Do Vinyl Records Sound Better than CDs? (Spoiler: Nope)

I’ve been discussing a number of audiophile myths here on Kirkville, and today I’d like to address another one: the myth that vinyl sounds better than CDs (or downloads). Vinyl sales are booming, reaching the highest levels in more than ten years. To be fair, this isn’t difficult; as long as sales continue to increase, they’ll be higher than any time since the Great Vinyl Decline of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

People abandoned vinyl for several reasons: CDs were more convenient, less fragile, and sounded better[1]. Turntables were annoying and fragile, and you had to manually change sides of records; with CDs, you can play an entire album without flipping discs.

I grew up with vinyl, and, while I miss the bigger artwork, and the added room for liner notes, that’s all I miss. I don’t miss the clicks and pops of vinyl, or the way that, if you bumped into the turntable, or whatever shelf it was on, you could scratch a record, damaging it permanently. With older, scratched records, sometimes the only way to listen to them was to place a penny on the cartridge to add weight to it. Also, the quality of the plastic used for vinyl records was often poor, meaning that records wore out quickly. Oh, and you had to deal with dust, records that warped if exposed to heat or were stored flat, static electricity that could perturb things, the spindle hole that might be off-center, and wow and flutter that added noise to playback.

But the biggest problem with vinyl is simply that records wear out. Audiophiles tout the higher frequency response of vinyl over CDs, saying that vinyl can play back those frequencies that we can’t hear.[2] First, this is only true with a pristine record, a perfect stylus, and a high-end stereo system; in most cases, vinyl’s frequency range is lower than that of CDs. Bear in mind that needles used to play records are made of diamonds, a very hard substance, and each play of a record wears it out a bit. This wear results in lower frequency response and lower overall fidelity. Stereo separation is poor on vinyl; there is spillover from one channel to the other, which is an inherent weakness of the playback process. And, because of RIAA equalization[3], the sound on a recording is manipulated, both for pressing, to reduce low frequencies, and for playback, to attempt to restore them.

But there’s another problem with vinyl that most people don’t consider. The first grooves on an LP offer 510 mm of vinyl per second, but as you get to the end of a side, there’s only around 200 mm per second; less than half the resolution. This is similar to the difference in tape speeds dropping from, say, 15 ips (inches per second) to 7.5 ips. Anyone who has worked with tapes knows that this speed difference results in much lower fidelity. Back in the LP days, musicians would argue about who got their songs on the beginnings of sides, and the music you listen to on an LP gets lower in quality as you get closer to the center.

Most people, when discussing vinyl, talk about an “analog sound,” saying that vinyl sounds “warmer” or “richer” than digital. It does; because there is less frequency response (poorer reproduction of high frequencies), and more distortion. Just as tube amps may sound “better” because of the distortion they introduce into playback, the same is true for vinyl. That “warmth” you hear is simply the poor quality of the playback; the distortion caused by the analog chain, and its lack of detail.

“But the other part of it is that the experience of listening to an LP involves a lot more than remastering and sound sources. There’s the act of putting a record on, there is the comforting surface noise, there is the fact that LPs are beautiful objects and CDs have always looked like plastic office supplies. So enjoying what an LP has to offer is in no way contingent on convincing yourself that they necessarily sound better than CDs.”[4]

There’s a fetishism around vinyl, it’s about the process of listening. If you take more time to prepare for something, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy it more. If this is what you want, then by all means, go for it; but the sound of vinyl is actually inferior to that of CDs or digital audio.

So this is yet another myth that’s used to market products to people who don’t know better. You may like the idea of vinyl, but my guess is that, if you grew up with vinyl, you are probably aware of its limitations, and don’t want to go back into the past. I find it interesting that many audiophiles prefer a format that provides audio in a lower quality, and with more distortion.


Let me close with a few tidbits from turntable reviews in hi-fi magazines.

Each instrument and voice sat unambiguously in the soundstage with a largeness and roundness at its edges—the opposite of an analytic and etched sound.

Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine sounded brilliant on the Clearaudio Ovation, which lent just enough warmth and body to the sound to humanize this music while not obscuring its drive and pulse, its stops and starts.

the music was a steady stream of sound that quickly became a river, then just a few drops

produced a big, slightly warm orchestral sound. String tone was rich, with a pleasing golden glow. The piano’s lower register was cleanly rendered and remained well defined against the hall’s reverberant field. The upper keyboard sounded supple, with a rich, woody, yet sparkling bite. Image stability and solidity were never in question, and the system’s dynamic punch announced a turntable that seemed in complete control.

And, I’ll finish with another gem from What Hi-Fi?:

Play an album such as Nirvana’s Nevermind and the Point 5 delivers an energetic sound that combines fluidity, stability and authority brilliantly.

Where most rivals render a sharply etched sound packed with detail, the Point 5 has a more rounded presentation where the leading and trailing edges of notes aren’t overly emphasised, but the bits in between are defined richly.

The result is an immensely likeable presentation that’s big and muscular without suffering from a lack of agility or finesse.


  1. Yes, many early CDs sounded bad, because mastering engineers initially used masters created for LPs, and it took a while for them to, well, master the process for the digital medium.  ↩

  2. See Music, not Sound: Why High-Resolution Music Is a Marketing Ploy.  ↩

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization  ↩

  4. Pitchfork: Does Vinyl Really Sound Better?  ↩

178 thoughts on “Do Vinyl Records Sound Better than CDs? (Spoiler: Nope)

  1. Here here. Excellent refutation of the vinyl-is-better argument. I always argued that if you had thousands of dollars to spend on vinyl and the equipment for vinyl, it *could* sound different than a CD, but probably not better.

    I just don’t understand the mentality that favors vinyl over having a device that costs a few hundred dollars and I can hold in my hand and contain my ENTIRE MUSIC COLLECTION and reproduce the exact same sound after 1000s of plays. If someone handed an iPod with 1000 albums on it to me in the 1980s I would have thought it could only come from alien technology.

    • Ok so I read kirks post and I have one comment. Have your ears checked. This article is stupid at best. The technical assumptions don’t translate to the end result. I was involved with a blind test about 8 years ago. About 25 people listened to some music and were asked to rate the sound quality. It was an A/B comparison of cd vs vinyl playback. The equipment was behind a curtain and nobody new which format was playing. The recordings were from identical master tapes for both CD and vinyl. Some pieces were studio recordings and others were live music recordings. We listened to various genres of music. All of the music was recorded by the same recording engineer using the same equipment.

      After the votes were in as to which was the preferred playback, 97% of the focus group chose the vinyl playback over the CD playback. It turned out that the record player was an $800 set up and the CD player costs $28,000. We were all blown away by the result. So this article is plain stupid and makes no sense. Vinyl sound is way better unless you are deaf. 4,000,000 vinyl units were sold last year because why, ‘people are fools?’ No, it’s because of the sound quality, not the album cover art work. If you still don’t think so, buy a better turntable already.

      • I usually delete comments like this that are abusive. You wouldn’t talk that way to me if we were face to face, but you somehow feel entitled to be abusive because this is a comment on a website.

        But I didn’t, because I want to point out two things about your A/B test. It may not have been a fair test; the dice may have been loaded. It’s well known that if you hear two things to compare audio quality, and the sound is not exactly the same, you naturally tend to favor the one that is louder. It’s very important that the volume be exactly the same.

        But even more importantly, you say:

        “The recordings were from identical master tapes for both CD and vinyl.”

        Well, if that’s the case, then it’s obvious that one will sound better. You need to have very different masters for CD and vinyl, which is why CDs sounded so bad in the early days (they used tapes that were mastered for vinyl).

        So it sounds to me that your test was designed to prove that vinyl sounded better, and the magician on stage misdirected you into thinking that it was.

            • I am a classically trained musician and have played/listened to real instruments (acoustic) for a long time. Vinyl clearly sounds more realistic than CD. The spacial cues are present in music recorded using analog tape to vinyl. These are missing in CD, which uses a brick wall filter to cut everything off above 20khz (yes I know humans supposedly can’t hear above this level, but it has been proven that we DO receive spacial cues from this region, and in any case, CD’s have a SUDDEN cutoff above this level, while human hearing has a GRADUAL rolloff). This is why 24/96 and (especially) DSD files sound more realistic and warm with more body to the sound than CD quality (16/44). None of this was understood at the time of the creation of the CD format. I ditched my albums 20 years ago but bought into SACD when it came out because I could hear a clear difference from CD. When I decided to reinvest in a high quality turntable/cartridge recently I was FLOORED by the beautiful sound I had been missing. With CD if you listen closely, you can hear a high frequency “ring” that sounds like a wall is being hit, causing lack of a natural decay of the sound. This I have found to be true with every CD I have listened to. Over the years, good engineers/recordists have gotten around this problem by recording in a more ambient hall to make up for this to some degree, but it is there regardless. Vinyl is not perfect, but for the present (double DSD and 196 PCM are getting close) vinyl is still the best. All of course is dependent on your having a system capable of high resolution playback (preamp/amp/speakers).

        • Hey Keith,

          Sorry to open an older thread and thank you for taking the time to put your article together. You may have already answered this, I just have a hard time reading through negative attack posts. Using the premise that any comparison can’t be fair between vinyl and CD when you go back to use master analog tapes, how else can it be done? Let’s take John Coltrane’s Blue Train, for example. Rudy Van Gelder is notorious for being able to re-produce a sound that is a close to the live sound in the studio as possible. So in this case, because there is only an analog source, how do you compare? Do you have to take the analog source and convert it to digital and manipulate it to make it sound good? If that’s the case, what would sound better; the original sound from the studio or one that has digitally manipulated?

          Thanks.

          • You don’t actually have to “manipulate” it, but when you do the mastering for CD, you do apply some alterations. Mastering for LP and CD is very different, as I explain briefly in the article. But they are both techniques that are well understood. Essentially, you adapt the music slightly for the limitations of each medium.

            This said, no reproduction will sound as good as the original sound from the studio, or even the original studio tapes played in the mixing room. So there’s not much point pretending that you’ll achieve that sound.

            • Not to mention that all sound reproduction is a slave to the room and the microphone (and placement, and gain settings etc….

        • Dear Kirk, You couldn’t be more wrong and YES I would invite you over to my house and say that to your face or I would come to yours or meet you anywhere and I would say it any way I chose. But because I don’t want you to delete my post
          I will refrain from using abusive language, Analog is the purest form of sound and YES it does sound better than digital with all things being equal, I think Dire Straits Brothers In Arms sounds better on a properly mastered Cd, But its a digital recording to begin with, I also think Miles Davis Kind Of Blue sounds better on Vinyl, But its an analog recording to begin with. If you take an analog recording and treat it with care in the mastering stage, It will ALWAYS sound better than its digital counterpart treated with the same care, And the same applies to properly cared for digital recordings. A-A-A will always sound better than A-D-D or A-A-D, And D-D-D wills always sound better than D-A-A or D-D-A, The break down in sound quality has always been at the mastering stage. If recordings are treated with care from A-Z, Regardless of the format, You will have a superior product. My Blue Note XRCD’s which were controlled from A-Z sound great, But the same recordings which were controlled A-Z from Music Matters sound noticeably better. And the Mastering techs are equals as far as I am concerned. So I would say to you very politely in this post to have your hearing tested. I have had mine tested with excellent results

      • Funny, I’ve done similar tests, in my home, and no one could tell which was vinyl and which was CD. The results were the same as random guessing. This is particularly true if everything played is in one format or the other. People start hearing all sorts of differences.

        But what was most interesting was all the creative excuses people come up with after I show them the results. :)

    • I agree with this analysis, especially the section on loss of resolution from the edge of the record to the center.

      However,

      “The first grooves on an LP offer 510 mm of vinyl per second, but as you get to the end of a side, there’s only around 200 mm per second…”

      is not quite right, and could be misleading. There is only one groove on each side of a vinyl record.

      Just sayin’.

      • You’re right, but one does generally talk about the inner and outer “grooves” as though each ring was a separate groove.

    • Quote : “I just don’t understand the mentality that favors vinyl over having a device that costs a few hundred dollars and I can hold in my hand and contain my ENTIRE MUSIC COLLECTION”

      You genius you argue that vinyl sounds better because, as it is bigger in size than a CD, it is easier to find when misplaced.

  2. it’s worth pointing out that a wider frequency and dynamic range can be cut into a vinyl master than can ever be reproduced so digital has a clear advantage right there.

    A CD master repurposed for vinyl (as is common today) will sound about as average as a vinyl master for CD (early days of digital). If artists had more consideration for the medium involved and tailored specifically for each, the results would be significantly improved.

    • One would hope the vinyl was mastered to accommodate vinyl, and not just “ported” from the digital.

      Joe

      • The Beatles remasters on vinyl, for example, are cut from the same digital master as the CD. They even proudly state the fact.

        The 2013 Miles Davis mono vinyl remasters are spectacular due entirely to employing an opposing approach. They more than just rival the download versions.

        • That’s great. So you are trying to say when they mastered these albums (which were analogue recordings to begin with) for digital they didn’t have a care in the world of how it would sound on vinyl, and using the same masters for vinyl was sheer luck, not planned?

          Joe

        • The Beatles mono LP remasters are taken from a different master than the mono CD remasters, they are cut from the analog master tape and they sound way better than their CD counterpart.

  3. “Better” is subjective and relative. “Different’ is more quantifiable. All the differences you point out are true enough. But those differences can make something better, even if the measurables are different and less. That is how things can become greater than the sum of its parts. And as any Apple user should know, the UX is just as important as the speeds and feeds.

    The other thing that can affect how things sound is the quality of the equipment used for playback. For instance, while many argued about the quality of MP3s versus CDs/AIFFs/WAVs, most people’s equipment couldn’t really reproduce that difference, even Apple’s iPod’s and earbuds. Once you get even a good set of earphones it really is amazing how good MP3s and MP4s can sound.

    Joe

    • Good earphones have a really, really hard time existing for numerous reasons. For one, geometry is not very benign to distortion, and for other, there’s this ear canal resonance at 7 Khz that really causes even more issues if tried to compensate acoustically. In theory, this is something they should be doing in software EQ. Why does no major company offer a smartphone which has earphone-matched 16-band or something EQs?

      That of course for people for which they sit “perfectly”. Headphones don’t sound the same to different people, but earphones are even worse.

      On-ear/over-ear headphones also often have typical resonances, but they are quite a bit weaker and easier to deal with.

  4. Also, a lot happens in the mastering of recorded music. Methods and practices back in the day of vinyl made up for some of the things you point out. These days mastering music for CDs and even compressed formats usually accommodates the sonic possibilities. That wasn’t always the case, especially in the early days of digital.

    Joe

    • @jfrutal a lot doesn’t always happen in the mastering of music. It depends entirely on the mastering engineer, more importantly the source and of course the release medium.
      The methods and practices by the vinyl mastering engineers did not “make up for some of the things” pointed out by Kirk. Utter tripe. Seems the mastering engineer blame game still lives on (it may behoove consumers to attend just one mastering session to see what actually goes on – they may change their preconceived notions).
      Generally, European engineers performed flat transfers from tape to lacquer, whereas American engineers preferred to tweak (some a lot more than others). Neumann only added the option to tweak to their lathes much later than Sculley for example, thinking that no one would want anything but a flat transfer. Americans thought the Germans were mad (whereas the Europeans held an opposing view) but even so, the Neumann systems were still much more common at the time.
      Vinyl mastering engineers could lessen the affect of issues as pointed out in the article and produce a better result simply by sequencing an album (a real art form) appropriately in anticipation of high frequencies not being reproduced in quite the same way on inside as on the outside of the disc and by keeping side lengths to around 20mins. This isn’t always possible with predetermined sequencing (eg piano concerto or opera) and it changes for mono and stereo cutting. Engineers were perhaps much more skilled in the vinyl era than today. They knew the limitations of the medium and used methods (not necessarily just processing as pointed out above) to lessen their effect on the end result. Same thing is true today for CD, SACD, PureAudio Bluray, download etc. Not a lot has changed, we deal with the same issues, just packaged slightly differently.
      As to people bemoaning the RIAA curve, without it you wouldn’t achieve anything more than around 5 minutes of low frequency information per side. Again it’s only a limitation if you make it one.
      Best I leave it there before this results in a book.

