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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here is my set-up:


Musical Fidelity XT100 amp(about 70 wpc)

Salk Songtowers

Rega P1 turntable

Ginko Audio Vibration Platform


I did some a/b testing today of vinyl against some MP3's from my ipod that were ripped at 320kbs bitrate. To my horror the MP3 via the ipod set on R+B sounded a TON better than the vinyl. Everything about the sound was better. More bass, much fuller dynamics, etc. I would love to be getting a more perfect vinyl sound, because I know it has the potential to sound much better than an mp3. Does anybody have any ideas?


Thanks.
 

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What were you comparing? did you compare a variety of stuff?


You shouldn't EXPECT that vinyl would sound better. It will sound different. Very different. A high-bitrate Mp3 will approach CD quality and at some point become indistinguishable to the CD. And CD is a far more accurate format than vinyl in nearly every respect. And 320kbps mp3 is getting up there towards transparent to redbook CD.


Some people may still prefer what vinyl offers, despite lack of accuracy. You may not be one of those people.


But I would be hesitant to judge too quickly on only one or two records. The variability in records, particulalry any that are used, can be pretty huge.


That being said, you didn't list your cartridge at all. This also has a huge impact. Getting vinyl right can be pretty difficult. Is your turntable setup properly?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18171520


So here is my set-up:


Musical Fidelity XT100 amp(about 70 wpc)

Salk Songtowers

Rega P1 turntable

Ginko Audio Vibration Platform


I did some a/b testing today of vinyl against some MP3's from my ipod that were ripped at 320kbs bitrate. To my horror the MP3 via the ipod set on R+B sounded a TON better than the vinyl. Everything about the sound was better. More bass, much fuller dynamics, etc. I would love to be getting a more perfect vinyl sound, because I know it has the potential to sound much better than an mp3. Does anybody have any ideas?


Thanks.

Buy an equalizer so you can run your vinyl through it and simulate the R&B equalizer settings on your ipod. Or rip the vinyl, play it back on your ipod with R&B equalization enabled. You appear to like the R&B curve, so use it.
 

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Quote:
To my horror the MP3 via the ipod set on R+B sounded a TON better than the vinyl. Everything about the sound was better.


Why the "to my horror" comment?


music stored digitally will ALWAYS be more accurate then vinyl. Its the reason CDs where created to start with and its the reason downloads now are the choice for buying music.


I would say you do not understand the formats with your comments.
 

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There are far too many factors in your comparison. EQ as was already mentioned is a big one. Of course, if you think your Rega sounds light, you may need to play with VTA.

How one records for CD (or MP3) is different than how one records for an LP. Different physics, different answers in the studio. Your room may favor the eq as provided by the iPod. ( hint, work on the room). Your hearing may favor some eq. We don't all hear the same.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18171520


So here is my set-up:


Musical Fidelity XT100 amp(about 70 wpc)

Salk Songtowers

Rega P1 turntable

Ginko Audio Vibration Platform


I did some a/b testing today of vinyl against some MP3's from my ipod that were ripped at 320kbs bitrate. To my horror the MP3 via the ipod set on R+B sounded a TON better than the vinyl. Everything about the sound was better. More bass, much fuller dynamics, etc. I would love to be getting a more perfect vinyl sound, because I know it has the potential to sound much better than an mp3. Does anybody have any ideas?


Thanks.

So?


Your conclusions are not surprising at all in my opinion.
 

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If you spend a lot more money on your vinyl playback equipment, eventually you'll start to hear your vinyl sounding better than high bit rate MP3. It probably won't really be better, but the law of fulfilled expectations says that you will believe it sounds better.


I spent a lot of time and money chasing the ephemera of vinyl perfection, and I've never been satisfied. I've visited a lot of acquaintances with multiple thousands of dollars in vinyl playback equipment. These guys (yes, all men) were rapturous in describing their bliss: "So much better than digital" "Anyone who's heard my system can never be satisfied with anything else" "I showed my iPod-loving brother-in-law what an inferior toy he had compared to true music on vinyl" etc.


I'd have to say candidly that I never heard a single vinyl playback system that was even close to the fervent evangelizing of its owner. Some of it sounded pretty good, and I'm willing to be open to the possibility that somewhere such an experience does exist, but if it's that hard to find and that difficult to achieve, then what's the point?


