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  • mmrkaic
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A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Today I felt a bit nostalgic and washed some 20 vinyl records that I had bought at various thrift stores. [Also, I somewhat wanted to see what the vinyl mania is all about.] When I was a kid we listened to vinyl because there was nothing else and I remember not liking the experience. I just resigned myself to the popping and noise and other auditory imperfections of vinyl. But hey, maybe I missed something in my youth. Hipsters and audiophiles might be onto something after all.

So, I started listening to a recording of Rachmaninoff 2 by Entremont and could not finish because of all the popping and noise. (And I like Entremont and the way he does Rachmaninoff.) Then I listened to another LP -- Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovitch. There was less popping and noise and it was passable. I managed to listen to the whole piece.

But, still, after that experience I was perplexed. What is the frigging point of vinyl in 2017? It is so obviously inferior. (For those of you who know some physics, it should suffice to calculate the RMS voltage of thermal noise in the phono coil to see that vinyl is inferior to 16 it CD in the best case.) When I was a kid there was nothing else, so we kind of had to do it. But today's experience was a stark reminder of the inferiority of vinyl. Its only advantage might be visual -- it is nice to see the spinning disc. But that "novelty" wears off quickly, a bit like looking at the glow of tubes. Newly issued LPs might have less popping and noise than vintage ones, but they cost between $30 and $40. So, what is the frigging point of vinyl in 2017?

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #1
When I was a kid no one I played with had a vinyl record player or vinyl records.  We had tapes and CDs and I'm pretty sure tapes were already dying off completely by the mid to late 90's.

I started wondering what vinyl sounded like after seeing it in various cartoons of the day and movies and eventually I found out around the time I was in my mid-teens around 2003.  Discovered some great old music but the format wasn't in any better than what I was used to hearing and in a lot of ways worse (snap, pop, crackle), still kind of neat to experience though.

For what it's worth, it maybe for the curious worth experiencing and to understand how far we've come in terms of that but there is zero point for it to become the dominant form of physical distribution at all.  Something that is best kept in museums at the end of the day.

  • mmrkaic
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #2
When I was a kid no one I played with had a vinyl record player or vinyl records.  We had tapes and CDs and I'm pretty sure tapes were already dying off completely by the mid to late 90's.

I started wondering what vinyl sounded like after seeing it in various cartoons of the day and movies and eventually I found out around the time I was in my mid-teens around 2003.  Discovered some great old music but the format wasn't in any better than what I was used to hearing and in a lot of ways worse (snap, pop, crackle), still kind of neat to experience though.

For what it's worth, it maybe for the curious worth experiencing and to understand how far we've come in terms of that but there is zero point for it to become the dominant form of physical distribution at all.  Something that is best kept in museums at the end of the day.

You are a young man.  I was in my mid teens around 1983. Lots of vinyl around then.

  • KozmoNaut
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #3
what is the frigging point of vinyl in 2017?

Nostalgia, mostly. There is also a certain factor of physicality to the format, you can see the grooves, see the pickup moving across the record, reproducing the music. The big bold cover art also plays a big part.

  • cliveb
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #4
As an old fogey (now 60) who grew up with vinyl, my observations are as follows:

Disadvantages of vinyl:
1. Sound quality very much inferior to CD. That said, it can sound surprisingly good - sufficient for enjoyable listening. I have plenty of needle drops in my collection that have been declicked and are as enjoyable to listen to as CD rips.
2. Inconvenience. Playing a vinyl LP is a bit of a rigmarole.
3. Fragility. Easy to damage, and an LP degrades to a tiny degree on every play.

Advantages of vinyl:
1. The ~40min time limitation on an LP tends to make the artist put more thought into an album. Pop/rock/jazz LPs in the past tended to be well thought out works. Moderns CD albums have a heck of a lot of filler that wouldn't have made the cut in the days of LP. (Classical is different: being able to listen to an entire symphony without getting up is a big plus for digital).
2. There's something strangely satisfying about the physical process of playing an LP. This is a corollary to point #2 in the disadvantage list - it may be a rigmarole, but it's an enjoyable rigmarole.
3. Artwork.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #5
I don't quite agree. I love pulling a record from it's sleeve and sitting down to have a listen to it. It works for me in away that no digital format ever has (although I can have a similar experience with a CD). I listen to it. I don't browse the internet while it's playing, I'm not skipping tracks or playing a game.

I don't think you'll shock anyone by saying that it did not sound as good as a purely digital format can.

The point of your post, other than informing us that you're such a discerning listener is mostly lost on me.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #6
I don't quite agree. I love pulling a record from it's sleeve and sitting down to have a listen to it. It works for me in away that no digital format ever has (although I can have a similar experience with a CD). I listen to it. I don't browse the internet while it's playing, I'm not skipping tracks or playing a game.

I don't think you'll shock anyone by saying that it did not sound as good as a purely digital format can.

The point of your post, other than informing us that you're such a discerning listener is mostly lost on me.

