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Article: Does Vinyl Really Sound Better?

Frank Dernie

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#61
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. :)
I was a Noise and Vibration research engineer working on ways of making the record players more accurate but still economically to make. I didn’t steal any parts but did buy a Technics SP10 in bits we had bought in for evaluation, measured, stripped and costed from the scrap man for £12. I rebuilt it, converted it from 100V (it was a Japanese model) to 240V and used it with a SME 3009 II Improved for years. I eventually put it in a skip when I moved house and things like that were unsaleable :( shame, it would be quite valuable in today’s market, as would the arm.
I have 4 record players now but only one connected and little used.
 

anmpr1

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#62
I was a Noise and Vibration research engineer working on ways of making the record players more accurate but still economically to make. I didn’t steal any parts but did buy a Technics SP10 in bits we had bought in for evaluation, measured, stripped and costed from the scrap man for £12. I rebuilt it, converted it from 100V (it was a Japanese model) to 240V and used it with a SME 3009 II Improved for years. I eventually put it in a skip when I moved house and things like that were unsaleable :( shame, it would be quite valuable in today’s market, as would the arm.
I have 4 record players now but only one connected and little used.
Interesting job. Just kidding about the parts, BTW. Actually, there's a pretty viable second had market selling Garrard (and Dual) parts.

I owned 4 Garrard models: I think my first was a bottom of the line 20 that came in an integrated stereo unit; an SL-55 (the 20 and 55 having ceramic cartridges); a 72B (with a Shure M-75); and 3 Zero 100s. Why 3? Beats me? I always came back to that model. The changer mechanism is clunky as ever, the idler drive is not that sophisticated, but the pantograph arm is a masterful design. Not the first pantograph, and not the last. But it was the first one that could be considered a success, at a price point. And one that really demonstrates the audibility of tracking error.

As far as your SP-10? I have my original SL-110 (contemporary to the SP-10). After all these years, both the Garrard and Panasonic/Technics are still going strong. The latter now mounted with an arm sourced from the erstwhile Shinagawa Musen company, sold under the trade name, Grace. If Grace had been able to take the Zero 100 design and transform it into something as precise as their G-707 arm, it would have been a big advance. I hold the pantograph design dear, and will always appreciate the work that Garrard did, in that respect. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story.
 

MattHooper

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#63
I was a Noise and Vibration research engineer working on ways of making the record players more accurate but still economically to make.
Wow, Frank, I wish I could have tapped your knowledge when I was building an isolation platform for my "high end" turntable. (The turntable being a fairly over-built 55 lbs of aluminum, belt-driven, affair).

I'm not a tweak-believer by nature, but given the fact turntables work on the principle of amplifying minute vibrations, it did seem to make sense to minimize spurious vibrations, which is why competent turntable manufacturers endeavour to do just that in their designs.

At the very least I had the issue of putting my new turntable on an existing somewhat flimsy small rack (the only one that would easily fit where it needed to go), which sat upon a springy main room floor of an old house. It was very easy to feel vibration getting to the turntable when someone walked on the floor.

I researched what other people did in isolating their turntable, but I did so with skepticism feeling it was hard to untangle valid concerns and methods from audiophile myth and exaggeration. And being no expert on the subject, I just did my best to filter obvious nonsense, and try out things that made sense. I used a nice seismometer vibration measuring app on my iphone and ipad to measure the relative isolation characteristics of a whole bunch of materials, footers etc. By far the biggest gain, both in terms of feeling a reduction in transfer of vibrations, and in measuring with the app, came from a spring-based isolation footer.

In the end, since I had ordered to test a variety of solutions, I sort of used them any way and threw some stuff together. I ended up with this:
The turntable now sits on a 2 1/2 maple block (desired as much for the beautiful finish and look, as for isolation), under that a layer of 1" and 1/2" MDF bonded together by wall damping material, which then sits on a layer of steel (1/8" I think), which finally is held aloft from the rack by 4 spring-based pods.

