View Full Version : compresion on vinyl?

The Vinyl Adventure
06-09-2009, 20:56
i have posted a thread specifically about sigur ross 'takk', but the more i think about it, the more i am interested to know about this as a whole.

i have a few albums that i feel dont sound as good as i think they could/should on cd, and i know that im not alone in this!

i have seen people mention compresion on vinyl?

if i bought a cd that sounded compressed would that same compression be used in the production of a vinyl version of the same album? ie is the compresion aplyed for the creation of the cd - to fit the music on the cd, or is the comression aplyed to the music for any release before it leaves the studio?

if this sounds daft i apoloise, i have no idea about how this sort of thing works!

06-09-2009, 21:37
Not sure if I've understood "for the creation of the cd - to fit the music on the cd" correctly or not, but "compression" in the musical sense isn't the same as in data storage - "Dynamic Range Compression" is the musical issue I think you are talking about, where the different aspects of the recording are "averaged out" for want of a better description, so there are less peaks and troughs. wikipedia explains it better (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range_compression)

Probably you didn't mean "data compression" but just checking!

06-09-2009, 21:39
...and I suspect Dave DSJR will be our man to explain the differences in mastering for cd vs vinyl, though I could be wrong - it has happened once before! ;)

The Vinyl Adventure
06-09-2009, 21:52
yeah i understand compression in the sence of music compression and that it differs from data commression
but from a final studio master of a recording, surly data comression needs to be applyed to make a cd? or have a got the wrong end of a stick somewhere?

06-09-2009, 21:52
Look at


and navigate to "The Whole Story." Denis Blackham did some super vinyl cuts as "Bilbo [boppa]." He describes briefly what often went on with "production" master tapes to aid the cut and the fact that other cuts were done "on-the-fly" and if cutting notes weren't followed when digitising you had a potential disaster on your hands.

www.wendycarlos.com had an essay regarding the remastering of her Walter/Wendy Carlos articles, comparing the CBS masters with the mixdown masters which were used for the CD mastering...

The Vinyl Adventure
06-09-2009, 22:15
ta, il read tomo when im less tired!

06-09-2009, 22:26

The first few paragraphs discuss some of what goes on when LP's were "commercially" cut. Artists didn't always have any say in what the final product sounded like (and definitely don't now I suspect).

06-09-2009, 22:41
Her site is damn interesting I might add. Thanks for the tip :)

07-09-2009, 00:28
this may be a little off topic as such but links are worth a look as it's not just vinyl releases on these links or compression per say.....even though they are compressed



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRyIACDCc1I&feature=related (use HQ mode)


albums I have recently bought that were brickwalled beyond belief and recorded about 6dB too loud were just as bad on vinyl. :)

Stuff I buy I'ts been getting worse but hopefully now it can only get better.

07-09-2009, 07:05
Hi Hamish,

Before you listen to a record just have a look at its thickness. People have ranted and raved about the thinness of some records as though you can almost hear the otherside.

All this started as a profit making exercise in the 80s. What I can not say as I do not know- is whether the appearance of CD about the same side was the cause. I suspect that the thin vinyls (compressed) appeared first.

There are other issues of cutters having problems what DSJR talks about- I shall return to it later.

Must rush off.

07-09-2009, 07:50
Hello again all... I have to say, with regard to recorded compression that I once bought a Cranberries CD (the 'I Just Shot John Lennon' one) and was appalled by the amount of compression used in this recording. I did however hear that the vinyl version had been completely remastered/remixed especially for vinyl, so I bought it on vinyl as well. The difference was astounding...! Here was a truly well recorded and cut vinyl album as opposed to the CD which was just plain bloody loud and raucous. There certainly can be a difference.

07-09-2009, 09:05
I have some Siouxsie 12" mixes on CD which are tons better than the album mixes (on LP and CD). They should have mixed all the tracks as 12" versions and cut them on a double vinyl issue (less tracks of better quality per side)...

07-09-2009, 10:50
That is another good point Dave,

Tracks packed on one side to save money do more damage to sound quality than the lesser weight. I have a 3 LP album of Neil Young with 8-10 tracks crowded on each side.

The reduction in LP thickness and crowding of tracks on each side became the standard in the 80s for all formats-classical and others-all driven by PROFIT.

The Vinyl Adventure
07-09-2009, 12:38
It's never bloody simple, there is never just a "yes Hamish, music on is less compressed for vinyl" to many god damn variables!! I'm not sure why I didn't expect it really .... Anyway I understand the variables a bit more now so cheers for the input people! I do have the answer to my original question now so I'm happy!