      • This assumes that sequencing is flexible. As you say, if you’re putting, say, a string quartet on an LP, you can’t choose which movement goes where. So, the sound quality decreases as you go on.

        I recall, back in the early 80s, that some classical recordings were released on 12″ 45 rpm discs; this was presumably to counter the degradation of sound quality toward the center of the disc, but these 45s had limited time, so I doubt it made much of a difference. On the other hand, I remember seeing LPs with up to 30 minutes on a side; there must have been a very big loss of quality with those as they got closer to the center.

        • Yes, exactly my point above. It isn’t always possible (eg piano concerto or opera), it depends entirely on genre and the client’s intent. It all impacts the final result.
          The same is true for CD, as you only have so much data you can squeeze on a disc before the plant rejects the master.

        • I think this is a clear illustration and one reason why classical engineers embraced the CD as a release format to such a large extent and so quickly and why it is technically a superior format to vinyl in at least one quantifiable way.
          As an aside (depending on the label), a late 70’s/early 80’s classical vinyl (and some jazz) releases were more than likely a digital capture of the performance (as early as 1971 for Nippon Columbia and 1979 for Decca – the first European label) and therefore cut from a digital source (interestingly the Decca system was two channel 18bit/48kHz).

        • No, those were made by adjusting the groove spacing using a second playback head to anticipate changes in volume.

      • Do you know what I mean by “mastering”? Not the process of pressing vinyl, right? The engineer who sits and listens to the final mixdowns prepping the audio for the production process. They guy who often balances out the levels, and too much so these days, adds compression and even sometimes reverb. Not all engineers do this, especially some of the best. but they actually do take a number of things into account, which is why they usually have a wall of various speakers to listen through. Some take mono listening into account. Some don’t. Not tripe at all if you have actually been a part of the process.

        Joe

        • Yes Joe, it has been my trade for over 20 years, day in, day out (often 16 hours a day). I am very much aware of what goes on. Hence my comment.

          How long have you been plying the trade?

          • I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for 30 years. I’m not a mastering engineer, but have been a part of the process countless times for no small number of commercial and private projects. Quite frankly I don’t see how anything you’ve presented contradicts what I’ve said. If anything you’ve fleshed it out and refined it.

            Joe

            • There are no ill feelings toward you on my end. I think you have misread my intent.

            • Thanks. To be fair, it did seem to me you came out of the gate swinging, countering me right off the bat and calling my comments “utter tripe”.

              No harm, no foul.
              Joe

      • “a lot doesn’t always happen in the mastering of music. It depends entirely on the mastering engineer, more importantly the source and of course the release medium.”

        Which is it? Either a lot doesn’t happen, or it depends on the engineer.

        joe

      • “Vinyl mastering engineers could lessen the affect of issues as pointed out in the article and produce a better result simply by sequencing an album (a real art form) appropriately in anticipation of high frequencies not being reproduced in quite the same way on inside as on the outside of the disc and by keeping side lengths to around 20mins.”

        And how in the world does this contradict my comment? I guess you are just gunning for a fight. not sure why.
        Joe

  5. Excellent. The only article I’ve ever seen that addresses the phenomenon that the needle covers more distance at the edges of the platter than the center because it turns at a constant rate. I had no idea that it was a “preferred spot” just for that reason, the way articles fight to be “above the fold” in a newspaper. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a CD spins at variable speeds, depending on the playhead position, correct? When I was about 8 years old I figured out that I could get better sounding recordings on my tape deck by recording and playing back at double speed (high speed dub mode FTW!). I sacrificed half the length of the tape in doing so, and could only playback on that specific device, but it was a noticeable (to my young full-range ears in the 80’s) quality improvement.

  6. This is the usual ridiculous nonsense from one of the bitter “digital people”. His “enlightenment” is laughable and his ignorance palpable. I wish these folks would just go about their business loving their files and stop worrying about “helping” the people who know there’s something special about the sound of vinyl. And by the way that includes many well-known recording engineers, producers and artists who certainly don’t need enlightenment from folks like this “tech” writer. All of these “issues” are hardly problems and of course he’s not willing to deal with the many issues of digital encoding because he’s deluded himself into thinking digital is “perfect” when in fact it has a host of serious issues, many of them quite audible if you bother to listen. In fact they are issues that repel people from sitting down and listening to music. That’s one reason people don’t do it much anymore….until they buy a turntable.

    • Do I say anywhere that digital is perfect? And I don’t say that the differences aren’t audible; they are, and they are degradation of sound.

      I had LPs and turntables for a very long time; I grew up with vinyl.

    • “In fact they are issues that repel people from sitting down and listening to music. That’s one reason people don’t do it much anymore….until they buy a turntable”

      If you mean listening while sitting down, then you might be right, but I listen much more music than my younger years. Judging by the fact that iPods outnumber Vinyls by hundreds of times, I can argue that people listen to music more than ever.

      Unfortunately people have less time to sit down for listening to music. Also it can be argued that you dont need to sit down to listen to music, you should be able to enjoy it all the time.

    • Well said Michael. At least the voice of reason. It’s so funny how you can tell what kind of person someone is and how much experience they really have in audio by their responses.

      • An actual “Voice of reason”, would be able to acknowledge the shortcomings of vinyl and discuss them intelligently. He is bashing the guy, and using straw man arguments.

      • Michael Fremer makes a living from selling stuff related to the vinyl resurgence. Also, I not only understand the math and physics of music reproduction, played in two anything-but-famous rock bands, but I bought my first LP in 1975 and when I bought my first classical LP in 1979 all I could do was obsess over how the noise was destroying my enjoyment of the music. The appearance of the CD fixed all that before I had to buy a pair of Burwens. I wish Julian D. Hirsch was still around. He would have a lot to say about this “vinyl is superior” nonsense.

    • Michael, you are simply extremely biased. He never said digital IS perfect, but on the other side of the coin, you seem to be unable to emotionally take any criticism of vinyl, or admit to its numerous (although at times minor) flaws. All of what he says is true. He is not saying digital is perfect and vinyl is crap, but merely being reasonable about how it really is. Those that in the last several years have become infatuated with vinyl, paint a very unrealistic picture of it at time. The reason CD Replaced vinyl, was cause the audiophile longed for something that did not have all the issues related to vinyl. You can not re-write history.

      For the record I think vinyl sounds great at times, even fantastic many times. That does not simply wash away all the minor to moderate flaws it has.

      Be realistic. It is not your child he is commenting on.

    • Cooler heads … http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_(Vinyl)

      In this Case Captain Kirk is spot on . . .

      Michael forgets to disclose that he profitably sells vinyl paraphernalia.

      MOST records were increasingly recorded digitally since the late 1970s.
      For – Classical it was the MID 1970s – presumably because for acoustic music (especially classical), quality is even More Important than it is for pop/rock.

    • There is “something special” about the sound of vinyl. It’s the fact that it has a sound, a highly euphonic but inaccurate sound.

      What one likes and what is accurate are two different things.

    • Liking something does not make it objectively better. The LP is the only current analog medium with huge levels of harmonic and IM distortion. Tell me, Mr Fremer… In what year did the LP reach its current level of perfection> (That’s not a rhetorical question.) The sound of LPs stinks, it always has stunk, and I don’t expect it to ever improve. The fact that there’s “something special about the sound of vinyl” is strong evidence of its inaccuracy.

      The other day I sat down with an SACD of “Das Lied von der Erde”, and thoroughly enjoyed it (if one can enjoy such a work).

      Digital recording is theoretically “perfect”, the principal problem being the low-pass and anti-aliasing filtering. The idea that their audible side-effects can wipe out the sound-degrading effects of out-and-out distortion is hard to swallow.

      I’ve made live digital recordings of full orchestra, and am in a position to claim that the sound is close to the original. Digital recording isn’t better because it measures better. It’s better because it’s audibly less-inaccurate.

    • Define “Sounds Better” in a way that is not simply related to your “Personal Opinion, or liking”?/

      How can it be a “Fact”, just cause you think so?

      That is kinda like saying “Corvettes are better, it is a fact, sorry”….better than a minivan for hauling people? Better than a luxury car? Better than a dump druck??

      Better in what actual REGARD?? Just cause you say so or think so, is merely an “opinion”. Not a fact. Huge difference.

      Saying YOU LIKE VINYL BETTER, is very factual.

  7. You millennials and old farts (of which I am one, LOL) can keep your vinyl!! I am just glad I was able to live long enough in my 45 years to witness and experience the glory of CDs and digital. No more pennies weighing down a scratched record; not to mention the inconvenience of having to return vinyl back to the store when it was scratched (yes… even new ones have scratches and skip). No thanks. I love old appliances; such as percolators, old Braun alarm clocks and a few other old but classic pieces of furniture as the older they get, the better they get. That does not apply to vinyl. Good riddance!

  8. Bear in mind that some people have other reasons to prefer vinyl. Most music of the west isnt remastered or have still have master tapes at all! I collect Turkish vinyl and the highest quality you can get of that music is the cleanest vinyl you can find :)

  9. The author of this article obviously not compared the sounds himself, the difference is quite apparent. It is not just the warmth in the sound it is life in the vocals, percussion, instruments which give vinyl it’s sound. It is a more direct and accurate sound.

    • I have worked as a professional sound engineer in the recording industry for several decades, so I feel I can weigh in. It’s erroneous to say “vinyl is better than digital” or vice versa. They are *different*. Does digital store a continuous curve sound wave? No, it’s a rasterized version of it. However the DAC takes the raster points and turns them into a vectorized continuously curved sound wave, not a stepped raster. Does digital sound the same as vinyl? No. But for other reasons than resolution and bit rate. Digital is not susceptible to minute particles of dust the way vinyl is. Every time a record is played the quality degrades minutely. Also, digital is more often than not listened to with headphones, while vinyl is usually listened to through speakers in an open room, which are completely different listening experiences. Statements like “direct” and “accurate” make no sense. Either a sound is direct, or it’s pointed away from you. Either a note is played or sung off pitch, or it’s accurate. The playback medium has nothing to do with it. Your record player may enhance the mid-range frequencies over lower and higher, thus giving you the perception that vocals and percussion are more “direct,” but this can be accurately simulated in a matter of seconds with a digital recording. It must be remembered that ALL music we listen to is analogue. Our ears can only perceive analog sound waves. And almost all music is generated analog (the exception being synthesized music, which is often recorded analog also.) The only difference is the recording, mastering, storing and playback medium. Even vinyl records of modern bands have been recorded and mastered digitally. A cassette tape is analog, but not many people will argue for the superiority of sound from cassettes.

  10. I see the Vinyl debate hinging on something that many are unable to fathom or understand. Vinyl for sure can sound great. But vinyl almost always sounds “Different” than anything else also. It has numerous “flaws” that are seen as enjoyable traits by some and seen as shortcomings by others. Some see the flaws as flaws, some see the flaws as positives.

  11. I honestly hear vinyl and as a blind person to me it feels like the band is really playing there live instead of the normal sound of a ipod and no i didnt type this myself so dont ask

  12. This is an interesting discussion so I thought id throw my two cents in. To start I think your title is misleading. “You say: Does vinyl sounds better then CDs? Nope.”

    But better is a subjective opinion. What the title should have read is “Is vinyl technically more advanced than digital.” The answer is no.

    I am currently listening to an old Journey album on LP and it sounds super warm and is highly enjoyable.

    In your opinion it sounds warmer due to a loss of reproduction of higher end frequencies, so it’s flawed.

    That could also be considered a good thing too. The human ear prefers what is the most pleasant. Tweaking higher and lower end frequencies is not always what the brain finds the most pleasant or enjoyable.

    They are really two positions to this argument. It’s a matter of subject and object.

    From the perspective of the listener (the subject) : “what does he or she prefer?”

    The second from the perspective of the object, what is being reproduced on the player?

    I see the argument from the subject you prefer the object.

    It sounds like your just upset that people like something tdifferent from what you consider a more technically superior choice.

    But a perfect reproduction does not necessary equate to what a subject finds the most enjoyable.

    I see the value of digital but from a subject perspective vinyl sounds wonderful as well depending on the experience im interested in having.

    Of course tomorrow morning I’ll be listening to Spotify and enjoying that too.

    Hopefully you also can sit down and enjoy how great digital sounds as well, and not only focus on the technical aspects, as a great experience is what it’s all about.

    – A Music Lover

    • I’m reacting to a common argument by “audiophiles,” who claim that vinyl sounds better than CDs. I agree, and I say it in the article, that one may prefer that sound, but I’m refuting that it is technically more correct.

    • If digital isn’t more-technically advanced than vinyl, something is very wrong. Vinyl is loaded with distortion; digital is theoretically perfect.

      The ultimate question — which is being perversely ignored — is whether what comes off an LP is closer to the LIVE SOUND that was being recorded. That is the ONLY thing that matters. The answer, or course is a resounding NO!

  13. All this is just generalization.

    To be fair it should be that “some” vinyl sounds better than CDs and “some” CDs sound better than vinyl.

    It comes down to the source of the recording and how it’s mastered onto whatever format is to be used.
    I have some CDs that sound superior to vinyl and also vice versa.

    Some people are happy with MP3s and some are not.
    Some people prefer FM radio but others are satisfied with AM.

    Differences between these can be demonstrated scientifically as well as audibly.
    It’s the same with the so-called vinyl debate.

    So what? Both formats bring enjoyment to many people and both are likely to be around for a while yet.

  14. I agree with Zathras. Some CDs sound better than vinyl and vice versa. However, when the recordings are good I do prefer vinyl and have gone back to it after departing from it 25 years ago. What made me go back to vinyl is the quality of the equipment I have today as compared to 25 years ago.

    I have an excellent CD player, but it cost a fraction of what I’ve had to put into my turntable, cartridge, tone arm, phono pre-amp, etc. I think that the quality of what is playing the media is a factor that is hugely overlooked in the arguments of CD versus vinyl. When I first went back to vinyl, I spent a lot of money on my turntable and the difference was not nearly as noticeable as it is now. However, I have done a lot of upgrades to my turntable that have made a big difference in the sound that I now get out of my vinyl. Most notably, are the accuracy, detail, focus, the sweetness of the top end, and the depth and detail in the bass. The mid-range in the vinyl has always been better than on CD.

    For really being moved by the music or for critical listening, I prefer vinyl. If I put my top 30 vinyl recordings against my top 30 CDs, vinyl wins. Sometimes it’s a hands-down win for vinyl and sometimes it’s a bit more marginal. I base my choice on the detail, accuracy of the sound of the instruments, the soundstage, and most importantly pure listening pleasure.

    I’m a very objective person. I listen with my ears and my soul. I have an extremely transparent system (nothing brand name), but with some components that knowledgeable audiophiles will recognize. My conclusion is that vinyl vs CD depends on budget. If money is no object and you can afford the coin for a really good vinyl front end and to go through the trials and tribulations of purchasing, and many times, repurchasing the same vinyl until you get a good pressing in great shape, then vinyl will be better than CDs. If not, then you can most likely get better sound for the money from CDs.

    What I will leave you with is that I’ve never actually heard the volume of the sound of the sax on CD, whereas I’ve heard it on vinyl, I have never heard the percussion fluidly cascade down in space on a CD, whereas I heard it on vinyl. Last but not least, I have never had a listener shed a tear when listening to a CD, but I’ve had 5 or 6 do so when listening to vinyl in my basement. This said, we are all different and hear things differently, so listen to what makes you happy and stop defending your choice of media based on measurements and science and what other people have to say. My preference is to get lost in the music. CDs, like some other high-end audio equipment are just too clinical in their sound.

