The outstanding characteristics of vinyl vs digital - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been on a digital diet for the past 20 years. That being said, I'm interested to know what makes vinyl so attractive to some.

Specifically, I'm asking about the sound. What is it about the sound of vinyl that could draw someone away from digital (even partially)?

Is vinyl mostly a collector's hobby or is it really about a superior (in what ways?) medium?
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post #2 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 12:56 PM
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It's not superior. But it sounds nice. Instead of starting a flame war, why don't you listen to some vinyl and decide for yourself?

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #3 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 01:01 PM
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I don't even know where to start with that question ..

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post #4 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by michaelkingdom View Post

I've been on a digital diet for the past 20 years. That being said, I'm interested to know what makes vinyl so attractive to some.

Sentimentality.

For the uninitiated and naive: ignorance. The thrill of doing something really different.
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Specifically, I'm asking about the sound.

Audibly flawed in many ways. Pervasive jitter, harmonic distortion, and various mechanical noises.
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What is it about the sound of vinyl that could draw someone away from digital (even partially)?

For the uninitiated and naive: ignorance. The thrill of doing something really different.
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Is vinyl mostly a collector's hobby or is it really about a superior (in what ways?) medium?

People still ride horses. Heck, they canoe and enjoy riding in classic cars. They even walk for relaxation. But those methods of transportation melt away when there's some serious travelling to do.
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post #5 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been listening to a nice tt lately. Good arm. $300 stylus. A beginner audiophile setup if you will.

Aside from a slight brassy warmth, noise, pops and a mild lack of micro details, I don't detect any differences. Both digital and vinyl sound very good to me. Hardly worth a partisan war.

That's why I'm asking, because I don't detect massive differences.

Sorry for such a basic question! I really would to know if it's just "yesterbating" or a superior level in fidelity?

Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk 2
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post #6 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 02:05 PM
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Personally, I think most (but not all) CD's sound better than the same version on vinyl. But you do run into the occasional album where the vinyl mix wins. This is especially the case with some of the CD's that I bought in the mid 80's when they were first starting to churn them out en masse without paying as much attention as they should have to the sound quality. And there are the records that were never released on CD making vinyl your only choice if that's what want to hear.

I suspect the overlap (where the vinyl mix sounds as good as or even better than the equivalent CD) gets a bit larger with more high-end turntables and cartridges (which probably has a lot to do with why guys with really high end equipment tend to prefer it over digital.)

I don't listen to vinyl all the time; digital is just too convenient (and for me at least, usually sounds better). But there is something that is just more satisfying about the entire process of occasionally pulling out a record and playing it versus popping in a CD or playing a flac. There's a certain fascination about being able to use a Rube Goldberg-esque mechanical contraption to produce pretty high quality sound that I don't get with the 1s-and-0's version of the same music.
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post #7 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 02:08 PM
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Massive is in the ear of the beholder. There are all kinds of differences between the two, including the ones you mentioned. It al comes down to personal taste--and taste is highly influenced by factors other than sound quality. So just sit back and enjoy it!

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #8 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 02:13 PM
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I suspect it's true that the more you spend on your vinyl rig, the better vinyl sounds to you.

But there are several possible explanations for that. wink.gif

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #9 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 02:29 PM
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Also there are plenty of Loudness War victims where the vinyl version probably sounds a lot nicer than the digital one -- even with the additional surface noise and occasional snap-crackle-pop.
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post #10 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 02:52 PM
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^^agreed.

Digital is great, but all the superior benefits go out the window when record companies and producers squash the dynamics so much that it's virtually unlistenable. There's still some great sounding digital music out there but a lot of people just don't care anymore; that "anti HiFi" sound which the mainstream has taken over the past 15 years or so has gone too far IMO. I do get a laugh out of the so-called "vinyl revival" though!
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post #11 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, it really is amazing. I'm listening to Adele and I've got my digital and vinyl synced perfectly - switching back and forth.

At moderate listening volumes, I can hear little to no differences between the two mediums but there are some.

The center image of me TT is slightly bigger, the sound is a bit brassy and then there's the crackle n pop. Aside from that, they sound about the same.
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post #12 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 03:15 PM
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Aside from that, they sound about the same.
Well, if they're doing their jobs, they should, shouldn't they?

