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

atmasphere

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Yes, This maniac-compression in CD and also in streaming is very bad for sound quality when listening in a quite place at home. As you say, this compression makes it sometimes easier to listen in a car.
+1!!
 

RCAguy

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Arguments for & agin' "Vinyl" and "digital" are like comparing apples to oranges, and decades apart in era. Analog and digital recordings sound different especially because of their different distortion mechanisms. Digital's artifacts are minimal if even audible using 24bit 88.1+kSa/s sampling for pristine capture and transparency, and should remain so for most acoustic music (classical, jazz) to sound good on fine replay systems. However mastering and distribution of pop music played on low quality systems typically entails abusive level compression and intentional clipping.

Vinyl was the most hi-fidelity distribution in its day (1953~80), and will be for a while the archive of most of the 140yr of recorded history, sourcing much digital distribution from that archive. Excluding the artifacts of two tape generations if not direct-to-disk, most vinyl distortion is a function of replay errors due to stylus shape, several forms of misalignment, cantilever-tonearm resonance, skating, poor frequency\phase response due to improper cartridge loading and inaccurate RIAA, etc. If users\installers optimized these effects to the degree mastering engineers did, then vinyl replay still qualifies as "high-fidelity."

The best vinyl can be is already waiting in the groove, to be cleaned, scanned with the best stylus, tracked with an aligned tonearm, then properly amplified. Unlike digital reproduction that is largely self-obsoleting and disposable, the phonograph was and is made to last and able to be maintained. Unlike digital, with "nothing serviceable inside," users are invited inside their turntables to make better sound, with the help of a good reference, with two inexpensive maker projects for an accurate RIAA preamp with controls missing on nearly all off-the-shelf, and a low distortion transcription-length tonearm. Or just to know the science of the phonograph.

RM-PhonoBk2ndEd_CoverPersp_221104trunc2.jpg
 
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atmasphere

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@RCAguy +1 IME the only time LPs and digital sound alike is when they share the same source and when the setup is really right. I include proper phono preamp/equalizer as part of 'setup'; I've found that the phono preamp can contribute to ticks and pops if it has poor HF overload margins. This is due to the electrical resonance between the inductance of the cartridge and the capacitance of the tonearm cable (plus capacitance of the phono preamp input). Once that is sorted out (which often means replacing the phono section and all too many designers were/are ignorant or chose to ignore this issue) then I find the LP surface to be free of ticks and pops and am very used to hearing complete album sides with none. As far as I can make out, this design problem is endemic, so most people have never heard a phono section that has proper overload margins. That peak I mentioned can be 20dB over the cartridge output if MM and as much as 30dB(!) over a LOMC cartridge output (the peak being higher 'Q' on account of the higher 'Q' of the cartridge inductance). So when I mention HF overload margin, the phono section has to be quite robust in this regard!
 

RCAguy

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@RCAguy ...I've found that the phono preamp can contribute to ticks and pops if it has poor HF overload margins. This is due to the electrical resonance between the inductance of the cartridge and the capacitance of the tonearm cable (plus capacitance of the phono preamp input)....This design problem is endemic...
All quite true, so I've devoted much in the book to cartridge capacitive loading and preamp accuracy. For example, the maker instructions for an RIAA preamp ($35 in readily available parts, plus power supply and enclosure, if needed) provide comprehensive capacitive load (C-load) selection, adequate headroom, and even cartridge channel sensitivity balancing needed for best stereo soundstage and cancellation of vertical artifacts in mono, plus proper mono mixing. Combined with C-loading, it's frequency response will not accentuate groove clicks & pops, as the unmodified PCB does. This project plus the tonearm one and avoiding buying the wrong shape stylus would save the book's price many times over.
 

Jflijohn

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I’m 61 and listen to 80% digital, at least at CD quality on Qobuz (some as high as 192 kHz/ 24 Bit). I also just spent $10,000 on vinyl (turntables, cartridges, phono preamp etc).
I understand completely the difference between digital and vinyl. Between Engineers selecting track order based on inner grove velocity and outer grove velocity to having to calibrate the X,Y and Z planes not to mention the different sounds emanating from every cartridge imaginable, and how archaic is the whole lathe/ pressing process. The thing that amazes me most is that this even works at all, that’s a miracle in itself.
Anyone who says this is a more accurate media is not based in science or technology.

However, if like me, you enjoy the aesthetics and distortion (yes, we also know why it sounds warm…) then no one can fault you because the other half of the ”art” is subjective. It would be like clarifying and sharpening Impression, Sunrise by Monet.
 

Jflijohn

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And while you are at it, can you color correct the image? I don't think Claude got it quite right.
It’s funny that you say that because I have actually taken photos of original Monet in the Musée d’Orsay and corrected them for sharpness, brightness and coloration. The process was not well received by my family.
 