  15. Just like anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers, it is impossible to win over any of these “vinyl is superior” types through rational discussion because they do not understand the processes they are attempting to critique. In this case these are the music recording and music reproduction processes. Lacking any understanding of quantitative measures of music reproduction such as stereo separation, dynamic range, frequency response, distortion, and freedom from extraneous noise, they inappropriately attempt to use qualitative terms, terms used to communicate feelings about a particular musical piece (“clinical,” “warm,” and “depth” come to mind) to describe music reproduction qualities. There exists no quantitative measure of music reproduction in which the vinyl LP exceeds or even meets those of the compact disc. I recently concluded ripping my 1000+ piece vinyl collection over the last 18 months, and the most striking difference between the vinyl LP and the compact disc is that the vinyl LP comes up short in terms of stereo separation, and that is true even when the ultimate source of the music is magnetic tape-based master. The superiority of digital reproduction in this respect is easily discernible within a few seconds.

    A person is certainly free to state the opinion, “I enjoy listening to music on vinyl records,” but that person issues a falsehood when he states “Reproduction from the vinyl record is superior to that of the compact disc.” Lastly, if I were to attempt a comment upon the logical inconsistencies and self-contradictions contained in the post the commenter RBRB, I would need an entire essay.

    • I was in the CD is better camp for about 25 years ago until I changed some of my front-end equipment for playing my vinyl about 2 years ago. I also use both centre and outer clamps for my vinyl. There is no doubt that CDs are cleaner and have a lower noise floor, however, my system has a very low noise floor when playing vinyl. I run two tone arms, both of which have very good cartridges. On my Odyssey arm vinyl provides better separation and dynamics than CDs. The sound stage is also a fair bit larger and I hear pieces of the music that are not audible on the CDs and the instruments sound more accurate. On the other arm, I have mixed emotions as to which I prefer; CD or vinyl. This is why I mentioned that the quality of what is playing the vinyl is a factor. An example is that when playing Black Magic Woman on Santana’s Abraxas, the bongos are 3 feet to the outside of my speaker and you can clearly hear the cavity of the bongos – they occupy a volume in space. On the CD, the bongos are just to the outside an the space the bongos occupy is much smaller. The sounds is also not as accurate/natural. There is also better separation and dynamics on the vinyl and the highs are more open and natural.

      I am an Engineer and I studied acoustics, so I do understand the quantitative measures. When recording to CD, if the studios did not mess around with the sound, we would have much better music coming out of the CDs. I have a professional CD burner (the type used in studios) and as a test have burned a number of CDs from vinyl. These CDs sound better than those I purchased from the stores except for the higher noise floor. Throughout the entire frequency range, the sound is better than the store purchased CDs.

      Of the 20 or so long-time audiophiles that that have done the listening test on my system (some of whom no longer play vinyl), the votes are approx. 0 for CDs, 2 ties and about 16 to 18 for vinyl – and as I mentioned, I have a very good CD player. In theory, CD should sound better and does when compared to lower standard vinyl pressings and over-played vinyl. However, IMHO when comparing the best to the best, vinyl clearly comes out ahead on the older analogue recordings. On newer, digital recordings, I only have a slight preference for vinyl and it definitely depends on the quality of the recording and pressing. I could go on in a lot more detail, but I have already written a bit of a book.

      • When you say something like this:

        “I hear pieces of the music that are not audible on the CDs and the instruments sound more accurate.”

        “when playing Black Magic Woman on Santana’s Abraxas, the bongos are 3 feet to the outside of my speaker and you can clearly hear the cavity of the bongos – they occupy a volume in space. On the CD, the bongos are just to the outside an the space the bongos occupy is much smaller.”

        You’re most likely hearing what are different masterings on the LP and CD. Because, no matter what, the masterings are always different; they simply have to be.

        • Even the phrase “instruments sound accurate” makes no sense. Accuracy in what? Pitch? Tempo? EQ? SPL? Pitch and tempo are going to be exactly the same, no matter what medium, and EQ and SPL are just two sides of the same coin, that can be replicated across media. Unless you were there to hear the original recording session, you can’t possibly know which is more of an “accurate” reproduction of the original. Kirk is right, you’re hearing the difference in masterings, because a finished, mixed-down track has to be mastered differently to account for the limitations of vinyl.

          • I think I mentioned that the problem with CDS was the mastering. By accurate, I obviously mean that the instruments sound more like they do in a live listening session. The sound of the bongos are too compressed/sharp on most CDs. As a big fan of the bongos and having heard them live far too many times, I should know what they sound like. The same goes with many other instruments on many other CDs. Violins do not sound as close to the live violin on CD “masterings” as on good vinyl recordings/pressings/masterings. Let’s also not talk about the piano or the sax or the acoustic guitar to name a few.

            I have purposely avoided discussing specifications and being too technical in my terminology because I came to the conclusion a few years ago, that while very important, they only partially define the “music”. There are many other factors that affect the quality of the sound that you get. In some instances.

            The funny part of this is that up until about 3 years ago, I would have agreed with the two of you. Until you have heard vinyl in the way it can truly sound, you will remain fans of CDs. I love both. I listen to the ones that sound better.

        • When you say that CD sounds better than vinyl, it sounds better to you only because the mastering of sound on the vinyl which you do not like is worse than mastering on CD which you like.

    • John,

      You ripped 1000 vinyl and your conclusion was that “vinyl LP’s come up short in terms of stereo separation.” I am guessing that you think stereo separation is a good thing? I think that is subjective, just like the answer to Keith’s premise. If you go back to 1958-9 when engineers first started manipulating stereo into recordings, you’ll find the arguments start. I find it interesting that the artists that were affected, Hank Mobley was the first at Blue Note, Bob Dylan and the Beatles(John Lennon) are all on record saying that they hated the stereo versions of their recordings because they were manipulated and not “real” sounding. Rudy Van Gelder preferred mixing and listening in mono in the studio. Year’s later, when he helped master Blue Notes remastered CD releases, he still preferred the analog mono vinyl. It doesn’t make him right. I prefer vinyl and it’s because it sounds better to me. I don’t think it makes my answer any more wrong or right if I can’t give you the actual frequency response or technical terminology to back it up. The best I can describe it is that I can listen to vinyl for hours without getting music fatigue. I simply cannot listen to Cds this long regardless if it is the same music or not. There is no right or wrong answer.

      • i don’t buy the whole “fatigue” thing; I’ve heard the same about compressed music versus uncompressed. Ther’1s a lot of psychology going on when you listen to music.

        However, to just comment on your point about mono sound, I wrote about that:

        https://www.kirkville.com/in-praise-of-mono-recordings-2/

        There’s something really special about good mono recordings. I actually think that stereo is a bit artificial, and I would find that dedicated 2.1 mixes would probably be a lot closer to “real” sound. But I love me an old mono recording, especially played on a single speaker. :-)

      • The great thing about comment sections is that you can learn so much about what could be going on in other people’s heads.

        Anyway, yes, I do believe stereo separation is a big deal because each of us, if we are lucky, have two fully-functional ears that point in opposite directions. Sound is a multi-dimensional phenomena, and having two ears allows us to locate a sound source in that multi-dimensional space because each human ear is going to receive a distinct acoustic (sound pressure) signal. (Note that the fortunate human also has two fully-functional eyes. Can we make a comparison here?) Even if you are listening to yourself play the violin in an anechoic chamber, what will reach your ears will be distinct signals with respect to time because sound travels at about 1100 feet per second so the signal will reach one ear before the other and while one ear will receive the sound of the violin directly (pressure waves going towards the ear), the other ear will hear only the sound of the violin as the pressure waves travel away because your head blocks the path between the ear opposite the violin. Any sound reproduction medium that degrades this two-channel method of listening by necessity degrades that medium’s capability to produce a high-fidelity resemblance to the original performance. Even when original recordings are made on magnetic tape, the stereo separation capability far exceeds that of the stereo LP because the signal paths are entirely distinct whereas in the case of the stereo LP, all signals must transit a single stylus and cantilever thereby mixing that which should be distinct.

        When someone says, “…but the Beatles mono recordings are great!” That might be so, but unless the Beatles figured out a way around the implications of the Pauli Exclusion Principle (for non-scientists this is roughly, “no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time”) it is completely unnatural for sounds, even those emanating from inside the human himself/herself to be monophonic. The reason the Beatles recording were in mono was because the technology and skill necessary to reproduce high-energy (loud, bass-heavy) music from the vinyl LP was only in development. It is for this reason that so many recordings from the mid-late 60’s sound so strange, and it is for this reason that Lennon’s and Dylan’s observations agreed with nearly everybody else’s. (Of course, we do have to mention here that the pop music recording process is entirely artificial anyway. Where a classical performance and recording all happens at one time, a pop music recording and performance is artificially divided up in respect to time. Almost no recorded pop recording is a record of the musicians all performing in the studio at one time. Instead, the “performance” is merely a mix of tracks recorded at different places at different times.) On the other hand, stereo classical recordings were widely praised. In fact, you can now buy huge box sets of classical music recorded in the late 50s on CD that sound nearly as good as modern recordings because much more care was put into the recording process and tape noise can now be digitally minimized. Isn’t it interesting that classical music fans embraced stereo recordings, digital recording and the compact disk much earlier than pop music listeners?

        Once again, those interested in listening to vinyl LPs should feel free to enjoy themselves. “It’s a free country.” On the other hand, many of us enjoy listening to music and for us, we prefer the reproduction medium that intrudes in the fewest perceivable ways and to the least perceivable degree possible.

        • I disagree on a couple of points. First, the Beatles’ mono mixes are excellent. They are a very good example of how you can create presence with a single channel. There are a lot of good mono mixes from that period; ones I particularly like are the early Dylan albums, and the Miles Davis Columbia mono recordings.

          You’re incorrect when you say that pop music is recorded in bits and pieces. It is these days, but not back in the early days. Dylan’s first albums – as can be seen in the recent Cutting Edge box sets – were all recorded with the entire band playing together, then with the occasional overdub. Dylan has done the same thing over the years, recording live for his last album, as well as the one coming out in May.

          As for classical recordings, you’ve obviously never attended a recording session of classical music. While all the musicians play together, they generally record a master take (or two or three), and then spend hours doing pick-ups for the parts that weren’t right. Or they overdub instruments, or a singer sings to a pre-recorded orchestral track.

          Many great albums have been made in the mix; many great albums have been made with all the musicians playing together.

    • The “science only” folks at Hydrogen Audio would disagree with you regarding frequency response, despite some caveats the measurable frequency response of vinyl is far greater than CD.

      http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_%28Vinyl%29#Myth:_Vinyl_is_better_than_CD_because_it_reproduces_higher_frequencies_than_CD_and_avoids_anti-aliasing_filter_issues_at_the_frequencies_CDs_can_reproduce

      Also you concluded something based on a wholly biased experiment, not double-blind, you knew exactly what you were listening to and when. Not particularly well-informed for something with such a brash introductory sentence. One too many flu shots?

      • What vinyliacs misinterpret as “extended” frequency range, is not recorded sound, but mostly inherent harmonic distortion artifacts from the record and the cartridge. Recording engineers even sometimes did not want frequencies above 17 – 18 kHz on the cutting master tape.

        For listening even to harmonically rich sounds such as natural trumpets or muted horns, it makes actually little difference between life concert attention, a high-fidelity radio broadcast (30 – ~ 16 kHz) or a clean high-resolution PCM recording on a DVD audio.

        • The folks at HA are not vinyliacs and neither am I, I am format agnostic. The golden rule with music playback is that MASTERING is key and I’ll choose well mastered 256 kbps mp3s before buying loudness wars-slammed 24/192 files.

          Again, the scientifically measurable frequency response of vinyl is greater than CD, this is a simple fact that the article gets wrong, whether or not it’s audible or in the original performance (ie added by recording equipment) is irrelevant.

  16. That’s part of my point. I want to hear what the artists and the sound engineers in the studios intended for us to hear. That’s when I get to understand what the artists were conveying to us through their music. When re-mastering takes place in the production of a CD, some of the emotion of the artist is lost. A light tap on a cymbal should remain light and should not be pronounced. For a high percentage of the population, CDs can actually give them better quality sound if they are not over-engineered. Some however prefer the warmth, emotion and other nuances that they get from vinyl and that’s all good too. All I am saying is that with the right equipment (and it’s very expensive), on the best recordings and pressings available for purchase on both media, vinyl does produce better quality sound and “music”.

  17. After researching for the last 6 weeks for a turntable, I’ve given up. Anyone who sells them are like drug pushers, pimping their store brand, then needing to spend 2 grand just on a turntable with no cartridge and no phono pre amp, which will cost you another $1500…I’d rather be stabbed in my eye with a dirty Taco Bell spork. The kicker is that records are 30-40 years old and selling for 6 times what I paid for them new during the 70’s and early 80’s. Even new 180 gram records are too expensive, when I can hit up Amazon, eBay or itunes and buy a crystal clear awesome sounding copy between $3-$10 The final testicle kick is that most turntables are ugly, no dust cover, and are completely manual. Who the f#*k wants to wait for the record to finish knowing you have to get to that cartridge in time so your expensive stylus isn’t destroyed. Two very important factors in listening to music, first is, it’s only music, it’s not important, so if it skips or pops, or makes an unusual sound, don’t panic, it’s not the apocalypse, and secondly, spending money on something so stupid as records and turntables will get you no brownie points from God when you can take your money and help out the homeless. Sadly I put the horse before the cart, and bought quite a bit of old and news vinyl, so now I need to off load about 100 albums, and no brownie points from God. What an asshole I am. Records died sometime in the 80s and 90s for a reason, I hope they stay dead soon after this resurgence is over. Some media formats were meant to be gone forever. Back in the late 1800s record technology was invented, so why would I want something so old compared to a “compact” disc? I guarantee if I played a CD vs a record not one audiophile with their $4000 cords and $60000 dollar equipment set up could tell the difference. It’s all BS designed to fake your hard earned cash. Don’t do it, hire a stripper instead, you’ll enjoy it more.

    • I’m sorry you had a bad experience trying to by a turntable. My advice is if you are serious about sound quality buy one. You don’t have to spend a fortune I use a clearaudio concept, it cost around a thousand pounds. My cd playing equipment cost half as much again and when the two are compared there is a great difference. Vinyl is much better. It’s more alive, voices sound more real, you can actually hear the emotion, drums sound like they are being struck, cymbals ring, guitar notes seem to last longer and so on. You see it is the digital process that robs the music of its life.
      I have just made a comparison using Sargent Pepper, the new digital remaster on vinyl and my old analog version. The results were consistent with what I said earlier. If you can’t hear the difference yourself, then your sound system isn’t up to it or your ears are not.

      • The operative phrase here is “seem to sound” because it’s perceived. The difference in the Sgt. Pepper recordings is the “remastering” part.

        • A CD sounds to you superior because it’s perceived by you. This perception is due to better “remastering” of a particular CD and not because the CDs have, allegedly, superior sound.

  18. Hi,

    Some of the comments here are a little inane. How do youbfeel emotion in vinyl? When a musician performs he or she does not put a digital emotion filter on.
    I buy most of my music on vinyl, and I enjoyblistening to it, and in the past CD mastering was never great and vinyl versions of the same albums sounded a better perhaps. This is because of the way the music was mastered and has nothing to do with the superiority of vinyl.
    For instance, the remixed Yellow Submarine songtrak by The Beatles has much better stereo separation and many of the audio tracks are audible for the first time, compared to the original 1968 album. Does ot sound better? It sounds different but here is nothing technically wrong. The same version of the Songtrack also came out on vinyl so if you compare that to the original 1968 album, it will sound different, but whether it is better is purely subjective. The so-called market for audiophiles is ripe because a lot of unproven things can be said to sell people based on emotion, nostalgia and passion. There is some belief that if you buy what a lot of people describe as the best music format, and the best headphones, and the best soind system you will reach nirvana. If digital was so atrocious most people would hate it but people do buy it, listen to it on so many of their electronic toys. Most people do not give a damn and not all uncaring people are philistines. I find it offensive that the proponents of vinyl almost always assume that they are the bastions of good taste and only they can enjoy the soind of a sax. Music sounds good according to the way it is mastered and mixed for fhe format. If the job was done right (and it should be), music should sound good on any format. To a lesser extent a decent sound system can help but it rarely has to be mega expensive because after you hit a few $100, the remaining claims of superiority for more expensive kit are fanciful. I had a fairly avaerage record player in the 80s but the records sounded good, the music was the same and I still connected to the emotions and grooved to the beat. My friend had a much better system but the music never changed. I didn’t bop anymore than I did when I heard the same music on vinyl. Digital music is cheaper and ubiquitous so some people have to rage against the machine. I think some of these audiophiles need to be made to hear music on different formats without being told what is digital and what is analog, and than see if they can tell the difference. In such a test it would be best of the listener had never heard the music before because if they have they can the differences because of the mix. If they hear a piece of music hey never heard before on great audio equipment I doubt they will be able to tell the difference. I love vinyl but even when I can hear the difference it does not always translate to digital is crap because usually it doesn’t soind that different anyway. People only hear the analog sound. The technology that brings the music does its thing, but people only hear music, and usually the content is what gives them pleasure. A decent mix (for instance some home theatre movies on DVD/Blu Ray are excellent but have been completely redone), always adds to the pleasure but this has little to do with the format so I think this argument really serves no useful purpose. It is like fighting over Sega/Nintendo, Xbox/Playstation, Microsoft/Apple, cats/dogs, Beatles/Rolling Stones. I think the dubious claims of vinyl being superior and the whole industry robbing fans blind shows the fickleness of people who show fidelity to one format and always assume that vinyl will be better.