I stopped saying anything other than "That sounds great" after a while, because anytime I'd mention that the highs sounded clipped or the bass muddy, or the mids artificially bloated and distorted, or the rumble intrusive, or the pops and clicks distracting, the listening would be interrupted. Then there would follow a frantic and often lengthy recalibration of the system, cleaning of the media, checking of the electrical system, replacement of cables, pads, absorbers, etc. All the while, the owner would be commenting on how important it was to do this and that regularly and repeatedly if you wanted the pure vinyl experience; otherwise, I surmised one was not dedicated enough to perfection to spend more time tweaking the system to get a few minutes of bliss than to spend actual time listening.


In a word, the whole pursuit was goofy.


Chris is right, it does sound different. To some that difference is a sound they prefer, and I have no gripe with personal preference. However, I do think vinyl is misrepresented as some kind of sonic nirvana that one achieves with enough ritualistic devotion, meditation, faith, and sacrificial offerings ($$$$) and that those who don't get it just haven't achieved enlightenment yet.


Perhaps true enlightenment is knowing and admitting that it does not exist.
 

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"I'd have to say candidly that I never heard a single vinyl playback system that was even close to the fervent evangelizing of its owner. Some of it sounded pretty good, and I'm willing to be open to the possibility that somewhere such an experience does exist, but if it's that hard to find and that difficult to achieve, then what's the point?"


I had a friend who had a Lynn with Denon mc, CJ PV-5 and MV50 into Quad 44's. I would say it sounded "great". But to put that into perspective, at that time most CD's were still 14 bit mastered or just dubs of records. They were no where near as good as the better work done today. By today's standards, it would be criticized for a total lack of bass. What sweet vocals though.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray /forum/post/18172608


Why the "to my horror" comment?


music stored digitally will ALWAYS be more accurate then vinyl. Its the reason CDs where created to start with and its the reason downloads now are the choice for buying music.


I would say you do not understand the formats with your comments.

No. Not true. There is plenty of heavily compressed digital audio and a lot of it sounds a lot worse than vinyl does.
 

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Quote:
I'd have to say candidly that I never heard a single vinyl playback system that was even close to the fervent evangelizing of its owner. Some of it sounded pretty good, and I'm willing to be open to the possibility that somewhere such an experience does exist, but if it's that hard to find and that difficult to achieve, then what's the point?

I have. Technical inferiority aside, it was the best audio experience (note I did not say most accurate) I have ever had in any stereo system. Subjective preference in audio shouldn't be overlooked, IMO.


There is also the considerations of the kinds of distortion introduced lossy compression formats versus the kinds of distortion introduced by vinyl. I personally find compression artifacts to be very disturbing, whereas vinyl distortion I find generally far less disturbing (with the exception of high-frequency distortion issues, which take some care and effort and a good cartridge and setup to mostly avoid).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by filecat13 /forum/post/18172784


In a word, the whole pursuit was goofy.

Most any hobby is goofy. But it helps to keep some people happy.


It is easier to record and playback digitally these days - you can pretty much record what ever you want and have it replicate the source to whatever standard you want (more or less, stand disclaimers apply).


The advantage of vinyl is you can listen to music - some of which you can still not buy in any other format, and some of which just is better on vinyl than you can buy digitally.


As an example, until recently the Beatles sounded much better on LP.

I had to rip the vinyl because it was better. The available digital format was not very good. It only took them 20+ years to put out a decent digital release. I'm not a big Beatles fan, but like some of their songs, and wanted the best version. Goofy I know.


I'm sure there are other examples. "They" are starting to get things out of the "vault" but they are not done yet, and sometimes a vinyl might be the best source available. If so, you want to play it back as best as you can.
 

