Analog vs. Digital Sound Recording

In this article we will compare analog vs. digital sound recording, the two ways in which sound is recorded and stored. As we know the actual sound waves are made of variations in air pressure which are constant. Depictions of these signals can be recorded using two techniques- digital or analog. Let us look at analog vs. digital sound recording.

An analog sound recording is where the characteristic of a physical recording medium is made to fluctuate in a way which is analogous or similar to the variations in air pressure of the original sound. Usually, these variations in air pressure are first changed into an electrical analog signal. The instantaneous voltage or current produced is directly proportional to the instantaneous air pressure. These variations of the electrical signal are then changed over to variations in the recording medium with the help of a recording machine like a tape recorder or record cutter. The variable property of the medium is adjusted by the signal. For instance, the divergence of the groove of a gramophone disc from a smooth, flat spiral track or the magnetization of magnetic tape are the variable property of the medium. Let us move on with comparison of analog and digital sound recording.

A digital sound recording is created by changing the physical properties of the original sound into a series of numbers. These numbers are then be stored and read back for reproduction. Generally the sound is transmitted to an analog signal in the same way as for analog recording. Then the analog signal is changed to a digital signal or digitized.

An Analog-to-Digital converter, which is an electronic device, is either integrated into the digital audio recorder or it may be separate and attached between the recorder and the analog source. An electrical digital signal has variations stored in voltage and/or current which correspond to discrete numbers.

Hence we see that the main difference between analog and digital sound recording is that the analog signals are continuous in time, no matter how short a time period you consider, while the digital signal is distinct in time, which means that it has discrete parts following one after another with definite, unambiguous division points between them. These are called signal transitions. Comparing analog and digital sound recording, the precision of the conversion process in digital depends on the sampling rate and the sampling depth. In analog recording, the quality of playback depends significantly on the accuracy of the medium as well as the playback device.

We hope you found the above information on digital vs. analog sound recording useful.