Apr 1st, 2021 | Tom Talks

DIGITAL VS. ANALOG: WHAT HAVE WE LOST? Things are different now: movies, music, and television, are all digital, streaming, on-demand experiences with no physical properties such as album covers or lyric sheets, videotapes or records. Should we care?

What do you think? Tell Tom: tom@blowmeuptom.com.



Submitted by John Nett on

Technically, analog was an equipment intensive venture. I had two reel to reel tape recorders, one for playback and one for dubbing, a cassette recorder so I could have music in the car. Two turntables, Dolby noise reduction units to help remove the annoying tape hiss--at the expense of the high frequencies, large Bose speakers, four of them for anyone who remembers Quadrophonic Sound also known as 4 channel. Receivers, tuners and amplifiers. Shelves of reel to reel tape, cassette tape, and hundreds of vinyl record albums.
When VCRs came out they brought more hardware, playback and dubbing decks, more shelves of tape. The format wars, Beta vs VHS was a thing. They served their purpose at 480 dpi the standard resolution of analog TV.
So much equipment and media to store. It took up a lot of space, valuable living space. During that era, to me, that is what it took and that is the way it was for 25 years. In the early 90s the digital age appeared. That meant CDs and Laserdiscs and their respective players. More equipment and media storage-- just more STUFF. It reminded me of George Carlin's bit about STUFF and how you gotta get a bigger place just to put your stuff.
Instead of getting a bigger place to put my stuff I eventually got rid of all my analog equipment and media through collectors on Craig's List, second hand record stores, and friends. After that I never physically owned content, no vinyl or tapes. I did however keeps selected CDs as they are small and never wear out. I too prefer the clean look of minimal gear
With the advent of digital video and audio streaming, life got much more simple and clean. No analog sound distortions, ie record scratches and pops and no tape hiss. Audiophiles will say they prefer analog and the associated distortions to the remastered digital tracks. I think they are freaks.
I listen to Amazon Prime Audio all day long in the background. I get what I want no muss no fuss. Streaming on demand services just brought on a sigh of relief from me.

Emotionally, I have lost some special things, minor things really. The one thing that comes to mind is the loss of album cover art. Album covers used to be a big deal, a thing to behold. They were important to record companies, cover art artists, and consumers. Album covers were just plain cool things. When CDs arrived, the tiny images were less than impressive.

I have always been a radio guy. Before FM was deployed, AM was the deal, always playing at home, in the car, and at the lake, think "It's roll over time" the DJ would say to remind you not to get sunburned. AM radio: "Caller number 5 Name it and Claim it." AM radio filled my kid brain with what's happening and started my education of American music, even if a lot of it was bubblegum fluff. In the military I had a small pocket transistor radio and would listen to Radio Luxembourg, a major player in the European radio industry, until I fell asleep. I still remember their signoff tune.
With the advent of FM, the sound quality, the depth and clarity became fantastic. Frequency and signal to noise ratios were so much better, not to mention a discreet stereo signal. A perfect format for debuting an entire new album. My local station had a jock who once a week, at night, had a show called "New Album Evening where he would focus on a new release and it was just great.
Then in the last 8 or 9 years, the I Heart Medias and other slash and burners came to town and fucked shit up. I now have only one preset on my radio, a Classical station broadcast from the campus of Gonzaga University here in Spokane, GO ZAGS.

I believe the greatest improvement to television was the rollout of the 1080p digital format and its remarkable resolution of an uncompressed over the air signal.
What have we lost, analog vs digital. Nostalgia over album cover art maybe. That's all.

Right now I am enjoying two fingers of Jamesons and listening to Dave Brubeck's band play "Take Five." Cheers

Submitted by War-A-Tron on

Agree with you here - the best time to be alive is actually just now (pre COVID or even a year from now once hopefully COVID is gone) - we have the benefits of technology but not the automated robots yet which will replace our jobs that fund our lifestyle! :)

Submitted by cpk on

because today, you can get top-quality pot with no seeds or stems. The albums, especially the double-albums were what we used to clean our weed. My favorite was "News of the World", Queen. Worked great. Now I don't go to record stores (of which there are few) but, I do go to the pot store and get high-quality chocolates. As for radio contests, I could never win any of those because my parents were too cheap to upgrade their rotary dial phone. So if the radio station had lots of 0s and/or 9s, it just took too damn long to dial.

Submitted by jlem6286 on

The only thing I think was better before was video games. Instead of having a complete game on a disc or cart you are downloading big files (even with a physical disc never mind if they take the servers offline you have an unplayable game)