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. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Las Vegas
    Does vinyl only make sense if they're pressed from analog tapes? If it's pressed from a digital master, is it kind of pointless?

    Aside from any arguments for preferring having your music on a physical format, looking at large artwork, etc., which are valid arguments, I'm looking at it only from a purely sonic perspective.

    I catch myself occasionally thinking that vinyl really is a pointless medium if the album was tracked digitally then pressed from a digital master, that the medium really only makes sense if pressed from analog tapes.

    But that leaves out most new releases. There are some albums that are still being tracked to tape, but more often than not, they're tracked to tape then dumped into protools for preservation. You still get the tape sound, but the all analog chain has been changed to analog --> digital. However tape was a part of the tracking it's preserved. If you knew that an album was tracked in this matter, yet was pressed from a digital master, does that affect your thoughts on purchasing the record?

    I also know that there are new converters on the market that are so good that they actually sound as if everything was tracked to tape while tracking 100% digitally to protools. That raises an interesting question because a lot of studios are slowly transitioning to these new converters. They get an amazing euphonic, tape-like sound but without actually using any tape or having to deal with hiss. I have some of these albums recorded this way and they sound fantastic on vinyl. But is that pointless? Should I just not bother with the format and stick with FLAC?

    Sometimes I wonder if vinyl itself is imposing it's own sonic characteristics that are somewhat hard to describe. To me vinyl has a very "smooth" sonic property that's hard to pinpoint.

    Your thoughts?
  2. Leepal

    Leepal Forum Resident

    Swindon, UK
    If there is digital in the chain it does affect my thoughts on buying the record. I do have quite a few "digital vinyl" albums but I wouldn't spend big bucks on one, especially when the CD can probably be had for a couple of quid (eg. the later Rolling Stones albums).
    That said, some of these albums sound so good that it is difficult for me to tell the difference. But it is something that plays on my mind a bit, I'm not saying it should do but it does.
    riverrat and Deadly_Icy_Calm like this.
  3. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Where the wind don't blow so strange.

    The CD's are often more compressed or brick walled or overly loud. So yes, there is a point to a digitally sourced LP because it often sounds better than the comparable CD. Some of the best mastering engineers press digitally sourced records. My ears tell me some of them sound very good. Is it as good as an all analogue pressing? maybe, maybe not. Sometimes the old analogue pressing sounds better. Sometimes the newly remastered digitally sourced record sounds better. A lot of factors go into the best pressing. It's never as simple as it being all analogue or not. Which tape was used? Was it noise reduced? Eq'd funky? Off-center. Inner groove distortion. Blah blah blah. Just research the forum. People that care more than you will tell you which version is the best. If there isn't a consensus, then just get the cheapest option. You should be focusing on the music anyways.
  4. tronds

    tronds Well-Known Member

    Vinyl makes sense to me if the vinyl release has something special going for it (special mastering chain etc.). My stance is that a good vinyl release more than often sound better than the corresponding CD release of the same album. It seems to me that those who work with the vinyl releases on a general level have more respect for the music, and don't do stupid things such as unneeded compression.
  5. Remote Control Triangle

    Remote Control Triangle Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Las Vegas
    Yeah, non-brickwalled masterings strictly on the vinyl only is a pretty good argument for records. And I do agree that records do sound better than the CD, assuming they were pressed correctly. But I have noticed that the best records really were done in the past. Records made in the 70's and 80's seem significantly better than most new pressings. They even look better.
    Cronverc likes this.
  6. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    It is not all black or white. Some digital recordings on vinyl can sound excellent others sound reasonable and others (most) terrible. Yes it does affect my buying habits but I make exceptions. A very good DAC will cost you a lot and what you get out of it will be as good as what you feed it with which may not necessarily be good.

    If the album was digital from the beginning it depends on your digital equipment but the vinyl still might sound better spending less on equipment, perhaps not, you might have to make one on one comparisons as there might be differences on what is released and I am assuming you are talking HD downloads. If you are talking vinyl vs CD it is unlikely the CD will better same if you download something from itunes.

