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Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #25
Perhaps "better" really means it sounds "different" every time? The LP that is (Just trying to find a fake reason).
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Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #26
Its possible that the mastering was superior
Pure assumption.

There are some releases where the cut of the record is indeed a different master to the CD release.
For instance?

Of course they don't always sound better.
You lost me: Are you implying they frequently do, or not?

In my own experiment a controlled ABX test [...] the vinyl transfer was strongly preferred.
Care to share more details on how that is the case, please?

Its possible that the mastering was superior but also that the lack of top end response lends itself to the program material.
Again, assumptions - not likely a DBT's typical outcome.

Vinyl certainly doesn't sound better, but it may deliver a more relaxing experience in some cases.
The "relaxing" bit does help me in shaping up my opinion, as per next comment.

Opinions?

Quite honestly, your post (with all its assumptions and the fact you don't mention any source) does make you sound like a covert audiophile who's just gotten here to try to play the devil's advocate.

But I strongly hope I'm flat out wrong.
Listen to the music, not the media.
Qualidade em MP3

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #27
Vinyl is surely going to remain a minority. If that minority grows, fair enough: lots of us are old enough to appreciate the charm of vinyl, and even to want to have a turntable, whether or not it is our primary source, I am, I do, and it isn't. In fact it is very rarely used at all, but, somehow, I'd feel uncomfortable without it.

Among the minority, there is a minority who are evangelists. Every tiny percentage increase is big news that proves that the digital age was just a brief interruption in the true way of true music.

The attitude, along with a number of other audiophool-related activities, seems very close to religious behaviour. I wonder if that has ever been studied? Tangential to the thread, but something that relates to both is this article about brain behaviour: The Belief Engine.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #28
Quote
... vinyl sales have skyrocketed from under a million in 2007 to potentially more than 8 million this year in the U.S. alone — in part thanks to the thinking that vinyl just sounds better.

Is that true? Kind of. Sometimes. It depends.... Does vinyl sound better? ~ The Oregonian


Aside from the inanity of article, what I find most amusing about the article is the author's lack of control over the english language/the intentional wishywashiness of the "question". Did the author really intend to discuss whether it is true that people believe that vinyl 'just sounds better'? Because if he did, he seems to have failed to argue his case, at least explicitly. Ignore, move on.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #29
Vinyl is surely going to remain a minority. If that minority grows, fair enough: lots of us are old enough to appreciate the charm of vinyl, and even to want to have a turntable, whether or not it is our primary source, I am, I do, and it isn't. In fact it is very rarely used at all, but, somehow, I'd feel uncomfortable without it.

Of course there is a tiny uptick in vinyl sales but it will always remain a very small minority and this phase will probably wear off again too. People still ride horses despite the rise of the plains, trains and automobiles. On the whole the analogue days are over.


Small Data: Is lots of vinyl being sold?
Every night with my star friends / We eat caviar and drink champagne
Sniffing in the VIP area / We talk about Frank Sinatra
Do you know Frank Sinatra? / He's dead

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #30
Those official vinyl sales figures don't (as far as I know) include second-hand sales, which would add a fair bit to the total. I have bought about 10 times more second-hand than new, when it comes to LPs.

But yes, it is and will remain a minority thing. Just a bit less minority than it was, and that's a good thing.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #31
I'd like to see the source of the sales numbers and how they compare to this:
http://m.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-30250358

I'd also like a follow-up after the year is over verifying whether this 8-million "potential" was reached.



Try this link:

RIAA Media Sales Statitstics

Total Vinyl unit sales are > 9 million. but total recordings unit sales are more like 1.7 billion.

LP sales dollars are $210 million, but total recordings dollars are almost $7 billiion.

The history of vinyl is that its sales have been up and down, but were mostly killed off and its been a niche product since the late 80s.

Technically there hasn't been much improvement in vinyl's technical performance since early in the decade before the CD. The CD exists because everybody who was trying to improve vinyl realized it was a technical dead end. Given how flawed it is technically, its amazing that it sounds as good as it does. CD took as long to come as it did because it was contingent on the invention of the solid state laser, and that just took time.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #32
Those official vinyl sales figures don't (as far as I know) include second-hand sales, which would add a fair bit to the total.


