• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Why do records sound so much better than digital?

don'ttrustauthority

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
240
Likes
145
#1
It does. It's more dynamic, natural, live, the instruments are clearer in space, Lou Reed (who's talking as much as singing) seems like he's in the room, having a conversation with me.

So is the more 'present' because of the nature of the source? Interactive vs point and click. 20 minutes vs ? hours. Large cover vs tiny print on a screen, maybe? Does my increased level of interaction with the source increase my appreciation of it? Am I just paying closer attention because analog demands it?

Or is there some quality of the sound that is taken out when it removed from the physical realm -- into the theoretical realm? A record after all is a physical imprint of the sound.

You can literally feel the sound in a record groove.

Can't do that with 1s and 0s.

Of course, that shouldn't matter. the resolution of digital is so high that machines can't tell anything is missing, so why should humans be able to. There is no "physicality" to sound, in reality.

Is there?
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,187
Likes
2,931
Location
Michigan
#2
Three things come to mind.

1. Better mastering; no loudness wars for vinyl.
2. Euphoric distortion.
3. Psychoacoustics. When I am going to focus on music with intent, I usually pour a drink and put a big wholesome record onto my gorgeous analog system, after taking pride in ownership of the physical medium and spending a moment looking at the artwork in my hand. It sounds way better to my ears than the digital I stream while working.
 
OP
D

don'ttrustauthority

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
240
Likes
145
Thread Starter #3
I agree on all three points. Especially the distortion, and lower dynamic range. I think it makes sound more natural since it's closer to the dynamic range we hear in real life. The masking of detail makes the music sound better.
 

restorer-john

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
7,098
Likes
18,056
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#6
Also expectations.

With digital you expect perfection, but vinyl can produce such an incredible sound from dragging a rock along a plastic trench that it punches so far above its weight and you just can't help but love it.

I still feel the same amazement I did when I was a tiny boy watching my Dad's turntable. So there's nostalgia too.

But the same can said of Compact Disc. It destroyed everything before it and was a technical tour de force. It still is to me. Everthing that came later has just been very small incremental steps. No game changers.
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,187
Likes
2,931
Location
Michigan
#12
... vinyl can produce such an incredible sound from dragging a rock along a plastic trench that it punches so far above its weight and you just can't help but love it...
Last time my Dad was here we listened to Child in Time by Deep Purple on an original pressing and talked about the concert I had recently attended and we agreed on these exact points. We both got goosebumps when Ian Gillian hit the highs and I lamented that he didn't, and probably no longer could sing that song when Deep Purple was here a couple years ago.
 
Last edited:

NTK

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Messages
995
Likes
2,015
Location
US East
#14
Michael Uwins conducted a listening test and wrote an article for Linear Audio (and also an AES paper). Vinyl scored the lowest.
https://linearaudio.nl/sites/linearaudio.net/files/v10 mu.pdf

Vinyl.PNG

These are the test tracks. Vinyl was digitally sampled. Emulated vinyl was the digital master
1. EQ to the frequency response of the vinyl playing system​
2. Stereo width narrowed to match the cross-talk of vinyl​
3. Added ~5.6% THD​
Interestingly MP3 scored higher than CD in test A (test B was a statistical tie).

Test samples.PNG
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,187
Likes
2,931
Location
Michigan
#15
Michael Uwins conducted a listening test and wrote an article for Linear Audio (and also an AES paper). Vinyl scored the lowest.
https://linearaudio.nl/sites/linearaudio.net/files/v10 mu.pdf

View attachment 121681
These are the test tracks. Vinyl was digitally sampled. Emulated vinyl was the digital master
1. EQ to the frequency response of the vinyl playing system​
2. Stereo width narrowed to match the cross-talk of vinyl​
3. Added ~5.6% THD​
Interestingly MP3 scored higher than CD in test A (test B was a statistical tie).

View attachment 121682
Irrelevant! That's because they did a blind test and it doesn't sound as good. :p
 

Jim Matthews

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 25, 2021
Messages
596
Likes
701
Location
Taxachusetts
#16
What you're hearing is the sound of romance. The tactile aspect of a large LP with cover art and mechanical transducers connects us to aficionados who came before us.

That said, I think contemporary high resolution digital playback is superior to any analog system I could ever afford. It is entirely possible that the most esoteric systems better digital - but they're prohibitively expensive.

Given that most modern recordings are captured digitally, vinyl playback is effectively adding noise and compressing signal dynamics.

If you're listening to original pressings of analog recordings made prior to digital workstations you have fewer "steps" between the session and playback.

In any measurable way, digital formats outperform most analog format.
(It may be persuasively argued that high speed analog tape is a rival.)
 

LTig

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
3,237
Likes
5,132
Location
Europe
#17
Also expectations.

With digital you expect perfection, but vinyl can produce such an incredible sound from dragging a rock along a plastic trench that it punches so far above its weight and you just can't help but love it.

I still feel the same amazement I did when I was a tiny boy watching my Dad's turntable. So there's nostalgia too.
This!

OTOH my LP12/Lingo/Ekos/VdH MC1 Special sounds astonishing similar to CD regarding tonality, e.g with Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (LP vs. 1st CD release). The better my analog rig got over the years the closer it sounds to digital. And the really important point is that the analog sound survives an AD/DA chain. A digital recording of an record sounds exactly like the record, using an old Edirol UA25 USB sound interface.i

Two years ago I bought a record were the CD was included. I ripped the LP and the CD and the sound is different. The LP has a wider soundstage without any depth (wall of sound) while the CD's soundstage is not as wide but much deeper, and you can hear more details (much cleaner). Either the vinyl pressing is not good or the mastering is different. Funny thing is there are days where I prefer vinyl and days where I prefer digital.

EDIT: For the majority of recordings which I own both as vinyl and CD digital sounds better.
 
Last edited:

pozz

Data Ordinator
Forum Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
3,491
Likes
5,513
#18
With digital you expect perfection, but vinyl can produce such an incredible sound from dragging a rock along a plastic trench that it punches so far above its weight and you just can't help but love it.
Oh yeah:cool:
 

rdenney

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
724
Likes
1,161
#19
Funny. I paid $750 (read: a lot) for a used Naim CD5, which requires placing the CD in a manual drawer, and clamping it with a magnetic puck. I close the drawer (manually), and press play. I then sit in my chair and sip the good stuff. If the music is awesome, I get tears in my eyes.

That happens with vinyl, too.

It happens with cheap players, too, but I have to cross a longer bridge on my way from the player to the chair.

One of the Stereophile editors made a YouTube video where he played careful binaural-mike recordings of speakers he was testing. He played a hi-res file from a digital player, a CD, and an LP. The only one that was apparent was the LP—the vinyl roar and surface noise was apparent.

But I still love listening to LPs.

Rick “especially with a good Scotch” Denney
 

Racheski

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
1,116
Likes
1,625
Location
Chicago
#20
Michael Uwins conducted a listening test and wrote an article for Linear Audio (and also an AES paper). Vinyl scored the lowest.
https://linearaudio.nl/sites/linearaudio.net/files/v10 mu.pdf

View attachment 121681
These are the test tracks. Vinyl was digitally sampled. Emulated vinyl was the digital master
1. EQ to the frequency response of the vinyl playing system​
2. Stereo width narrowed to match the cross-talk of vinyl​
3. Added ~5.6% THD​
Interestingly MP3 scored higher than CD in test A (test B was a statistical tie).

View attachment 121682
Vinyl got merc'd! Case closed.
 
Top Bottom