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(Humans Invent)   Why vinyl sounds so much better than CDs or MP3s   (humansinvent.com) divider line 64
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5044 clicks; posted to Geek » on 09 Nov 2012 at 9:55 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-09 09:55:52 AM
DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?
 
2012-11-09 10:04:19 AM
...because it's analog...? Do people not understand that? No, most people don't give a shiat, and I myself am FAR from an audiophile. But I'm a musician, I've fiddled around with both digital and analog recording, and if you gave me a blind hearing test, I could definitely tell the difference.
 
2012-11-09 10:11:25 AM
inb4 smug
 
2012-11-09 10:12:11 AM
Is the answer, "cause your ears are broken"?
 
2012-11-09 10:13:20 AM

The Muthaship: DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?


This (except maybe for MP3s).

People, particularly "audiophiles", tend to mistake the distortion, wear, and "warmth" of vinyl as better sound, and many others still have stuck in their heads the awful sound of many early CD releases that were poorly mastered. Also, people who still have record players probably have much better systems than the average person, and any source will sound better than your typical consumer-level CD or digital audio player.
 
2012-11-09 10:14:44 AM
That "warmth" those audiophiles are always going on about? That's farking dust on the vinyl. The absolute opposite of better.
 
2012-11-09 10:16:30 AM

The Muthaship: DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?


That's not what TFA says, but it's the truth. That "warmth" from vinyl is a lack of fidelity and noise introduced by the lossy medium. Digital music can reproduce more of the sound, more accurately, then lossy vinyl can.

It's just math. If you want to pretend like it's not true that's fine, but you may be mistaken for a republican.
 
2012-11-09 10:18:27 AM

mongbiohazard: The Muthaship: DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?

That's not what TFA says, but it's the truth. That "warmth" from vinyl is a lack of fidelity and noise introduced by the lossy medium. Digital music can reproduce more of the sound, more accurately, then lossy vinyl can.

It's just math. If you want to pretend like it's not true that's fine, but you may be mistaken for a republican.


Not you personally Muthaship, I'm meaning vinyl fanboys.
 
2012-11-09 10:18:39 AM
This again?

Analog sounds better, but the sad fact is that many variables are going to affect the playback when the music is stored on a vinyl plastic disc and played back using a small needle.

Dust, oil, debris, warping of the record, record wear and degradation, and so on, and so on. Not to mention the insane storage needs.

Whereas digital is at the point where you can store 10,000 albums on a card that is small than a postage stamp, and will sound reasonably well to over 99% of the world.

Diff'rent stokes.
 
2012-11-09 10:19:18 AM

Pontious Pilates: I could definitely tell the difference.


Yeah, me too. From all the popping and skipping of vinyl.
 
2012-11-09 10:20:16 AM
I enjoy vinyl for one reason. The person playing the music has to be aware of what is playing, how long is left, etc. It requires more attention. There is nothing worse than going to a party where somebody plugs in there 5 billion song iPod and puts it on shuffle...
 
2012-11-09 10:21:45 AM
I love vinyl! The fact that you can here your own dandruff taking part in the music is great!
 
2012-11-09 10:23:37 AM
Digital has reached the point where it's better than vinyl. Os and 1s are the same thing as the grooves on a record. If you can't understand that, time to look into this thing called "physics."
 
2012-11-09 10:24:13 AM

Lando Lincoln: Pontious Pilates: I could definitely tell the difference.

Yeah, me too. From all the popping and skipping of vinyl.


Well, yeah, that's the biggest problem with vinyl. It's a fragile medium. But a pristine record played on decent equipment will outshine digital every time. Just not enough for people who don't give a shiat or know how to listen.
 
2012-11-09 10:38:43 AM
no unlikely tag?
 
2012-11-09 10:41:53 AM

Pontious Pilates: Lando Lincoln: Pontious Pilates: I could definitely tell the difference.

Yeah, me too. From all the popping and skipping of vinyl.

Well, yeah, that's the biggest problem with vinyl. It's a fragile medium. But a pristine record played on decent equipment will outshine digital every time. Just not enough for people who don't give a shiat or know how to listen.


except that you could capture the sound of that vinyl record to hi quality sound files, dither it to 16 bit audio, burn it to cd and A\B the recordings and not tell the difference.