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post #13 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 03:32 PM
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I'd say that the difference is in the mastering.

Todays CDs (digitally released albums) are mastered with substantial dynamic compression and peak limitation to "sound as loud as possible". That's the mastering norm today. You sacrifice Dynamics and microdetails for loudness. With vinyle,, however, the objecive of mastering (to allow the Music beeing engraved in the plastics with as little alterations as possible) is still honored, because people who buy vinyl today are the ones that really care about sound quality.

As an examle, buy both the vinyl and the CD of my current local favourite duo, "First Aid Kit" (they're really good, so you won't be dissapointed).

The vinyl release sounds infinitley better than the CD/digital release. The vinyl has a decent dynamic range (15dB crest or so) where as the CD/digital is severely crippled from excessive compression and peak limitation. frown.gif

Bottom line is -from my (vast) experience- CD sounds inferior to vinyl soly because the CD has been messed up with dynamic compression beyond recognition.. It is sad that CDs are not allowed to show its true potential, and that vinyl releases are more often than not far superior in sound quality to CDs, just because the CDs are deliberately messed up more than vinyls...

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post #14 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hevi View Post

I'd say that the difference is in the mastering.
Todays CDs (digitally released albums) are mastered with substantial dynamic compression and peak limitation to "sound as loud as possible". That's the mastering norm today. You sacrifice Dynamics and microdetails for loudness. With vinyle,, however, the objecive of mastering (to allow the Music beeing engraved in the plastics with as little alterations as possible) is still honored, because people who buy vinyl today are the ones that really care about sound quality.
As an examle, buy both the vinyl and the CD of my current local favourite duo, "First Aid Kit" (they're really good, so you won't be dissapointed).
The vinyl release sounds infinitley better than the CD/digital release. The vinyl has a decent dynamic range (15dB crest or so) where as the CD/digital is severely crippled from excessive compression and peak limitation. frown.gif
Bottom line is -from my (vast) experience- CD sounds inferior to vinyl soly because the CD has been messed up with dynamic compression beyond recognition.. It is sad that CDs are not allowed to show its true potential, and that vinyl releases are more often than not far superior in sound quality to CDs, just because the CDs are deliberately messed up more than vinyls...

This is very interesting, and makes complete sense. I think this is also why most "audiophiles" prefer listening to jazz, blues, classical, etc vs. modern rock, heavy metal. I find that the rock music I really love as background music or in the car, I don't like nearly as much when I just sit down and listen because it just doesn't sounds that good.
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post #15 of 71 Old 07-31-2012, 07:11 PM
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I think this is also why most "audiophiles" prefer listening to jazz, blues, classical, etc vs. modern rock, heavy metal.
I'll bet most audiophiles like the same kinds of music most people like. Anyone who would choose their preferred genres based on the quality of the recordings isn't a music lover.

And do you really think recording practices for rock and blues differ that much?

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post #16 of 71 Old 08-01-2012, 04:30 PM
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Hevi makes a very good point, with regard to the effort put into the production/mastering etc. I believe something similar exists with so called "high rez" DVD-A, and SACD's, .. whereby the engineering in general, from the handling of the original source material, mix, transfer and mastering process, and subsequent release on the high rez disc is the primary reason why many of us prefer the SACD (for me) format. Just the overall care and effort put forth is first rate. As I understand it, the Red Book rez is perfectly adequate, ... if executed properly.

I digress...

Many good points about vinyl.
Additionally, there's something to be said for pulling out the record, placing it on the platter, cleaning, etc,... carefully cueing up the music, and finally going back and sitting down to relax and listen.

It's a singularly purposeful procedure, that's quite therapeutic I feel, and oftentimes it focuses one to the entire act of listening for immersive enjoyment, ... as opposed to the clearly more handy CD/SACD playback. There's significance to the entire placebo effect of the vinyl thing, ... I moved away from vinyl in the mid 80's, and have not looked back. My Oppo BDP95 serves me well thank you. When I compare my current front end to my first generation Sony or Denon rigs from the mid 80's, there's a wonderful difference that's easily discerned. Myself, wanting better and better playback upon making the plunge into CD, I progressed through a litany of players/outboard DACs/Jitter reduction pieces, ... until the tech matured nicely. Denon, Sony, Cal Audio Labs (tube), Audio Alchemy, then Sony and Denon again. I've still got essentially every piece of audio gear I've owned, ...including my turntables eek.gif somewhere, seriously, no clue.