RCAguy

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VINYL "SOUNDS" DIFFERENT THAN DIGITAL. Sounds can be either a subjective preference, or the result(s) of objective causes. Distortion "colors" any close-to-original undistorted sound. Distortion is typically higher for vinyl replay than for digital, unless poorly recorded. Intermodulation distortion typically accompanies harmonic distortion, where especially IM's lower sidebands that create gong-like artifacts join harmonic artifacts still within the audible range. So-called "audiophiles" often condition themselves to brighter "euphonious" distortion - whether artifacts of vinyl replay or tube amplifiers or certain loudspeakers - and then perceive clean (undistorted) reproduction as "too clinical."

Vinyl distortion is a combination of dominantly odd-order HD from two generations of magnetic tape, plus predominantly even-order distortion owing to vinyl replay using blunt (e.g. spherical or fat elliptical) slyli that cannot fit groove undulations cut by a chisel shape. Reduce both the added harmonic and intermodulation artifacts of vinyl replay by using sharper ellipticals or line-contact tips. Styli are the most critical component of vinyl replay, followed by tonearm alignment, including optimizing resonance below audibility.

Arguments about whether analog or digital is "better" are silly, as either may represent the best individual recording available in the era it was made. Much in digital distribution was sourced by ingesting from a record. And too much digital content is over-processed for lowest quality replay gear, but sounding awful on a quality system. Attend to either setup, and both can be enjoyed.
 
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levimax

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@RCAguy +1 IME the only time LPs and digital sound alike is when they share the same source and when the setup is really right. I include proper phono preamp/equalizer as part of 'setup'; I've found that the phono preamp can contribute to ticks and pops if it has poor HF overload margins. This is due to the electrical resonance between the inductance of the cartridge and the capacitance of the tonearm cable (plus capacitance of the phono preamp input). Once that is sorted out (which often means replacing the phono section and all too many designers were/are ignorant or chose to ignore this issue) then I find the LP surface to be free of ticks and pops and am very used to hearing complete album sides with none. As far as I can make out, this design problem is endemic, so most people have never heard a phono section that has proper overload margins. That peak I mentioned can be 20dB over the cartridge output if MM and as much as 30dB(!) over a LOMC cartridge output (the peak being higher 'Q' on account of the higher 'Q' of the cartridge inductance). So when I mention HF overload margin, the phono section has to be quite robust in this regard!
I have heard this for years but if you could point me to some literature I would be interested in reading up on this. I have been capturing the pops on my very worst damaged records and have yet to find one where the "pop" is more than about 6 dB louder than peak of the music and that level does not seem to cause any trouble. You also mention that HF overload is the issue, so does that mean that the HF overload gets pushed down into lower frequencies? If so how does this work? Maybe because I am using a ADC that can capture at 24 bits overload is not an issue but I am just not seeing anything approaching needing 20 or 30 dB of headroom. Thanks
 

Jflijohn

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VINYL "SOUNDS" DIFFERENT THAN DIGITAL. Sounds can be either a subjective preference, or the result(s) of objective causes. Distortion "colors" any close-to-original undistorted sound. Distortion is typically higher for vinyl replay than for digital, unless poorly recorded. Intermodulation distortion typically accompanies harmonic distortion, where especially IM's lower sidebands that create gong-like artifacts join harmonic artifacts still within the audible range. So-called "audiophiles" often condition themselves to brighter "euphonious" distortion - whether artifacts of vinyl replay or tube amplifiers or certain loudspeakers - and then perceive clean (undistorted) reproduction as "too clinical."

Vinyl distortion is a combination of dominantly odd-order HD from two generations of magnetic tape, plus predominantly even-order distortion owing to vinyl replay using blunt (e.g. spherical or fat elliptical) slyli that cannot fit groove undulations cut by a chisel shape. Reduce both the added harmonic and intermodulation artifacts of vinyl replay by using sharper ellipticals or line-contact tips. Styli are the most critical component of vinyl replay, followed by tonearm alignment, including optimizing resonance below audibility.

Arguments about whether analog or digital is "better" are silly, as either may represent the best individual recording available in the era it was made. Much in digital distribution was sourced by ingesting from a record. And too much digital content is over-processed for lowest quality replay gear, but sounding awful on a quality system. Attend to either setup, and both can be enjoyed.
Well stated (and I just bought your book on line).
I read an interesting article on harmonics of various musical instruments. Although each musical note has a fundamental frequency, each instrument adds different harmonics at various amplitudes specific for each instrument. As you begin to strip away those harmonics beginning at the upper end, you lose the ability to distinguish the instrument although the fundamental note stays the same. Harmonics play an amazing role in our chosen hobby.
In my profession I used harmonics to define mechanical failures in equipment. I could tell you severity of damage, whether a bearing had inner race or outer race damage and how many balls were damaged and how long the bearing would last just based on amplitudes of various harmonics on an FFT.
 
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atmasphere

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I have heard this for years but if you could point me to some literature I would be interested in reading up on this. I have been capturing the pops on my very worst damaged records and have yet to find one where the "pop" is more than about 6 dB louder than peak of the music and that level does not seem to cause any trouble. You also mention that HF overload is the issue, so does that mean that the HF overload gets pushed down into lower frequencies? If so how does this work? Maybe because I am using a ADC that can capture at 24 bits overload is not an issue but I am just not seeing anything approaching needing 20 or 30 dB of headroom. Thanks
I've not seen much literature on this. But I've been designing phono sections for about 40 years.

