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ABX test Vinyl vs CD can you hear a difference?

guenthi_r

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Big difference! The LP recording sounds not very good to me.... Maybe the LPs are worn?
 
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Prep74

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I think an interesting and informative test would be to record Vinyl to digital and see if anyone can tell the difference. The claim is that digital can’t sound as good a vinyl. If you can get vinyl-equivalent sound in digital, there is no need for vinyl. Plus, this removes any issue of finding matching mastering.

I’ve done this many times, and to me there’s no difference at all.
Correct that is the only legitimate way to compare formats and nothing else. And if it was possible for a consumer to do this the other way round, ie compare a vinyl copy of a CD, the vinyl will sound different to the CD. Surely that would be enough to convince any reasonable minded person which format is higher fidelity. I transcribed many of my LPs at 16/44 to make CD copies in the 1990s. Along with many others in the studio at that time, we could not tell the difference between the LPs and the CD copies under double blind testing - providing we were using the donor turntable as different turntables can sound markedly different.
 
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Prep74

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I have no doubt that a flat transfer of the master tape to CD would be difficult/ impossible to ABX, in the real world unfortunately:
Why not? This was the test which Sony and Phillips imposed on the engineers at the proof of concept stage for CDs and CD players. Remember, the introduction of CDs was a high risk venture which no record production label wanted a bar off (and it wouldn't have happened if Sony and Phillips didn't have their own record producing labels). Anyway, the boards of both companies put together an independent panel of music experts to conduct the double blind tests and they concluded they could not pick the difference between the master tape and the CD copy.

 
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levimax

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Why not? This was the test which Sony and Phillips imposed on the engineers at the proof of concept stage for CDs and CD players. Remember, the introduction of CDs was a high risk venture which no record production label wanted a bar off (and it wouldn't have happened if Sony and Phillips didn't have their own record producing labels). Anyway, the boards of both companies put together an independent panel of music experts to conduct the double blind tests and they concluded they could not pick the difference between the master tape and the CD copy.

I am agreeing, it would be impossible to tell the CD from a flat transfer of the master tape
 
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levimax

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Thank everyone for taking the time to listen to these track and ABX them. I am not surprised that most people could tell a difference but what I was really fishing for was preferences after you could reliably tell them apart which I did not get much of.

This exercise really drove home the point that the biggest difference between digital and LP is noise. When you make a needle drop and compare back to back the noise becomes very obvious (both surface noise and "roar"). What I find interesting is how wide the variation is about how much noise bothers people, some people are not bothered much and others are very sensitive. I am in the "not bothered much " camp except for a periodic pop due to a scratch... random noise not so much.

See below the source of the 2 tracks and my preferences. All the LP's are "original pressings" and in most cases are "initialed" by the original mastering engineer. Condition of the records varied 3 were VG and the rest were solid VG+ ... the older the vinyl the nosier to some extent regardless of condition so the 1955 record has more surface noise.

VersionTitleSourcePreference
ABlack Cow CDEarly MCA CD
BBlack Cow LPOriginal US Pressing, AB Matrix, condition VGPrefer the LP in spite of condition (Noise)
ABrown Sugar CDOriginal Virgin CDPrefer the CD, Original Vinyl very disappointing
BBrown Sugar LPOriginal UK Pressing, A3 / B4, condition VG+
ACry Me A Rive LPOriginal 1955 Liberty, condition VG NoisyPrefer the LP despite noise, CD has no highs
BCry Me A River CD2 for 1 CD
ASomething In the Way She Moves CDOriginal CD
BSomething In the Way She Moves LPOriginal US Pressing LP condition VG+Prefer the LP but very close
ASweet Home Alabama LPOriginal US pressing, Yellow SOS label, condition VG+
BSweet Home Alabama CDOriginal Early MCA CDPrefer the CD but very close
AWhat's New CDOriginal CD
BWhat's New LPOriginal US Pressing LP condition VG+Prefer the LP but very close
AWhole Lotta Love LPOriginal US "RL" Monarch Grail Version condition VGPrefer the LP despite the noise
BWhole Lotta Love CDOriginal Diament CD
 

David Harper

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When I bought my first CD player (in the 1980's) I was startled by how quiet it was in between songs. I remember getting off the couch to go check if my system had shut down or something.
 
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I think you are serious need of a record cleaner. Your surface noise is quite high. The surface noise means most of the A/B can be done in the first few seconds. Can tell which records are new.

Some of the digital items are not great mastering. I expect old master tapes with too much high frequency hissed remastered before better signal processing came along to reduce hiss without hurting the underlying music.
I think that serious need for record cleaner is here seriously overstimated in what it is actually capable of achieving.

It is downright hard to make a needledrop that sounds anything comparable to the upload of the master by its owner on Youtube - particularly so if the recording originated from master digital source. Even new NOS never played before record from say 1980 cleaned on ultrasound RCM will still have some surface noise - and, what is worse, DACs they could use back in 1980 to cut an analog record were surely all something that would end up in the very last posts on the list of quality DACs of today. So, vinyl gets hampered by itself and "digititis" of the first generation.