Vinyl can be very good, for sure. I enjoy seeing younger folks at my local Fry's mega-store, peruse the vinyl and look at it in amazement. They've got a collectors section of picture discs, and combo sets, etc, .. it looks pretty cool.

Give me state of the art digital playback any time. However, yes, there's something to be said about the entire vinyl playback process, .... IMO.


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post #17 of 71 Old 08-01-2012, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by hevi View Post

I'd say that the difference is in the mastering.
Todays CDs (digitally released albums) are mastered with substantial dynamic compression and peak limitation to "sound as loud as possible". That's the mastering norm today

The above statement is opinion, not fact. It ignores a number of relevant facts.

While there is no doubt that there are a number of CDs that are mastered with compression, limiting, and outright clipping, nobody knows the exact or even approximate proportion. Quality recordings are still being routinely released on CDs.

Compression is not the least bit new. It was not invented for digital. It was routinely done on vinyl recordings going back into no later than the 1960s. Vinyl encourages limiting because of its inherent;y limited dynamic range. Additionally, an analog tape recorder can be used as a highly effective ad hoc compressor by simply turning the gain up so that peaks exceed 0 dB.
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post #18 of 71 Old 08-01-2012, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

The above statement is opinion, not fact. It ignores a number of relevant facts.
While there is no doubt that there are a number of CDs that are mastered with compression, limiting, and outright clipping, nobody knows the exact or even approximate proportion. Quality recordings are still being routinely released on CDs.
In another thread you claimed that half of SACDs were mastered using CD masters:
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Amir, there were thousands of SACD and DVD-A titles and hundreds if not articles prasining SACD and DVD-A recordings. About half of those recordings actually had the same or worse resolution than a good modern Redbook CD.
How did you know the "exact or even approximate proportion?"
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Compression is not the least bit new. It was not invented for digital. It was routinely done on vinyl recordings going back into no later than the 1960s. Vinyl encourages limiting because of its inherent;y limited dynamic range. Additionally, an analog tape recorder can be used as a highly effective ad hoc compressor by simply turning the gain up so that peaks exceed 0 dB.
No one has said compression is new either. It was simply stated the fact that CDs are routinely heavily level compressed whereas that doesn't seem to happen with other audiophile formats.

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post #19 of 71 Old 08-01-2012, 07:29 PM
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I was going to make the same point Arny did in the last post, and would add that there is nothing at all stopping the same hypercompressed file sent to the CD pressing plant being sent to the LP cutter. I'd not automatically assume the releases were different on either format, and as almost everything these days is recorded digitally, why pay the premium for an LP release?

That said, I grew up on LPs, was a late adopter to digital because the players and releases in the early days were often dire and had and still have quite a collection of LPs that I bought new back when vinyl was mainstream. I like the black discs, but the only time I'd say vinyl is superior is because the release is not available on CD or is compromised in that format for some reason, eg old degraded master tapes meaning older LPs will be better.

One of the reasons I think people like the discs is tactile; that are large and have some great artwork that looks better in 12" rather than 5" and there is far more of an involving process in playing them. Much more certainly than scrolling through a list of titles on a server/player and pressing a single button. Some years ago I worked with drug addicted teens and young adults, and one of the things that struck me listening to them tell their stories was the care many of them used in preparing for a 'hit'. Implements laid out in very specific ways and places, a specific sequence of events in preparation that many described as relaxing in itself. I've wondered if the preparation for playing an LP gives the same anticipatory 'hit' to many audiophiles and is part of the reason for them describing them as sounding better in many of the same ways that previous clients described how they felt after using drugs - setting a state of mind in advance of the activity.
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post #20 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

I was going to make the same point Arny did in the last post, and would add that there is nothing at all stopping the same hypercompressed file sent to the CD pressing plant being sent to the LP cutter. I'd not automatically assume the releases were different on either format, and as almost everything these days is recorded digitally, why pay the premium for an LP release?