  19. “If the job was done right (and it should be), music should sound good on any format. To a lesser extent a decent sound system can help but it rarely has to be mega expensive because after you hit a few $100, the remaining claims of superiority for more expensive kit are fanciful”.

    Correct to a point in some ways because under a certain level you “usually” will not hear much difference. However, very incorrect if you buy the right equipment over a certain price level. 3 years ago I replaced a good $8k system with a $11K system. The new system was far, far better than the old. Also, on the new system, the difference in formats much more obvious. This is my secondary system.

    On my serious system in my basement, the differences in most formats are very noticeable to everyone. For formats that are closer in quality (good quality CD / good quality vinyl) the differences are noticeable but not as large. The formats most definitely affect the listening pleasure of those who can “hear” the difference in the sound, which I experience through what I call chair dancing, smiling, etc … no movement vs. movement or very emotional comments vs. simple statements of “it sounds good.”.

    “If they hear a piece of music they never heard before on great audio equipment I doubt they will be able to tell the difference.”

    Very big assumption on your part and very wrong. Either you don’t have an ear or have never heard a really good sound system. I and many other people that I know can certainly tell the difference.

    “How do you feel emotion in vinyl? When a musician performs he or she does not put a digital emotion filter on.”

    You’ve never heard it, so you just don’t get it. If and when you get to hear it, then you will understand. I cannot take th e time to try to explain it to you. You say the comments are inane. My view is that your comments are inane. Now I am going to apologize to you for my previous comments. I’m sorry that I attacked what you wrote. It’s your opinion and you have the right to it. I humbly suggest, however, that you do not express such a strong opinion.

    Although I’ve really enjoyed the sound quality of the music that I’ve listened to from the age of 8 to 54, in the last 5 years,I’ve worked with an excellent audio consultant who took me through a journey of listening in ever increasing levels, which has really developed my ear. Last week, I had a second musician visit my home. His comments were the same as the first one that visited. This (meaning my system) sounds better than listening live or on stage. I very reluctantly mentioned this, but I wanted to make a point. Musicians (real ones) are the benchmarks.

    I’ve listened to so many “great” and “fantastic” stereos that were good but not nearly as good as the owners thought. So …….. you really cannot tell the difference in formats because you don’t have the equipment that allows you to hear it. I’m sure that I’ve p’ed off quite a few people here, but you digital gods deserve it. What I’ve noticed is that the digital crowd is much more aggressive and defensive than the analogue crowd.

    I’m going with vinyl/analogue for pure sound quality … when you can get it .. and yes it’s more expensive and more inconvenient … and sometimes I have to buy 2 or 3 vinyl albums just to get a really good one … but in the end when you are Iistening with a trained ear and a good system, it’s just better than CD or digital. And yes, (bad grammar), I do have some CDs that sound better than some of my vinyl equivalents. I listen accordingly.

    • Hail golden ears! I am sorry but a lot of music that never even came out on vinyl in the 90s, and was almost certainly heard more on CD, conveyed the emotion just fine, thank you. You say you are “going” with analog so you have already decided all digital is poor, so what is the point of bringing a nuanced argument here?
      By a massive margin, digital music is still more popular and there is no problem with songs like The Disney Frozen soundtrack to become incredibly. Practically everyone heard Let It Go digitally at a digital cinema, on Youtube or other digital formats and the song is perfectly listenable. You prefer vinyl. That is great but don’t pretend it is better. Argument after argument proves that digital is technically superior and CDs can reproduce everything on a record with ease. If the engineers don’t bother, that is not the fault of the format. Demand better made CD’s. I have plenty of LPs and I love them. Some sound very good, and the digital equivalents do not always sound the same but usually for recordings where I have been very familiar with the sound of the LP. If I never heard the LP, I do not think it is not worth listening to unless it is carved on a piece of plastic. I bought LPs because people were dumping classic albums that cost a fortune on CD and cassette and records could be bought for bargain prices. I bought a lot of Led Zepellin albums for a few cents, in theift stores, yard sales. This is from the days people often sold 5 records for $5 so I usually came home a happy bunny as I had original high quality and official albums that cost so much more on CD. The music was the same and I enjoyed it. However, I have heard that Frozen soundtrack on LP on a very high end deck and the CD trounces it totally. There is no sonic improvement except for more noise, horrible static, and clicks and pops, and you get those with brand new LPs too, like this one was.
      CD’s, one day will become very very colletcible. There are so many albums that never came out on LP. So many special editions and expanded releases (like the Star Wars 2 CD sets) only came out on CD. If people buy physical formats to listen to high quality audio records will always have their inherent flaws but a good CD will sound th3 way it did when it was made. Go with ‘analog’, friend, but remember, in the future, when CD’s are dead, real music fans won’t be looking for your beloved LP’s but a very high qaulity audio source that is pristine and represents the music as best as it could. I sure the clicks and pops are not put there by the artist. You can also read liner notes on CD’s so I don’t know why people always speak of liner notes as a feature of an album. People speak of listening to LP’s in their entirety. You can do that with CD and digital too. People say they like to have the album cover in hand. CD covers don’t disappear when the CD starts playing either. Records are not gaining popularity. Digital sales are falling becauee most people just illegally download music. No one pays for it. Labels know that one place ahere they can gauranteee a sale is through LP’s because who always bought them, stoll do and will continue. It is physical and it cannot be taken via the internet. This is why more and more labels are cropping up, selling vinyl. The market has not expanded, there are just more records to buy and that is reflected in the sales. With computer game music and many film soundtracks also seeing a return to the market, the same people are buying more records. As for teenagers and students buying records and “ditching” digital, it is unlikely. There have always been a number of young people who hang around record stores and buy LP’s. I used to frequent many record stores and still do and there aren’t any more people buying records, just more records for those, like you, want to buy them. It has been reported in several places that lots of new labels are cropping up to sell vinyl so obviously the market now has more product to consume. I doubt most iPhone wielding people will ditch their perectly good digital music for LP’s. People who did not live through the era when physical media was popular don’t really miss it and can’t necessarily relate to the rituals of listening to an LP. People listen to music differently now and people have their own preferences and rituals that are equally meaningful and important to them. In 2000 I used to dig out my LP’s and play them one by one, and enjoying them. In 2012 I had a 64gb phone connected to a fantastic speaker and I listened to the same albums without any hassle at all. If people enjoyed the inconveniences of playing records, fine, but I certainly don’t miss that aspect. Even with CD’s there is a hassle factor but you don’t have to change sides and you can set the whole albon on repeat, and yes, ‘hear the whole album in one go, without interruption’, not once but several times.

      The last point is that records can sometimes sound better to the individual, but there is no sonic advantage. You insulted me in my post and I didn’t specifically say your comment was inane. The love of analog is fine and you can speak of it all you want, but a lot of people are arguing with the science with inane arguments. I have a lot of friends who think like you. Some of them did sound engineering degrees, and a lot of them are young people under 30 and they love buying Lp’s. It wil ever bo so, but things will never go analog because not everyone wants analog since it does have terrible flaws and some people just want to listen to sound recordjngs without the snobbery and buying inferior products under the misguided belief that it is better.

      • First of all, I apologized making a statement that could be insulting to you right in my post. However, you did say that my comments were inane, which could have been insulting to me, but I simply took it as your opinion.

        In this latest post, you contradict yourself and make a few flawed arguments (e.g. If free digital content is hurting CD sales, then why is not hurting vinyl sales, which are increasing. You also say it’s the same people that are buying vinyl, yet you say that people under 30, who grew up in the CD age, are buying vinyl – they are not the same people who were buying vinyl.

        There’s no snobbery in my choice of format. I have more CDs than I have vinyl and I do not plan to buy much more vinyl. As I have said, there are some CDs that I like better than the vinyl. There’s just a lot more vinyl I like than the CDs. I think that’s a pretty objective opinion.

        If you listened to frozen on vinyl a high end deck and the CD was better, that does not necessarily mean very much. If the vinyl was not properly produced or was worn out then, yes, the CD would sound better.

        When you mention that you hooked up your 64Gb phone to a fantastic speaker, I realized where you are coming from. You listen to music differently from an audiophile who enjoys the quality of what they are listening to. Kudos to you, because you probably get the same level of enjoyment at a fraction of the price.

        Coincidentally, musician #5 just listened to music with me, his wife and my wife in my basement last week. While he enjoyed both the CDs and vinyl, he was completely blown away by the vinyl. His comment was “it’s like you are right there live, I liked the CDs and have never heard a CD sound so good, but the records (vinyl) is like you are right there live, playing or listening”. So yes, both the formats and the equipment make a difference.

        I don’t disagree with you on the future of digital music. I’m just not going to spend any money on it right now. I’ll wait 2 or 4 years when they have a better handle on what they are doing and more importantly, the equipment comes down in price. There are a lot of good things happening in this area.

        Posters … my apologies for thebook.

        • A few clarifications. When I said digital music is hurting CD sales that is because most people would not bother buying a CD if they can download music derived from a Cd for free. Vinyl is different because you need the actual plastic platters. People who buy vinyl need it materially because they value the object for whatever reason. Also there is no contradiction when I say that the same people who would have bought vinyl anyway are still the ones buying it. Sure, every year maybe some new people get into records but that has always been the case. Some people will always buy vinyl. I do not believe these numbers have gone up and the increase in record sales do not convince me since it has been widely reported that more labels have emerged to put music on vinyl. As such, that market now has more money to spend on products they didn’t need.
          You say I am not an audiophile and I am happy to say I would never label myself in that way. However, I do listen to records on a fairly expensive player and have decent headphones and CDs. I do not playback music on my phone that often but I doubt it makes much difference if the equipment is adequate. I think some people get caught up so much in the playback equipment and technical side that they begin to believe that the essence of music can only be taken in if the music is played back perfectly (which is impossi le since no one can ever agree on what sounds good). You can spend a zillion dollars on your equipment, but even then it won’t please everyone. People need to just chill out and enjoy the music and not fuss too much over things that only offer a dubious amount of improvement to any standard set up. The Frozen LP was pretty poor in general so maybe that was a bad example. I still think vinyl has more problems than benefits and if you want music for posterity, vinul can get damaged much more easily and it results in direct deterioration of the sound. CDs are not indestructible but if well cared for, the sound is always the same. A lot of scratched CDs play fine, as long as the scratches are to severe, but even light scratches on vinyl can render the music unplayable. I just don’t think they are worth the money nor time unless you can get them very cheap.

  20. For me vinyl is definitely better than CD. It sounds better than CD anyway if you compare with the same album of CD. Technically 44.1KHz sampling rate is far too low to produce undistorted high frequencies etc. At the time the CD was invented they did not have anything better to offer(sampling rate is concerned). As an example a 10KHz Sine wave will have only 4 sample which is a almost a square wave but not even close to a Sine wave. 10KHz is something most people can hear and instruments like cymbals, brass instruments etc has lot to do in this region. Sine wave cannot be reproduced with 4 samples. Sound waves are much more complex than a fundamental sine wave. Therefore it is clear proof that CD cannot reproduce undistorted high frequencies etc. Today CD quality is not even considered in studio recording, why? simply due to the very low bit rate and sampling frequency for quality audio. If CD quality is better then why do we have higher resolution audio like 24bit/192KHz?.
    We live in an analog world and therefore it is common sense that any conversion is at the expense of quality. in a CD, conversions occur twice and twice loosing quality.
    Where as vinyl it is pure analog recording and analog reproduction.
    Leaving all technicality a side vinyl sounds definitely better.

    • There are so many things wrong with what you say. The “square wave” thing shows a lack of understanding of digital reproduction. (Waves are certainly not square, they use the samples to create a smooth wave.) The 44.1 kHz has been shown in many studies to be more than sufficient for human hearing. But the best is where you say “in a CD, conversions occur twice and twice loosing quality.” I’m not sure what you mean, but I think you’re saying that the music is “converted” after recording. It is also converted after recording to be pressed on vinyl, because all recordings these days are done digitally. Also, that thing called the RIAA curve means that LPs have equalization applied to them, which is never a very good thing.

      • I am compelled to disagree with you. Well try plotting a sine wave with only 4 samples and see whether you can get a “smooth sine” wave. I’m sure you can’t. If a smooth sine wave cannot be created with few samples how can a more complex time varying waveform be created with few samples? Sine wave, as we know is the fundamental in any complex wave.

        If 44.1KHz is sufficient for human hearing then why do we need higher sampling and bit depth? The answer is self explanatory.

        Coming back to conversion – at the the recording there is ADC ( analog to digital conversion) and at the payback there is DAC (digital to analog conversion). Both ADC and DAC process there is a loss of quality.

        Yes the recordings done these days digitally, at a higher bit depth and sampling rate such as 24bit/192KHz. No recording studio is using 16bit/44.1KHz for recording these days. My argument is that, record at 24bit/192KHz in a studio and cut a LP (from the analog out) it is much better than recording at 24bit/192KHz and down converting to 16bit/44.1KHz.

        What we basically need is to listen as close as possible to the natural sound, listen to a recording of a concert as close as to the original performance.

        All these studies are for average human hearing but a person with ear above average may easily detect these digital noise in a CD recording.

        • Sine waves are easy for DACs. Put in a true square wave at 10k and at 44.1 sampling you will get garbage out. You clearly hear this with CDs on a good stereo; the sound stage is very vague and undefined. In my experience, it takes at least 192Khz to get things like cymbals right. CDs are OK for casual listening, but when critically listening in a proper room they are fatiguing.

        • You don’t understand sampling theory. It’s correct, as long as the sample rate is greater than twice the highest frequency being sampled. Period. There is no arguing this.

    • You don’t hear squares or waves though, do you? Whatever the tech does to do what it has to, it translates to sound. Why argue over squares or waves? People only hear sound. Oh but enthusiasts will say that The Beatles’ Please Please Me LP sounds a little wavy as opposed to a square. Silliness.

  21. Hi HK, you can learn why it is immediately obvious that you don’t understand what you are attempting to talk about by watching these videos. http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

    I agree it is helpful to use a reproduction medium that reproduces the performance while minimizing any changes to the aural characteristics of the performance. (Of course, for most rock and pop music, nearly anything will suffice, hence the faddish popularity of vinyl among rock and pop listeners.) That is why digital techniques were impressed into service to record classical and jazz performances in the late 1970s. http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/fine_dawn-of-digital.pdf

    If there are scientifically credible trials in which people demonstrate how their “above-average ears” can distinguish digital from analog reproduction, I must wonder why we have not heard of them in nearly 40 years of digital recording. Maybe it is because such ears are a fiction created by accomplished audio equipment salespersons who know how useful flattery is to get money out of the pockets of the gullible.

    Lastly, your English is very good, but it could benefit with more study of grammatical elements that connect ideas such as conjunctions, prepositions, articles, and adjectives.

