Good question. And if digital, are they using hi-res digital formats or plain old CD format?
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I have to think that the new LPs are digital,since most of them are also available on CD.Verve comes to mind. I guess we should be grateful ANY new LPs being made and should pony up to their absurd prices.
As I have said in other forums:perhaps since vinyl is the only format in the music business that is showing GROWTH,the big labels will jump into the fray.This should drive the prices down with higher production runs. There will always be audiophile labels for short run projects.
" I have several digitally-mastered albums that are almost inextinguishable from the redbook version played on a very good DAC."
Those must be the ones that are not warped and do not have a lot of surface noise that many new record buyers these days seem to complain about.
So what % of new issue LPs clearly sound BETTER than good CD re-masterings I wonder?
Before one gets too crazy about revisiting past vinyl glories with new record purchases you must realize that things behind the scenes during production have changed, for better or for worse, even if the resulting end format (33 1/3 LP) is the same.
I have compared several cds to their vinyl counterparts and have always found the vinyl to be more enjoyable.I say this with a huge disclaimer that I am very much a vinyl fan.
Recently I had a friend over that listens to music on his deck through Bose outdoor speakers.He really liked my system but when I told him how the analog rig sounded much better than my digital,he was in disbelief.
I than played Joni Mitchell "Hejira" cd and then the LP.He was immediately sold by the first cut.This is a fairly revealing disc (the CD is a HDCD).highly recommended.
"As I have said in other forums:perhaps since vinyl is the only format in the music business that is showing GROWTH,the big labels will jump into the fray.
Not only do I doubt it, but I seriously hope it does not happen because the result will only be higher prices and more profit for the vendors for a product that is not reliably better sounding and also less user friendly in many ways.
I'd rather see the industry continue to move forward with digital as it undoubtedly will but deliver the media in a larger, more user friendly package, similar to 33/3 LP covers and packaging. That would truly be the best of both worlds for me in most cases.
"Those must be the ones that are not warped and do not have a lot of surface noise that many new record buyers these days seem to complain about."
Some new vinyl does have that problem. For example, spent $50 on a great Ray Brown 45 recently, did not notice till I opened it after several weeks that one side of record one is 1/4" higher than the other. Amazing part is it still sounds great.
One example off the top of my head of something digitally mastered that sounds like CD is Tigerlily (Merchant).
(I am assuming it was digitally mastered - if not I am going to look stupid.)
Both versions sound quite good but I am hard-pressed to prefer the vinyl.
I compared both formats since 1993 and for me Vinyl is simply the better one. Unfortunately much more expensive than Digital, but the gear holds the price (more or less). I reduced buying vinyl when I noticed that it was made from Digital Master more and more. Sometimes they sound good, but only sometimes. Here I bought the CD. But I stopped that, too.
The music industry never made something which was better, they always made something which was cheaper. See CD Mastering the last years, it went worse, Standard is probably MP3 etc. Their main problem is "illegal" download and that music became worthless as a result.
Vinyl can't be copied, when it is sold, it is done and better a few (thousand) than nothing but illegal copies or downloads. Does it mean, that we will get better vinyl or better Mastering when "they" produce more records?
I seriously doubt, all Know-How from earlier years is gone, the hardware is sold or destroyed. "They" will look for someone who can do it for them and for what price. The Industry lost a lot of money in the last years, they will be very careful with expensive (high quality) investments.
Many new LP releases are made entirely in the analog domain, and clearly state so. For example, all the new Music Matters Blue Note reissues, many of which I have found sublime, are completely analog. I even spoke with Kevin Gray, one of the mastering engineers on this project, about sneaking in digital technologies and he shuddered at the thought of introducing any digitization into their process. The results shine through, in my opinion.
Most people can easily tell if the master used is analog. Rarely is it not better then the digital production that was used to create the cd. A great example of this is Steve Hoffman's mastering from the analog masters of Eva Cassidy's Songbird lp. It blows away the CD versions. I have many analogue reel to reel tapes, most done at 7.5 ips. Some of these are the Barclay-Crocker product done from second geration master tapes, which provides a professionally duplicating process. I've compared a few to the CD issue. Analogue rules. So, if an analogue master is avaiable, and put in the hands of a master like Steve, it is the best of the best.
To directly answer your question, most new LPs are made from digital masters. I'm talking specifically about new releases. Not new vinyl releases of old material.
