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

j_j

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But I think they can master vinyl to sound just like the digital remaster here, I don't think a high end vinyl setup is short on detail or clarity. Not hearing any distortions either.

It is physically impossible to put on LP what one can put on CD. This is physics, not opinion or hand waving. The discussion of the wisdom of that is an entirely different question.

Rather than picking fights, you should go back through this thread and read a number of discussions about "fidelity", euphonic distortions, recording LP on digital vs. the alternative, and so on, and catch up before this all starts over again from the beginning.
 

tmtomh

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I don't like seeing Bernie Grundman's good name dragged through the mud. Been watching some vids that he speaks in lately and he's quite the groovy guy, with an enormous amount of experience and knowledge to share. He's a mastering legend for good reason, and I believe he's a hero of audiophile classic rock and jazz. He has some not so nice things to say about digital though, and that may rub some people here the wrong way but still, he knows what he's doing and I love the records he's mastered.

Found some cool stuff today I'd like to share. It's one of Bernie's finest moments, the old Classic Records pressings of Zeppelin that are now fetching big bucks. I only have III on vinyl that I originally spent like 30 bucks on. But I found some rips today that might be illuminating, or not, who knows. I'm enjoying them very much and I prefer them to the HD remasters that I believe were supervised by Jimmy Page himself. They sound lean in comparison and I like my Zeppelin warm and fat. So here's a Pepsi challenge:

LP vs HD

Tried to volume match in Audacity. Two song clips, 2 different vinyl rippers so they'll have different sound signatures as well. They're pretty loud songs, just ones that I like. But I think you'll find both the old LP and the HD remaster to be high fidelity. I think the LP got the higher quality mastering here, and should demonstrate that vinyl has more than enough dynamic range to cover music like this. So is vinyl always warmer and fatter? I don't know, most of the time I guess. But I think they can master vinyl to sound just like the digital remaster here, I don't think a high end vinyl setup is short on detail or clarity. Not hearing any distortions either. But why would you want vinyl to sound like digital? That would defeat the whole purpose of it.

I prefer most of the 2014/15 Zep remasters to most of the Classic Records remasters, though the Classics are almost all excellent - and more importantly, I agree with the larger points you are making here.

Bernie Grundman is indeed a mastering legend for good reason: he's produced a ton of excellent masterings and remasterings, many of them the best out there, with very, very few "misses" or flawed masterings. That's what matters when we're talking about a mastering engineer.

Like many mastering engineers - and many producers, and many music artists - he has beliefs about the technology that are not borne out by the evidence, and that in some cases flatly contradict the basics of digital sampling theory and the science of human hearing, let alone specific experimental results. But like all good mastering engineers, producers, and music artists, he nevertheless produces excellent results in his area of specialization.

If we here at ASR are interested in trying to square that circle - "how can someone with such patently inaccurate beliefs about the science and technology he's using produce such great-sounding masterings?" - it's not difficult to do so. The likeliest explanation is that Grundman's preferences for analogue, for tubes, and so on do not make an audible difference and so regardless of his preferences or what difference he might think such choices make, the objective fact is that he has a great ear for music, makes wise mastering decisions, and his preferences in signal-chain hardware do not significantly change or degrade the sound quality along the way.

The second most likely explanation is that some of his signal-chain hardware choices do impact the sound audibly, but they contribute to rather than detracting from the effect he's after with his masterings - and of course ASR's devotion to fidelity as the standard for sound reproduction is about playback, not production: if Grundman is adding nonlinearities to the signal as part of his aesthetic decision-making when creating the final recordings that we will then play back on our systems, he can do whatever he want, and if the result sound goods or pleasing, that's all that matters.

And finally, it is also possible that his masterings would sound even better than they already do if he did not insist upon a signal chain that can degrade the fidelity of his work. I think this scenario is possible, but I think it's less likely - and even if it is true, I would imagine that in terms of the final audible result, any sonic degradation would be minimal. There are plenty of masterings out there that sound muffled, distorted, or "flat" - Grundman's masterings are not among them.

But regardless, there is no reason to denigrate or minimize the skills and achievements of someone like Grundman simply because we believe he is incorrect about how digital audio sampling and processing work.
 
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HarmonicTHD

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I prefer most of the 2014/15 Zep remasters to most of the Classic Records remasters, though the Classics are almost all excellent - and more importantly, I agree with the larger points you are making here.

Bernie Grundman is indeed a mastering legend for good reason: he's produced a ton of excellent masterings and remasterings, many of them the best out there, with very, very few "misses" or flawed masterings. That's what matters when we're talking about a mastering engineer.

