Digital vs. Analog

Digital vs. Analog

Well! There’s an argument that will never be settled! Yeah, I like analog. It sounds like us. We are not bionic people just yet. Throw in the fact that I do not hear as well as I used to and….analog wins. Obviously I see the advantages of being able to throw data in on top of your transmission. That’s cool stuff. Your location, your callsign, what you ate for lunch and all that. Of course, if anybody asked, I could simply¬†tell them, couldn’t I?

I know that if I do not change with the times, I will get left behind. Time marches on. I have adapted for the most part. Now, if digital audio quality on the airwaves will kindly catch up…

Do you remember how awful digital cellphones originally sounded? It was painful at times. Now we have multiple digital protocols, all fighting for dominance in the marketplace. It is likely that NONE will win, in the near future at least. My first digi radio was a D-Star radio, but that was long ago. Now I have System Fusion C4FM radios. It was more of a fluke than a vote of confidence. But, now that I am there, I will probably stay there. In fact, I have invested rather heavily in the technology. No, I am not saying it is better than any other method. Just like owning cars: I will own what suits me at the time. That usually boils down to ‘what dealer gives me the best deal at the time’. So, as far as the FM digital stuff goes, I am currently a Yaesu System Fusion guy.

I run WiRES-X on the VHF repeater and am planning on adding Allstar Link, which is an Internet link….more digital stuff. My UHF analog repeater has Internet linking via Allstar Link, and it sounds quite good. Chose a good codec and you get good results. However, I want to go back to that D vs. A argument again.

Simply put, I am far more likely to comprehend an analog transmission than a digital one. And as far as weak signals go, we usually find ourselves returning to analog means when the going gets tough. ? I thought digital was supposed to work better for us there. Well, on occasion it does, but not often. Very recently, a report was published in a respected amateur radio magazine about the results of a government/public interoperability exercise. In this report it was stated that plain language analog transmissions were superior to digital messaging. Imagine that! I complain regularly about the time it takes to send a few simple messages during our digital practice nets. Yes sir, analog has some distinct advantages.

So, once again we come to a stalemate. D vs. A. There is no clear winner. Digital messages can be stored and forwarded like analog messages, and analog messages are likely to be stored via digital means. The digital means give us far easier access to those messages, as well as just about everything else. Therefore, I won’t argue that digital methods are superior or inferior, EXCEPT TO SAY,¬† that I HEAR analog better. That’s pretty darned important.

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