system, but that’s rubbish! Analogue is not just distortion – as much as music is not just sound. At its best it has beautiful intricacy – tonal variations and dynamic effects which give a sound more character and depth. Basically these qualities are adding highly valuable and beneficial shaping in terms of musicality. Of course this is when it is designed and used skilfully. Any piece of equipment when made or used badly can sound really BAD. Digital can sound great too; in fact it’s very good at capturing what’s ALREADY THERE very well. Where it falls down usually is that it’s generally not adding anything to the game in terms of musicality and also has a much harsher distortion when used improperly, which unfortunately is the case a LOT more than analogue ever was. The digital system is much more unforgiving when mistakes are made.

Digital can sound bad, because it’s missing ALL of these musical side- effects as standard; to think a perfect digital creation of a waveform is the BEST purest musical form of any sound is naïve. If you think about the history of making music, its a very human thing although there are elements of maths involved when it comes to tuning and scales, it is definitely more about human intuition than pure maths. We started making music first by hitting physical objects (think…drums, trees, each other), then we vibrated them and things got more complex as time went on we added electricity into the mix. But there were always physical objects which offered their own individual characteristics to a sound and were by no means mathematically perfect sound sources as nothing in nature is. But that’s why these imperfect instruments can be more musically perfect – because of there nuance, individuality and originality.

Metaphorically speaking PERFECT is the same as BLAND in music, just as CLEAN can be BORING. So the pure mathematical oscillators in our first digital synths, sounded cold because it’s a pure re-creation, perfectly pure without any tell tales of the “human face” if you think back to our little experiment above – but that doesn’t mean digital cannot RECORD, CREATE and PLAYBACK these musical nuances – you just have to put them in in the first place. So the whole idea that digital can’t get to a good sound, or can’t even record it and retain most of that analogue magic, that’s bullshit too. It absolutely can when used within it’s limits.

That said there is a train of thought around having a fully analogue signal path all the way to pressing to vinyl, and there are some benefits there, but the difference is smaller than the extra life you will get from using analogue synths, drums and gear alongside your DAW compared to just using older vst stuff. It can be a glorious difference mind, as we know all the great differences in music are often small, the fine adjustments can be what make the mundane become beautiful.

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Always changing and reacting differently

One of the big things missing in the digital world, or at least fairly rare even now, is what some analogue components do automatically. They will react differently depending on the electrical current going through them, and the distortion they impart is never static. As an analogy you could think of this as if a face smiled but the skin didn’t distort we would think it looked so weird; or if someone smiles but their eyes did not smile – stayed the same – we know it’s false. The same thing applies to audio, the way these distortions change dynamically and over time also are important to take into account and why static wave shapers and early digital distortion doesn’t sound very good at all as they are not taking into account the difference in the way things sound with a quiet signal or a strong signal and how it transitions between these. In fact subtle distortion and warmth is one area in the digital realm we really need improvement on – a lot of the vibe and soul of the best sounding records, comes from being mixed on analogue using the pre-amps and other equipment to drive it slightly, subtly changing the sound. This is almost completely missing in a modern DAW, in any directly comparable way.

We are experts at fooling ourselves

On the internet you will find people absolutely convinced that analogue is a myth, digital is perfection and the idea and that everyone else is completely stuck in the past, allowing this blinkered rose tinted view to rule them. You will also find people who insist analogue from the 70′s is the best and it just cannot be replicated EVER not even by modern analogue. Let me promptly put a stop to this cods wallop, because both these arguments are completely invalid. People spouting them often speak from personal experience – that’s fine but they are forgetting to check their data based on facts. The first fact we must remember is that we don’t know everything that makes up analogue sound! People can become too sure over their limited personal experience and kid themselves that they know everything they need to, become closed minded and make up opinions which can miss-lead others.

The internet is rife with poorly informed opinion masquerading as fact.

Although I predicted earlier in this blog that VSTS would soon offer a 1:1 emulation, I want to temper that by saying that’s just a prediction based on my current understanding, and definitely not a fact I should be called out on in the future if we don’t get there quickly enough for your liking haha. WE JUST DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING YET, so you never know – some element could turn out to be based on quantum entanglement (or something equally star trek). Lets stick to the scientific method: if someone is not an expert on a topic and they state a supposedly SURE fact on something online, they are basically adding to the miss-information out there which is already quite staggering.

