Originally Posted by chili555
I certainly read it.
My point, which the AA post supports and with which you evidently agree, is that the question of whether vinyl really sounds better depends on many factors and probably the greatest is the source material used to produce each. Unlike the absolutists elsewhere in this thread who, with religious fervence, claim that one or the other always sounds better, I believe the answer is actually, "It depends."
Here's how I look at it, having had the experience to test this. Vinyl and a CD made from exactly the same master sound the same but for vinyl having more noise and slightly higher distortion IF that master doesn't challenge the vinyl system's maximum parameters, AND the vinyl playback system is precisely calibrated to track the RIAA curve. When audio masks noise and doesn't stimulate vinyl's distortion mechanisms, the CD and vinyl are indistinguishable.
But that's a whole lot of assumptions in the production chain, and only those of us who have had the privilege of supervision of the complete process would have been able to make this test. Everyone else has no idea what was done in mastering for either medium, and mastering should be assumed to be different for each. Since vinyl has a more limited dynamic range, and the limits are frequency dependant (whereas 16/44's max is flat across the entire band), mastering for vinyl tends to be less aggressive, less processed, possibly more dynamic as a result, and that is interpreted as "warm" sounding. In those cases, vinyl might actually sound better than the CD of the same material. But not because vinyl is "better", it absolutely is not, but it's flaws often influence mastering choices. Aggressive digital music mastering is a huge issue, and while I admire this guy's attempt
to make inroads, it's probably a very steep up hill battle.
I would be cautious about assigning equivalent bit-depths to various analog formats. That's usually done based on signal to noise ratios, but doesn't take into consideration frequency response, overload characteristics (including the spectral overload curve), and the spectrum of the noise floor. Noise and the related dynamic range of any analog medium doesn't tell the story anyway, there are time-base issues (wow and flutter), distortion issues like IMD and (gasp!) the analog tape equivalent of jitter, "scrape flutter" (far worse than any digital jitter, BTW). The more limited dynamic range is actually one of the more easily tolerated analog anomalies, so long as we aren't talking about cassettes without noise reduction.
The whole discussion is comparing two different signal chains, but the consumer doesn't have any ability to make the comparison, he only has the result which, I'll admit, sometimes swings to vinyl as better because of the production chain. Sad, but true, and completely avoidable.
Roll all of that into the mix with the psychological, touchy-feely, physical vinyl handling and playing experience, and you end up with vinyl lovers. It is a different experience than clicking on a file.