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Moby Thinks Humans Are Born Knowing Vinyl Is Better

Today, legendary electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre hosted a panel discussion on Facebook Live featuring himself, Julia Holter, Little Boots, Moby, and Hans Zimmer, seemingly in honor of Jarre’s recent Grammy nomination for 2015’s Electronica 1: The Time Machine.

The 70-some-minute discussion covered a lot of ground, but a significant amount of time was devoted to a roundtable consideration of the benefits of hi-fi music listening. Basically: Everyone likes their music hi-fi, especially Hans Zimmer, but Holter still puts on CDs. Moby–perhaps the panel’s most loquacious participant–rhapsodized about the vinyl renaissance he’s been having recently, and the joys of sitting down and listening to the entirety of Goat’s Head Soup without texting or anything. “Maybe it’s the ritual of putting on the record…the commitment,” Zimmer offered, to explain his own love of vinyl; “the vinyl party is better every time,” Little Boots declared.

This prompted a riled-up Moby to enter the fray once again with some strong comments about the “evolutionary” benefits of analog audio. Dig him on this:

There’s almost a potentially–there’s sort of like an evolutionary aspect to this. I was just researching–there was a study done where mothers–I don’t know if this is esoteric or relevant or not–but mothers and newborns were put in separate rooms, and were connected by video camera and monitor. And when it was real-time, the babies were happy. And then they introduced a delay of less than a thousandth of a second, and the babies started crying. Because they knew something was off.  And I would posit [Someone murmurs “Absolutely.”] that the difference between the most highest bit-rate digital and the analog wave of vinyl, like, a bit-rate–we always know that there are steps in there. [Another “Absolutely.”] That’s why I think, when people talk about the warmth of vinyl, we’re so accustomed–because we’re looking for emotional connection. So there’s just something–at least for me–there’s something that’s more authentic about it.

Needless to say, that quickly ended the vinyl discussion. In a cursory attempt to retrace Moby’s research and look for any writing about the potential effect of analog and digital audio on the temperament of infants, I came up with explainers about the benefits of analog versus digital baby monitors (signal interference, price tag, etc.), why analog watches help children who are learning fractions, and a study positing that infants innately “respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and find it more engaging than speech.”

I also found a couple of pieces that maybe Moby should read and consider, and a few op-eds that he could have reasonably written. “[Music is] about soul..it’s supposed to connect with people, get their juices flowing or get them up on their feet and dancing. Analog-sourced music does that stuff better than digital,” says one. “Life may be growing more digitized…But the richness of analog is irreplicable, and I think that people, consciously or not, are naturally drawn to this distinction of real,said another.

I could not locate the study Moby read about babies and delayed video (please send it along if you do, reader), or any babies who have gone on record saying they prefer the original LP of Baby Beluga to the shoddy CD transfer. However, I am still searching.

Begin around 1:07:22 below to witness Moby in action.