When an LP is pressed using a digital master recording as the source, does that LP still have an analog advantage?
It sure seems that way. What makes it hard to say for certain is the problem of how to compare. Because what you're asking really boils down to which is better the LP or the CD. And while we all know the answer, the CD guys can't handle the truth, and will deny to the point of death, till you pry the remote from their cold dead hand.
My theory is this - if a digital recording is available in high res and you have a good DAC then the digital is preferable.
If it’s an analog recording and the LP was pressed in a purely analog manner (some lathes digitize the signal to do groove spacing) and you have an excellent Analog rig then that is preferable.
if no hi res is available, chances are the LP was cut from a 24 bit digital file and may sound better than a 44.1/16 download or CD or rip.
There are some who feel the LP compression pre conditions the signal and has sonic benefits regardless of digital or analog source.
It’s essentially a crap shoot and can vary by mastering and release, and of course your system may be better at one vs the other source.
I sometimes buy cds and vinyl of the same album. It's often pretty close if the cd is not too compressed. Although I am a vinyl guy, I agree that it's not worth the effort if the sound is virtually indistinguishable from the cd. But sometimes, the LP is not as compressed as the cd or mastered differently ----and then there is a big difference. The only problem is knowing in advance whether you are wasting your money.
It’s essentially a crap shoot
You don’t know the half of it! Everything you mentioned and more can be done to perfection, and still only one in a hundred copies somehow against all odds delivers the sublime sonic perfection records are truly capable of. Only the lucky (smart crazed fanatical) few with White Hot Stampers know what I’m talking about. The rest of you can talk all you want about hi rez this, digital that. Its frankly great the way things are with hardly anyone knowing. Between the lack of facilities, expertise, and now even raw materials its hard enough to keep up with demand as it is. Which you notice, no such problem with digital. Dreck we got coming out our ears. Quality, never had that problem. So its really good people don’t know. Crap shoot. That’s what it is. Records suck. Go digital! Hi rez! Heh.
Looking forward to reading some explanations and preferences. I think its purely a subjective call, but lets see the technical explanations for whatever is "better"
Yes, the euphoric qualities of vinyl still pervade the experience. Depending on the recording sometimes it is better sometimes not. Vinyl is always noisier so on very quiet recordings digital has an advantage. Older analog recordings, anything before 1980 I tend to buy the vinyl unless I know for a fact the digital is better. David Bowie's first three albums were digitally remastered, an absolutely amazing job so I got the high res digitals of those. Newer digital recordings I tend to get hi res versions unless it is music I really want and only the CD is available then I will buy the vinyl if it is available.
I think every audiophile should have at least a few vinyl/digital duplicates.
It is fun to sync them and switch back and forth. Sometimes it is surprising how much alike they sound and often dragging a rock through a trench sounds better even if the music was recorded digitally. One caveat, better is not necessarily more accurate.
Most of the LPs of the last 20+ years have been made from digital files.
There's a great little article in a Brit audio magazine I read a while back that makes the point about why analog from digital sounds better than digital...of course I can't find the article...damn...but it's true.
This is easy to compare
Maybe for same reasons some people use digital playback with Tube Amps or Preamps instead of Class D digital amps.
My guess is that analog signal has ''endless many values'' while
digital has limited values (aka ''on'' and ''off'').
That's right, with an analog source vinyl will always be preferable. Provided the record manufacturing process doesn't have any intermediairy digital steps, which would throw all the benefits of the infinite analog signal out of the window.
With digital sources it's a crap shoot. In most cases, CD's are produced with much compression, while the vinyl made from a digital master may not. In that case the vinyl will likely be superior. All else being equal, which it usually isn't.
edgewear218 posts02-19-2020 12:17pm
... with an analog source vinyl will always be preferable. Provided
the record manufacturing process doesn't have any intermediairy digital
steps, which would throw all the benefits of the infinite analog signal
out of the window.The "analog signal" on an LP is not "infinite." Not even close. It's a bandwidth-limited signal, and so is digital.
Nandric, that is a common miss understanding. That is not how DACs work. DACs recreate the analog signal from digital data. If I show you both an analog 100 Hz waveform and one from a DAC they will look exactly the same. There are no on and offs, no steps.
