New vinyl that is the same as the loudness war CD, but people think sounds better

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by dlokazip, Mar 8, 2018.

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  1. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient Thread Starter

    Austin, TX, USA
    Okay, so here's my hypothesis:

    I believe that there are new LPs being made that are not mastered any better than their CD or digital download counterparts, but people claim that they sound better only because they are on vinyl.

    For instance, I really love the music of Kamasi Washington, however, his recordings are not particularly dynamic. When I bought The Epic, I got the CD from Amazon with Autorip. I found that the digital download sounded better to my ears than the CD itself. At the time, I recall people saying that the vinyl sounded better, but that wasn't in my budget, so I just listened to the download files.

    So, when I managed to find Harmony Of Difference on vinyl, I snatched it up. However, listening to it at home, it still sounded kind of compressed to me. Sure, it sounded warmer than the digital download, but it still wasn't that dynamic of a recording.

    Yet, the vinyl is often sold out because it is presumed to sound better.

    Now, I have a rather modest system, but I can usually here the difference between good, dynamic LPs and non-so-dynamic LPs.

    Here's the deal: I don't think that people are lying. I think the vinyl does sound better to these people. It's been brought up more than once that recordings sound different on vinyl than other media. Even compressed and/or brickwalled stuff will sound different on vinyl. Sure, they'll be some confirmation bias here and there, but most of the time, I don't think this is the case.

    That being said, I think the benefits in these cases are rather limited.

    With notorious loudness war CDs like Metallica's Death Magnetic or post-hiatus Rush albums, there will always be recommendations of "Buy it on vinyl. It sounds better." Well, it may be easier on the ears, but does it really sound better? In fact, to some, it sounds worse.

    As recent reissues of The Beatles and Frank Zappa illustrate, it is possible to make good sounding LPs in this day and age. They don't even need to be AAA. They just have to be done well.

    So, what new LP's out there are basically no different than their digital counterparts? I'm talking about albums that may or may not sound better on vinyl, but, if they do, it is only because they are on vinyl, not because the mastering is any better.

  2. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    Absolutely true. I have a couple of Arcade Fire lps that are sadly compressed and sound cd-like.

    But I also have the Buckingham-McVie album that sounds so much better on lp, and I'm not sure of its mastering origin.
    crispi, Max Florian and AppleCorp3 like this.
  3. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I don't think most audiophiles, though, are fooled into thinking anything. I think there is a lot of fine discerning going on in the community.
    goodiesguy, AidanB, Metalrob and 6 others like this.
  4. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    I used to notice some CDs sounded better to me when I recorded them to cassette. My theory is, the transfer to an analog realm (vinyl or tape) might take away some of the harshness.
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  5. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    I’m certain the same mastering is used in many cases, but the vinyl still has to be cut...which is yet a further mastering, and the CD still has to be mass duplicated. Hoffman, Barry Diament, and others have said on this board that the duplicated CD’s don’t sound indentical to the master files.

    You say you have a rather modest system, and you’ve come to the conclusion that whatever benefits there are would be limited. How do you know those benefits aren’t exponentially more apparent as your system evolves and improves? That’s been my experience, and I consider my system very modest compared to some on here.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  6. mick_sh

    mick_sh Forum Resident

    Madrid, Spain
    Good mastering engineers can improve the sound when cutting from somewhat compressed hi-res files. And, if the only source available is compressed, then it makes more sense even to buy the vinyl. The result is not going to be much better, but better still and that's what counts.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
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  7. blaken123

    blaken123 Forum Resident

    United States
    This is a good video that discusses some of this stuff:

    I for one do not believe that any of these modern vinyl releases (or re-releases) are going to sound much better or different than the CD/digital versions unless they are botique releases with specific and MARKETABLE information about how they are mastered, who mastered them, did they use compression/EQ or not, what tapes they used, etc (and BTW eff them if they do a nice mastering job on vinyl but don't release a consumer-digital version of that mastering as well, which requires no effort).

    Otherwise, why would a label make a significantly different master for vinyl vs CD vs digital? It costs money and takes time. I suspect that in most cases they simply take the same digital master that they use for everything else, turn it down a tiny bit to keep your turntable from injuring itself, press it onto a fancy-sounding kind of plastic, step 3 profit.
  8. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    I used to notice the same thing well before I had any decent equipment or considered myself any kind of audiophile. I referred to the effect as “analog bleed” (in my head anyway—I never talked about this stuff with anyone back then :laugh:). It seemed that recording to tape was causing the sharp edges of the CDs to bleed out like an ink stain on cloth becoming more fuzzy at the edges.
  9. uzn007

    uzn007 Forum Resident

    So much of it that people can't even agree on which versions sound best! :D

    Seriously, though, there are a lot of extremely knowledgeable and perceptive people who post here but there's plenty of dross, too. How many times have you read conflicting assessments of the exact same recordings/masterings within three or four posts of each other? Some people might as well be listening through two tin cans and a piece of string, regardless of how much money they spend on their gear and collection.
  10. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    I was under the impression that truly brickwalled digital files are too hot to be tracked, However, sometimes they may just lower the overall levels, which, of course, would not restore dynamic contrast.