Because you can make a cd sound exactly like a vinyl record. the reverse is not true. The myth that vinyl sounds better is a carry over from early poorly mastered cd's that yes, sounded liked crap next to the old vinyl versions.

this is no longer the case.

the mysterious "warmth" is nothing more than the surface noise (steady white noise that human beings like). people that say "but my 10000 dollar turntable is silent, you hear no surface noise" are then fooling themselves about vinyl sounding better.
 
2012-11-09 10:46:41 AM
Also: modern vinyl pressed from digital masters will only be as good as those digital masters. There are also physical limitations (besides play time) with vinyl, according to this guy (pops).
 
2012-11-09 10:49:49 AM

The Muthaship: DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?

 
2012-11-09 11:02:05 AM
So... Nothing about nyquist frequencies in the whole article.

When recording signals the highest frequency you can capture is half the sample rate. The lower the frequency being captured the more fidelity that is captured. Thus a CD can produce clean, accurate sound.

Vinyl has a texture of the material that interferes with the sound reproduction. This lends to a warm hiss of white noise at the threshold of hearing. If you were casting polycarbonate analog discs they wouldn't have this grain, but it wouldn't last for more than a few plays before the needle creates a texture.

For the most part your ears aren't good enough to tell the difference between a speaker that's hooked up with Monster Cable and coat hangers. Audiophiles are people searching for a perfection that doesn't exist because it's a substitute for dealing with their actual problems in life.
 
2012-11-09 11:02:36 AM

kittyhas1000legs: Also: modern vinyl pressed from digital masters will only be as good as those digital masters. There are also physical limitations (besides play time) with vinyl, according to this guy (pops).


yeah, i was going to say something along these lines. I love vinyl, I prefer playing vinyl, but it's not going to be much better these days. First off, studio recordings these days are digital. so, the analogue noise is converted to digital, then it has to be re-converted to analogue to press the vinyl.

this may be inaccurate, but I am of the opinion that the more conversions from, the more you fark with the original noise, and the more inauthentic it becomes.

however, back in the day, there were analogue recordings. either straight to vinyl or to reel-to-reel then to vinyl. here, there has been no digital transfer, so you will get a more accurate record of the original noise. but, this is old school, so you're buying an old record, and now maintenance is the issue.

all the same, it's like photography. digital photography right now is astounding. the quality is amazing. but, it still doesn't look the same as film, even if it is sometimes more "precise". there's something about staying true to the source. the world is analogue. 

/ although I like vinyl, my only real enemy is mp3. i like cds and other digitial representations.
 
2012-11-09 11:07:24 AM

Pontious Pilates: ...because it's analog...? Do people not understand that? No, most people don't give a shiat, and I myself am FAR from an audiophile. But I'm a musician, I've fiddled around with both digital and analog recording, and if you gave me a blind hearing test, I could definitely tell the difference.


I'd take that bet in a heartbeat. Hell just put both recordings on an ossiloscope, I guarantee you the waveform would be so identical as to be beyond human perception to distinguish a difference.
 
2012-11-09 11:13:03 AM
forum.starmen.net
 
2012-11-09 11:13:56 AM
Everyone seems to forget that the signal to the vinyl is filtered before the impression is made and then re-filtered in the turntable to counteract the original filtering; a sort of primitive compression if you will. This tends to emphasize the high mids a bit, adding to the perceived warmth.
 
2012-11-09 11:16:42 AM
Vinyl records cost too damn much.

/mom's getting a player for the holidays
//gotta have something to throw on the damn thing
 
2012-11-09 11:19:02 AM

WereBear666: Everyone seems to forget that the signal to the vinyl is filtered before the impression is made and then re-filtered in the turntable to counteract the original filtering; a sort of primitive compression if you will. This tends to emphasize the high mids a bit, adding to the perceived warmth.


So you could replicate in digital with a little equalizer futzing?

/history major
 
2012-11-09 11:22:54 AM
Any good sources for vintage equipment?

Anyone else tired of people plugging their iPods into tiny tiny boom boxes?
 