Records made from analog source fare fairly better in this regard ... - but , still, a quality upload of master tape or SACD made from the master tape to YT will run rings around even the very first pressing of the respective LP - no matter how well the LP is preserved and even if played back by hypothetically perfect analog front end - which we all know does not exist.

It makes a HUGE difference if the record is properly cleaned BEFORE THE FIRST PLAY - it will have much lower vinyl noise, which will also remain much lower for much longer time than if the record has been played as normally and then at some point properly cleaned.

However, the mastering on OLD vinyl ( no EAN code anywhere on sleeves is a good sign ... ) generally is superior to digital counterparts - with the possible exception of the very first CD release, which were not yet subjected to compressing of later loudness wars. But with these, first gen "digititis" is all too audible; funny, Philips' early digital issues fare among the worse in this regard.
 

mike70

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If you have a RCM, a decent turntable / pteamp / cartridge and you hear with the ears ... the difference between lp and CD is in the recording.

If you think CD is superior because the measurements are better, your brain will do any trick to show you better sound.

Good cleaned records / stylus and rightly configured tt / fine line cartridges sounds amazing ... you only need an open mind and real measurements ... not in the source ... in the room.
 

Blumlein 88

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If you have a RCM, a decent turntable / pteamp / cartridge and you hear with the ears ... the difference between lp and CD is in the recording.

If you think CD is superior because the measurements are better, your brain will do any trick to show you better sound.

Good cleaned records / stylus and rightly configured tt / fine line cartridges sounds amazing ... you only need an open mind and real measurements ... not in the source ... in the room.
How can the difference be in the recordings? Same source different masters. Most of the difference is in the mastering necessary for LP.
 

mike70

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How can the difference be in the recordings? Same source different masters. Most of the difference is in the mastering necessary for LP.
I talk in a more abstract way, not in a specific case. My analog chain can sound as good as the digital ... I only find real "better sound" in certain recordings (vinyl or CD).

With properly cleaned records I don't hear any "roar" or badly background noise. Any.

A turntable is a mechanical device, I understand that's is hard for a novelty user to set it properly, solve basement vibrations, cartridge / tonearm compatibility, etc. I think that only people with right knowledge about it can have a real opinion on vinyl ... but, in forums anyone can do it, of course. Digital sound is too much easy, you certainly are in a 100% doing almost nothing.

That's the real difference. Analog needs heart and work ... when you do it properly ... doesn't sound worse than digital.

If you want to do it ... Or not ... it's another aspect, but we can't justify bad SQ based on inconvenience.
 

Blumlein 88

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I talk in a more abstract way, not in a specific case. My analog chain can sound as good as the digital ... I only find real "better sound" in certain recordings (vinyl or CD).

With properly cleaned records I don't hear any "roar" or badly background noise. Any.

A turntable is a mechanical device, I understand that's is hard for a novelty user to set it properly, solve basement vibrations, cartridge / tonearm compatibility, etc. I think that only people with right knowledge about it can have a real opinion on vinyl ... but, in forums anyone can do it, of course. Digital sound is too much easy, you certainly are in a 100% doing almost nothing.

That's the real difference. Analog needs heart and work ... when you do it properly ... doesn't sound worse than digital.

If you want to do it ... Or not ... it's another aspect, but we can't justify bad SQ based on inconvenience.
Vinyl can't match digital.....................PERIOD.

Can it be nice?
Can it be quiet enough?
Can it be enjoyable?
Yes to all of these, and as you point out it takes extra care and work. So I'm not seeing the draw of vinyl on sound quality alone.

And yes, if I had two mediums that sound shall we say equally good, and one is rather inconvenient, that inconvenience is a negative.
 

watchnerd

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I think an interesting and informative test would be to record Vinyl to digital and see if anyone can tell the difference. The claim is that digital can’t sound as good a vinyl. If you can get vinyl-equivalent sound in digital, there is no need for vinyl. Plus, this removes any issue of finding matching mastering.

I’ve done this many times, and to me there’s no difference at all.

I've done it many times as well.

And, in fact, my phono stage is digital.

I find a big difference between ripping with or without speakers on.
 

Blumlein 88

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I've done it many times as well.

And, in fact, my phono stage is digital.

I find a big difference between ripping with or without speakers on.
I still remember my first real attempt to rip some rare LP's on a super nice vinyl rig. The owner insisted they weren't the same, but he insisted we do it with sound off the speakers to get as clean a copy as possible. I tried to do it with sound on as I knew there was some level of feedback though I didn't know if it was audible. So finally I get him to do a couple with speakers playing at normal volume and he agreed it sound the same or so close he wasn't bothered by it at all.

Just listening to the results we did find 88.2khz or 96khz sample rates were needed for final transparency to the source. I never investigated why that was. Plenty of good hypothesis comes to mind. I just used 88.2 khz and didn't worry about it at the time.
 

mike70

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Vinyl can't match digital.....................PERIOD.

