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Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #50
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"?

Yes, I think that's all very sensible, but a 'needle drop' could presumably capture it without the need for the constant overhead of effort and expense that vinyl entails..? Not as much fun though, presumably - if you like that sort of thing.

And I think that some of the music I like simply doesn't work on vinyl (e.g. big symphony orchestras playing very dynamic music).

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #51
As has been said before, unless you can hear beyond 21-ish kHz anything and everything audible from vinyl can probably be digitized and played back as red book. Good luck doing it the other way around.

Intrinsic dynamic range of vinyl is higher than that of CD? Color me skeptical. Please provide some evidence.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #52
And I think that some of the music I like simply doesn't work on vinyl (e.g. big symphony orchestras playing very dynamic music).



The move to consumer digital audio releases in the 1970s/80s was spearheaded and championed  by 'classical' music recording engineers, who for decades chafed at (and became ingenious at working around) the limitations of analog.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #53
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


(sigh)


there's a reason I keep this post bookmarked:

http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php...st&p=579779

and this:

http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php...mp;#entry726941



and this is worth keeping at hand too:

http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_%28Vinyl%29

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #54
Why sigh? I said it was all subjective, no? And the posts/articles you link to seem to confirm what I thought.

It seems evident that Philips/Sony designed the CD specification to be the best (in terms of technically feasible and economically viable) compromise that would perform at least on par with what could be achieved with vinyl under above-average to ideal conditions.

There is an important consideration that comes into play for me and that's got almost nothing to do with technical qualities: the way you listen. Playback of digital music (from CD to your iTunes/whatever library) is easy, you can skip back and forth without a lot of hassle (or risk), and you don't have to manipulate the player every 20 minutes or so. Vinyl requires preparation for playback, you have to stay close to the TT anyway, and you know that with each playback you degrade the carrier just that tiny little bit. For me at least that means it's a more intense experience (that oddly sounds more relaxed, but that may be my vintage Stanton cart ) during which I'm much less likely to be distracted, and that I rarely engage in when there's likely to be interference of any kind.


Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #55
It seems evident that Philips/Sony designed the CD specification to be the best (in terms of technically feasible and economically viable) compromise that would perform at least on par with what could be achieved with vinyl under above-average to ideal conditions.


What makes you say this? I think it seems evident that they wanted it to be much, much better.

Quote
There is an important consideration that comes into play for me and that's got almost nothing to do with technical qualities: the way you listen. Playback of digital music (from CD to your iTunes/whatever library) is easy, you can skip back and forth without a lot of hassle (or risk), and you don't have to manipulate the player every 20 minutes or so. Vinyl requires preparation for playback, you have to stay close to the TT anyway, and you know that with each playback you degrade the carrier just that tiny little bit. For me at least that means it's a more intense experience (that oddly sounds more relaxed, but that may be my vintage Stanton cart ) during which I'm much less likely to be distracted, and that I rarely engage in when there's likely to be interference of any kind.


But then it all hinges on the definition of "sound", as in "sounds better". I think you are bringing in other factors apart from the 'sound' alone.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #56
Why sigh? I said it was all subjective, no? And the posts/articles you link to seem to confirm what I thought.

It seems evident that Philips/Sony designed the CD specification to be the best (in terms of technically feasible and economically viable) compromise that would perform at least on par with what could be achieved with vinyl under above-average to ideal conditions.

There is an important consideration that comes into play for me and that's got almost nothing to do with technical qualities: the way you listen. Playback of digital music (from CD to your iTunes/whatever library) is easy, you can skip back and forth without a lot of hassle (or risk), and you don't have to manipulate the player every 20 minutes or so. Vinyl requires preparation for playback, you have to stay close to the TT anyway, and you know that with each playback you degrade the carrier just that tiny little bit. For me at least that means it's a more intense experience (that oddly sounds more relaxed, but that may be my vintage Stanton cart ) during which I'm much less likely to be distracted, and that I rarely engage in when there's likely to be interference of any kind.


