• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Article: Does Vinyl Really Sound Better?

M00ndancer

Active Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Feb 4, 2019
Messages
262
Likes
290
Location
Sweden
#41
What would winning even mean?
hard to put to words, English not my primary language. I'll try to elaborate. Based on technical merits, digital are the better media. Only in that sentiment. Do I believe that vinyl will die out? No way, there is to much LPs produced today and the old ones doesn't go away. I still have all of my old LPs and singles. Even the cassette is coming back. I even got a "new" tape deck to replace and upgrade my current one.
 

watchnerd

Major Contributor
Beer Hero
Joined
Dec 8, 2016
Messages
5,310
Likes
2,171
Location
Seattle Area, USA
#43
I genuinely believe that you can't judge a medium just by listening to a recording. In the absence of knowledge of how the recording was made there is no way to judge if it is accurate or not.
I have made recordings for well over 50 years now. The best tape recorder I have is a Revox B77 and I never managed to set the levels such that the microphone feed was indistinguishable from the microphone feed. High levels make noise less noticeable but then the overload is audible on the loud bits.
The first time I used a digital recorder (StellaDAT) and knowing overload was a no-no I could not tell the difference between the microphone feed and the recorder.
Having said that the sound of overload on a tape recorder is so pleasant that a plugin emulating it is very popular...
Because I wasn't at the venue, I have no idea if they're accurate.

But that's not really the point I was making...the stuff I have on RTR doesn't exist anywhere else that I know of. They're mostly live local symphonies that were recorded to tape as part of a radio broadcast, not for album or other commercial release.

They're effectively master tapes of live recordings.

I've copied a few to digital, especially the ones from 1970s-1980s that were done on some kind of tape that had to be baked in order to play it without sticky shed syndrome.

The digital copies of the tapes sound like the tapes, complete with saturation, when applicable.
 

Wombat

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
3,845
Likes
2,139
Location
Australia
#44
Modern cars have dsp sound systems. Although the "room noise floor" definitely leaves something to be desired if the music allows for turning it up,
I find listening in the car to be not as bad as it used to be. The sound systems are not only dsp ed but also multi amped and surround.

I have to concede it IS difficult to play an LP in a moving car.:)

I was sort of thinking out loud. I gave it more thought and realised that modern car sound systems can be quite good considering the compromised space. Differences between two different masterings may well be heard.

Not sure about getting levels matched, though. Results may be somewhat different on home systems or headphones but if an audible difference is apparent in the car it should be obvious on the other systems. :)
 

Frank Dernie

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
1,692
Likes
2,187
Location
Oxfordshire
#45
Because I wasn't at the venue, I have no idea if they're accurate.
My reply stemmed from your earlier implication, probably tongue in cheek, that reel to reel tape was best, but if that is your criterion all recordings are poor and the technology used inadequate.
My criterion is accurate toi the microphone. Analogue tape isn't. The changes made to the signal to make an LP manufacturable mean it isn't. Digital is. even at 16/48 IME on the type of music I listen to (no jangling key symphonies for me)
 

anmpr1

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
412
Likes
592
#46
My reply stemmed from your earlier implication, probably tongue in cheek, that reel to reel tape was best, but if that is your criterion all recordings are poor and the technology used inadequate.
My criterion is accurate toi the microphone. Analogue tape isn't. The changes made to the signal to make an LP manufacturable mean it isn't. Digital is. even at 16/48 IME on the type of music I listen to (no jangling key symphonies for me)
For me, anymore, it's all in the recording technique. And it's strange, sometimes. For instance, I've never heard a 'studio' recording of solo Chopin piano works that sounded like a real piano in my living room. I think it's the way the microphones are placed. Not that the recordings sound 'bad'. Or that they don't sound like a piano. Just not like what I hear in a concert hall or a small venue. The question that comes to my mind is, how many microphones are used, where are they placed, and how are they mixed into a two track recording? This has nothing to do with either digital or analog tape.

