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Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

I just recently discovered that the mastering on CD's isn't always the same as on Vinyl, i.e. the same album, produced by the same label, yet two completely different looking waveforms between the two...

Can somebody explain to me how Vinyl is "mastered".  Is an Album on Vinyl always different than it is on CD, in terms of loudness and dynamic range or is does it just depend on the album?

If so why???

I'm really considering getting more into Vinyl, after discovering how much better Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel sounds to me on the 12" that I bought the other day...

Anybody feel like helping me to understand all this?


Thanks.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #1
I just recently discovered that the mastering on CD's isn't always the same as on Vinyl, i.e. the same album, produced by the same label, yet two completely different looking waveforms between the two...

Can somebody explain to me how Vinyl is "mastered".  Is an Album on Vinyl always different than it is on CD, in terms of loudness and dynamic range or is does it just depend on the album?

If so why???


It really depends. I've found that new albums are usually mastered just the same on vinyl as CD - meaning, badly.

Both formats have enough dynamic range for good, dynamic recordings. They're technically sound. It's just that music today is compressed and wrecked on purpose. It's irrelevant what format they use, because they'll muck it up anyway.

Quote
I'm really considering getting more into Vinyl, after discovering how much better Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel sounds to me on the 12" that I bought the other day...


It's possible that the original releases of older albums would be less compressed than newer CD remasters, simply because they didn't master as badly back then.

Also, directly comparing a CD and a record of the same music is difficult because of how many variables there are with vinyl playback. You've got the cartridge, stylus, turntable, and amp/pre-amp that could all be changing the sound. And if you buy second-hand or play your records a lot, vinyl wear. You'll probably be listening to them on different sets of speakers, too.

In short, it's possible that the vinyl versions of some albums will sound better, but this is because of deliberate mastering decisions. The format is not inherently superior.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #2
i would disagree. there are many examples of completely different mastering and this is especially interesting in "modern" times when CD is the dominant format.

compression just doesn't sound awesome on vinyl.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #3
...I'm really considering getting more into Vinyl, after discovering how much better Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel sounds to me on the 12" that I bought the other day...
Thanks.


It doesn't make sense replace CDs by vinyl. You may think vinyl sounds better because of the placebo effect. If the masters are the same you are way better off with CDs because they are digital.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #4
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=532809 date=1196402961]You may think vinyl sounds better because of the placebo effect.[/quote]

You can't be serious.  Do you actually know what the placebo effect is?  It doesn't sound like it.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #5
Kevin Gray has written a good primer on the process.

The maximum dynamic range available to vinyl is far less than the maximum range available on CD. But plenty of examples exist where the vinyl release uses more of that range than the equivalent CD release.

All this said, though, generally, you cannot make any generalizations about the quality of a vinyl master compared to the quality of a CD master. Sometimes the producer decides to go all-out and make an audiophile-quality release on vinyl, and a mainstream mastering on CD. Sometimes a different mastering is done, but not to explicitly be a superior mastering than CD. And it's quite possible that many records simply use the CD as a master, so the vinyl release is just the CD with added distortion. It's generally very hard to tell which situation is which, except when very obvious signs are present - the existence or non-existence of very clipped tracks; gross differences in compressor use; etc.

It should be pretty easy to find examples of LPs with roughly the same mastering as on CD, modulo the bass/treble differences. For electronic, the masters could be about the same. I've bought probably half a dozen Warp Records releases on both LP and CD, and they sound basically the same; I strongly suspect the masters are roughly the same. And I have one new LP (Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna..) whose vinyl waveform looks so smashed that I strongly suspect it's nothing more than the CD cut to LP.

On top of that, I believe that classical LPs usually have more compression applied to them than CD. So for some genres, the quality argument goes the other way around.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #6
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=532809 date=1196402961]

...I'm really considering getting more into Vinyl, after discovering how much better Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel sounds to me on the 12" that I bought the other day...
Thanks.


It doesn't make sense replace CDs by vinyl. You may think vinyl sounds better because of the placebo effect. If the masters are the same you are way better off with CDs because they are digital.
[/quote]


Yeah I don't think I would try to switch over my entire collection from CD to Vinyl.

