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ANALOG / DIGITAL


In nature, changes (dynamics) occur gradually.  For example, when the sun rises, the darkest night does not suddenly flash full daylight but gradually gives way as the light increases.  Capturing something natural as it is changing requires a capturing device and a storage medium.

Capturing devices have been around for some time.  A camera lens will capture and focus light waves as a microphone will capture sound waves. But storage mediums have been changing.

Consider analog like a gradually rising hill where the entire slope of the hill is recorded.  Consider digital like a flight of stairs where only the edges of the steps (or zig-zag points if you looked at it sideways) are recorded.

Analog storage mediums physically (or chemically) store exact 1:1 representations of all the natural changes captured, complete with all in-between or fading parts.  Photographic film shows all of the colors that were captured during an exposure, and magnetic signals fluctuate exactly like the sound waves they represent.

Digital storage mediums store sliced representations of the natural changes captured, but ignores information that happens between the slices.  You can set the slices to be very close together, but still there are gaps between them.  You can even get more information for each slice to help you re-create a closer version of the original, but you still have those pesky gaps between the slices.

8-bit color contains 256 colors.  16-bit color contains millions and 24-bit color contains “more millions”.  Most people will think that a photo print will look more realistic using “more millions” of colors rather than only using 256.  Likewise, Digital audio sampled at 8-bit or 16-bit will not sound as realistic as 24-bit audio.

These days sample rates and bit depths have increased tremendously, but as the files generated get much bigger and require more processing power few people use them.