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

Frank Dernie

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The concern with the cutoff frequency was phase shift at 20Hz. The ear interprets phase shift in the bass (generally speaking) as a loss of impact. I've no doubt that low frequency noise and abituary cutoff frequencies would explain why so many people think that digital somehow has more bass extension and impact than LP (and certainly if low frequency noise is goobling up amplifier power, digital would be obviously perceived as 'better'). IME there isn't any difference at all, but only if the analog playback is designed and set up properly.
That defies the laws of physics.

By its very nature a seismic transducer is not capable of operating to DC, and if it did the groove wouldn’t be able to move it so it would be useless for a record player.
The effective low limit of a seismic sensor is 2x its mechanical natural frequency. Lower than that and the part that is supposed to be the stator in the transducer isn’t “stationary”, so the output from the cartridge, which we want to be movement of the groove relative to “earth”, no longer is that.

If your arm/cartridge resonance is 12 Hz, for example, the lowest frequency you can accurately transcribe is 24Hz. Yes there will be output below this - lots of it if there isn’t much damping - but it is not an accurate analog representation of the groove so IMO it is best be filtered out. It is almost spurious, so poor is any relation to any actual music on the disc since it is effectively outside the usable bandwidth of the transducer assembly, wastes power and moves the bass driver into non-linear areas.Yes, there is still phase shift probably going on, but not much and it is the least of the shortcomings of this sort of transducer.

I have designed seismic vibration sensors for many uses, not just record players, and it is possible to get them to work reasonably well down to their natural frequency but the damping required to achieve it shunts higher frequencies so it is inaccurate at higher frequencies and it is a poor choice of transducer for a music application.
 
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atmasphere

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That defies the laws of physics.

By its very nature a seismic transducer is not capable of operating to DC, and if it did the groove wouldn’t be able to move it so it would be useless for a record player.
The effective low limit of a seismic sensor is 2x its mechanical natural frequency. Lower than that and the part that is supposed to be the stator in the transducer isn’t “stationary”, so the output from the cartridge, which we want to be movement of the groove relative to “earth”, no longer is that.

If your arm/cartridge resonance is 12 Hz, for example, the lowest frequency you can accurately transcribe is 24Hz. Yes there will be output below this - lots of it if there isn’t much damping - but it is not an accurate analog representation of the groove so IMO it is best be filtered out. It is almost spurious, so poor is any relation to any actual music on the disc since it is effectively outside the usable bandwidth of the transducer assembly, wastes power and moves the bass driver into non-linear areas.Yes, there is still phase shift probably going on, but not much and it is the least of the shortcomings of this sort of transducer.

I have designed seismic vibration sensors for many uses, not just record players, and it is possible to get them to work reasonably well down to their natural frequency but the damping required to achieve it shunts higher frequencies so it is inaccurate at higher frequencies and it is a poor choice of transducer for a music application.
You're talking about the transducer and I am talking about the electronics.
 

Frank Dernie

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You're talking about the transducer and I am talking about the electronics.
OK but there is no point in hoping an LP system can produce accurate low frequencies when it is mechanically impossible for it to do so, and I still contest using the electronics to filter out the spurious rubbish is a better solution overall than not to.

Mind you, given the spurious rubbish is considerably mechanically amplified filtering it out does give less bass.
 

atmasphere

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OK but there is no point in hoping an LP system can produce accurate low frequencies when it is mechanically impossible for it to do so, and I still contest using the electronics to filter out the spurious rubbish is a better solution overall than not to.

Mind you, given the spurious rubbish is considerably mechanically amplified filtering it out does give less bass.
Yes.

However in practice I've yet to encounter a situation where the bass is any different on the LP as opposed to the digital release. And its easy to hear and measure what happens if you cut off the electronics at a higher frequency! Less bass, so less accurate bass, in a nutshell. I have encountered low frequency noise if the setup isn't correct, but once its really dialed in I've never felt the need to add any kind of LF filter. The woofers are obviously only responding to bass notes, not noise.
 