Digital has some significant advantages over analog. Once the signal is in digital form you can manipulate the data any way you want without adding distortion whereas in analog every time you pass the signal through another device there is always added distortion.
Two recordings stand out in my mind as extremely special. One is Tower of Power Direct on Sheffield records and the other is Chick Corea's Chinese Butterfly which I down loaded in 96/24. One totally analog with minimal intervening steps and the other straight digital from the microphones and instruments to the inputs of my DACs. Frankly I have more digital downloads that reach this level of performance than records.
It is much harder to damage a digital signal. It is also a shame that more recording is not done direct to disc.
The mastering engineer's vision of the finished product is a big deal.
I wouldn't be surprised if he/she was making different choices for LPs. Certainly happens with different releases of CD's as well.
recreate the analog signal from digital data. If I show you both an
analog 100 Hz waveform and one from a DAC they will look exactly the
same. There are no on and offs, no steps. That may be counterintuitive for some audiophiles, but it's absolutely true.
Monty's demo illustrates this.
@gpgr4blu I look at it the same way. I like music and only hope it's recorded, engineered and mastered well no matter what format it's served up in.
I took this image
in analog studio in Helsinki in 2004 on 35mm film.
The way it used to be when you’re in analog studio. You can’t imitate STUDER digitally, live music must be recorded this way (on tape, multi-track) then vinyl release is a pure magic. It depends on the genre of music, but when we’re talking about Jazz, Soul, Rock i can’t even imagine digital recordings, it wasn’t there when the best stuff was recorded. Magnetic tape is a part of this music. Everyone who wish to be authentic in these genres normally record on tape. Some people/musicians simply can’t afford their own analog studio or can’t properly play to record in one take. Digital is easy to edit and this is why digital recording exist in the studios (imo). Analog is superior and every recording engineer can explain why.
When it comes to sound quality, to me it's more a matter of the recording's label and producer than the choice of recording technique or the media through which we access it. I gotta say, too, that I love some of my old Telarc LPs.
Digital master will never sound as good as analog.
I love vinyl, but there is no way listening to an LP from a digital master will be better than listening to the digital file. That is, unless your turntable and phono stage are adding so many colourations that you prefer the coloured version to the original.
When you listen to an LP from a digital master, you are still listening to a dac - and it is whatever dac they use in mastering the record - which may not be all that good - which is then recorded, dynamically compressed and subject to massive equalisation . Then there are the distortions inherent in playing the record - groove noise and inner side distortion... It’s amazing an LP sounds anything like the original. But it certainly cannot sound better than the digital file from which it is copied.
Now, a pre-1980 LP from an analog master produced by a good mastering engineer ... while it still has some inherent problems, a true analog LP retains something special that digital still has not quite captured. But listening to digital recordings on LP is just an exercise in self-delusion.
I used to operate a vinyl mastering studio. I have cut lacquers /dubplates of digital files that sounded 'better' after the transfer. Some not. Once you get your hands on the process you learn that it is not easy to generalize on the topic.
Mastering / manipulating digital files at whim is not an easy ride either.
So...as a consumer you just gotta listen. Buying records is a winding, sometimes bumpy road.
ebm, never say never. It will come back to bite you. A good digital master is going to sound better than a bad analog one. What a recording sounds like is more a result of the way it was mastered than whether or not it was digital.
digital vs analog. here we go again.
Digital "samples" signals at a certain clock rate and bit sampling rate. this means for example if you were to digitally record a live concert, the the digital signal records the analog sound/signal at a certain sample rate.
you are inherently missing part of the signal. no matter the sample rate.
However, the higher the sample rate, the closer you get to the accurate signal.
So, if you take the people playing analog music via microphones and digitally record it and that is the only recording. Then convert that digital recording to an analog recording for vinyl and listen via equally good vinyl system and the same digital recording via a digital playback system, will you hear a difference? probably not.
But, take that same concert and record it analog and also record it digitally and play the analog recording on a very nice analog system and also play the digital recording on an equally nice digital playback system and I would bet a nice lunch you will hear a difference and the analog system will sound more spacious.
