How do you perceive/articulate the differences between analog/vinyl and digital sources?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cosmo-D, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    I dunno what this blah blah blah format is but I am ready to trash everything I own and replace it with blah blah blah, I sure hope my receiver is blah blah blah compatible. :laugh:
    nosliw and timind like this.
  2. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Some things are better on LP, some CD, some SACD. I try to find the best version that I can and enjoy it without worrying about what format it is.
  3. anorak2

    anorak2 Well-Known Member

    Berlin, Germany
    That would be fine. Unfortunately sometimes technical or scientific explanations for one's preference are given, and some of them are wrong. That needs to be discussed.
  4. sublemon

    sublemon Forum Resident

    sorry, i don't need to google it
  5. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    There is no consensus that 24 bit or DSD sound any different to CD..(Given the same mastering)..Unfortunately its hard to confirm via a controlled blind listening test because guaranteeing exact same masterings (with identical peak levels) is hard..Any difference in DSD (if there is any) is probably down to differences in the DAC's used.
    Of the few controlled (and verified) listening test carried out so far,no difference has been detected in sound between CD 16/44.1 and hi-rez..This is not the case between MP3 v CD or LP v CD.
    basie-fan and anorak2 like this.
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    As is the case with all audio, everything is subjective. This post is 100% subjective as you are making a general claim that can be argued to death.
    What "few controlled (and verified) listening test carried out so far.." are you referring to? Who said there is "no consensus that 24 bit or DSD sound any different to CD.."? Did you participate in any of these listening tests?

    As I said in my system I can hear the difference......If you don't believe me that is not my concern.

    Have a great day :)
  7. Kavorka

    Kavorka Member

    North America
    In my experience, good digital tends to be more impressive on a short listening session. When flipping back-and-forth between digital and vinyl, digital appears less fussy, more authoritative.

    However, on longer listening sessions, digital becomes tiring. If listening to the entire CD, as the playback progresses, I find myself less and less involved and engrossed in music. After about 20 minutes/half an hour, I start experiencing so-called 'listening fatigue'. I fell like turning the player off, and going for a walk.

    With vinyl, almost the opposite is true. The longer I listen, the more involved and engrossed in music I get. It is usually some other obligation that pulls me away from listening to vinyl. I never get to the point of feeling like I had enough and that I should shut my turntable off (of course, it helps if one has a solid, high quality library of LPs).

    I'm not sure what is the reason behind these perceived differences (???) Theoretically speaking, digital reproduction should outsmart vinyl reproduction by a wide margin. And yet, that doesn't seem to be the case for me, for some mysterious reason.
    Pancat and Dennis0675 like this.
  8. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    I've been following the conversation. The distinction to make is that I believe you believe that you can tell the difference. You are not being disingenuous when making that claim. It's perfectly sincere. However, how can you know unless you have somebody to keep you in check and test you?

    If you were local, I'd gladly be that person as I'd like to once in my life be in the presence of somebody who can prove to me they can easily tell such differences.

    A video I've watched recently featured a violinist with perfect pitch in her 20s (IIRC) listening to two unidentified files ; a CD's FLAC file and a 96KHz hi-def audio file of the same track. 10 different tracks were tested. She ended up with a 50% grade in identifying the hi-res one which is akin to picking randomly or flipping a coin.

    Obviously, that video is not the smoking gun proving there is no difference. You or somebody else could have the hearing to easily notice a difference. However, I think it's fair to say there are, IMHO, quite a few people who believe they possess superhuman hearing, some of which post here. Yet, I've never seen anybody prove it. In fact, I don't think anybody has ever proved it, ever.

    That's why it's a bit hard to believe. If I could switch perfectly matched identical content with the sole exception being the bitrate and resolution of the files, and somebody could identify with (even nearly) 100% accuracy which one is playing, then I'd concede the difference is easily spotted by at least this one person. So far, though... it's all about taking one's word for it. :shrug:
  9. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    @Strat-Mangler did you read my first post on this thread? I'm not sure how much more direct I can be that all I am saying is I hear a difference in my system when I have done comparisons between 24bit hi rez and vinyl of the same content. Vinyl wins due to better soundstage and the naturalness of the music, both are very very close. CDs to vinyl its super rare that a CD wins, vinyl wins on a high % of the time.

