YouTube vinyl rip (samples) sound too good to be true?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by digilog, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. digilog

    digilog Active Member Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    I'm a newbie here so the explanation may be facepalm in front of me. Still, I take that slap if the result is less confusion!

    I'll begin with an example:

    Alan Parsons -- I Robot (early 1980's MFSL vs. 2017 MFSL 45rpm).

    They both sound quite different. The earlier LP sounds "crisper". More importantly, they both sound quite different. Actually, I've noted that many albums of mid-70s to mid-80s sound crisp.

    The most important issue for me is vinyl vs. CD.
    E.g., I have APP--I Robot on almost every CD released (including 1987 MFCD and 2005 Classic Records DVD-A). Compared to my own vinyl copies (as well as the ones vloggers are posting on YouTube), the CD copies sound downright anemic. Same goes for most classic Parsons (and other rock albums of that vintage). More specifically, the CD release has that nasal ("mid-rangey") sound. I know digital is much more capable than this!!

    It can't be simply vinyl vs digital for myriad reasons:
    -- YouTube is digital audio streaming 126k-192k (this is big setback for YouTube sound)
    -- I have CDs in my collection that sound much closer to their vinyl release.

    So, with albums like classic Parsons, it's gotta be the mastering ... right?
  2. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    Fill out your profile. Right now I could say it might be your crappy CD player. But, I have no idea what you are using.
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  3. MaestroDavros

    MaestroDavros Forum Resident

    D.C. Metro Area
    A simple answer would be yes, it comes down to the mastering, but in reality the answer is more complicated.

    First of all, assuming the same tapes were used for both releases, on the 2017 release you have to understand that that early 80's release was made when the tapes were only a few years old. Contrast this to the 2017 release where the tapes are around 35 years older, and likely have been handled more, so even masters can "dull" somewhat. Also often times tape stock used in the 70's paled in quality to what was used in the 60's and prior, so that is also a factor.

    But in regards to CD's sounding worse than vinyl, this largely remains because digital masterings, even incredibly dynamic ones, tend to be treated differently than vinyl, with different approaches to things such as EQ. Let me give you an example. Let's compare, for instance the mastering of The Beach Boys "Surfer Girl" between the 2015 AP Vinyl and the 2015 AP Hybrid-SACD. Now, both were done around the same time, using the same equipment, and with the same mastering engineer (Kevin Gray). And yet, despite both sounding great and arguably the definitive versions of the album people think the vinyl is superior. Why? Well if you actually compare the two there is a distinct difference in the EQ; largely in the treble. Compared to the SACD, the vinyl has a boost around the 10-20kHz range and a cut between the 4-8kHz range. This gives the vinyl a "warmer" sound, accentuates the highs, and prevents the low-treble/upper-mids from being congested. Conversely, these frequencies are left alone on the SACD mastering, resulting in a still presently warm but nonetheless "harder" sound (i.e. it doesn't "breath" as much). As to why different moves are made on digital compared to vinyl? Largely it comes down to hearing things differently on equipment for each format. Vinyl has a lot more signl paths to go through than a CD for instance, even though an all-analog mastering will be "purer" than a digital source. The engineer will thus compensate for this and, because they have to pay more attention to the sound, they usually get better results because more time and effort is put into it. And TBH I doubt most mastering engineers even consciously realize this, but this difference per format exists anyway. Usually the best results happen when someone is only doing digital but closely compares it to mastering moves made on vinyl, as it is possible to make digital masterings sound like their vinyl equivalents.
    This is very true as well. Bad/poor equipment is another factor in regards to what something's final output will sound (largely the speakers/DAC/etc.). This is what happens when you become an audiophile: you start to really care about how you are listening just as much as what you are listening to in the first place.
  4. digilog

    digilog Active Member Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    My Profile has been mostly filled in now. I believe I have audiophile gear.
    The sonics I noticed (orig. post) are, however, are not subtle -- no fancy gear needed to hear these attributes. For example, I have listened to them on an iPhone 6 with the default ear buds and can easily tell them apart -- as can my non-audiophile friends.
  5. digilog

    digilog Active Member Thread Starter

    Los Angeles
    I agree about how tape deteriorates with age and handling.
    Going back to various releases of APP--I Robot, I can compare/contrast with vinyl vs. CD versions released within 5-6 years from the orig. 1977 release. I, in fact, own almost all including the rare UHQR (1983) and West German CD (1984).
    The UHQR sounds very unique -- it seems to have been smiley-face EQ'd, which is not realistic but that ultra-careful 200g pressing adds a lot bennies.
    The West German CD has some "glitches" but is sonically similar to US (1987) CD. Both are "missing" the high end low end of the orig. Arista LP as wells as the non-UHQR MFSL Lp.

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