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Question regarding technical parameters of LPs.

Robin L

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#1
I've been getting in a twist at sites like Stereophile lately concerning LPs. To my mind, the source for a recording should be the best version of a recording. To the best of my knowledge, there are multiple ways that transferring a high resolution master file of a recording to LP would necessarily degrade the sound quality of that master. The one most obvious way this would create sound degradation, and the one than can't be avoided, is the way the velocity of the groove continuously decelerates from beginning to end. I'm not sure how much reduction of speed happens. Does anyone know the specific figures for this? Does this necessarily result in increased, measurable, distortion?

And I have come to understand that monaural LPs have only lateral motion inscribed, stereophonic LPs utilize vertical motion in the groove. What I have read is that the vertical motion has high inherent distortion, more than would be acceptable in amplifiers or DACs. What is the minimum distortion of this aspect of LP reproduction any of you are aware of? There's a recent Hi-Fi News review of an Audio Technica Moving Coil cartridge that measures starting off at 1% in the lower frequencies, going up to 2% at 3k, 9% in top octave. I owned an earlier version of this cartridge. I was the best phono cartridge I've ever owned, easily.

https://www.hifinews.com/content/audio-technica-oc9xsh-cartridge-lab-report

I would guess this variable would affect the increase in distortion due to the reduction in groove velocity. Would these two factors interact/amplify each other?

I realize that there are other issues. These are two that are inherent, baked into the formula.

Thanks in advance.
 

mansr

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#2
The one most obvious way this would create sound degradation, and the one than can't be avoided, is the way the velocity of the groove continuously decelerates from beginning to end. I'm not sure how much reduction of speed happens. Does anyone know the specific figures for this?
That part is easy. At half the radius, the speed is half of that at the perimeter. At the innermost part of an LP, it has dropped to around 25%, or whatever fraction of the original radius remains.
 

Robin L

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#3
That part is easy. At half the radius, the speed is half of that at the perimeter. At the innermost part of an LP, it has dropped to around 25%, or whatever fraction of the original radius remains.
I've owned LPs where the deadwax started about 2/3 the way in. That's about as tight up to the record label I've seen. I already understood that bit. I recall reading somewhere that the difference was akin to dropping tape speed down from 15ips to 6ips. So more like 40%.

Hopefully someone can come up with more specific measurements, seeing as this is a measurement-driven site.
 

Robin L

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Thanks Wombat. The motto on the bottom of your posts:

"Einstein: If you can't describe it simply, you don't understand it well.
Wombat: Or you explanatory skills are deficient."

. . . applies to the RIAA technical paper. A little hard to decipher, with some math I'll never master.

However the "Mastering" info gets to the heart of it:

Depending on the master, some of, or all of these issues can occur when using a digital master for the vinyl cutting process:
  • Varying degrees of distortion
  • Skipping needles during playback
  • Lacking dynamics
  • An overall less pleasant listening experience
I'll take some time with Sage Audio post, noting how the limits of the LP format determine mastering decisions. Additional information on the minimum distortion and limitations of the vertical element of a stereo groove are welcome.
 
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Frank Dernie

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#6
A simple summary of some limitations of the LP, the flat disc was chosen to make it cheap to make and just about good enough, not to make it actually good.
1. As you say the outer part of the disc is running faster than the inside. This results in higher tracing distortion at high frequencies, particularly at high levels, towards the end of the disc. This is limited by both the cutter shape in the lathe and the stylus shape used to play it. The recording is usually limited at high frequencies at the cutting lathe stage because of this, more so towards the end of the record. Luckily there is not much high frequency at high level in most music.
Because the groove displacement is much higher at low frequencies the vertical movement may mean the groove isn't continuous at low frequencies unless the bass is made mono, so it is.
On the up side, because the dynamic range of LPs is inherently less than some music, and being able to hear noise during the music is annoying, a certain amount of compression is used to raise the level of the quiet bits. This may well be nice since it will make any ambient clues louder.
The cartridges are rarely very flat from mid frequencies up, a lot of popular ones roll of markedly, and distortion levels are high compared to CD. The distortion is strongly dependant on the cartridge alignment as well, and the stylus shape, so the HiFi News data is best case which is probably never achieved in a real installation.
 

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#7
That is a good summary indeed. So compared to cd higher distortion, particularly towards the end, higher noise, reduced deep bass and mono at that, a frequency response that is not nearly as flat, and dynamic compression. I know of no advantages other than the romantic feeling and the mechanical beauty of the best turntables and particularly arms (I love my sme 3009 ii improved). It is like owning a nice British classic car: look at it but don't drive it.
 

