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Thread: Digital audio vs vinyl

  1. #11
    Join Date: May 2010

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    For me, very good digital playback, quite simply doesn't sound 'digital', in the sense that many assume it, based on their experience to date of listening to it, as much of what's considered as wrong, simply doesn't exist, and merely an artefact of poor design.

    As I've said before, if your turntable makes vinyl sound 'vinyl-ly', or your CD player makes CD sound 'digital', then they're most likely not making the most of their respective formats, as experience shows it doesn't need to be like that.

    When either is truly *right*, one is too immersed in the music itself to remotely be concerned whether one is listening to vinyl or digital. That is the reality: the music is showcased in all its glory, first and foremost, not the respective traits of the playback equipment.

    In that respect, it's rather like driving: you never notice the best drivers on the road, because they're just doing what they're good at, thus don't draw attention to themselves - and so it is with the best vinyl and digital sources. What's 'noticed', therefore, is simply the music

    Marco.
    That's a good analogy (good drivers vs bad drivers). I was actually referring to this quote from the above article:

    "It is a painful irony that higher fidelity does not guarantee (or does not just guarantee) more lifelike sound. What it does guarantee, provided that the fidelity really is higher, is a more accurate recreation of what was recorded, of what the tapeheads heard and what the mastering engineers subsequently did to the mastertapes. It is an even more painful irony that, in the case of computer audio, higher-fidelity playback (and I will concede that computer audio can be higher fidelity) exposes the flaws of digital recordings even more clearly and, in so doing, often makes them even less compellingly listenable and lifelike, IMO, than the playback of certain stand-alone CD and SACD players—and generally less listenable and lifelike than analog sources like LP and tape."
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  2. #12
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    For me, very good digital playback, quite simply doesn't sound 'digital', in the sense that many assume it, based on their experience to date of listening to it, as much of what's considered as wrong, simply doesn't exist, and merely an artefact of poor design.

    As I've said before, if your turntable makes vinyl sound 'vinyl-ly', or your CD player makes CD sound 'digital', then they're most likely not making the most of their respective formats, as experience shows it doesn't need to be like that.

    When either is truly *right*, one is too immersed in the music itself to remotely be concerned whether one is listening to vinyl or digital. That is the reality: the music is showcased in all its glory, first and foremost, not the respective traits of the playback equipment.

    In that respect, it's rather like driving: you never notice the best drivers on the road, because they're just doing what they're good at, thus don't draw attention to themselves - and so it is with the best vinyl and digital sources. What's 'noticed', therefore, is simply the music

    Marco.
    Also, I take your point about music. Although, I gotta say sometimes there could be something else. For example, yesterday I bumped into Keith Jarrett's used LP "Arbour Zena". I know that album since I was very young, listened to it many, many times. I love it, especially the first track, "Runes".

    And of course, I have it on CD. But it's been decades since I've listened to it on vinyl.

    Anyway, yesterday I brought the LP home, cleaned and vacuumed it very carefully, and sat down for a dedicated listen.

    My god, I was completely mesmerized by the sound of Jarrett's piano on "Runes"! I don't think I've ever heard piano being reproduced with such splendour, in its full glory. The notes were leaping from my Maggies and into the room, towards me. I was transfixed. I was in a trance.

    So yes, the music was awesome, but on top of that, the very sound of the piano was overwhelmingly beautiful. Even if someone played some gibberish on that recording, just tickling the ivories on Jarrett's piano, it would've still been incredibly enchanting.

    That is the power of listening to vinyl. I then played the same track on the CD, and meh...
    Last edited by magiccarpetride; 18-05-2017 at 01:31.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  3. #13
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

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    I'm Martin.

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    The problem with the article is that the author clearly does not have a even a basic understanding of how digital audio works. So whilst his observations may be true his conclusion as to the reason for those observations is wildly incorrect.

    As one of the commentators on the article points out:

    One side note, your argument that "you simply cannot “sample” the continuous-time sound of instruments or vocalists, turn it into discrete-time numbers, and then turn those discrete-time numbers back into instruments or vocalists without losing some of the very continuousness of presentation" is false. It's really, really easy to prove this with some basic math and an oscilloscope
    Martin



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  4. #14
    Join Date: Jan 2013

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    I'm James.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    For me, very good digital playback, quite simply doesn't sound 'digital', in the sense that many assume it, based on their experience to date of listening to it, as much of what's considered as wrong, simply doesn't exist, and merely an artefact of poor design.

    As I've said before, if your turntable makes vinyl sound 'vinyl-ly', or your CD player makes CD sound 'digital', then they're most likely not making the most of their respective formats, as experience shows it doesn't need to be like that.

    When either is truly *right*, one is too immersed in the music itself to remotely be concerned whether one is listening to vinyl or digital. That is the reality: the music is showcased in all its glory, first and foremost, not the respective traits of the playback equipment.

    In that respect, it's rather like driving: you never notice the best drivers on the road, because they're just doing what they're good at, thus don't draw attention to themselves - and so it is with the best vinyl and digital sources. What's 'noticed', therefore, is simply the music

    Marco.
    I agree that the very best digital systems do not sound "digital' nor do they sound like analog. I wager most folk have never really heard a very high end digital system and its capabilities.

    I believe digital is slowly getting closer to an analog sound but it will never sound the same as it does not have the inherent problems or technical limitations of vinyl and has advantages vinyl will never be able to compete with.

    However in terms of a live, believable, convincing reproduction of audio vinyl is very hard to match. It is probably an intrinsic part of the technical ways the whole analog system works which produces this versus the number crunching technical approach digital has to endeavour to deliver an audio signal.

