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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

  • mattsk8
    replied
    Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post

    Yes indeed, but to me the first thing to consider is 'is the music any good'? For example, I have a 1926 recording of Fritz Kreisler playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto in both LP and CD formats. In any format it sounds awful by the standards of even 50 years ago - but it's great music

    Geoff
    This is what's so fun about vinyl for me (although, it could definitely apply to any format as well). It's definitely hit and miss, but I have a near mint, original pressing from 1961 of Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits... and it sounds fantastic. The song "Comanche" is incredible, but the whole record is fun to listen to (obviously my subjective opinion, you would need to be a Johnny Horton fan ). And "The Who, Tommy"... is amazing sounding as well- drop the needle on the track, "There's a Doctor", and let it ride... .

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  • Sydney
    replied
    Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post
    .... In any format it sounds awful by the standards of even 50 years ago - but it's great music...

    For some, the recording might evoke memories: I know collectors that buy remasters and off-takes of bands that was "Music of youth", performances of the past etc.
    In my case: recordings of bands I follow and shows I attended.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paul K.
    replied
    Wow, "famous"? I don't deserve that title but I appreciate you giving it to me. I haven't listened to popular music for decades, other than what is used at DIY events I attend. I don't really focus on performance issues and it would take a fairly obvious "oops" before I'd likely be concerned about it, and as long as the sound quality is good, it would not prevent me from enjoying the music. I'd much rather listen to music with a 5-star rating for sonics along with a 3-star rating for performance than vice versa.

    Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post

    I assume you're Paul Kittinger, the famous speaker designer? If so, I think your ears are far better trained and tuned than mine!

    I know what you mean re fidelity and performance, but if the music's good, I try and 'tune out' the extraneous noise and listen to the music - of course, it doesn't always work. I tried to clean up the Kreisler LP using editing software but all it did was rip the heart from the music and it was indeed unlistenable.

    I would also have to say that I'm the only person I know who can enjoy the Kreisler 1926 recording!

    There are also modern recordings (such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) which I find impossible to listen to due to the highly compressed sound, so it's not just a question of the age of the recording.

    Cheers

    Geoff

    Leave a comment:


  • Geoff Millar
    replied
    Originally posted by Paul K. View Post
    I listen to mostly instrumental symphonic music and I played trumpet in my (much) younger years, but if a recording, whatever the media used, has poor fidelity, it won't matter how good the musicianship is, I won't be able to enjoy it. I will most likely not be able to differentiate between a superior performance and simply a good performance.
    Paul


    I assume you're Paul Kittinger, the famous speaker designer? If so, I think your ears are far better trained and tuned than mine!

    I know what you mean re fidelity and performance, but if the music's good, I try and 'tune out' the extraneous noise and listen to the music - of course, it doesn't always work. I tried to clean up the Kreisler LP using editing software but all it did was rip the heart from the music and it was indeed unlistenable.

    I would also have to say that I'm the only person I know who can enjoy the Kreisler 1926 recording!

    There are also modern recordings (such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) which I find impossible to listen to due to the highly compressed sound, so it's not just a question of the age of the recording.

    Cheers

    Geoff

    Leave a comment:


  • Paul K.
    replied
    I listen to mostly instrumental symphonic music and I played trumpet in my (much) younger years, but if a recording, whatever the media used, has poor fidelity, it won't matter how good the musicianship is, I won't be able to enjoy it. I will most likely not be able to differentiate between a superior performance and simply a good performance.
    Paul

    Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post

    Yes indeed, but to me the first thing to consider is 'is the music any good'? For example, I have a 1926 recording of Fritz Kreisler playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto in both LP and CD formats. In any format it sounds awful by the standards of even 50 years ago - but it's great music

    Geoff

    Leave a comment:


  • Geoff Millar
    replied
    Originally posted by kenny_k View Post
    From the conversation, the debate depends on what comprises the reproduction chain. What components are used and their effect on the final sound is the key and should be addressed in an individual's evaluation.
    Yes indeed, but to me the first thing to consider is 'is the music any good'? For example, I have a 1926 recording of Fritz Kreisler playing the Beethoven Violin Concerto in both LP and CD formats. In any format it sounds awful by the standards of even 50 years ago - but it's great music

    Geoff

    Leave a comment:


  • kenny_k
    replied
    From the conversation, the debate depends on what comprises the reproduction chain. What components are used and their effect on the final sound is the key and should be addressed in an individual's evaluation.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sydney
    replied
    Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post

    That's interesting: I think Telarc did this in the 1970s with its "Direct to Disc" classical recordings. I've heard a few, and they sound great - but the actual performances weren't quite as good as the best recordings from EMI, Decca and RCA.

    The RCA "Living Presence" and especially Mercury "Living Presence" were great LPs with usually excellent sound.

    Geoff
    Affirmative on Telarc.
    The problem with Direct is NO room for error and NO possibility of editing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Geoff Millar
    replied
    Originally posted by Sydney View Post
    That certainly was the largest factor for me. ;)
    Vinyl fans might be interested to know that Direct to Vinyl recording is in resurgence.
    That's interesting: I think Telarc did this in the 1970s with its "Direct to Disc" classical recordings. I've heard a few, and they sound great - but the actual performances weren't quite as good as the best recordings from EMI, Decca and RCA.

    The RCA "Living Stereo" and especially Mercury "Living Presence" were great LPs with usually excellent sound.