Come on, the evidence that was presented was about percentage of sales, not total sales.

Let's not try to pretend that a rising tide does not raise all boats, eh?

And, so we're supposed to believe that there are no such things as sales of used digital media? Let's not pile bad logic on top of misrepresented data, eh?

Quote
I have bought about 10 times more second-hand than new, when it comes to LPs.


So what? The total sales of recorded media is billions of units sold to billions of people and data about one person means exactly what?

FWIW I haven't bought any vinyl since 1982, but have bought 100s of CDs just in the past year.

Quote
But yes, it is and will remain a minority thing. Just a bit less minority than it was, and that's a good thing.


Why is selling product based on bad statistics, rotten logic, and manifold false claims about technology and performance a good thing?

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #33
In many cases the vinyl bundle is packed with a CD (does both formats become count in statistics?)  ... if you already have vinyl gear available then why not get both instead of just the CD version ...?

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #34
Why is selling product based on bad statistics, rotten logic, and manifold false claims about technology and performance a good thing?

With all due respect, isn't it a good thing that we live in a free market where people can buy what they want, rather than a command economy where the people are only able to purchase selected goods? As well, if buying vinyl makes someone happy, then they will have judged the money as well spent, won't they? Furthermore, since virgin vinyl is collectable, isn't there an economic argument as well? Besides all that, isn't vinyl relatively harmless when compared to any number of other products sold on the open market?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #35
I think it gets a disproportionate amount of coverage in the mainstream media, never mind here on HA.

It's a niche, and almost irrelevant cute trend. It's like when kids used to put the accessory of the day on their cars (blue lights underneath, go faster stripes down the sides, spoilers on the back). Some people like to be different, others like to jump on something they perceive as different but a growing trend.

For people who want to look for something different from what they've had for the last decade, what is there? There's nothing genuinely new, so some people reach for the old.

But it's really no big deal. The big deal is that very few people have a device (at home, or on the move) that's dedicated to listening to music any more. Yet audio itself is immensely successful, both software (legal downloads putting singles sales at a high), and hardware (soundbars and tiny speakers getting in to many homes). Vinyl and Hi-Res are tiny things on the edge of this. Interesting, so they make the news, but tiny.

I can (and often have) made an argument as to why they're harmful, but they're such a small market that they can't be that harmful.

Cheers,
David.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #36
...isn't vinyl relatively harmless when compared to any number of other products sold on the open market?


Of course, but I think a salient point is that if doing vinyl 'properly' then the recording process itself is modified compared to the digital-only version (no 'quiet bits', no stereo bass, no loud treble transients etc.) and not just relying on de-essers etc. at the mastering stage. Thus vinyl's disproportionate influence on the movers and shakers in the recording industry (did anyone see Sound of Song on BBC4 the other night?) may result in digital-only consumers having to live with vinyl-style recordings in future. Not an earth-shaking tragedy in the scheme of things, but an irritation nevertheless.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #37
That collectiblity  factor can also be illustrated with colored vinyl. It's been around forever, but as we know, historically the vast majority of vinyl was black. Colored vinyl was used to make a record more collectible, often for limited-run pressings. But the past few years, nearly half of all new vinyl pressed is colored. This implies that a lot of the demand is due to the perceived collectibility. Other new "specialty" records are hollow and filled with liquids, glitter, diluted blood (no shit!). (Well, at least to my knowledge no one has pressed feces into a record yet.)

Ironically, if the trend continues it means colored vinyl will be just as common as black vinyl soon. Perhaps we are seeing a "vinyl bubble" and not a permanent "vinyl resurgence"?