There are actually some very good reasons that a "hypercompressed" (sort of a big generalization, that one) NOT be the same one sent to the LP cutter. Not to say that some are not identical, but the physical limitations of disc cutting prevent full power bandwidth material from being cut to the same maximum level. A lacquer master, and the resulting metal parts and release vinyl, have by nature a highly contoured maximum level, in other words, the maximum level that can be recorded is variable with frequency. The exact opposite is true of digital formats which have a flat maximum level. Hyper-processing for digital can and often does result in an un-cuttable master, which either needs further processing or (hopefully) less processing to make it manageable. A good disc mastering engineer knows the limitations and signature of the medium and can compensate for it, or to state it better, optimize for it during mastering for the medium.

The limitations of a groove are very physical. For example, it's possible to cut with a cutter velocity that is so high that the trailing groove wall impacts the rear facet of the cutter stylus producing distortion. The specific solution is to limit the maximum stylus velocity, which if you ponder for a moment, is frequency dependent. Another vinyl problem is vertical distortion. There is a very finite maximum vertical groove deflection above which you kick the stylus right out of the groove or the groove depth is so shallow it won't hold the stylus within it. Yet the lateral groove maximum deflection is much higher. This translates to a rather interesting maximum level for mono (panned center) material vs difference material. And we haven't even mentioned the RIAA curve which is around 40dB of gain variation over the audio spectrum.

Like I say, it's entirely possible for some dope to send his squashed to death CD master out for vinyl mastering, but what would result is the same squashed master cut at a necessarily lower than normal level so it physically works. Dumb, but possible. More ideally the vinyl is cut from something specifically processed for the medium, and it's not just about compression alone.

A side note: compression dates back to the 1930s and has its origins in optical film sound where extremely limited dynamic range and the brutal "shutter clash" high level distortion of the variable area system produced the need for a limiter. As a loudness-war tool, we have broadcasting to thank for turning the fine art of beneficial processing into a mush of deliberate clipping, multi-band dynamic crushing, merciless rapid time-constant compression and radical phase scrambling under the delusion that the loudest station on the dial would attract the most listeners, when in reality listener count is all about content and within limits is actually quite immune to audio quality.
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post #21 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Additionally, an analog tape recorder can be used as a highly effective ad hoc compressor by simply turning the gain up so that peaks exceed 0 dB.

Yes, people do this, but not usually during mastering unless they are really uninitiated. Tape saturation creates IMD (intermodulation distortion) VERY quickly, and a composite mix becomes unlistenable quite quickly when that happens. Tape saturation compression, when done on an isolated track of an analog multitrack that doesn't contain a mix of broadly spaced frequencies works much better, quite well in fact, and may perhaps be a valid ad hoc compression technique. Of course, "0 dB" is a bit arbitrary, being assigned to a wide range of reference flux levels, and assumes a VU meter, in which case peaks deflecting the meter to 0 already exceed 0 dB all the time may already be into saturation. VU meter to peak ratios are 8 to 10dB, and few if any tape formulations have more than 10dB of real headroom above 250nWb/m reference. To use tape saturation compression well without excessive IMD, the actual saturation point must be known, which depends on the chosen reference level, tape type and speed, then should be metered with a peak meter. Given those complexities, I'd have to say it's not usually a recommended deliberate compression method, and is today probably most often done accidentally by someone who doesn't understand the mechanism.
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post #22 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

There are actually some very good reasons that a "hypercompressed" (sort of a big generalization, that one)
No generalisation was made, I simply said that if a hypercompressed CD final master was used, not that it was or even the predominant recording output. It is common, certainly with popular releases but far from a universal.
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Not to say that some are not identical, but the physical limitations of disc cutting prevent full power bandwidth material from being cut to the same maximum level. A lacquer master, and the resulting metal parts and release vinyl, have by nature a highly contoured maximum level, in other words, the maximum level that can be recorded is variable with frequency. The exact opposite is true of digital formats which have a flat maximum level. Hyper-processing for digital can and often does result in an un-cuttable master, which either needs further processing or (hopefully) less processing to make it manageable. A good disc mastering engineer knows the limitations and signature of the medium and can compensate for it, or to state it better, optimize for it during mastering for the medium.
I understand how vinyl is cut and it's limitations. It's also not a given that there is a budget for the additional mastering required for a separate release, especially as the sales will be lower and the costs higher. Nor did I say that it would be done.
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post #23 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

Some years ago I worked with drug addicted teens and young adults, and one of the things that struck me listening to them tell their stories was the care many of them used in preparing for a 'hit'. Implements laid out in very specific ways and places, .

