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Thread: Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl

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    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl

    Forgive me if this this has already been linked here. It is an old piece from February. The people interviewed should know what they are talking about. The salesmen and enthusiasts I have heard at the shows, on the other hand, tend to encourage whatever is selling.

    http://www.citypages.com/music/why-c...-vinyl-6626055
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducatista47 View Post
    Forgive me if this this has already been linked here. It is an old piece from February. The people interviewed should know what they are talking about. The salesmen and enthusiasts I have heard at the shows, on the other hand, tend to encourage whatever is selling.

    http://www.citypages.com/music/why-c...-vinyl-6626055
    I am going to be 100% honest and tell you that I did not and am not going to read your article.
    I skimmed it and saw towards the bottom: Neil Young, Jack White, PONO and everybody knows what's best except those who don't know anything, right there in the sub-title of the piece and restated a second time at the bottom. That's enough for me.
    Life is too short.

    I do not and never have understood the incessant noise on the "subject". It barely qualifies as a mental exercise or debate and it's certainly not an interesting one. It's a "them or us" conversation for many and a "why, I have some of BOTH that I think are great" "why there'e nothing wrong with having BOTH" (the calming position of the Audio Peace Makers on the boards when the flames start to fly) and can go no where, yet people (some) will "fight the fight" to prove who's "right" forever or so it seems.

    99.9% of the gibberish posted over at the Hoffman forums (a place where this "discussion" will thrive until the plug is pulled, along with "how many copies of "The White Album" is too many?") seems to eventually get back to the question eventually, as if one were to "debate" it long enough a universal consensus would be reached. That, or the unwashed (as viewed by either side) would become converts or surrender and confess the error of their ways.
    That's even if the thread started life as one about a turntable or a cartridge.....................OR a particular CD player currently trending........
    Borders on a religious fanaticism at times. Someone's always on the lookout for a soul to save when it comes to this topic.

    The way I see it, around 1982 or so a technology came along that in a fairly short period of time took the ready availability of something familiar (and LOVED for decades) away from a bunch of folks due to market forces, and some of them have been REALLY pissed off about it ever since, BUT, this change made a LOT of folks happy, so much so that they (both sides of this coin) will babble and argue endlessly on a subject that they, in reality (most of them) actually know very little about (the technology side of things).

    I already had to live through the Lp versus CD fight of the early '90s amongst fellow music lovers.........and the biggest unreported skirmish of them all, "which format makes for a better cassette recording"! But it was early on in The Format Wars and was a friendly sort of picking, like ragging on a friend for his love of a football team other than yours..................it didn't come with charts, graphs and measurements. Seems like it was still more about the music then too..............those early days of the "digital revolution"........

    I personally love and prefer Lps in most instances. The only thing I really like about CDs is the fact that I can handle them while drinking heavily (used to) with little to no worries and they're portable (though even that's no longer the case by today's standards). So "old skool"; "physical media" they call it.

    Reality and what's available on what format has caused me to buy and own many titles on CD. I'm glad to have them. For many many many titles the choice isn't even applicable (although that seems to be changing as of late due to the current trend of the Vinyl Renaissance)
    I probably have, percentage wise, just as many Lps as CDs that sound like shit to my ears, so go figure. If I had MY choice................but then again, and nowadays, I just don't.........
    I also PREFER rotary telephones (W.E. and S-C for sound quality and the ability to deliver it for an ENTIRE conversation), land lines and answering machines that are intelligible (use a tape) but for the most part with regards to THAT preference I'm just shit out of luck as well. Can't "dial 1" for English.
    Like I said, never saw the point and to each his own. Exactly the same as "what tastes better?".

    Talk about

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    Senior Member gferrell's Avatar
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    DITTO Wagner!
    XPL 200's, XPL 160's, XPL 140's, L7's, L5's, L3's, L1's Homemade L Center, 4412's, 4406, L60T's, L20T's

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Perhaps if you'd spent as much time reading as you did writing . . . ?

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - A. Lincoln

    Clark, thanks for the article link. It makes sense and of course it explains why I feel the way I do about digital reproduction. I always appreciate your contributions, whether it's a recommendation for a jazz artist, or an interesting book on the history of recorded sound. Keep it up and don't mind the comments from those who only speak to hear themselves talk.


    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

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    Quote Originally Posted by gferrell View Post
    DITTO Wagner!
    Thank you

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    Senior Member hsosdrum's Avatar
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    Since back the 1970s (before CDs), the things I always hated about listening to music on vinyl LPs were:

    1) The music never ever issued from complete silence. There was always some background "hash" present in the quiet (not to mention silent) passages, no matter how new/clean the LP or how good the player.

