vinyl versus digital redux


Has anyone compared the sound of vinyl with the sound of digital converted from a vinyl intermediary ?

I am referring to 'rips' of vinyl made with high end, high quality vinyl playback systems, with
conversion to high resolution digital.
I find it nearly impossible to distinguish the two results.
The digital rip of a vinyl record sounds identical...or very nearly so...to direct playback of the vinyl.

If one has 'experienced' the foregoing, one might question why digital made without the intermediary of vinyl sounds so different from vinyl.   A detective story ?

We are talking about vinyl made by ADC (analog to digital conversion) of an amplified microphone signal and re-conversion to analog for output to the record cutting lathe, or from analog tape recording of an amplified microphone signal, and then....as above...via ADCl and back to analog for output to the cutting lathe.

Of course vinyl can be and is 'cut' (pressings made from 'stamper' copies the 'master' cut in lacquer) without digital intermediary.  Such practice is apparently uncommon, and ?? identified as such by the 'label' (production)

Has anyone compared vinyl and high resolution digital (downloads) albums offered by the same 'label' of the same performance ?  Granted, digital versus vinyl difference should diminish with higher digital resolution.   Sound waves are sine waves....air waves do not 'travel' in digital bits.    A digital signal cannot be more than an approximation of a sine wave, but a closer approximation as potential digital resolution (equating to bit depth times sampling frequency) increases.

If vinyl and digital well made from vinyl intermediary sound almost identical, and If vinyl and digital not made via vinyl intermediary sound quite different, what is the source of this difference ? 

Could it reside....I'll skip the sound processing stages (including RIAA equalization)...in the electro-mechanical process imparting the signal to the vinyl groove ?

Is there analogy with speaker cone material and the need for a degree of self-damping ?
Were self-damping not to some extent desirable, would not all speaker cones, from tweeter to sub-woofer, be made of materials where stiffness to weight ratio was of sole importance ?

Thanks for any comments.
seventies
Ok 

No
No
Don't know and
Yes, different materials sound different, The best has no sound at all, I haven't found that material yet, CLOSE but not perfect...

That's the reason for small planars and ribbons..

Regards
Seventies, I do this every day. My phono stage runs through an ADC into 24/192 digital to digital processor along with all other sources. You can run back and forth between the output of the phono stage and the output of the DAC and you would never know which one you were listening to. 
You can check my system out on it's page. Conversion back and forth into and out of 24/192 digital is invisible (inaudible)
Mijostyn,
Aha !, and thanks.
I assume we are 'on the same page', that transcription of an audio signal to vinyl imparts unique sonic quality, one that your high end system
duplicates by conversion of the vinyl 'signal' to high resolution digital.
So what in your opinion is the source of that quality ?

seventies
Sound waves are sine waves....air waves do not ’travel’ in digital bits. A digital signal cannot be more than an approximation of a sine wave, but a closer approximation as potential digital resolution (equating to bit depth times sampling frequency) increases.
This is a widely shared belief but it is a misnomer. Provided the signal is within bandwidth to satisfy Nyquist Theorem, the sine wave can be reproduced exactly.
Remember that Nyquist isn’t a theory - it’s a theorem.

If you can’t get your head around the math, this guy offers a pretty good visual demonstration.
mijostyn
My phono stage runs through an ADC into 24/192 digital to digital processor ... Conversion back and forth into and out of 24/192 digital is invisible (inaudible).
Like @mijostyn, I can make outstanding quality digital files from LP that I think are indistinguishable from the LP source. It requires good equipment and it’s a tedious process, but it’s do-able.


I’ve also made several digital 16/44 copies of vinyl albums. I keep it simple - each digital copy has two tracks Side A and Side B.
I do no need to have a digital recording of each track

On playback on my audio system I am unable to discern and difference between the the two sources.

My reason for doing this is so I can enjoy the digital version of the album in any other part of the house/garden on a streaming device and NOT have to setup a more elaborate solution.

