Thursday, 28 March 2019

Life Too, Has Surface Noise


All our TV channels are now digital, and we are continually told we need to upgrade to HD, Ultra HD, 4K etc. When you watch a normal channel you often get pixelation and digital drop out. I don't remember getting that with analogue TV, yes sometimes the picture might get fuzzy due to weather conditions or a problem with the ariel but it was never due to the general condition of the signal.

Similarly with sound, over the years we have been steered towards digital rather than analogue. One major benefit of digitally stored sound is it never deteriorates, but ironically with both music and film it has created a situation the things can be stolen and restolen, the original owner creates a digital item to sell, but once it is out in the world it can be stolen and shared and the originator gets nothing.  I have written about this before here.

I bought a GPO turntable and plugged it into a Samsung soundbar with subwoofer and thought it sounded OK but at times missed something. There were also issues with the amp dropping completely out for quiet passages. I listen to digital music on my Google Pixel phone and on my home network and that is fine, and listening to albums on DVD is satisfying as often visuals can be used to accompany the music (I'm thinking Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick".

However last night my friend Marek brought my new vintage record player (Period High Fidelity with Garrard Deck and it has a cassette recorder)  from RPM, and we set it up and when it's turned up it really does blow you away. The speakers contain woofers for bass and tweeters for treble and this enhances the sound so much that it comes from the same unit. The digital set up has dragged me away from this. Digital gives you incredible convenience, but analogue because it is a true curve gives a warmer, truer sound.

I posted some videos of the new set up on Instagram here

Yes the older and lower quality records have crackles and surface noise, but as John Peel said "Life Too, Has Surface Noise". I have been particularly impressed with the sound on my copies of "Dark Side of the Moon" and "What Time Is Love".

There is a place for both analogue and digital, although I do feel that analogue is more real and pleasurable , whereas digital is about experience and making money.

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