Frank Dernie

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Less bass, so less accurate bass, in a nutshell.
Each is less accurate in different ways ;)
If you don’t filter it you get extra inaccurate mechanically amplified bass, if you do filter it of course there is less but at least what you get is accurate.
Most of the people I know feel more bass is best :)

This is an inherent shortcoming of record players, always has been, always will be unless somebody finds a way to repeal the laws of physics :p.
 

atmasphere

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This is an inherent shortcoming of record players, always has been, always will be unless somebody finds a way to repeal the laws of physics :p.
Most of the LF noise comes from the surface noise imposed by the pressing plant. QRP (Salinas, KS) found that they could shut down a lot of it (up to 20dB) by installing damping measures in their pressing machines. I've mentioned this before; projects we did through them were so quiet we were wondering if the stylus hadn't set down on the LP or if the phono section wasn't selected on the preamp. Until the music erupted from the speakers.

Most decent turntables are so quiet these days their rumble is a non-issue.
 
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MattHooper

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Yes.

However in practice I've yet to encounter a situation where the bass is any different on the LP as opposed to the digital release.

Though I'm not sure I could make the same claim, I'm sympathetic to that view generally speaking. That's because for all the "vinyl can't do bass like digital" technical explanations, I have never found the bass from records problematic or unsatisfying. I play tons of funk and electronic and symphonic stuff on my system both from digital and vinyl sources, and I don't remember ever finding the bass from the vinyl was obviously less deep, or less punchy or anything that would leave me unsatisfied.
 

elvisizer

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really? i can think of many electronic albums in my collection where the bass is better on digital
massive attack vs mad professor, no protection
the orb, no sounds are out of bounds
labradford, a stable reference (shit basically their entire catalog lol their vinyl is not very good)
tele:Funken/Flying Saucer Attack, distant station
etc
 

Frank Dernie

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Most of the LF noise comes from the surface noise imposed by the pressing plant. QRP (Salinas, KS) found that they could shut down a lot of it (up to 20dB) by installing damping measures in their pressing machines. I've mentioned this before; projects we did through them were so quiet we were wondering if the stylus handn't set down on the LP of if the phono section wasn't selected on the preamp. Until the music erupted from the speakers.

Most decent turntables are so quiet these days their rumble is a non-issue.
I am not talking about noise or rumble. At all. That and even what is on the LP is not relevant to this inherent limitation of record players.

I am pointing out that the low frequency capability of phono cartridge/arm systems as a transducer are inherently limited by the simple dynamics of how they work - whether the disc has noise on it or not, whether the turntable has rumble or not even whether the LP has accurate bass cut on it.

Because of the way they work they start producing a reasonable accurate reproduction of what is in the groove from around 2x the natural frequency of the arm/cartridge mass on the cartridge compliance. That is a simple physical inevitability. Lower than that that the cartridge body is moving too much relative to the disc for its output to be acceptably accurate.

2x the arm/cartridge resonance frequency is a reasonable approximation to the frequency where the cartridge body becomes acceptably close to stationary relative to the record and the sensing elements start producing a signal which is an acceptably accurate analogue of the groove wiggle.

One could argue a bit whether 2x is good enough or not but for me it is OK for most cartridge designs. By 4x it is as accurate as the transducer linearity allows.

There is nothing that can be done to resolve this fact, which I have been familiar with for almost 50 years, as were all other people involved in record player design when it was mainstream and had to be well enough engineered to work acceptably well at an affordable price.
 

