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Digital vs Analogue...one man's unscientific experiment

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  • Digital vs Analogue...one man's unscientific experiment

    So my intent is not to start an old fashioned donnybrook on the forum. I know everyone has strong views on this but since I'm new to the world of analogue I thought I would post my impressions now that I've been playing vinyl for about 3 months.

    My initial impression was that vinyl was different, not better. But then I recently listened to White Stripes Elephant, an album I know very well and have listened to digitally for years. I was floored. I was hearing things in the music I never had before. So I decided it was time for an A/B comparison.

    I flipped between an MP3 file of Elephant and the vinyl and it was night and day. My 3 kids (all under 10) picked it out no problem.

    But then I thought, what about a high quality digital comparison like FLAC? I put on Eagles greatest hits and did the A/B. I found this to be a more difficult comparison and very song dependent. In most cases, my ears favored the analogue but it was too close to call on Lyin Eyes.

    Then I figured, what the hey, let's try CD. I put on Stevie Ray Vaughn's Tinpan Alley for this comparison. Again, very close but I did find the vinyl had that "warmth" that many people talk about. To me, that is apparent at the very low and very high ends. I found midrange to be fairly comparable.

    So not scientific and certainly not comprehensive. Just one guys experience and thought I would share. End of day, I still listen to digital for convenience but really enjoy the vinyl experience.

    Carbon
    Carbon13

  • #2
    'bout time for some popcorn 😈
    "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
    "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

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    • #3
      I think you may be hearing differences between masterings, and applying those traits as inherent to Digital/Analog.

      The real double check, is take a vinyl record, rip it to a file at 16/44.1 or 320Mbps Mp3 or whatever resolution you want, and compare that final file to the original vinyl record.
      That eliminates mastering differences, and keeps any traits of your cart/table/pre-amp intact, so you are truly comparing Vinyl versus a digital copy, instead of comparing most likely very different masterings with built in or not Compression, EQ and so on.


      FYI, vinyl will have a sound that is different than Open Reel also. So you are not just hearing "Analog", but vinyl's version of Analog.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Carbon13 View Post
        So my intent is not to start an old fashioned donnybrook on the forum. I know everyone has strong views on this but since I'm new to the world of analogue I thought I would post my impressions now that I've been playing vinyl for about 3 months.

        My initial impression was that vinyl was different, not better. But then I recently listened to White Stripes Elephant, an album I know very well and have listened to digitally for years. I was floored. I was hearing things in the music I never had before. So I decided it was time for an A/B comparison.

        I flipped between an MP3 file of Elephant and the vinyl and it was night and day. My 3 kids (all under 10) picked it out no problem.

        But then I thought, what about a high quality digital comparison like FLAC? I put on Eagles greatest hits and did the A/B. I found this to be a more difficult comparison and very song dependent. In most cases, my ears favored the analogue but it was too close to call on Lyin Eyes.

        Then I figured, what the hey, let's try CD. I put on Stevie Ray Vaughn's Tinpan Alley for this comparison. Again, very close but I did find the vinyl had that "warmth" that many people talk about. To me, that is apparent at the very low and very high ends. I found midrange to be fairly comparable.

        So not scientific and certainly not comprehensive. Just one guys experience and thought I would share. End of day, I still listen to digital for convenience but really enjoy the vinyl experience.

        Carbon
        A comparison between MP3 and analog LP really isn't fair. Try instead 24Bit and an LP.

        Comment


        • #5
          Listen to what you enjoy.

          16/44 can sound superior to vinyl if handled properly. FLAC was likely superior from a technical standpoint showing ills elswhere in the system.

          It does not take much of a table/cart fo vinyl to sound very musically pleasing. Takes a lot more for ALL digital since every source of distortion is extremely detremental.

          Enjoy the musc as it is meanjngful to you. No need to find a "better" because of you are enjoying it, who cares? I have heard systems running DSD and 24 bit that were MEH, and vinyl systems that were jaw-dropping. Vice-versa, too.

          Thanks for the observations. You seem correct in your evaluation.
          Facebook Page - Ocean State Acoustics

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kevintomb View Post
            I think you may be hearing differences between masterings, and applying those traits as inherent to Digital/Analog.
            Quite possible. I have an old LP that I wanted on CD. I had made a digital (16/44.1) copy using a fairly good A/D unit (MSB) that sounds good played from my music server. But I wanted a commercial CD that should have been better. Took a long time, but I finally found and purchased a CD of it. The sound of the CD? Absolutely...horrible. They must have used a 2nd or 3rd generation tape to make it. Not a re-mastered original. I play my A/D version. Haven't tried to A/B the A/D version vs. LP, however.

            The real double check, is take a vinyl record, rip it to a file at 16/44.1 or 320Mbps Mp3 or whatever resolution you want, and compare that final file to the original vinyl record.
            In this instance it is also a function of how capable the A/D system is that you use.

