Does vinyl only make sense if they're pressed from analog tapes?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Remote Control Triangle, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Not all digitally sourced vinyl sounds bad. Here are a few that come to mind that are pretty spectacular sounding:
    Rickie Lee Jones- Girl at Her Volcano EP;
    King Crimson- Live in Toronto- pretty spectacular- listen to Starless, it is stunning;
    That Allison Krauss/Union Station Live- MoFi? that now fetches big money was a digitally sourced record;
    Billy Joel's Songs in the Attic- @Combination turned me on to this- great sounding record.
    Perhaps part of the reason is that these records started life as digital recordings rather than being analog recordings that were converted for LP, I don't know. Most of the reissues on digital don't hold up to the original analog recording, but some, like the Wilson remixes of Benefit and Aqualung outshine the originals (which were lackluster or problematic as original issues) and benefit from the remix. (Same is true of the remix of In the Court- it's a tradeoff-- I have early Island UK pressings, pink label and pink rim. Aside from noise on the quiet passages and the sonic mess that is Schizoid Man, Greg Lake's vocals are very recessed in the original mix of Epitaph. The remix improves that considerably.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  2. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    Your point is valid, but I cannot answer as to why it sounds better but it does. I have that album in many different versions/formats/media/etc and that piece of vinyl is the best I ever heard it and honestly Chervokas, it ain't even close.
     
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  3. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I think there are more variables in play here then a binary analog vs. digital pressing. Some analog pressings are awful. Some digital pressings are fantastic on a physical level, but have terrible masters. Some have great masters and were pressed by the B-team. Etc Etc. I don't want to say to completely disregard the analog vs. digital component, but to me the dichotomy is simply good sounding records vs. bad sounding records.
     
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  4. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Some of it may be the voicing of the cartridge and phono stage that adds a little warmth and 3d image quality--I know, that would be considered a coloration, but I've had the same experience using a very high quality vinyl front end.
     
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  5. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Location:
    Atlanta
    My experience exactly. I bought all used vintage LP's as long as it was affordable, but when it got to the point were a VG+ used LP cost more than a new one, I started to buy new vinyl. I just check out a few reviews from people I trust and get what I believe I can trust to be good. I've bought a few bum copies that I had to exchange but only once have I bought a new LP that sounded bad because of apparent mastering issues.
     
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  6. TheIncredibleHoke

    TheIncredibleHoke Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    The Analog Productions reissue of the Cowboy Junkies The Trinity Sessions is digitally sourced vinyl and it's absolutely stunning. I do normally prefer AAA releases like Music Matters or Analog Productions, but I'm not going to get all fussed about a digitally sourced album if it's mastered well and sounds good.
     
  7. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    Seema to be a few threads popping up on this subject, guess it's troubling a lot of folks. I fall into that category as well.
    I don't want to be a vinyl for the sake of vinyl guy, so I compare where I can.
    I'm leaning more and more to looking to the initial mastering of a title when it's financial feasible, whatever medium it was on.
    For new releases, I'm leaning to the CD, unless the LP comes with a CD or has exceptional packaging.
    Still working through this
     
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  8. Om

    Om Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    In my opinion there is because they can't brick wall a vinyl or the needle will jump off the groove, it would cause real distortion so they use a better mix. Digital can sound just as good as analog if it's mixed properly, 9/10 I prefer the original mix though but new artists on vinyl sound really good. Most new releases unless specified otherwise, will be pressed from a digital source and that is just the truth.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  9. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    I'm not so sure this is true, it's about compressing/killing dynamics, not so much about cutting it hot.
     
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  10. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I'm not a vinyl mastering expert, but I don't think that is quite true unless the vinyl is mastered too loud. But you are right in that many of the engineers try to make separate masters for vinyl with less limiting and compression, if possible, so quite often the vinyl is better sounding and more dynamic than the CD or digital download ... Limiting for modern vinyl mastering - Gearslutz Pro Audio Community



    Below is part of an interview with Scott Hull on TapeOp ... Talking Vinyl with Scott Hull

    Are there mixes that will absolutely sabotage you? Are there tracks that just can't be cut well?


    Almost anything can be cut, but everything gets proportionally harder to cut as it gets louder. Even out of phase bass and terrible sibilant distortion can be cut. But if you take a record that has very harsh vocal sibilance and compare it to a record that doesn't — with the same music, the one with the harsh sibilance might have to be as much as 10 dB lower in level. That's massive! One of the hardest things to cut well is heavy digital peak limiting. The lathe just doesn't react well, and it often requires the level to be reduced to cut it cleanly. But for every dB you lower the level, the physics start to work on your side. There are still a few really extreme things that can't be cut, like a very quiet recording with a large low frequency excursion happening on one channel only. But that kind of thing is so rare in pop music, I don't like to tell people to limit their production too much. You know, if The Beatles could do stereo panned drums and vocals, why can't we? A really good mastering house might make some subtle compensations for that, but you might just barely notice... if they were pointed out to you. It really depends on your desire to have a loud record. Vinyl has a certain noise floor. If the level cut into the disc is low, then when the consumer turns the volume up, the noise floor will come up. Conversely, it's a better situation if they actually turn it down a little bit, because then they're turning down the noise floor.
     
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  11. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    Location:
    Ohio
    If your equipment is different from my own, I reserve the right to tell you it sounds bad. If you’d like to step over to the music forum, I’d be happy to let you know your favorite band is terrible.
     