    2) I've never heard an LP side play all the way through (and I've heard some top-flight LPs and players in my nearly 40 years in audio) that didn't produce at least a few ticks, pops or other extra-musical sounds. Whenever these occur they instantly destroy my emotional involvement with what I'm hearing, reminding me that at that moment I'm only listening to an electro-mechanical system and not real human beings.

    3) Having to flip the record over to hear a complete symphony. It makes me an errand boy instead of an emotionally-involved listener.

    Of course the LP format has other annoyances (restricted dynamic range, the competition between bass performance and the time available on an LP side, that 'sonic soup' that passes itself off as a three-dimensional soundstage) but the three above are the biggies for me.

    As soon as CD came along I replaced my vinyl as quickly as I could afford and have never looked back. I just plain enjoy listening to music on CDs more than I ever did when the best the industry could come up with was to drag a rock along the surface of a piece of soft plastic.

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    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    Ford v Chevy
    direct drive v belt
    auto v manual
    mm v mc
    North v south
    dem v repub

    etc,etc , etc.

    there is NO correct answer, it's whatever you like best. You aren't going to convert me and I
    won't try with you.

    Neither format is even near live/real . Each has their own problems.
    I was maxed with CD until a new deck with super DAC , now the balance has tipped back that way , but maybe a new super turntable cartridge will sway it the other way ?

    This is yet another subject for bored people who like to argue.
    STRANGE ....is the new NORMAL

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    Quote Originally Posted by hsosdrum View Post
    Since back the 1970s (before CDs), the things I always hated about listening to music on vinyl LPs were:
    3) Having to flip the record over to hear a complete symphony. It makes me an errand boy instead of an emotionally-involved listener.
    So dramatic!

    Man! That post was so full of good information about how much Lp playback sucks I'm going to go throw all of mine out on the curb right now! Don't know what in the hell I was thinking; buying and listening to music off of all these shitty old records for all of these years!
    Thanks!

    But seriously, why didn't you spring for a pro grade reel to reel machine? That's what most of the serious classical music aficionados I knew used for serious playback, "since back the 1970s (before CDs)", better yet, why in the heck were you engaged in an activity that you "always hated" and found so unappealing?
    Sort of counterintuitive, wouldn't you agree? That, or a situation that would have led to you becoming a fine musician. Is that the case? Are you a musician?
    Or are you going to tell me the part now that you were just a poor kid with a paper route who could only afford a BSR Stack-o-Matic with a ceramic cartridge and who just happened to have a hankering for the Old Warhorses, four uninterrupted movements at the time?
    "Der Ring des Nibelungen"? (how do you think Wagner fans feel still there good buddy, huh?) CD didn't do shit for us.

    All kidding aside, glad Red Book made all your dreams come true; you know what they say: "Perfect Sound Forever"!
    (and thank you for demonstrating my postulate on "whenever this subject comes up")

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    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    Ford v Chevy
    direct drive v belt
    auto v manual
    mm v mc
    North v south
    dem v repub

    etc,etc , etc.

    there is NO correct answer, it's whatever you like best. You aren't going to convert me and I
    won't try with you.

    Neither format is even near live/real . Each has their own problems.
    I was maxed with CD until a new deck with super DAC , now the balance has tipped back that way , but maybe a new super turntable cartridge will sway it the other way ?

    This is yet another subject for bored people who like to argue.
    It's all about the recording/pressing brother, either or
    And we're going to assume a reasonably decent quality machine for either as well

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    Senior Member Doctor_Electron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hsosdrum View Post
    Since back the 1970s (before CDs), the things I always hated about listening to music on vinyl LPs were:
    +1

    I have CD's that sound like crap, CD's that possess amazing audio qualities, and CD's that fall somewhere in between.

    The production of excellent sounding CD's is dependent on excellent mastering and the availability to the mastering engineers of excellent master tapes to work from.

    To each his own, though

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ducatista47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor_Electron View Post
    +1

    I have CD's that sound like crap, CD's that possess amazing audio qualities, and CD's that fall somewhere in between.

    The production of excellent sounding CD's is dependent on excellent mastering and the availability to the mastering engineers of excellent master tapes to work from.

    To each his own, though
    Indeed, that is why I posted the link. The main sources of information in it are illustrious mastering and recording engineers, not celebrities with opinions. Their final words? (I have to add that your statement ignores digital recording. No master tape is necessary.)



    Many audio engineers disagree. Scott Metcalfe, for example, says that recording to analog tape isn't any purer than recording music digitally. But the distortion and pitch variation that analog tape adds to the recording are preferred by some artists and audiences.