Robin L

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That is a good summary indeed. So compared to cd higher distortion, particularly towards the end, higher noise, reduced deep bass and mono at that, a frequency response that is not nearly as flat, and dynamic compression. I know of no advantages other than the romantic feeling and the mechanical beauty of the best turntables and particularly arms (I love my sme 3009 ii improved). It is like owning a nice British classic car: look at it but don't drive it.
Used to have a SME III on a Strathclyde TT. One of the suspended sub-chassis tables used as the template for the Linn Sondek LP 12. Used to have one of those as well. Looked great, went out of spec real fast due to those adjustable springs re-adjusting on their own. The Linn was the better of the two, had a fine Ittok arm and the aforementioned Audio Technica MC cartridge.

Sounded worse on the last third of an LP side anyway. But looked mighty fine.
 

Frank Dernie

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#9
That is a good summary indeed. So compared to cd higher distortion, particularly towards the end, higher noise, reduced deep bass and mono at that, a frequency response that is not nearly as flat, and dynamic compression. I know of no advantages other than the romantic feeling and the mechanical beauty of the best turntables and particularly arms (I love my sme 3009 ii improved). It is like owning a nice British classic car: look at it but don't drive it.
All agreed apart from the reduced deep bass. If anything the bass is exaggerated by the skirt of the resonant peak of the seismic transducer bleeding into the audible frequency range. Also many phono stages don't even have the gentle 1974 rumble filter which means all sub-sonic rubbish is exaggerated by the RIAA correction.
Mind you most people like a bit of extra bass :) so rumble filters aren't fashion of the week just now.
 

watchnerd

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#10
I've been getting in a twist at sites like Stereophile lately concerning LPs.
I'm not quite understanding what's getting you in a twist.

If testing TT type gear (turntables, arms, cartridges), using LPs is obviously a necessity.

Or are you reading about LPs being used as source when doing listening tests on speakers and amps and it annoys you that they're not using digital?
 
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Robin L

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#11
I'm not quite understanding what's getting you in a twist.

If testing TT type gear (turntables, arms, cartridges), using LPs is obviously a necessity.

Or are you reading about LPs being used as source when doing listening tests on speakers and amps and it annoys you that they'rale not using digital?
No.

What's getting me in a twist is how LP advocates deny the reality that the LP format is limited in the ability to accurately reflect artistic intent. If you want an LP to work, the sequence of songs often has to be changed in order for the least sonically challenging tracks be sequenced at end sides of LPs. How treble content has to be limited to dodge sibilance issues. How increasing the play time on an LP side requires restrictions of frequency limits and dynamics. How's there's no way to have the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth fit on one side of an LP without audible compromise. This is merely dealing with the issues that can't be eliminated. This doesn't even begin to deal with the high incidence of audibly off-center LPs still being manufactured, the continued presence of non-fill, warps and the rest of the endemic defects found, to this day, in LPs. My argument is that LPs, relative to current Digital technology, are as defective as 78s compared to LPs.
 

Robin L

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#12
All agreed apart from the reduced deep bass. If anything the bass is exaggerated by the skirt of the resonant peak of the seismic transducer bleeding into the audible frequency range. Also many phono stages don't even have the gentle 1974 rumble filter which means all sub-sonic rubbish is exaggerated by the RIAA correction.
Mind you most people like a bit of extra bass :) so rumble filters aren't fashion of the week just now.
Currently listening to my cheap DAP [Fiio M3K] attached to Fiio's amp [Monte Blanc] with the bass switch on, attached to Sennheiser's Urbanite XL headphones with their elevated bass.

So, yes. Count me in. What can I say? My first speakers were AR-3s. Never really got over that.
 

watchnerd

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#13
No.

What's getting me in a twist is how LP advocates deny the reality that the LP format is limited in the ability to accurately reflect artistic intent. If you want an LP to work, the sequence of songs often has to be changed in order for the least sonically challenging tracks be sequenced at end sides of LPs. How treble content has to be limited to dodge sibilance issues. How increasing the play time on an LP side requires restrictions of frequency limits and dynamics. How's there's no way to have the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth fit on one side of an LP without audible compromise. This is merely dealing with the issues that can't be eliminated. This doesn't even begin to deal with the high incidence of audibly off-center LPs still being manufactured, the continued presence of non-fill, warps and the rest of the endemic defects found, to this day, in LPs. My argument is that LPs, relative to current Digital technology, are as defective as 78s compared to LPs.
I buy into the artistic intent argument for classical music. And that is why I don't listen to classical on LP.

But for music created and issued from, say, 1955 - 1975, jazz or rock, for example, the limitation of the medium was inherent in the creation of the album and factored into song selection, sequence, etc.

"Kind of Blue" and "Dark Side of the Moon" were conceived as albums with the limitations of LP in mind, so I think the artistic intent is folded in.
 
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Robin L

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I buy into the artistic intent argument for classical music. And which is why I don't listen to classical on LP.

