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Vinyl will always sound *different* than digital, right?

DrTebi

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Hello music lovers,

After reading the thread The Truth About Vinyl Records, it confirmed to me again that vinyl will just always sound different than any digital version.

My understanding here is, that there is really a hell lot of tweaking being done when the master record is being cut, much of which doesn't appear to be necessary when going straight from e.g. 1/4" tape to digital.

To give you an example, the article states:
Attenuate sibilance-range frequencies. Sibilance-range frequencies typically occupy 3kHz to 10kHz, but will very much vary depending on the content of the song. Attenuating these frequencies is important to avoid distortion on a record.

I am bringing this up because I do every so often compare the sound 1:1 (with appropriate volume matching) of my vinyl record to digital sources, and often can simply only note one thing: They sound different.

Isn't the reason for that simply that the transferring process was completely different? Essentially one could say the original recording was "remastered" once again, although on a simpler scale, once to fit the limitations of a vinyl disc, and then that of a CD or some HiRes format.

The result of my 1:1 comparison is often quite shocking to me... some vinyls sound a lot sweeter to me than their digital counterpart, while others are clearly sounding worse.

And by the way... I do record some of my vinyls to the PC, and when playing back the digital recording, it sounds just like the vinyl... in other words, the difference is not in my source... my digital recording of my vinyl still sounds vastly different than the digital version from Tidal etc.

What are your thoughts?
 
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DrTebi

DrTebi

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Note: I am not trying to compare the sound quality of vinyl to digital recordings.

I am trying to shed some light onto the fact why some vinyls sound vastly different than their digital counterparts. Not necessarily better, nor worse. Just as if someone mastered them completely differently.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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As for the ones that sound "sweeter", my guess would be that it may be down to the original vinyl master having to have some tweaks made to accommodate the limitations of the format. Not a particularly good way to fix tonality issues with a mix, tho.

Edit:
I am trying to shed some light onto the fact why some vinyls sound vastly different than their digital counterparts. Not necessarily better, nor worse. Just as if someone mastered them completely differently.
That would be my thought since they do have to make some alterations to accommodate the format AFAIK.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Actually this made me think about some of those channels that post vinyl rips! Just taking one at random from MrVinylObsessive

Vinyl rip:

YT version:

Assuming the differences are due to the LP itself and not some limitations in the recording system or YT compression, the first thing that jumps out, besides all the noise, is the loss in low-level detail. An audiophile with typical "high-end" treble-blasters would find that to be more pleasing as it would cut down on the brightness. I just find it to be somewhat muffled.
 

DVDdoug

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My understanding here is, that there is really a hell lot of tweaking being done when the master record is being cut, much of which doesn't appear to be necessary when going straight from e.g. 1/4" tape to digital.
Both go through a mastering process.

With modern digital recordings the vinyl may go through some additional mastering on top of the digital mastering. But in other cases it may a completely different mastering process.

A vinyl record can "measure" more dynamic than the CD even if they were made from the same master. This leads some people to think the vinyl is less compressed but that's just a distortion of the wave shape that doesn't increase the sound of the dynamics. The same thing happens when you make an MP3...

Then of course, some old analog recordings may be remastered for digital. (I think they usually go-back to the original mix rather adding processing to the old vinyl mastering._

And by the way... I do record some of my vinyls to the PC, and when playing back the digital recording, it sounds just like the vinyl...
Right... The analog-to-digital-to-analog process is usually transparent.

Except you can do clean-up to remove (or reduce) clicks & pops and you can boost the highs on older dull-sounding records (or do other EQ) so the digitized copy can often sound better than the original vinyl.
 

Chrispy

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Note: I am not trying to compare the sound quality of vinyl to digital recordings.

I am trying to shed some light onto the fact why some vinyls sound vastly different than their digital counterparts. Not necessarily better, nor worse. Just as if someone mastered them completely differently.
I'd think the chances the mastering is different is pretty good, except maybe the early cd days....
 
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Actually this made me think about some of those channels that post vinyl rips! Just taking one at random from MrVinylObsessive

YT version:
Wow I own and have listened to some of Issac Hayes stuff from the 70s, this in particular but hadnt heard a remastered modern version. Just listening on Spotify 320 it sounds far better than I remember. Definitely prefer it without the snap crackle pop, not that its bad. Great album, so well recorded.
 