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Vinyl can be nice but....
  1. Turntables are subject to feedback from vibrations attributable to everything from your speakers, footfalls, door slams, and the washing machine.
  2. Surface noise is just a given that you have to accept to some degree on every recording
  3. The cartridge is a transducer just like a speaker and just as subjective
  4. Setting up a cartridge is an excercise in neurosis
  5. Once you've conquered vibrations from soundwaves you can agonize over rumble from your turntable
  6. Vinyl is seldom perfectly flat so you get to trot out the record clamps / weights to keep the arm / cartridge from going airborne when the lump comes round
  7. Next you can agonize over pitch and wow/flutter as you attempt to make the warped piece of plastic rotate at a constant rate. No data buffers here my friends.
  8. Dynamic range was limited by what could be stamped into a piece of plastic and the ability of a stylus to track those bumps and nubs without jumping out of the groove. Anybody here still own a DBX 3BX dynamic range expander? I do. That allows me to agonize over the expansion settings vs "breathing / "pumping" artifacts in the highs/mids/lows and gives me another bundle of cables.


At one time, vinyl was pretty much the only solution other than reel to reel tape. And turntables + cartridges evolved over time to do a pretty good job of getting the most out of a primitive recording format. But despite early growing pains with digital recording standards and the engineer's learning curve, digital recording has ultimately surpassed vinyl to a degree that makes vinyl laughable. So it shouldn't be a surprise that a high bit rate digital recording using the latest perceptual encoding algorithms and a redbook CD as a source will blow away a vinyl recording. What you get is a near perfect copy that can create a much more repeatable (accurate) playback experience. Moving a record between turntables is a much more dicey proposition than moving a digital recording between modern playback systems. Don't get me wrong. I still have two turntables and a collection of vinyl. Partly because of nostalgia and partly because some of the vinyl has never been professionally transferred to digital so that's the only way to hear the music. Some of the vinyl is just rare so I keep it around as a conversation piece / collectors item.


For the OP, you didn't post what your turntable setup is. Unless you're using a good table and a good cartridge matched to the arm and you've set up all of the above properly and you've isolated the entire turntable system from vibration and you're using a good clamp, you won't get that vinyl nirvana you read about. There are just so many things to get wrong with vinyl setup in contrast to digital where it's just so much easier.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles /forum/post/18173649


No. Not true. There is plenty of heavily compressed digital audio and a lot of it sounds a lot worse than vinyl does.

OP said the bitrate was 320 kbs. That is far from heavy compression.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18171520


..................against some MP3's from my ipod that were ripped at 320kbs bitrate.

Ripped from what? What are you comparing, exactly? CD rips versus vinyl?
 

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Quote:
OP said the bitrate was 320 kbs. That is far from heavy compression.

He was referring to dynamic compression, not data compression.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hd_newbie /forum/post/18174664


OP said the bitrate was 320 kbs. That is far from heavy compression.

Right. The post responded to stated: "music stored digitally will ALWAYS be more accurate then vinyl."


And that's absolutely not true. If he meant only digital music at certain bitrates, or with certain compression codecs, he didn't say that. He just said that digital music will ALWAYS be more accurate than vinyl. And that's not in any way accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This got very interesting! I think part of the problem is that I assumed the vinyl would basically ALWAYS be better than some mp3 through a cheap iPod jack cord. This seems to be the almost unanimous opinion of the audio community. What is unforunate is that it seems that maybe while some things sound better on vinyl/some on cd, when buying an album you are taking a crap shoot. Anyways, I will be doing some more testing soon and will be sure to post more results.


I am aware that the Rega P1 is an entry level turntable. Do you think if I was to upgrade the turntable/cartridge/maybe my amp, the vinyl would eventually surpass the mp3? Or is vinyl just always going to be inferior?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnefied /forum/post/18174029


For the OP, you didn't post what your turntable setup is. Unless you're using a good table and a good cartridge matched to the arm and you've set up all of the above properly and you've isolated the entire turntable system from vibration and you're using a good clamp, you won't get that vinyl nirvana you read about. There are just so many things to get wrong with vinyl setup in contrast to digital where it's just so much easier.

(and regarding all other questions about set-up):


-I have a Rega P1 with the default Ortofon OM5e Cartridge

-I also have a $300 vibration isolation platform by Ginko Audio

-I have a tonearrm pressure guage which I have used to correctly set the tone arm pressure


I think I have a pretty good set up, and this is part of what is puzzling to me. If its a proper set-up, why not better sound?


