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Why not use effects to get the sound of vinyl?

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Multicore

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Yup. I always said CDs should have been released in vinyl-sized sleeves. Best of both worlds. And so back-compatible with vinyl storage furniture. :>
And I have proposed that when a new LP release is put on Bandcamp there should be a Eco LP version available as well, which has the download code but no actual vinyl inside. This is a nice and less plastics-heavy alternative for those who aren't going to play it anyway, which, we are told, is about half the buyers at present.
 
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Multicore

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I don't have the emotional attachment of the OP.
I don't either. I was theorizing. It just struck me that we can do a lot these days with VST if we want coloration or harmonic distortions or a "valve sound", the same isn't really true in the same way for the sound of vinyl. We can reproduce the band limitation and mono-bass of production but we can't reproduce the defects of specific copy that you might have. Personally, I can do without all of that but it does seem there's a qualitative difference here.
 

mhardy6647

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So... I've been thinking (dangerously enough) about the thesis of this thread. I got to wondering whether the question posed might (???) be rephrased in a way that might make it more interesting and more useful.
My sub-thesis is that the type and spectrum of noise in LP playback is a factor in the perceived warmth and yumminess of same, but only a factor. Pops and ticks aren't good, full stop, but the low-frequency noise encountered on LP playback (even with an inherently quiet deck), I suspect, imparts a sense of acoustic space that is part of the charm of the medium. I wonder if there's anything else? Heck, who knows, maybe phase shifts relating to the imposition and subsequent correction of the RIAA equalization curve applied when the lacquer is cut?

Even many of the vinylista* will allow that a digitally captured needle drop sounds pretty good; i.e., pretty vinylistic. :)

This got me to wondering whether "null testing" could give some insight into roots of the ('vinyl sounds better') phenomenon. Unfortunately, what probably wouldn't work is nulling the digitized output of playing an LP track with "the same" track from a digital source (i.e., not a needle drop). The master tape (or whatever) used to cut the LP lacquer would almost certainly be different than that used to generate the digital version, if for no other reason than the imposition of RIAA EQ, mixing the bass to mono and/or rolling off extremely low frequencies in the case of the analog pathway.

I don't know enough about anything (as the ramblings above testify!) to devise a way to do an appropriately controlled comparison to see what's really different (besides clicks and pops) between the two sources -- but I'll bet there is a good way(?).

_______________
* of which I would have to count myself as a member, although not a rabid one. :)
 

Axo1989

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I was thinking of lo-fi as a genre.

There are so many genres and sub-genres, especially in electronic music, these day; it's hard to keep up with exactly what fits where. :)

House
Hard House
Acid House
Techno
Hip-hop
Trip-hop
Garage
Jungle
Drum and Bass
Synthwave
Chillwave
Vapourwave
Trance
Ambient
Chill-out
Dubstep
Big Beat
Breakbeat
Downtempo

And more Amen Break than you can shake a stick at.


Oh yes, I was indulging in some double-entendre: referring to lo-fi as genre and as sonic quality. Likewise using 'real thing' to mean the sonic element perhaps being real vinyl sound (whether by DJ or sample) and the music (Portishead and Massive at least, The Avalanches are from a somewhat different place) being real—indeed seminal—lo-fi. And of course, excellent music.

In other words, I don't see that adding some vinyl surface noise is just a fad, but when we sample or spin old vinyl as a musical element in a performance or composition, it's intrinsic to the source material (especially in The Avalanches case). It can also be a pleasant/evocative effect among the sonic layers of the material. And it can be cliche, like just about anything.
 

Axo1989

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Who cares whether it was a real TT or a plugin? Not me. Making a CD sound like crapped-out vinyl was, um, 'interesting' at first, then became a gimmick from overuse. That's how musical production fads go. The quality of the music is what really stands or falls with time.

I'm glad 'crackly LP' CD had its moment; I'm glad it mostly went away.

Oh I agree, mostly. When I said 'real thing' there I was foreshadowing the next part of that post (me replying to you) and the question you posed about fidelity. It wasn't an argument about whether the vinyl surface sound was 'real' or synthetic (although @Multicore's post made that aspect quite interesting). I was asking how we can consider the sonic element to degrade fidelity, when the lo-fi sound is intrinsic to the composition and genre (thinking of Portishead as originators, not copyists, obviously). What would a 'clean CD sound' convey fidelity to? Not the material in question, I reckon.
 
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Axo1989

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Even though I enjoyed many pastiche and electronic genres, I also got tired of the "adding vinyl crackling" trend back then too.

(And for that matter, the trend for quite a while in electronic music to have breathy female vocals on seemingly every track....)

I suppose pleasure+nostalgia are triggered differently for each of us. I never get tired of those things (analog grunge, breathy vocals, etc). And you enjoy Abba. At least you were alive for the original, I'm enjoying those things in a strange temporally-displaced way, like Lana Del Rey evoking Americana etc that she wasn't born in time to experience originally.
 