This Depeche Mode thing was kind of eye-opening though.  I definitely have a few other albums on CD which I love but think sound like crap... I might just take care to do a little research before purchasing any 2nd copies on vinyl.

On that note however, check this out Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel - Another Victim of the Loudness Race

Guess other people have touched upon this already.


Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #8
There are some practical reasons why vinyl *needs* to be mastered in a different way than CD.

The low bass (below about 100Hz) has to be mixed down to mono, otherwise the out-of-phase component might cause the LP cutter head to rise above the disc being cut (and therefore the groove would disappear). But since low bass is pretty much non-directional, this doesn't degrade the listening experience.

Extreme levels of dynamic range compression (which is routinely applied to rock and pop CD releases) cannot be applied to vinyl, because if it were then you'd end up with either a playing time of about 5 mins per side, or the LP would have to be cut at such a low level that surface noise would be unacceptably high. This mechanical limitation to the amount of compression achievable on vinyl is probably the main (only?) reason that modern vinyl often sounds better than the CD equivalent.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #9
Extreme levels of dynamic range compression (which is routinely applied to rock and pop CD releases) cannot be applied to vinyl, because if it were then you'd end up with either a playing time of about 5 mins per side, or the LP would have to be cut at such a low level that surface noise would be unacceptably high. This mechanical limitation to the amount of compression achievable on vinyl is probably the main (only?) reason that modern vinyl often sounds better than the CD equivalent.


This is also the reason why dance 12" often are cut as one 7 minute track per side and hence easily play 3-5 dB louder than a typical LP with 25 minutes per side.

Also, big volume differences between the two stereo channels on vinyl cause distortion and channel bleed, while CD can hold completely arbitrary stereo tracks.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #10
Here's another link to read up on the difference between vinyl & CD mastering.
It's from IEEE.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/aug07/5429
The article is entitled " The Future of Music".
The first part is entitled "Part One: Tearing Down the Wall of Noise"

I am a newbie to this forum, and I apologize in advance if this article is too basic, or if I've missed the mark entirely.

Vic

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #11
There are some practical reasons why vinyl *needs* to be mastered in a different way than CD.

The low bass (below about 100Hz) has to be mixed down to mono, otherwise the out-of-phase component might cause the LP cutter head to rise above the disc being cut (and therefore the groove would disappear). But since low bass is pretty much non-directional, this doesn't degrade the listening experience.

Extreme levels of dynamic range compression (which is routinely applied to rock and pop CD releases) cannot be applied to vinyl, because if it were then you'd end up with either a playing time of about 5 mins per side, or the LP would have to be cut at such a low level that surface noise would be unacceptably high. This mechanical limitation to the amount of compression achievable on vinyl is probably the main (only?) reason that modern vinyl often sounds better than the CD equivalent.



Does this mean that the so called "loudness race" doesn't effect vinyl mastering?




Guess other people have touched upon this already.


d'ya think?   

get some popcorn and start here

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread....53#post10955553



I was referring to the Depeche Mode album.  Thanks for the link though, looks like I have some reading to do...

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #12
It doesn't make sense replace CDs by vinyl. You may think vinyl sounds better because of the placebo effect. If the masters are the same you are way better off with CDs because they are digital.
[/quote]

Ha! Have you ever compared?

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #13
I have, and I have plenty of LPs that don't sound any better than their digital counterparts.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #14
Personally, I'm NEVER going back to vinyl!  I can't stand the "snap", "crackle", and "pop"!   Sure, that Depeche Mode record sounds good the first time you play it, but after a few years and a few-hundred plays, it's probably going to deteriorate.    I really tried to take care of my records, but I'll bet they all have audible defects now.  I'm not sure...  Maybe some of them are listenable...  I don't play them much, but every time I've transferred one to CD, it's needed lots of "fixing-up".

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #15
I would hope that LPs are differently mastered than CDs. Not because of the arguments about excess compression of dynamic range used in modern rock recordings, but because the different technical limitations that have been mentioned here and elsewhere.

