SH Spotlight Vinyl vs. master tape?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Holy Zoo, Jan 12, 2002.

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  1. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

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    Krabapple if we can discuss "sampling rate" of an LP lets do so. What is the "sampling rate" of an LP? How many bits does an LP have? How would it stack up against a CD?

    Krabbapple I have yet to get one response from any of the CD advocates On their experienes with actually listening to state of the art LP playback. Why is it that the nay sayers never actually bother to really investigate the claims of LP superiority?
    So far everybody who tells me I am hearing the results of euphonic colorations have yet to express any experience with state of the art turntables. Not terribly scientific or rational.


    It is interesting that you claim double blind tests have never uncovered differences that audiophiles cling to yet in fact such tests have been conducted by James Boyk with positive results. I forgot his results are "controversal" yet all the results of sloppy uncontroled double blind tests conducted by "objectivists" with gross biases are "good science", give me a break. I can set up any double blind test to yield a negetive result. I can set one up to prove Pandas are statistically just as likely to mate with a lizard as another Panda using every control that your "objectivists' use in their tests.
     
  2. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Why do people like to throw around "euphonics" all the time to describe why someone may *prefer* vinyl over cd? I've heard cd players (all solid state) where one sounds more natural (i.e. life-like) than others. Does that mean that cd player is introducing euphonics or third-order harmonics? I don't think so. Maybe it's just better designed.

    "Accuracy", and we've been tossing that word around pretty loosely, does not have to be sacrificed for something to sound real, which everyone here seems to attach to "euphonic".

    Last time I checked, most of the bands or singers on-stage don't send their performance through an A/D converter before it gets amplified to the crowd. In almost all cases, it is an all analog chain, accurate, and real, and full of "spec" limitations. No digital in the mix. Would you consider that "accurate"?

    krabapple,

    You know, at the end of the day, it's just not worth trying to point out all the inconsistencies and faulty assumptions in your posts.

    I do have one question, though:

    If "better" specs (higher SN, lower THD, widest frequency repsonse) determines what is a more accurate representation of a master tape, what digital format is the MOST accurate, or even more accurate than an LP?

    - MP3
    - 16/44.1 redbook
    - 24/96 DAD
    - DVD/A
    - SACD

    For me, that list takes the water out of all of your arguments. Based upon what I've been reading from all of your posts (and they are legion), they are all more accurate to the original master than any lp. I find that hypothesis unsupportable.

    I submit that if all A/D converters and cables sound alike as you asssert, and specs determine what is most accurate, then Steve Hoffman, and all the other pros out there, should be using off-the-shelf digital sound cards and cables in the mastering stations to produce CD's and LP's. Not happening. And it's not just because they are "conditioned to hear what they expect to hear". Have you ever seen what Bernie Grundman uses in his recording and mastering facilities? Transparent audiophile cables, DCS converters, etc. If everything is as you and Goldenboy and Grant say, then he and Steve wasted a lot of money to assemble world class facilities.

    I'm also curious as to why Neil Young prefers vinyl over cd? Why he publicly states that *no* digital playback medium sounds as good, or is as faithful (i.e. accurate), to *his* masters? Hmmm, I wonder why?

    And again, just because I prefer vinyl, that does not mean that I am a "vinylphile", whatever that means, or that I think CD's suck, or that I've been conditioned to hear what I want to hear.
     
  3. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    Even in words, the claims of vinyl's superiority sounds ridiculous! It's in the specs.

    Now, this thing about the LPs sampling rate is a new one on me! I want to read this!
     
  4. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Does anybody know the "specs" for tape? Specifically the tape most used for master recordings? I'd guess that those specs more closely resemble the specs for vinyl, rather than cd.

    I am really curious.
     
  5. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    Not these days! You can NEVER know what they do now! Many bands introduce prerecorded sound along with or in place of any real sound. There could be digital processing somewhere in the amplified chain from the mic to the board to the speakers. Let's not even talk about the instruments themselves! It's a digital world! There are TTs with digital circuits involved. You can't get away from digital.
     
  6. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Grant,

    We've already agreed that those bands don't count, and we don't listen to them anyway :) Live or on tape, or cd, or lp.
     
  7. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

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    Grant
    Krabbapple is the one who said LP sampling rate was a topic that can be discussed. I'll waite for his response.
    Secondly if you are tired of words then go out and listen to a state of the art turntable and compare it to any CD player. Haven't you noticed that no one has actually said something like this: "I have listened to one or a number of state of the art turntables and my experience was that the CD player sounded more like live music and/or more like the master tape." The thing is the folks with actual listening experience with these tables aren't saying that at all. I'd love to see a blind test between a CD player and a state of the art turntable with a propperly mastered LP compared with a live feed( the ultimate reference). It would be easily done with a player piano. What I would really love to see is for the nay sayers to actually listen to a state of the art turntable.
     