It doesn't make any sense to say that the most intrusive audio format, vinyl, with all its sonic distortions, favors concentration. Digital is transparent, it doesn't interfere with the listening experience. Just imagine listening a vinyl when you know where every distortions are, and instead of listening to the music you're just waiting for them.
I think reality is in fact the opposite, people like vinyl because the music is not enough, and they need the paraphernalia to fill the attention gaps.

  • 4season
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #7
Sometimes lack of convenience is an advantage! Maybe because my vinyl collection is small and it's not super-convenient for me to buy more on a whim, I've gotten to know some of the individual albums pretty well, and usually listen to at least one uninterrupted side at a time, rather than picking out individual tracks.

And for me, it can be a pretty good way to discover music: I see that I can purchase Narciso Yepes's performance of Concierto de Aranjez as part of a large downloadable collection for a reasonable price, but fact of the matter is, I might never have discovered Yepes at all were it not for an initial purchase on DG vinyl.


Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #8
I don't quite agree. I love pulling a record from it's sleeve and sitting down to have a listen to it. It works for me in away that no digital format ever has (although I can have a similar experience with a CD). I listen to it. I don't browse the internet while it's playing, I'm not skipping tracks or playing a game.

I don't think you'll shock anyone by saying that it did not sound as good as a purely digital format can.

The point of your post, other than informing us that you're such a discerning listener is mostly lost on me.

It doesn't make any sense to say that the most intrusive audio format, vinyl, with all its sonic distortions, favors concentration. Digital is transparent, it doesn't interfere with the listening experience. Just imagine listening a vinyl when you know where every distortions are, and instead of listening to the music you're just waiting for them.
I think reality is in fact the opposite, people like vinyl because the music is not enough, and they need the paraphernalia to fill the attention gaps.

I think you totally miss the point. I like vinyl as a listening medium in the same way I prefer a V12 to an electric car, a mechanical watch to a quartz. Both of these are demonstrably worse than the newer (and cheaper) alternatives, but they don't move and involve me the way the the mechanical ones do.

I don't need my system to be 'measurably' the best, I need it to be an enjoyable listening experience to me. I don't need to validate my choices by speaking about the foibles of others. I know what I like and what makes me happy. If you can find happiness in an iPod with 10,000 tracks, then more power to you. For me, I like vinyl.

  • greynol
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #9
As if one must listen to non-vinyl in a shuffled order and while playing games. What a bunch of utter nonsense.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • greynol
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #10
I don't need to validate my choices by speaking about the foibles of others.
Yet that was precisely what you did!
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #11
I don't need to validate my choices by speaking about the foibles of others.
Yet that was precisely what you did!

Where did I speak about the foibles of digital audio?

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #12
As if one must listen to non-vinyl in a shuffled order and while playing games. What a bunch of utter nonsense.
As if one must listen to non-vinyl in a shuffled order and while playing games. What a bunch of utter nonsense.

I never said that. Also, what makes you angry about me listening to music that is not of the highest possible quality. Who cares? I personally don’t want tied to a computer or phone when I listen to music.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #13
Vinyl is not a V12, it's a steam engine car, and hipsters don't use a horn, they scream CHU-CHU as they pass by.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #14
For the record (no pun intended) I've listened to vinyl records before while doing other things (browsing the internet, talking to other people, etc.) and I've listened to whole albums of CDs and digital downloads while doing nothing else.  At least with the later two I don't have to manually adjust anything to listen to a whole album (it just works 99.9% of the time).

I don't see vinyl really forcing you to actually listen to the music itself, but rather listening for when it might start messing up.

  • Audible!
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #15
I don't need to validate my choices by speaking about the foibles of others.
Yet that was precisely what you did!

Assuredly that was not precisely what Funkstar did; (s)he isn't pointing at anyone else's foibles at all, but rather is attempting to explain why (s)he enjoys the vinyl listening experience irrespective of the fact that the medium is completely inferior. 

Other than the (IMO completely accurate) points made by cliveb, I find vinyl profoundly annoying and would invariably choose a high bitrate MP3 made from a needledrop if no digital version were available.

But to the OPs point:
Quote
What is the frigging point of vinyl in 2017?
Material that hasn't been converted to the digital domain (obscure, masters are lost, etc) is the principal "real" point I can think of. This is still definitely the case for some jazz and folk and classical LPs, though happily less so then in years past.

There are some edge cases where it's possible the only extant CD version was badly botched during the transfer process, and so the LP legitimately sounds better.

Though not relevant to that point (because the error carried over to vinyl), the first handful of CD releases of In The Court Of The Crimson King used a flawed transfer from the original masters, which was only rectified relatively recently.

One can easily imagine scenarios where the only digital version of an album is derived from a worn/flawed old record master rather than the original tapes. This is why Mobile Fidelity made legitimately better sounding CD versions of a number of albums in the 80s/90s and were able to charge double (albeit by also pimping the ludicrous gold reflective layer).

  • greynol
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #16
So listening inattentively was his own foible and there was no implication that it was the foible of others.  Ok, whatever you say.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • Audible!
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #17
So listening inattentively was his own foible and there was no implication that it was the foible of others.  Ok, whatever you say.

At no point did Funkstar state what you have there. It does not appear to be implied or even readily inferred.

