Are Digitally mastered LPs any better than CDs?

It seems to me a vinyl album that was mastered digitally would be the worst of both worlds - the digital effects would still be present,overlaid with surface noise, dust pops, no convenience features (remote control track skip, etc). I suppose if you don't have a great digital front-end, the record could sound like a CD playing on a much better CD player than you have. Or maybe if the digital master was a hi-res format, your record could sound like an SACD playing on a very high-end player, overlain with surface noise. Am I missing something?
It seems to me a vinyl album that was mastered digitally would be the worst of both worlds...
Honest1 (Threads | Answers)
That pretty much sums it up.
I respectfully disagree. I have done 4 comparisons of digitally-recorded Lps that sounded better than their CD counterparts in each instance: Wergo recording of Koechlin's Persion Hours (Herbert Henck, piano); Szymanowsi's Sym No. 2 (London, Detroit Sym/Dorati); American Music for String Orch (Barber, Diamond, etc.)(Nonesuch, LA Chamber Orch/Schwarz); and Bax's Tone Poems, Vol 1 (Chandos, Thompson, Ulster Orch.). In each instance, the sound on the Lp was more full-bodied, and more detailed, such that, in particular, strings did not sound as edgy, like some digital mass, but instead sounded richer and better differentiated. To the best of my recollection, all comparisons were done with a GNSC-modified Wadia 860 for the CD's and a Linn LP12 with Koetsu Black, via an EAR 834P phono stage with stock tubes. Since the sound of the GNSC-modded Wadia is probably not familiar to many readers, I would call it a richer version of the stock model, with somewhat smoother highs. I preferred it over my Linn CD12--a bit better detail, and no significant loss of warmth, for my taste (and more solid bass as well).

These were late-production records against early production CDs (of course). Chandos re-issued the Bax recording mentioned above, and made a big deal out of the reissue being remastered at 24/96. The reissued CD has more "information" on it than the old one. This leads me to assume that at least some early CDs tended to lose information in the mastering and/or manufacturing process...but I don't know enough to explain it. Also, as most of us know (to our regret and annoyance), early CDs often didn't sound so great compared to later ones. Finally, I have no idea if the original recordings of any of these albums was made with a higher bit rate than 16/44. I understand that at least Telarc was using a higher bit rate even in the early days.

Finally, it would be easy to assume that the Koetsu (generally considered a warm-ish sounding cartridge) might be the explanation for the difference. Maybe so--though I don't think so, b/c it wasn't just timbral, it was detail as well.

But the best way to decide is to make the comparison yourself.
It's not like every LP you put on is going to be ridden with surface noise and tics and pops. In fact, the digitally mastered LPs I have are particularly quiet. I like all-analog LPs the best, but I have gone out of my way to buy digitally recorded LPs of which I already had the CDs because I like the sound better on vinyl.

For 15 years or so, most albums have been digitally recorded at high sampling rates--88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 KHz, or DSD at 2.7 or 5.4 MHz, and 20 or 24 bits if pcm. When you get an LP so recorded, there's a really good chance the D/A conversion is from the recording's native mode at that high sampling rate and if applicable, the longer word length. The D/A process is also handled by a multi-thousand-dollar pro D/A converter. If you buy a CD, the hi-rez master is downconverted to 44.1 Khz/16 bit rendition, and the D/A is handled by whatever you have on your equipment rack. I'll take the LP.
Thanks for the responses. I didn't realize most recent recordings were recordede at hiogher data rates, and wasn't aware of the ultra-high data rates mentioned by Johnny B. Does this also apply to the pop / rock (i.e. U2) recordings I hear are being made available now?
I own a GNSC modded 850,so am familiar with the sound.
I would love to listen for myself, and am slowly getting my vinyl rig in shape.
There have have been numerous digitally mastered classical albums from the 80's (mostly Phillips and London) popping up in the local record stores I've been buying for about $1-3 each. While they might not have the warmth of the best all analogue productions, they certainly don't suffer from the deficiencies of 80's digital either. The quality of the vinyl surfaces are fine, no gripes about noise (unlike many contemporary rock vinyl releases.)
They vary widely. Some of the digitally mastered LP transfers sound bad. Some are excellent. It really depends on the mastering and pressing. Digital recordings have wide frequency bandwidth and wide dynamic range. If the LP is cut with wide grooves that allow big swings then it will sound great. If it is compressed with narrow grooves, it will sound thin and constricted. Look at how many tracks are on each side and the timing. If the LP is a best of collection, for example, with 6-7 tracks per side and a run time of greater than 20 minutes per side, watch out, it could be a mess. On the other hand if a typical length CD of 60 minutes is on 4 LP sides (15 minutes per side) it could sound incredible. Check it out.
Metallica is reputed to be better. Their CD's are normally compressed and flat topping throughout - an effect that is harder to do with Vinyl. So it depends.
Agree with above posters. I have some digitally recorded LPs that are great. I think it helps a great deal just to avoid the errors possible in home digital playback. Even though I'm biased toward all analogue LPs, I try to listen with an open mind and many times I'm quite surprised.
I read somewhere that good engineers never downconvert high-rez digital masters directly to 16/44. What they do is record the high-rez master to analog tape 1st, then transfer the tape to 16/44, eliminating distortions that occur during downsampling.

