Remember the man that had to cross a cow to the other side of the river... digital: it can't be done, it doesn't work.
Now a digitally recorded and mastered vinyl record is a thing of beauty since it has all of the purported fauls of digital plus all the beauty of warps and surface noise of te LP. What more could an audiophile want?
Among analogue buffs digitally recorded or remastered L.P's tend to generally be avoided.Having made that statement I confess to just having listened to The Beatles Let it Be(Naked)and found it very good indeed.This is because I believe now with 24-bit PCM masters you can press good records with adequate bandwidth,and remember you are always stuck with having to downsample to 16-bit for CD and this has not sounded that good on vinyl.As far as 1-bit DSD on vinyl is concerned I was not impressed with it's very obvious sonic deficiencies and it can't get better than it is.From about 20-bit PCM and upwards should sound good on Vinyl.Not as good as analogue though.
The first one I recall is Ry Cooder's "Bop Til You Drop." At the time I remember thinking how dynamic the sound was, this was back in the 70s.
Yes, these would be DDA or DAA recordings. Not everything sounded great in the early days of digital, as recordists were still learning how to handle the new technology. But the best of them should tell you something about the alleged defects of digital. Plus, once it's converted to analog and pressed into vinyl, you get the phase-related distortion, subtle speed variations, and other artifacts that contribute to vinyl's pleasing sound.
The truth is,that some labels were better than others.In the classical genre the EMI digital lp's were terrible.The Telarcs were quite good,and some labels,like the "New World" catalog were fabulous.Same thing applies to pop,on certain labels.In the lp digital domain it is quite simply a crap shoot.Also,it depends on your system,and how critical one is.
Here's the short and sweet answer-"worst of both worlds".
Am I correct that Steeley Dan's Gaucho was digitally recorded? After having loved Aja, and despite some great songs on Gaucho, it just never sounded right to me. Cold and uninviting are words come to mind.
Humorous responses you received....
From one turntable owner to another, I recommend buying any clean-copy digital Lps that interest you. In my experience they've been remarkably better than their CD counterparts in areas of hall ambience, environmental cues, quickness and authority in the bass, low-level info, and a sweeter, if still relatively dry, high end. We're lucky that digital lp's, at least in Europe were pressed up until '89.
I am pretty sure that Dire Straits was a full digital recording if not one of the first. I have always liked that on both the original and Simply Vinyl pressings. Just an example.
Some of the very early digital recordings were made with a 3M system that people still swear out performed Redbook standards. I believe the Ry Cooder "Bop 'Til You Drop" and possibly Donald Fagen's "Nightfly" fall into this category. Both are superb sounding records.
Throughout the 90s it was a common production trick to run digital recordings through either an analog tube processor (usually an EQ or compressor/limiter) or to copy to a wide track analog tape format before final mastering to CD format. To make mattesr even more confusing many pop/rock recordings contained both digital and analog recording tracks which may have then been mixed using both digital and analog mixing consoles. Excellent recordings as diverse as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Brian Wilson's "Presents Smile" are of this type. The recent remasterings of Jimi Hendrix's first 3 albums were all mixed digitally and produced outstanding vinyl editions. As mentioned by others above it really depends on the skill and dedication of the engineers rather than any specific technology.
Regarding why some people actually prefer vinyl version of all digital recordings, I think it's because of the distortion components added in the vinyl cutting process. The cutting process introduces channel crosstalk, phasiness, low end non-linearities and subtle compression effects that can be interpreted as added spaciousness and warmth. It's not particularly accurate, but it can be quite pleasant sounding.
Onhwy61, I would add to the vinyl process, the playback system adding more of the distortions you have noted. Also, there is nothing subtle about the compression effects on vinyl. It is true that in the beginning of digital recordings to vinyl, the engineers had to learn a new equalization curve for the cutter to shape the high frequencies, especially. DG's early attempts were really bad, but then we were 'saved' by the CD.
The advantages of digital technology for recording and mastering are many. Just a few examples...
Of course it put an end to tape hiss, and/or the various signal processing methods like DBX and Dolby used to minimize it.
The musical performance almost always needs editing. Cutting and splicing mag tape was never fun.
Multitrack recordings can be exactly synchronized for mixing purposes.
Analog master tapes deteriorate with age. A digital file, particularly when encoded with error correction, does not change.
Much of the criticism of digital sound technology relates to the 16-bit 44 KHz CD available to the end user. Professional digital technology, even years ago, was comparable to what we now call high resolution.
OnHwy61, I noticed you've got quite the turntable, far more expensive than my VPI Scoutmaster. You included the evergreen condescention, "spaciousness and warmth" in your description of vinyl : ), let me repeat that __ : )__ but how does one explain vinyl's far better bass in terms of quickness and authority? For example: Durufle's Requiem on Hyperion, (digital '86), has moments where there are soft, low and deep "taps of the foot" on organ pedal in eight-notes, (about two notes per second). No CD player I've tried, up to $3500 is "quick" enough to get them to sound fulsomely and with accurate pitch. On the Hyperion Lp, they are reproduced effortlessly.
Another surprise was what I call "textural differntiation:" the ability, esp. in the octave below middle C on the piano, to separate and sort out different instruments. A stunning example for me is Shostakovich' Symphony #11. I've owned them all on CD since discovering the piece. Having listened to the light tympani strokes in the first mov't for the first time on vinyl, I was stunned to hear that those tympani strokes are accompanied by plucked harp bass notes!
Another surprise was the better "planar imaging:" the better imaging of not only single instruments, but also the placement of whole sections; one can hear groups of Celli separated from Violas and String Basses.
A caveat: I've been sorely disappointed with Columbia and later RCA pressings of just about the whole Classical Catalog, esp. Bernstein and Ormandy. I wouldn't recommend anyone bring these albums to test a turntable! But there are literally millions of clean European pressings that routinely stun my ears, whether digital or analog, even back to '54. I also have NO experience with pop/rock/jazz/soul recordings on CD or vinyl, so my comments are limited to Classical.
jdaniel, all very good points, but if a recording was orignally done digitally and then transferred to vinyl it stands to reason that the recording won't gain any added fidelity. It may sound different and that difference may even make it sound more "realistic", but it's still a by product of various distortions added in the transfer process. It's also hard for a consumer to make truly accurate comparisons since analog and digital recordings of the same performance may have different mixing/mastering chains. A little EQ and small level changes can have dramatic sonic effects. You just don't know what was done to the recording. Again, I'm not touting any specific technology, but just making the point that the skill of the engineers is the most important element in sound reproduction.