LPs have some severe mechanical limitations that dictate best practices. In order to keep grooves from becoming too wide for a stylus to track, dynamic range and levels must be carefully checked. Strong bass frequencies that differ between left and right channels can throw a stylus out of a groove as well. Couple this information with a (relatively) high noise floor and you have several stark differences to deal with.

And that is only the recording end. In playback there are of course huge mechanical artifacts introduced by cartridges, tone arms and platters, all of which will affect the output waveform's appearance and sound. Simply put, I would not expect good correlation between CD and LP outputs in either the time or frequency/phase domains.

As one who lived with 100% vinyl for the first 30 years of his life, I have long ago concluded that well mastered CDs come far closer to the sound of the original master than LPs ever do. However, LPs sound good because people really like the mechanical artifacts that are a part of that listening experience. They are noisy, distorted, warped and apparently enjoyable under several real world conditions.

Small observation: I still have a fraction of my old vinyl library, about 500 pieces, left in my collection. When I play them, friends always think they sound great. I always think they sound distorted and overly warm and much prefer the digital versions.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #16
One question then : If vinyl is not sounding better, why are a lot of audiophiles (you know those guys with golden ears and 3000$ each speakers, 5000$ amps, 100$ per meter cable) buying phono's and lp's and say they like it better.
Cant be all placebo?

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #17
For Pete's sake, none of it is placebo.

Some of you guys really need to learn what placebo really means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #18
Talking of DM, the new remasters are also released on vinyl, but the "new 180 gram" heavy vinyl. I believe it's heavier so that the needle won't jump due to the loudness it has.

I saw Playing the Angel Vinyl version and yes, it's quieter, but I listened to a mint-condition LP and I couldn't stand the pops and clicks were too much to me. To me that technology is completely a step-backwards.

I think loudness race has reached its limits and it's here to stay, so I better get used to enjoying compressed music. By the way, it's good to point out that Playing the Angel has additional production distortion and adding up the the loud mastering makes things even worse. ULTRA and EXCITER are technically as loud as Playing the Angel, but they don't sound *that fucked*.

You might try the Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo Downmix included in the PTA Deluxe Version, it's exactly around 89dB. (of course, you will have to make the downmix and conversion)

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #19
Personally, I'm NEVER going back to vinyl!  I can't stand the "snap", "crackle", and "pop"!   Sure, that Depeche Mode record sounds good the first time you play it, but after a few years and a few-hundred plays, it's probably going to deteriorate.    I really tried to take care of my records, but I'll bet they all have audible defects now.  I'm not sure...  Maybe some of them are listenable...  I don't play them much, but every time I've transferred one to CD, it's needed lots of "fixing-up".



OK but if I purchase a Vinyl LP new and rip it, then I could preserve the way it sounds the first time around, right?

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #20
If you look at the grooves of a record under a microscope, you would be amazed at how much damage is visible after just one playing.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #21
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=532809 date=1196402961]You may think vinyl sounds better because of the placebo effect.


You can't be serious.  Do you actually know what the placebo effect is?  It doesn't sound like it.
[/quote]

He believes LPs sound better than CDs so when listening to them he is under the impression that the LP actually sounds better than the CD.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #22
If you look at the grooves of a record under a microscope, you would be amazed at how much damage is visible after just one playing.
TOS8. I'm aware of several microscope studies that show playback conditions that show fairly minimal record wear. Even the ones that did require 100 playings to reproduce, not one.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #23
If you look at the grooves of a record under a microscope, you would be amazed at how much damage is visible after just one playing.
TOS8. I'm aware of several microscope studies that show playback conditions that show fairly minimal record wear. Even the ones that did require 100 playings to reproduce, not one.

This was something that I saw many many years ago so I can't give you a reference. There was a quite visible change in the grooves after a single playing, but they made no claim about any audible change.

Another CD vs. Vinyl Question

Reply #24
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=532996 date=1196485594]He believes LPs sound better than CDs so when listening to them he is under the impression that the LP actually sounds better than the CD.[/quote]
Maybe they do sound better to him, I guarantee they sound different.

Look up placebo again and see if you can still force fit it into this makey-uppey definition that you seem to have created for yourself.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

 
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