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Vinyl LP vs Digital


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Yep, I'm going to throw some oil on the fire.

 

I came across a recording the other night, selected for me by Tidal. It's an older recording, 1960. It reminded me of some of the early Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins recordings, in terms of sound quality and "perspective" (soundstage, presence of place and space). I a Shazam on it since I didn't recognize it. Elmer Snowden/Haunted House. Makes sense since it's Halloween time.

 

Looking it up to see when & where it was recorded I noticed that it was done by a recording engineer I'm familiar with, Rudy Van Gelder, who, as you might guess (or know) was recording engineer, and responsible for nearly every Blue Note recording in the late 50's/early 60's. So no surprise that Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins are on his list of clients.

 

Van Gelder kind of got into recording from an interest in audio - audiophile so to speak, like I did. So his comments and experiences are of interest to me.

This is what he said and it reflects my experiences. YMMV

 

He was positive about the switch from analog to digital technology. He told Audio magazine in 1995:

The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I've made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I'm glad to see the LP go. As far as I'm concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don't like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That's why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I'm not denying that they do, but don't blame the medium.

I couldn't agree more. Do whatever you like to the rest of your system, or especially the analog LP front-end. It doesn't matter. The media (LP) is the limitation.

 

Let the flames begin!!!!!! 😍

Peace Baby............

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I smile as I sit here spinning Ryan Adams on vinyl. I’ve got this same album on seede, but I prefer it this way. Both formats sound great in my system and I’ve got no beef with digital. But spinning the ️ is so much fun…..

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I love music. I have hundreds of LPs but I now stream more than I spin. However I love spinning and my TT analog setup is very enjoyable We saw The Who last night in Concert and they were fantastic and this morning I spun Quadrophenia on MY Mofi Fender TT and it sounded fantastic. There are many ways to enjoy music.

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Records were fun for 35 years, but the hassles eventually got to be too much.

 

Get more enjoyment now from playing files, having all those recordings taking up no space yet be instantly accessible at the touch of a finger still boggles my mind.  My music player is a far better DJ than I ever was....

 

 

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Sad.

Although I can't play mine now. My 70s LPs are mostly great, quiet and better than the ones from newer decades. Never understood folks talking about noisy vinyl unless counting the ones that met their demise `cause l let others mess with them at keggers or smaller parties.

Tossed those, but the survivors play back with much more realistic sound than even my best digital discs.

 

Since I looked into styli when getting into component systems micro line or a derivative has always been used on them and they're like new after the ultrasonic two years ago!

 

"Different Strokes for Different Folks"

 

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I also love my original older vinyl records very much. I avoid new stuff on vinyl that was recorded digitally anyway. A tip for a fair comparison of both sources: A lot of CDs have been bought and a lot of people don't know they are remastered. Then they think it sounds different or worse than vinyl which is true. But the reason is the different mix for the most part. I use Tidal and there you often see up to four or five versions of one album. Frankly, there's not a single remastered recording, whether it's rock, classic, jazz that I would like more than an original recording. Even on Tidal you have to search because the original mixes are not explicitly marked. You have to hope that you're lucky if there's no reference to "remastered". And after a short listen, it's often really the original recording. On the topic of the thread, I can only compare the influence of digital vs. vinyl when it's the same mix.
Another aspect, digital sources are a certain "democratisation" of the music experience. The range between average and high end is smaller than the range of quality in turntables and phone preamps, despite all the differences. I have an Oracle Delphi with SME V and an EAR step up transformer. It sounds good, but it's not cheap either. And yet I think I like to hear "better" artefacts and that digital is perhaps "colder" but more authentic. I agree with Rudy van Gelder on this point.

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2 hours ago, KT88 said:

Frankly, there's not a single remastered recording, whether it's rock, classic, jazz that I would like more than an original recording.

Have you heard the Beatles Abbey Road remastered version? 

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12 hours ago, Marvel said:

Have you heard the Beatles Abbey Road remastered version? 