    "I think there are few people who would tell you that recording classical music to analog tape has any benefit at all," Metcalfe says. But for some artists, he says -- particularly in rock -- those layers of distortion are preferable.

    Ludwig says he mastered White's Lazaretto on analog tape not because it's a better way to master but because "it's what [White] wanted."

    "For many world-class mixers," Ludwig says, "mixing to analog tape has no advantages if what comes out of the console is exactly what you want." However, for a less skilled mixing engineer, mixing to analog tape can "'glue' the music together in the most wonderful way," he says.

    Whether it's analog tape versus digital recordings, or vinyl versus CDs, objective quality is not the conversation: It's about which one the artist and listener prefer.

    "Every way you can measure it, digital is going to be superior," Metcalfe says. "It really does come down to the preference of the end user."

    Or, as Kees Immink says: "Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is better."


    I spend what I do and toil as I have done with my system to hear what is on the recording. Euphonic presentation is another goal entirely and what I am frankly tired of is not listeners' taste, which is unassailable by definition, but rather the unscientific confusion between the two. In the science of sound, indeed all science, beliefs don't matter. As Neil Degrasse Tyson says, science is not changed by whether you believe in it or not. No audio reproduction is objectively perfect, but science can tell us what is closer to it. And what is not.

    Welcome to your opinions; it is the science that matters to me. That statement is also as unassailable.

    Thank you to everyone who participated here, but a special thanks to those who actually read the feature.
    Information is not Knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom
    Too many audiophiles listen with their eyes instead of their ears


  12. #12
    Senior Member hsosdrum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    But seriously, why didn't you spring for a pro grade reel to reel machine?
    Because either 1) you had to make recordings of LPs, which didn't solve any of the format's problems (except for side-flipping), or 2) you were stuck with the extremely limited selection of pre-recorded tapes offered by record companies. Neither made the format attractive to invest in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    better yet, why in the heck were you engaged in an activity that you "always hated" and found so unappealing?
    Sort of counterintuitive, wouldn't you agree? That, or a situation that would have led to you becoming a fine musician. Is that the case? Are you a musician?
    Yes, I've been a musician since I was 10 years old. A fine one? I think so. I was able to make a living at it for a while, but that's a whole other story. And in spite of the LP's deficiencies, it was the best format available at the time, so I was stuck with it. Nonetheless, I still hated its limitations. And I guess that's what this is all about: the CD's limitations don't get in the way of my enjoyment of music, while the LP's always did. YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    Or are you going to tell me the part now that you were just a poor kid with a paper route who could only afford a BSR Stack-o-Matic with a ceramic cartridge and who just happened to have a hankering for the Old Warhorses, four uninterrupted movements at the time?
    Fortunately, good sound didn't become important to me until I could afford decent gear. When I was a kid I listened on the system my father built (Eico kits, a Garrard turntable, home-built speakers with Jensen drivers), so the seed was definitely planted early.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    "Der Ring des Nibelungen"? (how do you think Wagner fans feel still there good buddy, huh?) CD didn't do shit for us.
    Wagner? (the composer, not you) Can't stand his stuff. Wouldn't get up to put the needle on the beginning of the record, let alone change sides. Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Copland? That's a whole different story. Music deserves to be heard as the composer intended, and if four movements were written, they were meant to be heard in succession.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post
    All kidding aside, glad Red Book made all your dreams come true; you know what they say: "Perfect Sound Forever"!
    Not perfect, but for me a much more satisfying listening experience than LP can offer. 'Perfect' is playing my instrument; creating music in the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hsosdrum View Post
    Yes, I've been a musician since I was 10 years old. A fine one? I think so..............Wagner? (the composer, not you) Can't stand his stuff. Wouldn't get up to put the needle on the beginning of the record, let alone change sides......................


    Quote Originally Posted by hsosdrum View Post
    ...........'Perfect' is playing my instrument; creating music in the moment.
    As it always always "issues" from complete silence I'm sure!

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    Senior Member hsosdrum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wagner View Post



    As it [music I create] always always "issues" from complete silence I'm sure!
    In my studio? You bet your ass it does. It's quieter in there than any LP ever was while playing a "silent" passage, that's for sure.

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Ticks, pops, and analog S/N ratio are well known issues with LPs and can definitely be distractions from the music. Beyond that, I agree that the theoretical and very real technical advantage that digital has in the bass region can be a real benefit.

    I think the article was spot on with:

    "That said, every audio engineer we spoke to said it's not hard to find LPs that sound better than CDs. Mastering, production and manufacturing variables can drastically tilt the scale either way."



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