That said, I know a lot of people like to bring up A/B tests as scientific proof that there is no difference between things and that it’s all in people’s heads, and yes it sounds like a good test doesn’t it? Blind listening about things, purely scientific and evidence based observations? Sounds perfect.

Well yes and no, it’s important to remember a couple of points when it comes to music, firstly, you only have about 7 seconds of accurate audio memory recall. After that you are recalling the sound more from your imagination than any accurate recollection, and we know how memories can be somewhat…inaccurate! e.g.: “I was sure I turned the oven off!”

To continue from that point – it’s also important to say that our ears are not objective instruments. It’s our brain which interprets the signals coming through our ears, (interpret is the active/crucial word here), we are not objective and the mind can play tricks on us, that’s being human! In music it’s good to trust your gut feeling, your subconscious is probably absorbing a lot more detail than you realise, and if it feels right – go with it. A good tip when your comparing stuff, set it up so you can flick between the two sources quickly, remember the 7 second rule.

Analogue isn’t better by default

There can be bad analogue, but more often than not the stuff that was designed with a BAD sound and no musical use kind of didn’t sell well and by now would have all but disappeared, the people who build this stuff do think about the sound. So although it can sound bad, most of the time it’s good, and it’s often more forgiving, pushing a piece of analogue gear can often elicit the tones and sounds we like musically.

The good gear didn’t end up this way by accident, or by the fact that it was made ages ago. The designers listened to there components, how they sounded and carefully over time gained an expertise. We listened, carefully and tried things out, that’s why a lot of this stuff is inherently musical, not by chance, but through humans picking it, working on it and making it that way. We can’t just throw all that away, without including all these nuances in the digital systems we design for the DAW and then still using the same techniques we used to make music on analogue equipment we leave ourselves in a much poorer state than we were.

All these things we intuitively hand-picked and built up in our hardware, musical instruments and fx are NOT inherently found in digital, and we should not think of them as superfluous – that’s the biggest mistake – to think a perfect Triangle wave was A musically perfect Triangle wave, or SAW wave or whatever is an utter mistake, whose ramifications can be felt in modern music. Even total clarity when recording and playback and mixing is a mistake when your sounds are also digitally generated, it is not inherently musical. That does not mean it CAN’T sound musical but we have to put the musicality into it, and a lot of our techniques revolved around using the equipment FOR its inherent musicality and that just doesn’t transfer to a DAW. It’s a completely different set of skills and needs more technical understanding that it did to work a desk; it is only recently that our erstwhile digital trailblazers have started to learn how to make their plug-ins emulate this musicality. So, even though we make mistakes, we most certainly are on the right road.

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How is analogue useful in terms of its’ use in music?

So finally I get to the juicy point most of you will be reading this for. How do we make the best use of analogue and the different type of distortion it offers in our productions?

Remember: these are only the things we actually know about but these are the things that we find the most popular modern vst are starting to emulate, having figured out what’s missing. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact there may even be more things going on that we already know but I have missed off, so please if you know of something don’t hold back in the comments below, analogue emulation is most definitely still an “on-going discussion” when it comes to the science and the application.

So first lets talk about a few of the most useful analogue imperfections;

Harmonic Distortion, A good sounding tube/valve often distorts musically in this way, probably one of the more ubiquitous sounds of vintage gear. What we find roughly with these kind of components is that when they are pushed they offer up a sound that feels like you are adding into and thickening a sound. You will gain frequencies other than the original sound; this is great for thickening up a bass line that’s mostly filtered or a sub bass that doesn’t include much above its fundamental, giving it that much needed bite and presence higher up the spectrum which will make it cut through more on your average iPod and just sound great on your Genelecs. You will also find stuff that’s based on voltages and real life components will always react a bit softer when it starts to break up / distort, which generally sounds more musical. When it comes to this kind of usage you only want it to bite when you really push it and slowly distort smoothly up to that point giving you a lot of control over the tone, which is where digital and clipping and crap analogue can often fall short in terms of it’s sound and usability.