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NTK

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So... I've been thinking (dangerously enough) about the thesis of this thread. I got to wondering whether the question posed might (???) be rephrased in a way that might make it more interesting and more useful.
My sub-thesis is that the type and spectrum of noise in LP playback is a factor in the perceived warmth and yumminess of same, but only a factor. Pops and ticks aren't good, full stop, but the low-frequency noise encountered on LP playback (even with an inherently quiet deck), I suspect, imparts a sense of acoustic space that is part of the charm of the medium. I wonder if there's anything else? Heck, who knows, maybe phase shifts relating to the imposition and subsequent correction of the RIAA equalization curve applied when the lacquer is cut?

Even many of the vinylista* will allow that a digitally captured needle drop sounds pretty good; i.e., pretty vinylistic. :)

This got me to wondering whether "null testing" could give some insight into roots of the ('vinyl sounds better') phenomenon. Unfortunately, what probably wouldn't work is nulling the digitized output of playing an LP track with "the same" track from a digital source (i.e., not a needle drop). The master tape (or whatever) used to cut the LP lacquer would almost certainly be different than that used to generate the digital version, if for no other reason than the imposition of RIAA EQ, mixing the bass to mono and/or rolling off extremely low frequencies in the case of the analog pathway.

I don't know enough about anything (as the ramblings above testify!) to devise a way to do an appropriately controlled comparison to see what's really different (besides clicks and pops) between the two sources -- but I'll bet there is a good way(?).

_______________
* of which I would have to count myself as a member, although not a rabid one. :)
I guess you haven't read Mike Uwins' AES paper, which he also published as a Linear Audio article.

His results:
index.php

Below 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).
index.php
 

Prana Ferox

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Portishead and Massive Attack came from a period in the 90s where everything was either recorded on a cruddy 4-track in a suburban garage, or it was wildly over processed Billy Corgan. There's no way I'd put those bands as 'lo-fi' compared to their peers just because they used some treble rolloff.
 

Axo1989

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Portishead and Massive Attack came from a period in the 90s where everything was either recorded on a cruddy 4-track in a suburban garage, or it was wildly over processed Billy Corgan. There's no way I'd put those bands as 'lo-fi' compared to their peers just because they used some treble rolloff.

I think analog 4-track was 70s-80s. I know my dad had a big 4-track TEAC in the early 80s, and a cassette-based TASCAM Portastudio as well. By 90s we had DAT and digital production, surely?

I'm not following the comparison between Corgan and the Bristol bands so much, but I never cared for the former's work. The latter used layers of grunge and dark sonics when it suited (I think more than just some treble rolloff). I would call much of that material iconic lo-fi, but by design and not necessity, and I agree the genre proper was broader (and even earlier was tagged DIY, etc). The genre term is used somewhat differently and inconsistently over the decades.
 
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MattHooper

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I suppose pleasure+nostalgia are triggered differently for each of us. I never get tired of those things (analog grunge, breathy vocals, etc). And you enjoy Abba.

Admittedly, Kryptonite to my street cred in any music discussion. :D
 

Axo1989

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Admittedly, Kryptonite to my street cred in any music discussion. :D

Haha, much of my modern musical taste will do that. I've yet to hear from a Poppy fan here. :eek:

Anyway, I've noticed the topical analog noise effects offered up on current material. Cherry Glazerr's Golden (from last year) has vinyl surface noise to go with its somewhat nostalgic piano, for example ... yeule's title track softscars (also last year) starts with some heart-warming snap, crackle, pop (but a lot of what I listen to has so much intentional analog and digital grunge that it sometimes takes a few runs to pick the layers apart) so is it still lo-fi if it's delivered in hi-res and Dolby Atmos?

I wonder how the double dose of vinyl surface noise sounds on the vinyl releases (offered in both cases) probably Rice Bubbles all the way down? Or for a double dose of hisss, there's cassette offering from yeule also.

 
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mhardy6647

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I guess you haven't read Mike Uwins' AES paper, which he also published as a Linear Audio article.

His results:
index.php

Below 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).
index.php
1) No, I hadn't. Thanks.
2) Well, I was suggesting more or less the opposite approach -- to figure out what the quantifiable differences are (besides clicks and pops) that make vinyl records (LPs) sound like... what they sound like. I am very skeptical of vinyl emulation as such -- but, more to the point, I am quite curious as to what people are hearing (again, besides clicks and pops). Maybe it's just rumble and noise inherent in the groove/stylus interface. I am not convinced, and I rather doubt there's any data. The few parameters used in the study may not be exhaustive. E.g., the spectral content of that 5.6% THD.
I guess I'd better read the paper! ;)
 

Axo1989

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1) No, I hadn't. Thanks.
2) Well, I was suggesting more or less the opposite approach -- to figure out what the quantifiable differences are (besides clicks and pops) that make vinyl records (LPs) sound like... what they sound like. I am very skeptical of vinyl emulation as such -- but, more to the point, I am quite curious as to what people are hearing (again, besides clicks and pops). Maybe it's just rumble and noise inherent in the groove/stylus interface. I am not convinced, and I rather doubt there's any data. The few parameters used in the study may not be exhaustive. E.g., the spectral content of that 5.6% THD.
I guess I'd better read the paper! ;)

