Where's the strong preference for analog video?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Lounge' started by CJ, May 15, 2007.

  1. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    Serious question, there is a contingent out there that vastly prefers analog audio to digital. They cite digital grain, lack of warmth or fullness, or say it sounds chopped up. Lets say for the sake of argument that they are not just being elitist audiophiles or nostalgic crazies, why is there no large group of people lambasting digital video? Are people less sensitive to it, is it not an issue, our are eyes that much different from our ears? I've never seen anyone rail on digital video or be dismissive of it the way some people are of digital audio, classifying it as fundamentally flawed. What gives?
  2. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll HTT Refugee Donor War Zone Member

    I'm not sure the comparison is valid. Video is the sense you're referring is a transmission standard. All video suffers from degradation in transmission, but in analog the picture really does look worse. In digital the picture just goes away once it drops below a specified threshold. Also, analog video has never been treated the same way as analog audio, there really wasn't a major enthusiast community that made a big deal about absolute picture quality. Keep in mind that until 10 years ago VHS, a 240i format, was the dominant consumer storage medium. Laser disc had a much better picture, but a very small following. It wasn't until DVD that home video could even consider approaching film like quality.

    However, if you want to compare 480i to 480i, in some cases standard definition 480i digital video isn't any better than analog 480i and may be worse. Pixelation, macro-blocking, CUE and jaggies are strictly digital problems. Analog has snow, poor color redition, poor edge definition, etc, but these may not always be worse than digital artifacts. The difference is that in analog those flaws are inherent in the medium, in the digital format thos flaws are authoring, production or mastering errors. IOW, studio error. But it's kind of moot, most people don't watch digital 480i, they watch digital HD, either 720p or 1080i. And even when they do watch 480i, the quality these days is far better than it originally was.

    In the end it basically boils down to this: With analog video the issue was how much less bad you could make, because it was never "good". I suspect the only reason it was tolerated was because there wasn't anything better available to the mass market.
  3. Pete Apruzzese

    Pete Apruzzese New Member

    Well, the early days of DVD were filled with discs that showed major compression artifacts (and players as well). There were a lot of people complaining (I was one of them) hoping that there was room for improvement, which there was obviously.

    But you're right that there is almost nobody citing that analog video is better. The best analog, though, is 35mm or 70mm motion picture film and it still far outclasses digital video of any format. :)
  4. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Top Poster Of Month

    Dan is right, the comparison is not valid. Audio and video are two entirely different things and are perceived and interpreted entirely differently by the human senses. We much more easily forgive and overlook errors in visual information than we do to errors in sound information. It is a legacy of genetics and (gasp) evolution that our ears are more attuned to details than are our eyes. In general.
  5. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Admin War Zone Member

    Thanks guys.
  6. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Top Poster Of Month

    Another comment is that there has never been any genuinely excellent home analog video formats and we have been restricted until very recently to relatively low-resolution display technology. As Pete mentions the only genuinely excellent analog visual formats are film, and the vast majority of home theaters have never displayed film. If we had the ability to do that, then we might have an outcry against ALL video formats, not just the digital ones. Film FAR outclasses even HD video formats. :)
  7. Chris Slade

    Chris Slade Active Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    I'm uneducated I guess, but why the love for film? What makes film better? Under what viewing conditions?
  8. Buzz Goddard

    Buzz Goddard New Member

    And then there is the weirdness of this: I like my video output analog so I can have control over where I watch it. I like my audi digital so I can have control over where I hear it.
  9. Jerry Pease

    Jerry Pease New Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    Hi Pete, knowing you as long as I have I now better than to argue over that point with you :)

    But I will say in the typical "multiplex" theaters run by teenagers that exist where I reside I have to say from a overall presentation DLP does a more consistent job than any analog presentation during the entire cycle of a movie. Therefore, it is my conclusion that digital is better than analog.

    Now, I lived around the theater you managed I am sure my opinion would be the exact opposite.

  10. Jerry Pease

    Jerry Pease New Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    I agree.