Different tube components and designs also offer different types of distortion and sound different generally, and even the design of the components themselves can affect things a lot. That’s why, in analogue designs, it’s not just putting the components into place, it’s testing them and how they behave which gets you up to Neve level designs. For example: Transformers are delicious but aside from that (disclaimer: NoDoughMusic does not encourage eating them), they provide a mostly odd-harmonic content that can be focused low down in the frequency range, say 400hz and below, so the musical uses for this can be a lot different to other components which might impart an even order distortion that’s more spread out in other frequencies and so on, that complexity and nuance goes on forever so good designs in the world of analogue are the holy grail. In fact, this is one of analogue strengths once you know how to use your ears and abuse your equipment properly.

Tape machines are err… bloody complex!

The tape machine is a complex bit of machinery which often have, when used well, a quite musical effect on the audio they record and playback. There are some plugins that have a good go at emulating the tape machine, even some which say they are a 1:1 copy. That’s pushing the truth for me though I am afraid, don’t get me wrong these guys are fighting the good fight and doing a good job. But if any say the fight is over and the Holy Grail is here, ignore them as it is often marketing half-truths especially when you see a famous engineer stamp there name and seal of approval on it,they are often in on the profit. That is marketing though so take it with a pinch of salt and know that… the fight goes on. There are also some analogue pieces which attempt to give you a tape-like sound too, and which by and large do give you a better sound, but in a way I suppose that’s down to the fact they are using analogue components which have those kinds of side effects anyway, so in terms of emulation and understanding, that’s cheating a little bit haha.

Breaking it down, what makes tape special.

Dynamic compression – one of the most sought-after sounds of great TAPE machines, they can impart a lovely compression to your music or sound, especially when you go in hot. This compression can make your drums and mix glue like nothing else. All distortion has an element of compression in it due to the very nature of the beast, when you’re peaks are being squashed and the louder sounds hit the voltage limits it basically has the same effect, but tape machines do it in such a way that, loud high frequency transients which are easy for a digital system to play back and record, just simply can’t exist, and musically this is ALL good news. Remember the dark days of Minimal Techno where the DC-offset click and pop was the defining sound of a whole genre – if everyone recorded to tape machine it might have been a whole lot more listen-able.

Going to tape you also get some distortion, in much the same as the way a transformer distorts actually. The tape head is based on a magnetic system so you end up with the same kind of odd order harmonic distortion. So making use of that will let you add a bit of beef and give and impression of tilting your tonal balance towards the bottom end or darkening it.

With tape, hysteresis can create a lag and smearing of the transients in your audio, because the magnetic tape system remembers what’s input previously and holds onto that causing an often quite welcome change that is most notable in the transients. This can seem like a subtle smoothing, or glue to your mix, this effect is also more prominent on quieter sounds so they can appear more warm and glued than your louder elements. So alongside the distortion that’s based in the low frequencies which can add a bit of punch to your record you get this smoothing of transients and the whole thing can be quite rich sounding, a lot of the distortion elements can be effected by what’s called biasing but this is often at the expense of the highs and pushes the machine towards a warmer sound, which, to be honest, if you are going to tape nowadays, isn’t going to be a problem I would imagine. The calibration of any tape machine, not to mention it’s quality and it’s internal components and build, can affect all this too. So yes they are very complex….but that’s not all…

Due to the mechanics of the way a tape machine works and the physics of the moving tape and the way the head interacts with the reel of tape, you also get a slight bump in the low end sub 100 usually, which can add to that punchy effect. It also rolls off your upper high end a bit too, which emphasises this. In fact many people will boost highs going into the machine to start with to compensate. Then you will have a mid-range bulge which is variable depending on the tape speed and the bias, and ringing, and many other things basically. Like I said – it’s complicated.

And all that is without mentioning all the more overt modulation type effects we find with a tape machine from wow and flutter, which all obviously vary on the tape speed and the quality of the machine itself. Even on the best mastering grade machines you get smalls amounts of modulation and movement in the time domain. These have a real effect on the feeling of what you’re listening to, and in some ways that imperfection in absolute timing can be nice. Or, it might not be wanted, but as with all things we have to trust our ears, and calibrate our tape machines well.