Take a concert or performance and record it analog. Then also remaster the recording digitally. Play the original analog recording on a vinyl system and then play the digitally remastered recording on an analog system and you will hear a difference. Play the digitally remastered recording on a digital system vs the analog system/recording and you definitely will hear a difference.
But, as mentioned previously, it really depends on what you are listening to, how the music was recorded.
A very nice digital system will sound wonderful. It has come a long way. non fatiguing, great sound.
But, when doing this type of comparison, one must compare apples to apples.
equally nice digital and analog system:
analog recording vs digitally remastered analog recording: analog wins
digital recording to analog vs digital recording: coin flip.
just my opinion.
Since no one seems willing to just come out and say it, this is all beating around the bush. It will never be the LP, or CD. Its the master tape. RTR uber alles.
This is not an analog vs digital discussion, or even a mastering discussion.
It is a question of whether a compressed, equalized, distorted recording of a digital file can ever sound better than the digital file itself.
Of course the answer is yes. Because this is a subjective criteria.
I have ONE digital recording on LP.Late 80's 1812(Sir Gerog Solti) on London.Also have the CD.
Anyone have these 2 and compared? I would think if you had equal level playback systems, they should sound identical? I don't have the luxury.I'm all about obsessing on period LP's
All I remember is the cannon explosions either format, will compress your chest at appropriate volume.
Analog tape print through and vinyl pre/post echo can add a richness to vinyl recordings.
I've never experienced joy listening to digital - awe maybe, but not happiness. I also don't think vocals sound remotely human with a Dac not made bt DCS. My turntable rig is only about $3k. If I could afford a DCS Bartok, I'd likely upgrade to a $7k analog rig and be happier still.
With respect to the OP's specific question, I'm in full agreement with those who have suggested it is really about the mastering.
If the mastering for LP is different than that for the CD release (it would primarily be about increased dynamic range and less compression on the vinyl release than the CD release that would possibly give the LP version the edge, but there might be other factors in a different mastering for LP vs CD as well, ie. LP might be hi-rez while the digital release might be standard redbook) there is a possibility that the LP would sound better.
If the masterings are identical for both the CD and LP release, assuming good playback equipment on both the digital and analog side, I can see no reason why the LP would be superior and a number of reasons why it might not be.
I don't buy a lot of newer music because I like the sound of good analog recording and don't particularly like what I perceive to be the sound of digital in many cases. And I doubt, frankly, that many modern releases actually feature a different mastering for the LP release vs the CD release. To find out, you pretty much have to buy both versions, which is a pretty unexciting proposition as far as I'm concerned.
I was at a blues show last week and ended up buying an LP from the band after talking to the leader. It was recorded analog to tape live in the studio so I figured I'd take a chance on it. Only bought the LP as didn't want to purchase the CD too and while the recording is decent, you can tell it was mastered digitally, probably run through Pro Tools or something similar in terms of creating the final product. My guess is that the vinyl and CD mastering are probably identical in this case but I'd have to hear the CD to be sure.
I have very few newer recordings on both formats. One that comes to mind is Bob Dylan's Together Through Life. The LP and the CD sound pretty much the same to me; I see no point in owning the LP to be honest.
So much science in this discussion. Groove geometry, master recording, streaming capability, and a host of others. LP quality and digital quality will always come back to the original recording. CD's, streaming, and LP's all will suffer or benefit from that.
If a person has a sizeable collection of LP's then it makes sense to obtain the best possible sound from them. Analog will beat out digital and digital will beat out analog depending on the source equipment, and room employed.
With LP's there are always things to keep in mind. Care, cleaning, and, of course, equipment used. This is still, yet, another debate which has no end. Both formats have their advantages. So many variables to consider.
One thing for sure--there is rarely a digital reproduction of a pre-mid 80s analog recording that is arguably better than the original vinyl lp absent extraordinary efforts (e.g. Abbey Road, White Album)
Remember the late '70's and the Telarc digital recordings? Vinyl records mastered from 50K digital tapes. The audiophile magazines were unanimously griping about the sterility, lack of detail and digital glare even back then. Admittedly, things have gotten better since then, but I still think that buying a record that was mastered from a digital source is highway robbery. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both digital and vinyl, my gripe is the misrepresentation of the product.