I'm quite sure that is overkill. But it was fun and nonetheless the results seem very good. If I put my hand on the top shelf of the equipment rack - beneath the isolation platform - and rap on the rack, or stomp on the floor, serious vibration is easily felt through the rack. If I put my hand on the isolation base and do the same, I feel virtually nothing transmitting. Same with using the vibration measuring app. Placed on the rack shelves, stomping reveals large ringing spikes of vibration getting through. Placed on the isolation base...nothing.

So, that scratched my mental itch regarding isolating from floor or wall-born vibration. (We also have an airconditioner on the other side of the wall which can vibrate the area).

So my questions to you is:

1. Do you think any of this was actually worthwhile to do?

Secondly:

2. The above steps were mainly concerned with isolating external vibrations getting to the turntable. But what about any steps available for minimizing vibration created by the turntable system itself? I understand that turntable manufacturers take steps to minimize the influence of any motor noise/vibrations etc within the turntable design. But are there good and bad ideas in terms of helping "calm" internally-borne vibrations in a turntable? I imagine that a turntable placed on a sufficiently springy surface may exacerbate or amplify vibrations in the turntable. And from this wonder if certain strategies make sense in minimizing (draining?) internally-born vibrations - e.g. a turntable like mine his it's own aluminum cone footers that are conical to a spike. But whether softer footers of some sort might absorb spurious vibration from the turntable any better?

Thanks.
 
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#64
If you are not satisfied with how your system works I have one of these available new in the box. I bought it not for a turntable but for some ultra macro photography. I am preparing to set it up but if someone gives me a decent price for it I would sell it.
http://www.kineticsystems.com/page.php/id/211
https://www.soundsofsilence.com/vibraplane-platform/

They highly specify the performance of their units and it is easily tunable by varying the pressure with its built in regulator depending on the weight applied and resonance desired.

I have a perfectly matched table and bought some very nice locking casters for it and have a nicely sized two stage regulator and small nitrogen tank which would obviate the need for a compressor. The tank would run it likely for years. The item has never been out of its box yet.

PS: I am not making any claims that using such an item will improve the sound of turntables. I could see where it could isolate from woofer and room resonances and feedback. But I have had this since 2006 and was never curious enough to set it up for audio use. Since I have it, I am going to, as part of my system resurrection but I am going to save the schipping box. This one weighs much more than the one sounds of silence sells. The schipping weight is 250 lbs
 
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MattHooper

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#65
If you are not satisfied with how your system works I have one of these available new in the box. I bought it not for a turntable but for some ultra macro photography. I am preparing to set it up but if someone gives me a decent price for it I would sell it.
http://www.kineticsystems.com/page.php/id/211
https://www.soundsofsilence.com/vibraplane-platform/

They highly specify the performance of their units and it is easily tunable by varying the pressure with its built in regulator depending on the weight applied and resonance desired.

I have a perfectly matched table and bought some very nice locking casters for it and have a nicely sized two stage regulator and small nitrogen tank which would obviate the need for a compressor. The tank would run it likely for years. The item has never been out of its box yet.

PS: I am not making any claims that using such an item will improve the sound of turntables. I could see where it could isolate from woofer and room resonances and feedback. But I have had this since 2006 and was never curious enough to set it up for audio use. Since I have it, I am going to, as part of my system resurrection but I am going to save the schipping box. This one weighs much more than the one sounds of silence sells. The schipping weight is 250 lbs
Thanks for the offer!

I won't need it though. I'm happy with my system and even what I have is over-kill I'm sure. Also, I had a weight limit I had to hit for the combo of isolation base/turntable, in terms of my small equipment rack. I can't put anything heavier on there.

I don't really think I'd hear a sonic difference anyway. I highly suspect that I wouldn't hear a sonic difference if I removed my isolation platform either. But it was fun to make and looks nice, and gives a bit of peace of mind.
 