“I Dream of Wires: Hardcore Edition” 2013 official trailer from I Dream Of Wires on Vimeo.

Pre-amps

At risk of repeating myself – these are probably one of the most important elements missing in your DAWs nowadays. The pre-amp is an active gain stage intended for boosting an incoming signal to the ideal level to pass on into the mixer, the eq and onward. Being an active gain stage these can impart a big effect on your sound and one of the things people used to do a lot is drive these things to take advantage of subtle and not-so-subtle changes in tone that can be imparted by the components in the desk. This was an incredibly common technique in all sorts of music, mostly through intention but sometimes just because the producer was listening and finding a place that sounded nice. It was so widespread you could say, in some scenes it amounted to the routine application of analogue distortion in varying levels to almost every track in a production. This is completely missing in your DAW unless you have hooked up some hardware or are doing something similar with plugins. As I mentioned before and in my opinion, this has had the biggest impact on the sterility of some modern recordings. These things impart a lot of the sound we have discussed before even when you don’t push it. As with everything there is bad and good, and analogue is no magic bullet but over the years where expertise has been applied we have found many musical pre-amp designs.

Vinyl clicks and pops and other quirks

Life has surface noise and without it would feel empty. Music was never about perfection, musical instruments were never about perfect resonances and the human voice is not perfect. We don’t judge musicality in those terms – it’s just not how it works! We listen and decide what’s most pleasing.

Loving old gear isn’t about wishing for the past and being stuck in old ideas, it’s ALL about trying to bring MUSICAL benefits that old equipment had, back into the digital domain…these are REAL musical benefits and anyone who does not believe this needs to listen harder. It is widely believed that there was a tangible loss of musicality in the recordings and productions during the 90’s and the move to digital. This is born out not just by science and analogue lovers figuring out what was going on. But proven by the digital market itself, the commonly accepted best sounding modern digital vst now are the ones which have started to layer in complex emulations of the things that go on in analogue and the ones which are starting to match the sonic characteristic we hear in hardware.

That’s not to say people don’t like some of the purely digital synths as well, and that’s perfectly valid too. But in the whole analogue Vs digital debate it is pretty much Case closed, for me at least. There is no such battle as Analogue V Digital just as there is no such thing as Breathing v Thinking. You are going to need the benefits of both if you want to live a fulfilling life. We are talking about musical effects, not some kind of religious choice between analogue or digital, which is what I am always struck by when I come across the arguments people have about this. People always get caught up in us v them argument… I guess it’s human nature but it’s just time to rise above it. Look at the fantastic benefits of each, and the definite flaws and use BOTH to get the best sound, the sound you want, no matter what the CPU cost or monetary cost – strive for the best you can achieve! Others may own more costly or superior equipment than you – but you can still achieve great music with expertise and knowledge.

There is so much more to think about with this topic. The way microphones colour your sound, how they take moving air and turn it into electricity etc. etc… This is a bigger topic than this particular article but I hope this starts you thinking about the way this can all be used, controlled and abused to make your music wonderful.

A few recommendations for “great sounding” plug-ins.

Although we may be well on the way to an emulation-perfection-wonderland, there are already some notable and usable plugins you can get your hands on right now:

U-he DIVA

If there is one thing I can say about DIVA it’s that it was one of the first VST synthesizers which started to have that thicker hardware tone, thick and warm. Although not the finished article it was definitely a step up and towards that feeling you get from playing a real synth through a desk etc. We did a more in-depth look at it HERE. Well worth checking out.

One of the biggest innovations in DIVA was the Zero delay feedback filters, which seemed to give a massive improvement to the sound that you get when working with its filter. They developed a system that works around the fact that any interactions within a vst – like feedback on a filter – have a delay in the digital realm due to the way a computer processes things and that badly affected how older vsts sounded. The filter of course being a massively important tone shaping part of any analogue synthesizer.

