A case for Hi Rez Digital

Ok...walk with me (BTW I listen to both analog and digital)

You have a Master tape from a classic album that is considered "audiophile". You get the best mastering engineer. Best converters, etc. Tape in great shape. The Engineer is well experienced in both digital and analog mastering.

1. The Engineer masters a Hi Rez 24 bit (96 or 192) file. Which is either distributed digitally (HD Tracks, etc) or SACD (24/44?). No 16/44 version...just High Rez. The consumer purchases and plays thru a high quality DAC and stereo system. 

2. Same Engineer masters a vinyl version. The normal process (Laquer---plates---stampers or whatever the process) for an audiophile LP (think MoFi, MM, etc). Goes to pressing plant and uses the highest quality vinyl. The vinyl is packaged in a cover, shrink-wrapped and shipped to warehouse, record store, etc. The buyer gets the album and has a similar high quality system as the digital buyer. Just instead of a DAC...the buyer has a phono pre, Turntable, and cartridge.

Shouldn't the digital buyer get the closest version to the source master tape and thus have the best sounding version?No surface noise, fewer variations (Dacs can vary, however, with LPs you have a TT, Cartridge, more interconnects thruout, plus variations in the vinyl itself. How about cutting head wear).

Myself, numerous LPs that sound better than digital. I have a huge collection of Hi-Rez and DSD files. I have many Hi Rez versions better sounding than audiophile Lps. I'm inclined to think that the majority of sound quality (I know there are human preferences) comes from the recording and mastering vs format. And all things equal, Digital edges out LPs for noise alone. 


I got back in to Vinyl around 2000.  At the time many shops began springing up that sold used lps.  I had spent years lost browsing shelves in record stores in the pre digital days and browsing CDs was not an equivalent experience, especially because I listen to Classical and the liner notes are so informative.  Many of the used lps I browsed had never been digitalized.  I began reading Fremer, Dudley et. Al and caught the vinyl bug.
  Fast forward 15 years.  My analog system consists of a Musical Surroundings pre amp and a Clearaudio Concept tt with matching my cart.  By now, all of my recordings have been digitalized.  I own many audiophile lps, SACDs, Hi Rez downloads.  I begin to compare my lps with digital, and it’s no comparison—I prefer digital every time, by a wide margin.  Even plain vanilla red book beats audiophile vinyl, and no pops, clicks, dust bunnies, static build up...Fortunately the rest of the World has fallen for vinyl, so I sell my $3500 analog front end for a 50% markup and buy a super DAC.  My wife is thrilled to see the moldy vinyl albums leave the house.
  I do not understand why people regard extracting vibrations from a spinning slab of petroleum with an expensive sewing needle that is gouging defects in the petroleum with each playing as Audiophile Nirvana.  However, there is Not a lot in our current world that I do understand...
 Great Post!
And, I concur.
The original recordings matter most.  Some are phenomenal while others are barely listenable.  Certain LP’s may have been uniquely issued and recorded and cannot be found in Digital form.  Someone may have a better analog rig than digital, so they go petroleum!  All good, but digital is convenient and can rival the best vinyl...often surpassing it.
Mic placement and quality match. Studio electronics and cables. Room sound. Engineer chops. Producer vision.
Minimal manipulation in post. (Or none is best - D2D.)
These and others make far more difference in SQ with today’s and vintage high quality playback equipment than format can and does.
Of course LP's noise can be tamed or eliminated, with DSP. I can’t listen to my vinyl without it.
Then again try and drop a needle with Parkinson’s
mahler said it better than I ever could. I quit vinyl and never looked back. 
The buyer gets the album and has a similar high quality system as the digital buyer. Just instead of a DAC...the buyer has a phono pre, Turntable, and cartridge.

Just one problem: there is no such thing as a digital anything that is similar to a record.