  8. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    We have two issues going at the moment:

    1. What is a more accurate reproduction of a master tape? cd or lp? We don't specify what type of master (analog tape or digital) and we also don't specify what form of digital playback -- cd, mp3, 24/96 DAD, DVD-A, SACD.

    2. Then we have the what sounds better, and why, discussion.
     
  9. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    Scott,

    Please list your playback equipment and provide examples of great sounding LP's and how they beat their CD counterparts?

    Thanks!

    Bob
     
  10. Joseph

    Joseph Forum Resident

    I recall Michael Fremer in Sterophile reviewing a $75,000 turntable which he said was in a class by itself. He burned a Cd from this table and the Cd sounded better than his own $15,000 turntable playing the same record!

    Now I'm really confused!

    CD's are here to stay...vinyl never left...let's enjoy both!:D
     
  11. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    krabapple and analog scott,

    Interesting links on tests conducted with a group of people.

    Wasn't there also a test or sets of tests conducted at a British hi-fi show where they did head-head comparisons with a Linn CD-12 (state of the art cd player) and a Linn LP-12 (arguably not a state of the art lp player)?

    For state of the art, I mean the recognized absolute best in it's class regardless of price ($75K Rockport Serius System III).

    Does anybody have access to, or remember the results, of that test?

    I'd bet $100 that someone will take issue with the methodology of the comparison or the test, and fail to see that it is a group of people, and not just one person. No one will agree on anything in this discussion, even the way tests should be conducted. Blind, double-blind, deaf, one-hand tied behind the back, etc...
     
  12. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    Not even close!

    Professional tape of either 30 ips or 15 ips is about as good as the electronics running it. 15 ips has a bass bump which tends to make it sound a bit warmer, which is what many engineers like. It is used with NR. 30 ips is what master mixdowns are typically on and is usually used with no NR.

    CD, with noise shaping can have a dynamic range of as much as 117! CD is 20Hz-20kHz which is double of the highest frequency range. Tape can only dream of that.

    Vinyl? Yeah! right! The dynamic range of vinyl is uh...around 60 tops? The practical frequency response is usually around 40Hz-15 or 16kHz? Cassette tape with Dolby "B" can do better than that!

    Digital can be what you want it to be.
     
  13. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    You'd be surprised at what bands do it nowadays. It's not just those no-talent ones anymore!
     
  14. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    Well, we can discount mp3 because we all know it is a joke for serious listening!

    Funny, one discussion always bleeds into the other!
     
  15. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    That seems to be what is missing from this discussion, REAL examples!
     
  16. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

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    United States
    Be careful! There are a few people on this board who are NOT MF fans!
     
  17. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

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    Wow I go to the bathroom and there are twenty new posts. There will be probably a dozen more by the time I finish this one. I am a slow typer.

    Equipment:
    Table: Forsell air reference with flywheel
    cartridge: Koetsu Rosewood signature
    Isolation: two one inch slabs of acrylic sandwiching homemade pucks of silicone elastomer shore hardness 9 on top of Aurios 1.0
    Pre amp: Audio Research SP 10
    Amp: Audio Research D 115 Mk II
    Interconects: MIT shotgun
    Speakers: Martin Logan CLS IIZ and Vandersteen 2W subwoofer
    Speaker cable: Audioquest clear

    I think that is everything. I'll get back to you on the LPs
    I must pick up my daughter from school now
     
  18. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Why? That's my whole point. I rest my case.

    At what point does a digital medium become accurate? or more accurate than an lp? Or sound better than an lp (i.e. not "a joke for serious listening")?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't MP3 share the same potential specs (S/N, THD, dynamic range) that you assert are so critical for digital's superiority over vinyl? even tape? The only difference between MP3 and redbook CD is that MP3 samples at a lower rate. The other specs remain the same. With MP3, the "holes" between the dots, using the picture in a newspaper analogy, are greater, and thus more evident, making it less enjoyable to you as a listener.

    That's what a bunch of us have been saying from the beginning. Digital (especially 16/44 redbook and below) are crude approximations and snapshots of the original waveform. By nature of this "stair-stepping" if you will, it CANNOT and WILL NOT ever be more accurate or sound better than the best LP playback. High-Rez digital makes the discussion a little more difficult.