    Everything imposes it's own characteristics, your cartridge, your phono stage, your DAC and even the vinyl I have lots of different pressings from the same albums and they all sound different, it's a matter of choosing what you like.
    Rhapsody In Red and Newton John like this.
  7. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    In the past yes but now they do compress and a lot! There are good new issues but there are a lot of bad ones too.
  8. Linto

    Linto Mayor of Simpleton

    to the OP, yes and yes.
    I can't see the point at all in digitally sourced LPs
    Freebird and broshfab4 like this.
  9. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    A CD is 44.1/16 and has a hard limit of 22kHz and 16 bits of dynamic range. If an original digital master is a higher digital quality, such as 192/24, theoretically an LP from that original digital master could have frequency content to a higher frequency and a greater and finer dynamic range, but subject to surface noise and the other problems of vinyl and playing vinyl. And, an original digital master can contain studio tricks and editing that could be the artist's intent and impossible to do in a pure analog chain.

    It's not a toss up, but it is the difference, and it's your choice, your preference.

    I'm not talking about dynamic compression, or "brickwalling", which unfortunately is common on CDs now. That's a choice in mastering. A good CD mastering engineer wouldn't brickwall, and brickwalling could be done to an LP too. At present it seems that new CDs are generally brickwalled by sloppy habit when making the CD master, while an LP is mastered much more carefully. But that is not a function of the different formats themselves.
  10. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Frenchtown NJ USA
    If you found yourself occasionally listening to the vinyl you're thinking about, you would know for yourself that this thread is pointless. Deciding how something sounds by thinking about it instead of listening to it is ridiculous to me. :)
  11. norliss

    norliss Forum Resident

    Cardiff, Wales
    "Deja vu".

    "DJ who?"
  12. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Analogue sources are always the ultimate goal but there have been some excellent vinyl cuts using a digital source were this has been carefully transferred and mastered from the original tapes. Sometimes tapes have become too delicate or damaged for repeated playback or maybe the band or label are just too wary of letting them go out of the building. Also with modern releases recorded digital the CD/File mastering is far inferior due to the fashion for excessive compression. I still find vinyl a more satisfying listening experience even with the odd audible flaw.
    Shak Cohen and Alan2 like this.
  13. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I prefer AAA, but some of the digitally sourced records that I have are excellent. Those Abko Rolling Stones albums (Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet) are a few outstanding examples.
    Pancat, Shak Cohen and mike catucci like this.
  14. laughalot

    laughalot Forum Resident

    The Telarc Classical albums are superb, digitally sourced notwithstanding.

    IMO the finest sounding Classical albums.
  15. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    Great sounding vinyl is great sounding vinyl regardless of any digital elements in the chain and I guarantee none of you could tell the difference between well done 100% analogue vinyl and well done vinyl from a hi res digital source, there's been digital in the vinyl chain for decades and nobody seemed to notice or care until relatively recently, it's not an issue, poorly done vinyl on the other hand is.
  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    We've had this conversation over and over in threads on this forum.

    For me it is pointless.

    I think buying an LP cut from digital session recordings and/or a digital master just gives you both whatever it is people don't like about digital recording and digital masters AND all the mechanical noise of vinyl playback.

    Once the recording is in the digital realm, better to keep it in the digital realm for storage and playback as far as I'm concerned, vs. pressing it on to a hard to store, hard to ship, never perfectly centered piece of vinyl to be played back on a system where you add the noise of vinyl surface imperfections, bearing rumble, arm cart resonances, to the listening experience at playback.

    I know people thinking a lot of the time with new vinyl they're buying some kind of mastering on vinyl that's not been brick wall compressed and levelled, but for the most part with popular music the vinyl is being cut from the identical master used for the CD.
  17. ukrules

