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Rational reasons to love vinyl

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by safulop, Jun 21, 2015.
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  1. safulop
    OK, I admit I love vinyl, although I do recognize the technical superiority of digital audio.  Are there rational reasons to persist with vinyl playback?  I believe so.
    A big reason that has been discussed before is that many albums on vinyl are created from better sounding masters.  Most often the biggest difference is that the vinyl masters are much less compressed than the same album on digital formats (CD, online files etc.).
    Here I've included two figures which compare the recent pop hit "Red" from the Taylor Swift album of the same name. The long-term average spectrum shown in the first figure demonstrates that the Vinyl master, spectrally speaking, is generally EQ'd similarly to the CD.  There is a visible difference where the vinyl has slightly less intensity overall above 5 kHz, but there are no large differences of frequency boosts or cuts. 
    The second figure shows the left and right channel signals for the entire song.  The CD version is on top.  You can see how maximally compressed it is compared to the vinyl version.  It does not sound as good as the vinyl for this reason. This kind of compression is hard on the ears and brings listener fatigue, in my experience. The vinyl record of this album is the only way for a music fan to get these songs in their less compressed and better-sounding versions.
    Well, that's pretty objective.  But another rational reason to love vinyl playback is the sheer miracle of it.  Remember that old saw about how a bunch of monkeys typing forever would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare?  To my mind, going to the trouble of playing a vinyl record in an excellent-sounding way is a bit like watching Macbeth emerge from a zoo full of monkeys.  I mean sure, anyone can throw on a CD and get "perfect" sound (keep in mind the above demonstration) easily, but where's the fun in that?  
  2. oldmate
    I still have all my vinyl + my recently passed away father's superb collection of jazz on vinyl. I have not played a record since 1992 yet I still hang onto them. My biggest concern is who I pass these onto when I go. No one seems interested in it these days.
    As far as compression and loudness goes I find I have to adjust the gain 90% of the time when ripping CD's for my DAP's. Some earlier CD's I have are at about 90db but when I come across one that's close to 100db and find there is practically no dynamic range at all it really gets my goat up. It is a regular occurrence.
    Going to have to get a nice 2.0 system with turntable again one day.
  3. arnyk
    I don't see the first reason to buy vinyl, let alone these romanitic meanderings.
    If the music industry decides to sabotage their digital media with hypercompression the rational approach is to simply not buy it. Buying vinyl versions with different audible flaws is just codependent behavior.
  4. Steve Eddy

    Christ. Lighten up.

  5. inthere
    Actually both versions are compressed the same amount; they have a very similar dynamic range, except for one peak a 3rd of the way through the song.  The CD version is just going to be louder. 
     If there is no distortion they should sound extremely close if volume matched. 
  6. Redcarmoose

    While traveling the world in the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s vinyl was the worlds way to preserve and enjoy music. Most of those records will never see the light of day in any other format.

    The fact that much of it still sounds great if you want to invest the time and energy. Most, well maybe 80% of what we do in this hobby is not rational to start with. The folks that think they are?:wink:
  7. Steve Eddy

    That's clearly not the case. Both have been severely compressed, but there's still plenty of "grass" on the LP version, whereas there is virtually none on the CD version.

  8. inthere
    Well, the CD version is obviously limited a whole lot more for volume but the "grass" doesn't look significant enough to make an audible difference if level matched because the majority of the dynamics are still compressed out of both versions.  
  9. Steve Eddy

    I dunno. I'm seeing what looks like hard limiting in the digital version. There's no apparent flat-topping of the waveform in the LP version.

    No matter how you look at it, it's a damn shame.

  10. inthere

    It is hard limiting on the digital version but the flat-topping is minimal. Unless the CD version is audibly distorted you're not going to hear much difference if they're level matched. 
    Now if the waveform looked something like this: 

    and the CD version was flat-topped with no dynamics, then the difference would be more easy to identify. 
    At any rate, modern music is so heavily compressed from the mix stage that it's not going to make much difference whether it's on vinyl or not. A better comparison would be a song that was originally 
    engineered for vinyl that was remastered to CD.
  11. safulop
    OK here is a smaller (about 9 seconds) excerpt from the above song, again comparing the digital waveforms to the vinyl.  Here you're going to have to trust me that I did indeed show excerpts from the *same* 9 second excerpt, because it is hard to recognize the signal waveforms as equivalent at first glance (I think I'm off by a couple tenths).  I'm quite certain that there is a large audible difference here due to the massively greater volume changes for the transients, percussion etc. in the vinyl version.  Remember that the waveform amplitude scale is linear and not in dB, so even what appear to be tiny fractional differences can actually amount to a large audible difference of 2 or 4 dB.
  12. safulop
    I think that it is "hyperrational" behavior to adjust my musical tastes, participation in American popular culture etc. because of that.  I'm grateful that the music industry is now marketing vinyl once again as a "niche" product for audiophiles.  I mean, I'm an atheist but I still do Christmas.
  13. Exacoustatowner
    Given the potentially wide dynamic range of the CD. I wonder why they need to use so much compression. 
    Are the input levels matched between CD and Record? I sometimes record my guitar playing and am familiar with "seeing" music this way. If you adjust the input levels to match it might be easier to see the differences in amplitude. Given the potentially wide dynamic range of the CD. I wonder why they need to use so much compression? 
  14. Exacoustatowner
  15. inthere

     This is why I keep saying "if they're level matched" it would be extremely difficult to hear a difference. The volume changes are not "massively greater" in the vinyl version, and I think this is a very bad example to illustrate your point. 
     A better example would be to get an old 70's vinyl pressing of something, then get the latest CD remaster of it. 
    Taylor Swift is modern engineering at its compression obsessed best, from recording to mastering. I think you're confusing overall volume with dynamic range.
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