Monday, December 13, 2010
ANALOG vs DIGITAL – SOME THINGS NEVER GET OLD
Every once in a while I seem to have a deja vu. However, what initially appears to be a deja vu usually turns out to be a repetition of the very same thing, namely a discussion about analog dj'ing vs digital dj'ing. I personally think people should stop wasting so much time on this subject. If the music sounds good and makes people dance why does it matter whether it is vinyl, CD, Traktor, Serato, Ableton, or any other format. While I personally prefer to use Traktor with timecoded vinyl, whenever I get the opportunity to play some music, I do not really care what medium DJs use as long as the tracks, their order, and the transitions appeal to me as a listener. The statement that everyone can become a DJ these days is only partially true. While everyone should easily be able to sync up tracks with Traktor or Ableton, no one will move on to become a skilled DJ, if she or he has no clue about song structure, EQing, etc. Track selection and judgment of what to play at the right moment will always require musical knowledge and experience. Vinyl is an art form but tunes make a party. While I agree that vinyl sounds better - in my experience the bass is not as heavy and clean under the digital format - there are a few advantages that DJs who use the digital medium seem to find important. Two factors could be cost and availability as vinyl is (i) more expensive but also (ii) harder to get by. One should also not forget that many of today’s artists would have not been able to succeed before the digital format took over. While we take it for granted that most equipment is relatively cheap and readily available that is obviously not the case in all parts of the world. Last week I was reading an article on Beatportal, where Barem was making exactly that point. His words: “Ever since the digital revolution happened, when, for example, the so-called minimal techno group of Argentineans started traveling the world, everything became possible for a lot of artists. In fact, some of the European purists who hate MP3’s and digital DJing often don’t realize how hard it was in countries like this to succeed before the digital format took over.” I dare to make a prediction even if it means that I might offend all the vinyl purists: There will be less and less people buying and playing records. This is something inevitable and probably even natural. There must always be a progression. Young kids growing up will always want to use the most cutting edge technology. This was the case before the digital revolution when two Technics 1200 turntables were considered cutting edge, this is also the case today and will be the case in the future. The subject appears to be more important to DJs anyways and not so much to the party crowd or how could one explain that Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos came in first and second in the annual Resident Advisor reader poll, the former being known for his digital set-up and the latter being an absolute vinyl supporter. I guess in the end it is the overall experience that matters and like mostly in life it is not important how we get to a desired outcome but that we get to it. We should consider the development the next step rather than the end of something.