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

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DrTebi

DrTebi

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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.

Thanks for your interesting comment. This was not really what I wanted to get into though...
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.
This responds more to what I was asking about... and maybe I could have found the answer in previous posts, but a brief search revealed mostly the typical talk about why digital is better than vinyl etc.

Of course technically digital can go much further, but it is also about the whole mastering process...
Some of my vinyl may sound technically worse than what I hear on e.g. Tidal HiFi, but I still like that vinyl recording better. In other words, whoever mastered the vinyl did something that my ears prefer over what the digital mastering engineer did.

It's kind of like when someone dials in the bass and treble on an amplifier and tells you this sounds the best, but you prefer it dialed in differently... it's purely subjective.

That's all I am saying.

Best solution is maybe to just get a hold of all those master tapes and do my own digital mastering :)
There is no big 'truth' being revealed here, it's all well known. Yet another 'vinyl and why some like it' thread.
Well I really don't think everybody quite understands this. Most often I only read comments about why the digital format is better (dynamic range blablabla), but people seldomly mention that the whole mastering process for vinyl vs. digital is completely different and can have a huge impact on the final sound.
 

pablolie

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... people seldomly mention that the whole mastering process for vinyl vs. digital is completely different and can have a huge impact on the final sound.
It matters little how the original is mastered if you restrict it to 60-70db. You may like it. I got into audio when there was no alternative to vinyl, and hated the inherent noise level as well as the inevitable deterioration of the medium.

Mastering is a limitation mostly for digital. An important one because the vast majority of recordings suck.

But note pretty much every album these days is recorded and initially mastered digitally *then* printed on vinyl for those high paying consumers. IMO you're better off getting the 256k MP3 than the vinyl version. :)
 

Robin L

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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.
Couldn't help but mention a touch of peak warp wow to complete the vinyl experience.
 

VMAT4

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On this topic, has anyone here had the chance to compare a Direct to Disk record with the CD release of the same performance?
Say some of the Sheffield Labs releases?
 
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DrTebi

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Oh please God lets not have yet another vinyl v digital thread.

We've got enough already. I promise you this will also devolve into the same boring pointless argument.
Please read the original post carefully and you may realize it is not meant to be yet another vinyl vs digital thread. Nothing "vs" at all.
 

DSJR

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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 Vinyl rip uses a Rega Exact - look it up, it measures horribly!
 

deniall83

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I have several records which I also have on CD. If the record is digitally sourced then the differences are almost nothing apart from some slight surface noise or the odd tick and pop. You can vastly improve the latter with a good microline stylus. I buy records because I enjoy the format and occasionally I'll buy a nice AAA pressing if I really love the album. Usually the mastering is different in this case, so it would sound different to the CD.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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The Vinyl rip uses a Rega Exact - look it up, it measures horribly!
As do most things in the audiophile world these days… The issues I hear in those like the surface noise and reduced channel separation in the mix are inherent to vinyl itself. Maybe the loss in low level detail could be attributed to the slight attenuation out top from the cartridge response, but its substantial from listening to some rips, like 20-25 dB down and the bottom just falls out. I believe these are limitations of the format.

I mean I could go dig out one of my old turn tables collecting dust and peruse my late fathers record collection, but the one reason new vinyl is any good is because of audiophiles and their demand for something better. I would think a lot of the older commercial pressings would not sound quite as good, esp. for older non-remastered recordings. He also was an early adopter of CD and many of those from the 80’s sound terrible by todays standards when I play them, for a variety of reasons. These rips just run circles around them by comparison, and are quite useable. Maybe a good measuring turn table could help a bit, but I don’t think these issues stem from that.
 

solderdude

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Some of my vinyl may sound technically worse than what I hear on e.g. Tidal HiFi, but I still like that vinyl recording better. In other words, whoever mastered the vinyl did something that my ears prefer over what the digital mastering engineer did.

Alas, one cannot say it was the mastering that was 'more musical' as what is reproduced from the once altered (to ensure needle jumps and impossible to cut impulses, cut, stamped and reproduced sound is not only changed by the mastering but by the entire cutting and reproduction chain.

You can only compare the mastering when a studio has made 2 separate masters, which most don't.
One master for vinyl and one master for digital (not downsampled and downsampled to CD format maybe) and releases both of these different masters in digital format so one can listen to the difference.

Here is something you might have missed about vinyl and you should really watch. It clears up some of the things you want/need to know.

When this isn't done you can not be sure the mastering is different just that the alterations that have to be done to allow cutting a disc that can actually be played and you are 100% certain and verified the playback chain, which means FR cartridge, the correct load of that cartridge and correct RIAA correction are all within 0.2dB between 10Hz and 21kHz and know what changes have been made by the cutting lathe (its 'corrections').

Technically speaking vinyl is in no way 'better' (not a single aspect) though so whatever way one wants to twist it vinyl IS not better than a digital reproduction chain.

That said it is totally fine to prefer a certain sound (technically alteration/coloration).
The vast majority of people do like a certain presentation, only a very small portion of listeners are 'signal purists' and a large number of those may well be ASR members.
 
