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Question about Vinyl and CDs.

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

I'm quite new to this and just learned about lossless formats like a week ago.I've since been importing my CD collection to itunes as ALAC files instead of buying AAC files directly from itunes which are of lower quality (correct?).I only have a small collection of CD's and have been thinking of buying vinyl.I hear people say that a good vinyl is better than a CD,something to do with analog and digital but I won't pretend I actually understand any of that just yet.My question is is there a way of digitising(seems like right word?) records so they can be played on music players/computers.And if so will that file EVER be of a higher quality than the lossless files i've imported from my CD's,or is vinyl only better when played on a record player ?


Edited by PsychLight - 11/2/13 at 5:06pm
post #2 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychLight View Post
 

I'm quite new to this and just learned about lossless formats like a week ago.I've since been importing my CD collection to itunes as ALAC files instead of buying AAC files directly from itunes which are of lower quality (correct?).

 

AAC is a lossy format which works by using psychoacoustic coding to discard some data, depending on the settings such lossy files can be perceptually transparent i.e indistinguishable from lossless files for a given track with a given listener

 

 

I only have a small collection of CD's and have been thinking of buying vinyl.I hear people say that a good vinyl is better than a CD

 

A good LP can manage a SNR of about 75 - 80 db this is broadly equivalent to between 12 and 13 bits of resolution, redbook CD has 16 bit resolution or an SNR of about 96db i.e much less noisy - CD also has better distortion, better speed stability and can render a 20Khz signal at full scale anywhere on the disc, with LP as you approach the label it gets harder and harder to imprint a trackable high frequency signal of any magnitude, there are numerous other limitations of LP such as rumble and susceptibility to acoustic feedback. Playback of low level signals on headphones for instance is drowned by the inherent noise - this is a matter of physics. 

 

,something to do with analog and digital but I won't pretend I actually understand any of that just yet.

 

Now would be an excellent opportunity to educate yourself, Ken Pohlmann's "Principles of Digital Audio" is a superb place to start or even the piece on digital audio by Monty at xiph.org 

 

My question is is there a way of digitising(seems like right word?) records so they can be played on music players/computers.And if so will that file EVER be of a higher quality than the lossless files i've imported from my CD's,or is vinyl only better when played on a record player ?

 

For $30 you can get the Behringer UCA202 USB device which allows you to digitize any analog line level signal via the USB port of a computer. For this to work you have to take the signal from the turntable , feed it into a phono preamplifier stage, any old 70s/80s Amp or receiver will have such an input, take the tape-out from the said amp and feed it into the Behringer. You can use free software such as Audacity to capture and edit the analog signal. This solution will give you a capture of your LP to about 15 bits but since you'll only have 13 bits to start with you will not lose anything material. Any tiny noise added will be drowned by the incipient noise from the LP. Of course you can spend more on better capture devices and/or a stand-alone phono preamplifier but I frankly would not bother until after you have tried it the cheap way first. A good quality Analog to digital; capture is perceptually transparent

 

 

post #3 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychLight View Post
 

I've since been importing my CD collection to itunes as ALAC files instead of buying AAC files directly from itunes which are of lower quality (correct?).

 

Correct. Everything in the iTunes store is lossy.

 

Quote: 
I hear people say that a good vinyl is better than a CD,something to do with analog and digital but I won't pretend I actually understand any of that just yet.My question is is there a way of digitising(seems like right word?) records so they can be played on music players/computers.And if so will that file EVER be of a higher quality than the lossless files i've imported from my CD's,or is vinyl only better when played on a record player ?

 

It's complicated, because if you ignore the neverending analog vs. digital debate, there's still the big issue that CDs and vinyl are generally mastered to a different standard. CDs tend to be mastered with more dynamic compression than vinyl, so if all else was the same, the vinyl version would still be superior (in the ears of most audiophiles — though some people prefer the compressed sound, admittedly).

 

As for the analog vs. digital debate, my opinion is that you really need to sink some money into a high quality analog setup for it to be worth it, I consider digital setups inferior, but a better bang-for-the-buck. 

 

I do think that the main motivation behind digitizing would be to have those better, less compressed masters. To this end, it's probably worth researching on an album-to-album basis to find out what peoples' opinions on the vinyl vs. CD releases are. Find some people who have done 'needle drop' recordings and posted samples of albums you enjoy, and see if the difference is worth it to you. If you go that route, be mindful that you'll want your records and your stylus squeaky clean before transferring them, and this will be additional cost and process. 

post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 

Thanks to you both.I'll be sure to read Ken's book.Also,if LP's have so many limitations why aren't CD tracks completely accepted to be superior?are CD's not 'used' to their full potential or something?or is this just due to the 'being mastered differently' thing? .I think the 'researching individual albums' idea is sensible.I'm thinking of just keeping on buying/importing from CD's for mobile listening,getting vinyls of albums I like alot,then if or when I have the money for a decent analog setup attempt the whole digitizing thing and compare.It's weird because I always thought since vinyl is so old CD's would just completely crush them in terms of sound quality,but I guess this is just a common misconception.


Edited by PsychLight - 11/2/13 at 6:56pm
post #5 of 46

CDs can store signals more accurately, even extremely dynamically compressed stuff. The industry makes use of this to maximize loudness, sacrificing sound quality. Just google loudness war.

In that respect, limitations of vinyl are actually beneficial.

