Vinyl v. digital curiosity

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by SKBubba, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. SKBubba

    SKBubba Forum Resident Thread Starter

    So I resurrected a semi-vintage setup for the purpose of recording a bunch of LPs I haven't listened to in 25+ years.

    I've been CD and digital since then, and never looked back, and never engaged in the analog v. digital wars.

    BUT, as I've been recording my LP's I noticed there is something to the "warmer" or "smoother" sound argument.

    And then, I noticed something curious. When playing back the digital captures of the LPs they have the same "warm" or "smooth" sound, just like when I play the LPs from a turntable.

    So maybe digital isn't the problem? Or maybe it's just nostalgia for that "sound," whatever it is? Or maybe engineers and producers did more with less back in the day?

    Anyway, the sound quality of most of the digitally recorded LPs has been surprisingly good, and I'm happy rediscovering some gems.
    jdjones, Litejazz53, VQRex and 12 others like this.
  2. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    That's why some of us do them. For the mastering :cheers:
    VQRex, Leonthepro, AlanDistro and 6 others like this.
  3. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    United States
    Digital audio conversion is a wholly transparent process. The smoothness of an LP is a distortion.

    I actually find CDs to be a lot smoother than vinyl - it's hard to sound smooth with all the clicking, noise, sibilance distortion, inner groove distortion, etc...
  4. klockwerk

    klockwerk Forum Resident

    Ohio USA
    For the magic fairy dust to be in so many LP masterings, I kinda wonder if it's an artifact of RIAA equalization.
  5. HDOM

    HDOM Well-Known Member

    I wonder this too, great question, all the vinyl drop i had heard sound better than the same hdtracks version, many were mastered in the same time and studio(i belive, when i see them remastered by the same label and year) but i guess they did a remaster separate from the master tape, but then why they not took that r
    "Vinyl remastet" and digitalised , at tge same time they make the vinyl mother stampers?
  6. TonyCzar

    TonyCzar Forum Resident

    PhIladelphia, PA
    Hi-res captures of analogue sources is my favoritest thing ever. Mint vinyl is a valid (if sometimes imperfect) analogue source.

    Yes, "smoothness" is indeed distortion, but "digital" (for many years) was just shorthand for what was actually recorded, just like Neil Young said.
  7. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    I keep it simple for listening to analog I just play vinyl TT/Tube amp. Sorted!!!
    E.Baba, H8SLKC, Manimal and 5 others like this.
  8. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    This includes records cut from Hi-res captures of analog master tapes? Or the Hi-res files themselves? Or both?
  9. ron325

    ron325 Well-Known Member

    I used to record my vinyl and liked the sound better than the cd (assuming I owned both to compare). My phono amp was coloring the sound (which I prefer), but it was such a PITA that I stopped doing it years ago.
    L.P. and PhilBiker like this.
  10. TonyCzar

    TonyCzar Forum Resident

    PhIladelphia, PA
    Things I like (e.g.)

    24/96 vinyl rips of old-school records (from the 70s and back).

    Moar, plz.

    In the case of Bowie's "Nassau '76" release - a brickwalled, digitally mastered mess first unleashed in 2010 - I like the 24/96 capture of the vinyl because the vinyl takes care of some of what's so bad and awful to listen to about the digital version. So, what I enjoy there is a robust digital capture (24/96) of the 1-gen "lossy" conversion to vinyl, as made by EMI. With this title, it's not a matter of taste and subtlety and hints of chocolate and almond. It's a matter of being able to listen to it. So it's a salvage operation more than anything else.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  11. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    That's a very interesting point. Makes me start wondering about the time response caused by the RIAA filter...
    4011021 likes this.
  12. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    You forgot wow and flutter...:p
  13. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    I feel sorry for music lovers that had never heard a quality vinyl reproduction without hearing clicking, noise, sibilance distortion, inner groove distortion and wow and flutter. It's a great experience.
    advanced101, G E, Blackie and 21 others like this.
  14. AD/DA conversion is not wholly transparent. If it was then all AD converters and all DA converters would sound the same and cheap ones would sound the same as expensive ones.
  15. Opeth

    Opeth Forum Resident

    From my experiences this year I have found the sweet spot for digital sound wise that I am almost as happy as I thought I was with vinyl. I think...
    Dan Steele, thxphotog and The Pinhead like this.
  16. I also experienced what others here have experienced that a high res digitized copy of good sounding vinyl preserves the analog sound of the vinyl and therefore sounds better than their CD counterparts. There's no bias here. It's just my ears and brain favoring the sound of digital copies of my vinyl records compared to CD's.
  17. galactica1971

    galactica1971 Active Member

    Western Australia
    My opinion:

    - Digital is better than vinyl on pretty much anything technically measurable.

    - Vinyl generally contains better mastered music because they predate the loudness wars.