    In addition, at the end of the day the speakers (drivers) are device that function in the analog realm. Today's video displays are digital.
  11. Jerry Pease

    Jerry Pease New Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    hehehe, you are a trouble maker. :)
  12. Chris Slade

    Chris Slade Active Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    I'm I the only one who can see my post?
  13. brianca

    brianca New Member

    I have a preference for analog video. I'd much rather see something in a nice theater than at home on a digital set. I think there's something to be said for avoiding D to A conversions where possible. Since both seeing and hearing are analog senses, I prefer to keep things in the analog arena where possible. Of course, that's not always possible.


    My bottom line is that sight is analog by nature. Anything digital is just an approximation of the real thing.
  14. Dan S.

    Dan S. New Member


    Film has more resolution than any consumer available format. Plus no compression artifacting. They don't exactly rent 35mm reals at Blockbuster, so not too much of an option for any of us- except Peter A. :wink:
  15. Pete Apruzzese

    Pete Apruzzese New Member

    Hi, Jerry.

    You are quite correct that a typical multiplex showing is often likely to be unimpressive. Light levels not set up to industry specs, blown speakers, dirty/cloudy lenses, and not enough training are all part of it.

    Sadly, even the studios contribute to this problem due to their practice of quickly making thousands of high-speed prints (meaning that shot-to-shot color correction and exposure timing is not being done). These high speed prints often exhibit poor color and stability issues. If you've ever seen an image wavering from side to side for portions of a showing, that's almost always poor printing (if it was unsteady for the whole film, that's a mechanical problem in the booth).

    As much as I'm a "film is best" guy, I hope for the future of the industry that they get digital "right" before it gets widely installed.

    Chris Slade -
    Didn't mean to ignore your post. As indicated by some of our fellow posters, I have a lot of experience dealing with 35mm film prints on a theater screen (and in many home installations as well). While I'm a big fan of DVD and home theater, I would still rather see a well-projected film print. The impact is, for me, much greater due to the larger and clearer image that is generally free from the type of artifacts you can get with DVD and some HD.

    If more people had been exposed to 70mm film prints derived from large format negatives, there would really be no debate at all. :)
  16. Adil M

    Adil M New Member

    I agree w/ the part about audio being closer to our hearing threshold than video.

    I have had issues w/ DVI and some HDMI inputs on older displays: earlier gen Plasmas and LCD RPTV.

    Most displays currently do a good job w/ HDMI when they work ;).
  17. I too am one who prefers analog display technology to digital... but, what good does my desire or preference do me or anyone? If you can't buy it, then there's nothing to prefer anyway. Has anyone tried to find a CRT based HDTV lately? IMO, the elimination of analog display technology is a rare example where an industry advance resulted in consumer options at a reduced performance level versus what was available previously.
  18. Buzz Goddard

    Buzz Goddard New Member

    You may prefer the look of an analog CRT but HD-DVD and Bluray to a good digital display can provide a better image then any prior consumer analog video.

    OTOH, you statement would certainly be appropriate if one looks at the iTunes store...
  19. Chris Slade

    Chris Slade Active Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    Large screen size is a plus for film. What I am wondering about is the stuff I see at the theather. Lint or stuff on the lens maybe, the dust in the air (crap on the actual film). All the stuff that causes black marks in the projected image. Are these things not sort of the same as artifacts and suck that we get with other displays. And those markers in the top right corner etc.
  20. Buzz,

    What would you consider a "good digital display" and is your statement specific to HD-DVD and BR?

    I ask because I have yet to see a digital display(although they are getting better) which looks as good as the good older CRT based displays when it comes to watching fast action HDTV. I can't talk to how they'd look if being fed a HD-DVD image of that same fast action, but I can't imagine that the identical content would look different based on coming in via a QAM digital tuner or via the HDMI input? Other than that, black levels aren't quite there yet either... from what I've seen.

    Which specific digital HDTV looks and performs better than a comparably priced CRT HDTV? Maybe I just haven't seen the right digital HDTV yet?

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