Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Music › NPR Covers CD vs Vinyl: The music experience
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

NPR Covers CD vs Vinyl: The music experience - Page 2

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post


Sure. Example...
Mumford & Sons
http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=Mumford&search_album=Sigh+no+more
That's vinyl vs CD on their first album
Purity Ring
http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=Purity+ring&search_album=
Again, vinyl vs CD on modern stuff with no 'remasters'.

I was hoping for actual measurements of the medium alone, not comparisons of recordings or different releases.  How do you know there weren't different adjustments made for the vinyl vs CD?  I spent a few minutes Googling (yes, that's now a word!) and found no claims that the vinyl was either remastered or not.  Nothing to substantiate the assumption that the source audio for both was identical.  Given what we're talking about here, that bit of information would be fairly important to know.

 

What did you find?

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

I was hoping for actual measurements of the medium alone, not comparisons of recordings or different releases.  How do you know there weren't different adjustments made for the vinyl vs CD?  I spent a few minutes Googling (yes, that's now a word!) and found no claims that the vinyl was either remastered or not.  Nothing to substantiate the assumption that the source audio for both was identical.  Given what we're talking about here, that bit of information would be fairly important to know.

What did you find?

Pure numbers (statistics) from the actual CD vs Vinyl favor CD. In a perfect world CDs would always be better but my point with those numbers is that it doesn't always happen that way (and that's why I buy modern LPs).

I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at trying to figure out is the source is the same. Whether there was a different master for each format is meaningless (I hope there was) because either way there is more dynamic range on the LP than there is on the CD even though CD as a format is more capable than vinyl.

With those releases it's fairly obvious to me when I compare them myself, in my system, with my own ears. Dynamic range with some releases is harder than other to pick out but with those 2 it's obvious.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post


Pure numbers (statistics) from the actual CD vs Vinyl favor CD. In a perfect world CDs would always be better but my point with those numbers is that it doesn't always happen that way (and that's why I buy modern LPs).
I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at trying to figure out is the source is the same. Whether there was a different master for each format is meaningless (I hope there was) because either way there is more dynamic range on the LP than there is on the CD even though CD as a format is more capable than vinyl.
With those releases it's fairly obvious to me when I compare them myself, in my system, with my own ears. Dynamic range with some releases is harder than other to pick out but with those 2 it's obvious.

You've just hit the nail on the head.  If there were different masters, then what you are hearing and comparing has nothing to do with the fact that its on vinyl or CD.  I'm not discounting that what you hear, and the dynamic range measurements, are real, I'm sure they are.  You're being confused as to the cause, and you cannot pin it on the vinyl or the CD in this kind of test, there are way to many unknowns and uncontrolled conditions.  

 

I have actually had the opportunity to do a real comparison.  I've taken a master tape, had CDs made of it without any processing or adjustments, then taken the same tape and had vinyl made from it, with only the changes being the required compensations needed to make vinyl actually work.  Playing the CD and vinyl in sync on properly calibrated equipment (there's a biggie!) there is no difference between the two, except the vinyl is noisier and slightly more distorted on peaks, at least for the first few plays.  After that, wear takes its toll and the differences become bigger. None of the popular claims that vinyl was intrinsically and sonically better held true, even slightly.

 

Now, if theres some way everybody else can actually do that test, that would be helpful.  Otherwise what we have is anecdote and opinion only.

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie View Post

You've just hit the nail on the head.  If there were different masters, then what you are hearing and comparing has nothing to do with the fact that its on vinyl or CD.  I'm not discounting that what you hear, and the dynamic range measurements, are real, I'm sure they are.  You're being confused as to the cause, and you cannot pin it on the vinyl or the CD in this kind of test, there are way to many unknowns and uncontrolled conditions.  

I have actually had the opportunity to do a real comparison.  I've taken a master tape, had CDs made of it without any processing or adjustments, then taken the same tape and had vinyl made from it, with only the changes being the required compensations needed to make vinyl actually work.  Playing the CD and vinyl in sync on properly calibrated equipment (there's a biggie!) there is no difference between the two, except the vinyl is noisier and slightly more distorted on peaks, at least for the first few plays.  After that, wear takes its toll and the differences become bigger. None of the popular claims that vinyl was intrinsically and sonically better held true, even slightly.