Frank Dernie

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#66
Wow, Frank, I wish I could have tapped your knowledge when I was building an isolation platform for my "high end" turntable. (The turntable being a fairly over-built 55 lbs of aluminum, belt-driven, affair).

I'm not a tweak-believer by nature, but given the fact turntables work on the principle of amplifying minute vibrations, it did seem to make sense to minimize spurious vibrations, which is why competent turntable manufacturers endeavour to do just that in their designs.

At the very least I had the issue of putting my new turntable on an existing somewhat flimsy small rack (the only one that would easily fit where it needed to go), which sat upon a springy main room floor of an old house. It was very easy to feel vibration getting to the turntable when someone walked on the floor.

I researched what other people did in isolating their turntable, but I did so with skepticism feeling it was hard to untangle valid concerns and methods from audiophile myth and exaggeration. And being no expert on the subject, I just did my best to filter obvious nonsense, and try out things that made sense. I used a nice seismometer vibration measuring app on my iphone and ipad to measure the relative isolation characteristics of a whole bunch of materials, footers etc. By far the biggest gain, both in terms of feeling a reduction in transfer of vibrations, and in measuring with the app, came from a spring-based isolation footer.

In the end, since I had ordered to test a variety of solutions, I sort of used them any way and threw some stuff together. I ended up with this:
The turntable now sits on a 2 1/2 maple block (desired as much for the beautiful finish and look, as for isolation), under that a layer of 1" and 1/2" MDF bonded together by wall damping material, which then sits on a layer of steel (1/8" I think), which finally is held aloft from the rack by 4 spring-based pods.

I'm quite sure that is overkill. But it was fun and nonetheless the results seem very good. If I put my hand on the top shelf of the equipment rack - beneath the isolation platform - and rap on the rack, or stomp on the floor, serious vibration is easily felt through the rack. If I put my hand on the isolation base and do the same, I feel virtually nothing transmitting. Same with using the vibration measuring app. Placed on the rack shelves, stomping reveals large ringing spikes of vibration getting through. Placed on the isolation base...nothing.

So, that scratched my mental itch regarding isolating from floor or wall-born vibration. (We also have an airconditioner on the other side of the wall which can vibrate the area).

So my questions to you is:

1. Do you think any of this was actually worthwhile to do?

Secondly:

2. The above steps were mainly concerned with isolating external vibrations getting to the turntable. But what about any steps available for minimizing vibration created by the turntable system itself? I understand that turntable manufacturers take steps to minimize the influence of any motor noise/vibrations etc within the turntable design. But are there good and bad ideas in terms of helping "calm" internally-borne vibrations in a turntable? I imagine that a turntable placed on a sufficiently springy surface may exacerbate or amplify vibrations in the turntable. And from this wonder if certain strategies make sense in minimizing (draining?) internally-born vibrations - e.g. a turntable like mine his it's own aluminum cone footers that are conical to a spike. But whether softer footers of some sort might absorb spurious vibration from the turntable any better?

Thanks.
It is quite complicated.
Most of what I have read in the press, including manufacturer's publicity (which may be to deceive competitors as well as market their kit) is over simplified quasi-static thinking and pretty well wrong for the whole important part of the process...

When I first joined Garrard one of the first things my boss asked me to do was a rumble test.
This was by analysing the cartridge output (the only thing that matters in essence). The TT was put on the oak lab bench and a B&K silent groove test record played into a B&K analyser I was very familiar with.
I couldn't get consistent results - which was the lesson my boss was trying to teach me - every bus driving by the factory influenced the reading. It was not until the deck was mounted on a suspended concrete block that I got consistent results. This proved that the record player is very, very sensitive and that isolation makes it more accurate.
About 5 years later I bought a new, larger, house which had a small study alongside the sitting room so, remembering the lesson, I set up my stereo in the study and put just the speakers in the sitting room. It was easy to compare the effect by moving stuff from room to room. There was more bass and a deeper soundstage with the record player in with the speakers... The extra, slightly delayed (so like added reverb), sound added by the structure borne and airborne vibration pickup sounded a bit nicer...

