Originally Posted by bigshot
Music being mastered for vinyl has to be compressed because vinyl has a higher noise floor. Typically, LPs have a dynamic range of no more than 45 dB or so. CDs have a dynamic range that is double that, and well recorded and mastered music takes advantage of its capabilities.
Any frequencies above about 17kHz on vinyl is almost certainly surface noise.
I'm a record collector. I have over 25,000 records dating back to around 1904. I love records. But records don't have better sound quality than CDs. An easy way to tell is to digitize the best LP you own and do a blind level matched A/B test comparing the redbook rip against the original LP. I did this with a Sheffield Lab direct to disk LP (Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues Vol 2) and try as I might with excellent equipment, I couldn't hear any difference at all. I enjoy checking out my equipment like this to see what the truth is. Try it yourself. You'll see.
I have really hard time understanding you. On one hand, a man who has been in (classical) music most/all of his (pre)adult life, with a very well formed opinion on music, musicians, performances, etc - not far removed from my own - and on the other hand, the obvious inability to use analog to its fullest. You would not be claiming figures above, at least not for the best releases, both for analog software and hardware.
I certainly am aware of the limitations imposed by cutting a record master. Basically, bass has to be next to mono-ed, because vertical excursion containing out of phase information ( stereo ) must absolutely not exceed the thickness of the lacquer. In the high frequency range, there is limitation by the thermal characteristics of the cutting head. To aid this, latest/best record cutting heads are equipped with gas cooling, to get about 10-20 % improvement over normal air operation. It is anything but trivial matter - during some crazy cymbal work, peak of power can reach approx 500 W - per channel, meaning it takes about 1 kW to inscribe the signal correctly uncompressed into the master. Most mastering enginners will not be willing to risk their precious cutting head and would compress those peaks to the level they are comfortable with - sound quality be damned. At real time speed cutting, upper limit for analog records with essentially flat frequency response is approx 25 to 27 kHz,
depending on cutter head.
Half speed mastering, invented for the necessity of qudrophonic systems requiring carrier in the 45 kHz range, achieves at least double that. It is also not limited by thermal problems in the treble, requiring only one fourth of the power compared to real time cutting. 125 W/ch is not only within limits of any decent cutter head, it is loafing - and good mastering engineers certainly do take advantages of it. For example, half speed mastering can produce vynil record that will always outplay master tape played back in real time on the very same machine that recorded the tape.
On the replay side, to use analogy with cars, one can not expect all cars on the street will have the performance of at least some mid Ferrari
and all of the drivers would be able to compete in say some lower level leading ultimately to Formula 1. That means that commercially available records MUST bear above in mind - or else the quality of replay available to the majority of users would be actually worse. That means less bass, less treble, less level, more noise, more rumble - and arriving at about the figures you posted above.
It is true that resolution of analog record is not constant - it is best at the outer diameter at the start of the record, getting ever worse towards the label area. But with modern stylus shapes that have reached practical limits ( any sharper and it would tend to re-cut the groove ) and linear/parallel tracking arms it is possible to have high quality enough playback rigt to the label if required.
There is a distinct difference in sound of a well analog recorded, mastered and played back vynil and its CD counterpart. If the original recording is digital, this still held true at the begining of the CD era. For example, Philips went to any degree to produce Dire Straits album Love Over Gold, which was one of the first digital recordings by a major rock group, both in analog record and CD, to the finest standard they possibly could. With a clear intention - to showcase and prove superiority of CD vs analog. It backfired - so badly, that Philips quietly and as fast as possible withdrew all remaining unsold copies of the first issue of the said LP from the shops - and replaced it with a version more likely to prove the point they were after. The analog gear at its peak simply run rings around first CD players - I heard Philips prototype at our electronics show in 1979 and after 5 minutes listen with the Audio Technica ATH 7 electret headphones driven by a Van Alstine 120B power amp I brought to give it a fairest shake possible , it was painfully clear it is light years from the quality of the analog.
Try to get the said first issue of the LP - no wonder, it has stratospherical price today.
On the other hand, if recording is digital 44.1/16, done well and CD player is recent(ish) with better filtering, etc - I see little point in vynil release of the same title. There is nothing on CD resolution recording decent analog could reveal and there are all the drawbacks of analog - giving you essentially worst of both worlds.
I am constantly trying to improve both analog and digital - to serve MUSIC. Whatever it takes. 44.1/16 - no, thank you. Experience from recording hall, not mouse clicking.