CD-sourced vinyl — myth or reality?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Stone Turntable, Jan 17, 2012.

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  1. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head Thread Starter

    New Mexico USA
    One of the recurring criticisms of new vinyl releases that I’ve seen around the forum is the allegation that certain labels or some vinyl titles are using standard 16/44.1 Red Book digital files as a source for their vinyl pressing.

    Obviously CD-sourcing a vinyl release seems like a particularly sleazy thing to do, in light of the premium pricing of vinyl and the customer’s trust that vinyl sound generally surpasses the data limitations of Red Book.

    I’m not talking about vinyl sourced from high-resolution digital sources, like the 2011 release of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. I’m not talking about conclusions drawn from the way a particular vinyl pressing sounds. I realize that many record companies are cagey, evasive, or silent about how they sourced their releases, but I’m not talking about assuming the worst based on uncommunicative labels.

    Are there any famous or notorious cases in which the CD sourcing of a vinyl album has been acknowledged or proved? Do any of you industry types have first-hand knowledge or a reliable source for claiming this has actually been done? Or should the CD sourcing of vinyl be classified as loose talk or cynical gossip, but nothing more substantial than that?
  2. ziggysane

    ziggysane Forum Resident

    Austin, TX
    My vinyl copy of Ben Folds way to normal has a hard cutoff at 22k (with other recordings verifying that my TT and soundcard are not the culprit).
  3. TheRimeOfIcarus

    TheRimeOfIcarus Active Member

    I'd like some light on this as well. I've heard a few people claim the same thing, but they only way to tell is ask the people involved with releasing the vinyl for the answer.
  4. Schoolmaster Bones

    Schoolmaster Bones Poe's Lawyer

    ‎The Midwest
    I remember when labels bragged about LPs being digitally sourced, back when it was considered cool.

    If the idea was upsetting or offensive to me, I would probably limit my purchases to albums where the "all analog" pedigree was plainly stated. My guess - and it's just a guess - that if that claim isn't prominently stated on the packaging, then it's most likely from a digital master.

    It it's well mastered, and a good cut on quality vinyl, then I'm happy. I really don't care if a spectrum display doesn't show anything above 22kHz.
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  5. hamishd91

    hamishd91 Forum Resident

    reality. how is it a myth in any way?
  6. George Blair

    George Blair Senior Member

    Portland, OR
    I think the OP is asking for documented proof.
  7. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head Thread Starter

    New Mexico USA
    Indeed, my only sources for thinking this is done —16/44.1 files to vinyl pressing — are various passing remarks on this forum.

    If you know more than I do, give it up. It’s exactly this “everybody knows they do this” nebulousness I’m trying to penetrate.
  8. SixtiesGuy

    SixtiesGuy Ministry of Love

    But isn't that what it's all about? The sound?

    I understand your quest for truth in advertising, but if you can't tell by listening whether the source of your vinyl is a Red Book CD or analog master, that speaks volumes about the claims that the CD format is obviously inferior to analog.
    noone0dd1 and ian christopher like this.
  9. evad

    evad Well-Known Member

    We have CD's sourced from CD's. (Humble Pie remasters)
    ian christopher likes this.
  10. yamfox

    yamfox Forum Resident

    Because there's about 15 years of recordings that were never made in a resolution higher that 16/48?
    I have email conformation from the man who is in charge of reissuing They Might Be Giants' "Factory Showroom" (1996) and "John Henry" (1994) that they are being pressed from redbook CDs, because they were never made in a quality above DAT.
    It's not always about the format. A record pressed from Redbook can still have better mastering than the commercial CD release.
  11. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    I have friends who were in two different platinum selling bands in the 1990s. Although a few of their albums were recorded and mixed to analog tape, the CD was considered the final product at that time. Vinyl was an afterthought, put out in very small quantities by the labels. The vinyl was all sourced from comp DAT tapes or CDs. How do I know this? The producer told me. Apparently it was industry standard procedure at the time. BTW I don't know if the groups want me to name names, so I won't.

    Another thing to consider is that many (most?) recordings since the 1980s were made or mixed on digital equipment, and until recently, higher resolution formats were not always employed in the studio. So even though the source may not have been technically a CD, the sonic quality may have been comparable, or possibly even inferior.
    noone0dd1, Shak Cohen and Engelsstaub like this.
  12. No.9

    No.9 Member

    Colorado Springs
    LOL. Only analog sourced vinyl for me,.....if it isn't promoted as an analog source transfer, it's not a consideration. I purchases vinyl recordings for their presence/soundstage. No need for a big vinyl CD. So, nearly all of my vinyl is pre mid 80's
    ian christopher likes this.
  13. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    There have also been LPs mastered through digital consoles, or processed through digital delays. It would be up to the facility as to what sampling-rate frequency would be used; if they used 48kHz, then you might theoretically get some spurious harmonics up to 24K. Realistically, though, from a normal 15ips 1/4" analog tape, I think most of what's beyond 20K is mostly noise, especially from rock or pop music.
  14. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head Thread Starter

    New Mexico USA
    So I guess I was betraying a profound lack of historical knowledge about digital recording in asking the question in the first place? Sorry about that.