    - Vinyl introduces distortion errors, surface noise, but these are nothing compared to the destruction of music via poor modern mastering that exists in the digital domain. This is not an issue with digital as such.

    - Vinyl is delicate, a pain to collect, expensive. On the other hand it is tactile, it delivers more than just simply a musical experience, and it's fun. As with food, it's not just about the taste it's about the context that makes it enjoyable.

    For me the win/win is to collect and source your music from vinyl and then digitise via a no-loss process. The playback once filtered and cleaned up is fantastic, so you benefit on all fronts.

    Furthermore, philosophically I do not like what digital (particularly streaming) has done to the appreciation and consumption of music, but that's just my opinion.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  18. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    United States
    Scientifically speaking, if the converter measures properly, it will be completely transparent on either end.
    VQRex, Kevin Bresnahan and PhilBiker like this.
  19. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    Yes, vinyl done right is an amazing experience. It does not happen all the time, but when the stars align, it is magical.
  20. 2trackmind

    2trackmind Forum Resident

    Not only that, but I think it has a lot to do with the other filtering that is required when mastering for vinyl.
    PhilBiker likes this.
  21. Shew, I was hoping we'd have another thread about this ****, so we can hash it out once and for all.
  22. The Pinhead


    Digital is DEFINITELY not the problem. Mastering/mixing, and (lack) of room treatments are the culprits.
  23. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Stereo cartridges inherently output 'out-of-phase' content (things in one channel that are identical but inverted in polarity in the other channel) that wasn't on the original master.

    When the stereo lacquer is cut, one channel of the master being played back has its polarity inverted - the cutter-head will be on the peak of a hill on one groove wall while at the bottom of a valley on the other groove wall if it is cutting a mono signal (same signal in both channels).

    In this way, cutting a stereo record from a mono signal (same signal in both channels) translates to lateral motion of the cutter head (and therefore the playback stylus). This is the Westrex 45/45 stereo cutting system and it allows compatibility for playback of stereo cut records with a mono cartridge as the mono cartridge will only see the horizontal component which is the sum of the channels.

    Were it the other way, leaving the polarity consistent between channels when cutting a mono signal in stereo, then you would have hills and dales respectively on both groove walls representing vertical motion of the cutter head. This would not be compatible with a standard mono cartridge. Even stereo material is normally predominantly mono - this inverting of polarity of one channel for cutting ensures that the more extreme motion is mostly lateral which helps keep the stylus in the groove on playback.

    Now consider a stereo LP with stereo content - any centre signal is like the mono case, same signal cut in each channel but the polarity of one channel was inverted with respect to the other for cutting with the stereo cartridge configured to output the channels with the relative polarity restored.

    If the system was ideal, none of this would matter - flip the polarity on one channel for cutting, flip it back afterwards and Bob's your uncle, mono-compatible stereo.

    In practice, no stage of the recording/mastering/plating/pressing/playback process is perfect. The result is a record that has additional noise not on the original 2-channel source, some of which is shared in both channels. The polarity inversion at cutting and the restoring of original polarity at pick-up means that the 2-channel cartridge output now includes low level random out-of-phase content. That is, content not on the original master that is present in both channels but is inverted in polarity in one channel with respect to the other.

    The effect of this is a certain 3D quality to the out-of-phase noise - it is easy for the listener to separate the music from this out-of-phase noise and it creates a pleasant listening experience.

    For playback of a mono LP (mono or stereo cut) with a stereo cartridge, summing the channels and then splitting that back out to your speakers retrieves the true mono signal (the summing cancels out the out-of-phase stereo garbage).

    So, a stereo LP has something the master tape (or a digital transfer of it) won't have - low level random out-of-phase content.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
    G E, kevinsinnott, EVOLVIST and 14 others like this.
  24. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Clicking = ??? I have NEVER heard any "clicking" in my records.
    Noise = Everything has noise, something without noise is not natural.
    Sibilance distortion = sibilance is noise and so can distortion be noise. Sibilance is naturally occurring in sssssspeech as well as it being a hot mic in the studio during recording, why they created de-essing software.
    IGD = is caused usually by a poorly setup cartridge.
  25. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I find your comments with regard to the cutter head very interesting, in fact I would go as far as to say most interesting. It is nothing that I gave any thought to before.

    So the left and right sides of the groves represent the right and left channels.

    If the cutting head is moving to the left and cutting a groove in the left side of the acetate, than it is not cutting a groove in the right side of the acetate at that very same moment. Then when the cutting head is cutting a groove on the right side of the acetate, then it is not cutting a groove on the left side at that precise same time.

    Therefore the right and left grooves are 180° out of phase. Then the same would apply to playback.

    But, I can see that this would not apply to a master tape recording.
    4011021 likes this.

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