Can it be nice?
Can it be quiet enough?
Can it be enjoyable?
Yes to all of these, and as you point out it takes extra care and work. So I'm not seeing the draw of vinyl on sound quality alone.

And yes, if I had two mediums that sound shall we say equally good, and one is rather inconvenient, that inconvenience is a negative.
Not in my case. Period :)

Inconvenience is negative for you ... I like it very much, it's a better experience to listen to music.

We only need to accept / respect the opinion / decisions of other people. I don't say that listen to CDs is a b*******, I do it also. I only said that we don't need to have an unique way of thinking.

Vinyl as source measures worst? Yes.
But ... how much of that improvement is a real difference in your room / speakers? On your recordings?

In can say other similar aspect in the digital domain ... many people says that 192/24 recordings sounds better. I think is a great placebo.
 

Blumlein 88

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Not in my case. Period :)

Inconvenience is negative for you ... I like it very much, it's a better experience to listen to music.
[/QUOTE]
That is perfectly fine, but it likely isn't a common desire.
We only need to accept / respect the opinion / decisions of other people. I don't say that listen to CDs is a b*******, I do it also. I only said that we don't need to have an unique way of thinking.
[/QUOTE]
I never said listening to LP was BS either. I did say vinyl can't match digital because it simply cannot. Vinyl also can't match RTR in most ways and RTR is the source historically of most LPs. Of course in modern times many sources for LPs are digital.
Vinyl as source measures worst? Yes.
But ... how much of that improvement is a real difference in your room / speakers? On your recordings?

In can say other similar aspect in the digital domain ... many people says that 192/24 recordings sounds better. I think is a great placebo.
There are real differences in room/speakers between the two. As for 192/24 etc. etc. has nothing to do with my post.
 

mike70

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That is perfectly fine, but it likely isn't a common desire.

[/QUOTE]
I never said listening to LP was BS either. I did say vinyl can't match digital because it simply cannot. Vinyl also can't match RTR in most ways and RTR is the source historically of most LPs. Of course in modern times many sources for LPs are digital.

There are real differences in room/speakers between the two. As for 192/24 etc. etc. has nothing to do with my post.
[/QUOTE]

My opinion doesn't need to be "common" :)
and digital sources when maded right produces excellent records.

But I will stop right here because we're rounding circles. My opinion certainly only goes for someone who wants to check it rightly or have a curiosity about it.
But ... take advice from someone with real experience in setting tts / good cartridges. Tts are mechanical devices ... is not plug and play, and the difference with the same components badly configured is huge.

That's all folks
 

Blumlein 88

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My opinion doesn't need to be "common" :)
and digital sources when maded right produces excellent records.

But I will stop right here because we're rounding circles. My opinion certainly only goes for someone who wants to check it rightly or have a curiosity about it.
But ... take advice from someone with real experience in setting tts / good cartridges. Tts are mechanical devices ... is not plug and play, and the difference with the same components badly configured is huge.

That's all folks
Thank you for the most common form of backhanded dissing if you aren't a vinyl lover. Akin to the old if you can't hear it then you don't have good ears idea. I must not know good vinyl setups only poor sloppy ones.

Though I hardly do it anymore, for years I did lots of set up. I was a person that was called to do set up for people who knew me. I can handle all the mechanical/electrical setup and adjustment just fine knowing only too well how critical that is to get the best out of a TT, arm, cartridge and phono preamp combo. So my opinions vis a vis digital vs vinyl aren't born out of a lack of experience of quality vinyl rigs or how to get the best out of them.

So your opinion isn't universal for those with the knowledge of good vinyl or the curiosity about it.
 

mike70

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Thank you for the most common form of backhanded dissing if you aren't a vinyl lover. Akin to the old if you can't hear it then you don't have good ears idea. I must not know good vinyl setups only poor sloppy ones.

Though I hardly do it anymore, for years I did lots of set up. I was a person that was called to do set up for people who knew me. I can handle all the mechanical/electrical setup and adjustment just fine knowing only too well how critical that is to get the best out of a TT, arm, cartridge and phono preamp combo. So my opinions vis a vis digital vs vinyl aren't born out of a lack of experience of quality vinyl rigs or how to get the best out of them.

So your opinion isn't universal for those with the knowledge of good vinyl or the curiosity about it.

OMG ... please, it's not personal

I posted the reason, vinyl is a complex mechanical device with vibrations as the source. I'm not wrong saying that not everyone really knows how to rightly setup a TT. Some people already have wood floors with a TT over a glass furniture, as an example.

But I'm not talking of you.

And if the most talked aspect of vinyl lovers is this ... maybe is because they have some kind of argument there ... isn't it? Is a wrong argument? ...

Is not about what you or I believe / think, I talked in a general way to people that wants to check the more deep question ... in my system / room .. I have 100dB of SNR in my chair position? I need it? Is that a real difference clearly stated in a blind test or an oscilloscope placebo?

I know my answer ... If yours is different I respect that.
 
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