Some of us own and push the envelope with both analog and digital formats and by both I mean vinyl, tape and high end digital.
there are hardcore in every corner, but some of us can occupy all three corners and understand relative strengths and weaknesses ego and cognitive dissonance free. Those who dismiss a format out of hand are ignorant, deaf or worse... just blowhard big ego getting in the way of a lot more accessible world class music.
iF you have an excellent DAC, night I suggest some 2L ( the Nordic sound ) downloads and the corresponding vinyl album from them. Make up your own mind , blowhard free
find me a blowhard on this thread with chops to match 2L and the steak dinner is on me....
The analog from a digital recording will often contain the full data from that recording (apart from RIAA compression, but we all know that), whereas you might end up with a more compressed version of the digital file, thus losing information. That’s not quite what the OP asked but an important concern. If you can get the digital at full resolution and have equally resolving equipment (how could you objectively determine that?), there is no difference—at least the handful of times a dealer has demo’d that for me, my ears couldn’t hear a difference.
Here’s a problem still—I have no desire to purchase high-resolution files and then store them at home. That means that I am limited to Tidal or Qobuz. I believe that there’s sometimes distortion or lossiness in the streaming process/modem issues, bandwidth, etc, so that the same digital streamed file will sound different at different times, even if it is occurring at the purportedly same bit rate.
1979. Rise. Herb Alpert.
The first track is analog mastered. All the remaining tracks were digitally recorded on 3M’s new 32 bit mastering system.
I have the original vinyl pressing. 10 years later, in 1989, I bought the CD.
The LP is far superior than the 16 bit CD.
Ive seen this over and over again, back during the time when vinyl was mastered, cut, and pressed properly, that the vinyl produces a superior experience over digital. Digital is easy, no work. Vinyl is an art form.
Another example: Linda Ronstadt’s 3 albums she recorded with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the 1980s. All 3 vinyl LPs sound far superior to the CD versions. Also, her 1989 album with Aaron Nevill; the LP is far superior to the CD version. All digitally recorded. Artisans mastered the vinyl, flunkies mastered the CDs.
How about we fast forward past 1985 ?
see for example the recent Macy Gray and Amber Reubarth....
I have the Firebird Suite LP with Robert Shaw and the ASO recorded in 1978 from Telarc Records that was recorded in digital tape and released in analog. Years later in the 80's I got the CD, very excited I thought that being an original digital recording, will sound better than the LP. Still today it sounds better than the CD. It's not only me, others that listen to my system agree with me
I have the old Eagles LP "Hell Freezes Over" - cost me over £200 but great. As a matter if interest is the new LP release (remastered) from a digital base or the old base (and what was that?) and thus some difference should be able to be identified due to the great qualities of the recording in the first place. I am tempted to buy the new 180g LP as it is almost a reasonable price
Remind all of the Lincoln Mayorga albums of the 1970's that were direct-to-disc. Evidently, Sheffield still does this. I suggest you buy some of their items and then discuss.
As the recording engineer posted above (@solypsa), a lot depends upon the people involved in the process from beginning to end. For example, we were told back then that, including the actual materials used in the blanks, the time after stamping that the vinyl was left on the press to form/harden was important.
If you read the liner notes on the Mayorga albums, you will see that they were done with the most careful processes available at the time. I would guess they still use the best possible processes and equipment available today.
They remain superb recordings that anyone who is interested in this debate should listen to, as well as the later ones from Sheffield, before making blanket comments.
Hard to say....
I purchased a 4 record set some years ago of Pink Floyd, Echoes.
All are 180 gram virgin vinyl; a collection of their musical history.
It was expensive.
All 4 records were washed properly then placed into new rice paper sleeves .
Not all the songs were from the original master analog tapes.
Some songs were digital remasters.
I can pick those digital songs out during playback on my system.
The digital songs are 'thin' sounding, almost tinny.
The digital songs are one dimensional....kind of disappointing actually. I expected better.
Of course, there could be many explanations as to why those particular songs did not sound as good as the analog songs. But, one would believe many of the variable factors were eliminated.
