Back in the day (don’t you love that expression) when the digital revolution was launched, we were all told: “Digital files contain only 0’s and 1’s, and since a 0 is a 0 and a 1 is a 1 – all digital files sound the same.” This was a particularly exciting prospect for us in the music industry where analogue tape transfers and mix-downs wreak havoc on sound quality.
Over time, however, it became apparent that “digital” did not mean “identical” sound. This became an issue of contention between those who heard digital audio changes and those who continued to believe digital was synonymous with an exact “clone”.
Fast forward to a recent recording project we finalized with the “Master” Masterer – Bernie Grundman. During the session we commented to Bernie that, as usual, even the simple transferring of our digital master in and out of an editing program caused changes in the character of the sound. (Most projects involve numerous digital transfers and multiple studios posing no problems for the “all digital is the same” believers, but for the rest of us….)
Bernie absolutely agreed that such was always the case and he definitely heard what we heard (not crazy yet), which lead to the 3 of us commiserating.
In the process, a discussion ensued traversing the many pitfalls of maintaining a constant digital sound, from CD burners, software, digital filters, converters, computers and CD burning speeds, to manufacturing and the many different CD brands. (Wow! Someone else actually hears the difference between Sonys and TDKs.)
In the end, the mastering session was successfully completed. But – the catharsis of the conversation? That was ‘Audio Therapy!’