Source on that colored vinyl stat: http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/946...inyls-comeback/


From your link:
"Musicol’s two-press operation in Columbus, Ohio, has been pressing vinyl since the 1960s, and though the place used to press about 90 percent black vinyl, color vinyl now accounts for about half of its orders"

N.B That's not half of all vinyl sold nation wide, but half of the production of a little two press outfit, and they do that because they maximise the profit from those two presses that way.

So we're not going to see 50/50 colour to black ratio that's just silly, please use just facts when posting info– we should at least hold ourselves up to the same levels of proof we demand of the vinyl zealots!

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #38
Thus vinyl's disproportionate influence on the movers and shakers in the recording industry (did anyone see Sound of Song on BBC4 the other night?) may result in digital-only consumers having to live with vinyl-style recordings in future. Not an earth-shaking tragedy in the scheme of things, but an irritation nevertheless.
That in itself is swings and roundabouts. Where there is a dedicated vinyl mix/master (there often isn't, but there sometimes is) it'll often be better than the CD master. In the rare cases where the vinyl mix/master makes its way out digitally, the existence of vinyl has genuinely helped digital-only customers.

I wonder how many of the vinyl compromises (near-mono bass, controlled treble, controlled levels) are part of the master tape, and how many are enforced only at cutting time?

Cheers,
David.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #39
Why is selling product based on bad statistics, rotten logic, and manifold false claims about technology and performance a good thing?

With all due respect, isn't it a good thing that we live in a free market where people can buy what they want, rather than a command economy where the people are only able to purchase selected goods? As well, if buying vinyl makes someone happy, then they will have judged the money as well spent, won't they? Furthermore, since virgin vinyl is collectable, isn't there an economic argument as well? Besides all that, isn't vinyl relatively harmless when compared to any number of other products sold on the open market?


The above response does not seem relevant to the issue I raised about truth in promotion.

I never even hinted that the market should not be free.

Here's the US law about truth in advertising.

FTC on truth in advertising

"
When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. The Federal Trade Commission enforces these truth-in-advertising laws, and it applies the same standards no matter where an ad appears – in newspapers and magazines, online, in the mail, or on billboards or buses. The FTC looks especially closely at advertising claims that can affect consumers’ health or their pocketbooks – claims about food, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, and tobacco and on conduct related to high-tech products and the Internet, such as the dissemination of spyware. The FTC also monitors and writes reports about ad industry practices regarding marketing of food, violent movies, music, and electronic games to children.

When the FTC finds a case of fraud perpetrated on consumers, the agency files actions in federal district court for immediate and permanent orders to stop scams; prevent fraudsters from perpetrating scams in the future; freeze their assets; and get compensation for victims.
"

I know enough about the practical application of the law to know that the law is more likely to be enforced when someone complains about infractions. I don't know who is complaining to the government about infractions like the ones we see related to the local issue of false claims related to vinyl, or false claims related to high end audio in general.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #40
I think it must be at the cutting stage 2Bdecided.

It is the cutting engineer who has to decide if the final product will be playable and he gets to sign his name outside the run out groove. He will almost certainly use a digital source even if that means digitising a tape or any other media beforehand.

What kept a large proportion of what remains of the worlds vinyl pressing capacity going through the late eighties to the early nounties was the boom in dance music and 12" singles. All studios went digital as fast as they could. It's cheaper, easier and better. Lot's of popular music came out of peoples' bedroom DAWs.

So the skill that was lost from vinyl production was cutting direct from tape. All the lathes were converted for digital only cutting. But the cutting engineer cannot be expected to transfer all digital source direct to vinyl. He must have some control. Or he would have to keep rejecting the digital master and sending it back.

The generation of producers creating to tape and the guys mastering tape for vinyl have gone. The guy doing the cutting is the star survivor.


Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #41
Quote
"Vinyl is the only consumer playback format we have that's fully analog and fully lossless,"

What! I have come in a bit late to this thread to make a comment on something posted this far back, but although this statement does has a slight aura of truth, it is horribly misleading.

Vinyl is fully analog, even more so than tape (which for decades has bias applied to the raw signal to push it into a more linear portion of the magnetic loop), so I can live with that claim. It has some pretty horrendous EQ applied to it to cut low and boost highs, but that is reversed on playback. So analog - yes.