The reason you need that much headroom has to do with the electrical resonance that occurs between the cartridge and the tonearm interconnect cable; an inductance in parallel with a capacitance. With cartridges whose inductance has a low Q value (usually high output MM cartridges), the peak might only be 20dB but with cartridges that have a high Q value (LOMC) the peak can be as much as 30 dB. If that peak goes into excitation for whatever reason (and the audio energy can cause it to do that) when its active it can overload the phono section.

Take a look at this link http://www.hagtech.com/loading.html

If the designer of the phono section took this phenomena into account you likely will not run into additional ticks and pops. If they got it sorted with LOMC cartridges loading will not cause any difference in SQ; but as you can see from the link with high output MM cartridges proper loading is really important since it can affect brightness like a very high frequency tone control!
 

Sal1950

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However, if like me, you enjoy the aesthetics and distortion (yes, we also know why it sounds warm…) then no one can fault you because the other half of the ”art” is subjective. It would be like clarifying and sharpening Impression, Sunrise by Monet.
Great post, enjoy your newest gear.
It always feels good to get new stuff with which to pursue our passion for music.
 

Snarfie

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One of the reason i changed early 90ties from vinyl to cd's is the complete silence on for instance Ahmad Jamal - Rossiter Road the delicate sounds whispers etc etc for the first time totally clear a mind blowing experience. Gave away all my vinyl records Never looked back again.

 
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RCAguy

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I have heard this for years but if you could point me to some literature I would be interested in reading up on this. I have been capturing the pops on my very worst damaged records and have yet to find one where the "pop" is more than about 6 dB louder than peak of the music and that level does not seem to cause any trouble. You also mention that HF overload is the issue, so does that mean that the HF overload gets pushed down into lower frequencies? If so how does this work? Maybe because I am using a ADC that can capture at 24 bits overload is not an issue but I am just not seeing anything approaching needing 20 or 30 dB of headroom. Thanks
Clicks\pops can definitely be exacerbated by phono preamp clipping, but that happens well past the cartridge\preamp input's loading, that sets a HF resonance for RIAA. Clipping is a function of the preamp's signal levels after gain is applied. The solution is to design for gain with levels well above average signal by 20~30dB. An example is the DIY maker project in my Phonograph book, which is a veritable Master Class in turntable\vinyl reproduction, especially in that it considers the distortion-producing aspects of tonearm alignment and the tip shape of the stylus, which is the most critical component of a turntable system.
 

RCAguy

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One of the reason i changed early 90ties from vinyl to cd's is the complete silence on for instance Ahmad Jamal - Rossiter Road the delicate sounds whispers etc etc for the first time totally clear a mind blowing experience. Gave away all my vinyl records Never looked back again.

I too left vinyl for CDs, but soon discovered not every worthy recording has been transferred to digital - that's a total of 140 years of recorded history on vinyl and shellac. We "hear" music through the artifacts. I've said that well recorded digital is superior to grooved recording, but then there's the "romance" of placing a rock in a rut to hear sound.
 

RCAguy

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I've not seen much literature on this. But I've been designing phono sections for about 40 years.

The reason you need that much headroom has to do with the electrical resonance that occurs between the cartridge and the tonearm interconnect cable; an inductance in parallel with a capacitance. With cartridges whose inductance has a low Q value (usually high output MM cartridges), the peak might only be 20dB but with cartridges that have a high Q value (LOMC) the peak can be as much as 30 dB. If that peak goes into excitation for whatever reason (and the audio energy can cause it to do that) when its active it can overload the phono section.

Take a look at this link http://www.hagtech.com/loading.html

If the designer of the phono section took this phenomena into account you likely will not run into additional ticks and pops. If they got it sorted with LOMC cartridges loading will not cause any difference in SQ; but as you can see from the link with high output MM cartridges proper loading is really important since it can affect brightness like a very high frequency tone control!
Clicks\pops can definitely be exacerbated by phono preamp clipping, but that happens well past the cartridge\preamp input's loading, that sets a HF resonance for RIAA. Clipping is a function of the preamp's signal levels after gain is applied. The solution is to design for gain with levels well above average signal by 20~30dB, as in my preamp designs.
 

levimax

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The solution is to design for gain with levels well above average signal by 20~30dB.
OK when I heard the term "headroom" I assumed it was 20 to 30 dB above "music peak" levels which seemed like a lot. From what I have seen from actual captures of damaged records 20 to 30 dB above average levels makes sense. The other thing I am not sure how to think about is how RIAA affects overload issues. Since I am capturing the signal from the record without RIAA applied with an ADC and then doing RIAA digitally I think that is a much "easier" task than designing an analog phono pre-amp that adds large amounts of gain and RIAA EQ with 20 dB of headroom and behaves well under a wide range of input signals.
 

Sal1950

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I too left vinyl for CDs, but soon discovered not every worthy recording has been transferred to digital - that's a total of 140 years of recorded history on vinyl and shellac.
In my 40 years of CD's I've never found a recording I wanted to hear that wasn't available on digital.
So much music, so little time. ;)
 
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