Interesting to consider (as people have above) the possibilities for purely digital effects, vs sampling (or in more obsessive cases creating and recording) some sonic elements on vinyl, then playing that into the mix. Nothing stopping people from adding digital facsimiles of rumble, or any identified sonic attribute I guess also. To varying overall effect and degrees of success.
 

levimax

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I
Below 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​
There are some real problems with the "emulated vinyl" scenario.
RE: Stereo Width. Cross talk is overrated regarding image width. Vinyl playback creates a lot of out of phase noise which has the effect of increasing perceived image width.
RE: Distortion: If you look at the cart script measurements on this forum THD in the mid-range is ~0.1% and increases rapidly at higher and lower frequencies. It is no where near 5.6% in the most sensitive hearing range.

Why anyone would want to emulate LP sound from a digital source is beyond me. All you would be doing is degrading the sound of the digital recording and not really matching what an LP sounds like anyway. You would also miss out on the main reasons people like LP's i.e. physical object, artwork, ritual, nostalgia, fun watching it play, etc.
 

MattHooper

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wonder how the double dose of vinyl surface noise sounds on the vinyl releases (offered in both cases) probably Rice Bubbles all the way down? Or for a double dose of hisss, there's cassette offering from yeule also.

Actually that just adds another layer of annoyance :). I've had a few records playing and "damn, I thought I bought this in excellent condition" but it was added record noise to the recording.

I liked the softscars track! (Despite the breathy vocals...)
 

Axo1989

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Actually that just adds another layer of annoyance :). I've had a few records playing and "damn, I thought I bought this in excellent condition" but it was added record noise to the recording.

I can imagine. With sufficient attention to detail, you'd leave the vinyl surface noise out of the vinyl mix ... no need for that kind of redundancy.

I liked the softscars track! (Despite the breathy vocals...)

Oh great (sorry, pretty breathy on both those tracks) yeah I think yeule is very cool, one of the more interesting new-ish artists I've come across.
 

fatoldgit

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A big draw of vinyl is its fiddly nature, what with turntables, arms, cartridges, RIAA preamps and the like. Remove that, and for some, a lot of the attraction is gone, especially in settings where the vinyl reproduction equipment is so good that it approaches streaming or other digital sources, in that case, then why bother?
And thats why I gave it up, did a one to one match of a CD for each vinyl album then ripped these CD's to move to a file based paradigm.

Life is too short for buggering around with all the stuff needed to optimize vinyl playback.

Add in streaming and/or digital downloads and my music horizons expanded way beyond anything I could have imagined/afforded with a vinyl centric system.

Went from a system with boxes for Africa to support vinyl, CD and DVD music videos (now ripped) to a much simplified system (PC->DAC->amp->speakers)


Peter
 

Justdafactsmaam

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This research went to great lengths to find out what (if anything) accounted for the preference for vinyl. Spoiler: it wasn't the sound, which was rated worst in controlled tests. Using effects to make your recordings sound worse seems a bad idea. Differences in mastering were controlled out, so the possibility remains that in some cases the vinyl master is better than the CD one, but I doubt effects are going to make up for that either.
Maybe I am missing something? They used an ABCHr test for “preference?” Is that an audible accuracy test with a hidden reference as the objective measuring stick? That’s not preference. A true preference test would not have a reference.

And how did MP3 beat CD? Isn’t that a big red flag in regards to the quality of the data? How is MP3 audibly more accurate than Redbook CD?
 

bluefuzz

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I miss sleeve notes and good artwork.
Let's face it, most albums didn't have particularly good artwork anyway. From the 70's onwards the good stuff from the likes of Hipgnosis, Barney Bubbles, Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett, Vaughan Oliver, Neville Brody etc. sleeve notes and good artwork became almost mutually exclusive. On Saville's Factory covers you were lucky to find the name of the band let alone a track list. But that was all part of the fun ...
 

somebodyelse

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Maybe I am missing something? They used an ABCHr test for “preference?” Is that an audible accuracy test with a hidden reference as the objective measuring stick? That’s not preference. A true preference test would not have a reference.

And how did MP3 beat CD? Isn’t that a big red flag in regards to the quality of the data? How is MP3 audibly more accurate than Redbook CD?
They used a modified MUSHRA not ABC-HR. The modification was to avoid having to assume one of the samples was audibly 'worst' as a check for unreliable data as explained in the paper.

It's not so much that MP3 beat CD that's an issue, but that CD was rated worse than the 24/96 master when it ought to sound the same. This was for Song 1 but not for Song 2 where the error bounds for master, CD and MP3 overlap. I think the author should have looked at this more deeply, but the oddity is called out in the analysis section.
 
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