My most recent is a six volume set [16/44 flac download] played by Japanese pianist Takako Takahashi, recorded around 2005. Nice dynamics, a perfect digital sound, but the solo piano just doesn't come across as if it's in my living room. On the other hand, yesterday I was listening to a couple of Bill Evans LPs released on an 'audiophile' label [Portrait in Jazz- recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, NYC, December 28, 1959 and Everybody Digs Bill Evans-recorded December 15, 1958]; the sound was very natural-like. These analog recordings sounded more natural than those done in 50 years later. I really think it's recording technique, and not the medium. Of course, with LP, even a 180g audiophile pressing, you get the extraneous surface noise. But for me that doesn't take away or mask how the recording was miked and mixed.
 

anmpr1

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
412
Likes
592
#47
PS: for those using music player software that allows plugins, you can buy analog tape emulators. Oversaturate your digital files just like a Studer A800 or Ampex open reel deck. LOL
 

mansr

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 5, 2018
Messages
508
Likes
1,184
Location
Hampshire
#48
For me, anymore, it's all in the recording technique. And it's strange, sometimes. For instance, I've never heard a 'studio' recording of solo Chopin piano works that sounded like a real piano in my living room. I think it's the way the microphones are placed. Not that the recordings sound 'bad'. Or that they don't sound like a piano. Just not like what I hear in a concert hall or a small venue. The question that comes to my mind is, how many microphones are used, where are they placed, and how are they mixed into a two track recording? This has nothing to do with either digital or analog tape.
Try some of these: http://www.playclassics.com/albums
 

Snarfie

Active Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2018
Messages
263
Likes
115
#49
After 30 years or so i bought 2 weeks ago a decent Thorens TD160 (again) this turntable i used at the time in the 70 and 80ties. A decent element of ortofon with an new eliptical needle was installed. Also the original cinch plugs were changed for neutrik plugs. So i dig up some records like Ahmad Jamal - Rossiter Road. When i did an a/b comparison in the 80ties i was stund regarding the difference basicly it was dead silence on the cd compared to vinyl. Because of that i could hear details like wispering from left to right an visa versa that was on vinyl more or less barely notable because of background noise. Same sort experience with Miles Davis - Tutu. For me the reason to leave vinyl asap. Now the same experience was their again. Made somebody quite happy to sell it to him (whitin 48 hours).
 
Last edited:

Frank Dernie

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
1,692
Likes
2,187
Location
Oxfordshire
#51
I really think it's recording technique, and not the medium
Quite agree. A substantial number of close microphones will never capture the sound as a listener a reasonable distance away hears. Back when there weren't multi-track recorders they had to take a lot of care over microphone choice and positioning, now people think a lot of microphones can be used and mixed together effectively later. There is little evidence to support this supposition.
I don't know how important pahse is, but it is certainly all lost with mutiple mixed microphones.
Yes it is easy to get a lower noise recording with close mikes but realistic? Not IMHO.
 

pozz

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
312
Likes
281
#52
I don't think I'll ever abandon vinyl entirely. I spent a lot of time with Technics 1200s, Pioneer and Allen & Heath mixers, and dance music records.

The worst thing about this debate in general is that it's convinced certain artists (outside of monetary reasons) that their material should only be released on vinyl because of sound quality. Dubplates and bootlegs I get—they have their place, although it's a very sad thing to find out that this or that amazing track only exists on 25 copies, and the artist has no original and no master. But it doesn't make sense for full releases. I'm also pissed that, despite all this attention, new pressing quality tends to be so bad so often, which makes it expensive and a logistics mess for everyone involved.

The debate about sound quality should only go in one direction: what technical standards and designs are important for optimal reproduction, given the characteristics of the medium in question.
 

MattHooper

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
401
Likes
424
#53
Yes it is easy to get a lower noise recording with close mikes but realistic? Not IMHO.
A lot of people, especially classical music lovers, decry the "artificial" close-mic'd recordings of orchestras. I get that and I also can enjoy more "natural" sounding recordings - more distance + hall.

But I have to admit to really liking close-mic'd stuff as well. I just love vivid instrumental timbres, and the sense of presence close micing can bring.
Especially for soundtracks. A lot of Bernard Herrmann's stuff has a super vivid sound from the mics, part of the very character of music.
 

garbulky

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
916
Likes
277
#54
A lot of people, especially classical music lovers, decry the "artificial" close-mic'd recordings of orchestras. I get that and I also can enjoy more "natural" sounding recordings - more distance + hall.

But I have to admit to really liking close-mic'd stuff as well. I just love vivid instrumental timbres, and the sense of presence close micing can bring.
Especially for soundtracks. A lot of Bernard Herrmann's stuff has a super vivid sound from the mics, part of the very character of music.
Careful mixing of close mic'd instruments with stereo microphone recordings can yield very vivid sound with a nice dimensional soundstage. If you look at Postmodern Jukebox or Voices of Music on Youtube you'll see they use this technique.