Frgirard

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Hello music lovers,

After reading the thread The Truth About Vinyl Records, it confirmed to me again that vinyl will just always sound different than any digital version.

My understanding here is, that there is really a hell lot of tweaking being done when the master record is being cut, much of which doesn't appear to be necessary when going straight from e.g. 1/4" tape to digital.

To give you an example, the article states:


I am bringing this up because I do every so often compare the sound 1:1 (with appropriate volume matching) of my vinyl record to digital sources, and often can simply only note one thing: They sound different.

Isn't the reason for that simply that the transferring process was completely different? Essentially one could say the original recording was "remastered" once again, although on a simpler scale, once to fit the limitations of a vinyl disc, and then that of a CD or some HiRes format.

The result of my 1:1 comparison is often quite shocking to me... some vinyls sound a lot sweeter to me than their digital counterpart, while others are clearly sounding worse.

And by the way... I do record some of my vinyls to the PC, and when playing back the digital recording, it sounds just like the vinyl... in other words, the difference is not in my source... my digital recording of my vinyl still sounds vastly different than the digital version from Tidal etc.

What are your thoughts?
an inutil thread that repeats and will repeat what has already been written to ASR.
 

solderdude

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I am trying to shed some light onto the fact why some vinyls sound vastly different than their digital counterparts

Different mastering (sometimes), cutting parameters being applied, RIAA curve differing on reproduction, cartridge/needle differences, cartridge load differences, arm/cantilever suspension differences, FR differences between cartridges... a fine mix of all these things + things that did not come to mind the moment this was typed but are also relevant.

Basically it is still amazing that the reproduced sound coming from a rock dragged through a trench can still sound good (ignoring ticks, cracks, noise and pops, wow and flutter).
Technically the digital recordings are closer to the waveforms that were coming from from the mastering source.
Vinyl can sound good and some may prefer it. That preference is what makes vinyl 'better' to some people. There is nothing objectively 'better' about vinyl.

This all has been discussed at nauseum in other threads.
 
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Mulder

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Vinyl is not about sound quality. People simply believe that - what they like - it also sounds good. It is somewhat simplified a kind of fetishism. It is about desire. And for musicians, it's a way to make some money. It's about being able to hold the vinyl, look at it, admire the envelope. Smell it. Vinyl is essentially a reaction to the fact that digital music is streamed today. Without streaming, no vinyl revival. If you want your music in a physical format, then most people probably feel that the CD is identical to what they stream anyway. Vinyl is different. Most vinyl buyers are not audiophiles. Most new vinyl enthusiasts have neither the money nor the interest in advanced and extremely expensive HiFi. (Really good new turntables are very expensive compared to a streamer and a DAC, although extreme premiums can be charged for the latter as well) They think vinyl is just plain fun but play their music on pretty crappy equipment. The real hi-fi geeks who spend big on turntables are middle-aged nerds with plenty of money.

 
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MattHooper

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Hello music lovers,

After reading the thread The Truth About Vinyl Records, it confirmed to me again that vinyl will just always sound different than any digital version.

My understanding here is, that there is really a hell lot of tweaking being done when the master record is being cut, much of which doesn't appear to be necessary when going straight from e.g. 1/4" tape to digital.

To give you an example, the article states:


I am bringing this up because I do every so often compare the sound 1:1 (with appropriate volume matching) of my vinyl record to digital sources, and often can simply only note one thing: They sound different.

Isn't the reason for that simply that the transferring process was completely different? Essentially one could say the original recording was "remastered" once again, although on a simpler scale, once to fit the limitations of a vinyl disc, and then that of a CD or some HiRes format.

The result of my 1:1 comparison is often quite shocking to me... some vinyls sound a lot sweeter to me than their digital counterpart, while others are clearly sounding worse.

And by the way... I do record some of my vinyls to the PC, and when playing back the digital recording, it sounds just like the vinyl... in other words, the difference is not in my source... my digital recording of my vinyl still sounds vastly different than the digital version from Tidal etc.

What are your thoughts?

Essentially you are correct. It's not only all the kludgy processes necessary to get the squiggles on wax - then you have that again on the other side in the consumer equipment/turntable trying to scrape that sound back off with a rock.

That's why even when you compare vinyl and digital that came from the same original recording, the vinyl will still sound somewhat different.

And some can still prefer that vinyl sound over the digital version. It's one reason why I don't sweat the idea of vinyl coming from digital masters. It's still going to have some level of "vinyl" sound imparted to it. And I often like it.
 