    I think what AnalogScott, and others, have asserted is that as the LP and CD mechanisms increase in resolution and playback capability, a similar effect occurs as to how you react to MP3 versus redbook CD. Just as you react to the limited sampling rate in MP3, the "holes" or "gaps" in the sampling rate of redbook CD becomes more evident, to the extent that it may no longer be appropriate for some people for "serious listening".

    BTW: there is a whole group of people who say that MP3 sounds just as good as cd. Swear by it up and down. Why? Because with their playback system (boombox, etc.) the resolution isn't great enough to demonstrate or expose the gaps or limited sampling rate.
     
  19. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    It sounds like you have a misunderstanding about what mp3 is. mp3 is a compressed format meant to greatly shrink the size of data to be traded on the internet. In that capacity, it succeeds. It has nothing to do with UNcompressed data types like the CD.

    Most CD people are pretty educated about analog, but many vinyl advocates are relatively ignorant about digital.
     
  20. trhunnicutt

    trhunnicutt Member

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Hey Scott,

    Nice rig, but I don't think your MIT shotgun are good enough ;) You know you can't have networked cables in the signal path :)

    (psst. i use the mit oracle stuff)

    Everybody just *knows* that those boxes are unnecessary and cause all kinds of distortions to the orginal, pure, accurate signal.

    As if there aren't capacitors and resistors and cables imparting impedance and capacitance throughout the entire chain *within* each discrete component (cd player, preamp, amp, etc.)
     
  21. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

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    "many vinyl advocates are reletively ignorant about digital"

    Would you include Dave Wilson, Kieth Johnson, Peter Forsell, Andy Payor and numerous other designers and recording engineers in this catagory?
     
  22. dwmann

    dwmann Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Houston TX
    No. I have NOT. I HAVE heard 16-bit recordings that sound great at first. Better than vinyl counterparts. But I inevitably get TIRED of the sound, over a few days or weeks. There are a few exceptions to this, most notably CDs mastered by Steve, and the MFSLs. I think Steve's CDs bring as much life to the medium as you can possibly get. I am AWARE it is digital, but it is not so obvious or irritating that listener fatigue sets in. However, I think the sound of Steve's LPs is a little more musical. So the DCC CDs are "almost great" and the LPs are "great." I usually listen to CDS.


    As for the MFSLs, well, I think most that I've heard sound "great" from the point of view of "musicality" at least. I do not think they are as true to the original masters as the DCCs (many sound blurry in comparison). However, I am not as aware of the digital medium when listening to MFSLs, probably because MFSL used a VERY "fat" EQ curve that eliminates a lot of what I hate about digital. However, I can't say these are "great" 16-bit recordings, because MFSL hid the digital sound by altering the music, (kind of a pleasant form of no-noise), and I'm very aware of the EQ curve when listening to them. I just find I can live with the EQ easier than the "digital sound."


    So it isn't LOST, it is MASKED, whereas (CD) digital attempts to approximate a wave form and discards any information beyond 16 bits. So it IS lost. There is a difference.

    I have. The superstitions about DIGITAL have been refuted time and again. Most of these same people seem to think 16 bits and 44.1 KHz is inadequate. As for psychoacoustics, I think those people are on to something. Selecting WHERE to throw bits away (in the case of music or video) makes a LOT more sense than slicing everything off in the same place. And I tend to prefer the BEST psycho-acousically based algorithims to the CD algorithim, soundwise.


    Yes. And needless to say, I think MP3 is a joke.

    Well, there are just as many technical arguments out there saying CD can't cut it as there are saying it can. (As there are arguments arguing for and against single-bit converters, etc.) It just depends on which articles you want to read. Most of the arguments claiming CD doesn't cut it point at bit-rate and sampling frequency as the culprits. I think that IS a valid argument. Obviously, YOU don't. As for Joe Public hankering for "better" sound, Joe Public hankers for anything "new and improved." But it seems that a lot of the people on this board have discovered some of those "mastered-from-who-knows-what CDs" everyone used to complain about actually sound "better" than some of the ear-bleed remasters. If you want to use THAT argument *someone* is buying new LP pressings at high prices compared to CD versions. So they must have *some* hankering for better sound than you can get from a CD.