2012-11-09 11:23:43 AM

The Angry Hand of God: I enjoy vinyl for one reason. The person playing the music has to be aware of what is playing, how long is left, etc. It requires more attention. There is nothing worse than going to a party where somebody plugs in there 5 billion song iPod and puts it on shuffle...


This. My digital music storage is filled with all kinds of stuff, but I'm really making it a point to curate a collection of only the records that have been REALLY important to me for varying reasons throughout my life. That way, I can listen more actively and appreciate the albums for what they are, rather than giving in to that urge to just hit the shuffle button.
 
2012-11-09 11:30:35 AM

mcreadyblue: Any good sources for vintage equipment?

Anyone else tired of people plugging their iPods into tiny tiny boom boxes?


thrift store. amazing what people will donate.
 
2012-11-09 11:40:39 AM
It's like people and their tube-amp fascination. If you want to pay 5x what you need to for your hipster cred that's fine, but quit trying to convince me that there are sounds that are somehow incapable of being reproduced digitally.
 
2012-11-09 11:42:24 AM
I wrote this for a FARK thread a few years ago:

From the beginning of recorded sound, there has been a steady and continuous decline in actual sound quality.

The earliest recording devices were analogue, and used a foil covered cylinder as a recording medium. Eventually wax cylinders were used, as they were more easily produced. Copies were made one-to-one, and the degradation of sound was minimal.

The earliest commercial phonographs were entirely non-electrical, and the sound quality was at it's peak. There were no electrical microphones to interpret sound, all sound was captured by a sound horn that reproduced EXACTLY what was fed into it. There was no real volume control, if you talked or sang or played loudly, the reproduction played loudly.

The first commercial machines used a steel needle on a paraffin and beeswax cylinder. Later carnauba was was used, as it was harder, and lasted longer. This was the first step down in quality because there was a loss in fidelity.

In 1892, discs became an option for recording sound. This was a step down, because the quality of sound steadily worsened as the groove wound it's way inward. Bandwidth decreased constantly as the disc's needle's track slowed from it's fastest on the outer edge of a record to it's center. This was another degradation in sound quality.

Most early recordings were sold on acetate. Acetate had the advantages of being easy to duplicate, and of not being easily damaged by the steel needles of the day. All recordings were necessarily mono.

The 78 RPM speed that was first used, had an amazing amount of bandwidth. The needle traveled a great distance per second of sound recorded. Also, the lack of electrical motors to run a victrola, or similar device eliminated much wow and flutter. The lack of electrical microphones also added depth and tone to early recordings. The quality of the recording medium (very pure acetate) also greatly added to the "you are there" feel of early recordings.

The next step downward in sound quality began with electric microphones. They amplified sounds, which while allowing for easier recording, are not acoustically transparent. They reproduce certain frequencies better than others, and don't have the same range as the human ear. So you lose the "what you sang is what you got" that you obtained when recording through an acoustic device (ie a reversed horn, in which you sang and/or played into a horn connected to a recording needle.

Another step downward was the slowing of the record revolutions. The faster you can spin a disk, the larger distance a needle travels per second. The first commercially successful 78 speed records were about 10 inches in diameter, and were good for about one song, from 3 to 8 minutes of sound, before the tracks spilled onto one another.

The 45 was a step down, done for convenience in storage. It played at a slower speed, losing bandwidth. It was a smaller form factor, allowing for jukeboxes to be commercially viable. The sound quality was still very good. Also at this time, vinyl became a preferred medium because it was cheaper, and more easily reproduced.
A concurrent loss in sound quality began with the advent of electrified instruments. These instruments allow many innovations, but only approximate the pure tone of a true acoustic instrument.

Then came the 33 1/3 long playing record. This was an innovation, because it allowed an artist to compose up to 60 minutes of music before sound quality suffered from track overrun. However once again, sound quality suffered, due to less bandwidth.

Another quality loss began, as recording companies began chopping up unsold albums, and melting them down to remold as new records. Recycled vinyl invariably had impurities that virgin vinyl was free of.