I use a Behringer UCA222 - comes with Audacity software
https://www.behringer.com/product.html?modelCode=P0A31

But you will need a pre-out (or tape out) on your amp

Regards - Steve
willewonka and cleeds and others,
1. I am gratified to hear that audiophiles like yourselves with high end equipment cannot discern the difference between vinyl played 'directly' and vinyl converted to hi resolution digital....as has been my experience.
So why does vinyl sound different (I would say very different) from digital without intermediate conversion of a digital signal to vinyl ?
2. Regarding the Nyquist theorem, sampling at the 'Nyquist rate' can capture 100% of the information contained in a sine wave.
But we are talking about digital encoding of that signal, a very different matter.  With one-bit encoding, for example, DSD employs a sampling rate of 64 times the 'Nyquist' frequency, and on up to quadruple that number.
3. So why purchase a lp from, for example. Presto Classical (the British vendor) as opposed to a 24/192 version pf the same album ?
Why don't the 'labels' offer ultra  high end digital conversions of
those lp's....to DSD, DXD, your choice ?
I see huge savings in postage, storage space, and of course ease of playback.
So why ???
Regards to all, 'seventies'.
The answer is that vinyl contains euphonious distortions and artifacts that are accurately captured and passed through a hi-res digital recording. I’m saying this as someone who records vinyl to DSD128, and generally prefers these recordings to HD Tracks hi-res digital downloads of the same material.

I do differ with others insofar as my DSD128 vinyl recordings do not quite equal the vinyl source played entirely in the analog domain. But they are close enough.
@seventies - what I said was - I cannot tell the difference between the vinyl and the digital AS PLAYED & RECORDED on MY system 

Let's not forget the many nuances of musical reproduction...

From a piece of vinyl.
- the details of the master cutting and subsequent pressing
- the sound of te actual cartridge
- the mounting of the cartridge - impacts sound/tone
- VTA - Toe-up or down, changes the sound to suit a person's hearing
- the cables/connectors involved
- the phono stage

From a digital source file.
- how the data is transferred to the DAC
- the cables used
- the abilities of the DAC
- the abilities of the DAC's analogue stage

Even before you posted - I listened to an album that I have in both formats from the record company - the digital download was 16/44 
- from  a "fidelity" perspective, I could NOT hear any difference.

But that is NOT the case with ALL albums
- e.g. for some reason my Peter Gabriel album, SO, sounds much better on vinyl. Again, the cutting/pressing process may account for this.

Some Albums are exquisitely recorded in analogue and then reproduced in digital
- in this case the vinyl has 100% of the signal
- whereas the digital does not really have 100%
- doesn't it stand to reason the vinyl should sound more "complete"?

The Nyquist Rate, whilst providing significant scientific evidence as to why digital should work, does not really factor in everybody's hearing abilities.

The ear is an extremely sensitive "instrument" and is different, person to person - in some cases NOT so sensitive :-)

Also, don't forget the "romantic" allure of vinyl. The pops and crackles that add to the "charm" of older recordings

AND those readable vinyl covers
- you get great artwork, sometimes words and thoughts of the artist
- you may get them on a CD, but you need  microscope to read them
- not very "appealing".

Also, if you attend a live performance - there is crowd & venue noise, artist/band mistakes and ad-libs
- with vinyl there are the pops and crackles to add "COLOR" 
- with digital there is just "perfect music"
- which actually sounds a bit too clinical for many ears..

When I started in this hobby there was no digital
- when it came out I switched - I liked the cleaner sound
- my vinyl rig was not very good and the CD player was much better than the TT
- then I started to improve the analogue rig

Today - I can listen to either - if not for the pops and crackles, they both [provide about the same level of "fidelity" and enjoyment

My older pressings - going back to around 1954 will always sound better on vinyl - complete with pops and crackles.

The newer albums sound great in digital - better dynamics and imaging

The ones in between? - depends on MY mood and whether there is a a glass of scotch in play :-)

One album I have is Annie Lennox singing some oldies
- it has some pops and crackles and it adds to the charm.
- It definitely would NOT sound as nice in digital
- this is album I recorded WITH pops and crackles, as mentioned above
- sounds great anywhere I play it.

No real answer to your post, but hopefully some insight into the more  "human" side of vinyl

Regards - Steve 






Given all the effort involved to make and sequence a recording of an LP, it's worth the added step to first clean the LP and get rid of as many of those clicks and pops as possible.  For me that means ultrasonic cleaning followed by a VPI 16.5.
I have many red-book cd duplicates of my vinyl records. I like to think that my vinyl set-up is pretty good (TNT, all tube phono pre). Generally the digitals can sound as good as the vinyls, but without the usual vinyl artifacts of noise and inner groove distortion. Occasionally the vinyls sound better where sufficient care seems not to have been made in the digital mastering. Given the variations in analog pressings, the digital often has better SQ. It took me some years and some $$ to come to this conclusion. Also, I don’t think it requires better than red-book digital to do as well as vinyl as LPs, generally, do not exceed red-book specs.