From the day I first dug out my old Technics and heard it blow away my five times the cost CDP, to the dozens of times I’ve played CD and records for people, never once has anyone said oh my God I never knew CD sounded so good! 

Guess what they say instead.   You know the answer. Know it in your bones.

Its not just a river in Egypt.

There’s a reason the highest aspiration, compliment, and goal of digital is to sound like analog: it just sounds better.

But you guys are having such fun. Party on! Perfect sound forever!
Millercarbon...I have both and grew up with vinyl.  I have many digital versions of music that definitely sound better than the vinyl copy.  Caveat being, the digital front end must be fairly high quality and properly cabled, fed and matched!
So a 100 year old format somewhat adjusted 70 years ago and now almost exclusively mastered from digital sources is still the gold standard for sound? 

That’s pretty funny. 

The packaging has Always been superior to CD and Has even improved in recent years so it does have that going for it.
I'll be honest. I think lots have to do with the whole vinyl experience. The sleeve, the cleaning, the TT set up, etc. Much like a collector of vintage anything. Much of the newer vinyl lovers are buying the $99 AT Turntables that are a plenty at record stores. Its more about the "experience". Just my two cents. I love the experience myself.....but I'm also totally honest with myself.
@aberyclark ,
I grew up with vinyl, and I do respect its' sound quality, I embrace digital for five reasons:
One, never having to get up and cue a record
Two, never having to turn over a record
Three, hearing Pops an Ticks, as well as distortion from a cartridge not perfectly aligned.
Four, owning a poorly pressed, and warped record (Remember RCA's Dynagroove- For me it was Dynawarp).
Five, having an almost unlimited library at my fingertips.
Though I may not be getting the full experience, I am willing to sacrifice the lowered sound quality for the ease of digital streaming.
And, I forgot to add-not being able to walk across a room without inciting the needle to jump.-Isolation wasn't available, as it is today.

I still remember my first reaction to hearing a CD .  It was Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony in Orchestral Music of Debussy, recorded 1982.  The dynamic range and headroom seemed limitless .  The music emerged from an utterly silent background.  I could hear a load more low level Orchestral detail, even in my music I thought I knew very well, with no competition from noisy vinyl artifacts.  I was in heaven.  I’m playing that same CD now, first time in years, and of course my system is hugely upgraded and it’s amazing how current digital technology can extract so much information from ancient recordings.
  I think there are vinyl people and digital people.  I hate the sound of the needle drop, the pops, clicks, limited dynamic range...obviously there are many who are the polar opposite and find all of that endearing.  To each their own.  But hey, at least I don’t go into the analog forum here and hector people as to why they shouldn’t be enjoying what they like
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Some of us record original acoustic events in very high quality in both analog and digital formats and can appreciate the relative strengths and weaknesses in both formats. There are engineers and music makers working in both formats.

for those trapped in 1986 with at best a mediocre CD player, you might bulk up your chops and experience with a visit to modern digital. Bit perfect rips off a server or downloaded files played thru a quality DAC might surprise ya...

but only IF you have an open mind....  And ears and maybe listen...

and of course, I have 3 lovely TT and all the stuff to go along....
I'm listening to a digital playlist tonight.  A number of the songs so far have sounded magical. Last night I listened to a white label promo copy of the Grateful Dead's Terrapin Station. That sounded magical. I think it has a lot more to do with the quality of the recording than the media it's on once you get to a certain point. I enjoy listening to both, why fight over which one is better?
IF we live thru this and you find yourself in Seattle or Carlsbad, CA stop by for a listen. Analog and Digital both places. 
IF you have a decent DAC make you you check out the downloads bench at 2L recordings, The Nordic Sound. Lots of superb music, hyper well recorded in a variety of formats. It’s a listening skill sharpener for sure. Grammy winning, how very elitist I know...
@tomic601 ,
I for one, hope to take you up on you offer.
Seattle and Carlsburg are two places I have never been to before.
Bob - right on man :-) you are welcome to visit - fun