MattHooper

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really? i can think of many electronic albums in my collection where the bass is better on digital
massive attack vs mad professor, no protection
the orb, no sounds are out of bounds
labradford, a stable reference (shit basically their entire catalog lol their vinyl is not very good)
tele:Funken/Flying Saucer Attack, distant station
etc

Yes, for me. I'm certainly not saying others wouldn't find differences. Maybe the differences would be more obvious in your set up (do you use subwoofers?). I got rid of my subs a while back because I didn't find they added much meaningful, and added hassle. FWIW, both my main floor standing speakers are rated down to 35Hz +/- 2.5 dB, though probably a bit lower in room. I find this to be all the bass I want/need at this time. The upshot is that I never feel lacking for bass depth or punch with vinyl vs digital. In fact I've been re-buying a bunch of my 90's electronica on vinyl and often prefer the vinyl - which sounds to me about as punchy, but adds a bit more vividness and texture that I really enjoy. There's more of a sense of texture and body, a bit more coporeal, so the crazy sounds darting around from, say, Sun Electric albums, feel more vivid. IMO...not saying you'd feel the same way.

Another example comes to mind: I have the re-release of one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, Star Trek by Jerry Goldsmith. It was re-mastered and re-released around 2017 on both double CD and double vinyl. I got both. I've listened to the CD version a billions times and love it. I threw on the vinyl version as I do occaisionally and was just blown away. The vividness, the way it felt like seeing through the big acoustic to the textures of the string sections etc, was amazing. And it sounded massive and deep and rich. With my eyes closed the sensation of a solid orchestra (from a distance) was amazing, and the floor rumbled with the bass. Wasn't lacking for a moment compared to the CD version.
 
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Frank Dernie

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which sounds to me about as punchy, but adds a bit more vividness and texture that I really enjoy. There's more of a sense of texture and body, a bit more coporeal,
Mechanical and acoustic environmental pickup probably ;)

That is what I lost when I moved my turntable out of the listening room to avoid such possibilities. I preferred it with the added “reverb” and put my TT back in the listening room.
It was around 40 years ago when I moved into a bigger house that allowed me to do it - I had been dying to do it since I measured how much environmental pickup TTs had when working in R&D at Garrard.

Big disappointment but a lesson too.
 

MattHooper

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Mechanical and acoustic environmental pickup probably ;)

That is what I lost when I moved my turntable out of the listening room to avoid such possibilities. I preferred it with the added “reverb” and put my TT back in the listening room.
It was around 40 years ago when I moved into a bigger house that allowed me to do it - I had been dying to do it since I measured how much environmental pickup TTs had when working in R&D at Garrard.

Big disappointment but a lesson too.

Thanks Frank.

I also experience this when I experimented with decoupling my speakers from the floor - e.g. with spring-based footers. As I wrote in another thread, with the speakers sitting right on my sprung-wood floor (no spikes) I could easily feel the floor vibrating along with the bass coming from the speakers. With the speakers on springs...zero detectable vibration from the floor. And I'd feel no vibration like I usually do with my feet up on my ottoman or coming through my sofa seat.
So it had a sort of "detached" quality from the room. When I removed the spring footers it had two main subjective effects: one that I could feel the bass more, but also the sound just seemed to have more solidity, more the sense of solid objects creating the sound. Just my hunch that this is one way my brain interpreted the physically-felt vibrations "connecting" me to the sound without the spring footers.

I've seen measurements showing reduced distortion/resonance with spring footers under speakers. The above could be another example of distortion (added by the floor vibrations) adding something pleasurable...even more believable...to the sound. Similar to how I find the slight distortions in vinyl add a sense of texture and solidity. (At least, that's how my brain interprets it).
 

sonitus mirus

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With the presence of inner-groove distortion on albums, I wonder if AC/DC's "Back in Black", with the quiet cymbal intro into the loud heavy bass section would have had the same impact if it was the last song on side B instead of the first?
 

atmasphere

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With the presence of inner-groove distortion on albums, I wonder if AC/DC's "Back in Black", with the quiet cymbal intro into the loud heavy bass section would have had the same impact if it was the last song on side B instead of the first?
Inner groove distortion is only a function of problematic tonearm/cartridge setup. Its not a thing otherwise. The LP's biggest problem is the performance is in the hands of the user; usually not the case with digital.
 