    What you are insinuating is that this is a "test" that must be checked for correctness, there is no right or wrong in audio, its only what you like that is the final exam, there is nothing to prove.
    Think about it......Digital in tests, wayyyyy outperforms analog all day long every day of the year, its scientifically proven the numbers do not lie. But you cannot scientifically prove naturalness and soundstage in numbers, the sweetness and warmth of what people describe with analog, and yes in digital too. Its also why DACs are sometimes described as "analog sounding", "warm" and so on, terms that describe a different sound than what we associate digital with, clinical, too clean and straight. If that is what you like then outstanding!! Run with it and please enjoy your music, but that also does not prove anything. Just because digital outperforms analog in the lab does not mean that is the correct music to listen to, this is why the debate exists all our ears are different.

    As I said in my first post, people should do their own comparisons and decide on their own.

    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  10. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    It's my understanding that the mastering is totally different for analog LPs (so I've read), much more difficult, got to keep the stylus on the record. Different mediums.

    Analog, continuous wave, just sounds 'human'. Just sounds right. Natural.

    The analog/LP 'Feeling' - "The cosmic energy, yeah - bash" (Robert Plant) ... that analog gives you. CDs sound like 1s&0s digital (to me). I like CDs, got a ton of em - 800 or so, but its not the same 'sound'. Maybe more accurate, for sure, I think so, I agree to that. But LPs sound wonderful, again... the mastering.

    Also... after hearing a few LPs you feel like going out, having a 'good time', tearing up the town. After a few CDs... you feel like going to sleep. Not quite THAT bad... but almost. lol. They kinda put you to sleep. Something isn't quite right.

    But Some CDs sound better than the LPs. Some sound almost equal, like Azymuth's. Can't figure that one out.

    Find the recording, analog or digital, or whatever, that suits you and play it!! Enjoy.

    Something like that.

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018 at 9:54 PM
  11. crispi

    crispi Forum Resident

    One source gives me immersive, expansive sound with a great soundstage and plenty of stereo separation. It sounds warm and natural and involving and keeps my interest throughout. It brings me much closer to the actual source (be it an analogue tape or, digital). All of this is only true if it is mastered with love and care, of course.

    The other one is fun to look at and lots of fun to play. :)
    missan likes this.
  12. anorak2

    anorak2 Well-Known Member

    Berlin, Germany
    There have been numerous double blind listening tests with many different listeners since at least the 1990s, if they can detect a sonic difference between a straight microphone feed and the same feed after going through a 16 bit/44 kHz AD/DA-chain, i.e. CD format (too lazy to google them up but if you insist I would grudgingly :)). The results are consistent: People are right half the time and wrong half the time, i.e. the same as throwing a dice. That means a good 16 bit/44 kHz AD/DA-chain is sonically neutral for most if not all listeners. Therefore, if that is already good enough, upping the bitrate even further will do nothing.
  13. Vignus

    Vignus Member

    This thread is interesting and (maybe) pointless at the same time, and could go on forever without anyone being able to prove a point, sadly.
    I have listened to vinyl for many years, then dropped it and moved to digital. Main reason being that vinyl deteriorates and couldn't bare to hear all the scratches anymore while listening to my favourite albums.
    The first impact with digital was horrible: empty, flat, lifeless sound (I bought one of the first CD players that came out in the 80's).
    Then after a few years it started to get better. Now it's quite good.
    I still miss vinyl sometimes, but what keeps me from going back to it is, as I said, the deterioration of it.
    Also,I read that vinyl being sold these days comes from digital, so it doesn't give you the same experience that it used to.
    But, to conclude, I agree that vinyl sounds better in many ways, and you don't get tired of listening to it
    lance b likes this.
  14. lance b

    lance b Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Digital vs Vinyl? Hmm, that's pretty much like asking someone if they like chocolate icecream or strawberry icecream, it's a matter of taste in many instances. Some chocolate icecream is also better than other chocolate icecream and some strawberry icecream is better than other strawberry icecream as it is with digital sources compared to analogue sources (not to be confused with chocolate and strawberry sauces!!). If you do't like chocolate, then you don't like chocolate and if you don't like strawberry then you don't like strawberry whereas some are quite happy to eat both. Some are quite happy to eat both but sometimes it is more difficult to eat one or the other or to store one or the other.
  15. Cosmo-D