One thing that is wrong though is that I do have a slight wobble in my platform when it rotates. I spoke to someone at Audio Advisor who I purchased from that said a slight wobble is fairly normal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd /forum/post/18172109


Buy an equalizer so you can run your vinyl through it and simulate the R&B equalizer settings on your ipod. You appear to like the R&B curve, so use it.

This makes a lot of sense, but still, some of the dynamics and detail of the sound were missing in the vinyl. By doing this I feel like I would just be tweaking an inferior source, no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray /forum/post/18172608


Why the "to my horror" comment?

Because I've spent a considerable amount of time and $$$ on my turntable set-up and vinyl. Was just surprised to hear it lose in an a/b setting. Should have done this before I know...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim /forum/post/18174761


Ripped from what? What are you comparing, exactly? CD rips versus vinyl?

Yes, 320kbs bitrate CD rips from itunes onto an iPod, versus vinyl records on the above-mentioned set-up.


I would also be interested in hearing any opinions of some vinyl supporters. Seems most people here are thinking that having an mp3 sound better than a turntable is normal and is old news.
 

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Quote:
This seems to be the almost unanimous opinion of the audio community.

Generally the audio community is not very objective about many things and they never actually do controlled listening tests.


The live, eat, sleep their beliefs. Its a religion to them and the truth about it all has no place in their minds.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles /forum/post/18173649


No. Not true. There is plenty of heavily compressed digital audio and a lot of it sounds a lot worse than vinyl does.

lets just assume we are not compressing anything



There are so many things that can go wrong with vinyl and that is why 99.9% of it has disappeared and there is no money in it. Its why only a .1% of the audio world bothers with it and 99.9% of them are old guys.


Luckily, they all die off and maybe someday silly discussions about vinyl will just disappear
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18175329


This makes a lot of sense, but still, some of the dynamics and detail of the sound were missing in the vinyl. By doing this I feel like I would just be tweaking an inferior source, no?

Geez, if it's dynamics that's got ya all disappointed that's easy. Dynamic range is probably the single biggest area where Redbook CD's leapt ahead of vinyl. Vinyl had horrible dynamic range by today's standards. Outboard processors were created to add some amount of dynamics (-20 to +12 dB) back to vinyl recordings. But, they were basically breaking the audio band into one two or three bands (low/mid/hi) and then gain riding each band independently based on a user set threshold. Google DBX 3BX for a look at the unit I have. The downside of trying to artificially create dynamic range was that overzealous use of gain riding produced audible artifacts in the audio signal that were called breathing or pumping. So, even though the 3BX can technically expand -20 / +12 dB or 32 dB of dynamic range, using more than -6 /+6 dB of expansion was not really feasible on most material.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18175329


Because I've spent a considerable amount of time and $$$ on my turntable set-up and vinyl. Was just surprised to hear it lose in an a/b setting. Should have done this before I know...

It sounds like you've set the tracking force. How about the stylus overhang, vertical tracking angle, and anti skating force?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryaneleven /forum/post/18175329


One thing that is wrong though is that I do have a slight wobble in my platform when it rotates. I spoke to someone at Audio Advisor who I purchased from that said a slight wobble is fairly normal.

When you say "wobble in my platform" are you talking about the turntable platter or the rack it sits on. Either one is bad but there should NO wobble detectable either visually or by touch in the turntable platter. That means bad bearings or a bent spindle either of which is a death sentence for a turntable. A platter / mat should be dead flat and any play in the bearings should be so infinitessimal that it's barely measureable. See, you're getting right into the swing of vinyl. Let the neurosis begin.

EDIT: BTW,
my jaw dropped when I Googled a Stereophile review of your Rega P1 turntable. I still can't believe it. Rega, who used to a respectable company, built your turntable platter out of wood. Well, not even wood! It's MDF, medium density fiberboard, chipboard fer cryin out loud. Holy crap!
Seriously I can't believe anyone would do this. Turntable platters have always been cast or machined from high density materials like metal or glass that have high mass and rigidity and are dimensionally ultra stable. FWIW, you would have been much better off prowling eBay for a vintage turntable and buying a new cartridge for it. Not trying to be mean but I think we found the problem. I'd ship that thing back to Audio Advisor with a nasty note.
 
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