Disadvantages Of Analog Recording

Analog recording is basically a technique that is used for the recording of analog signals which, among many possibilities, allows analog audio for later playback…

Analog recording methods store analog signals directly in or on the media (e.g. tape).

The signal may be stored as a physical texture on a phonograph record, or a fluctuation in the field strength of a magnetic recording.

Analog transmission methods use analog signals in order to distribute audio content.

This is different compared to digital audio where an analog signal is sampled and quantized to produce a digital signal which is represented, stored and transmitted as discrete numbers.

This post will discuss some disadvantages of analog recording because it a question that many people around me have brought up.

With that said, here are the disadvantages of analogue recording.

Good analogue is expensive

One of the disadvantages or pretty much the downside to analog recording is that analogue gear it self is expensive.

With digital recording you get away with using inexpensive gear and actually get some good quality recordings.

If you really want to go the analog route you’ll need to have a sizable budget.

A great alternative is renting out a vintage style studio and recording straight to tape rather than going your own way to buy individual gear for analogue recording.

Average analogue recording equipment is not great

Another disadvantage that comes with analog recording is that you need expensive gear to get good quality.

Simply going for cheap average equipment because you can’t afford more expensive gear won’t solve the issue of quality.

And digital audio quality cannot be matched by use of cheap analog gear.

Cheaper analogue tape recorders suffer from distortion,

cross-talk, wow and flutter, and high levels of tape noise/hiss.

The main source of noise in most magnetic tape recorders are irregularities of tape motion past the recording…

The term flutter describes higher frequency variations and the term wow describes variations of a few hertz. 

Expensive gear does suffer from distortion but to a lesser extent.

Vulnerable to deterioration

As we’ve already established, analog gear is pretty expensive but another disadvantage is that it can also easily deteriorate.

Where as, digital recording relies on digital plugins that don’t have to be physically handled which means they can’t easily deteriorate.

This makes digital recording not only a cheaper alternative but a more durable one too.

So you might want to carefully consider your options before you spend a bunch of money on analog gear.

Tape is becoming increasingly hard to source

If you’ve ever gone shopping for vintage gear or anything old then you know how difficult it is to find vintage things.

In this day and age you can pretty much compare owning an analog tape machine to owning a classic car, with ongoing maintenance, scarcity of parts, and exotic fuel that’s expensive and pretty much hard to find.

You most likely will have to settle for digital plugins that try to replicate or mimic an analog tape machine….your second option is to simply rent a vintage style recording studio.

With that said, we can therefore agree that one of the downsides to analogue recording is that finding the analogue recording equipment itself is hard.

Tape recorders need constant maintenance

Unlike digital audio recording equipment which is a lot more durable and easier to maintain and doesn’t require much maintainence….analogue recording equipment requires constant maintainence.

Maintaining specialised vintage gear can cost you both money and time.

Linear format tape must be wound

One disadvantage of analogue recording is in the retrieval of data that is recorded on magnetic tape because locating a specific section when it forms part of a much longer recording is difficult.

Linear format tape must be wound or rewound to the location of

 the recording to be heard.

High noise floor

Analogue tape recording machines are known to give off a somewhat warm sound which is usually due to the high noise floor of these machines.

You basically need noise reduction systems to be able to control the noise which often times affects high frequency sounds.

Bulkier

With digital recording you don’t really need a lot of equipment to operate and record.

However, Analogue gear is heavier and more bulky which means that it may demand more space for storing and using.

Copying deteriorates sound

One of the biggest cons with analogue is that every time a copy of the audio is made from the original tape, the quality in sound deteriorates a little. This also applies each time the track is played.