    For me personally digital music is great for all the reasons suggested in the article. It is portable, convenient, massive storage in a small space, requires little effort and for me probably the main reason I may one day buy a digital system, it can sound astonishingly good.

    However I still think audibly I have a connection to the music via vinyl that makes it more real and seductive to listen to. Maybe it's the comfort of listening to analog being an analog creature by nature so it fits our hearing like a glove.
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  5. #15
    Join Date: Apr 2008

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    I'm Neil.

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    The real revelation for me was converting to a media server and Halide Bridge, which offers me an incredibly low 10ps jitter with my 44.1kHz files. CD transports tend to be 100s of ps or even ns levels of jitter. My DAC uses no reclocking, just a PLL, so responds well to low jitter. Let's just say my Audial Model S / Halide Bridge comfortably outperforms my vinyl setup in every way except for when the vinyl mastering is better, which it often can be.

    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
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  6. #16
    Join Date: Sep 2011

    Location: Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

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    I'm stuart.

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    Not many people can afford a state of the art analogue system but for the cost of a pretty average cart you can have a pretty damn good digital playback system.
    Digital has made big strides forward in the past few years. A Raspberry Pi and HAT DAC (100) digital playback system will trounce a 500 turntable/arm/cart so it's easy to see why people prefer digital. For Joe Bloggs it's a no brainer as he's only interested in cost and convenience.
    It's only us loonies on the fringes who are happy to accept the ritual of vinyl. The cleaning, the careful handling, the endless searching for 1st pressings, the hassle of continually buying and returning new vinyl due to pressing errors or poor quality, checking the TT is setup properly, servicing the TT, the expense ... the list goes on and on.
    SO, whilst a good TT analogue system may be able to deliver audio nirvana, it's not for everyone, never has been and never will be.
    Is the turntable THE BEST system I've ever heard? Nope. Best I've ever heard was a Studer R2R, never heard anything like it before or since.

  7. #17
    Join Date: Dec 2008

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    I'm Shaun.

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    My partial abandonment of vinyl back in 1983 had absolutely nothing to do with portability but was as a result of being pissed off with surface noise which back then was obviously a major problem for me. I bought a Yamaha CDX1 and moved forward immediately. These days I would say that my CD system outperforms my vinyl system on most LP's but not all and is my favourite way of listening to music. Of course it could be that most of my music is simply not available on vinyl so that narrows down my choice considerably. I prefer to keep both sources in my system and use either as the mood takes me.
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  8. #18
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Hi Alex,

    In terms of your quote from the article, I agree with the first part, but not this:

    It is an even more painful irony that, in the case of computer audio, higher-fidelity playback (and I will concede that computer audio can be higher fidelity) exposes the flaws of digital recordings even more clearly and, in so doing, often makes them even less compellingly listenable and lifelike, IMO, than the playback of certain stand-alone CD and SACD players—and generally less listenable and lifelike than analog sources like LP and tape.
    I've heard computer audio done well, not just in my own system, but much more expensively, and even better, in systems belonging to others, and for me it's the opposite of the above.

    Yes, file-based audio has the capability (and indeed, when done right, does) produce higher-fidelity playback than CD (note however that said superiority is over CD itself, as a music carrying medium, not necessarily the playback of the same musical information by the best CD players), but in doing so it doesn't make digital recordings (providing that they're of a high sonic standard to start with) "less compellingly listenable".

    Think about it.... How could it do that, if the results produced were genuinely more accurate (i.e. achieving higher fidelity)? The only way that could be so, would be if the recording was "less compellingly listenable" to start with. But if it's making a good recording "less compellingly listenable" in that way, then by definition, it's not achieving higher-fidelity.

    In my experience, when computer audio is done well, and by the very nature of how it works, removes the fundamental errors and subsequent distortion created by a CD player's moving parts, it sounds more like GOOD vinyl, in that it removes key aspects of digital replay (inherent distortions) that detract from its 'listenability' to the human ear, something which Jim touches upon, in terms of vinyl 'connecting' him more to the music, which I concur with.

    Subsequently, the best file-based sources I've heard sound like good turntables, in terms of that 'musical connection' factor.

    Quite simply, the best playback equipment (analogue or digital), as far as possible, sonically removes itself from the equation, thus acts as faithful a carrier as possible for the musical information embedded in the source recording. That applies to both CD players and turntables, and when they do their job right, that's what you should hear.

    All of the above has certainly been what my ears have told me so far

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  9. #19
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 73,355
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    My god, I was completely mesmerized by the sound of Jarrett's piano on "Runes"! I don't think I've ever heard piano being reproduced with such splendour, in its full glory. The notes were leaping from my Maggies and into the room, towards me. I was transfixed. I was in a trance.

    So yes, the music was awesome, but on top of that, the very sound of the piano was overwhelmingly beautiful. Even if someone played some gibberish on that recording, just tickling the ivories on Jarrett's piano, it would've still been incredibly enchanting.

    That is the power of listening to vinyl. I then played the same track on the CD, and meh...
    Yes, but once again you're making the fatal error of automatically blaming CD, rather than the possibility that your current player is unable to reproduce the format at its BEST, and to the same standard as your turntable achieves with vinyl

    Only when you wrap your head around that notion, and successfully address it, should you be so inclined, will you ever get closer to effectively judging how digital (at its best) compares with vinyl (at its best), when using respective test recordings of the highest sonic calibre.

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  10. #20
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    I agree that the very best digital systems do not sound "digital' nor do they sound like analog. I wager most folk have never really heard a very high end digital system and its capabilities.
    Indeed, which is why few are in a position to make any conclusive pronouncements on 'digital audio vs. vinyl'. And incidentally, "a very high end digital system" doesn't need to be (all) modern, or cost as much as a luxury car either...

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

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