Soon began the tape revolution. Many people bought reel-to-reel tape recorders. These were originally very high fidelity. Reel-to- reels use varying widths of tape, and varying speeds to record. Although reel-to-reels were actually a step up in quality (the only one we've seen so far) they weren't mainstream popular, as they require some technical skill, and recording weren't readily available for them, like they were for the commercially approved 33 1/3 vinyl record format. They also introduced their own unique problems in sound quality. Tape hiss, which is caused by the passing of the tape over the pickup heads, introduces signal to noise problems even worse than vinyl.

Oh yes, and vinyl took another quality hit about this time, with stereophonic recording. Because only one needle was used to pick up sound, and stereo used each side of the needle's groove to record each track, each track's various vibrations affected the other track. Another degradation.

Soon came 4-track quadrophonic decks. These were the forerunners of 8-tracks. Actually VERY high sound quality compared to 8-tracks. They used a driven gear that inserted into the tape casette, to control the tape's speed past the pickup head. They had the same bandwidth as an 8-track, but broke it up into four separate tracks per song, front left and right, and rear left and right. However the machines were not popular, and were too expensive to produce so the 8-track became the standard.

8-tracks degraded sound quality by eliminating the gear driven mechanism of passing the tape over the head, instead using a capstan wheel to drag the tape out of the casing over the pickup head. This introduced wow and flutter into the mix.

Cassette tapes improved upon this design, by driving the tape by spinning gears once again, but lost sound quality by using a much narrower tape, thereby losing bandwidth.

Dolby attempted to eliminate tape hiss by filtering out the frequencies affected. This however, caused a muddy sound, further degrading sound quality.

Then came CD's. They were supposed to be a panacea, solving ALL the problems of vinyl, and tape. However, until this time, all recording was analogue. This means that if a noise was made it was, however imperfectly, reproduced. But digital recording is by definition, a sampling. Not every sound is reproduced, but is instead, interpreted, into 1's and 0's. There were great gains in recapturing tiny sounds amongst great voluminous sounds, but they are only digital reproductions of the analogue sounds emitted.

This brings us to now. Much music is now produced in WMA, or other sampling formats. These are samples of samples, that only reproduce the most important sounds. Very clean, but is it what the artist intended?
 
2012-11-09 12:06:18 PM
Never had the chance to listen to vinyl vs. CD, but I can definitely tell you that quite a bit of the "digital" stuff that comes across the intarwebz or from music stores does NOT sound as good as a CD.
 
2012-11-09 12:39:42 PM

UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: This brings us to now. Much music is now produced in WMA, or other sampling formats. These are samples of samples, that only reproduce the most important sounds. Very clean, but is it what the artist intended?


Extremely interesting, though it makes you seem like a bit of a snob.
 
2012-11-09 12:53:40 PM
Sort of amazed at the uninformed opinions stated as facts in this thread. The bottom line is that vinyl has the potential to have better frequency response and better dynamic range than traditional CDs (while CDs are better in the wow and flutter department, a good record player can effectively render this moot). Whether an individual release takes advantage of that potential is, of course, open to interpretation.

I say whatever floats your boat. If I want to sit and listen to something I'll go for vinyl if I've got it, CD if not. Mp3s are good for background fill or the car or just when I'm not paying close attention, but that's just me. I don't get down on people listening to mp3s all the time. I do wish more people cared about fidelity (the loudness wars being a direct result of this lack of concern), but I really can't fault them for liking what they like.
 
2012-11-09 01:12:00 PM
I collect vinyl because it is cheap. I will pay from 50 cents to a dollar for an album in good condition. These annual articles about the resurgence of vinyl and bullcorn about how it sounds better displease me, because now I can't find the wide selection of used records at the price I want to pay. People think those old Beatles records are going to be worth something some day. A few might, but most won't.
 
2012-11-09 01:34:10 PM

Meethos: That "warmth" those audiophiles are always going on about? That's farking dust on the vinyl. The absolute opposite of better.


Came here to say this.

And here's my friends' new release. It includes a code to download the digitial versions.

sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
 
2012-11-09 01:41:03 PM

grinding_journalist: UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: This brings us to now. Much music is now produced in WMA, or other sampling formats. These are samples of samples, that only reproduce the most important sounds. Very clean, but is it what the artist intended?

Extremely interesting, though it makes you seem like a bit of a snob.