And in many cases one of those implements was an album cover....
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post #24 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

In another thread you claimed that half of SACDs were mastered using CD masters:
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Originally Posted by arnyk 
Amir, there were thousands of SACD and DVD-A titles and hundreds if not articles prasining SACD and DVD-A recordings. About half of those recordings actually had the same or worse resolution than a good modern Redbook CD.

Using the above as my authority, I respond that I said no such thing as "Half of SACDs were mastered using CD masters" Amir, I said something completely different and as long as you are going twist, fold, spindle and mutilate what I say, I have zero, nada, nichts, nothing further to say to you. If you want to quote me and get a proper response from me, straighten up and fly right!
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post #25 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

I was going to make the same point Arny did in the last post, and would add that there is nothing at all stopping the same hypercompressed file sent to the CD pressing plant being sent to the LP cutter.

I hate to cut a friend off at the knees, but actually there is something that stops sending some or perhaps even many of the hypercompressed files being sent to a LP cutting lathe. The cutting head might burn out., or other really bad things would happen. Even with exotic technology like hydrogen or helium gas cooling, really hot masters would do the equipment in. Or, the bass would force groove pitch that would eliminate putting 15-18 minutes on one side of a LP. Or, the LP would be untrackable on a median LP player of the day, or even SOTA equipment of today. The CD format has a flat power bandwidth, which RIAA pre-emphasis makes extremely difficult.
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No one has said compression is new either.

I wanted to head that misapprehension off at the pass. Fact is that hypercompression was originally designed and implemented for analog media including the LP and FM radio.
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It was simply stated the fact that CDs are routinely heavily level compressed whereas that doesn't seem to happen with other audiophile formats.

You simply can't fit arbitrary waveforms on analog media. In that regard all of the common formats such as CD, SACD, DVD-A, MP3, FLAC, AIFF, MP4. etc are alike - they can all handle songs with a flat power bandwidth and a very low crest factor right down to 1.0.
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I'd not automatically assume the releases were different on either format, and as almost everything these days is recorded digitally, why pay the premium for an LP release?

The existance of some kind of LP marketplace is similar to the continuing existence of a market for Model T Ford parts and buggy whips.
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That said, I grew up on LPs, was a late adopter to digital because the players and releases in the early days were often dire and had and still have quite a collection of LPs that I bought new back when vinyl was mainstream. I like the black discs, but the only time I'd say vinyl is superior is because the release is not available on CD or is compromised in that format for some reason, eg old degraded master tapes meaning older LPs will be better.

I admit it, I was an early adopter of CDs and paid for my digital proclivities by selling off my LPs, LP playback equipment, and analog tape equipment early in the game. That allowed me to command the highest possible prices when I sold it. Never looked back.
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One of the reasons I think people like the discs is tactile; that are large and have some great artwork that looks better in 12" rather than 5" and there is far more of an involving process in playing them. Much more certainly than scrolling through a list of titles on a server/player and pressing a single button. Some years ago I worked with drug addicted teens and young adults, and one of the things that struck me listening to them tell their stories was the care many of them used in preparing for a 'hit'. Implements laid out in very specific ways and places, a specific sequence of events in preparation that many described as relaxing in itself. I've wondered if the preparation for playing an LP gives the same anticipatory 'hit' to many audiophiles and is part of the reason for them describing them as sounding better in many of the same ways that previous clients described how they felt after using drugs - setting a state of mind in advance of the activity.

I believe that the book "This is your brain on music" that I keep citing explains that in more medical and scientific detail than many would ever want to plow through. In other words you are onto something there. On technical grounds, analog media is impossible to justify. On psychological, medical and social grounds, it is easy to understand.
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post #26 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

Yes, people do this, but not usually during mastering unless they are really uninitiated.
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It happens all the way through. Analog tape saturation was used during tracking, mixing and mastering, as the engineering staff wished.
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Tape saturation creates IMD (intermodulation distortion) VERY quickly, and a composite mix becomes unlistenable quite quickly when that happens.