Now, if theres some way everybody else can actually do that test, that would be helpful.  Otherwise what we have is anecdote and opinion only.

I think we're both missing each other's points a bit here. I fully acknowledge that if everything was done like your test I'd buy the CD every time. I'm not arguing that vinyl is a better media at all...I'm simply saying that with modern music (and a lot of classic rock) the vinyl often has a better master, thus making it my preferred format.
post #20 of 24
Fair enough. For me the challenges of getting my mitts on a good fresh pressing of a classic record take it mostly out of my world. It's mostly the choice of a well mastered vinyl disc that's worn and scratched vs a pristine CD of whatever mastering quality it has. Classic vinyl would win perhaps if you found a copy in good shape. Glad to hear we are on the same page about the medium though. It ain't the vinyl, it the guys making the master. Thanks for the clarification.

Now I'm off to play a record...
post #21 of 24

I don't think well mastered CDs are that rare. Music that sounds better on vinyl is the exception not the rule. And it's almost exclusively vintage. Modern LPs use the same digital masters the band recorded in the first place.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I don't think well mastered CDs are that rare. Music that sounds better on vinyl is the exception not the rule. And it's almost exclusively vintage. Modern LPs use the same digital masters the band recorded in the first place.

I'm with you that well mastered CDs are not rare, but within certain genres of music, there may well be better sounding vinyl.  The most likely is rock from the late 60s and 70s when the mastering guys were true masters.  When that stuff got rushed to CD they slopped up quite a bit, which gave early CDs a bad name...kinda.  I think to suppose modern LPs use the same digital masters as CDs is sort of naive though.  If the band wants to release on vinyl they already believe it sounds different, probably better. There's still a huge mystique surrounding vinyl, and if the band is releasing on it they'll want to hire a "wizard" to work his vinyl magic...which just means he's going to change more than a few things.  They expect different, and the wiz is going to make darn sure they get what they want so he gets paid and gets the next gig.   Why would anyone want their vinyl to sound exactly like their CD?  What would be the point of releasing both?  

 

What I can tell you is if you're careful and insist on clean mastering, you can absolutely get them both so close the only audible difference is surface noise and high level distortion, not that those things are minor, it's just not the night/day difference vinylites talk about in hushed tones.  But if you're going to the trouble, then for goodness sakes, don't make the vinyl sound like a CD!  Right? I mean, it's marketing 101. And supports the vinyl mystique/myth or whatever.  Makes it special, elite, slightly archaic, very touchy-feely, and appeals to the hipster, etc.  And they sell product that you can't download, hopefully for a premium price.  

 

There are two reasons vinyl and CDs sound different.  One is accidental, the other is purposeful.  But if you remove all the special EQ and processing from both, they end up in basic sonic parity except for the inherent failings of vinyl, which are not trivial.  

 

One last anecdote...in the late 1960s I got a copy of an RCA Living Stereo pressing of Mysterious Mountain by Hovaness, Fritz Reiner, CSO.  Amazing music, fabulous performance, great band, lousy record.  Full of distortion, the strings are strident, lots of IMD, and I had to try three times for a pressing that didn't have bubbles in it.  Now, decades later, I get the CD, supposedly meticulously transferred.  Guess what? Distortion is still there.  Turns out the levels were pushed pretty hard into tape saturation on the original sessions.  The CD wins, though, because there aren't any flaws in the vinyl.  

post #23 of 24

One problem that I've observed with those who claim that vinyl is better than CDs is that most modern LPs result from digital recordings, digital mixing, and digital mastering. Although it is still possible to record to analog tape in some studios, the cost for analog recording is about 2-3 times greater than for digital recording, and most studios transfer those analog recording to digital media for the mixing and mastering processes. Therefore, fetishizing over vinyl seems silly in most cases, because modern LPs have little in common with vintage LPs with respect to their recording, mixing, and mastering. Furthermore, the science is clear that CDs provide superior sound, if the CD is properly recorded, mixed, and mastered. 

