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Can anyone explain the vinyl renaissance?

antcollinet

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I think it was even better at detecting and playing back every tiny spec of dust, giving more and higher resolution pops and crackles. Which someone should have realized before creating it in the first place.

No one keeps their records in a completely dust free environment.
Yep - no sweeping the dust out of the way like a stylus does.
 

MattHooper

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Yep - no sweeping the dust out of the way like a stylus does.

My son 25, is an engineering student. A few days ago after we'd discussed the laser-read turntable on this thread, I tested his thinking on this. I pointed to my turntable (he doesn't play records) and refreshed him on how it works, and the general issues a cartridge and arm have to deal with in terms of wearing down vinyl grooves, dealing with dirt and dust and other things that cause extraneous noise etc. Then I said someone once proposed replacing the cartridge with a laser to solve some of the issues. I then asked him: what do you think the results were, in terms of the advantages or disadvantages. He pretty much nailed it pretty quickly in terms of less groove wear, but also the problem of reading the dust/dirt as well (which he figured could be adjusted for to some degree but not totally) and that the physical needle system would likely make it's way through the dust/sweeping some aside, and so a physical needle would have it's advantages too. I was impressed :)
 

antcollinet

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I was impressed
Me too. I have a 35+ engineering career behind me and when I first read** about the laser pickup - I didn't pickup*** that particular problem.

**admittedly about 10 to 15 years pre retirement.
***see what I did there?

:D
 

Rõlnnbacke

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What 'noise'? Are you conflating phono preamp noise with that of the LP surface? The behavior of the phono section can have a marked change in the perception of noise. I've posted about this issue quite a lot on this thread.

These days the LP often has wider dynamic range, owing to DSP applied to the digital release due to the expectation it will get played in a car. LPs may not have this problem if the producer opted to eliminate or reduce the DSP used in the source file. Definitely counter intuitive. The LP has no HF bandwidth restrictions compared to digital; it is limited in the lows by the mechanical resonance of the playback apparatus which should be 7-12Hz if set up properly.

If one is to be critical of the LP and there are plenty of reasons to do so, its best to be armed with the facts rather than popular myth.
Surface noise, assuming neglectable phono preamp noise.

About dynamic range an bandwidth, you're probably right, but it wasn't typicly criticizing and based upon wat i've read earlier and my perception of how it sounds with my setup. (So) it depends on the particular record/cd/other source. I only have (rather) old records except for one, that came with a cd for 1 or 2 euros more than the cd alone. I find that digital has a difficult to describe cleanness, to be associated with the sound of the letter f, a sigh or a soft wind.
 
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Ste_S

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$370K and it sounds just as good as a CD - Result! :)

Fun fact, I once visited the Wilson Benesch factory in Sheffield back in the 90s, shortly after they first started. :)

Vinyl is at its best when you acknowledge the shortcomings and realise that the imperfections are what make the format. I find it hilarious the amount of money people spend hopelessly trying to remove the imperfections when you can just get a cheap DAC and stream.
 

RichB

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My son 25, is an engineering student. A few days ago after we'd discussed the laser-read turntable on this thread, I tested his thinking on this. I pointed to my turntable (he doesn't play records) and refreshed him on how it works, and the general issues a cartridge and arm have to deal with in terms of wearing down vinyl grooves, dealing with dirt and dust and other things that cause extraneous noise etc. Then I said someone once proposed replacing the cartridge with a laser to solve some of the issues. I then asked him: what do you think the results were, in terms of the advantages or disadvantages. He pretty much nailed it pretty quickly in terms of less groove wear, but also the problem of reading the dust/dirt as well (which he figured could be adjusted for to some degree but not totally) and that the physical needle system would likely make it's way through the dust/sweeping some aside, and so a physical needle would have it's advantages too. I was impressed :)
You need the close-and-play laser turntable 2000 :)

- Rich
 

Rõlnnbacke

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Vinyl is at its best when you acknowledge the shortcomings and realise that the imperfections are what make the format. I find it hilarious the amount of money people spend hopelessly trying to remove the imperfections when you can just get a cheap DAC and stream.
hilarious
And saddening at the same time. Just like snake oil (if this is not). Think of good things that could be done with all that money. This catagory of vinyl lovers (I mean really very expensive) also often insist on total analogness. A real investigetion. I once read something about a studio device somewhere in the chain that digitalized the recording before digital mastering came up.

But of course, there is nostalgia and an alternative for 'consuming music from the internet'. Problably this and all the other great problems in the world nowadays, can make one to want to at least only have the feeling to go back to the seventies, even, or maybe especially, if one hasn't been there..
 

MattHooper

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Vinyl is at its best when you acknowledge the shortcomings and realise that the imperfections are what make the format.

I agree that acknowledging vinyls shortcomings, accepting that there always be some involved, is a good approach. Otherwise one may be condemned to dissatisfaction.