  22. There is a slight 40ish Hz FR response bump that digital apologists like to include in their completely cynical use of the term distortion. It’s the head bump on analog tape decks and the mass loading of the cantilevers (or magnet assemblies, or both) in cartridges. Massed string tone is better than 44.1/16 bit Digital pretty much 10 times out of 10 and it doesn’t have anything to do with liking the cover art. The difference is real and you don’t have to be a “golden ear” snob to hear it. But the better the gear, (both sides) the more alike they sound.

  23. I have to entirely agree with RBRB here. I have a moderately priced sound system around 30k $AUD with the cost split between an analogue and digital rig. The digital rig includes a NAD M51 DAC which was WHAT HIFIs top DAC award winner for 1200 pounds or above in 2012. This DAC although far from the best money can buy, can keep up with many that are much more expensive however like analogue equipment, the benefits between DACs vary for different measures. The quality this DAC produces for digital music I play through it is amazing and very analogue-like in terms of silky smoothness with noticeable omission of digital edginess. I also use JRIVER MC for playback, USB transfer, WASAPI protocol, upgraded power supply and upsampling where of benefit.

    Is the sound however better than what my analogue rig produces, it depends. I should however note that I source out the best record pressings I can get as I want the best available sound. Bad pressing or poorly mastered / recorded material will certainly sound worse than digital. Scientific measurements shouldn’t be the method for discerning what actually sounds more real and true to life to the listener.

    In summary, 70% of my vinyl collection sounds better on vinyl than the CD or high-resolution counterpart I have. Depending on the recording it can sound 5% better or 50% better. In terms of sounding better, it is distinctly better in its ability to sound NATURAL & TRUE TO LIFE with a 3 DIMENSIONAL SOUNDSTAGE and is by no means a subtle difference. How does digital stack up compared, well it doesnt sound as real, alive or three dimensional, it tends to sounds like a recording, despite having fantastic clarity, dynamic range and channel separation it still generally provides only a two dimensional and flatter soundstage, with less decay or reverb. Higher res digital or SACD tends to open the sound stage, provides some of the 3d characteristics of vinyl and a smoother overall sound but still lacks in living up to vinyl in the category of being TRUE TO LIFE sounding.

    What do I mean by true to life, well Vinyl clearly has liveliness to the sound, voices are definitely more natural (less clinical or sanitized) with smoother decay, drums sound like I have never heard on CD/digital (to the point the instruments sound like they are in the room). vocals sound like they are being sung in front of me there and then. I can immediately discern if what I am listening to is a vinyl record or a digital track, there is a clear difference between the two with vinyl sounding taller, wider, deeper and smoother.

    Just like RBRB, I have upgraded my analogue equipment over time and am progressively reaching new heights of what vinyl reproduction can be taken to. I have a LYRA DELOS MC cartridge which is one of their entry level MC cartridges but still in the high end cartridge brand categories. I would love to upgrade to their Titan cartridge but will wait to get one second hand. I have a NOVA ii PHONO amplifier which was an outstanding upgrade over my nova phenomena but there is still much better yet available. The better the equipment, the lower the noise floor, increased clarity, separation and lower distortion. I also use outer ring and top mount record clamps. The quality you can obtain from analogue is proportionate to the money you invest in the equipment and on record pressings, while analogue equipment is improving each year so we still haven’t reached the pinnacle of extracting what is in those grooves from the relic like source of a vinyl record. While materials used in modern high end vinyl releases by specific pressing plants often results in purer materials and proper pressings such as sterling or palace that can deliver on having no clicks or pops and a much lower noise floor compared to mass production record plants that may use recycled vinyl with nil focus on sound quality.

    I can only imagine how much better my vinyl rig will get over time as I invest in upgrading each of the various components progressively. Digital can do great things, but in the current generation of components, delivering on realism tends to be one where it can suffer.

  24. I owned LPs from 1972 to 1988. I ended up with about 1200 of the damned things. I sold them all in 1988 and got a nice Sony CD player. I replaced many of the LPs with CDs, so I can speak with authority here: the CDs sound clearer, less distorted, and quieter. Early CDs of popular music were made from worn-out tapes used to cut LPs. Besides, LPs of a given album don’t all sound the same. Early pressings from a given stamper were always noticeably better.

    • I don’t think they were made using worn-out tapes; they were made using LP masters, which are quite different from what CDs need.

      Good point about pressing, though. I remember, back in the day, that classical music fans would seek out specific European pressings of certain albums, claiming they were better than US pressings.

  25. One should clearly first separate recording from reproduction and then take the fundamental differences between the reproduction from the vinyl record or from the digital data into account.
    First, the recording technique makes a great difference e. g. between a “Decca Tree” stereo recording of classical music onto a two-track master tape or a 24-track studio recording for pop music. In the latter, the stereo separation may have been misunderstood to mix completely separated stereo tracks in particular in the early years of stereo LP albums.The total stereo separation in the digital audio version may however have confused listeners used to an artificially narrowed stereo image generated by cutter and cartridge from the over-separated multitrack-stereo mix-down.
    When the recording engineers gradually switched over to digital recording equipment, they had two-track systems available around 1980, with the data storage either on reel tapes or on betamax video cassettes. However, the A-D converters in the professional recording setups appear to have performed already on a much higher quality level than the consumer D-A converters in the first generations of CD players. Early digital recordings sound pleasantly on today’s mature digital players.
    Due to recording/playback equalization in general and a deliberately reduced stereo separation for cutting in particular, neither analog magnetic tape nor the vinyl record will store the sound as it has been captured by the microphone(s). Digital audio does not require such an equalization, and the stereo separation is inherently and technically much better as there is virtually no stereo channel crosstalk and no need for a reduced separation in the low frequency range.
    The unpleasant and harsh sound of the early CD players was caused by pre- and post-echo artifacts which could be filtered out only about ten years later. Today’s high-grade players will render impulse and square wave signals without such artifacts and thus give a smooth and natural rendition even of early digital recordings, as mentioned before. These players also prove that the classical CD audio resolution still suffices. Finally, vinyl records will always show considerable harmonic distortion from at least 1 % at the edge to about 2 % in the center, caused by the cartridge.
    I am digitizing historical vinyl records just for fun from a high-precision quartz-controlled linear turntable with a common stereo amplifier into a digital recorder, but most of them require cleaning and an extensive digital restoration to deliver at least an acceptably audible result. In comparison to the digital standards of both sound cleanliness and media handling, vinyl appears more as a nuisance than a pleasure: aside from the state of preservation the manufacturing (pressing) quality seems to have ranged from occasionally excellent to much more often sub-mediocre at best. Vinyl records were mass produced and at their time the only way to duplicate music recordings at an acceptable production speed for an acceptable price. Today the Digital Revolution eats its children by phasing out physical carriers – but when you connect a palm-sized digital recorder to your stereo system to play back either ripped CDs or digitized and restored vinyl records, the progress in convenience will make you forget about all the analog mess of the past…

  26. It would be helpful if this debate could be put to bed for good by extending the experiment described by Mike in the second reply.

    Set up the auditioning space and have a set of recordings mixed to produce a set of masters that sound “right” to the mixing engineer through the amplification and loudspeakers to be used in the experiment. Keep everything in the analog domain at this stage using a studio-quality desk and run the tape at 30ips. These masters must be considered the gold standard.

    Then cut an LP and a CD of each recording using whatever equalization etc. is considered necessary or appropriate. Finally play each LP on the turntable / arm / cartridge that will be used in the experiment and cut a second set of CDs from this source.

    Adjust the relative levels of all four sources (master tape, LP, CD and CD copy of LP) to be within 0.1dB @ 1kHz.

    Now conduct a double-blind test using all four sources and see which the audience prefers.

    If such an extravagance could be contrived I predict there would be a clear preference for the LP and CD copy of the LP, but little to choose between them. Few people, if any, would prefer the master tape over the “warmer”, “more forward” sound of the LP. I’d enjoy being proved wrong.

    It all comes down to personal taste, but I suspect there is something about the vinyl coloration that appeals to many, if not most people.

    I once took part in a comparison between CD and 320kbps MP3 using a track I’ve been familiar with on both CD and vinyl for almost 30 years. I could clearly hear differences between CD and MP3, but was surprised to find that I actually preferred the MP3 due to its brighter top end. In comparison the CD seemed rather dull, and it’s worth noting that the MP3 was derived from the CD rather than a common master.

  27. I thought Apple would do better. Note the images at one of the support pages for Final Cut implies “digital music is a sequence of stairsteps”. The uninformed can be forgiven for assuming Apple would be a good source of information, but here, it is not. Whoever makes Apple’s support pages needs to stop filling in gaps in their knowledge with authoritative information instead of their imagination. Monty Montgomery at XIPH.org explains this so anyone can understand it.

    https://documentation.apple.com/en/finalcutpro/usermanual/index.html#chapter=52%26section=7

  28. my experience is it depends on the recording.
    I have about 1200 classical LPs, and a similar number of CDs. I love them all (for the most part), and in many cases I have the original LP, an early 80s CD issue, and in some cases a mid 90’s or 2000’s re-issue as well. (I buy a lot of used recordings at thrift shops, and I often I forget if I have something, mostly because the cover art is different…the ‘recycling’ of classical music recordings is whole topic in itself!) IMHO, if the recording is good, they all sound good – if the recording is bad they all sound bad! But wait, if the performance is great, it doesn’t matter!!
    I prefer the CD in most cases for convenience. I don’t sit and analyze all the subtle nuances, I’ll leave that for people with more money and time than I have. One anecdote.. In 1985 I had a university music professor go on and on about how much he loved CDs compared to LPs. I later roomed with a music major (piano) – he bought only CDs (by the hundreds each term!!) and thought I was crazy to buy old LPs – not because they were LPs but because I was missing the latest recordings of the newest great young artists. and he was right. I sadly missed the rise of many great new performers in the 1990s because I was so into old LPs back then.

  29. I grew up with vinyl and like _all_ my peers welcomed the advent of the Compact Disc. We loved our music and wanted to listen to it without the shortcomings of vinyl. But we mourned the special connection artists had with their fans through the 12″ album cover.

    Roll on 30 years and once again I enjoy vinyl. Not because it’s better. Not because I am fooled into thinking it is somehow superior. No, because I enjoy the experience of listening to my music and doing nothing else other than getting lost in it … 20 minutes at a time. But I still hate the clicks and ticks and dust and everything else that comes with the medium.

    Vinyl isn’t better, it’s different. Some kid themselves that vinyl will always be better and that speaker cable and interconnects make a big difference too. Poppycock!

    I guess it’s easier to swallow this than admitting you’ve spent ten or twenty grand on hifi and it’s not discernibly better than kit purchased for a fraction of the price. Hans Christian Andersen wrote about this phenomenon back in 1837.

    • You know, if this was the 1500s us vinyleers would burn you on stakes you digital heathens, especially you KIRK you blasphemer. Acting like you know what you talk about!

      Let me say….I used to be a CD guy, but I was a vinyl guy at the same time, only when I knew what was going on I decided CDs were ruining the sound, I know mastering so lets get that straight. Let me tell you something, I put on a CD of Michael Jacksons, Beat It!

      On the CD it says

      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it

      I then put on the vinyl and yesssss you guessed right!!

      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it
      Just beat it, beat it, Oooh’haaah’haahaah Oooh’haaah’haahaah

      Which you clearly can’t hear on the CD because they have the limitations called a frequency response. The ear only hears up to 20,000khz right?

      So the vinyl obviously played MORE of the sound and I could hear it and feel it and wouldn’t be able too if it wasn’t such a high response!!

      I then put on a Santana Oye Como Va and guess what!!!?

      On the vinyl you could hear Santanas friend and it was like a completely different song, he was about 2 feet on the left. In the the background you can hear people saying ”Ayee, Aye!!” Bear in mind I was using my sound crystals and super optimum oygen free malgamized silver with crystal freckled wire, so not just your average sound!!!

      Anyway Santana on CD just sounded flat, dull, lifeless!! You couldn’t hear his friend either!!!

      One of my friends came over and he knows how to make CDs from scratch, codes and everything, in studios, for atleast 40 years. I did a blind test with him!

      We played many back to back songs, and lots of ‘tell me lies’ by Fleetwood Mac on both systems, crystals on the front end, carbon record holder, shark wires, through my valve tube amps. My CD player had it’s advanced DAC running in tandem.

      YES, GUESSED RIGHT!!!!! We both chose the vinyl every single time! It was like deeper, fuller, warmer, more dynamic, more separation, hear the instruments properly and the whole song and more secret stuff none of you digital guys wouldn’t know about.

      One thing we both agreed on is CDs coloured the sound, like some weird type of hum, I put it on the noise floor. They also distort the sound and don’t play some notes I noticed. I agreed with my friend that the hot signal and saturation were down to the way digital works and the CD couldn’t do any better I could clearly hear the limitations. It’s a shame that digital also has limitations with stereo imaging because I could hear more of the left and more of the right on the vinyl.

      If you asked my friend what he could hear, he would tell you exactly the same, ”I can hear more on the left and more on the right on the vinyl”. So it’s not delusional or just me, we actually measured it and there was in fact more!

      Anyway, I would like to say good try on this blog but it’s obvious you don’t really know much about vinyl if you think it’s worse, you need the right setup. Get yourself a stylus for 3,000, a tube amp, and the right speakers from the 70’s and you will then hear all the difference and how much cleaner Vinly really is than useless digital.

      All my vinyleers stay beating sense into these lost digital souls with thei cold colour/tainted sound! We know the deep, open, REALISTIC, warm sound, they never will!!!

      • But there you go, misunderstanding one of the main issues of sound reproduction. All the CDs you cite are old recordings. It’s entirely possible – and probably – that when they were first mastered for CD, the LP masterings were used, which simply weren’t right. It took a while for engineers too learn how to correctly master for CD. If you say that you’re listening to remasters, then it’s a different story, but I still have some early CDs that sound very, very bad. It has nothing to do with the medium, but rather with the way the music was mastered.

        The rest of your comments – hum, noise floor, distort, etc. – simply don’t make sense. Maybe your CD player is bad.

        • Kirk, I think you’ve lost your sense of humour. :) Realistic, Spacious, True sound man certainly made me laugh with his excellent satire.

          • ;-) I agree with your comment too. I love the old vinyl covers they are one of the most personal, distinct things about them I also found myself going back because a lot of stuff we had in our family never was on CD format, damn those pops and clicks though I wish it could be another way.

            The sound business is still as crazy today as ever, when i’m not recording or in a studio I enjoy going into the retailers and outlets, being a very passive nuisance to some young guy who is just repeating what he’s heard, I let them pitch to me some interconnects, speakers, DAC or wire then leave them to battle their own conscience the rest of the day over rules of physics ;-)

            There is sadly a lot of snake oil out there though!

            • The one thing I miss from vinyl is the album covers. That great cover of In the Court of the Crimson King just doesn’t work on the tiny 5-inch CD size. Thick as a Brick, with the original newspaper. Sandinista! with its lyric insert. And so many others…

        • All I can say is some of it could be truth or all of it could be lies I know the truth though! Good article ;-)

      • Spacious? Some years ago I was able to compare a heavy LP pressing of “The Rite of Spring” (I forget the conductor — Fedoseyev?) with the conventional LP pressing. Guess which was more spacious-sounding.

  30. Of CDs and vinyl, I can certainly tell you which sounds better after a few decades of use: it’s the vinyl. I dumped most of my vinyl in the early 90s as I replaced my LPs with CDs (I was a late adopter). I would say the majority of those CDs will not play anymore, no matter what player I attempt to use–except sometimes the CD/ROM drive in one of my old computers. I’ve been able to use that as a lifesaver to rescue much of my music collection by converting it to MP3 files.

    In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I am a bit angry at how we all believed that CDs were a permanent technology, especially given its obvious flaws. For example, if the disk is storing all that music in digital format, why does it have to spin so fast in the player? Why can’t the player download the music at the beginning of the process, and then play it from internal memorty? And why is the music content stored in such a distressingly fragile manner on the surface? Virtually all of the LPs I still have, some of which are nearly as old as I am, will still play albeit with the odd snap, crackle or hiss here and there.