Bootsies Plug-ins

These plug-ins are free, but unfortunately for windows only. Definately worth checking out none-the-less. Bootsie is pushing his idea of stateful saturation which emulates a lot of the tube like and transitor like distortions we discussed above. You know what it sounds damn good too; he has added various controls for changing and shaping the type of distortion his equipment offers to give you a lot of options within each plug-in. Sterling work for a free plug-in maker who is outdoing a lot of the big companies in terms of the sonics. Read more here

Nebula and it’s dynamic sampling

Nebula takes a different approach to using traditional impulse response ideas and adding in the dynamic nature we find missing in a lot of the static emulation models we find in the digital world. Impulse responses are of course by default, static, a snapshot in time. But by taking many of them at different levels you can build a much more realistic picture of how a hardware piece sounds in a particular state. Although this is a massively intensive calculation and takes a hell of a lot of cpu for the real great sounding ones. This technique at the moment is by far the closest to a 1:1 emulation in my opinion. Using the inherent knack digital has of being able to fully capture sound and then switching dynamically through this depending on the input to create the change in your audio is ingenious… it’s the best yet, but limited in terms of your control over the actual equipment and all that said – still not 100% just yet – there is still something missing. They are improving their code all the time of course. One thing I like about this method is that you will be sampling in the whole chain of equipment when sampling for nebula. So thats pre-amps, channels, A/D and basically anything else you have in the chain in real life, so that alone gives you a bit more of a realistic snapshot of how the thing would actually sound in real usage, but inside your DAW. This is great stuff, and will give you the best chance at grabbing the sound of some amazing hardware right in your DAW at a fraction of the cost. So keep a beady eye on this. As computers get more powerful the big CPU hit becomes less of a problem too.  Check it out.

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Hybrid setups

A hybrid setup is the way to go in the modern era if you can! This gives you the best of both worlds if you are willing to do a little bit of extra work and if you’re really dedicated to this game then that extra work is all good fun for you. For me, this really is the best route. By all means dont feel bad if you can’t afford hardware, or have no space to put it, try to get there with plug-ins as far as you can and keep abreast of the latest tech, just knowing about how all this works and why it’s better, will stand you in a much better stead when it comes to your own work. It would be nice to say that your laptop can do as much as a million dollar studio, and in fact a lot of people do try to say that, but often it’s just hyperbole. The reality is: yes, you possibly could match up to it, but it would take you a long time and you would need a lot of knowledge that we just don’t have yet.

That’s fine, just reality. We can’t let emotions get into this analogue/digital argument; facts are more useful for us to push the science on never mind our music. You definitely should experiment with some hardware as soon as you get the chance, but if you’re perfectly happy with your software solution that’s also fine as no one is judging. I’m just trying to offer beneficial advice to get some sounds you might really like.

Digital is amazing and I don’t want anyone to think I am dissing it. You get clarity, you can reproduce it identically time after time, there is no wear, instant recall etc. etc. It’s an incredible thing it really is a modern marvel. It would be naive of us to think that it was innately musical though, as we have discussed – music relies on imperfections that were picked by humans with a musical ear and noted as musical so they became used more and more. My main point has to be, what if we could take all that inherently musical world of GOOD analogue equipment and apply it to the inherently accurate world of digital? That would be amazing right!

How to set it up.

Pairing a mixing desk and some synths and drum machines, alongside a DAW. This has the many benefits of both formats, it takes a little extra work, but it’s totally worth it. You can pick and choose between your sources; do you need a bit of vibe and a bit of noise or driving the pre-amp to shape the tone? Or, do you need ice-cold clarity of digital? Choices are always good and things you can work with to sculpt a sound – and by setting up as I explain below that’s what you get.

Grab a sound card with 8 or more outputs the more the merrier when you want to work in a hybrid environment, you could run all the outputs to the channels on the desk, using it to mix down and work with the audio from your DAW alongside any synths or drum machine you have coming into other channels. This is basic idea of using it as a summing mixer, you have all your audio and midi sequenced in your copy of Ableton, logic or whatever and then just set up as many output busses in your software as you need to send the audio to the channels on the desk. Of Course running the 2 buss stereo output from your desk into a couple of your soundcard inputs so you can record the resulting analogue mixdown, it also makes it easy to quickly run things through the desk and record it back into your arrangement but keep your mix totally ITB if that’s what it needs.

