This is primarily for those of us who agree that vinyl sounds better than CD, and is not meant to restart the vinyl vs CD debate. Is it just me, or have others noted that a lot of the vinyl releases from the mid to late '80s sound more like CDs than traditional vinyl? The soul that usually comes through with vinyl is missing, and to my ear sounds like a high quality (but sterile) CD. I don't think it is just the DDA recording chain, because today's digitally recorded vinyl sounds much better. Is it maybe because the recording engineers were still figuring out how to get the best sound out of digital, or did they use lower sampling rates in the 80s?
I have many duplicates of 80s rock and pop vinyl and CDs and play them in high quality CD and record players. Assuming the variables created by my gears are not being considered here, I find a few CDs and vinyls similar but on most cases, vinyl is always better. However, I find some reissues of CDs in the 2000s significantly improved over those originally released in the 80s.
I believe a lot of it was because of digital mixing and mastering at the time. As you have stated, digital has come a long way in the last couple of decades, and today's digitally recorded vinyl sounds much better. I notice that many CD's AND LP's recorded in the 80's and early 90's sound pretty bad. So I would blame the poor sound on the terrible sound that early digital brought to the table.
Whoa there Mrvordo, These statements about new vinyl sounding better today are just not true IMHO. By the 80's they were in the TOP of there game recording and pressing vinyl records, thats why they sound a lot more dynamic and full and rich.Of course you have to take into account the record label. Atlantic was putting out a lot of mediocre sounding pop along with Colunbia. Verve and GRP, EMI, MOFI were putting out excellent sounding vinyls all through the 60's 70's 80's. I would buy a 30 year old record that is original and not noisy, before I pay 20-30 bucks for a new pressing of whatever. And the old copy will blow away anything pressed off a digital master today. Most of these master vinyl makers are long gone and the new ones are not very good IMO. In the early days of Digital (1982). We were all lied to by the record companys that this new medium "sounded better" and was more rugged than fragile vinyl albums. All I know is vinyl records have gotten so expensive over the last 5 years its insane now. I was at the largest record show in North America a couple weeks ago and found it very hard to find great prices on used CLEAN sounding records.Times are changing.Also Mrvordo, On a side note: If you ever get away from cables with BOXES on them, you will open up a whole new world and truly experience what your awesome system is capable of! (this from a prior MIT user)
Yes, I notice a trend as described in sound of vinyl into the 80s and suspect a lot of it has to do with gradual incursion of digital in general into recording and playback systems over time. Also 80's pop heavy infatuation with synthesizers and more electronic music in general also contributes to the overall perceived change in sound in general. It took about 10-15 years or so for digital to really start to mature and things have gotten progressively better since. THose early digital influenced recordings that still had a somewhat decent release on vinyl sound better than ever on remastered CDs today.
Today's digitally recorded vinyl might sound better than then mainly because the digital systems used and understanding of how to use them well is better than ever today. Part of that is higher resolution used at various stages I am certain but the technology overall is much better.
Modern vinyl quality is problematic in many cases I would say, but the best vinyl releases of the best modern digital recordings certainly have the potential to surpass CD due to limitations with the CD redbook format that do not apply to vinyl. How often does that actually occur? Good question. I would like to know.
HI res digital audio formats help push the bar higher for what can be done with digital playback today, but the technologies needed to do it commercially on a large scale are still problematic and not fully mature yet either. Part of that is the folks who came up with Redbook CD fformat really did a good job of delivering a format capable of meeting the needs of most for a long period of time into the future.
Agree with Mattmiller regarding the higher quality of original vinyl pressings over new vinyl, including 1980s pressings. The vinyl cutters back then were master craftsmen with years of experience. In the case of digital vinyl, there was a learning curve and some records weren't pressed using proper RIAA equalization, but was corrected. Also during the 80s there were many AAD mastered recordings which made for good sounding vinyl. IME, it was certain record labels who were putting out these "CD like" pressings. Also, there were no Loudness Wars with high compression back then. I was an audio engineer in the 80s and I think there was a lot of pride among the techs who produced vinyl that their product didn't sound like CDs.
And good point, Mapman regarding the POP digital recordings which made for some very bad vinyl.