Indeed, (s)he was careful to talk about personal preference and use the pronoun I over and over, while simultaneously stating that vinyl is inherently inferior.

Sorry if "I know it's not as good but I like the experience" annoys you so much; there's a lot of that in many avenues of life.

  • greynol
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #18
Right.  Whatever you say. ;)
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • Audible!
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #19
It's official, greynol is now a vinyl fan! 32 bit needle drops for everyone!  :D

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #20
So listening inattentively was his own foible and there was no implication that it was the foible of others.  Ok, whatever you say.

At no point did Funkstar state what you have there. It does not appear to be implied or even readily inferred.

Indeed, (s)he was careful to talk about personal preference and use the pronoun I over and over, while simultaneously stating that vinyl is inherently inferior.

Sorry if "I know it's not as good but I like the experience" annoys you so much; there's a lot of that in many avenues of life.


Funkstar is implying that the digital experience is inferior because digital is more convenient. What do you think "If you can find happiness in an iPod with 10,000 tracks, then more power to you" means? That's not innocent, nor shows just a "personal preference", it obviously shows a sense of entitlement, of superiority.
It means that he can go that extra mile, the mile that digital users can not go, because he's the real deal, the real connoisseur. Only if it's inconvinient, is a real experience. The fact that this is pure idiotic snobbery, doesn't change the fact that he's actually implying it.

All that vintage machines with moving parts, the glowing tubes, the big and bold covers, the dead tech fetishism, the collecting, but above all the sense of superiority, is what drives all this vinyl snobbery, and not the good old music.

  • Audible!
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Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #21

Funkstar is implying that the digital experience is inferior because digital is more convenient. What do you think "If you can find happiness in an iPod with 10,000 tracks, then more power to you" means? That's not innocent, nor shows just a "personal preference", it obviously shows a sense of entitlement, of superiority.
It means that he can go that extra mile, the mile that digital users can not go, because he's the real deal, the real connoisseur. Only if it's inconvinient, is a real experience. The fact that this is pure idiotic snobbery, doesn't change the fact that he's actually implying it.

Nonsense. (S)he is overtly stating a personal preference, knowing the medium is patently inferior, and stating that the personal preference of others may well be different. You just don't like the way it was phrased, I guess.

Literally everything else you wrote is your interpretation of someone else's intent based upon something other than their words. You appear to be assuming an intonation that partially negates the actual words written.

For crying out loud, there are enough idiots who will make claims about LPs being technically superior to be concerned about reading some veiled implication into a post that is unambiguously and undeniably couched as a personal preference.

If someone were to say "I personally prefer the experience of listening to microcassette tapes (which are demonstrably worse than digital options) played through a single blown Ford Pinto AM radio speaker, powered by a hand-crank 500mW amp, mounted on the ceiling, in a basement lit only with beef tallow candles, in knee-high water, wearing nothing but sweat socks, while drinking cheap Canadian whiskey from an old chandelier, reciting the Avesta backwards, and crying about my departed bulldog Fred; if you can find happiness with an iPod, more power to you", would you be comparably annoyed?
 
Functionally, it's fairly close to the same thing.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #22
Vinyl discussions never usually get snippy!
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #23
So listening inattentively was his own foible and there was no implication that it was the foible of others.  Ok, whatever you say.

At no point did Funkstar state what you have there. It does not appear to be implied or even readily inferred.

Indeed, (s)he was careful to talk about personal preference and use the pronoun I over and over, while simultaneously stating that vinyl is inherently inferior.

Sorry if "I know it's not as good but I like the experience" annoys you so much; there's a lot of that in many avenues of life.


Funkstar is implying that the digital experience is inferior because digital is more convenient. What do you think "If you can find happiness in an iPod with 10,000 tracks, then more power to you" means? That's not innocent, nor shows just a "personal preference", it obviously shows a sense of entitlement, of superiority.
It means that he can go that extra mile, the mile that digital users can not go, because he's the real deal, the real connoisseur. Only if it's inconvinient, is a real experience. The fact that this is pure idiotic snobbery, doesn't change the fact that he's actually implying it.

All that vintage machines with moving parts, the glowing tubes, the big and bold covers, the dead tech fetishism, the collecting, but above all the sense of superiority, is what drives all this vinyl snobbery, and not the good old music.

I think you have a chip on your shoulder about something. Why can’t I listen to music any way I please? You and Greynol seem to be very angry that I am happy with my sub optimal choice. And no, it wasn’t elitist what I said about the iPod, it was to demonstrate that you can have vastly more music, in perfect quality, for little money. Being a human myself, I have a more subjective experience. Yes I can hear that a record doesn’t sound as good, but my experience of listening to it far exceeds anything else I have tried.

God forbid I would like objects and machines. What an old fashioned elitist bastard I must be. I should trade it all in for a Spotify subscription - then I wouldn’t even need files!
  • Last Edit: 28 November, 2017, 02:17:29 AM by Funkstar De Luxe

Re: A day of vinyl -- a reminder of inferior technology
Reply #24
To prefer form over function is just fetishism. To disguise this fetishism condescendingly as a superior experience is laughable. Vinyl is a joke.