Of course, going to vinyl directly from hi-rez digital should sound better than 16/44 digital.
Good summary by Johnnyb53. Sampling rates when cutting/pressing vinyl are unlimited and bandwidth is far greater than RBCD. Another point, there's no need for the brickwall filter at 22kHz, which is a part of every RBCD and player. That filter causes audible harmonic distortions, one reason so many RBCDs sound harsh in the upper mids. Vinyl doesn't have that problem either.

Record surface noise is inversely proportional to record cleaning, record care and the quality of the playback equipment, including the phono stage. Get all those right and your records will be quiet, though no one should think this will be easy or cheap - it's neither.

I have hundreds of digital LP's that sound better than any CD or SACD. DVD-A can give vinyl a run, but there are so few titles it's not worth the cost of a playback deck that would match my vinyl rig.

Ultimately, as Eweedhome said, listen for yourself and decide. Try to listen to rigs that you could aspire to owning. If your budget were (say) $5,000, it might not help much to listen to $500 rigs, or $50,000 ones either.
What Photon46 said! That's my experience exactly. For me, a "digitally recorded" classical record may not be my first choice, but it's not a deal-killer. I have several that are very musically satisfying, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?
These include a young Josh Bell playing violin concertos, a recital album by Kiri Te Kanawa, several Mozart piano concertos on Hungaraton, and the Romero brothers tearing it up on classical guitar.

I also went to the trouble of getting an LP off eBay UK of the digitally recorded "Question and Answer" jazz trio by Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, and Roy Haynes. It is one of my very favorites. My digitally recorded Geffen LPs sound pretty good to me.

They'll never supplant "Kind of Blue," "Muddy Waters, Folk Singer," or the analog-recorded Diana Krall LPs though.
Probably the best way to listen to a digital master is with a vinyl LP. Digital is a brittle, lossy medium that doesn't transfer well to the home media, in spite of the "bitz is bitz" claims. Digital becomes drier, edgier and more jittery the further it gets from the masters, whereas analog retains warmth and fullness even with generational losses. I have a couple of LPs that sound quite a bit better than their CD counterparts, even with digital mastering and mixing.
Some LPs from the early to mid 80's can sound like crappy CDs, but a lot of digital LPs are quite desirable, such as the Philips classic digitals and the GRP label associated with Dave Grusin.
Try getting a hold of one of Billy Cobham's GRP LP releases, that sound like they have very little if any compression. You will probably not inherently object to digital mastering in and of itself after hearing one of those. The GRPs can have very quiet surfaces and wide dynamics.
One of the most prominent of the "digital LPs" is Dire Straits "Brothers at Arms". I don't hear many analog lovers complaining much about that one.
don't be too sure vinyl is hi-rez. Much of it is not, call some pressing plants and see what they usually get, you will find a lot of vinyl comes right from a cd master at 44.1. There are not rules of course, but i think this idea is being spread around and quite often it is not the case. This is no comment on the sound quality, of course.
>> 09-01-08: Mothra
>> don't be too sure vinyl is hi-rez. Much of it is not, call some pressing plants and see what they usually get, you will find a lot of vinyl comes right from a cd master at 44.1.

It'd be great if there was a way to trace a particular vinyl album's recording lineage to see if the master was analog, hi-rez, or 16/44. Could devote a whole website to the topic.
There was an interview in last year's TAS analog issue with one of the major mastering engineers. He mentioned that the LP of a hi res digital master has an octave more info than the CD. I didn't completely understand this - perhaps referring to brickwall filtering?

Either the same article or another said most of the time the high res digital master is what is that engineer sends to the LP mastering session.

BUT - the big issue here is what kind of analog rig is it being played back on? I think you need to achieve a certain level of LP rig and setup to extract the most from LP without it's inherent limits.
It'd be great if there was a way to trace a particular vinyl album's recording lineage to see if the master was analog, hi-rez, or 16/44. Could devote a whole website to the topic.
OK, I'll start: It's my understanding that the LP version of Brian Wilson's "SMiLE" was mastered from the 88.2/24 source, and sounds better than the CD.

The liner notes on the Diana Krall "From This Moment On" LP state that she still records in analog.

Although all of Mapleshade's music products are CD, he records in very high-res, lo-noise analog. Perhaps we could prevail on him to cut some LPs of his most desirable titles?

Anybody know the source/mastering of Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full" LP (I have it)?