    I have held off buying any of the Evanescence reissues for this very fear. I liked their music, but it actually hurt my ears to be in the same room with it playing, so I got rid of the cds. If anyone knows whether the vinyl is better, I'd like to know.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
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  11. uzn007

    uzn007 Forum Resident

    Recording to cassette would cut/mask the high frequencies somewhat, which would probably account for this.

    There's also a small amount of distortion introduced when you record onto cassette tape. That's probably the "analog bleed" you're talking about.
  12. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    The other factor I left out, is that I’ve simply invested more time and money into the vinyl playback part of my system than I have the CD/Digital files playback. I just have a better turntable and preamp than I do a CD player.
    tmtomh and Mr_Vinyl like this.
  13. lemonade kid

    lemonade kid Forum Resident

    The 2016 Leonard Cohen LP, "You Want It Darker", is a good example of the vinyl sounding amazing. Full, rich, warm and dynamic.

    The new 2017 Sgt. Pepper's remix is pretty great on vinyl also. Better than the CDs (box set), which I also have. Of course I will always prefer my original MONO vinyl.
  14. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    For new releases (not re-issues/remasters) my LP format purchases have been next to none because of this. (Unless it contains something unique)
    The few I have from the past few years I always go back to DL it came with or compact disc edition.
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  15. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    The ATX
    Possibly a large amount of distortion given the quality of the equipment I was using at the time, and certainly a bit of high frequency roll off as you say. But that’s not really the point. The point is that changing mediums can change the sound—possibly for the better. Even more so if you have an engineer intentionally manipulating these effects rather than just rolling tape and seeing what happens like a dopey amateur (i.e., me).
  16. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    I’m tempted to make a tape of it. :)
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  17. nosliw

    nosliw Forum Resident

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Very few, if any, will release a dedicated master on vinyl LP for digital download (Jesu's self-titled is the one that I can think of that have done this). Which, yes, it pretty much sucks, given the on-going loudness wars, but there may be a reason behind it (maybe not to create further confusion and more consumer choices??).

    Some labels may not necessarily have the resources and cash to create a dedicated master from the post-mixes so they generally let the internal engineers at various pressing plants to do the EQ'ing for them. But it's a prudent idea to ask the labels if they use dedicated masters for a vinyl LP before buying that version.
    dlokazip likes this.
  18. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I getcha. But why do we come back here all the time if we didn't have some confidence in other's opinions? There's a reason you and I are forum residents.

    There is dross, but there's more astute analysis here than almost anywhere else about this hobby that we're all pretty passionate about.
    That's my take, anyway...
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  19. aphexj

    aphexj Forum Resident

    Playing a CD through an amplifier and speakers is transferring it through an analogue realm (the air). If you're taking anything away, it's things present in the CD signal those media cannot reproduce
    Yes and it's mastered from exactly the same digital source as the CD
  20. Sax-son

    Sax-son Forum Resident

    Three Rivers, CA
    It's not the loudness that bothers me, it's the edgy compresses sound that drives me crazy.
  21. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient Thread Starter

    Austin, TX, USA
    If the loudness war albums sound bad on all formats, then it only follows that well-mastered albums sound good on all formats. Digitally mastered doesn't mean "sounds bad on vinyl".
  22. uzn007

    uzn007 Forum Resident

    I think you're right, but I also think the number of posters with really valuable info or insights is somewhere in the 5% - 10% range. The rest of it is just shooting the ****.
    Christopher B, jon9091 and Chemguy like this.
  23. jefferyuniverse

    jefferyuniverse Member

    I am definitely not an analogue purist and I have a number of LPs that range from great to rather compressed. However, I admit I prefer the sound of an LP. For example, I have a copy of Green Day's Nimrod that's definitely compressed. Part of it might be psychological but I just enjoy vinyl so much more.
  24. Stephen Birkett

    Stephen Birkett Active Member

    I bought No Remorse by Motorhead recently basically because I love all 4 of the non album tracks on there. It has no crankability whatsover. Very disappointing. My original Overkill is first class on the other hand - Those drums man!!
    Christopher B likes this.
  25. DPM

    DPM Forum Resident

    Nevada, USA
    I have the bootleg double red vinyl of Tool's 10,000 Days, and it does sound better than the CD--which I also own. Supposedly, the LPs were mastered from the CD--not a high res 24 bit file. So I have to assume the sound quality difference comes down to the fact that vinyl can't reproduce square waves. Thus, the bootleg records are smoothing over the digital nasties so apparent on the CD.

    Of course, all of this should become a moot point when Tool reissues their catalogue on vinyl.
    LeeVing, joshm2286 and Chrome_Head like this.
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