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.  ↩

  4. Pitchfork: Does Vinyl Really Sound Better?  ↩

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

  1. “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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    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.

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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 explains this so anyone can understand it.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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).

  16. 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

  17. 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 :)

  18. 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)

  19. 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.

  20. 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”

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