An ignorant snob, even. Completely overlooks microphone and speaker technology. Looking forward to hearing his/her collection of original quadrophonic beeswax cylinders of Dark Side of the Moon....

Back to analogue vs digital: they sound different from each other. You can tell by listening. mp3 compression proves that the buying public just doesn't care.
 
2012-11-09 01:51:24 PM

UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: I wrote this for a FARK thread a few years ago:


Derp snipped.

Bandwidth doesn't mean shiat if the signal-to-noise ratio sucks ass. Life is much better nowadays, without all the clicks and pops and hiss and all the other bullshiat noise that goes along with ALL non-digital storage media.

\fark MP3s, though
 
2012-11-09 01:58:50 PM
a well-made CD sounds best, of course Reel-to-Reel in the 60s was the best ever
 
2012-11-09 02:00:25 PM

mcreadyblue: Any good sources for vintage equipment?

Anyone else tired of people plugging their iPods into tiny tiny boom boxes?


People "blasting" music from their phone speakers both annoy and amuse.
Reminds me of this:

25.media.tumblr.com
 
2012-11-09 02:06:22 PM
''With records you get a better interpretation of the sound intended.''

Aaaand I stopped reading right there. He apparently hasn't seen the RIAA curve which massively/artificially cuts bass (-20db @ 20hz) and boosts high end during mastering (+20db @ 20khz), then the inverse is done on playback. Not to mention far worse separation, uneven frequency response, rumble, and pops. I can respect someone who says they like the sound of vinyl better, but to say that vinyl has better fidelity than CDs is just ignorance and scientifically false.
 
2012-11-09 02:23:41 PM
spacebison.com
 
2012-11-09 03:45:10 PM

doremifaq:
Back to analogue vs digital: they sound different from each other. You can tell by listening. mp3 compression proves that the buying public just doesn't care.


If you're talking guitar amps solid state (digital) vs tube (analog) there's no comparison.

That amp you saw George Harrison playing on the roof at apple records (Fender '68 twin reverb)is still better than nearly any amp made today.
 
Ant
2012-11-09 03:59:33 PM
The only thing I miss about vinyl is large album covers and liner notes.
 
2012-11-09 04:16:12 PM
farm8.staticflickr.com 
So.... now I have a googlephonic system with a moon rock needle.
And it sounds alright.
For my car.
 
2012-11-09 04:16:52 PM

Ant: The only thing I miss about vinyl is large album covers and liner notes.


I miss album art and liner notes too.

Plus double albums were the BEST for cleaning your stash on.
 
2012-11-09 04:28:17 PM

SpectroBoy: Ant: The only thing I miss about vinyl is large album covers and liner notes.

I miss album art and liner notes too.

Plus double albums were the BEST for cleaning your stash on.


Kinda like how CD cases are, well not the best (it cracks too easily), but adequate for chopping up your cocaine? Or so I've been told.
 
2012-11-09 04:38:00 PM

Glitchwerks: Analog sounds better


Analog theoretically will sound better.

In practice, even mildly compressed digital music recordings are indistinguishable from analog recordings to all but the most sensitive ears.
 
2012-11-09 05:38:04 PM

The Muthaship: DNRTFA, is the answer "It doesn't"?


HIPSTERS
 
2012-11-09 05:45:50 PM
You people just need proper gold-plated Monster Cables to properly appreciate vinyl.

And then wash it down with some Tuscan Milk.
 
2012-11-09 08:27:22 PM

NoiseGoth: Sort of amazed at the uninformed opinions stated as facts in this thread. The bottom line is that vinyl has the potential to have better frequency response and better dynamic range than traditional CDs (while CDs are better in the wow and flutter department, a good record player can effectively render this moot). Whether an individual release takes advantage of that potential is, of course, open to interpretation.

I say whatever floats your boat. If I want to sit and listen to something I'll go for vinyl if I've got it, CD if not. Mp3s are good for background fill or the car or just when I'm not paying close attention, but that's just me. I don't get down on people listening to mp3s all the time. I do wish more people cared about fidelity (the loudness wars being a direct result of this lack of concern), but I really can't fault them for liking what they like.


This. I need to get a turntable. I have a handful of vinyls I can't play. Yes, they're stored correctly.
 
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