 

It is no longer easy to find something that sounds like an original mix re the Beatles but my old records. And now every 4 years new remastered editions are released. Some better, some worse. I compared it with "Something". The new remastered versions, I heard one from 2019, are a bit better than the ones from 20 years ago. In the past, they really wanted to create more clarity, momentum and stage. But these recordings sound a bit more sterile to my ears and the overall impression of the band is not as good anymore. But I love the original Beatles recordings with all their weaknesses the most. It is the memory, the atmosphere and the thus grown authenticity of the sound for my ears. Even if a remastered version is cleaner and more impulsive, it disturbs my feeling of authenticity. I know my answer doesn't exactly hit the point of your post because it may also be nostalgia.
It's easier with some jazz recordings, e.g. from the 60s. There the original mix is not so "branded". And here it's always the case that I don't like remastered recordings so much when everything is mixed "forward" and clearer and louder. For my ears it kills the atmosphere and sometimes even the timing of the interplay. E.g. Dolphin Dance by Herbie Hancock. It is simply fantastically played together in the original. I hear less explicitly the individual instruments as is the case in the remastering (loud clear cymbals, a boosted double bass etc.) but with the original it is much more about the nuances of the interaction of the musicians.

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I definitely have a bias and  preference for physical media over files or cloud media. Probably due to my age. I like "owning" versus renting. I like handling media, and maybe even carrying it with me on occasion. I gave up LPs a few years back even though i loved that form best. A bit too much hassle involved and they took up a lot of space. I very much enjoyed album cover art and liner notes. The covers could entice me, call me, to play the record. I would see a cover and think "yeah! That's what i want to hear." 
 

Over the past 50 years my musical interest has become very binary. I love it, or i can't be bothered with it. What i love is primarily music I've loved for decades. If i loved it in 1960, I'm still loving it today. When i play an old favorite, I'm moving back in time and feeling the ideas and people of that moment. A great singer in 1960 still sounds great today. 
 

I have Spotify. I don't think it sounds very good overall. I use it mainly like an encyclopedia to find new versions of old songs i like. 
 

I started doing home studio recording a couple years ago using 4-trackers and that got me into cassette format. I've bought a lot of music on cassette as a result and i really like the sound of that media a lot. It's like s teaspoon of honey. And i have an unhealthy addiction to cassette recorders and players now.  I also love big cars from the 1970s. There might be a connection there?
 

Comparing musical media is a lot like comparing the paper media in photography. When i was heavily into doing photography exhibitions i would buy all these exotic papers to print my photographs, and of course this led to agonizing hours over which paper gave a particular photo the best presentation? Also, lots of wasted ink on paper that didn't look good. And, there was the usual problem of everyone having a different opinion. It was agonizing.
 

Events and Players inhabit two uniquely different realms. No photo of Paris is ever going to convince me "I'm there." And no music media players will ever convince me "There's a woman singing La Boheme in my living room." I gave up and just accepted that simulacrum will always come in behind lived experience. 

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21 hours ago, RealMarkDeneen said:

...
 

Events and Players inhabit two uniquely different realms. No photo of Paris is ever going to convince me "I'm there." And no music media players will ever convince me "There's a woman singing La Boheme in my living room." I gave up and just accepted that simulacrum will always come in behind lived experience. 

 

20 hours ago, KT88 said:

I think it is all the more important to have experienced many "real" concerts, the more reference points there are for a beautiful simulation.

 

My benchmark for the sound quality from my hi-fi systems is classical music and opera performed live in its intended venue, where the sound is 100% natural.    On average I attend 30 classical concerts each season, including season tickets to the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet, plus several classical concerts by the Kansas City Chorale, Harriman Jewell Series, and Friends of Chamber Music.  

 

In Kansas City, we are very fortunate that benefactors generously donated their money (and talent) to build The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2011.   The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet.   (I’m looking forward to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s performance of “La Traviata” this Saturday night!)

 

In addition to my tickets for various KC based performing arts organizations, this season I’ll attend a concert at The Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Riccardo Muti and featuring Julia Fischer (violin).   And I recently attended a wonderful concert in Helzberg Hall by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra featuring Nicola Benedetti (violin).

 

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts includes two purpose-built performance venues (i.e., two concert halls in one building):  Helzberg Hall (where the Symphony performs), and the Muriel Kauffman Theatre (where the Opera and Ballet perform).

 

Listening to the Kansas City Symphony perform its Classical Series of concerts in Helzberg Hall is an extraordinary experience.  The sound is 100% natural - i.e., when the Symphony performs its Classical Series of concerts, there is no use of a sound reinforcement system.   (OTOH, when the Symphony performs pop concerts, those concerts may involve use of a sound reinforcement system.)

 

Similarly, there is no use of a sound reinforcement system when the Lyric Opera of KC performs an opera.   (OTOH, when the Lyric Opera of KC performs a musical (e.g., “Pirates of Penzance”, “West Side Story”), a sound reinforcement system is typically used.   IOW, for a musical the singers use a microphone, whereas opera singers don’t use a microphone.)   