            FYI, vinyl will have a sound that is different than Open Reel also. So you are not just hearing "Analog", but vinyl's version of Analog.
            Also a good point. But then the CD version, even if re-mastered, is going to be different since the mastering to LP and CD may have been done by different mastering engineers.

            dlr
            WinPCD - Windows .NET Passive Crossover Designer

            Dave's Speaker Pages

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kevintomb View Post
              I think you may be hearing differences between masterings, and applying those traits as inherent to Digital/Analog.

              The real double check, is take a vinyl record, rip it to a file at 16/44.1 or 320Mbps Mp3 or whatever resolution you want, and compare that final file to the original vinyl record.
              That eliminates mastering differences, and keeps any traits of your cart/table/pre-amp intact, so you are truly comparing Vinyl versus a digital copy, instead of comparing most likely very different masterings with built in or not Compression, EQ and so on.


              FYI, vinyl will have a sound that is different than Open Reel also. So you are not just hearing "Analog", but vinyl's version of Analog.
              Yep, I did think about that and that's why I specified unscientific. I think you're approach makes sense. Regardless it was a kinda fun exercise and got the kids interested...startem young!
              Carbon13

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mzisserson View Post
                Listen to what you enjoy.

                16/44 can sound superior to vinyl if handled properly. FLAC was likely superior from a technical standpoint showing ills elswhere in the system.

                It does not take much of a table/cart fo vinyl to sound very musically pleasing. Takes a lot more for ALL digital since every source of distortion is extremely detremental.

                Enjoy the musc as it is meanjngful to you. No need to find a "better" because of you are enjoying it, who cares? I have heard systems running DSD and 24 bit that were MEH, and vinyl systems that were jaw-dropping. Vice-versa, too.

                Thanks for the observations. You seem correct in your evaluation.
                Very true and that's where I have landed. The vinyl experience as a whole is really enjoyable to me but totally understand it may not be for everyone. And as you said, a great sounding system is a great sounding system and they come in many varieties.
                Carbon13

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sydney View Post
                  'bout time for some popcorn 😈
                  Lol!! I'm hoping we can keep it civil.
                  Carbon13

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kevintomb View Post
                    I think you may be hearing differences between masterings, and applying those traits as inherent to Digital/Analog.

                    The real double check, is take a vinyl record, rip it to a file at 16/44.1 or 320Mbps Mp3 or whatever resolution you want, and compare that final file to the original vinyl record.
                    That eliminates mastering differences, and keeps any traits of your cart/table/pre-amp intact, so you are truly comparing Vinyl versus a digital copy, instead of comparing most likely very different masterings with built in or not Compression, EQ and so on.


                    FYI, vinyl will have a sound that is different than Open Reel also. So you are not just hearing "Analog", but vinyl's version of Analog.
                    A friend and I have done that a few times, ripping vinyl to FLAC in our case. We couldn't tell much difference between the original and the copy. I think you're right, mastering differences are what people are probably hearing.
                    Francis

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carbon13 View Post

                      Lol!! I'm hoping we can keep it civil.
                      yeah - sometimes things can get hot enuf for poppin'
                      "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
                      "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Has anyone tried digitizing a LP at a good quality and comparing that to the original? This would be a good way to tell if it is the mastering or the format.

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                        • #13
                          I prefer CD or Flac if possible. Not because it is better or worse, but rather because of noise and convenience. Vinyl is hard to keep clean, is fragile, and if not perfect it has a lot of noise.

                          Also not to mention that for me and my turntable it is hard to isolate it from my subwoofer and I get feedback if I turn it up much. Crawl space houses with wood floors and large subs are the enemy of a turntable. I could probably wall mount it, or put it on a pile of bricks to get it isolated better but that is too much of a hassle for any minimal gains I might get. If I want to use the turntable in my system, I have to turn off the sub. Therefore I usually just use the turntable to rip vinyls that are out of print and not available any other way.

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                          • #14
                            I believe most modern studios record digitally thus vinyl is pressed from digital master. Maybe it is the imperfection in vinyl which people prefer.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by killa View Post
                              Has anyone tried digitizing a LP at a good quality and comparing that to the original? This would be a good way to tell if it is the mastering or the format.

                              Yes, and I would say nearly a perfect copy. I say Nearly only cause I could not truly discern any for sure differences.

                              Another thing to factor in (there are a lot of varaibles!) this may be partially "opinion' on my part, but I am not so sure all master tapes of music from years ago. say 60's-80's are still in prime condition.

                              Lately I have been doing a lot of headphone listening of CDs of older classic rock from the 70's mostly and found that I am able to hear all kinda small to mild imperfections, such as Drop outs, speed variations, and other minor issues, that were/are not on the original vinyl produced.
                              So that led me to consider if we are even hearing a truly good master tape to be begin with or a worn out one, or even worse, a worn 2nd or 3rd gen or worse copy.

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