So I met one of my favorite bands of all time last Friday. They are called the Futureheads.  They hail from Sunderland in the northeast of Britain.  They played at Kilby Court in Salt Lake City. If you’ve been there, you know it is basically a shed in an old industrial area of the city. The two support bands for the tour got lost and were and hour late, so I got an hour to get to know the band.  They were unassuming and enjoyable to chat with. If you want to download one of their songs for free, click this picture:

Hang in there, this isn’t just a post from a crazed fan-boy.  I am going somewhere with this.

I had the whole band sign a vinyl record version of their new album, “The Chaos”.  As soon as I got home, I put it on my record player and sat there and listened to the whole thing all the way through.

What is it about records that catch my ear? I found myself noticing nuances that I hadn’t heard in the mp3 version of the album (which I had already listened to dozens of times).

Part of it, I admit, has to do with the nostalgia of pulling a record out of its sleeve, putting it on the spindle, and watching it spin around and around.  But there are also other reasons why some prefer the sound of records over CDs and mp3s.

The main difference between these media is that records are analog sound reproductions while CDs and mp3s are a digital representation.

So what does that mean?  Imagine a sound wave as a curve like this:

Analog and Digital Waves

The first would be the analog sound. Notice it is smooth and accurate. The second curve is a digital approximation of the first. It is basically the same thing, but it is obvious that the “stair-stepping” effect, known as aliasing, will not sound exactly the same as the original sound source.

Whether analog or digital music sounds better is really up to personal taste and thus it is an eternal debate.  In my opinion, a record has a warmer, more musical sound that I am much more likely to sit down and listen to.  But I am open to hear arguments in favor of digital sound’s supremacy.