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

Mart68

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I'm no expert, but Isn't it because you can't fit a loudness war-ed album onto vinyl due to the groove spacing?
Yes, but I am wondering if the difference in dynamic range between the vinyl and digital version is actually noticeable.

Vinyl does not have a good dynamic range to start with and if the artist/label requests the digital release be heavily compressed they will also want the vinyl version to be as compressed as it possibly can be. In reality how much difference will there be in DR between the two? Enough for anyone to care?
 

tonycollinet

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Dynamic range of vinyl exceeds that of most music. It massively exceeds the dynamic range of heavily compressed music. Given that people can clearly hear when music is heavily compressed, I'm gonna guess they can also hear when it is not.

Further - the point of compression isn't to reduce dynamic range, it is to increase average loudness. You can't do this on vinyl (IIUIC) because then you cannot fit the music onto the disc - so the "as much as it possibly can be" is more or less, "not at all".

Plus - it doesn't matter. The point of the loudness is to grab listeners attention and make the music sound (superficially) better - typically on the radio - and increase sales. No-one is playing vinyl on the radio, so the loudness of vinyl is irrelevant.
 
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Mart68

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Dynamic range of vinyl exceeds that of most music. It massively exceeds the dynamic range of heavily compressed music. Given that people can clearly hear when music is heavily compressed, I'm gonna guess they can also hear when it is not.
My point was that if you take a recording where the artist/label has specified heavy compression it will be for both the vinyl and digital release.

The vinyl version will also be compressed as much as it can be. Now if it wasn't, and it was instead mastered to use the full dynamic range of vinyl then I agree there would be a noticeable difference.
 

tonycollinet

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My point was that if you take a recording where the artist/label has specified heavy compression it will be for both the vinyl and digital release.

The vinyl version will also be compressed as much as it can be. Now if it wasn't, and it was instead mastered to use the full dynamic range of vinyl then I agree there would be a noticeable difference.
I don't believe it will. Vinyl requires separate mastering from digital. You cannot apply the compression to it that is currently being applied to some digital music. As I said "as much as it can be" = "not very much at all"
 

Mart68

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I don't believe it will. Vinyl requires separate mastering from digital. You cannot apply the compression to it that is currently being applied to some digital music. As I said "as much as it can be" = "not very much at all"
That is the part I am wondering about. How much compression can be applied to vinyl as., say. a percentage of that which can be used for digital? Ten percent? More?
 

krabapple

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The problem with transferring music from analog to digital/cd is the analog master is mostly a Vinyl Master build around the Vinyl limitations. When you use that master for digital/cd purpos you by pass the digital possibilities. Thats why Steven Wilson is looking for the original master.

Steven Wilson does remixes for releases of other band's music. He works from (digital copies of) multitrack master tapes that are supplied to him. Whether a digital version of the original stereo master is included in a release is not his decision to make.
 

krabapple

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True but irrelevant.

What matters is the music. If I want to listen to a certain piece of music and the digital release of that music has been butchered by clipping (which is all too common), then the vinyl album, for all its imperfections, will be the superior choice. If clipping were limited to a handful of ‘bad examples’ then the issue would be of minor importance, but it’s not, and despite all the outcry over the loudness wars engineers keep producing mangled digital masters. It’s ‘bad faith rhetoric’ to pretend that this is not a continuing problem with digital releases.

'Clipping' is not the same as compression.

Clipping is what happens the digital signal actually exceeds maximum dBFS. (or, in hardware, when signal exceeds the capabilities of the hardware).

Applying limiting / compression to a signal so that the waveform has 'flat tops' is not the same as 'clipping'.
 

Eulipian

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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.

This is mostly so. I think there are other considerations though: (1) lots of unusual, historic, and oddball stuff from around the world is only found on vinyl, particularly early classical from less well known artists, world/folk music, and spoken word; (2) used vinyl is often less costly (though buyer beware); (3) it's easier for middle-aged and older nerds to read librettos and liner notes in larger format; (4) album art was a thing for awhile and some of it's still interesting. Of course, none of this has anything to do with fildelity.

As Rudy Van Gelder is quoted, "The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I've made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I'm glad to see the LP go. As far as I'm concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don't like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That's why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I'm not denying that they do, but don't blame the medium."

Vinyl was a way of getting good music into the hands of the masses of us who could enjoy something that sounded "pretty good" for not too much cost. I still enjoy it as a fun way to explore sounds I might not be able to find elsewhere and let the pops and clicks fall where they may. Of course, most of the truly "great" music I listen to from Bach to the Beatles is digital.
 

dfuller

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There are a couple of things that lend themselves to Vinyl sounding different.

1, the medium itself. Vinyl is as a whole remarkably nonlinear - both the vinyl records themselves and the pickup/preamp etc.
2, the mastering is usually different - vinyl has some pretty hard limitations. It can either have a lot of low end or relatively high loudness - not both. This on top of the limitations of the width of the groove.

The one exception to all this is that vinyl versions of some albums are less compressed - or at least less peak-limited - than digital versions. Sometimes this is because the vinyl gets a separate mastering altogether, and the vinyl mastering engineer wants to produce a more audiophile result and so doesn't ride the limiter as hard.
From what I understand it isn't so much that so much as it is "pressing a hot digital master onto vinyl is going to be a bad time for all involved" because the cutting lathe (or the repro stylus) will either a.) jump, b.) overheat, or c.) both.