As a hobby I make (very amateurish) stereo microphone recordings. And I am stunned at how much detail, spatial information, and naturalness of sound my recordings yield. It's a powerful technique. The tough bit is when you are trying to match levels. It takes some skill if you have a bunch of instruments playing to have say a softer instrument cut through the mix especially if it's doing an important melody line. Most of the time you just have to bring the soft instrument out front and get everybody to play softer. LOL
 
Last edited:

Frank Dernie

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
1,692
Likes
2,187
Location
Oxfordshire
#55
A lot of people, especially classical music lovers, decry the "artificial" close-mic'd recordings of orchestras. I get that and I also can enjoy more "natural" sounding recordings - more distance + hall.

But I have to admit to really liking close-mic'd stuff as well. I just love vivid instrumental timbres, and the sense of presence close micing can bring.
Especially for soundtracks. A lot of Bernard Herrmann's stuff has a super vivid sound from the mics, part of the very character of music.
The problem for me is that sticking my ear 3" from a violin doesn't give the sound I am used to listening to from a violin. There is usually far too much HF for it to sound realistic.
I can see it may be more exciting, particularly to people not often listening to an actual violin. The piano is the same.
It is a question of realistic compared to super-technicolor exaggerated in a film-industry type of way. This can be fun but high-fidelity????
 

anmpr1

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
412
Likes
592
#56
Quite agree. A substantial number of close microphones will never capture the sound as a listener a reasonable distance away hears. Back when there weren't multi-track recorders they had to take a lot of care over microphone choice and positioning, now people think a lot of microphones can be used and mixed together effectively later. There is little evidence to support this supposition.
I don't know how important pahse is, but it is certainly all lost with mutiple mixed microphones.
Yes it is easy to get a lower noise recording with close mikes but realistic? Not IMHO.
Pretty much my thinking. The most natural recorded piano sounds I've heard are in small jazz combos, where care is taken to spatially locate the players in the mix. The recorded effect is that the instrument's sound meets a listener who is about 15 feet away. A microphone inside the piano cavity, or thereabouts is not going to sound natural. Maybe it will sound natural to the player, but not the listener. I don't know for sure, but my guess is that many of the best recordings done in the mid to late '50s were minimalist, single miked instruments. A lot of this was prior to stereo, anyway, which on records didn't happen until the late '50s.

With classical, at a live event in a medium to large hall, I never hear all the audio stuff--front to back depth, imaging, etc. Just a 'wall' of sound. Very difficult to localize anything. But, then again, I usually get the 'cheap seats.' LOL
 

anmpr1

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
412
Likes
592
#58
For a lot of music made from the 50's through the 70's the best quality recordings that remain are vinyl as many of the original tapes are lost or damaged. If you add in all the originally well recorded music that has been damaged by "remastering" and now the current music releases (and current reissues) where the vinyl is mastered with more DR than the CD versions, there is a large and growing amount of music that "really does sound better on vinyl". It is completely crazy but true. If you want to enjoy the largest selection of the best quality recordings available you need both both digital and vinyl playback capabilities.
Last year I bought an LP of a Sun Ra combo. "God is More than Love Will Ever Be." Master tape was said to be lost, so the new disc was sourced from a 'pristine' copy of an original Saturn (Ra's self owned label) LP. If you didn't know that, you wouldn't believe it. In fact, it was difficult for me to think that an old (even NOS) Saturn LP could return such decent sound.

On the other hand, a lot of stuff you'd never think would be available on digits is. I used to buy anything, when I was younger. A long story, but I knew a floor manager at a record store, and he used to sell me stuff at just a bit over cost. He used to play bass guitar in a jazz-fusion band, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, and I knew of them, had thier records. We started talking about it one day, and he started giving me the discount. Anyhow, one of the records I bought for nothing was an old Nonesuch record, "Animal Sounds of Africa." I thought, "This will never be digitized." But I checked, and you can download it from one of the music services. I never played the record, BTW. Very funny.
 

anmpr1

Senior Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
412
Likes
592
#60
Then maybe you built, or superivised the construction of my Zero 100. If so, I have to thank you. Let me know if you have any spare parts in your garage. I could use a spare C3 headshell, and idler wheel. :)
 
Top Bottom