In our ongoing discussion on the power of words, a comment was made that gave me a bit more insight into this fascinating subject. If I say to you 'that sounds digital' or, 'that sounds live', you may get a different meaning than that which I intended to convey. For example, I have heard vinyl reproduced on an entirely analog system that I would describe as sounding 'digital'. Yet, in an all analog system, that term is inaccurate, despite the fact it conveys a meaning we all kind of understand. Terminology tends to stick once it becomes part of the popular lexicon. The first digital systems were harsh, had glare, loss of ambiance and missing upper harmonics. These negative attributes were lumped together as sounding 'digital'. In the same way 'analog' came to be associated with the tubey warm sound of tape with its rolled off highs, truncated bass and dynamics. Thus, when we hear a system sounding sweet and open sans any glare or harshness, this becomes an 'analog' sound - even if it were digitally reproduced. I think the real issues comes down to a basic mistake we make. Assigning a technical term to describe an emotional reaction. Therein lies the true problem. Had we chosen 'musical' and 'amusical' or 'sweet' and 'harsh' to describe the more general feeling we get, then we're not placing blame for a result on a technology; like saying something tastes 'artificial' (a term derived from the artificial flavoring industry) when trying to describe that which does not meet our expectations for taste. We seem to make this basic error a lot in our industry and I fear it comes at a price. I will personally try and fix my own lexicon to make this less of a problem.
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