I seem to recall another thread, along the lines of why people actually like, or even prefer listening to LPs in which much of the experience was eulogised from the standpoint of  personal history, lifestyle, choices and preferences, down to smell of the ink on the album sleeves and steady hand required to manually position the stylus. It was about the subjective experience, and why CDs never, for many of us, came anywhere near to LPs as treasured objects.  It might be a better place for subjective reflections on the media, sans technical claims.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #57
I seem to recall another thread, along the lines of why people actually like, or even prefer listening to LPs in which much of the experience was eulogised from the standpoint of  personal history, lifestyle, choices and preferences, down to smell of the ink on the album sleeves and steady hand required to manually position the stylus. It was about the subjective experience, and why CDs never, for many of us, came anywhere near to LPs as treasured objects.  It might be a better place for subjective reflections on the media, sans technical claims.

Quite. There's an age (usually in your early-to-mid teens) where you saved up your pocket-money, bought the one album you could afford (after agonising over the choice) and, as soon as you got home, played it all the way through 3 or 4 times, while scrutinising any sleeve notes for ineffable wisdom. If that was during the LP era (as it was for me), then it'll have some lasting influence on your perception.

For the record (ha!), my first LP was '7' by Madness. Still got it, still love it.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #58
When CDs first became available I had put up with the inadequacies of vinyl for more than 25 years. It wasn't long after that that my turntable and every LP was dumped in the trash. Since then I have replaced some of the albums with the CD version, but I have never regretted making a clean break.

OTOH, I did later buy a cheap turntable to rip my father's vinyl collection for him.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #59
Why sigh? I said it was all subjective, no? And the posts/articles you link to seem to confirm what I thought.

It seems evident that Philips/Sony designed the CD specification to be the best (in terms of technically feasible and economically viable) compromise that would perform at least on par with what could be achieved with vinyl under above-average to ideal conditions.


Wrong.  In terms of accuracy it *bests* vinyl in virtually every way.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #60
I wish we had more control over how a CD or media file is mastered. I've got some CDs that sound very veiled, rolled off on the top and bottom end.
Ad hominem attacks are not Science.

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #61
You can say the very same thing about vinyl.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Does vinyl really sound better? An engineer explains

Reply #62
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?


Good insights. A lot of the perceived Vinyl Magic is due to its audible flaws, and I don't mean just the tics and pops. There is no technical performance aspect of vinyl that is within an order of magnitude of the CD format. Every known technical attribute of vinyl is at least 10 times worse than CD and often  100 or more times worse. However, it is now well known that listening pleasure is highly contingent on familiarity.

Quote
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


The answer to that is what I just said. People who prefer vinyl must prefer it due to its audible technical limitations because that is the extent of any reliably perceived differences. Of course there is also the ritual of playing vinyl.

For me the vinyl/CD split was about whether you prefer sonic accuracy to the original expression of the music, or whether the medium is the better part of the message. I prefer the music, probably because I was raised on live sound which never had any tics and pops - maybe a few coughs in the winter.

Quote
BTW, mono vs. stereo bass, is that really an issue with common speaker separations, as well as our own interaural distance?


Yes, because the mono mixing for vinyl often happened at frequencies an octave or more higher than where we cross over our subwoofers.

Quote
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"?


Actually, there is an organized push to sell multiple subwoofers, but the technical rationale is developing an even bass field throughout the listening room. The mixing of bass in the room is probably the better argument for giving the mono bass on vinyl a pass. Of course the mono bass was not the only concession to vinyl's limitation in the bass range, there is the slight matter of bass extension. Vinyl can't work well when the tone arm is doing its fundamental resonance thing, and depending on the player that might start as high as 30 Hz.

A lot of LPs were not designed to play on SOTA turntables, but rather the sub-$20 groove busters with crystal cartridges (high mass stylus, low compliance, low mass tone arm). Labels that depended on that market such as Motown in the 60s simply rolled everything off at about 85 Hz (8th order) in the mixing consoles so nobody in the production chain would ever miss it.

 
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