Dear @fleschler and friends: As I said almost all the gentlemans posting in this thread and overall all Agon forums and almost everywhere the internet audio forums always speaks of sound and its quality they are accustom to but almost no one speaks about MUSIC.
What mean I with that statement?, well MUSIC is percieved by us like a sound but it’s not the same speak to just " sound " that the true sound of live MUSIC at near field position experiences and with out these kind of first hand live MUSIC experiences seated at near field position we just can’t even try to compare not only digital vs analog but almost any home audio room/system issues or characteristics.
What we read at almost any audio forum from the " audiophiles " when refering of the characteristics of what they are hearing and like in their systems are adjectives that only exist in their home audio room/systems but that certainly does not belongs to the unique live MUSIC characteristics at near field at near field position.
Some of those adjectives by " audiophiles " are: swetness, delicated, rounded, softness, inner detail, depness in the soundstage, tactile, calm, peace, organic, musical, relaxed, warm, etc, etc.
If we attend to a live MUSIC event and we are seated at near field position ( say 1-3 m. from the source. ) what we can hear is: brigthness, agresiveness, thunderous, very high SPL, even some one could say: harsh and some other adjectives and things are that this kind of MUSIC sound is what the recording microphones pick-up at near field position where the mics are " seated ", some times even closer than 1m.
Ask you how many times were you stand up at 1m from a Grand piano where the player was playing at real live concert SPLs ?, the true sound of that experience tell you that you even can’t " support " to listen it maybe for more than 15 minutes and then you will get back but what if you do it not with a piano but a horn like a trumpet or a Sax alto: you will blow away in a few seconds ! ! ! !
Recording Microphones are really wide frequency range ( say from even lower than 10hz to over 60khz and support SPLs higher than 130dbs with very low distortion levels ) and way superior in many regards that our ears.
Now, if that kind of characteristics are the ones along other like the very fast transients in live MUSIC and fast harmonic developments why we " audiophiles " use other kind of vocabulary with audio systems and by " coincidence " when analog lovers ( like me that like digital too. ) talk about digital recordings the adjectives usually used are precisely the ones I named that are the ones we experienced in a near field live MUSIC events ! ! ? ? ! ! ? ?
My opinion is that not all audiophiles are true MUSIC lovers but " sound lovers ", that’s way different. If some of you never had that near field live MUSIC experiences then do not understand what I’m talking about.
What’s the main diference between live MUSIC and recorded MUSIC?, well transiente response of the notes perceived by our ears/brain/body.
In live MUSIC event at near field exist only AIR between the MUSIC source and our overall body: nothing in between that can degrades the MUSIC sound.
At near field position we listen direct sound coming from the instruments and when seated at 10-15 rows ( in a concert hall. ) that direct sound certainly is not the same because between other things the hall chairs/seats absorb or dissipates that direct sound as does the people seated at our sides, at back and in front of us. The microphones are neither affected by all those. Near field position is way different.
The recording process in analog and digital are way different as it’s too ( and even with more " dramatic "/critical differences ) during play back in our sytem listening sessions.
First recording differences comes in the low bass range where the microphones pick up a stereo signal that never chnges to mono in the digital alternative as always happens in the analog recording process.
Second difference a big one is that the analog process apply a huge equalization of around 20db over the whole frequency range between 20hz to 20khz to even the RIAA eq. curve. This just does not happens in the recording digital process.
The degradation implications in that recording RIAA eq. curve are to many between other things that not only affect note to note but the developed harmonics too.
Third difference is that in the digital recording what is recorded in the recording tape are only zeros and ones that’s way different to the analog recorded signal in the tape where that signal is always added by the frequency range limit of the tape recorder, its noise levels, its distortion levels, etc, etc. that does not exist in the digital recording process.
Fourth difference is that cutting development process to make the mother stamper ( LP grooves ) to press each copy of a LP where at each pressing single LP the next pressed one is degraded by the degradation of the used stamper. All this does not happens with the digital alternative where each single track is an original master due that what is copy are only zeros and ones each time.
But the worst degradation, I can say a " nigthmare ", for the LP recorded signal comes during the playback process that starts with the off-center LPs and surface waves and micro-waves that the cartridge/tonearm must track.
After that the LP recorded signal is added of full of noise/distorions levels at each link where it pass through the playback process: TT own kind of noise/distortions ( evrykind. ), cartridge own distortions, tonearm own developed distortions/noises including the ones coming from the tonearm internal wiring, headshell connector input and tonearm connector output and even from the phono IC cable. In the digital playback process things are different and with lot less signal degradation. Additional and due that the cartridge output is a tiny one level the signal is " open " to be degraded by noise pollution.
The " nigthmare " only began and is followed by the cartridge/tonearm alignment in pivoted tonearms where even if we made that alignment perfect ( that never is. ) always eist a developed tracking distortion levels.
After the cartridge/tonearm/alignment the LP recorded signal is almost at " random " additional degradations due that the relationship between the tonearm and the cartridge mounted on it develops many kind of distortions starting with the in between resonance frequency range that affects the recorded signal.
All those followed by the cartridge tracking abilities to follows the LP grooves modulation in accurate way that never can be achieved loosing signal information.
And that’s all?, NO because way before we can listen in the speakers the signal reproduction the cartridge signal must goes to the " signal killer " named: phono stage where the signal, sometimes, has to be amplified 8k-10K times, depending of the cartridge output level, and inside that " signal killer " the cartridge signal must pass again to the RIAA eq ( this time inverse curve. ) to achieve " flat response but here exist several problems to achieve that " flat response ":
first no single analog phono stage comes with zero db deviation in the frequency inverse RIAA eq. and due to that can’t mimic the original signal ( we loss signal information here: adding or losted. ) and second even with zero deviations in the inverse RIAA eq curve no one knows for sure if in reality can mimic with the RIAA " deviations " developed in the recording process.
Instead digital playback is almost like the direct sound in a near field position listening: starigth, with a lot less signal degradations of everykind that exist in the recording/playback analog process.
After all those no one needs to be a " genius " to attest that analog got absolutely crushed by the digital alternative. Just no contest.
I’m not a sound lover but a MUSIC lover and that’s why I like analog and digital alternatives but I know that exist no superiority in the analog alternative no matter what.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,