In most cases, the vinyl will still sound better because the digital masters are likely hi-rez digital. To produce CDs, the hi-rez digital must be down-converted to 16bit/44.1khz which is where the big loss of fidelity occurs. This process obviously doesn't occur when mastering for vinyl. (Or I should say it SHOULDN'T occur... Remember the Norah Jones album whose SACD and Vinyl versions were cut from the 16/44.1 CD master? Oops.)
It's not uncommon during the vinyl master cutting session for there to be an analog to digital and back to analog conversion stage. This conversion is not really necessary, but many mastering houses use it to add a delay to monitor the input signal in order to prevent cutting head overload and to maintain proper groove spacing.
"Sounds like the vinyl would still have higher fidelity over the cd's in most cases."
I have not drawn that conclusion yet in regards to new vinyl. The vinyl format is capable of higher fidelity perhaps, but the question is how often it is actually accomplished, especially when digital is involved in the mastering process anyhow.
Agreed that higher res digital mastering can be very good and could be preserved to the vinyl better than redbook CD format allows, but is it and how often?
I've heard too many stories on this sight about bad quality of new records to feel inclined to test the waters in general unless I know up front that the product I am purchasing at a premium is superior to the alternatives.
Also, I find the overall quality of CD recordings these days to be much better than many vinyl enthusiasts tend to give credit for. CDs are not perfect either though, so I know that the format alone does not always determine overall sound quality or value in any specific case.
You are correct that we vinyl enthusiasts are a little harsh on CD. It's payback for CD being so harsh on our ears for 20 years, I guess.
I think I never forgave the record industry for forcing CD down our ears and having the nerve to tell us it was "perfect sound forever" when, in fact, the sound was awful and CDs scratch just as easy (if not easier) than records.
CD quality has improved markedly since 1982. Some LP's that I buy contain a the CD of that recording. In many cases, the difference between LP and CD is quite small. Usually the difference is most apparent in the bass. With bass, the CD will have "thwack" and the record will have "thump". Many will prefer the "thwack" as it is more exciting and attention-getting, but "thump" is really closer to what that instrument sounds like.
On "Together Through Life" by Bob Dylan, I compared the LP and CD. Very close, but while the bass sounds good on CD, on vinyl it's extremely obvious that a large, wood-bodied instrument is being played.
I have a few Clearaudio LPs from digital master, Anna Netrebko's La Traviata from Salzburg Festival and her duet album with Villazon and it sounds a bit different from my music server playback via Berkeley DAC but certainly not better.
Recently I also picked up several new Japanese Deutsche Grammaphone reissue of Karajan's old recordings such as Mozart's Requeim (Tomowa-Sintow, Baltsa etc), Brahms's Hungarian Dances etc, presumably digitally remastered (sorry I could not read Japanese) but they all sound rather dry and about the same sonic quality as many other DG digital master LP from the 80-90's :(
for me its simple the one difference between digital and analog is that the digital mastered records don't get played like my analog ones do ,(they can sound ok but)i just don't reach for them because don't feel or sound the same.
to really go out there i will say the true analog is like a finger print of the performance it hasn't been freeze dried then reconstituted like digital. in other words because it has never been taken apart you can unwind analog back to the moment.its whole.
so even for the best of the digital my head might get a hit because its so clear but it misses the heart.
if every one could hear a clean Hank Williams "moaning the blues" mono lp from the 50s and play it with a mono cart like the premium made by Miya-jima through horns this would be an non issue.
"I know for a fact that the Four Men with Beards reissues (Dusty in Memphis, Scott [Walker] 4) were made from CD-Rs (yep, 44.1/16), not from the original masters. I believe this is because it's too expensive or impossible to license use of the tapes."
Hmm, so does the vinyl still sound better than CD? Maybe there is a placebo effect!
I just got a "old Digital"pressing from 1983.I have had the CD since it came out and having just listened to the LP I can say without any doubt it blows the silver disc away.The CD can't touch the top end extension and presence.The overall decay is so much better it sounds like a different room.It takes a 4-5 sec. room and makes it 7 seconds. The bass extension is also on another plain from the CD.Organ pedal notes that are quite substantial, and the organ's tuba stop can part your hair.
This is King's College's "O Come all ye Faithful". Another very fine Christmas from Kings(they must have 20 of them over the years).It is on Argo/Digital.
The copy I got off Ebay is not in the best condition and yet I cannot even think about listening to the CD.
So I guess either some of the engineers knew what they were doing by 1983 (the first year for CDs),or they got lucky.
all this on a "very revealing" but very "budget"system with a Radio Shack TT.