    Sorry, but the "known effects" and "expectations" have nothing to DO with it. I discovered this on my own, and quite by accident. I have two McIntosh MC7270 amps. I bought the second one with the idea of running rear channel speakers, although I didn't have any at the time. So I bridged both amps for mono, and dedicated each for a single speaker. The difference in the QUALITY of the sound was AMAZING. What had sounded great sounded INCREDIBLE. So much so that I realized I'd never want rear speakers enough to unbridge the amps. However, I am not rich, and dedicating an amp for each speaker was an expensive proposition. So I invited everyone I knew to compare the sound and offer an opinion. The result: Everyone who listened thought the bridged for mono set-up sounded significantly better. Even my roommate at the time, who said he didn't think it would be possible to get better sound than what I had. (He was not an audiophile.

    However, the real clincher was this: My father, who had been DEAF in one ear since he was a child and could never understand the idea of "stereo," and had simply tolerated my childhood fascination with stereo and stereo equipment, heard a QUALITATIVE difference in the sound he WAS hearing and voted for the bridged for mono set-up. He said he didn't know why, bu it "sounded better." It was the first time in my life I'd ever had him listen to dometing he actually LIKED the sound of.

    No, it was not a controlled, scientific blind listening test, although I was aware that louder levels = perceived difference. So I played the bridged set-up at a slightly lower level to bias the test AGAINST the bridged for mono set-up. I had everyone listen to ONE speaker. (I used the same speaker each time.) And EVERYONE thought the bridged for mono setup added a depth to the sound that wasn't there in the stereo setup. And it wasn't a "depth of soundfield" depth. It was a difference in the quality of sound coming from ONE speaker. And some (like my girlfriend) had more of a vested interest in having the stereo setup sound better.

    (By the way, even my two amps don't SOUND exactly alike, although it is very close, and they measure ALMOST exactly the same - with all measurements performed by McIntosh Labs.)


    By the way, I don't LISTEN to LPs very often. I listen to CDs. I just don't think they have the same "musical" sound quality, and I wish all CDs sounded like Steve's LPs. (And I will NEVER listen to MP3 or its cousins.) I don't WANT to go back to LP. I don't think EVERY LP sounds better than EVERY CD. I WANT digital to move forward to the point where I can like both its convenience AND sound quality. To a point where all the "superstitions about digital" don't matter anymore. I also think you have to have a very good front end to hear what LP lovers hear. They are talking about a qualitative difference in sond. You are arguing about a quantitative difference.


    And I think quantitative measurements are only a tool. "Frequency response" and "S/N ratio" and all the other measurements that are supposed to tell us how things sound DON'T tell us much. No two amplifiers, even if they are the same model from the same manufacturer, will ever sound exactly alike. NOR WILL THEY MEASURE EXACTLY ALIKE, if you carry the measurement to enough decimal places. And the SAME AMPLIFIER will sound DIFFERENT dead cold than it will when it warms up. Even if two amps have the same frequency response plus or minus 1 db, that does not mean the distortion curves are identical. And just because two amps both produce a test tone at a certain frequency doesn't mean that tone will SOUND exactly the same, even if both amps run the signal through the same speaker. There CAN be a qualitative difference. Why do you think people pay millions for a Stradivarius? Because the QUALITY of the tone is different. It isn't just a status symbol. By your reasoning they are wasting their money, because you reject the idea that something can sound tonally the same as something else, yet have a qualitative difference.

    So saying CDs measure better than LPs is meaningless. The truth is, it doesn't matter how a piece of equipment measures, as long as it sounds good to YOU. CDs are a piece of hardware. I don't think they sound good. You do. The difference between us is that I am willing to accept that YOU think CDs sound good, and that you prefer the kind of sound they reproduce to LPs. I wish I felt the same way. You have made a QUALITATIVE judgement, and I accept that. However, you seem unwilling to accept the fact that some people, who have heard LPs played on equipment that is capable of reproducing everything that is on the LP think LPs sound better, or at least, that the best LPs sound better than the best CDs. (Which kind of reminds me of my deaf in one ear dad always trying to tell me that stereo was a stupid idea in the first place. He could never understand how having TWO speakers could make any difference. And it didn't to him - he couldn't hear the soundstage anyway.)
     
  23. Grant

    Grant In holiday HELL

    Location:
    United States
    Maybe. Just because they are pros or designers means nothing. But I was referring to the typical audiophile variety, some of whom inhabit this forum!
     
  24. sgb

    sgb Senior Member

    Location:
    Baton Rouge
    It's always on, and the basis of the original poster's comment.
     
  25. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

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    Actually it means plenty. They are among the folks who have designed and produced some of the best sounding CDs and CD players. And they all think LPs sound better.
    As for the digital advocates knowing more about analog than visa versa, shall we talk about turntable design and see what they know?
     
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