Ever since the advent of the compact disc and the widespread consumer access to digital audio it brought, people have wondered if digital audio could ever adequately replace its analog predecessors.As downloadable and streaming digital formats have grown in prevalence and complexity, the discussion has only grown louder, with many die-hard analog "purists" decrying the loss of musical soul that they say particularly lacking in modern digital audio formats.But I'm not here to argue against or for the purists. Instead, let's explore the demands of a scenario in which digital sound could equal, and perhaps even surpass, analog sound. And the answer to the question "could digital audio ever surpass analog?" actually has two parts.We're about to massively enter the world of math and science, so hang in there!
Continuous or discrete signalsFirst of all, it is important to C级执行名单 understand exactly what is the difference between analog sound and digital sound.Analog sound uses an ever-changing audio signal ; meaning that the pressure fluctuations transmitted to a loudspeaker from its signal are (at least ideally) an exact reproduction of the original sound at all times.
Digital sound , on the other hand, is made up of a series of discrete steps in its audio signal that change quickly enough to give the illusion of a continuous signal when fed to a loudspeaker. It's very similar to how a video is made from a series of still images that scroll by fast enough to give the illusion of fluid motion (hence the original phrase "moving images") .So, in effect, digital sound attempts to approximate the continuous signal of analog sound. If the discrete stages of digital sound change frequently enough, and if the stages themselves can be close enough to each other in level, then the resulting approximation is close enough to a continuous analog signal to fool our ears and brains.Discrete vs Continuous Signal resolutionThe cycle speed of the discrete steps in a digital sound signal is known as the sample rate. The difference in level between each step is determined by the total number of potential steps, called the bit depth.