I don't know why so many still listen to vinyl. I am not in to hearing the noise of the needle tracking in the groove. I think CD's sound much better. They sound much crisper in my opinion. However, I now can't understand why anyone would bother to play CD's when streaming is now available. It is so convenient to sit on the sofa and select songs by way of a cell phone, I would have to pay a fortune for CD's to match the size of the library TIDAL offers, And then, there is MQA. I do think I hear a better sound stage when I listen to MQA recordings. However, maybe I am trying to convince myself this to be true.
I do love the looks of a $30,000 turn table. However, I am not filthy rich like many of you in this group. The looks do make a statement that's for sure. This would be a great way to impress a neighbor.
I listen to vinyl because I enjoy music. As you said CD doesn't sound like music it sounds "crisp". Music doesn't sound "crisp" it sounds like music. So the tradeoff is a little noise along with the music, or noise. I'll take music.
When an LP is pressed from digital...it is played back as a continuous waveform. That might be a benefit of vinyl. If you listen to a record the 2nd time, it will not be the same performance as the first. With digital it will be the same the 2nd, 3rd and 100th time...for good and bad.
My non-scientific guess, is that when the vinyl plate is cut by the cutter head, there is some loss and gain in the detail/fidelity but also it is now a continuous format. The cartridge is a dynamo that will reinterpret the music. Think of redrawing something rather than scanning something.
When you play vinyl it's sort of an original performance each time, isn't it?
No more so than with CD. You think its the same only because you think. Because if you listen you will find it is not. Running a demagnetizer over the CD before playing, for example, it will sound a lot better. But only for a while. Within several minutes the effect, whatever it is, dissipates. Probably static but whatever, that is not the point. The point is you think its always the same simply because its digital. Two things wrong with that. First, its not digital.
And second its not the same.
That’s not me theorizing and pontificating. That’s me listening and reporting. At the time I discovered the demag trick I mentioned it to a friend and he noticed the same thing once he paid attention and listened for it.
This question of yours it seems to me it strikes you as somehow new and original. Its an original performance each night. Every single night when I turn my system on it first goes through changes as it warms up. Then even after the amp is warmed up when I start playing a record same thing happens with the cartridge and phono stage. Then even once those all get warmed up and fairly stabilized the entire system continues to improve. Which at this point the rate of change slows to where its hard to determine whether its the system improving or the power supply. Because listening late into the night it just gets better and better.... until dawn is approaching and then its getting worse again. Which it could be the system is continuing to improve (likely), but not by as much as the power is getting worse. Or it could be the system stopped improving (unlikely, this takes more than 24 hours) and now the power is getting worse.
A couple salient points to keep in mind then. One, nothing is ever twice the same. And two, you can hear it. Well, technically I can hear it. We don’t know about you. And three, CD or LP, arbitrary choice. Same is true for the phono stage, amp, speakers, wires, outlets. Your choosing LP and CD is totally arbitrary. Its the same for everything.
When I go to the modern day stores that happen to sell records ie Newbury comics....I go straight for the used record section. In my experience most if not all the newly released lp’s sound like crap....if I can find a nice used record that appeared to have been well cared for then that’s what I come away with at end of day, plus I still have some cash for lunch.....😁👍....as far as CD'd go, I still collect them as well. To me, some sound fantastic ie Norah Jones come away with me....and some just sound aweful...bright, overbearing, unnatural etc etc....there is something magical when it all comes together, and for me that mostly only occurs via playing a true analog lp. As the guy from better records says, pure tubey magic...or something to that effect... lol.
Yes I suppose nothing is ever the exactly the same twice if you drill down deep enough. BTW, I have nothing against digital...I enjoy both. But I, like a lot of people, do think vinyl is more musical (and magical). I think the best form of digital will be outdone by the best form of analog any day because there's less 'there' there. It has survived the reel-to-reel, cassette tapes, 8-tracks, CD, every kind of current digital format for a good reason.
S to N changes as much as power quality over nite, unless you live far far away from an urban or flight path
again, most don’t own or use a good SPL meter to measure the noise floor over time
how many db is your fridge, heat pump, etc ?
a lot of power conditioning gets sold and it does zip to change the drone from 405 or Jets turning ....
Always a good question for the GIK guys, how do I quiet the room ?
Sandthemall, less of what? 8 tracks were certainly a huge success.