sonitus mirus

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Inner groove distortion is only a function of problematic tonearm/cartridge setup. Its not a thing otherwise. The LP's biggest problem is the performance is in the hands of the user; usually not the case with digital.
It is not as much the technical abilities of the better gear, but the way vinyl is mastered with the notion that less dynamic music is typically pushed closer to the center, when possible. At least it was probably an issue back when this particular album was released and may have contributed for it being a song on the outer section.
 

atmasphere

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It is not as much the technical abilities of the better gear, but the way vinyl is mastered with the notion that less dynamic music is typically pushed closer to the center, when possible. At least it was probably an issue back when this particular album was released and may have contributed for it being a song on the outer section.
I've seen an awful lot of LPs that ended with some pretty heavy modulation. Even in the old days when terrible cartridges were the only game in town the labels apparently paid no attention to this issue. They don't really pay attention to how well the end user can set up their equipment ;)
 

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Then there's the issue that, no matter how great you get your tracking, you remain at the mercy of how centered the hole was in the manufacturing, so you can still get warble.
 

Frank Dernie

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Inner groove distortion is only a function of problematic tonearm/cartridge setup
With a pivoted arm you can alter where the maxima and zero geometric distortion is on the disc radius but not set it up to have zero everywhere.
With a parallel tracker the tracking distortion can be zero everywhere but except Rabco and Goldmund types the lateral effective mass is so high the bass inaccuracy minimum frequency is higher so no free lunch.
Dereneville are making an arm which solves both problems at a price.

It is true record players are very sensitive to setup but you are misinformed if you think all inaccuracies are due to setup errors.
Some are inherent and it isn’t just geometric distortion and accurate bass either ;)

Having written all that I have 4 turntables and still find the difference in SQ between them and CD is not as big in general than the difference in SQ of the recording itself.
 

atmasphere

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It is true record players are very sensitive to setup but you are misinformed if you think all inaccuracies are due to setup errors.
Some are inherent and it isn’t just geometric distortion and accurate bass either ;)
I ran a modified Rabco for about 10 years. I modified it by using carbon fiber... and a proper servo so the darn thing would work. But it had myriad other problems.

I ran a LP mastering operation for a while, after spending nearly 20 years restoring the lathe and cutter system. During that time, a lot of misconceptions I had about 'inherent' problems with the media died an ugly death. Its a lot quieter, a lot lower in distortion and wider bandwidth than many people take it for. Most of the denigration it gets comes from people that have never had an LP system set up properly. IMO/IME that's also its major weakness- so much depends on the users ability to set it up.

These days I run a Triplanar arm and have yet to see anything to cause it to mistrack. Serendipitously about 35 years ago I discovered that the phono section played an enormous role in the creation (or not) of ticks and pops. These days when I do audio shows I'm often asked if the playback is digital because there's no ticks or pops and no distortion even with walloping bass (I like electronia...). One of the lessons the Triplanar taught me is the cartridge is almost insignificant in the resulting performance, as long as the arm is able to get it to track properly.

Oddly, a lot of anecdote gets applied when the LP is denigrated, rather than fact, and often made-up stories propagate without measurements to back them up, or measurements done so poorly they don't fall in the perview of 'science'.

Its very likely I'm over-reacting to your comment- perhaps reading more into it than was there. I'm not arguing that digital isn't better BTW, but when people criticize the LP, its a good idea IMO to actually do so in a factual manner.
 

pablolie

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Just thinking this topic is very interesting to read (even though I have zero interest in reviving my personal vinyl experience), however it seems to have little to do with the original premise of "Vinyl will always sound *different* than digital, right?" and seems to have turned into "how to overcome some limitations of vinyl" or "recordings in which I can't tell a difference"... :)

But what's cool about this topic is that there aren't outbreaks of "X is *better*" with either pseudo-science or complete ritual preference as support point, and no one disputes the fundamental physics. That's encouraging! :)
 
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