You could do the same in reverse if you want to bring a lot of stuff in to record into your DAW, you could do the same in reverse taking your synths into the channels on the desk and then onwards through your sound cards inputs… recording everything into the DAW just like a tape machine where you can edit and automate, change and arrange things using all the benefits of the digital domain. As we discussed above, digital is perfectly able to capture that analogue goodness once the audio has it, so this really can be the best of both worlds. So if you chose to have your desk on the way out to sum things up and then records a stereo stems from, or on the way in recording individual tracks or stems into your DAW you will still capture the analogue sound you need to get. Unless you record at 8-bit then all bets are off.

It’s always good to have a couple of your outputs that go straight to the monitors too bypassing everything so you can have a set of completely clear channels for your monitors, a lot of the modern multi output sound cards come with quite capable and musically neutral internal mixer set-ups which work with no latency, which should let you set it up as follows.

Set your main outs 1-2 send these directly to your monitors and remember this chain is only as good as its weakest link so don’t skimp, you will be using this as you window on hearing exactly what you are doing so its important it sounds good. Send the rest of your outputs (3-12 for example) to the channels on the desk so you have 10 channels or more of analogue desk and any other kit you then patch in at that point available in your DAW. Next you want to take the main outputs or sub buss output depending on your desk and how you want it, you want to take them back into your sound card so you can record your final mixdown, but you also want the inputs coming back from the desk going straight out to you monitors on the main outs 1-2. This way you have your crystal clear direct outputs, but you also hear everything that goes through the desk on those outputs. This is really useful especially for comparing the difference between sending something straight from your DAW, and after it’s been through the desk. Plus if you don’t want to use the desk, and want that extra clarity you just route a channel straight to 1-2.

That really is just one example of hybrid mixing situation, but once you get some kit I am damn sure you will find a 100 more ways of making shit happen, and that’s the beauty of it.

I won’t even go into the more tangible ideas of the benefits of actually touching the equipment your making music with as to be honest that’s an absolute no brainer to anyone whose writing music. In this blog I wanted to stick to the audio side and why that’s interesting and important all on its own. So let’s stop this analogue v digital thing, they are both fundamentally different concepts, grand in their own ways, and if you don’t accept that you are a poop head ;-) ner ner

Remember we are humans, not robots, and THIS is music not business. The goal isn’t to do it most efficiently or with the most convenience. I write these blogs because I want to help you write your own original music and I want it to sound great when I hear it. You could say this is an entirely selfish objective but who wouldn’t want the world to sound better around them.

There is nothing wrong with digital, our fellow artists, engineers and designers from the past have found a lot of musical stuff over the years using only their ears. Don’t get caught up in the “one versus the other” argument, there is no versus – it all contributes.

Analogue + Digital


6 Comments

  1. justin james June 27, 2013 Reply

    such an excellent article – perfect as both a primer for the noobs, and some excellent clarification for the mid-levels… nice one.

  2. Colin June 27, 2013 Reply

    Great article! or at least the two-thirds that I read. I really think you should’ve broken this up to keep your audience interested. I’m sorry, but after the first 16 paragraphs, my head was hurting. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good article. Just that it’s so technical and so long.

    • Antonio Monllor
      Antonio June 28, 2013 Reply

      Thanks for the support and your suggestions Colin, we will certainly take them into account. Hopefully you can manage the remaining third after some sleep :)

  3. Matthew Sargeant Author
    Matthew Sargeant June 28, 2013 Reply

    Hey Colin,

    We did actually consider it, but figured the flow and info all needed to be in one. There was no real place to split it in two and even if we did, people would still need to read both parts. It’s a vast subject and this only really took the cream off the top of it really, definitely will be revisiting some aspects in even more details in future blogs as there really is lots more tips to share, so keep um peeled!

  4. kavide October 19, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the nice article, just wanted to show some appreciation.
    I also like making music in a hybrid environment.
    Never throw away your old hand tools !!!