07-09-2009, 14:17
One final comment - The Pat Moraz LP I played this morning had a mixture of up-front, crystal clear instruments giving way to recessed backing ones that seemed recorded in another place and time (probably were) - like two tracks played simultaneously at different volumes. The piecemeal approach is often audible on the Beatles' recordings and it'l be interesting to hear if the new releases improve on this - the stereo releases have had a tad of added peak limiting here and there I've read, although there will be enough self-limiting in the original recordings so it probably won't matter..

07-09-2009, 15:49
Hi Hamish

No it is not simple at all-I have avoided buying LPs released in the late 80s onwards-not that many were released. New Beatles releases on Vinyl-would be tremendous-is that so?

By the way Dave, in a local charity shop they have Decca Rolling Stones for around 9; Beatles -67-70- double album for 12 and Led Zep-for 16. I had my credit card out to buy all three-but this shop deals with cash only. I used to have these LPs before I got rid of them, a long time ago.

I was going to talk about "noise floor<> tape Hiss" and "loud passages>< headroom" so that the 'needle' jumped out of grooves- but as these issues are not what Hamish is talking about - may be for later.

Perhaps you can take these up DSJR.

john diamond
11-09-2009, 09:19
No..... digital does not need compression for the music to fit on the medium at the mastering stage or any stage. Musically as long as the peak is below 0db everything is sonically fine, if over 0db the signal will clip (distort), You apply music compression to even the music out to make things louder.

go here - there is a movement against this!


I do suggest as we all care about sound quality to sign the petition.

also - there is no need for data compression, a red book standard CD has data or 74 mins of music or 700mb of data without any need for compression.

The CD is a wonderfull medium, and dosen't have any of the pitfulls of analog storage. Magnatic tape has inherent noise (hiss), and vinyl is not much better if not looked after carefully as it will be prone to sounding noisy.

The CD was a revolution and thats what makes it so powerful, it gave the normal consumer the freedom to enjoy the music in a noise free enviroment.

How many non audiophiles ever had a cassette machine with properly aligned heads, or a correctly setup turntable with carefully looked after vinyl?

long live all the formats - CD ----- vinyl ------ cassette ----- although it's a dark time for our fallen friend - the cassette.

11-09-2009, 13:24
CD has an apparently genuine 95db dynamic range over the whole frequency range, vinyl has a 70 - 75 db OVER 1KHz ONLY - below that (over the midband) it's more like 30 - 40db at very best.

Apparently, our ears have a 50db dynamic range on a sliding scale (when we're younger) so we can tolerate all kinds of mixed volumes. As we age, it appears to me that our ears become worn and/or damaged and excessive distortion becomes intolerable (how some of "us" 80's refugees can no longer tolerate the stereo's we once did - the exciting ones with tons of prat factor......)

CD shouldn't have severe compression at all, but for some reason the record companies seem to be playing to the lowest denominator - the cheapest MP3 player or "Argos" stereo. It's my hope that the master sound files are available in un-compressed form, so that when we realise our errors these albu,s can be made available in a better sounding form.

New beatles re-issues on vinyl - don't be silly! they'd only be cut from digital masters and although they may just sound better than the antiquated original cuts done on inferior cutting lathes, it would be better to get the CD's, upload them onto a computer based storage medium and stream it out that way, thus minimising real-time errors/interpolation in the CD player

11-09-2009, 14:20
There were some Hi-fi news articles examining this in the 90s - I've some old copies somewhere.

They had graphs showing the spread of acoustic energy averaged over the recordings and some of the recordings were original 60's vinyl, CD re-issues and vinyl re-issues and some CD re-remasters, newer stuff etc etc.

In a nutshell, the original 60s vinyls had a good spread of low energy (volume) to high energy and also some CD re-remasters but most of the re-issues on vinyl and CD from the 80's onward and the newer stuff had little low volume content with all the energy pushed, "compressed" into a mid to high volume.

This is ALL down to mastering decisions based on commercial ideas - nothing to do with the capabilities of the different formats.