    ukrules Professional Appreciator

    Union, Kentucky
    If I was to start a vinyl collection, I would focus on AAA. I think it is really cool when people go to the trouble (labor of love) to create a new AAA album. The result is aesthetically interesting, a work of art, a celebration of a lost craft, etc. However, there are few verifiable instances of those each year. AAA reissues of classic are appreciated, as well, since it tries to honor the original release.
    12" 45rpm likes this.
  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    In theory the former about frequency response might be true, but in practice those supersonic frequencies aren't likely a difference maker -- first of all we don't hear up that high; second often other parts of our playback chains, like our speakers, roll off in that top octave and above; third, their's little to no musical information up there, only a handful of instruments have ultra high harmonic: cymbals, muted trumpets, etc., and a lot of that ultra high frequency info never makes it onto recordings in the first place as common mics, like very popular Neumann condensers like the U87, roll off well before supersonic frequencies. And the vinyl noise floor will wind up limiting the dynamic range of the vinyl playback, regardless of the theoretical, wider dynamic range of the digital medium of the master.
    wavethatflag likes this.
  19. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    Go find a MoFi 45rpm copy of Brother's in Arms and then tell me that.
  20. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    The Bellman cut of Dire Straits "On Every Street" might be one of the most fantastic sounding albums in my collection. I'm talking serious demo material. It's a digital recording/master. So I am going to have to disagree with you on this one.
    wgriel, Rhapsody In Red, John and 2 others like this.
  21. Ned Bode

    Ned Bode We had some almosts

    This is pretty much my take as well. The whole of "What's the point of vinyl if..." is useful as a thought experiment, and not much else.

    Just go with what works best for you, based on your own experience. And don't worry if you can't base that decision on some theroetical absolute.

    Also, it's okay to not listen to vinyl. I'm officially granting permission today, once and for all.
    Paully, wgriel, sheffandy and 2 others like this.
  22. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    What's not to like then? My take on it after collecting records for 40 years, and buying many CDs during that time, is that the process being analog or being digital it in itself is a non-issue. The issue as I have found is two fold. One is "What type of collection do you have and or want?" The other is "What quality level of playback do you expect and can you afford?"

    Since I first started collecting Lp's, that became the focus of my music collection. I bought better components to support my playback of the Lp format. Then, as I bought a few CDs to toy with, I found that I was really disappointed with the sound quality by comparison to most vinyl releases. That was early digital, and when I later upgraded my digital playback gear, and CD releases were becoming more common, I found that many of those sounded very good also. Some still did not. So the production mattered, but if wasn't a black and white, digital and analog thing, it was more a matter of how much knowledge and effort went into making the product. So at that point, I realized that both were capable formats, but both formats had good and bad sounding releases.

    My advice, based upon all of that experience is also two fold. One bit is to "Buy the best equipment that you can afford to playback whatever medium that you choose to collect music in." If you focus on Lp, then get a nice turntable, cartridge, and phono stage. If your collection focuses on CD, then get a really nice sounding CD player and or DAC. That has become a lot more affordable of late. This way, you'll get the most out of whatever you choose to collect. If you collect both, then it gets more expensive, but good digital playback gear has become much more affordable, so there is help there. Analog will always be expensive due to the size, quality, and number of components needed for it. Digital quality can be rather compact and being more electronics than mechanics, it can stay around a lower price range and still have good sonics. Two is to "Stop worrying, and just enjoy listening to your favorite music." Worrying and over-analyzing every aspect of playback is going to drag you down and ruin your fun. Don't be a killer of your own joy. There is no reason to stress about finding AAA copies of everything, nor only original pressings, etc. Many formats and pressings are excellent, and waiting to be explored. Pick the format you like best, then the best gear you can afford, and get on with it. It will all have flaws. Listen to the good part.
    Paully, Gardo, Francois and 11 others like this.
  23. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident

    New York City
    I too don't see the point in digital vinyl. Cheaper and better to buy the CD which rarely cost more than a $1-2..
    Kiko1974 likes this.
  24. The Pinhead


    Digitally-mastered vinyl has been around since the early 80s, but some people are noticing it just now:laugh:
  25. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    ^^ This.

    Provided that digitally recorded and mixed records were properly mastered for LP from the original mixes (or in some cases, wholly remixed altogether), the overall dynamic range will very likely be better.

    Each release should be taken on a case-by-case though and not simply dismiss all records that was done in a full or even partial digital chain. Kind of ridiculous for people to swear these off completely.

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