Like many mastering engineers - and many producers, and many music artists - he has beliefs about the technology that are not borne out by the evidence, and that in some cases flatly contradict the basics of digital sampling theory and the science of human hearing, let alone specific experimental results. But like all good mastering engineers, producers, and music artists, he nevertheless produces excellent results in his area of specialization.

If we here at ASR are interested in trying to square that circle - "how can someone with such patently inaccurate beliefs about the science and technology he's using produce such great-sounding masterings?" - it's not difficult to do so. The likeliest explanation is that Grundman's preferences for analogue, for tubes, and so on do not make an audible difference and so regardless of his preferences or what difference he might think such choices make, the objective fact is that he has a great ear for music, makes wise mastering decisions, and his preferences in signal-chain hardware do not significantly change or degrade the sound quality along the way.

The second most likeliest explanation is that some of his signal-chain hardware choices do impact the sound audibly, but they contribute to rather than detracting from the effect he's after with his masterings - and of course ASR's devotion to fidelity as the standard for sound reproduction is about playback, not production: if Grundman is adding nonlinearities to the signal as part of his aesthetic decision-making when creating the final recordings that we will then play back on our systems, he can do whatever he want, and if the result sound good or pleasing, that's all that matters.

And finally, it is also possible that his masterings would sound even better than they already do if he did not insist upon a signal chain that can degrade the fidelity of his work. I think this scenario is possible, but I think it's less likely - and even if it is true, I would imagine that in terms of the final audible result, any sonic degradation would be minimal. There are plenty of masterings out there that sound muffled, distorted, or "flat" - Grundman's masterings are not among them.

But regardless, there is no reason to denigrate or minimize the skills and achievements of someone like Grundman simply because we believe he is incorrect about how digital audio sampling and processing work.
… correct. Plus good engineers sometimes compensate for their listening equipment and they master what the studio perceives is liked the most by the masses (which buy the music). And the masses don’t fuss about tubes, vinyls and highend and what not. They listen with the car radio, their kitchen radio and and and. …
 

tonycollinet

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I don't like seeing Bernie Grundman's good name dragged through the mud. Been watching some vids that he speaks in lately and he's quite the groovy guy, with an enormous amount of experience and knowledge to share. He's a mastering legend for good reason, and I believe he's a hero of audiophile classic rock and jazz. He has some not so nice things to say about digital though, and that may rub some people here the wrong way but still, he knows what he's doing and I love the records he's mastered.

Found some cool stuff today I'd like to share. It's one of Bernie's finest moments, the old Classic Records pressings of Zeppelin that are now fetching big bucks. I only have III on vinyl that I originally spent like 30 bucks on. But I found some rips today that might be illuminating, or not, who knows. I'm enjoying them very much and I prefer them to the HD remasters that I believe were supervised by Jimmy Page himself. They sound lean in comparison and I like my Zeppelin warm and fat. So here's a Pepsi challenge:

LP vs HD

Tried to volume match in Audacity. Two song clips, 2 different vinyl rippers so they'll have different sound signatures as well. They're pretty loud songs, just ones that I like. But I think you'll find both the old LP and the HD remaster to be high fidelity. I think the LP got the higher quality mastering here, and should demonstrate that vinyl has more than enough dynamic range to cover music like this. So is vinyl always warmer and fatter? I don't know, most of the time I guess. But I think they can master vinyl to sound just like the digital remaster here, I don't think a high end vinyl setup is short on detail or clarity. Not hearing any distortions either. But why would you want vinyl to sound like digital? That would defeat the whole purpose of it.
Not sure what your different files are. Are they all from vinyl?

One of each song (dm2 and oott1) has all the bass cut out below about 40Hz (Spectrum analysis in Audacity). This is audible - even on my Dali Oberon 5's with 5inch bass units, and no sub.

Screenshot 2022-09-27 at 13.24.16.png
 
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solderdude

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To me there are substantial differences between 40Hz and 200Hz, well over 3dB.
The left one clearly has rumble but both do not have music below 40Hz.
The cartridge is peaking around 10kHz and drops quickly above 14kHz.

Vinyl has more low bass (50Hz) and CD more 300Hz (lower mids) which should be audible (many dB)
Based on the spectrums vinyl will likely be preferred, the CD is (more than likely) closer to what was originally recorded.

Of course, we have no idea what the influence of the cartridge, cutting lathe, RIAA and cartridge loading on the vinyl rip was.
 
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drewdawg999

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Not sure what your different files are. Are they all from vinyl?