When you compress, you make the low volume, quiet sounds louder and to a lesser extent the loud volumes quieter. This psychologically can make a track sound instantly energetic and full of impact, the kind of thing that makes you jump around to it initially. It also means that when you have a piece of equipment that can't resolve details very well, cheaper stuff, portable radios, ipods etc, they show less of their weakness because there is less detail to resolve. On an instant sale to the masses kind of way, this compression is/was seen as desirable. Then if you are a hard working mastering engineer who gets through a lot of material, like for bigger labels, you kind of get addicted to this instant impact, high-energy music that you listen to day after day and anything subtle and delicate sounds boring! So the response is to liven it up too .. (your brain quickly adjusts to make what you are used to hearing, sound the norm - may explain why so many people still like the Yamaha NS10 monitor that to an audiophile would sound very harsh)

Problem is that it's the small detail - the interplay between harmonics, the low level reverberations in a room etc - that create the timbre of an instrument, the difference between cheap grand piano and a steinway (or Moog and softsynth) and also the environment it was recorded in.

These details allow our brain to determine what is real and what is odd and unnatural and when something is unnatural, understandably, our brains try to switch off from it to concentrate on real life and survival. Hence it becomes a struggle to concentrate for too long and our emotions reflect this in it becoming an annoyance. In audiophile terms it becomes fatiguing!

Never reject a CD because you want the vinyl without having listened to both! It could be that a CD re-master/re-issue was uncompressed while the vinyl is heavily compressed. It could also be that only the cassette version remained unscathed..

The Vinyl Adventure
11-09-2009, 14:24
what a frustrating hobby we indulge in!!

11-09-2009, 14:29
P.S. I also remember reading or perhaps being told first hand from a friend having some electronica mastered for vinyl that often bass and treble are boosted, or at least bass, when mastering for vinyl especially for 12" singles - they basically do this to have more impact in clubs, venues where DJs are effectively promoting the music.

Obviously that would be for a certain type of music.

11-09-2009, 14:47
what a frustrating hobby we indulge in!!

Well, if it was just a hobby for everyone then all would be fine!

Unfortunately, for many people especially those producing the CDs and vinyl (and much of the equipment) it is just business...

You can always still enjoy the music on its own on a cheaper system! Just keep that good system for your high-quality CDs and pressings.

If you read interviews with musicians, many have cheap hifi systems - Stereophile has quite a few. Sound quality isn't an issue because they are in love with the music!

Just have to keep in mind that good music and good sound aren't automatically linked unless by good fortune or by deliberate design.

11-09-2009, 16:15
Despite the potential of cassette, many mastering people regarded this format as the absolute pits and treated it accordingly, being genuinely amazed when subjected to how good a decent cassette recording could be.......

I doubt the likes of NS10's could reproduce the subtleties anyway and a more "correct" speaker would sound boring to recording engineers using these. I think the huge, wall mounted monitors were used more for mixing and B&W 801's seem to be used for mastering (in the UK anyway) - their lack of "presence" and excess bass (unless lifted WELL above the floor) tended to perfectly balance the thin-toned early CD sound.

At the end of the day, it's HOW a domestic HiFi copes with compression that is the key. My little ATC 20ASL Pro's hate compression with a vengeance, the Spendors reproduce it but it seems a little more tolerable and less headache inducing..

The main problem for me is compression of the louder bits (as in most radio stations). Bringing the quiet bits up or gentle "gain riding" is far more preferable to listen to, as I discovered listening to Dolby A masters without the Dolby A switched on - to hear what I mean, see if you can get a 1980's CD copy of Jethro Tull's "Past Masters."

12-09-2009, 09:15
Well said Nat8808,

I am sorry, do not know your first name. Your earlier posting about 60s vinyl is indeed my experience. CD may have the highest dynamic range- but where on earth are those CDs- show us. No good talking about Rolling Stones or Tom Jones- but the sheer massive scale of orchestral sound is what I am talking about. Most of the dynamic range issues on POP/ROCK material is electronically determined-amplified-hardly a subject worthy of discussion.

I have a 'reviewer's sample not for sale LP' of Vedi's Four Sacred Pieces. The distance between the very soft introduction and the massive crescendo- resulted in the cutting engineer with massive difficulty as the record players of time could not play it. It is this very issue of dynamic range I was raising in the "what not to hear"-thread. In short -had a CD system capable of producing the dynamic range of analogue been produced- or recording-then there was no chance absolutely no chance people would be wasting their time buying old Garards and Techies or to be thinking of saving money for a Continuum Turn Table costing 100K.

We are talking of Figures- numbers and not what the record companies have been doing.

12-09-2009, 14:26
These are a number of test pressings I have. each record- recorded on one side is heavy.

Images below I hope would be sufficiently clear. I can't even remember if this record has been through my VPI 16.5 cleaner?


The playing side: I had to identify the tracks and write without touching the record with a pen. A daunting task when I had to do the same for all Beethoven Symphnonies- side by side.

The side with no grooves: