Features and Columns · Movies

The Pros and Cons of Analog vs. Digital Audio

Dedicated hardware or everything “in a box”? Here’s a look at why this age-old debate is about more than “what sounds better.”
Analog Digital Sound Blow Out
Filmways Pictures
By  · Published on January 29th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the difference between analog and digital audio.

If you’re a frequent reader of this column, you’ve undoubtedly heard me use the phrase “technical perspective” before. I personally love learning about the more fiddly facets of filmmaking from folks with a professional grip on the field. And while I’ve certainly framed videos in the past as being more tech-heavy than others, today’s video absolutely blows its peers out of the water.

The image part of the moving image has a bit of a vice grip on our imaginations, as film lovers. Celluloid, lenses, and dolly tracks are tangible and even fetishized aspects of filmmaking. This is an assumption, and I’m sure there are exceptions, but I’d venture a guess that the vast majority of casual cinephiles are more familiar with the sight part of filmmaking than the sound. Which is a bit bananas, considering the obvious, undeniable importance of sound design.

The following video essay is targeted towards folks with a deeper understanding of audio engineering. But I believe dirty casuals (myself included) would do well to dive into the deep end and give the following a watch. The video unpacks a debate (which has its parallel in cinematography): digital vs. analog audio. The essay approaches the subject beyond the general sticking point of the argument (namely: which sounds better). Ultimately, the video argues that it is, in the end, not about “what’s better” so much as “what’s appropriate” from a variety of perspectives. This video may be a bit out of your comfort zone. But I’d encourage you to listen up, nonetheless. Enjoy!

Watch “Analog vs Digital Audio: More Than Just Sound Quality”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the difference between analog and digital sound is by Alex Knickerbocker, an audio expert who makes incredible educational videos on YouTube. A working sound designer, you can subscribe to Knickerbocker’s YouTube channel here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).