Though depending on what shortcomings you are thinking of, I may not agree they make the format. For instance, I'm not a fan of pops/ticks/crackles and record noise in general.

I find it hilarious the amount of money people spend hopelessly trying to remove the imperfections when you can just get a cheap DAC and stream.

It doesn't require a commitment to "hopeless" perfection. It can be entirely rational to take steps that will increase the sound quality of vinyl. Personally, I found moving to a better turntable/cartridge decreased some of the distortion I didn't care for - record noise, decrease in fuzzy distortion during complex passages - and increased the sonic qualities I was looking for - greater clarity, smoother, etc. But the sound maintained the general 'vinyl character' that I quite like, which I wouldn't get from a cheap DAC.
 

Jaxjax

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I find it hilarious the amount of money people spend hopelessly trying to remove the imperfections when you can just get a cheap DAC and stream.
Don't underestimate a good analog rig...that would be ignorant to what a good vinyl setup can do. I'm 50/50 A & D & fully realize how differant in a good way my vinyl rig is. I chalk part of it up to I know that there is so many different versions of a given track it ridiculous. I have many many versions of the same thing & they are all different & especially from the digital version. Not talking drops...just stream as my cd's are stored. Ive never met anyone who was looking for perfection from vinyl...it's more like looking for what sounds right in your head...that guitar tone you know so well on a certain track..etc..Guitarist spend a lifetime searching for "that" tone in there head. I certainly did not change my cart to Grado because I was looking for data perfection. Do I think there perfect for me carts..? Yep. Getting your speakers & room good is where it's at anyway. All this other talk between A & D is just chatter.
 
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deweydm

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I don't see why. Anyone that knows digital probably also knows that analog tapes can degrade over time. If they don't they should. Its one of the main reasons some CD releases of older albums didn't sound as good as the original LP- and this having (because of tape) nothing to do with the LP vs digital 'conversation'.

Note that I'm being careful to use the phrase 'original LP' or 'original pressing' as one of the LP's weaknesses is that later pressings often don't own up to the sound of the original.
Eh, opportunities to still offer the best sounding versions pretty easily where the tape degraded before the first digital transfer are being squandered then. (Though maybe not, if you consider illegal activity.) Tape degraded? Use a clean vinyl rip as a work around. It’s not like content on vinyl can’t be transferred to digital with audible transparency, right?
 

MattHooper

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I don't see any problem here. You just have to lower your expectations a bit:

(Warning: turn down volume):

 

Ste_S

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I agree that acknowledging vinyls shortcomings, accepting that there always be some involved, is a good approach. Otherwise one may be condemned to dissatisfaction.

Though depending on what shortcomings you are thinking of, I may not agree they make the format. For instance, I'm not a fan of pops/ticks/crackles and record noise in general.



It doesn't require a commitment to "hopeless" perfection. It can be entirely rational to take steps that will increase the sound quality of vinyl. Personally, I found moving to a better turntable/cartridge decreased some of the distortion I didn't care for - record noise, decrease in fuzzy distortion during complex passages - and increased the sonic qualities I was looking for - greater clarity, smoother, etc. But the sound maintained the general 'vinyl character' that I quite like, which I wouldn't get from a cheap DAC.

I don't mind record noise at all, it comes with the format. Probably my favourite record is a 1st press of Horace Silver's Silver's Serenade, which I brought from a shop in Amsterdam a few years back. The record itself looks like a skating rink, and is noisy, to say the least. However, the charm is precisly the history of the record, being 60 years old, and when listenting I imagine the record being played on a Dansette in the Jordaan in the 60s.

I've no interest in the recent Tone Poet re-issue, if I want a clean copy, than I'll stream or listen to the CD copy I have.
 

atmasphere

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Surface noise, assuming neglectable phono preamp noise.

About dynamic range an bandwidth, you're probably right, but it wasn't typicly criticizing and based upon wat i've read earlier and my perception of how it sounds with my setup. (So) it depends on the particular record/cd/other source. I only have (rather) old records except for one, that came with a cd for 1 or 2 euros more than the cd alone. I find that digital has a difficult to describe cleanness, to be associated with the sound of the letter f, a sigh or a soft wind.
I get that.
Not all LPs have that sort of surface noise though. I have mentioned this before on this thread: QRP (a record pressing plant in Salinas, KS, owned by Analog Productions) found that by damping their pressing machines, they were able to reduce the noise floor of the LPs by 15-20dB. IOW most of the surface noise (and I"m not talking about ticks and pops) is caused by the pressing process; the machines usually use steam heat so by damping them the swoosh of the steam is vastly reduced. I suspect that if the machines were properly electrically heated the resulting pressings would be even lower noise.

We did a project (I used to run an LP mastering operation) though QRP that was so lacking of surface noise that the playback electronics was the noise floor.
 