Isolation from footfall is probably easier done by wall mounting. Unlike a car suspension, which has to handle impact type inputs all the time and needs damping to limit resonant movement, a record player isolation is to isolate from audio frequency pickup which is never impacts and here, for best isolation no damping is superior. This goes wrong if the record player is on a wobbly floor when everybody walking by is an "impact" frequency excitation which will excite resonance in a good isolation system causing (even more) subsonic rubbish and even skipping.
For the best of both worlds a solid support with a sprung isolation gives most accurate results, but beware, you may not prefer the sound of more accurate, record players aren't accurate anyway and can be tuned to taste.
 

MattHooper

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#68
It is quite complicated.
Most of what I have read in the press, including manufacturer's publicity (which may be to deceive competitors as well as market their kit) is over simplified quasi-static thinking and pretty well wrong for the whole important part of the process...

When I first joined Garrard one of the first things my boss asked me to do was a rumble test.
This was by analysing the cartridge output (the only thing that matters in essence). The TT was put on the oak lab bench and a B&K silent groove test record played into a B&K analyser I was very familiar with.
I couldn't get consistent results - which was the lesson my boss was trying to teach me - every bus driving by the factory influenced the reading. It was not until the deck was mounted on a suspended concrete block that I got consistent results. This proved that the record player is very, very sensitive and that isolation makes it more accurate.
Wow, that's interesting. And surprising to me.

I know some people also fret about the airborne vibrations coming from the speakers being picked up by the cartridge as well, especially of course from bass frequencies. I don't know how serious a problem that actually is, but by both necessity and design, all my source equipment like my turntable is in a completely separate room from my speakers, so I don't have to worry about it. (My friend who does audio reviews has his turntable behind and between his speakers...never heard him complain).


About 5 years later I bought a new, larger, house which had a small study alongside the sitting room so, remembering the lesson, I set up my stereo in the study and put just the speakers in the sitting room. It was easy to compare the effect by moving stuff from room to room. There was more bass and a deeper soundstage with the record player in with the speakers... The extra, slightly delayed (so like added reverb), sound added by the structure borne and airborne vibration pickup sounded a bit nicer...
Again...fascinating. I have no option for putting my turntable in my listening room, which I'm ok with. Surprisingly the ergonomics of this set up have actually worked out fine. By the time the needle drops I'm in my listening seat.

Isolation from footfall is probably easier done by wall mounting. Unlike a car suspension, which has to handle impact type inputs all the time and needs damping to limit resonant movement, a record player isolation is to isolate from audio frequency pickup which is never impacts and here, for best isolation no damping is superior. This goes wrong if the record player is on a wobbly floor when everybody walking by is an "impact" frequency excitation which will excite resonance in a good isolation system causing (even more) subsonic rubbish and even skipping.
For the best of both worlds a solid support with a sprung isolation gives most accurate results, but beware, you may not prefer the sound of more accurate, record players aren't accurate anyway and can be tuned to taste.
I infer from this that I did ok with my isolation base. There's no practical way of doing a comparison without the base, and I'm very, very happy with my sound.

Thanks!
 

Blumlein 88

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#69
Wow, that's interesting. And surprising to me.

I know some people also fret about the airborne vibrations coming from the speakers being picked up by the cartridge as well, especially of course from bass frequencies. I don't know how serious a problem that actually is, but by both necessity and design, all my source equipment like my turntable is in a completely separate room from my speakers, so I don't have to worry about it. (My friend who does audio reviews has his turntable behind and between his speakers...never heard him complain).




Again...fascinating. I have no option for putting my turntable in my listening room, which I'm ok with. Surprisingly the ergonomics of this set up have actually worked out fine. By the time the needle drops I'm in my listening seat.



I infer from this that I did ok with my isolation base. There's no practical way of doing a comparison without the base, and I'm very, very happy with my sound.