    So following the implications of your post, the various classical albums that I own from the late 70’s and early 80’s that boast digital mastering are basically CDs on vinyl, although perhaps with better mastering than the corresponding CD release?

    And so every album recorded digitally for at least a decade and a half is essentially a Red Book recording that can never be released in a higher resolution? (For example, was Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly recorded in 16/48 in 1982?) And thus there is a large body of digital masters that the MFSL’s and Analogue Productions and HDTracks can never release in higher-rez “audiophile” versions?

    Maybe what you’re also telling me is that saying a vinyl album is mastered from a Red Book source is not necessarily the devastating put-down it’s usually intended to be.

    Again, pardon my stupidity — I’m operating here with the hope that an ignoramus can ask dumb questions that smarter people don’t realize people want the answers to.
    ian christopher likes this.
  15. karmaman

    karmaman Forum Resident

    i'd say it happens a lot on small labels whereby a redbook cd-r is the format submitted to the pressing plant along with the artwork. from my experience it's down to ignorance not any desire to mislead (a good friend stickers her releases with "180g audiophile vinyl" but is referring to the vinyl itself, not the source). But there's no excuse for established labels to do this, especially when charging a premium.

    Simply Vinyl were accused of this (an "industry insider" was the first to tell me after i'd bought Pink Moon, stated is as fact), but i no longer have that pressing to rip and check for the cut off. i'm sure someone here could do that easily enough to confirm or refute the claim.

    i've seen plenty of evidence in other rips of a 44.1 source. it's very apparent in compilations that combine sources (e.g. Ryko's Sound + Vision set).
  16. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    Well, it's not loose talk. It's not out of the question that new vinyl can be sourced from redbook CD. Reissued CDs or CDs of vintage material have been mastered from redbook files and CDs for years. The reason is that is all the majors, the companies who own much of the material that reissue labels need, keep a very tight grip on their tapes. They send out files or CD-Rs, and the mastering engineer deals with it in various ways.

    I would think that the majority of vinyl that comes from audiophile labels are produced from tape sources, or high-rez digital files. It's not hard to imagine that the majors who issue vinyl are using redbook sources if not at least 24-bit ones.
    groovelocked likes this.
  17. aarsonbet

    aarsonbet Forum Resident

    I had the Simply Vinyl pressing of Stevie Nicks' "Bella Donna" at one point. I decided to A/B it with the standard CD pressing (mastered by Barry Diament, I believe). Lo and behold, IT WAS THE SAME MASTERING! Literally, note for note, tone for tone, EQ for EQ, the same mastering.

    From what I understand, Simply Vinyl had some notoriety of mastering their releases from whatever masters were commonly available, including CD and, in one or two cases that I've heard of, vinyl.
  18. Thurenity

    Thurenity Listening to some tunes

    I've been dealing with this question since getting back into vinyl, last year - there's really no way to know unless you know the history of the mastering/pressing process, and how many of us know that? I can't even trust my needle drops because anything above 22k could just be noise, as Vidiot touched on.

    But I don't linger on it, since there's nothing I can do about it. I usually A/B test against Rhapsody or Spotify to see if one sounds better than the other. More times than not, the vinyl dynamics sound a tad better, so even if they sourced from 16/44 but didn't brickwall it as badly as the CD then it's still worth purchasing imo.

    The other thing that concerns me is 24/48 and 24/96 digital downloads and how we've already seen premium prices for those. If they end up being upsampled 16/44, then I'd be really peeved if i paid a premium for that. At least with an LP you are getting the physical packaging.
    Kubricker likes this.
  19. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    I wish him luck. Few, if any reissue producers or labels will admit it. After all, they may argue that the end result is all that matters.

    Using digital files is the way to keep costs down. Most people will not pay premium prices for vinyl like people who inhabit this forum will. Vinyl is a niche market, and the majors are about profits.
  20. oldbsturgeon

    oldbsturgeon RlrrLrll

    Now it may seem contradictory to say this since I just got one of the blue note japan reissues and have subscribed to the prestige series coming out soon, but I really don't care that they are from the master tapes, and care more about how they look.
    If I think its sounds good to me, I don't care if the source is a CD
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Why is using a crap digital file to cut a record that was recorded in analog a way to keep costs down? Makes no sense whatsoever.
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  22. yamfox

    yamfox Forum Resident

    Not to argue with 'ya, Steve, but putting a CD-R in the mail and sending it to United is a lot cheaper than shipping a 15 IPS tape to Pallas.

    I think it more comes down to people who don't know better than an actual desire to deceive or to falsely profit off of us.
  23. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    I'm not following your question.
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Well, some studio has to make a CD-R from something. If the analog master, they could do this instead. Pull the analog tape out of storage and dupe it to 30 ips 1/2" analog tape, send that to the cutting studio. Keep the analog signal pure. Of course the cutting studio must master in pure analog without a digital delay circuit. This is not impossible and it doesn't really cost any more money. Might even cost less.
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  25. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    See, I was always led to believe it was more expensive, not equal or less.

    From talking with a few reissue label MEs, they say that they typically get CD-R copies or files of the material they work on from the majors.
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