MattHooper

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Vinyl is not about sound quality.

The appeal of vinyl is about lots of things, and for some that includes the quality - the nature - of the sound.

Most vinyl buyers are not audiophiles. Most new vinyl enthusiasts have neither the money nor the interest in advanced and extremely expensive HiFi. (Really good new turntables are very expensive compared to a streamer and a DAC, although extreme premiums can be charged for the latter as well) They think vinyl is just plain fun but play their music on pretty crappy equipment.

Much of what you wrote there could be applied to audio gear in general. Most music listeners play stuff on "relatively crappy equipment."

Including this:

The real hi-fi geeks who spend big on turntables are middle-aged nerds with plenty of money.

Like...middle aged nerds hanging out on audio forums endlessly discussing new gear, measurements, room EQ, psychoacoustics, arguing about SINAD etc? :)
 

Mart68

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Vinyl is not about sound quality.

Of the top of my head I can think of half a dozen people I know who absolutely think it is about sound quality and despite spending a lot of money on their digital playback they still reckon vinyl has better sound quality. Whether they just don't hear the wow and flutter, the noise and the IGD, I don't know, but there it is.

It's not about just preferring the sound of vinyl, which I'm sure no-one would puzzle over too much or even care. We like what we like.

I have yet to work out what it is about the sound of vinyl that makes them think it is higher fidelity. To me it just isn't, even with the best direct drives known to man equipped with 'legendary' tonearms and MC cartridges costing thousands.

Yes, they do sound fabulous, good enough that you don't care what 'source' the music is coming from, you just enjoy it - but they clearly don't have the fidelity of digital.
 

Robin L

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Actually this made me think about some of those channels that post vinyl rips! Just taking one at random from MrVinylObsessive

Vinyl rip:

YT version:

Assuming the differences are due to the LP itself and not some limitations in the recording system or YT compression, the first thing that jumps out, besides all the noise, is the loss in low-level detail. An audiophile with typical "high-end" treble-blasters would find that to be more pleasing as it would cut down on the brightness. I just find it to be somewhat muffled.
The needle dropping into the groove, the first moments before the song, expose a lot of built-in surface noise. The music is undynamic, once the music starts, one can't hear it for the music masking the groove noise. I also hear some thickening of texture; I'd attribute that to pre/post groove echo. I can imagine someone preferring the more muted LP sound. I'm not that person.
 

tuga

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Note: I am not trying to compare the sound quality of vinyl to digital recordings.

I am trying to shed some light onto the fact why some vinyls sound vastly different than their digital counterparts. Not necessarily better, nor worse. Just as if someone mastered them completely differently.

It's vinyl's intrinsic technical limitations that set out the mastering requirements.

 

krabapple

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Hello music lovers,

After reading the thread The Truth About Vinyl Records, it confirmed to me again that vinyl will just always sound different than any digital version.

Well, except a digital capture of the vinyl playback itself. In real time switching back and forth, and properly level matched, they sound should be seamless. If compared in not real time, they can sound different because the LP might have gained some more garbage on it since the digital transfer was done. Theoretically every individual playback of an LP will be slightly different -- tiny variation in platter speed, miniscule wear on the vinyl -- but I doubt that means 'sounds different' from play to play.

As for the rest of your post, yes, recordings typically undergo lots of processing -- the term 'mastering' was invented for this process -- in order get them happily onto cutting masters, processing that needn't be done for digital. (Digital releases get 'mastered' too , but 'mastering' has come to mean a host of aesthetic choices that aren't literally necessary for playback)

There is no big 'truth' being revealed here, it's all well known. Yet another 'vinyl and why some like it' thread.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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The needle dropping into the groove, the first moments before the song, expose a lot of built-in surface noise. The music is undynamic, once the music starts, one can't hear it for the music masking the groove noise. I also hear some thickening of texture; I'd attribute that to pre/post groove echo. I can imagine someone preferring the more muted LP sound. I'm not that person.
FWIW It’s audible in portions where there are quieter passages in headphones at least since they have good separation of the sound sources in the recording. But once there is sufficient volume it’s inaudible for the most part. Come to think of it modern vinyl is a lot like the later CRT TVs like, say, the Sony Trinitrons. At the time it was like “hey this is pretty good!” and then OLED hi-def digital comes along and you realize the black was really dark grey and the picture was a bit fuzzy and not terribly vibrant.
 
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