Thanks!
I did some high resolution needle drops of a friend's favorite albums. He has a very high quality vinyl setup. He assumed we'd record with sound off for the cleanest capture. He found it didn't sound like playing the LP itself. He didn't think much of the idea the feedback from playing over speakers made much difference. I had him put his cartridge in a groove with the platter stopped. Recorded the output while playing a CD. While it wasn't very loud, you could hear some of the music off the CD. We did new needle drops with speakers playing and he was happy with the result. If you have a tubed based preamp and/or power amp, it makes even more difference. He had a tubed phono stage.

As a goofy experiment with various TT stands, I'd take a laser and bounce it off a glass of water sitting beside the TT or maybe a small mirror on the plinth itself. With the right angle it was like a lever extended the reach and enlarging vibrational movement. You could see the effect of some setups vs others.
 

Frank Dernie

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#70
I know some people also fret about the airborne vibrations coming from the speakers being picked up by the cartridge as well, especially of course from bass frequencies.
I don't know how much airborne excitation has an effect but the effect will definitely be dependant on the resonant signature of the structure and, of course, the frequency of excitation.
(My friend who does audio reviews has his turntable behind and between his speakers...never heard him complain).
Why would he? If he has never tried anything different he won't know how much effect it is having and in any case such a trial is very non-scientific because of its nature and the results will vary depoending on which turntable, where it is in the room and what it is sitting on.
Also my theory, based on that experience 38 years ago now, is that the extra reverb you get is one of the things people like about the sound of their record players.
 

digicidal

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#72
As someone who was too young to own much vinyl (and certainly too young to buy decent gear to play it on) I never really understood the dedication to the media... felt the same about cassette, but again - I was also listening on a $100 car stereo most of the time and a cheap walkman with $5 headphones the rest of the time. When CD arrived on the scene, I was working my first job, had my first real(ish) gear to play it on... and it all clicked.

That being said, I finally get it now (albeit in a strange way) thanks to my wife and TV. :D A year ago, I treated myself to a beautiful 65" OLED 4K TV and carefully calibrated everything in the video path 'just right'. My wife stopped watching TV in that room completely... eventually she told me that it was because she found it too disturbing watching movies and shows "as if you were there looking through a window".

I was incredulous! Isn't that exactly what you want? To be able to see exactly what it was like, on set (or in the editing room at least) at the time? NOPE. I reduced all the color levels, set the input max to 1080p/24, and suddenly... my wife was back on the couch and enjoying her shows.

I think for a great number of people subjectively 'better' is almost synonymous with 'nostalgic' - even if that also means 'innacurate' or 'noisy'. I think the theory of the extra reverb being part of the appeal is quite likely. Even for myself, if it's something I first heard (and developed a connection to) on vinyl or cassette... then it sounds 'less wrong' to me on that media than something I'm not familiar with. I also agree with there being a rewarding ritualistic value that isn't as present on CD and is completely missing in pure data form. The unpacking, wiping, careful placement on the turntable, etc... at least physically says you care more than just pushing a small picture on a tablet does.
 

Snarfie

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#73
The first thing some of my freinds do who are addicted to their Vinyl is making asap a digital copy to preserve the quality. When listning to the Vinyl or digital copy in a a/b comparison we realy could not hear any difference.
Sometime ago i explaind them how to get ride of the Vinyl background noise by using audacity noise reduction feature. This was a considerble positive difference IMO. Sometime ago i did the same with the album from dr. buzzards orignal savannah Band to get ride of the background noise. Enclosed 2 uploads to compare. I also get ride of background noise from original CD's of old recordings like Frank Sinatra with te same good result.
At this moment my digital collection consist atleast of 25% vinyl records 90% of them are procesed thru Audacity.

With Noise reduction https://drive.google.com/open?id=19L27XoI5-az-HbDG7CarZdzWKcGY6Ie4

original https://drive.google.com/open?id=1E6We_o6YVzAIupk23TrX19jFOt75Dfdh

PS. both files have a different bitrate that is because Audacity converts first the flac. file to wav. After noise reduction processing it is converted back to flac. level 5 which has another bitrate. Despite the different bitrate the difference is obvious .
 