    Am I the only one who feels that CDs were a huge rip-off? We opened our wallets to upgrade our music collections, only to find that CDs could undergo a great deal of damage and deterioration while just sitting on the shelf. We were suckered into buying binders and albums to store our CDs without being told that the plastic envelopes could react chemically with the playing surface of the discs.

    If CDs are on the way out, then good riddance!

    • Wow, all that you say is weird. I’ve got many old CDs, and all of them work. (Pressed CDs, not burned.) If your hard disk is storing data in digital format, why does it have to spin so fast? Because that’s the way the technology works.

    • Sounds like your CD player is at fault not the media. If you can rip a CD to MP3 successfully (accurately) there’s no reason it won’t play. I was an early adopter and have less than a handful of CDs (all from the 80s) that have degraded … about 0.3% of my collection. These are all very similar pressings that have a bronze finish and little printing on the top (where the data is.) But they still play … with a couple of skips here and there.

      In contrast, my vinyl from the same period, which had a twenty-year break stored neatly in cases, still plays. Many have collected dust, warped a little, and gained the odd scratch through use. But they still play … with a couple of skips here and there.

      Maybe, just maybe, one day a “vinyleer” will post objective evidence about the quality of vinyl vis-à-vis digital media.

      • Hi Martin i’m not sure how much value you put into your vinyls but today it’s possible to get the technology from Cedar denoisers in software. I don’t want to advertise anything here but if it’s ok with Kirk to mention a couple of things.

        I have recently been recording some vinyls that are very rare onto a computer and having success with restoring them to very good quality, even unnatural tempo changes iron out into steady BPM.

        There is a free set of tools if you search for ‘clickrepair’ you should find them, they are quite automated but have options so very easy to use and very, very effective at removing without destructing(automatically that is).

        There is a couple of tasks I have been using another software but sadly it’s not free, Izotope RX, they have been buying Cedar technology rights and that gets me quite far for when theres no masters left of certain artists of the 20th century other than vinyls.

        I have had very good results so far even with the most snap, crackle and popping vinyls but it can be destructive so there is a procedure to the processes I find that work in order. You can even de-saturate, de-reverb, de-construct, restore levels and polarity, restore stereo image, restore dynamics and EQ, remove distortion, noise etc.Very useful and nice to have a peace of mind that your collection will still be safe even if the vinyls deteriorate. I would recommend trying those free ones though for general pops and clicks.

        • My vinyl, especially my early purchases, have a special place in my music collection, but only account for around 20% of all my albums. I’ve invested quite a lot of time cleaning them recently without the use of exotic tools and am very pleased with the results. However, I doubt that I would go to the trouble of recording them to a digital format; I’m more likely to buy the CD if I really want to listen to an album away from home.

          As I said earlier, vinyl makes you listen to music in a different way. That’s where my pleasure comes from plus the autobiographical nature of music and the tactile memories associated with the covers. It has nothing to do with perceived sound quality.

          • Oh thats not a problem at all for you then! I fully understand! You make it an event or hobby to listen to music (vinyl) I completely understand too. I was only suggesting an idea to save yourself incase anything was very rare, I’m not trying to change your ideas or personal hobby in any way. :-)

            • I appreciate your suggestion and you never know I may record a couple of my rarer albums someday. Indeed I’m pretty sure the new amp I’m about to buy includes a tape / audio loop.

  31. Kirk I completely agree with your article you have cut out all of the nonsense that gets spread around. I find there to be a big difference between audiophile guys and mixing, mastering engineers knowledge of sound reproduction.

    There literally is no music or sound that can surpass the limitations of digital capture and reproduction, just impossible. There is so much leeway with digital that you can craft anything and any difference you get comes from everything that made the product, ones signal path or other technology, not the actual bits stored themselves.

    I believe there is a type of ‘saturation’, ‘hotness’ or ‘colouring’ you can get from older vinyl but to me, the most natural sound is the cleaner sound, plus if you want saturation or hot signals you can replicate that in digital domain, distortion and all.

    DSP is the accurate and precise now/future and the past doesn’t have to lose anything, just acknowledge it benefits everything equally for the better!

  32. When it comes to classical music, I find it puzzling that some people actually think classical LPs were good. Static on quiet passages is so jarring and grotesque. Harmonic distortion made classical music sound horrible and longer pieces of music were usually flipped over and one could not listen continuously. When CDs first arrived it was striking to see how many classical LP’s were in thrift shops, yard sales, and in charity shops. To this day these same places are full of cheap classical vinul because listening to classical music on vinyl is a painful experience. Even Cd was not the best format since longer collections spanned several discs. In my opinion, high resolution digital files are the future of classical where the traditional constrainta of lenght do not apply and more comprehensive collections can be made without listeners having to change CDs or Lps.

  33. I think this really depends on the speakers one is using. I recall reading another article talking about how vinyl is worse quality.
    The author of said article didn’t talk about actually having a test setup that was identical and just changing the audio source from CD to Vinyl and listening using something other than a pair of headphones. I was in a store in my local town that sells vinyl records, and, I have to admit, there was a “warmth” that was difficult to describe if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. Suppose it’s like driving a super sports car, if you’ve never been behind the wheel, I’m wasting my time describing the actual experience to you (ever try driving a Tesla P85D or P90D?, it’s quite the thrill!). So, if you actually want to experience what people are talking about, go to a specialty store and ask them to show you how a vinyl record sounds better/fuller/warmer than a regular CD track. Then, let’s hear from you, and, see what you have to say. If you think that vinyl is still worse, then, you sir, may be of the mindset that there’s also no distinguishable difference between 96kbps mp3’s and 320kbps mp3’s, or, that an SACD is the same as a regular CD. If this is true, you may have damaged your hearing with a lot of loud/noisy sounds over the years.
    Just my 2 cents.

    About me:
    I’m of the transition generation where my siblings started with vinyl, 8-track, and moved to cassette, then finally to CD, I’m the mp3 and compressed audio generation (I’m more about the lossless audio because I use something more than a cheap set of walmart headphones when I listen, my car has 8.1 surround sound, and, each channel is actually separate, in fact, if I had a digital video i.e. Blu-Ray player, I could watch action movies and hear everything as it was designed to be heard from all around me).

  34. Is a little diference between sound quality between medium so important to enjoy music.There are too many factors here. To have good quality of sound you got to have very good ears that decay with age starting from 30 years old, a good equipment, good mastering, ambient noise, medium.
    Looks like we are looking for the ultimate super sound super earing hero experience. What would the super hero demolisher say about this?I know what?
    He couldnt stand music because hes too sensitive.LOL

  35. My two cents – I have a setup that is really, really clean. I make use of “pro” equipment, because of that was where my strive to the ultimate natural sound brought me (on a limited budget I might add). There is no “warmth” in my vinyls if wasn’t there in the first place. I have a CD and a vinyl record from the early 90’s, they are sounding quite similar while in the past with my old vintage setup, there was a clear difference between the two (vinyl won hands down in the “pleasant” range. Also I could not turn up the volume as loud on the CD player as on the vinyl without straining my ears. The vinyl sounded that much more pleasant in the high range.

    But I digress. CD’s are technically superior, no questions, but yes, there are limitations (for me especially in the high range). SACD could sound much better.

    The biggest issue I have with modern recordings, is that they are mastered so badly. Take an old CD or LP and enjoy the music. Nowadays, I feel as if the music “shouts” at you. A lot recordings (if not all!) are making use of compression or other tricks to make the material sound as loud as possible (google “loudness wars” if you want to get more info).
    Thinking along that track, and on my own collection

    So the recording industry wonders why we stop buying records? Because, imho they sound like they were mastered by using a mid range mobile phone’s speaker.. no dynamics, no feeling.. no “air”. It removes all fun out of the music. I might give the latest album of Adele a chance though.

    One exception though, I bought the vinyl of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories a while ago and was truly blown away by the sound quality. All right, so THAT is how a modern age recording could sound like. Heck, even the free download was actually sounding pretty good as well, even that was compressed audio to begin with.

    That leaves the theory that vinyl could sound better in modern recordings because the sound engineers have more limitations using analogue recordings.

    And also, it does not make much sense anymore to invest in a super-duper hifi setup if you are into “modern music” because it does and will sound like certain droppings.

    For me, both CD and vinyl can sound good, but I enjoy vinyl better. To each it’s own :)

  36. For the record, I tried the Adele “25” and it was horrbile. Not the music, not the voice, but the production was. Could not stand listening to it. Definitely not recommended on CD. Don’t know if the vinyl is better, I’ll wait until some reviews poor in.

    • The vinyl was mastered separately by Ryan Smith – it’s not going to win any dynamic range awards…but at least it’s an improvement over the horribly loud CD mastering (and 24-bit masterings too, awful)

  37. Hmmmmm, an article attacking vinyl as a medium from someone pushing streaming and digital downloads as the way forward. Well, stone me, he doesn’t come down in favour of vinyl! Phew, that’s a shock! Unfortunately it’s also why I can’t take it seriously, even beyond the sad attempts to demean hifi reviewers, which was pretty shabby by the way…

    Couple of problems with the argument…

    First, CD is capable of far more musical information being stored on it. Yes, in terms of Dynamic range. In terms of bit depth comparison, there is actually only 4 in it, which ain’t much, as Monty argues when he lays into Hires audio. But that’s another story. There is though, no doubt that Digital media can store more information that Vinyl. However, and here’s the rub, as an Audio engineer pointed out, the difference between the two is not only exaggerated, it’s based on 40 year old data. You see dear hearts, when people like our friend here compare the cutting ability of Vinyl compared with the storage ability of CD, it is not 2015’s cutting heads they are talking, but 1968’s.

    As the same engineer said, and he is pro digital by the way, the original wax was indeed tailored to fit the RIAA curve according to the reproductive ability of the day. Which, in 1969, was nearly all mono, stereo was a new fangled idea, and the equipment was usually a dansette.These had very limited frequency response, and as such vinyl was ‘limited’ or ‘tailored’ to their ability.

    The same engineer finished by saying, ‘although I’m a CD fan, it irritates me no end the rubbish people talk about the limitations of vinyl. It is an exceptional replay system, with wide dynamic range, good frequency response and a such you can’t go wrong. Well, aside from the cleaning, handling and storing issues which led to me getting rid of mine’.

    There is another problem with the argument.

    CD the medium may be very capable, but the issue of the hardware is critical. I’ll quote one of my former employers ‘it always amazes me how something so cheap (a Dual 505-3) can produce such great sound – no CD at the price can do that’. He was also a committed Digital fan, and as such only stocked a few TT’s. Sadly, to get very good CD sound, you have to spend an awful lot of money, something I came to realise after years in the trade.. DAC’s may have come a long way, but are still trying to turn something Digital into something analogue at 16/44, and while they do it very well, a PDM DAC still struggles to engage me when the CD is something classical, jazz or other ‘bright’ sounding music. There are reasons why, (see papers by Bothroyd Stuart on why), but this, I fully admit, is strictly personal opinion, not fact. But it’s based on years of listening to CD’s across a wide spectrum. Which, despite the authors dismissive attitude towards ‘reviewers’ it’s what things sound like that matters.

    Back to the article.

    We have another factual problem here. The author says ‘CD’s were restricted by the original master tape’ and engineers had no idea how to produce a Digital master’, which he claims is why early CD’s didn’t sound great. Actually, no. First, Studio tape is an excellent medium for recording. No engineer has a bad word to say about it’s ability to record music. It’s longevity yes, it’s habit of shedding yes, but not it’s ability to store music at very high quality levels. Digital recording in the early days was hampered, according to top engineers, not by inability, but by the poor ADC’s. There is however another problem. When CD first came out, in the rush to get albums out, and if we’re honest, to make a massive killing, the music business was using any old master, metal parts, even turntables to bang out CD’s. Hence a very large number of early CD’s are very poor indeed. Never mind pre-emphasis, if the source is duff, so is the final disc. As such I never understand why people hunt down early CD’s…

    Sheer stupidity.

    The next issue is of course, as the author mentioned, mastering. For CD, rather sadly, the Golden age of mastering was a very narrow window between 1988 – 94. Why? Because by 1988, decent ADC’s were online and the engineers no longer had to rely on a handful of old Sony’s. Sadly, from the early 90’s onwards, something else started to happen – the loudness wars. As CD’s were recorded louder and louder, more and more distortion was introduced, and more and more limiting used resulting in the dreaded ‘brickwall’ effect. Few genres escaped this, but classical and Jazz listeners can take heart, for a brief period they were getting the benefits of full range recordings no one else was!

    This of course, as the author refuses to acknowledge is a very good reason for vinyls return. Contrary to ‘received wisdom’ you cannot brickwall vinyl. An engineer again; ‘vinyl cannot take the loudness levels of a highly compressed CD master. The stylus will literally pop out of the groove as the modulation is too high’. So, yes, vinyl can be cut from a CD master, but it cannot be cut using one that has been saturated. These days the majority of mainstream recordings are.

    One final point on Masters. Sadly, downloads are a very precarious business. For 16/44 companies have been caught using upsampled MP3, while for hire downloads they have been caught (many times) using upsampled 16/44. I’m sure many people will argue ‘who cares’, but then that’s just plain daft?. If you pay for something you expect it to be what it says on the tin, not something cheaper and not of the standard advertised. The source for many downloads is also very shady. Very few, although Pono are better these days, are happy to give the lineage of the Master used. Why? It takes nothing to tell what the Master is – unless you don’t want to be taken to advertising standards?

    Vinyl is making a come back because, as above, it’s a good quality medium. It has it’s drawbacks, and it requires some maintenance, but then so does anything worth having. It doesn’t, as the author claims ‘easily wear out’. Tests have shown normal LP’s should be able to sustain 1,000’s of plays before wearing out. I doubt any of us will wear down an LP to ‘unplayable’ with modern TT’s and styli, in our lifetime

    Whether you think vinyl is better than CD is up to the listener, not some bloke on the internet who presents a half arsed case, sneers at reviewers and provides no current technical info to back himself up beyond what we already knew about CD. That’s half an argument, and it doesn’t hold up. Sorry.

  38. For thise is us who still buy new music constantly, there is no doubt that vinyl versions of most new releases sound better, less compression, better dynamic range. The saddest part is that the best bands of this generation have been simply brick walled to death – Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, Spoon, the Black Keys. Albums by these acts are slightly better on vinyl, although still not great by any means. But if you see the. Live, the sound is amazing – open, airy, and with a sense of realism that is never captured on a compressed digital file. It’s not a technical shortcoming of the digital format but mastering choices. For whatever reason, the general practice is not to jack up the volume so high on vinyl versions – ergo as a matter of practice, they sound better, which is probably the chief reason for the current resurgence. Or at least that’s why I buy vinyl.

    • YES. I remember reading an article on CD mastering and suddenly realising how fatiguing the modern wall-of-sound mastering is. The first time I hear Dark Side of the Moon I was almost embarrassed at how good it sounded. I mean how cliché is that? But it’s true- the separation, the dynamic range. We can only hope that with the vinyl revival and the death of the CD people start to go back to more dynamic mastering.

    • >Or at least that’s why I buy vinyl

      Yes right, it’s also called the placebo effect. Digital quality surpassed analogue decades ago and there is so much BS spread around by vinyl idiots to justify their “faith” it’s laughable. Go ahead and waste your money, as PT Barnum said “there’s a sucker borne every minute”

  39. I have to disagree with above article. One thing is true though: vinyls will wear out over time, however it is best to rip your audio into a wav file for repetitive plays.
    I don’t think you can have high resolution audio with CD, but I always rip my vinyls in Hi -res and believe me, hi-res is not a myth if you have a pair of hi-res headphones.