    Cosmo-D Member Thread Starter

    I mostly wanted to know to what extent I imagining things (probably entirely), or if anyone shared my observations. Numbers are excellent, but subjective analysis must have some kind of place. I dislike most of audio reviews I read because their subjective language is so meaningless and vague. If I am going to proffer my perceptions, I want them to be adequately detailed so that others might be able to definitively agree or disagree. Basically, if I make an observation, I want others to be able to either confirm or deny it. People talk about stuff like "timing" with respect to audio and I never have any clue what they mean. I am starting to think it a code word for something else. People also talk about stuff like bass "slam". Am I the only one who doesn't experience this? Am I mistaken in my belief that the bass coming out of my speakers is a reasonable facsimile of whatever they happened to record that day and that the "slam" or lack thereof exists independently of the particularities of my input source?
  16. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    I think this debate comes down to the simple question: Do you prefer the neutral/flat/transparent reproduction of Digital .Or way vinyl reproduction slightly warms/colours the sound away from neutral?
    I have no problem with people preferring the sound of the later.With the poor quality of many recordings and masterings then that bit of artificial warmth can indeed improve the experience and take the edge of nasties in the recording and making them easier to listen to over extended periods.
    What i don't like is digital getting criticized for its sound quality when all it does is totally and faithfully reproduce the exact sound of the source recording.With superb recordings that means a superb sound.With average recordings that means average sound.
  17. Cosmo-D

    Cosmo-D Member Thread Starter

    Both? I like my turntable, but I am not going to go add tube stages to my setup or use components that I think would noticeably colour the sound. My next purchase is going to be a Denon 103, but I am kind of concerned it won't be neutral enough for my liking. I want one though because it is something of "reference" cartridge insofar as it was actually something of an industry standard in Japan and has been in continuous production since something like 1963.

    I don't know anyone with a hi-fi setup so my observations are limited to whatever I can assemble myself. It's quite possible that I don't have any good digital recordings. I've got some 80s Tom Waits albums (Swordfishtromboes, Rain Dogs, Frank's Wild Years) and the CDs sound really good. However, the vinyl versions of those albums also sound really good. I'd say I prefer the vinyl version, but I couldn't give you a good reason as to why. Nothing about the CD sounds deficient or inferior in any way. If I could find a way to a level matched blind comparison with the two, I am not confident in my ability to differentiate them. I think I'd score better than 50 per cent, but definitely less than 100.
    Kristofa and enfield like this.
  18. Steve0

    Steve0 Well-Known Member

    I perceive the differences with my ears and articulate them with my mouth by way of smiling :D
  19. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Germantown, Md.
  20. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Germantown, Md.
    I find that many records reproduce the sound of vocals, acoustic instruments and drums better (imo) than the cd counterpart. Perhaps it's just mastering, but my theory is that analog (the tone arm is an "instrument") reproduces the sound
    of another instrument (acoustic guitar, piano) better because it IS an "instrument" that is re-playing the sound. Make any sense?
    4011021 and enfield like this.
  21. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    I wouldnt say 'better', different types of distortion will be added. We can like this, for some reason, but the distortion aren't cut on the record.
  22. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Germantown, Md.
    I'm talking specifically how an instrument sounds played on the record, not "distortion". I hear the wood "tone" of an acoustic guitar, the skin of a conga drum, the brass in a cowbell,
    the wood in a wood block. The material in these instruments have sound, not distortion, or can be heard despite distortion (if there is any). Do you know what real instruments sound like?
  23. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    You are misunderstanding 'distortion' in this context. If you change the character of instruments, you are adding distortion in doing so. It can be some percent higher 2nd and 3rd harmonics, it can be some intermodulation distortion that is adding some tones, it can be other types of distortion like frequency modulation.
    I see no value in this per se, but make no mistake, playing a record will change the original character; sometimes not so much, sometimes rather much. I have no opinion on what people like, or not, but you cannot play a record without adding some percent distortion.
  24. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Germantown, Md.
    I agree, nothing stays the same. Tone is what I am talking about, not pitch. If the sound is supposed to be someone knocking on a wooden door, and it sounds more like someone hitting a metal can, the TONE is not right.
  25. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Forum Resident

    Now me, I would find it tough to agree that 50% of people will prefer a CD format to a live straight feed from a mic. That CD has compression, limiting and AD/DA conversion going on....I mean I know I would prefer hearing Diana Krall live from a mic than from a CD. But I am sure some people will chose the CD......That's what makes this discussion so endless.

    I'm not sure it is a right or wrong choice, its a preference, the tests only ask what do you prefer.

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