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MattHooper

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#74
That being said, I finally get it now (albeit in a strange way) thanks to my wife and TV. :D A year ago, I treated myself to a beautiful 65" OLED 4K TV and carefully calibrated everything in the video path 'just right'. My wife stopped watching TV in that room completely... eventually she told me that it was because she found it too disturbing watching movies and shows "as if you were there looking through a window".

I was incredulous! Isn't that exactly what you want? To be able to see exactly what it was like, on set (or in the editing room at least) at the time? NOPE. I reduced all the color levels, set the input max to 1080p/24, and suddenly... my wife was back on the couch and enjoying her shows.
I've known people (for whatever reason, women), who've told me when Blu-Ray came out "I don't like Blu-Ray - it's so sharp it hurts my eyes!"
Of course what they were reponding to is most likely the blown-out contrast/sharpness settings, and the motion smoothing interpolation, used as default in the stores. But even so, of course the "it hurts my eyes because it's too sharp" is obvious nonsense - I'm sure their eyes don't hurt by staring at every day objects which have resolution far beyond blu-ray or an HD TV.

I think for a great number of people subjectively 'better' is almost synonymous with 'nostalgic' - even if that also means 'innacurate' or 'noisy'.
That no doubt makes sense of some portion of the vinyl-loving crowd. We do tend to like what we've come to expect from experience.
But we have to be careful in pushing it too far. The majority of people getting newly in to vinyl are young, millennials, who were actually more programmed, far longer, to expect digital sound. Also, plenty of people like myself abandoned vinyl for digital and thoroughly loved digital sound.
I've just discovered recently that vinyl can sound not simply "the same" as my memories as a teenager, but actually even better than I ever remembered it. It's almost the *difference* between what I had come to expect from vinyl (which made me embrace CD) that keeps me entranced when listening to it on my system. There is some nostalgia involved but as far as I can tell it's mostly that of spinning some old records I grew up with as part of my collection. But the nostalgia doesn't seem to me to be coming from the sound - as I have thoroughly enjoyed digital since the late 80's, spent far more years conditioned to expect that level of sound quality than the time I'd spent previously with vinyl. As far as I can tell, I'm responding to a mix of nostalgia - there IS something somehow enjoyably and validating about young people re-discovering the virtues of something from your own past - but mostly the pleasure of the physical / aesthetic nature of the hobby and directly to the actual sound quality.

Last night I was spinning a beautifully recorded LP from the late 70's and I was just gobsmacked at the sound quality.
 
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#75
In the late fifties and early sixties if you were an electronics experimenter and you didn't want to spend the money on a microphone, you rounded up an Astatic record player cartridge and got a frozen orange juice can whose ends were thin sheet metal and ran a piece of solid copper wire between them soldered to the "tin" can and ground down to fit where the needle went. It actually worked rather well. Sort of a Crystal Set microphone. Mounted on a piece of wood.

I also remember setting the needle down on an LP with the tt motor off and shouting at it and hearing my voice come out of the spikkrs very clearly. Volume did have to be set rather high.

Human eyes are sensitive to edges and 4K has sharper and more edges than regular HD. Not surprising some people don't care for the extra stimulation. The "spatial frequency" is too high. Image is too busy and overloads the visual cortex.
 

andreasmaaan

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#76
If one were doing this on the cheap using stuff readily available from say a hardware store, what would be good materials for suspension and isolation? I would guess some kind of heavy foam or rubber-type material, then a concrete or stone slab, and then the turntable - is this correct?
 

digicidal

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#77
@Snarfie Thanks for those samples - listening through my admittedly inferior office setup (Marantz 8801 DAC isn't the best by any means) I came to a rather ironic conclusion after my second listen through of both tracks. Although I can't objectively identify the difference, the NR track sounds slightly compressed to me. It's similar to comparing 320Kbps MP3 to lossless. I know objectively that I can't hear what was removed (I'm almost 50) but I can still perceive the difference (at least 4/5 times). Obviously the recorded content plays a huge role in that - since the recording just 'fits' a little bit of noise to me... the NR track sounded like a studio and the original like a small club/bar venue. ;) Regardless I enjoyed both versions.