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charleski

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The word you're looking for is WORSE, not DIFFERENT.
Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case, which is a crying shame.
There are far too many examples of digital masters that have been irredeemably ruined by incompetent engineers pushing them into hard clipping. If you master vinyl too hot then the needle jumps out of the groove and people return the record because it can’t be played.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case, which is a crying shame.
There are far too many examples of digital masters that have been irredeemably ruined by incompetent engineers pushing them into hard clipping. If you master vinyl too hot then the needle jumps out of the groove and people return the record because it can’t be played.
I think we could achieve the same result with digital by having electrified keyboards at the mixing console :) But that is something that can be easily solved by having competent engineers doing the mix. The downside to vinyl is there are quite a few limitations that are set in stone by the medium itself, and something one has to accept and work around. Maybe some people would say that is a good thing, but I hate giving up things because people aren't competent enough to do their jobs properly.
 

tonycollinet

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Please read the original post carefully and you may realize it is not meant to be yet another vinyl vs digital thread. Nothing "vs" at all.
That is exactly what it will become. It is already a long way down that road, with the same tired old arguments being rolled out.
 
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Cars-N-Cans

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Of course technically digital can go much further, but it is also about the whole mastering process...
Some of my vinyl may sound technically worse than what I hear on e.g. Tidal HiFi, but I still like that vinyl recording better. In other words, whoever mastered the vinyl did something that my ears prefer over what the digital mastering engineer did.
I think at that point we are outside of the actual discussion of vinyl, as there are likely differing engineers involved with each respective mix, and you likely prefer one engineer's work over the other. As has been stated there are substantial limitations to mixing on vinyl, so stupid people need not apply if we want records that play well. Edit: It likely goes beyond that that as there are likely differing demographics of customers being targeted by the respective label when the record is being mixed. Would be an interesting discussion to have as to why engineers choose one type of sound over another for a specific medium. But as for the medium itself the only real differences I hear from similar mixes are down to the limitations of the vinyl itself.
 
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Sal1950

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Oh no, not yet another vinyl vs digital thread.
Mod's PLEASE just kill this one.
Must we have another 10k posts to find the same answer?
LP's are a 50 year obsolete, distorted media compared to digital.
PERIOD
LOCK THIS BS
 

tonycollinet

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Oh no, not yet another vinyl vs digital thread.
Mod's PLEASE just kill this one.
Must we have another 10k posts to find the same answer?
LP's are a 50 year obsolete, distorted media compared to digital.
PERIOD
LOCK THIS BS
BOOM!
 

Frank Dernie

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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?
I think what you write is true.
There is no doubt the SQ potential of LP is lower than that of CD and lots of teaks were usually used between original recording and cutter head to ameliorate the shortcomings and their audibility.
Having accepted that the reality is that some of the tweaks were to promulgate a "house sound" too.

I also think the apparent "freedom" given by multi channel 24-bit recorders and multi-microphone systems has resulted in some recordings being slapdash, assuming the mixing stage is the important part and the hard won skills needed back in the day with limited numbers of microphones and 12-bit equivalent recording systems to get levels and microphone positions spot on.

So as ever, the recording itself and how expertly it has been made and mixed makes more difference to SQ than the medium.

Ironically LPs have more distortion and less dynamic range capability than CD but since most LPs are listened to at home (not many portable or car LP players about these days) using all the dynamic range they can cope with is of benefit.
Most CDs come as digital files, mostly listened to in noisy environments on portables or in cars, so the super dynamic range CD is capable of is pretty well never exploited issuing recordoings :( it would be much better for we enthusiasts enjoying music at home on good quality equipment but useless on a bus or in a car or tiny "smart" speakers 90% of the market for music listen on.
 

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I heard people saying their setup can reproduce vinyl to be indistinguishable from CDs. I never found one single record that sounded the same as digital.

But you're right to say you can make CD sound exactly like a record. It is possible to record the entire sound emanating from a record onto a CD and if a system is neutral, the playback will sound just like a record.

My personal beef is that I don't hear only pop and crackle. Fast switching between two sources playing the same material, one from records and one from digital files, reveal some other sound features that sound clearly worse. (I won't go into poetic descriptors of what I hear, it'll get us nowhere. Let's just say it is undesirable noise.)

I really gave it a lot of effort. I went on to listen to a lot of systems ranging from vintage, cheap, thrift store finds all the way to what is considered state of the art turntables (all the Jelco, SME, carbon tonearms, cartridges with exotic materials, some costing enough to decorate my flat, let me not bore you with pre-amps and amps).

I've been brought to listening sessions where I was told I'll hear records sounding like CDs. Thing is, they did. They really did sound like CDs. Aaaaaaaaaall the way until you played the same material on a CD and switched among the two. Then they didn't. They really didn't.

Just bear in mind people can really like these distinctive features in sound.

BUT (and it's a big but, a huuuge but, a Kardashian but), liking different sounds has nothing to do with it. It is all based on a fair assessment of how much can that which comes out, resemble what went in. That's what the superiority is based upon if you're in the business of capturing something and reproducing it.
 

killdozzer

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but people seldomly mention that the whole mastering process for vinyl vs. digital is completely different and can have a huge impact on the final sound.
Oh no. You can't really say this. My bet is that there is not one single thread about this subject that didn't also touch the mastering. You're starting to show you haven't read vinyl threads closely.
 
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