 

But you can store even completely uncompressed audio on CDs. I guess that's why the research suggestion was made. Some CDs are mastered greatly, others not so much.

post #6 of 46
Thread Starter 

So there really isn't a straight up answer for which is better,since there are good arguments for both sides?

post #7 of 46

No, technically that's clearly not the case and from a content point of view a decision has to be made on a case-by-case basis.

post #8 of 46

You have to compare apples to apples. Assuming the same mastering of the recording, a CD, a lossless file and a high bitrate AAC file would all sound exactly like the master. An LP would have an audibly narrower dynamic range because of a higher noise floor.

 

However, mastering is everything. It's possible that the job of mastering done for an LP sounds better than a CD. That all depends on the recording and which release of it you are listening to, and has nothing to do with the format it's released on.

post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick_charles View Post
 

[[For $30 you can get the Behringer UCA202 USB device which allows you to digitize any analog line level signal via the USB port of a computer. For this to work you have to take the signal from the turntable , feed it into a phono preamplifier stage, any old 70s/80s Amp or receiver will have such an input, take the tape-out from the said amp and feed it into the Behringer. You can use free software such as Audacity to capture and edit the analog signal. This solution will give you a capture of your LP to about 15 bits but since you'll only have 13 bits to start with you will not lose anything material. Any tiny noise added will be drowned by the incipient noise from the LP. Of course you can spend more on better capture devices and/or a stand-alone phono preamplifier but I frankly would not bother until after you have tried it the cheap way first. A good quality Analog to digital; capture is perceptually transparent]]

 

For about the same cost, the Behringer UFO202 may be a better option, costwise. It has a Line/Phono input switch. Fed through the Phono directly from a turntable will go through the internal phono amp with RIAA correction so an external Phono-Preamp will not be required. I use the UCA202 (I was introduced to the UCA202 by Nick Charles- congrats-you are an American now!!) as I take the output from my vintage amp Pre-Out.

I would be interested to know how anyone gets on with the UFO202.

post #10 of 46

LP's are KING psychlit, yes they have less dynamic range and more noise and are a pain in the ass to store and clean and play and buy and wear out and buy again but they some how have the full story of information stored in their grooves. Digital being a quick sample of that info. What vinyl has that digital doesn't yet, but may in the future perhaps, is all the linguin, the connective tissue, the space and intersperesed magic dust. i.e. the full analog signal. what you hear is analog, that's why lp's are not just more pleasing, but technically superior simply because there is no need for the conversion process. it's analog out and analog in. A beautiful thing. That being said there's good and bad sounding vinyl and same with CDs


Edited by thelostMIDrange - 11/10/13 at 10:06pm
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychLight View Post
 

My question is is there a way of digitising(seems like right word?) records so they can be played on music players/computers.And if so will that file EVER be of a higher quality than the lossless files i've imported from my CD's,or is vinyl only better when played on a record player ?

I don't think it's worth investing the time and money into converting Vinyl to Digital.. unless you are doing this for statistical reasons or are planning on ridding yourself of your vinyl collection. That is a personal opinion though.

post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelostMIDrange View Post
 

LP's are KING psychlit, yes they have less dynamic range and more noise and are a pain in the ass to store and clean and play and buy and wear out and buy again but they some how have the full story of information stored in their grooves. Digital being a quick sample of that info. What vinyl has that digital doesn't yet, but may in the future perhaps, is all the linguin, the connective tissue, the space and intersperesed magic dust. i.e. the full analog signal. what you hear is analog, that's why lp's are not just more pleasing, but technically superior simply because there is no need for the conversion process. it's analog out and analog in. A beautiful thing. That being said there's good and bad sounding vinyl and same with CDs

This seems to be an unfair broad sweeping dismissal of digital formats. Considering the physical limitations of information density stored on vinyl (and no, it's not infinite) vs the and the ability of 16 bit PCM formats to resolve band-limited signals, this statement is tragically misleading.

 

Furthermore, it is simply incorrect to say that the signal stored on vinyl has never been converted. The source analog electrical signal had to be (1) RIAA equalized by the recording hardware, (2) converted into the mechanical displacement of the cutting head, (3) converted back from the mechanical displacement of the needle into an electrical signal, and (4) RIAA equalized---by the playback hardware that is usually different from the recording hardware. Hence, vinyl requires 4 conversions.

 

The digital audio chain requires (1) analog-to-digital conversion and a (2) digital-to-analog conversion. Everything in between is a digital---it's communicated perfectly unless the equipment is outright faulty.

 

Cheers  

post #13 of 46

It's just what I hear, sue me.......if you want a graphical representation, just enlarge a sine wave superimposed upon it , a didital sampleing 'stair' step' staircase, you will see triangular sections of juicy info being chopped off, never to be reassembled again. that's this connective tissue we speak of. It's not a slam on digital, just a fact of life. I didn't make the rules.

post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelostMIDrange View Post
 

It's just what I hear, sue me.......if you want a graphical representation, just enlarge a sine wave superimposed upon it , a didital sampleing 'stair' step' staircase, you will see triangular sections of juicy info being chopped off, never to be reassembled again. that's this connective tissue we speak of. It's not a slam on digital, just a fact of life. I didn't make the rules.

 

that's not how sampling works...

 

/facepalm

post #15 of 46

enrich my life, how does it work sir doug

just boil it down to basics please, so a 10 year old can understand. I have limited time and ability. Somewhere, something's getting chopped off and thrown away, that's what i hear. If you need to go pin it down and name it, go for it.


Edited by thelostMIDrange - 11/10/13 at 11:03pm
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