    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoff Millar; 03-26-2017, 02:12 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sydney
    replied
    On a related note: Ortofon cutter head settings for frequency response and Music Genres
    http://www.torbenteknik.dk/Ortofon%2...2021111620.PDF

    Leave a comment:


  • Sydney
    replied
    Originally posted by mattsk8 View Post
    ...IMO, the biggest factors in vinyl that effect the sound of the music being playing (in order) are...-The cartridge...
    That certainly was the largest factor for me. ;)
    Vinyl fans might be interested to know that Direct to Vinyl recording is in resurgence.

    Leave a comment:


  • Audion
    replied
    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.

    Ripping an LP to a digital file would not eliminate differences in mastering.

    As a side note, some albums are mastered differently; one version for vinyl LP and one version for digital distribution. But this is not always the case; sometimes, one master is made and it's used for both vinyl and digital products. Ironically, modern vinyl releases are supplied in a digital WAV file, which is then lathed. From the link below; "whereas for vinyl the delivery is generally two WAV files, one for each side of the record.".

    Digital formats have a much greater dynamic range and channel separation that what is possible on vinyl LP due to the physical limitations of vinyl technology.

    Here's a short discussion about mastering in the vinyl and digital world:

    http://www.soundonsound.com/sound-ad...gital-releases

    In the recent past, mastering tended toward a "louder" sound overall. This is why some people don't like some recent "remastered albums". Thankfully, this trend is fading.
    Note that neither vinyl nor digital products are immune to the practice.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

    Shawn

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  • mattsk8
    replied
    Originally posted by DE Focht View Post


    So it is 2017 ......please consider RIAA equalization and the loudness wars rage on LP too. This is not the difference maker.

    EVERY LP is compressed.....channel separation ...disasterous! but a helpful patch for 2 channel's weaknesses on center imaging

    Seriously guys, we can't google how LP's are made?

    What speed does your turntable play at when the cartridge is on the rest? What speed does it play at when the cartridge is dragging around the grooves?

    Here's one you may not have considered, what is the speed error of your digital source? So many details to consider, multiplied by all the varied systems we own.



    It is great people can enjoy music in any format. .
    Channel separation via turntables is disasterous... lol, was that conclusion drawn using a Crosley turntable with a penny taped to the tonearm head?... . Channel separation from my turntable vs channel separation from my CDP isn't much different at all (and I don't have cheap CDPs; and actually I would say my turntable bests my CDP in channel separation most of the time, but definitely not by a long shot, and it depends on the album being played. For example, my Fleetwood Mac, Rumors SACD sounds better to me than my Fleetwood Mac, Rumors record... but my DSOM record sounds (mildly) better than my DSOM CD. And my Bros In Arms record vs my Bros In Arms SACD is nearly impossible to differentiate... unless I get a static pop while playing the record. My Wish You Were Here record will annihilate my Wish You Were Here SACD in terms of SQ. And in some situations, you can't get a CD that sounds as good as a record... like Monster Magnet, Powertrip for example sounds pathetically compressed on CD, and sounds excellent on vinyl. I'm not saying I've scoured the world over for different masterings of the Powertrip album on CD, but that CD sucks compared to my record. I haven't found the gap from "sounds like crap on record but sounds amazing on CD" to be nearly that large when comparing any of my records to my CDs, they're a lot closer- my Rumors albums from SACD to record is the furthest, and both sound good, I just prefer my SACD.

    Edit: Just remembered my Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA albums... CD is vastly superior to my original vinyl pressing here; the vinyl is horribly bright.

    Turntable speed is very easily verified, not only are there inexpensive devices that (very) accurately show turntable RPM, there are even reliable (free) cell phone apps that show what your turntable's actual speed is. I contemplated a speed controller for my turntable so I could dial it in, but before I did that I decided to get the speed monitor for it and check it... and my Music Hall turntable is perfectly at 33 RPM while I'm playing a 33 RPM record, and a 45 plays perfectly at 45 RPM. And while speed can effect sound a LOT, it isn't a variable that (short of checking out of curiosity just to confirm that your table isn't a turd) really needs to be considered on most respectable turntables... you'll hear a speed issue if you have one immediately.

    IMO, the biggest factors in vinyl that effect the sound of the music being playing (in order) are...
    -The cartridge <(probably a tie with...)> The album master (the actual record being played)
    -The phono preamp <(probably a tie with...)> the turntable itself

    Now that^ is assuming your table is properly setup (cartridge alignment, azimuth, tracking force, etc). And also assuming there are no flaws in the actual design of your turntable. And that order would obviously be situational, a phono preamp could be the #1 cause of bad sound in your system, or the table, or the cartridge... but generally speaking that's the order from greatest to least... IMO.

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  • kevintomb
    replied
    Has anyone else ever looked at what sine waves look like on a scope, being played from vinyl?

    The argument is usually "We listen to music, not sine waves", but going back to the simplest of sounds and seeing what is being done, often will lead to a better understanding of why a much more complex signal (music) sounds the way it does in the end.

    My personal opinion, is that vinyl is not exactly the same as analog, even thought it technically is analog.
    Vinyl has a small palette of coloration's and distortions that are not common to any other analog carried, but in fact are what makes vinyl sound the way it does. Many wrongly attribute the vinyl sound to it being analog, but are actually mild distortions inherent to vinyl.

    Leave a comment:

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