The statement about it being fully lossless... vinyl is certainly not "fully" lossless, although within the constraints of not being psychoacoustically lossless it is... so what is the writer really talking about? Even 16 bit PCM CD audio is only lossless to 96dB, with a theoretical bandwidth of DC to 22kHz (plus a tiny bit). Vinyl is far inferior to both those specifications, and if we start to bring linearity into the equation, well - sorry son, no dice.

My personal opinion is that the only way vinyl could be better than 16 bit PCM CD is that the signal can't be driven to clipping - like so many CDs are these days. If an LP (vinyl) signal is driven too hard, the track will break through into the next track. Recording "engineers" were forced to do it right, and not just crank the volume higher and higher to appease the boss.

MM

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #42
I wonder how many of the vinyl compromises (near-mono bass, controlled treble, controlled levels) are part of the master tape, and how many are enforced only at cutting time?

Cheers,
David.



My understanding is that in the heyday of of vinyl , many such moves were enforced at cutting, but these were recorded and preserved in a 'production master tape' in real time so that copies could be easily pressed thereafter without engineer intervention.

It was the use of these production masters as ADC sources in the early days of CD, that was sometimes blamed for disappointing CD sound.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #43
I wonder how many of the vinyl compromises (near-mono bass, controlled treble, controlled levels) are part of the master tape, and how many are enforced only at cutting time?



My understanding is that in the heyday of of vinyl , many such moves were enforced at cutting, but these were recorded and preserved in a 'production master tape' in real time so that copies could be easily pressed thereafter without engineer intervention.

It was the use of these production masters as ADC sources in the early days of CD, that was sometimes blamed for disappointing CD sound.


The limitations of vinyl were often considered by the writers, arrangers, and conductors of the music. Musicians received informal training in controlling how they modulated their instruments. Recording engineers often referred to musical scores as they rode the gain during the recording session.

Bass cross feed was, if memory serves implemented pretty close to the disc cutter.

A record sold a lot of copies  required the production of a large number of stampers. Stampers work best when they are made physically and temporally close to the disc pressing process which have distributed over a number of geographically dispersed pressing plants. These sorts of considerations spurred the development of "Cutting Masters" that could be shippede all over the world and turned into stampers by less experienced personnel. A cutting master was designed to produce a standardized stamper using a standardized cutting lathe setup. It might contain all of the processing required to turn master from the mixdown process into a usable stamper. IOW all the tweaks required to defang it for the purposes of creating a playable vinyl LP were applied.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #44
Thus vinyl's disproportionate influence on the movers and shakers in the recording industry (did anyone see Sound of Song on BBC4 the other night?) may result in digital-only consumers having to live with vinyl-style recordings in future. Not an earth-shaking tragedy in the scheme of things, but an irritation nevertheless.
That in itself is swings and roundabouts. Where there is a dedicated vinyl mix/master (there often isn't, but there sometimes is) it'll often be better than the CD master. In the rare cases where the vinyl mix/master makes its way out digitally, the existence of vinyl has genuinely helped digital-only customers.

I wonder how many of the vinyl compromises (near-mono bass, controlled treble, controlled levels) are part of the master tape, and how many are enforced only at cutting time?

Cheers,
David.


It is at the cutting stage. Vinyl pretty much has to be processed differently then the CD version. The loudness wars have pushed us to the point that we are left with 0dBFS modulated pink noise. You cannot cut that to vinyl. It was the limitations of vinyl that kept the loudness wars from escalating before the CD. The labels have always been pushing to have loudest track on the radio.

However in the past recording engineers had a good understanding of the limitations of vinyl and recorded albums with that in mind. For example knowing that low frequencies would be summed to mono. Phase was checked constantly, a good engineer is till checking everything. These days about anyone can record with a computer and a thousand of software and hardware. In the past you had to sweep floors, wrap cables, and help log sessions for months all while silently watching everything as the experienced engineers worked. After 6 months you might get to move a fader.

