From the film The Rock
(Goodspeed's Beatles album arrives at the office)
Goodspeed: Oh yes! Bring it here!
Isherwood: Why did you have it sent here?
Stanley Goodspeed: Carla wouldn't approve. She thinks it's stupid to spend $600 on an LP.
Isherwood: Carla's right. Why didn't you just spend $13 on a CD, man.
Stanley Goodspeed: First of all, it's because I'm a Beatlemaniac. And second, these sound better.
While the compact disc is not the center of your digital world, or even the catalyst that started the digital audio revolution, it may very well be the apogee that led to the crux of the debate between those who favor digital preservation of sound and those who embrace analog recordings. There is also the digital vs film debate made most impressive by George Lucas' recent advancements. Although sound advancements came before video.
Though hard for some Compact Disc Digital Audio enthusiasts to believe, a defiant minority of music lovers still cling to the belief that digital is not an improvement on sound quality. Proponents of analog insist that digital audio loses the nuances of recordings, leaving the sound harsh and cold. Most of these proponents are afficionadoes of vinyl recordings and can afford the $50K plus price of stereo sytems to reinforce their opinions.
Proponents of digital recordings believe them superior to analogous waveforms because digital recording devices leave no hiss or popping sounds to the playback, and they do a better job of reproducing dynamic variety, higher frequencies, and sudden subtle changes in original recordings. Utilizing digital to convert from analog is sometimes successful in removing pops and hisses made prevalent over time due to the quality of the recording media, and digital has a much longer shelf life due to it not being stored on media which is more susceptable to the elements. An average LP or cassette is very fragile in comparison to a hard drive or compact disc, and computer media last significantly longer in most cases. Moreover, being less fragile, digital recordings can theoretically be copied indefinitely onto other digital media without sound degradation or quality loss.
So on the level of sheer quality, digital enthusiasts win without question. Scientifically it's provable that analog recordings are not an improvement on digital. It's the other way around and that's what progress is all about. However, analog recordings harken back to a simpler time, and this nostalgic embrace of history is ultimately both the analog fan's saving grace and their Achilles' heel because it's an argument that elders and nostalgic hearts can appreciate, but most digital enthusiasts look at this argument the same way they might the touch tone vs rotary phone argument: why would anyone prefer the time-consuming rotary dial over modern convenience? Still, the most convenient thing about modern convenience is that both sides of the argument can win. Those who are fans of analogous music can simply use a Digital to Analog Converter and those who prefer modern media for storing their music collection can use a Analog to Digital Converter, and everyone lives happily ever after.