@MattHooper I think another aspect, that you bring to mind is in the production of the media itself. There are certainly horrible recordings on vinyl, don't get me wrong, but I think the ease of producing and distributing digital versions can be a downfall as well. Before every studio with a few thousand dollars of gear could record and mix a quality recording... there was (at least theoretically) more 'heart' put into the production side. Now I think there's more of a "we can just fix that in post-production" attitude from many artists and studios.

Additionally (as your last comment indicated) there are also many recordings that simply don't exist on any other media. So there are still 'hidden gems' that aren't considered commercially important enough to remaster (yet). Whether it's the rarity of the recording, or the allure of the media itself is something that naturally differs by person, recording, time, etc. But you make a good point in that it's important not to broadly assess either side - at least not without consideration.

I will say that I do prefer typing a few characters in a search field to flipping through crates of LPs looking for that album I was craving... if only because I can spend more time actually listening and less time fussing. You are correct, however, that the convenience (and accuracy) does not guarantee commensurate listening pleasure.
 

MattHooper

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#78
Human eyes are sensitive to edges and 4K has sharper and more edges than regular HD. Not surprising some people don't care for the extra stimulation. The "spatial frequency" is too high. Image is too busy and overloads the visual cortex.
How does that make sense?

Real life images have far more resolution than 4K and we don't find this "overloads our visual cortex."
Looking at my flower bed, there is far more visual resolution available than any TV, yet it feels perfectly comfortable and natural.
 

MattHooper

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#79


[USER=5908]@MattHooper
I think another aspect, that you bring to mind is in the production of the media itself. There are certainly horrible recordings on vinyl, don't get me wrong, but I think the ease of producing and distributing digital versions can be a downfall as well. Before every studio with a few thousand dollars of gear could record and mix a quality recording... there was (at least theoretically) more 'heart' put into the production side. Now I think there's more of a "we can just fix that in post-production" attitude from many artists and studios.
Yes, good points.

I've been listening to a series of "library music" LPs from the 70's, e.g. from the KPM company. This was a period where analog recording was well-honed and the engineering/micing/mixing/production is absolutely top notch. These were people who had gobs of experience recording every musical style there was for the medium, day in and day out. So the sound is very often absolutely stellar - a combination of richness, clarity, balance, spaciousness - all those aspects that tend to invoke the sense of "great sound quality." Much of it is more polished sonically than plenty of modern digitally recorded music I own.
 

Snarfie

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@Snarfie Thanks for those samples - listening through my admittedly inferior office setup (Marantz 8801 DAC isn't the best by any means) I came to a rather ironic conclusion after my second listen through of both tracks. Although I can't objectively identify the difference, the NR track sounds slightly compressed to me. It's similar to comparing 320Kbps MP3 to lossless. I know objectively that I can't hear what was removed (I'm almost 50) but I can still perceive the difference (at least 4/5 times). Obviously the recorded content plays a huge role in that - since the recording just 'fits' a little bit of noise to me... the NR track sounded like a studio and the original like a small club/bar venue. ;) Regardless I enjoyed both versions.
Using Audacity is quite debatable some say you can loose transient information when using noise reduction and/or Clip fix. Basicly what i did with this album was first finding a sample (background noise profile) that has no sound only than the background noise. I found that in the second track "Hard Times" . This sample i uses for the whole album. Also debatable is that the background noise at the beginning of the record and the end could be a bit different due to that the space between the grooves are becoming tighter at the end of the record so could be the background noise. For me the result counts if i enjoy the outcoime (or not) but it stays an personal opinion so not objective.
 
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