Rõlnnbacke

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I get that.
Not all LPs have that sort of surface noise though. I have mentioned this before on this thread: QRP (a record pressing plant in Salinas, KS, owned by Analog Productions) found that by damping their pressing machines, they were able to reduce the noise floor of the LPs by 15-20dB. IOW most of the surface noise (and I"m not talking about ticks and pops) is caused by the pressing process; the machines usually use steam heat so by damping them the swoosh of the steam is vastly reduced. I suspect that if the machines were properly electrically heated the resulting pressings would be even lower noise.

We did a project (I used to run an LP mastering operation) though QRP that was so lacking of surface noise that the playback electronics was the noise floor.
Interesting. I guess this vinyl is smoother?
Maybe I should not have used the word 'inferior'. It's so easy; done so many times before, but in a rational, technical context it should'nt do much harm. Maybe the 'inferior technique' of record playing resembles that of our own ears so that the faults are camouflaged because our ears have them too. Needles/eardrums having to go along with many vibrations at the same time. And microphones and drivers.. Perhaps our hearing is than more forgiving than for certain digital faults.
 
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Robin L

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Don't underestimate a good analog rig...that would be ignorant to what a good vinyl setup can do. I'm 50/50 A & D & fully realize how differant in a good way my vinyl rig is. I chalk part of it up to I know that there is so many different versions of a given track it ridiculous. I have many many versions of the same thing & they are all different & especially from the digital version. Not talking drops...just stream as my cd's are stored. Ive never met anyone who was looking for perfection from vinyl...it's more like looking for what sounds right in your head...that guitar tone you know so well on a certain track..etc..Guitarist spend a lifetime searching for "that" tone in there head. I certainly did change my cart to Grado because I was looking for data perfection. Do I think there perfect for me carts..? Yep. Getting your speakers & room good is were it's at anyway. All this other talk between A & D is just chatter.
I've never owned a LP player that I found totally satisfying, though some (a Merril Mod AR XA with a Grace 707 arm, a Thorens, a Linn Sondek LP 12/Ittok arm) were superior compared to most. Interesting how close a standard AR XA got to ideal, though they were so cheaply made it was just a matter of time before they went out of alignment. Lots of foam rubber used that wore out from normal use. I have heard LP players that had the quiet backgrounds, lack of distortion and detail of good digital, thought there was something different about the sound. My current digital rig is as close to perfection as I can hope for, considering that recordings themselves are never perfect.
 
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It's just cool.

The loudness wars is perhaps the most overblown issue in the history of audio, I don't believe for most people this is actually important. (Nor should it be)

I think more people, as few as there are, are feeling more nostalgic towards the more intimate nature of physical media. Vinyl has a lot of steps from nothing to art, and it's fun.

Then there are those who simply collect it to look at it, like people who collect video games who always keep them sealed and never play. I find such subsets a bit weird, but to each their own.

Regardless, a shelf full of media to me is more appealing than a glorified file picker.
 

Jaxjax

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We did a project (I used to run an LP mastering operation) though QRP that was so lacking of surface noise that the playback electronics was the noise floor.
Some of my QRP stuff is just fantastic. I do like the fact that Chad keeps investing in the betterment of QRP.
 

egellings

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I've never owned a LP player that I found totally satisfying, though some (a Merril Mod AR XA with a Grace 707 arm, a Thorens, a Linn Sondek LP 12/Ittok arm) were superior compared to most. Interesting how close a standard AR XA got to ideal, though they were so cheaply made it was just a matter of time before they went out of alignment. Lots of foam rubber used that wore out from normal use. I have heard LP players that had the quiet backgrounds, lack of distortion and detail of good digital, thought there was something different about the sound. My current digital rig is as close to perfection as I can hope for, considering that recordings themselves are never perfect.
My impression of digital sound reproduction is that it's better than is necessary for enjoyment of music. It trounces vinyl technically, but not always subjectively. Maybe it's more the recording technique used, than the medium that is making the difference.
 

deweydm

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My impression of digital sound reproduction is that it's better than is necessary for enjoyment of music. It trounces vinyl technically, but not always subjectively. Maybe it's more the recording technique used, than the medium that is making the difference.
Sorry for the repetition (I’ve shared this quote here before), but I think it speaks to the above.

Amirm wrote, "it is my firm belief that when LP sounds better, it is because it is mastered differently...." - Measurements of Parks Audio Puffin Phono Stage
 

MattHooper

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Sorry for the repetition (I’ve shared this quote here before), but I think it speaks to the above.

Amirm wrote, "it is my firm belief that when LP sounds better, it is because it is mastered differently...." - Measurements of Parks Audio Puffin Phono Stage

That's certainly a valid take from Amir. But of course "better" can be seen as subjective. I've compared vinyl with digital versions, which came from the same original masters, and I could hear differences that one person may find "better" for the digital where another may deem the vinyl "better."
 
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