Whoa to you Mattmiller :), I'm talking about what were new releases in the mid and late 80's, when the studios were starting to record everything digitally, not analog recordings and pressings which I completely agree were probably at the top of their game by the early 80's. And you may have a point about the cutting of vinyl in the 80's, but to me it's extremely easy to tell if a vinyl release from that time period was recorded digitally or not. And I'm not saying that today's pressing are better than pressings in the early 80's, just that most pressings today of new releases, recorded digitally, do sound comparably better than digitally recorded releases from the later part of the 80's.
I feel your pain on the price of vinyl. I too think they are too expensive, and I don't like what it's doing to the used market either.
And since you don't like cables with BOXES ;), what have you found to work well. I'm always looking for something to improve my system, and am using Transparent currently simply because I haven't found something better as yet. In the Audio Wasteland that I live in, I don't get to hear a lot of different equipment, so I would love to know what you have found.
As Elizabeth and others have mentioned, when the SS equipment replaced tubes, the problems started. While many studios maintained their analogue capture of sound, the electronics of the tape machines were replaced with SS stuff. I have heard 'pure' analogue sound where the entire chain, recording and playback was tubes, and it defines 'better sound'. Today, digital produced sound on vinyl is an oxymoron.
I'm not saying digitally recorded vinyl are necessarily inferior, and I realize that every recording is different. I'm just noticing that a lot of the vinyl from the 80's is not as ....something, compared to vinyl from before and after the time period of mid 80's to sometime in the 90's, and am totally guessing if it has to do with primitive digital recording methods. That's why I'm here asking for opinions and whether or not others have noted the same. This is not any kind of agenda, but a search for knowledge.
BTW, I always enjoy your no nonsense posts, and overall, I agree with your opinions.
Jcharvet, my experience almost duplicates yours. I have the same identical records in some cases where I replaced the record in the 80's, that I originally purchased in 1970, and the 80's record was far superior.
In regard to the CD's there was no similar improvement. Let me clarify that; if the CD was made when they first came out, they simply kept reproducing that bad CD; however, if the CD is of a recent recording, that CD could possibly be better than a lot of LP's; CD's have come a long way.
Mrvordo, I use Nordost SPM (reference cable from the late 90's) for Speaker cables and Morrow Audio for IC's. I switched to Morrow because they sound as good or better than the Nordost for a fraction of the price. I don't like cables that SOUND like anything. I like to hear my equipment ,not cables. A great cable does this. It should be transparent and not colored. Also, cables with boxes of any type don't allow the energy thru, so you lose a lot of the initial attack and dynamics.
I have heard good things about Nordost, but the Baldur cable that I tried, while more open and slightly less congested in the mids, didn't have the attack, inner detail, or bass, of my old Krell Cogelco Black. I considered them comparable, but not what I thought was accurate. They were colored in their own way, with a slight nod to leanness. I realize that this is just one cable, and it and the Krell did sound much better than the Transparent Super, but I haven't compared it to a Transparent Ultra yet, which I hope to do soon. Maybe I can get a chance to try the Morrow sometime.
Mike, I concur with your experiences with Nordost, having owned the Valhalla and Heimdall cables and Valhalla and Brahma cords. They are definitely not neutral, though folks who do not know the true meaning of the word neutral insist that they are. To me, neutral means natural sounding, with the tone neither being rolled off, warm and fuzzy, nor artificially highlighting the upper frequencies to try to spotlight more detail, as the Nordost cables do. I have heard Nordost cables work well with some darker sounding gear/rooms, just as I have heard Kubala Sosna and Cardas cables work well with some brighter sounding gear/rooms.
All cables sound like something, unless they are not plugged in. Now folks with a darker system/room may think that brighter cables sound like nothing, just as folks with a brighter system/room may feel that darker cables sound like nothing. The key is simply to balance the music in the room to your taste, regardless of how this is accomplished. Some may prefer to spend their money on the room itself, others the speakers or gear, and others yet will spend it on cables and cords. Whatever the path, the ultimate goal is the same for all of us, to balance the sound of our system to fit our own personal musical tastes.
I don't want us to get off topic, but well said Jmcgrogan2. I've come to consider cables as a component themselves, with pluses and minuses just like any component. The trick is balancing everything in the system to get proper neutral natural sound.
Actually...the Soundstream digital system that Telarc adopted in the late 70 s had a sampling rate of 50khz...still ahead of current CD resolution...so the technology was always there...even years ago...there were plain bad sounding analogue lps in the 80s...gated drums, cheesy synths, etc. Digital seems like a convenient escape goat, but look at the era...im I'm more concerned with who produced an lp than the technology.