Analog vs Digital

By a show of hands, who out there believes that records sounds better than CDs? Seems we have lots of people out there that do a great job of following directions! You can put your hands down now… Please, you look a little silly…

I’ve heard the argument for and against each case. CDs are better because there is no imperfection from the needle and everyone knows how cool lasers are. Albums are better because they are designed to recreate the music exactly as performed, imperfections and all. 

Here is my understanding of why people don’t like digital reproductions: the digital “blocks” of data, regardless of how small, still can’t reproduce the high and low peaks of original recordings. My ears are not that finely tuned so the argument is wasted on me. The concept, is not. The concept is similar to what we boozers experience when we begin to thaw. It is a magically terrifying time in early sobriety.

One of the reasons we alcoholics drink is to escape or numb reality. I think one thing we can all agree on is that reality has some pretty extreme highs and lows and being able to experience them in CD format is preferable at times. The trick with our “conversion device” aka booze, is that the small doses it takes to modify the live performance we know as life, increase as time goes by and the recording studio we record our lives in is full of delicious filters. Reducing things to square blocks of data allows us to cope with the noise. The problem is, we also lose bits of data along the way, causing more extreme highs and lows until eventually, we drag the needle off the record, begging for peace and quiet. Sometimes, horrifically, the plug to our record player is ripped from the wall permanently. I never realized how many “artists” this disease claims…

But this is not a sad post! Nope, it’s one of observation and revelation! There are new, high tech devices that have been recently discovered in the last 70+ years to help us combine digital and analog into a symphony of living a great life. See how I used recently and 70+ years in the same context for some levity???

People are gifted and cursed with a variety of exaggerated senses. This is something we share with you normals. I say exaggerated as opposed to heightened on purpose. Heightened makes it sounds like we have super powers. (Yes, I know you have super powers but I’m trying to keep your secret identity safe!)

Some people have an ear for music. They can tell if the violin is a Stradivarius or a cheap knock off. Thousands of dollars are spent on equipment to reproduce sounds that most of us wouldn’t hear much less appreciate. “The reed in the tenor sax in second chair cracks about half way through this crescendo.” Probably bullshit but I couldn’t tell there was more than one sax so…

That level of sensory awareness, that reed-cracking pick up, is what starts to happen when we quit drinking and begin to thaw out. It’s beautiful and painful at the same time. Memories start seeping back in to the forefront of our consciousness. The memories are not just bad ones that we’ve forcefully suppressed, some are fantastic ones, that we’ve suppressed. The record player starts playing…room quiet, volume up and the needle hits the vinyl. That hiss-pop sound crackles through the speakers as the needle catches the groove and away we go.

My son played T-ball when he was little and I helped coach the first year. Coaching T-ball at that age is mostly keeping the kids from digging holes in the outfield and chasing butterflies around the bases. So damn cute! The end of the season came and the other coach and I bought trophies for all of the players. My kid was so proud of that trophy. The memory of him getting that trophy and jumping into my arms was so wonderful and so overwhelming. I had to pick the needle off the record on that one. So intensely good but so much guilt for the things I missed out on. I got my act together and tried to put the needle back where I picked it up. I wanted to finish the song but as with all broken down record players, the needle moved to a different part of the groove.

My daughter was three or four. Sitting on the floor in the living room coloring and singing. Her mom grabbed me out of the office to listen. The song went something like this, “Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy…”, on and on. Happiest little girl in the world singing about her daddy. Two perfect “songs” ruined by their intensity. How frustrating it is to finally get these memories back but have them be so vivid that they leave you in tears…

It’s hard to explain how such happy thoughts can be so crushing. Oh, I forgot to mention that they don’t happen in the quiet solace of your home. Not in the beginning. They happen whenever that piece of your booze soaked brain repairs itself. You don’t get to pick. I guess the closest I can get to an explanation for you normals is try to remember a time where you’ve been working tons of hours and are mentally and physically exhausted and you start drifting back to good and bad times. Wishing you could replay the good tunes or rewrite the bad ones. Now multiply that times 100.

Here’s the good news. CD technology is improving! I can indulge in those super good memories in smaller, less intense data blocks of melodic goodness. If it gets to be too much, I can hit the pause button and pick up where I left off later. Now I have an “AA equalizer” to help ease the highs and lows and fill in the mid range that alcohol used to occupy. Every album comes with some shitty songs and that won’t change but now that I’m converting my records to CDs, I have more control of the music library. I can experience a little of the yucky song or skip it all together and do each with a bit more precision. It takes effort but now it can be done. The Old Timers are incredibly accomplished musicians and are teaching me how to listen to the songs of my life instead of just hearing them. The coolest part is now I get to write a soundtrack that I can be proud of.

Stay sturdy. 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Great post. I love the concept too. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Derek Chowen says:

      Thank you, sir! Appreciate you taking time to read it AND follow up. Stay Sturdy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome Stuff Derek – Stay Sturdy !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Derek Chowen says:

      Thanks, Ferg! Always love hearing from you, sir. Your notes help people sail on. Stay Sturdy!


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