    • Audio CDs *are* high resolution WAV files, and at 44.1 KHz they are reproducing frequencies outside of the range of human hearing (and everything in between). You may be thinking of MP3’s, which do throw out a lot of information. But CDs are lossless quality, and are immune from signal degradation through constant use. The reason 44.1 KHz is important is because the Nyquist-Shannon Sampling theorem dictates the sampling rate must be twice the maximum frequency. Humans can’t hear above 20 KHz, so CD quality is MORE than ample. This is not only scientifically proven fact, but backed up by double-blind testing. The reason high-resolution audio sounds so good in high end headphones is because you have high end headphones.

  40. Those who experience music’s magic don’t need to express it in terms like ‘lively’ ‘airy’ ‘vibrant’ because music itself is a feeling expressed, like a living poem.
    Audiophiles think they can improve their incapable sense to feel by spending ridiculous amounts of money on playback systems only to think about the shortcomings of it.
    But in fact the shortcoming lies in their inability to feel and the sad part is you can’t buy that and no one can give it to you.

  41. This comment made me write down above’s thought:

    The saddest part is that the best bands of this generation have been simply brick walled to death – Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, Spoon, the Black Keys. Albums by these acts are slightly better on vinyl, although still not great by any means.

    To me some of these bands sound great even on fm radio driving in a car. It’s you who’s brick walled but not death enough to write such nonsense ;) You are the act not the people expressing themselves through their music.

    • As a sound engineer working in FM and AM radio, I can tell you that radio stations are terribly guilty of “brick walling” the audio. Legally, they’re allowed to peak at 105% of their licensed wattage, so everything gets super compressed so that even the quietest sounds have the same amplitude as the loudest sounds, and then it hovers at about 104%. All this to compete and get maximum range and loudness.

  42. Hi Sam

    I’m no sound engineer but I do have a technical background. There is no correlation between the rate of compression of the transmitted sound and the output wattage of a radio station. Increasing the output wattage increases the reach of the station, it does nothing to the transmitted signal.
    The most compressed (and loudest) are the ads between the music. Radio is often used in places with background noise, like cars, hence the compression.

    “even the quietest sounds have the same amplitude as the loudest sounds” ???????

    You are no sound engineer are you?
    However, I do suspect you have a some fine stereo equipment at home. Go tweak your cables buddy pay no mind to the music. Eddie Vedder puts it like ”this is not for you”

    • While I appreciate your talent for a condescending response, I think your assumption that I’m not a sound engineer is likely due to my over-simplification. Instead of saying “…quietest sounds have the same amplitude…” I maybe should have specified that the main output from the board is fed through a compressor with a double-digit to one compression ratio, a very low dB threshold, with a hard knee with a super-fast attack time, thus producing an almost solid waveform, leaving little to no difference between the *recorded* quietest sounds and the *recorded* loudest sounds, before being sent to the transmitter. The loudness on the broadcast source absolutely affects the effective range of a station, because if two stations overlap on the same frequency with the same wattage at the same distance from the towers, the one with the stronger audio signal will win out on a receiver. This is partially why many AM stations are only licensed to broadcast a set amount of hours. I wish I could get paid to “tweak my cables,” but it seems the market can’t sustain that, so—with all due respect to you and Eddie Veder—I’ll keep on working hard as a sound engineer, since that is my field of expertise, and keep on cranking up the volume on the stations I work for, in spite of it destroying the nuanced sound that “audiophiles” are looking for. Kirk is spot on in his article; any quality difference in vinyl over CD is imagined.

      • Educate yourself.

        Hmmmmm, an article attacking vinyl as a medium from someone pushing streaming and digital downloads as the way forward. Well, stone me, he doesn’t come down in favour of vinyl! Phew, that’s a shock! Unfortunately it’s also why I can’t take it seriously, even beyond the sad attempts to demean hifi reviewers, which was pretty shabby by the way…

        Couple of problems with the argument…

        First, CD is capable of far more musical information being stored on it. Yes, in terms of Dynamic range. In terms of bit depth comparison, there is actually only 4 in it, which ain’t much, as Monty argues when he lays into Hires audio. But that’s another story. There is though, no doubt that Digital media can store more information that Vinyl. However, and here’s the rub, as an Audio engineer pointed out, the difference between the two is not only exaggerated, it’s based on 40 year old data. You see dear hearts, when people like our friend here compare the cutting ability of Vinyl compared with the storage ability of CD, it is not 2015’s cutting heads they are talking, but 1968’s.

        As the same engineer said, and he is pro digital by the way, the original wax was indeed tailored to fit the RIAA curve according to the reproductive ability of the day. Which, in 1969, was nearly all mono, stereo was a new fangled idea, and the equipment was usually a dansette.These had very limited frequency response, and as such vinyl was ‘limited’ or ‘tailored’ to their ability.

        The same engineer finished by saying, ‘although I’m a CD fan, it irritates me no end the rubbish people talk about the limitations of vinyl. It is an exceptional replay system, with wide dynamic range, good frequency response and a such you can’t go wrong. Well, aside from the cleaning, handling and storing issues which led to me getting rid of mine’.

        There is another problem with the argument.

        CD the medium may be very capable, but the issue of the hardware is critical. I’ll quote one of my former employers ‘it always amazes me how something so cheap (a Dual 505-3) can produce such great sound – no CD at the price can do that’. He was also a committed Digital fan, and as such only stocked a few TT’s. Sadly, to get very good CD sound, you have to spend an awful lot of money, something I came to realise after years in the trade.. DAC’s may have come a long way, but are still trying to turn something Digital into something analogue at 16/44, and while they do it very well, a PDM DAC still struggles to engage me when the CD is something classical, jazz or other ‘bright’ sounding music. There are reasons why, (see papers by Bothroyd Stuart on why), but this, I fully admit, is strictly personal opinion, not fact. But it’s based on years of listening to CD’s across a wide spectrum. Which, despite the authors dismissive attitude towards ‘reviewers’ it’s what things sound like that matters.

        Back to the article.

        We have another factual problem here. The author says ‘CD’s were restricted by the original master tape’ and engineers had no idea how to produce a Digital master’, which he claims is why early CD’s didn’t sound great. Actually, no. First, Studio tape is an excellent medium for recording. No engineer has a bad word to say about it’s ability to record music. It’s longevity yes, it’s habit of shedding yes, but not it’s ability to store music at very high quality levels. Digital recording in the early days was hampered, according to top engineers, not by inability, but by the poor ADC’s. There is however another problem. When CD first came out, in the rush to get albums out, and if we’re honest, to make a massive killing, the music business was using any old master, metal parts, even turntables to bang out CD’s. Hence a very large number of early CD’s are very poor indeed. Never mind pre-emphasis, if the source is duff, so is the final disc. As such I never understand why people hunt down early CD’s…

        Sheer stupidity.

        The next issue is of course, as the author mentioned, mastering. For CD, rather sadly, the Golden age of mastering was a very narrow window between 1988 – 94. Why? Because by 1988, decent ADC’s were online and the engineers no longer had to rely on a handful of old Sony’s. Sadly, from the early 90’s onwards, something else started to happen – the loudness wars. As CD’s were recorded louder and louder, more and more distortion was introduced, and more and more limiting used resulting in the dreaded ‘brickwall’ effect. Few genres escaped this, but classical and Jazz listeners can take heart, for a brief period they were getting the benefits of full range recordings no one else was!

        This of course, as the author refuses to acknowledge is a very good reason for vinyls return. Contrary to ‘received wisdom’ you cannot brickwall vinyl. An engineer again; ‘vinyl cannot take the loudness levels of a highly compressed CD master. The stylus will literally pop out of the groove as the modulation is too high’. So, yes, vinyl can be cut from a CD master, but it cannot be cut using one that has been saturated. These days the majority of mainstream recordings are.

        One final point on Masters. Sadly, downloads are a very precarious business. For 16/44 companies have been caught using upsampled MP3, while for hire downloads they have been caught (many times) using upsampled 16/44. I’m sure many people will argue ‘who cares’, but then that’s just plain daft?. If you pay for something you expect it to be what it says on the tin, not something cheaper and not of the standard advertised. The source for many downloads is also very shady. Very few, although Pono are better these days, are happy to give the lineage of the Master used. Why? It takes nothing to tell what the Master is – unless you don’t want to be taken to advertising standards?

        Vinyl is making a come back because, as above, it’s a good quality medium. It has it’s drawbacks, and it requires some maintenance, but then so does anything worth having. It doesn’t, as the author claims ‘easily wear out’. Tests have shown normal LP’s should be able to sustain 1,000’s of plays before wearing out. I doubt any of us will wear down an LP to ‘unplayable’ with modern TT’s and styli, in our lifetime

        Whether you think vinyl is better than CD is up to the listener, not some bloke on the internet who presents a half arsed case, sneers at reviewers and provides no current technical info to back himself up beyond what we already knew about CD. That’s half an argument, and it doesn’t hold up. Sorry.

        Reply

        • Thank goodness. I appreciate bob’s summary.

          There is another point about cd’s which has to do with dynamic compression (abuse of the format in the mixing stage).

          Here is an excellent article (by an engineer) comparing LP to CD as well as SACD and DVD-A.

          http://www.audioholics.com/audio-technologies/dynamic-comparison-of-lps-vs-cds-part-4

          I’m not arguing for one format or the other as I use both from non cheap head ends (3500 for my turntable and 2200 for my CD player/DAC). I have several original releases of the same album on both LP and CD. The CD sounds thinner in every case.

  43. Audio is recorded digitally, so how would there magically be more information when it is reproduced in analogue? If you are into super high quality sound reproduction maybe get a 24 bit version with some stupidly high sample rate, CDs are on their way out now anyway. The point is, vinyl sound IS digital, just a crappier version of it.

    • The audio I like to reproduce at home these days was almost entirely not recorded digitally. That would be pretty much all the music recorded before the mid eighties or so. That is what started me down the path of vinyl, so much great music to discover at garage sales!

      I have recordings from a few hundred bands that have come along since but in my view there aren’t that many that are truly great.

  44. I believe that an mportant reason why some people prefer vinyl is the use of an ‘elliptical filter’ during mastering: the bass is made more mono to prevent the diamond cutter from having to move too far sideways (which is impossible and in any case would make it collide with another groove). The same filter is applied to any sound system which uses only mid-range/high stereo loudspeakers and a single mono subwoofer. This works well because the human brain can only detect sound direction from high frequency elements of sound. It’s just a theory, but what do you think? Subjectively, I have to say that when I listen to an originally produced LP, I sometimes feel a more immediate ‘presence’ than I do when listening to a remastered CD of the same music. In art, we prefer a painting to a phiotograph … perhaps it’s the same with LPs?

    • I don’t think that makes much of a difference. You don’t hear the low frequency waves as being in stereo no matter whether you have a sub-woofer or not. Also, the bass is lowered on LPs, so it doesn’t make the needle jump; it is later restored during playback. (This is the RIAA curve.)

  45. For years I tried to record my half-speed Masters to .wav files. These albums are from mostly analog master tapes. The best 16 bit sound cards of the 1990s and 2000s couldn’t do it right. I finally got realistic recordings with a 24bit/192khz sound card. In the process, I’ve found the S/N of some JVC Super Vinyl to be on the order of 105db above 1khz. Your ear filters out the noise below 300 or 400 Hz. The real S/N of all three CD players I own is only around 85db in the real world, not the theoretical 96 db the digital music lovers proclaim. This could be poor quality mastering equipment in the studio. The problem is most of the digital music lovers don’t have 18″ sub woofers or a collection of JBL and Klipsch Monitors for speakers in a deadened listening room with a less than 30 dBm noise floor and a system capable 130+ dBm sound levels. Digital media has very defined limits and sound terrible when pushed beyond those limits. Digital clips hard! By contrast, vinyl in the hands of a true craftsman like Stan Ricker, can bend the rules and push the envelop with subtle soft clipping our ears will except. Our ears are designed for an analog world, not a digital one. Oh, and there is content above 20k and below 20Hz that add realism to music, the shock waves on the Telarc 1812 Overture are at 6 or 7 Hz and harmonics of the cymbals on Dark Side of the Moon exceed 25khz. With 18″ woofers you can feel the music and with top draw tweeters the highs are a crisp point on the sound stage. Another observation is that modern music is mixed for iPods for use in a noisy environment and not critical listening; 16 bit/44.1Khz and MP3s are fine for that.

  46. As a degreed EE, a sometimes live recordist, and an ex-Stereophile reviewer, I have to put up with this “LPs sound better” garbage all the time. Well, yes, they “sound better” — if you like the euphonic colorations of phonograph records. But “sounds better” is not the same as “reproduces sound more accurately”. To anyone who’s familiar with live, unamplified sound, a properly engineered digital recording is clearly more like “the real thing”. To slightly paraphrase Peter Walker, it is a significantly closer approach to the original sound.

    As for those who listen to studio recordings of rock music — who cares what you think?

  47. Some people can’t hear the difference between an mp3 and a live band, some, like me and many others can hear the difference between 44,100Hz 16bit and 48,000Hz 24bit. Vinyl, with all the limits inherent to the medium, capture more than 44,100Hz 16bit, CD frequency is good enough for some people not hearing frequencies over 20kHz. We are not all the same, some people are colour blind, some people hear different sounds, higher or lower etc. That is for what concerns sampling frequency, then 24bit give you 22db extra dynamic range, that makes a massive difference between a CD and a high-res audio recording, I work with audio and @ 44,100Hz 16bit, vinyl is way better; at 96kHz 24bit I start to don’t notice any significant difference. I believe my ear, I’ve been earning my bread with it for the last 30 years. I did a test a while ago, just for fun, I recorded at 96kHz 24bit the same music from a brand new vinyl on a good turntable and a CD, no digital conversion, just straight audio recording: I played the two recording with my roland r05 in headphones to 10 friends and 9 of them thought the recording from the vinyl was the best sounding, some comments on the audio from the vinyl were: “richer”, “deeper”, “more colourful” “If I close my eyes I can actually see the musicians playing” etc. One friend didn’t notice any difference. If you are happy with 44,100Hz that is perfectly fine but why patronise people that can hear more? Many people mistake sound cleanness with fidelity, a CD sound cleaner than a vinyl but captures less music details, if we want to go digital 88.200Hz 24bit is the starting point, anything below is not good enough for many people’s hears. This debate is never ending because some people that can’t hear the difference feel compelled to persuade people that can, that there is no difference… It will never end.

    • “Some people can’t hear the difference between an mp3 and a live band”

      Saying that means I really don’t care about the rest of what you wrote. It’s simply fooling to say something like that.

    • And re the dynamic range myth:

      The dynamic range of vinyl, when evaluated as the ratio of a peak sinusoidal amplitude to the peak noise density at that sine wave frequency, is somewhere around 80 dB. Under theoretically ideal conditions, this could perhaps improve to 120 dB. The dynamic range of CDs, when evaluated on a frequency-dependent basis and performed with proper dithering and oversampling, is somewhere around 150 dB. Under no legitimate circumstances will the dynamic range of vinyl ever exceed the dynamic range of CD, under any frequency, given the wide performance gap and the physical limitations of vinyl playback. More discussion at Hydrogenaudio.

      http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_(Vinyl)

    • >”Some people can’t hear the difference between an mp3 and a live band, some, like me and many others can hear the difference between 44,100Hz 16bit and 48,000Hz 24bit”

      ———–

      I challenge you $10,000 in a blind hearing booth test.

    • Wow, that’s pretty hostile. Also, dead people can’t heard the difference.

      Who did I censor? Clearly not you… The only comments I delete are the vulgar ones. I’m happy to engage with anyone who is willing to discuss in a civil manner.

      • Kirk, I do apologise if I came across hostile, I didn’t mean to but my previous were I used my primary email address got ignored and deleted by wordpress while this one with an alternative email address went trough, I infer it wasn’t censorship then, sorry.