One of each song (dm2 and oott1) has all the bass cut out below about 40Hz (Spectrum analysis in Audacity). This is audible - even on my Dali Oberon 5's with 5inch bass units, and no sub.
No, they're not all vinyl. The clips you picked out were the HD remasters in 24-96, approved by Mr. Page. I guess that's closer to the master, or a mastering decision for clarity, but I miss that bass.
 

drewdawg999

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To me there are substantial differences between 40Hz and 200Hz, well over 3dB.
The left one clearly has rumble but both do not have music below 40Hz.
The cartridge is peaking around 10kHz and drops quickly above 14kHz.

Vinyl has more low bass (50Hz) and CD more 300Hz (lower mids) which should be audible (many dB)
Based on the spectrums vinyl will likely be preferred, the CD is (more than likely) closer to what was originally recorded.

Of course, we have no idea what the influence of the cartridge, cutting lathe, RIAA and cartridge loading on the vinyl rip was.
I have some ripping info. On dm1, it's quite an expensive setup, with a Bergmann Magne TT, Ortofon MC A 90 cart, and Nagra BPS (100 ohm loading) phono pre.
On oott2, it's a VPI Aries II with a Lyra Titan, RIAA correction with Sox 14.3.0. Not familiar with that program but I guess software RIAA?
 

solderdude

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And a sharp rumble filter it seems.

Same vinyl record, different setups quite a different tone.

Now.. use the same recording. Digital. Play it on 2 very different DACs. Record it and see how different the recordings are. ;)
 

tonycollinet

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And a sharp rumble filter it seems.

Same vinyl record, different setups quite a different tone.

Now.. use the same recording. Digital. Play it on 2 very different DACs. Record it and see how different the recordings are. ;)
Two different vinyl records.

The versions with the low frequency cut are the digital file remasters.
 

Snarfie

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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?
Not really recorded many vinyl records digitaly when comparing the vinyl an digital recording one on one i could not hear any difference
;)
 

dorakeg

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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 just saw this thread and I think I can understand where you are coming from.

Although I don't listen to vinyls, I do have a tube amp and listen to it from time to time. Its definitely not as good compared to my solid state amps. But, I still love the way it sounds, I would use the word sweet sounding to describe it as well.

This is more of a personal preference rather than about audio quality. Sometimes, I just want sit back, relax and enjoy some nice songs/music, esp. after a long and tired day.

Lastly, just to point out that sound thats pleasant, sweet or musical etc does not mean it sounds better. Its just our own perception. Better as it true to the source/reference.
 

Mulder

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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.
You miss my point. I was talking about Vinyl revival.
 

sq225917

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There's absurdly no reason why the digital master couldn't be made to match the vinyl version exactly, hell they could even throw in some surface noise and tracking distortion if they wanted.

Sadly the vinyl version will never be as noise and distortion free as the digital version.
 

j_j

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There's absurdly no reason why the digital master couldn't be made to match the vinyl version exactly, hell they could even throw in some surface noise and tracking distortion if they wanted.

Sadly the vinyl version will never be as noise and distortion free as the digital version.
Indeed. Digital can capture vinyl, but not vice versa. That speaks for itself as far as "information" is involved.

The distortion and some of the noise in vinyl, of course, can "sound better" as far as the stereo illusion is considered. Of course, nothing keeps that from being in a digital track. NOTHING.
 

Ported

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Still think the photo analogy fits well.. if you like your photos to be printed to look bit "Kodachrome" because occasionally they can look better than the negative suggests then that's your choice. But If you kinda want to see what's possible in all realms (including that Kodachrome tint if you wanted to ) then you might need to look for better ways to convey it.
Personally I can't bear constraining the possibilities having heard great masters tinted too far in the to vinyl process..
 

Mart68

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I was at a vinyl vs streaming comparison the other day. Kii3 speakers, a Linn LP12 with all the latest upgrades was the vinyl source. Music was Michal Jackson 'Bad' album.

Not level matched properly just by ear, it was just a bit of fun at a show.

Vinyl was noisier but not to the extent that it was bothersome. Vinyl was not as good in the bass but it sounded fine until you switched to the digital feed which was quite obviously tighter and cleaner. Otherwise, they sounded pretty much the same.
 

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But anything missing \ lacking = a generation loss to my ears ... Like making a tape copy (but worse).
 

Mart68

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But anything missing \ lacking = a generation loss to my ears ... Like making a tape copy (but worse).
true, plus you have to consider that the turntable set up cost thousands, probably into five figures, whereas the router for the digital signal was seventy quid.

The vinyl sounded good though, was my point, it wasn't much worse than digital, just slightly worse.
 

sq225917

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That's cos you don't have rose tinted specs Martin, I have a spare set you can borrow.
 
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