That is the part I am wondering about. How much compression can be applied to vinyl as., say. a percentage of that which can be used for digital? Ten percent? More?
That's a good question; I think it would be worth looking at crest factor of a vinyl master vs a digital one. Let me do some digging...
 
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Cote Dazur

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As Rudy Van Gelder is quoted: "don't blame the medium."
Truer word were never spoken.
Is great sound available from LP, absolutly.
Does digital has a greater potential, absolutly.
Does digital aways sound better than vinyl, absolutly not.
Don't blame the medium, look for great recordings, enjoy what you have.
 

tonycollinet

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That is the part I am wondering about. How much compression can be applied to vinyl as., say. a percentage of that which can be used for digital? Ten percent? More?
Specifically - no idea. As I said, I am no expert. But again - it is not compression - compression is just a method to increase average loudness.

Obviously you can compress music as much as you like and record it to vinyl, but at a lower volume level. Compression however is not the objective.
 

Robin L

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That is the part I am wondering about. How much compression can be applied to vinyl as., say. a percentage of that which can be used for digital? Ten percent? More?
There's plenty of music that is born compressed. That sort of music will be excessively compressed irrespective of media. I've heard LPs of all-digital productions, also owned the CDs. They both had the same dynamics, subjectively speaking. Both recordings simply sounded worse as LPs. Those cases where there appears to be excessive compression as pure digital seem only slightly less compressed as an LP transfer. Those cases are arguably usually decisions at the production level. Any music where dynamics are genuinely important---like nearly all classical recordings---don't have this issue.
 

pablolie

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While the loudness wars are deplorable, the topic has zero to do with the measurable differences between vinyl and digital. Heavens, I do remember my Dad said reel-to-reel sounded much better than LPs and he did buy those (and measurements bear that out, my Dad owned a Tandberg).

A superbly engineered recording that truly exploits the benefits of digital would be completely wasted on vinyl, unless the ritual is what you like (and I completely respect that). Admittedly, probably only 2% of available releases are engineered to that standard.
 

tmtomh

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I'm no expert, but Isn't it because you can't fit a loudness war-ed album onto vinyl due to the groove spacing?

Basically, yes. Compression has been used in music/record production and mastering for 60 years or more (I think the first commercial compressor was created before WWII, but I have no idea if they were commonly used before the 1950s).

But the advent of digital peak limiting - "look ahead" limiters - allowed for hotter masterings to be made without going into audible "hard" clipping. So digital mastering got hotter, but the physical limitations of vinyl LPs did not change.
 

tmtomh

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You would have to quantify all of the distortion and noise mechanisms to make a truly accurate plug-in for it. It could certainly be done. The only real "euphonic" value to any sort of plug-in like that, however, will be how it alters the frequency response, like emulating the "warmth" with a faux tube-amp from the attenuation of higher frequencies. All of the various mechanisms with records just deteriorate the sound. Bit like lossy compression but with the digitally generated noise replaced with noise from the record itself. There are things available that emulate the random pops and ticks since its often heard in certain types of music as an effect, for example this one: https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/dustyScratchedVinylNoiseGenerator.php

I agree with you, and would only add one small point:

One distinctive aspect of vinyl playback is that cartridges are (as far as I know) always going to have limitations in how good their L-R crosstalk performance can be. And my understanding is further that their crosstalk deficit (relative to the original source) varies by frequency (increasing in the higher frequencies), and probably varies based on the source material, the groove spacing of the LP, the shape and condition of the stylus, and many other factors.

I have developed a personal conviction that this highly variable increase in crosstalk is part of the unique, euphonic vinyl sound (to be clear, I personally don't find it euphonic - I prefer digital media). Whether it is or not, it is almost certainly impossible to replicate in a digital plugin, precisely because it is so variable. One could approximate it of course, by taking measurements of several well-known or well-regarded cartridges playing a curated selection of tracks on well-regarded turntables. But I doubt it would ever behave like an actual cartridge playing a variety of LPs in someone's collection.
 
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Robin L

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Basically, yes. Compression has been used in music/record production and mastering for 60 years or more (I think the first commercial compressor was created before WWII, but I have no idea if they were commonly used before the 1950s).

But the advent of digital peak limiting - "look ahead" limiters - allowed for hotter masterings to be made without going into audible "hard" clipping. So digital mastering got hotter, but the physical limitations of vinyl LPs did not change.
Compression was used even earlier than that, in the form of gain riding. Compression via electronic means was not possible when recordings were acoustic, and gain riding has a different quality than an electronic compressor, but the problem of making recordings as intelligible as possible goes back to the beginning of recording. Often, that means compression.
 

BoredErica

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The distortions of vinyl that stick out the most for me are related to disc eccentricity---off-center and warped records. While a plug-in to replicate these effects is possible, why in heavens name would anybody want that?
Because if you can reproduce vinyl distortions digitally, there's no sonic reason to use vinyl, even if somebody says they enjoy it. Don't ask me, ask the people who think vinyl sounds better (outside of the ritual of playing vinyl etc etc). Those people can have the sound of vinyl without the inconvienience of it.

You've never heard of somebody who thinks vinyl sounds better/cool?
 

Robin L

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Because if you can reproduce vinyl distortions digitally, there's no sonic reason to use vinyl, even if somebody says they enjoy it. Don't ask me, ask the people who think vinyl sounds better (outside of the ritual of playing vinyl etc etc). Those people can have the sound of vinyl without the inconvienience of it.

You've never heard of somebody who thinks vinyl sounds better/cool?
Of course. There are also fans of the singer Meatloaf.
 
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