        All I wanted was just to have a constructive exchange of ideas about audio quality, I don’t think is fair to dismiss my observations on the basis that I used an hyperbole in my opening to point out differences in people’s perceptions.
        To reiterate, when I listen to a good vinyl, beside the typical media noise I can hear some fine details and nuances in the music material that I cannot hear in a CD with the same music content, particularly, i.e. the top end of cymbals in Jazz recordings are much crispier and defined in vinyl than CD and I’m not alone in this opinion, I don’t think I’m insane or some sort of nostalgia is obnubilating my ears and brain. Then I like how CDs sound clean and are easier to use than vinyl but if we talk about exact reproduction of the original sound I believe both media are not perfect for different reasons. I think digital recording over 88.200hz 24bit is the way to go, I have no doubts that that quality is way superior to vinyl and CD. In my opinion vinyl can have a place beside CDs in one’s collection or the choice of one kind over the other is a matter of personal taste, at the same time I bow to the superiority of high resolution digital audio. There are many aspect in sound transmission and reproduction that are still currently being investigated by science; my contention is that maybe we cannot rule out that, in establish the technical aspect of the red book CD something has been left out… that’s all.
        i.e. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undertone_series
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aliasing

        • WordPress puts first comments by everyone in moderation to prevent spam. For some reason, it keeps putting comments in moderation, even after I’ve approved one from someone. I don’t know why.

          Your hyperbole at the beginning of your comment was, unfortunately, similar to some of the comments people seriously make when discussing such issues.

          As for the actual quality, there is no objective proof that vinyl sounds better; there’s plenty of objective proof that it doesn’t sound better. (Pops, clicks, wear, lower quality toward the end of a side, etc.) It’s clear that liking the vinyl sound is much more subjective than objective.

          Audiophiles need to learn to say that they like something, rather than what they like is better than something else. I know people who live vinyl because of the process of listening, as I mention in the article. There’s nothing wrong with that. Trying to give a scientific reason for this, however, isn’t very useful.

          Interestingly, we’ll be doing an episode of The Next Track podcast (see the link in the sidebar) about vinyl vs. CD in a few weeks, with a guest who’s produced records, worked at Apple’s iTunes Store, etc.

          • “Audiophiles need to learn to say that they like something, rather than what they like is better than something else.” That pretty much sums it up.

            Most people who fawn over the superior sound of LPs have no grasp of sampling and quantization theory. The fact is that a properly sampled and dithered signal is, when reproduced, a theoretically perfect reconstruction. The //only// change is the conversion of quantization errors into noise.

            It’s interesting that a common claim for the superiority of LP comes from people who do not understand the mathematics behind digital processing, and are unable to critique it on any level other that “I don’t like it”.

            LPs are unique among analog recordings because there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to get them to provide sound that’s better than euphony. Every other form of analog I’ve heard (especially FM — and even the lowly Compact Cassette) can deliver excellent, accurate sound.

            Some years ago I sat down with a pile of audiophile recordings (mostly direct disks) and listened to parts of them with an Ikeda (Fidelity Research) direct-coupled MC pickup in a Well Tempered arm on a Well Tempered turntable feeding a John Curl Vendetta preamp. The sound never achieved what I would consider accuracy (ie, realism). But it was almost always pleasant.

            A common form of LP defense is the claim that the sound of cymbals is better rendered. Here there’s legitimate room for criticism. Digital superiority is based on the assumption that everything is executed correctly. Cymbals generate a splash of broadband noise. Unless the sampling rate is high enough, and the anti-alias filtering done right, you’re likely to have problems.

            By the way, phonograph records have a lot of trouble getting much past 20kHz. JVC had a heck of time getting to 45kHz for its ill-fated CD-4 quad system.

  48. If I might spew a bit further… The one legitimate criticism one can throw at digital recording is the need for anti-aliasing filters in recording, and low-pass filters * in playback. At relatively low sampling rates (and 44.1k is low as such things go), you need very sharp filtering to keep ultrasonic noise from being “mirrored” in the audible spectrum. Both types of filter introduce timing errors (and sometimes ringing), which might be audible. SACD has the advantage here, as its high sampling rate minimizes the amount of filtering needed.

    It must also be emphasized that the people who prefer the LP are overwhelmingly people who don’t listen to acoustic music. They have no reference to judge what is good or bad, because there is no reference (other than the cutting master).

    I have a challenge for vinyl lovers. Linn (of all companies!) makes absolutely superb SACDs. Their St Matthew Passion was recorded in the church where it was originally performed. The sound is quite lifelike, and you need not suspend much disbelief to believe you’re present at that venue.

    Can anyone recommend an LP of comparable “realism”?

    * NOT “reconstruction” filters. Sampling is a form of convolution in which the original signal is never lost.

    • “It must also be emphasized that the people who prefer the LP are overwhelmingly people who don’t listen to acoustic music. ”
      Wrong. I’m a musician, producer, composer and performer, I mix and master my albums and I listen almost exclusively to vinyl or digital music at least at 88200Hz 24bit. The vast majority of my musician colleagues, friends and various members of my audience listen to vinyl or high resolution digital audio, I have very good ears and I find 44100Hz 16bit unable to reproduce all the subtleties and textures of acoustic Jazz or Classical music, particularly in the mid range. There is a lot of frequency masking and other weird artefacts going on in CDs. I can spot immediately audio at CD quality or 96kHz 24bit but people incapable to do it don’t understand that it is possible, like people unable to learn perfect pitch refuse to believe that it can be learned by many people. Unfortunately we don’t have all the same ears and a good percentage of people with less developed hearing spend a lot of time explaining with numbers and formulas how people with more advanced hearing capabilities are suppose to hear music, it is quite entertaining. I think it is more about justifying their limits and persuading themselves than persuading people like me, I can hear perfectly that vinyl is superior than CD, even with all his inherent limits and problems it registers more audio information than a CD, I don’t need science yet to discover many aspect of sound and more generally physics, to disprove something that I am perfectly able to hear, science will discover in the future what exactly vinyl register than 44100Hz 16bit don’t but I don’t really care as it is already clear to me and many others, well before Newton’s findings about the law of universal gravitation people knew very well that things would fall on the ground and possibly crash. Once I had a yellow car body work fixed, the guy at the garage used a slightly different yellow and I immediately spotted and told him, he was in disbelief and insisted he could not see any difference and he sampled the original colour with a colorimeter, in fact half of my friends couldn’t see it either, their reactions where quite hilarious, they were looking at me like if I was mad; the other half agreed that it wasn’t a particularly well done job as the mending was clearly of a slightly different shade of yellow, we are all different, we see, smell, taste, feel and hear differently… Many people are very happy with vinyl, there is a big resurgence, Sony started pressing them again, yesterday I saw brand new vinyl for sale in Tesco! All hipsters or nostalgics? Nah. Many people are able to hear that analogue audio vinyl cut from the original tapes or high resolution digital masters is richer than 44100Hz 16bit CDs, not cleaner but richer; you can’t? I can and I will keep enjoying it, sorry. Also, I agree that high resolution digital audio is better than vinyl, the contention here is low-fi CD vs Vinyl. Also who really care about which media people choose to listen too? Plenty of people perfectly happy with low quality MP3s, that is fine, everything is fine, it is about choices, we don’t have to be all the same, right?

      • I don’t like being told I’m cloth-eared (though I might be). And I appreciate your making it clear that you believe Red Book CD — not necessarily all digital — isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

        I’m willing to be convinced that 44.1/16 digital recording introduces artifacts I haven’t been aware of. * So… give us an example we can download. Describe the errors we’re supposed to be hearing.

        Even better… Give an example from a hybrid SACD.

        * It’s rather like the harmonium in the opening of “Salome”.

        • I have several of the same album in vinyl and CD and most of the vinyl version, alongside the well known defects of the medium still renders more fine details than CD, there is more space and depth in the music and the high end, particularly cymbals in Jazz, is way better and more realistic. When I record in studio the standard is recording at 96kHz 24bit, most of the time with Pro Tools, 44.100 Hz 16bit is thin and flat and lacks definitions in the mid and high range, where also all the harmonics of the low notes are audible. What you need to do is to get a couple of Neumann km87, go to a venue and record at 96kHz/24bit and CD quality some acoustic live music with good dynamic and different instruments and listen to the two versions, the difference is very noticeable. When I mix from high res digital and convert to CD quality I can hear a loss of details in the fine textures and in dynamic, I don’t even make my albums in CD anymore, I sell a USB memory with the highest digital resolution I can provide, with CDs I felt I wasn’t selling my music at its best quality. If you do not hear any difference between CD and 96kHz 24bit I have nothing to suggest to you to download. Also it doesn’t mean you are cloth-eared, the details I’m talking about are very fine and probably unnoticeable when we add the sound of a room, ambient noise and other factors. I can hear my dog ultrasound whistle it is very possible that I am the odd one… :-D Anyway, my contention is that somehow vinyl registers more fine details than 44.100Hz 16bit but definitely without the CD’s cleanness, I am perfectly happy with anything from 88.200kHz 24bit upward and in that case I do not miss the vinyl.

          “In 1977, Geoff Emmerick, who with George Martin recorded The Beatles at Abbey Road and later at Air Studios in London, showed me that he could hear a difference between two identical channels on a recently delivered new console. After some hours of listening with him, I agreed that I could hear a subtle difference. When we measured I found that, out of 48 channels, three had been incorrectly terminated and displayed a rise of 3 dB at 54 kHz. The limit of hearing for most humans does not extend beyond 20 kHz and this small resonance, whilst obviously an oversight in the factory, would not normally have been regarded as important.”

          -Rupert Neve, Wimberley, TX September 2001

          • I used to have Pearl (Milab) variable-pattern mics, but no longer do. Nor do I have high-sampling-rate recorders.

            Without an accessible sample, I’m in no position to agree or disagree with you.

            The only obvious difference (for me) in the sound of an SACD layer and the Red Book layer of the same disk is that the SACD is slightly less hard-sounding, and has slightly greater “air”.

            I worked for Neve in Connecticut many years ago. The employees were convinced that the older consoles, with fewer gain stages and far fewer unbiased coupling caps, were more-neutral sounding.

            • “The only obvious difference (for me) in the sound of an SACD layer and the Red Book layer of the same disk is that the SACD is slightly less hard-sounding, and has slightly greater “air”.”
              I couldn’t agree more, for me the less hard-sounding translates in more rich/detailed tone and the air in the sound again translates in more natural sounding, I think we all have a different way to verbalise our aural perception. Personally I can hear a similar difference when comparing vinyl an CD, once I manage to ignore the inherent noise in the vinyl but I’m aware that here we could disagree, still it is my opinion that if only CD and Vinyl are available of a given album and the vinyl has been recorded from r2r tape or high resolution digital audio I would choose vinyl over CD, conversely I would most probably choose SACD over vinyl. I think SACD and generally high resolution audio would find everyone agreeing about its superiority over vinyl but I’m not big fan of the red book CD and I’m not convinced of its sonic superiority over vinyl, CD it is certainly better in other respects like constant speed and very low floor noise but I miss something in the music content that I can hear in the vinyl, and I don’t think it is about the colour of the sound or the fact that I grew up listening to vinyl, otherwise I don’t think I would prefer high resolution digital audio to vinyl.

  49. Take the line out from an amp connected to a record deck, and attach it to a computer or CD recorder, and record it. It will capture the “vinyl” sound perfectly, and be indistinguishable from the record itself on playback.

    When I was was young, I had the KLF’s “the White Room” on cassette tape, recorded directly from my dad’s record deck. It sounded great: miles better than any shop bought tapes — in fact, it sounded exactly like a hissy, and maybe slightly lower definition version of the vinyl. The technology of reproduction isn’t the issue, it’s something around the way the sound changes when played back through the record deck. (I do wonder whether it’s something around amplifying resonant frequencies, perhaps the lack of perfect isolation and dampening in the tone arm / crystal enhancing some elements, almost like a mechanical gain / echo device; artificially enhancing elements (via resonance / positive feedback) while providing greater smoothness (dampening effect of the physical momentum of the stylus))

    The distinctive sound of vinyl, while pleasing, is a defect — it didn’t sound that way when mastered, and the CD / digital version is the one they sound engineer created.

    Records do often “sound better”, but there’s no technical reason why a CD couldn’t sound exactly the same.

    I wonder if there’s a market for “re-recorded” CDs and streaming, that are simply recordings of the signal out when the vinyl pressing is played (aloud, in a nicely resonant room).

    • I disliked LPs long before the CD appeared. This might be due to there not being very high quality LP playback 45 years ago. But I heard commercial open-reel tapes, and they beat the pants off LP.

      The LP has pleasing colorations. And that’s about it.

  50. Anyone who thinks CD sounds better than vinyl day in and day out obviously have incredibly untrained ears.
    CDs/Digital sample the music. The key word here is “sample”, which means some of the original signal (yes even distortion) has been lost.
    I have a Shandling tube cd player that I absolutely love, but I’ll take the sound of my turntables ( I have four) anyday.
    I also use tube gear for my phono, pre-amp and mid/high frequency horns. I use a Mcintosh transistor amp for the bass, because transistors on the bass sound better.
    When you talk about “all out” stereo, price is not the object. I’ve got 40k invested in my analogue system and its sounds better than your $800.00 MP3.

    • “Sound better” does not mean “is more accurate” — which is all that matters.

      About 60 years ago, my father splurged $12 on a half-track open-reel tape of one of Frank Sinatra’s classic albums — “Where are You?”. I remember the sound being almost steely. The CD sounds the same. It was probably dubbed from the LP master.

      Few analog recordings come even remotely close to matching the “realism” of the better digital recordings (all formats). What this proves is debatable — other than that the belief that digital recording are not or cannot be “realistic” is unsupportable.

    • “incredibly untrained ears” sounds like audiophile voodoo to me. The CD records what’s there, the digital sampling is much better than the equivalent transition made by dragging a needle across a piece of plastic. Look at how records are physically made — it’s a marvel of technology that you can have anything even approaching hi fidelity sound after scraping bits of metal away, then molding plastic into the shapes, even before you start worrying about playback.

      The sampling rate and quality of CDs is amazing, and much higher than even the “trained ear” could possibly hear. As I say, try recording the output from your turntable onto CD, and it’ll sound exactly the same when played back — it’ll even capture the distortion added by the vinyl manufacturing / playback processes.

    • Another way of looking at it is this:

      You’ve finished your recording at the studio, and it’s now held on your computer, in ProTools/whatever.

      Your normal process is to copy the recording, currently in digital form, straight to a CD. But someone comes in to your studio and tells you that if you place a lacquer on a spinning bit of plastic, that will cut the sound into it. And then they can coat that in metal. Then peel away the plastic. And then use a hydraulic press to squish the shape of that metal into yet another plastic disk.

      They then tell you that this will produce a more accurate sound. Not just that it’ll add some nice effect, and sound better, but that it’s more accurate than just copying it digitally.

      You’d laugh them right out of your studio.

      Vinyl may sound better to you, but it’s an accidental artifact introduced by the way it’s been physically made. Any “training” is just you listening for the artifact you’re used to hearing.

      I like the bass boost on my headphone amp — it makes the music sound better. An audiophile might not like it, but I wouldn’t tell them it’s because they’ve got untrained ears.

  51. About the time that CDs took off in the 80s there was an anecdote doing the rounds. So the story goes, lovers of classical music were quick to deride the new digital format as it didn’t sound as good as even (analogue) FM radio. Purists were convinced that a classical track listened to on BBC Radio 3 was superior to the same track on CD. That may have been the case given that the available consumer-grade technology was relatively immature. What few realised however was that Aunty Beeb had been using a proprietary digital transmission system based on 13-bit / 32kHz linear PCM to relay programme material to most of its transmitters for quite a while before CD came along (the rollout began in 1973!). So technically FM radio was already substantially inferior to CD before any of the FM artifacts were factored in.

    The history can be found here if anyone’s interested http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/BBC/PCMandNICAM/History.html

  52. I’m almost finished with digitizing what remains of my vinyl. I gave away most of the vinyl to a colleague; I should be able to sell the remainder once I’ve completed my task. I feel that ultimately, the reason so many listeners express a preference for vinyl is because they are emotionally invested it that medium and everything that constitutes that investment. That’s fine. “Whatever floats your boat,” as was once often heard about any number of preferences. I’m very happy with my bits, bytes, files, and DACs, though. The threshold I crossed was one-way—no going back. YMMV.

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