 

I also attend classical concerts and recitals in the historic Folly Theater.  (I’m anxious to see the Folly after its recent renovation.)  This season, I’ll attend concerts at the Folly by Pretty Yende (soprano), Tenebrae (choral ensemble), and Khatia Buniatishvili (piano).   

 

I also attend concerts by the Kansas City Chorale in various large churches.

 

My goal for the sound quality of recorded classical music played via my home hi-fi systems is to create the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house where the music was performed live and 100% natural, and for inevitable deviations to sound pleasant vs. unpleasant to my ears.    

 

Of course, classical music lovers sometimes must decide which is more important:  their perception of performance quality, or audio quality of a recording.   Certainly, there are many enjoyable recordings of historic performances.   And, recorded music can be enjoyed via many formats, including LP, CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, Pure Audio Blu-ray, DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray.  

 

With that said, I greatly prefer modern performances/recordings (last dozen years or so) that were captured and mastered in hi-res (e.g., 24bit/192kHZ) multi-channel, and delivered on a Blu-ray disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.0 (or 5.1) surround-sound.   (A few Ultra HD Blu-ray opera recordings are starting to become available.)     

 

As I stated in another thread, Blu-ray (and Ultra HD Blu-ray) audio/video provides the following benefits compared with audio-only formats such as Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACD:

  • Video is particularly relevant for visual art forms such as ballet and opera.   Additionally, for orchestral concerts I enjoy seeing the conductor and musicians.   And Blu-ray enables me to see beautiful concert halls all over the world that I otherwise would have never seen.
     
  • Blu-ray is extremely valuable in delivering the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen.   (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.)
     
  • IME, Blu-ray is capable of delivering richer looking on-screen menus.
     
  • Blu-ray can provide “bonus materials”, including video interviews, documentaries, and still images.

 

Here’s my thread on talkclassical.com that discusses classical Blu-ray recordings: https://www.talkclassical.com/54011-blu-ray-videos-classical.html

 

My second choice in formats are SACD and Pure Audio Blu-ray that feature hi-res 5.1 surround-sound (but no video).  

 

One of my priorities is for the timbre of the orchestra instruments to sound natural.  And I want my hi-fi systems to achieve dynamic range and frequency range that approaches the live concert experience.    

 

While no hi-fi system can fully recreate the experience of listening to a live performance of large-scale classical music in a world-class purpose-built symphony hall or opera house, IME/O it is possible to come close by using modern Blu-ray DTS-HD MA 5.1 or SACD surround-sound recordings, vintage tube amps, high-end Klipsch speakers, and subwoofers.  Here’s a list of four of my five hi-fi systems: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/205306-do-you-believe-in-evolution-stereo-to-multi-channel-home-theater/&do=findComment&comment=2704231

 

 

Bottom line:  For the classical music I love, IME/O modern performances delivered on Blu-ray or SACD that feature top-quality hi-res multi-channel audio come closer to creating the illusion that I’m in the concert hall compared with CDs and LPs.    Moreover, IMO Blu-ray audio/video delivers a significantly more enjoyable overall in-home experience compared with CDs and LPs, particularly for opera and ballet.   

 

 

 


 

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My first album was an old Tommy Dorsey album I earned a LONG time ago.  Now I have about 50' and I don't see it changing in the near future.   I NEED to pull it, slip it out and put it on the table and fire things up.  I NEED to hold and look at the jacket, read the jacket and tell myself to take care of it.  I bought the hot 45's too back in the day.  I saved the album to play when I built my first system.  Systems and technology are always changing but I don't think I'll ever change.  CD's, files & streaming make me wonder but just another way to spend money.   Cheaper?  Sure but look at what you get in your jewel case.  Yea, ok.  😂  I've thought about selling the lp's and going another direction as I've grown older but I can't.  They're part of my family now.   I won't even discuss technology and albums.  lol  Yea, told ya I was OLD!  :) 

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It is funny how people have to debate almost everything! Vinyl versus streaming, vinyl versus CD. SS versus tubes. Horns versus acoustic suspension! Its all good. I enjoy music wether its on my iPhone and AirPods or in my office with my laptop and KEF ls50s, my car stereo, or my Primaluna and Forte IVs.

I love the Vinyl experience because I have enjoyed it for over 60 years and spinning an album I have listened to almost my entire life makes me happy and feel good!

 

Feeling good is all that matters with me.

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