It is a matter of degree. But, you are describing why analog compressors came into existence - they allowed a lot of compression without the bad side effects of nonlinear distortion.
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Tape saturation compression, when done on an isolated track of an analog multitrack that doesn't contain a mix of broadly spaced frequencies works much better, quite well in fact, and may perhaps be a valid ad hoc compression technique. Of course, "0 dB" is a bit arbitrary, being assigned to a wide range of reference flux levels, and assumes a VU meter, in which case peaks deflecting the meter to 0 already exceed 0 dB all the time may already be into saturation. VU meter to peak ratios are 8 to 10dB, and few if any tape formulations have more than 10dB of real headroom above 250nWb/m reference. To use tape saturation compression well without excessive IMD, the actual saturation point must be known, which depends on the chosen reference level, tape type and speed, then should be metered with a peak meter. Given those complexities, I'd have to say it's not usually a recommended deliberate compression method, and is today probably most often done accidentally by someone who doesn't understand the mechanism.

The above is true today, but these days you can get good compressors for pretty much nothing out of pocket. Twasn't always so. There are still studios that advertise the fact that they rely on analog tape:

"
From the owner: “The premier mid-sized Recording Studio in New York City. Known for its owner Mike Caffrey's drum sounds and use of analog tape, this is where the biggest and best records are being made.”
"

"
The Musiclab recording studio in Queens, NY features the finest in analog tape and digital recording, giving you results that will make your day, without punching a giant hole in your budget!
"

"
ANALOG TAPE MACHINES
OTARI MX 80 - 2" 16 TRK
OTARI MTR 10 - 1/2" 2 TRK for Mastering
TEAC 80-8 VINTAGE 1/2" 8 TRK w/ DBX
"

Etc.
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post #27 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

One of the reasons I think people like the discs is tactile,

..... and there is far more of an involving process in playing them.

.... setting a state of mind in advance of the activity.


I concur, .. as posted in my earlier post;
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there's something to be said for pulling out the record, placing it on the platter, cleaning, etc,... carefully cueing up the music, and finally going back and sitting down to relax and listen.

It's a singularly purposeful procedure, that's quite therapeutic I feel, and oftentimes it focuses one to the entire act of listening for immersive enjoyment,


Very interesting and thought provoking contributions, good stuff.

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post #28 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by has7738 View Post

There are actually some very good reasons that a "hypercompressed" (sort of a big generalization, that one) NOT be the same one sent to the LP cutter. Not to say that some are not identical, but the physical limitations of disc cutting prevent full power bandwidth material from being cut to the same maximum level. A lacquer master, and the resulting metal parts and release vinyl, have by nature a highly contoured maximum level, in other words, the maximum level that can be recorded is variable with frequency. The exact opposite is true of digital formats which have a flat maximum level. Hyper-processing for digital can and often does result in an un-cuttable master, which either needs further processing or (hopefully) less processing to make it manageable. A good disc mastering engineer knows the limitations and signature of the medium and can compensate for it, or to state it better, optimize for it during mastering for the medium.
The limitations of a groove are very physical. For example, it's possible to cut with a cutter velocity that is so high that the trailing groove wall impacts the rear facet of the cutter stylus producing distortion. The specific solution is to limit the maximum stylus velocity, which if you ponder for a moment, is frequency dependent. Another vinyl problem is vertical distortion. There is a very finite maximum vertical groove deflection above which you kick the stylus right out of the groove or the groove depth is so shallow it won't hold the stylus within it. Yet the lateral groove maximum deflection is much higher. This translates to a rather interesting maximum level for mono (panned center) material vs difference material. And we haven't even mentioned the RIAA curve which is around 40dB of gain variation over the audio spectrum.
Like I say, it's entirely possible for some dope to send his squashed to death CD master out for vinyl mastering, but what would result is the same squashed master cut at a necessarily lower than normal level so it physically works. Dumb, but possible. More ideally the vinyl is cut from something specifically processed for the medium, and it's not just about compression alone.
A side note: compression dates back to the 1930s and has its origins in optical film sound where extremely limited dynamic range and the brutal "shutter clash" high level distortion of the variable area system produced the need for a limiter. As a loudness-war tool, we have broadcasting to thank for turning the fine art of beneficial processing into a mush of deliberate clipping, multi-band dynamic crushing, merciless rapid time-constant compression and radical phase scrambling under the delusion that the loudest station on the dial would attract the most listeners, when in reality listener count is all about content and within limits is actually quite immune to audio quality.