  12. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    That seems fair enough!
     
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  13. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    I play records, I don't play CDs.....There are reasons for this. Why play a CD when I can have more fun playing a record?

    All this talk about noise or no noise (SNR), unless you only listen to quiet, simple music, is really not a factor as compared to most of us that probably listen to rock/hvy metal or distorted music. Do we really care if Metallica or Iron Maiden recording has a SNR of more than 95dB or 100dB+ for 24bit files?? I really doubt we would care or even notice.....Plus that is not natural when you get above 100dB, that is wider than the difference between absolute silence and the threshold of hearing pain. Nobody's listening room is absolute silence with nothing playing.

    I have zero issues with records cut from a digital source, most new issues are. I have more issues with cutting engineers who don't know what they are doing, and you can hear it. For me a CD is low quality compared to a record of same content.......All recordings saved as a digital file are mastered/saved as 24bit, the CD is then truncated/downsampled to redbook 16bit.....Why would I buy that? If the record is cut from the 24bit master that's what I want. I don't need to compare CD to vinyl of same content anymore, I have done that more than enough to declare the vinyl record sounds better in pretty much all cases.

    Digital and the CD should blow vinyl out of the water, but it does not and what does sound better is really not by much of a margin at all. Certainly nowhere near enough of a reason to go out and spend 3x the value of my analog rig and ohh dbl buy my music collection, not a good use of my money.
     
  14. richbdd01

    richbdd01 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    If you only commit to AAA, it means you can forget about a large amount of stuff out there. It’s more about the recording and mastering. Many top mastering studios like Abbey Road, as an example, have far better DAC’s than we would have at home in our digital streamers or CD players. Also, the mastering for vinyl is typically more dynamic with less limiting etc.

    I have some truly fantastic sounding digital records that sound far superior to some of the AAA vinyl I have. You need to ask the question...’does it sound good?’ rather than ‘is it fully analog’. If you want to hear how digital can sound on vinyl then listen to Alison Krauss/Union Station - So Long, so wrong MFSL and compare it to the digital alternative. I do still try and pick the analog options, where possible.
     
  15. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    To what I have bolded....true that. The key word being 'some'?
    In black crack's heyday, so many were pressed of popular artists that we got a lot of inferior product (sonic wise), especially in the high volume US market.
    One has to do research, kiss a few pigs, sell a child or two into slavery, perhaps a third mortgage....but the rewards can be satisfying....especially if it's a problem child (cue the AC/DC song)!!
     
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  16. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Lots of assumptions there in your post there, bub.
     
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  17. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Las Vegas
    That's actually 100% untrue. There are physical limitations of the format that have to be considered when pressing to vinyl, so there are almost always vinyl-specific masterings due to the low end behavior of vinyl.
     
  18. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Las Vegas
    I too have noticed that.
     
  19. djhurley92

    djhurley92 Active Member

    Location:
    York
    I only really buy new records, and as several others have mentioned, in my opinion the talent of the mastering/cutting engineer is far more important than whether it is an analogue or digital cut (assuming when digital it is from a high quality file with acceptable DR compression).

    If it's a CB, BG or KPG it usually sounds amazing to me regardless of whether it's an analogue or digital source. Knowing it is AAA is reassurance as you know care has been taken, you should be 1 generation closer to the master tape, and it has been more technically challenging to produce, but I am also happy with many digital releases I have from very good mastering engineers. It is worrying though because at some point these guys will retire and I'm not sure who the next generation of talented engineers are.
     
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  20. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Las Vegas
    If nothing else, I find the subject fascinating. And it's actually an important one, imo. Especially when you consider how much records cost, how much money you can spend on a decent system, whether it makes sense in the year 2018 considering the availability of Hi-res digital, whether analog really does offer something unique and inherently more musical to the ear, etc. I guess it frustrates people too, you can hear it from the "just shut up and listen to the music" crowd who've probably been having this debate for decades. But as a musician and amateur recording enthusiast, the subject of sound and playback is totally interesting to me.
     
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  21. bean_counter

    bean_counter Well-Known Member

    Digitally sourced vinyl is a last resort for me. If it's a digital recording, I prefer a download of the highest available non-upsampled bitrate of a good (if not the best) mastering. If the only way to get good sound is to buy the digitally sourced vinyl, I'll do it.

    But I REALLY have to want it. If the title isn't a priority for me, I'll usually settle for the CD - or just skip it and come back to it later, maybe a hi-res download will come out. Plenty of good sounding material to buy.
     
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  22. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    Donald Fagan's 'The Nightfly', pressed on an LP, from a Digital studio recording, sounds pretty darn good!
     
  23. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    A separate master may be used, but it may not. How do you know if it has?

    Vinyl mastering - is a separate master really necessary ?
     
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  24. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.

    I hear ya' - big KG fan here for modern engineers!
    But in these days of 'digital vinyl', one should not make any assumptions based on hype stickers.
    Mastered from analog tape? Cool...but what tape? And when master tape is mentioned, which master?
    The engineer that signs the matrix is not necessarily the engineer that mastered it. May be that he only cut from file a previously mastered work.
    And in addition to the loss of talent through the years, we have also lost a lot of great gear used in those mastering chains.
    Much talent/knowledge was lost when vinyl died? No one to teach the upcoming as there was no one upcoming.
     
  25. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.
    Well true, yet everything is relative, and there are no other options to compare it to.
    I suppose we could do a 'what if'...but that's pointless.
     
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