I hear many comments from mastering engineers about the poor quality of many of the mixes they receive these days, many of them already over compressed, over-eq'ed, and over processed already. Leaving them little to work with.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #45
Quote
"Vinyl is the only consumer playback format we have that's fully analog and fully lossless,"

What! I have come in a bit late to this thread to make a comment on something posted this far back, but although this statement does has a slight aura of truth, it is horribly misleading.

Vinyl is fully analog, even more so than tape (which for decades has bias applied to the raw signal to push it into a more linear portion of the magnetic loop), so I can live with that claim. It has some pretty horrendous EQ applied to it to cut low and boost highs, but that is reversed on playback. So analog - yes.

The statement about it being fully lossless... vinyl is certainly not "fully" lossless, although within the constraints of not being psychoacoustically lossless it is... so what is the writer really talking about? Even 16 bit PCM CD audio is only lossless to 96dB, with a theoretical bandwidth of DC to 22kHz (plus a tiny bit). Vinyl is far inferior to both those specifications, and if we start to bring linearity into the equation, well - sorry son, no dice.

My personal opinion is that the only way vinyl could be better than 16 bit PCM CD is that the signal can't be driven to clipping - like so many CDs are these days. If an LP (vinyl) signal is driven too hard, the track will break through into the next track. Recording "engineers" were forced to do it right, and not just crank the volume higher and higher to appease the boss.

MM



Every analog recording format is lossy, it was not until we had 20 bit and higher digital in the studio, did the playback of the tracks sound like what was recorded. Even 16 bit playback was closer to what was recorded, but the earlier convertors had problems. Tape speed, track width, bias, flux level, tape formula all have trade offs. You pick your trade offs depending on what you need to record.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #46
They finaly found a way to combine the very best of both worlds and most important they even sell it to us mortals. Digital DSD meets analog vinyl!!
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #47
I thought this was the ultimate digital/vinyl hybrid:

http://www.designboom.com/technology/jeff-...og-hybrid-disc/

It would be neat to own, but Ebay says I have to pay at least ~$80 for a used copy, which is a bit much. I wish more albums had been made that way, it's delightfully silly.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #48
They finaly found a way to combine the very best of both worlds and most important they even sell it to us mortals. Digital DSD meets analog vinyl!!

Why didn't they just use the master tape?

I couldn't figure out if the master tape was missing, or if this was just a very very posh version of the needle drops of pre-1963 (i.e. out of copyright) recordings that can be bought cheaply all over Europe.

This release reminds you that vinyl can sound very good - but $50k just to play it that well, when it's still audibly inferior to the master tape - a psychologist would have a field day. Though they'd have a field day here too

Cheers,
David.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #49
I'm late to this, just as I've been late to "joining" the vinyl hype...

First: what are we discussing here? Seems that there are 4 valid answers: yes, no, sometimes and I don't know/care. Anything beyond that requires a more detailed question

I personally would have answered no until a few months ago, but now I tend to find that the sound of my old LPs indeed does have that little something that CDs don't have. "It sounds better" is inherently a very subjective thing, but it's like vinyl has more presence, is more spatial and probably has a higher dynamic range (doesn't it, I recall that at least some specs can be higher with a good vinyl disk than the theoretical limits imposed by CD?). The little random imperfections that come from a needle scraping a tortured groove are probably contributing to the spatial aspect, and maybe the compression used also helps making the music sound better in certain sound volume ranges?

It's funny that one of the worst vinyl-addicts I know (who basically refuses to buy disks that came from a digital workflow) prefers vinyl exactly because of its limitations, and the fact that "his" music (funk & soul) was largely composed with those limitations in mind. I guess that in that context, vinyl indeed does sound better. The same way that tube amps (can) sound better

BTW, mono vs. stereo bass, is that really an issue with common speaker separations, as well as our own interaural distance? If it were, wouldn't we be seeing all speaker manufacturers trying to sell us stereo subwoofers, instead of a single module you can put somewhere "in a corner"?

 
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