But for music created and issued from, say, 1955 - 1975, jazz or rock, for example, the limitation of the medium was inherent in the creation of the album and factored into song selection, sequence, etc.

"Kind of Blue" and "Dark Side of the Moon" were conceived as albums with the limitations of LP in mind, so I think the artistic intent is folded in.
That was back in the 1960's.

This is some 50 + years later. We can do better. Albums that run over 60 minutes are common these days. Loud and full of deep bass/high treble is common these days. The LP versions of these releases are compromised, one way or another.

The reality is that we are as far away from peak vinyl right now as 78s were during peak vinyl. Lps first appeared around 1949. Reach their peak in the late 1970's. Digital productions emerge in the late 1970s. Hi-Rez digital is the default recording standard some 30 years later. And it's a higher standard, a standard that LPs are incapable of achieving now.
 

watchnerd

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That was back in the 1960's.

This is some 50 + years later. We can do better. Albums that run over 60 minutes are common these days. Loud and full of deep bass/high treble is common these days. The LP versions of these releases are compromised, one way or another.

The reality is that we are as far away from peak vinyl right now as 78s were during peak vinyl. Lps first appeared around 1949. Reach their peak in the late 1970's. Digital productions emerge in the late 1970s. Hi-Rez digital is the default recording standard some 30 years later. And it's a higher standard, a standard that LPs are incapable of achieving now.
I genuinely don't understand your point.

Yes, digital is objectively superior to LP. I don't think most on ASR debate that.

But "Kind of Blue" was recorded on analog tape and the "album" was created with LP in mind, which affected song sequence, where the side flip is, the mixing and EQ, etc.

So even if you listen to a digital remaster of "Kind of Blue", the artistic creation that went into the album was done with the limits of the popular medium of the time (LP) in mind.

Or are you arguing that the only "proper way" to listen to "Kind of Blue" is on a digital remaster because it is objectively superior?

If one's preference is to hear the master tape as closely as possible, I would agree.

If one's preference is to experience something closer to what a consumer might have experienced when playing the album in 1959, perhaps not.

I guess I'm not understanding why different preferences in the listening experience are something to get in a twist about?
 
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Willem

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#16
I think you will not see many here who disagree with the view that vinyl is sonically inferior. It is just a profitable money printing machine for the boutiqe part of the industry.
 

watchnerd

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I think you will not see many here who disagree with the view that vinyl is sonically inferior. It is just a profitable money printing machine for the boutiqe part of the industry.
I collect mostly jazz and blues records originally issued 1950 - 1980. I enjoy playing them.

Some are historical rarities and smell funny and have ad inserts from their time, so they're likely little time machines. Others are modern reissues, homages, with great album art, liner notes, and glossy, expensive photographs.

Some come in different colors of vinyl. Some have swirling designs or even pictures.

But the enjoyment that comes from collecting isn't correlated with the fidelity, or lack thereof, of the medium.
 

Willem

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#18
Sure collecting historical vinyl is a different matter and I can appreciate that (I am a historian after all). So I still have a turntable for my old records. Beyond that: no thank you.
 

watchnerd

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Sure collecting historical vinyl is a different matter and I can appreciate that (I am a historian after all). So I still have a turntable for my old records. Beyond that: no thank you.
I guess I don't understand why anyone cares how someone else chooses to listen to music.

I no longer have an FM tuner, CD player, or a cassette deck, but I wouldn't care if someone else does.
 

Robin L

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I genuinely don't understand your point.

Yes, digital is objectively superior to LP. I don't think most on ASR debate that.

But "Kind of Blue" was recorded on analog tape and the "album" was created with LP in mind, which affected song sequence, where the side flip is, the mixing and EQ, etc.

So even if you listen to a digital remaster of "Kind of Blue", the artistic creation that went into the album was done with the limits of the popular medium of the time (LP) in mind.

Or are you arguing that the only "proper way" to listen to "Kind of Blue" is on a digital remaster because it is objectively superior?

If one's preference is to hear the master tape as closely as possible, I would agree.

If one's preference is to experience something closer to what a consumer might have experienced when playing the album in 1959, perhaps not.

I guess I'm not understanding why different preferences in the listening experience are something to get in a twist about?
It's not an issue of listening preferences. I've owned KOB in just about every format, 6-eye mono and stereo LPs, mid-1970's reissues with elevated treble, CD and single layer SACD. As the sound quality of this classic recording doesn't offer much of a playback challenge, it doesn't really represent any sort of real problem in playback on any medium, cassettes included.

My issue is the current elevation of LPs as state of the art. Which it isn't. It's about $50.000.00 tonearms. it's about the ludicrous fawing over an obviously obsolete format and the continued support, in Stereophile, Absolute Sound and Analog Planet, of overpriced gear and underperforming LPs. It's that publications theoretically devoted to the advancement of sound continue to push this cash-grab.
 
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