 

The NPR program focused primarily on dead (LPs) and dying (CDs) musical formats; however, lossless, electronic formats are superior to either of those formats. FLAC and ALAC files have all of the audio quality (or more) of a CD, and require very little physical space (i.e., you can store them on hard drives). Moreover, as a musician, I can record, mix, master, and distribute lossless digital recordings online (CD Baby, Bandcamp, HD Tracks, etc.) without having to pay for the production of a CD. In addition, now you can make 32-bit/384 kHz digital recordings, convert them to FLAC or ALAC and you (hearing range from about 60-20,000 Hz) and your porpoise (hearing range 75-150,000 Hz) can both enjoy the full range of the recorded sounds. If you don't hang out with porpoises, then the standard 16-bit/44kHz CD will be more than adequate for your listening enjoyment and hearing range.

 

Finally, I grew up during the transition from LPs to 8-tracks to cassettes tapes, and finally to CDs. I do not miss the 33⅓ ffftttt sound, scratches, and the need to incessantly clean and maintain LPs. 8-track and cassette tapes were overprices garbage. CDs were an aural marvel. I still buy most of my music on CD, then transfer it to ALAC for my iPod. However, CD Baby just started to offer FLAC downloads and iTunes will probably follow with ALAC downloads. When all the music in the world is available in CD or better sound quality (remember your porpoise friend), the CD will be placed in the graveyard of audio history with LPs, cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, 78 rpm records, and foil metal cylinders. (For a true audiophile, nothing beats the experience of listening to an original foil metal cylinder, or better yet, the original wax cylinder that melts as you play it.) In 2011, approximately 3.7 million LPs, 220 million CDs, and 100 million digital albums sold; CDs sales are declining, LPs sales are growing at a very slow rate, and digital sales are growing quickly. Digital albums are convenient, consume little space in one's home, are inexpensive, and offer excellent sound quality. Having lived through the transition from LPs to FLAC, I'm very happy that the LP is dead and the CD is dying. I hope the hard drives continue to increase in capacity and shrink in size and cost. Then, once physical media are no longer produced, digital music prices need to decrease, because their prices currently include the cost of CD/LP production and the cost of CD/LP distribution.

post #24 of 24

Great comments!  

 

The one thing that's a bit troubling, and many forget about is the issue of archiving recordings.  You can play a 100 year old record today, and likely better than when it was cut. You can play a 60 year old audio tape, and if stored well, it will also play perfectly.  But there are already 30  year old CDs that have become unplayable.  Early digital recordings, unless transferred, may be on dead formats with little if any hardware support.  The early pro-sumer Sony PCM-F1 format recorded on Betamax tape, for example, is already a challenge, and others that are even more difficult (I'm thinking DBX-900, and some pre-DASH digital tape systems).  When a digital recording degrades in storage, the data can become so massively corrupt that it is simply lost.  Analog recordings in storage may have some issues, and some tape issues are pretty destructive, but vinyl, shellac and even wax seem hang in there for many decades. Film is a parallel, with 1800s glass negatives being completely usable, where digital images are forever lost every day.  Hard drives are far from permanent, and every one of them will fail eventually. HDDs are known to fail even when stored on a shelf for an extended period of time, something I've personally experienced.  The only solution we have for digital media preservation right now is periodic copying, which when you consider the massive volume of material recorded digitally in the last 30 years, is a daunting task to say the least.  

 

I'm not suggesting we transfer all digital media to analog for archiving, but the long-term archive mind-set is pointed at analog media's survival rate.  We just need to be aware that the scintillating high-rate, high-bit-depth recordings made today will not survive on optical or hard-drive magnetic platters without periodic intervention, at least until something better comes along.  

 

The predicted 30-100 year lifespan of recordable optical media has not proven itself, by the way. It was arrived at by accelerated aging methods, which do not simulate all of the effects of time.  I have many optical discs, CDs and DVDs, that are between 5 and 10 years old that have delaminated in proper storage (cool, dry and dark) beyond recovery.  Non-recordable media seems to fare better, but the issues still occur, just farther out in time.

 

Long term unattended archival storage may be the one way that analog media beats digital.  That will change, but that's the way it is today.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Music
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Music › NPR Covers CD vs Vinyl: The music experience