Well said but I will add it can also depend on the way it was mastered I have copies of the same material on several formats and for the most the red book CD gives better or the same as the rest while a few SACD/DVD-A do sound better than anything else (SAME ALBUM) while I had some records that did sound better or some that did not make it to the digital domain so long story short it really depends on how its mastered that being said i will not return to vinyl do to cost trying to obtain the fidelity my OPPO does for about the fifth of the cost. Not to mention the wear each time a record is played whether audiable or not.
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post #29 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 08:58 AM
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I haven't read through all the back and forths above, but I have large collections of both vinyl and redbook cd with my main 2-channel setup for a couple of reasons.

1) It IS a collecting thing for me. Seeking out and adding rare, hard-to-find albums is a fun little hobby. Let's me go to my local record traders and dig through massive racks looking for some piece of gold. CD's just don't carry the same satisfaction from a collection standpoint.

2) The ritual of flipping through my shelves and pulling out the record, laying it on the platter and carefully cue'ing became a nice part of my wind down routine, the same as properly loading my tobacco pipe and getting the perfect cubes for my whiskey.

3) In most cases, as long as my albums are clean, I can tell no difference between playing vinyl and cd on my system (everything is at that "mid-high-end" level right where returns on investment start to drop sharply! No $6000 TT here). When listening throughout the day, I will most often choose cd's. Far more convenient, and I simply have a hell of a lot more selection in them....and, cd's don't wear, nor do lasers.

MichaelKingdom, If you've always been on digital, there's little reason for you to invest in all that goes along with vinyl unless you really connect with reasons 1 or 2 above.

These are just my OPINIONS of course, I'm no engineer, nor guru.

TV's ain't theaters buddy.

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post #30 of 71 Old 08-02-2012, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by hevi View Post

I'd say that the difference is in the mastering.
Todays CDs (digitally released albums) are mastered with substantial dynamic compression and peak limitation to "sound as loud as possible". That's the mastering norm today. You sacrifice Dynamics and microdetails for loudness. With vinyle,, however, the objecive of mastering (to allow the Music beeing engraved in the plastics with as little alterations as possible) is still honored, because people who buy vinyl today are the ones that really care about sound quality.
As an examle, buy both the vinyl and the CD of my current local favourite duo, "First Aid Kit" (they're really good, so you won't be dissapointed).
The vinyl release sounds infinitley better than the CD/digital release. The vinyl has a decent dynamic range (15dB crest or so) where as the CD/digital is severely crippled from excessive compression and peak limitation. frown.gif
Bottom line is -from my (vast) experience- CD sounds inferior to vinyl soly because the CD has been messed up with dynamic compression beyond recognition.. It is sad that CDs are not allowed to show its true potential, and that vinyl releases are more often than not far superior in sound quality to CDs, just because the CDs are deliberately messed up more than vinyls...

I generally agree with you. But let me add that if you take all CD's made from their conception in 1983 or so to present, there is a wide range of mastering (sound quality) differences. Some CD's sound spectacular and others sound terrible.

Lets take a case in point. Some popular 70's bands have had their catalog mastered / re-mastered several times. In such cases when comparing each, their can be quite audible differences. Sometimes the catalog when re-done top to bottom is not mastered by the same engineer, but rather by several. One album done by x and another done by y. So to cut to the chase, each specific CD release can and usually has its own signature. Its own sound. And even when part of an entire catalog remastering, there often times are variances. So each CD really stands on its own and must be evaluated as such.

Vinyl also has variances for the same reasons as above. Vinyl is different in that it largely circumvented the "loudness wars" era. But especially in modern re-releases by Friday Music, MFSL, Classic Records, their are distinct differences in the sound.

So the generalization of comparing CD vs Vinyl doesnt and wont have any definite answer. Its specific to a certain CD release vs a certain vinyl release. Only then can the superior sound be ascertained, and even then, subjectivity will play its ongoing role.
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