IMO the reason that some believe that the digital cannot be as good as the vinyl is that they have expensive vinyl set-ups and think that by buying a DAC with the right chip they are doing justice to digital. Fact is, you have to spend a good bit of cash and take considerable care to know how well digital can do. A bit is not a bit is not a bit.

In digital I think of the bit delivery system, that is what comes before the DAC, as the digital turntable and cartridge. As with analog, it needs to be done well for if it is lost there it can never be recovered. All bits are not equal. I think of the DAC as the phono pre which can only do as well as what its input is. As with a pre, simply putting out an analog signal does not necessarily make for a great pre.

Without reading through your entire post, I can tell you that with the right equipment, there is positively, absolutely, no difference in the sound of vinyl being played on your TT, and vinyl that has been ripped to your PC that is being played back.

Some years ago, this debate was raging, and what I just stated was concluded. But you have to have the right equipment.

Not favoring analog or digital, I listened to the PC people and the digital people, as well as "Stereophile", and I got it right. Everyday I listen to my vinyl that has been ripped to PC, with the confidence that it is no difference from listening to my TT through my analog rig.

As a matter of fact, when I upgrade my cartridge, or anything else, I have to do the recording process all over if I want to enjoy the upgrade.


I hope this answers your question.
Dgarretson, willewonka and others...
I cannot disagree with your last posts.
So....if for whatever reason vinyl offers euphonic sound reproduction that is preserved on highly competent transfer from vinyl to digital format, how might we as audiophiles enjoy the convenience and cost savings of vinyl sound without vinyl ?
One method, already mentioned, is to induce a 'label' to digitally transcribe into high resolution digital their vinyl offerings....whether or not the 'offerings' were 'cut' from sound wave to tape to acetate or from sound wave to digital to acetate.
This may be cost-effective for the listener, but can it be profitable for the studio ?
Another method is to transcribe to digital from the acetate template, whether or not the template is 'cut'...."ditto"....without the intermediary of the metal 'stamper' and of vinyl
Acetate will, apparently, hold up for a few dozen playbacks via phonograph cartridge.
Playback from acetate has been done.  Does it sound the same as vinyl made via the intermediary of a 'stamper'...a metal plated inverse copy of the lacquer master ?
Note that conversion from acetate to digital is not what has been merchandized as 'direct to disk' recording, where tape and digital intermediaries are bypassed, and with them editing capability.
Again, a fun subject.
More thoughts ?


"how might we as audiophiles enjoy the convenience and cost savings of vinyl sound without vinyl ?


Short answer; vinyl is cheap as it gets.


Long answer to vinyl without vinyl; you could download master tapes to your PC, that would require pockets deeper than a country well, but it would be even better.

Someone asked an extremely dumb question on the internet "Why do records sound better"?


Back in the day, my record player cost $200, plus $150 for the Shure cartridge, and that was quite common, When CD came along, it sounded much better, which is why everybody went to CD.


People who had "high end" analog rigs said hold on a minute. We "commoners" didn't even know about high end analog rigs. Now to the bottom line, analog sounds better if, and only if, you have a high end analog rig; there is no mystery to that, the bottom line is MONEY.
Seventies, Vinyl adds euphoric distortions that digital conversion has no problem capturing. I will even make digital recordings of two cartridges reading the same record for comparison's sake. 
If I played a 24/192 digital file of my turntable playing whatever, any experienced audiophile would think he was listening directly to the turntable. 
You are absolutely correct.
mijostyn
Vinyl adds euphoric distortions that digital conversion has no problem capturing.
Wow, if you’re experiencing euphoric distortion, you must be smoking something. Perhaps you mean euphonic. No matter. Distortion has nothing inherently to do with it.

There are many explanations for why an LP might sound better than its digital equivalent (or vice versa), including different mastering. The simple answer is that when the LP sounds better, it can be faithfully transferred to digital.

Just recently, I upgraded my analog rig; I bought NOS tubes for the phono, and a new more expensive cartridge. In order to enjoy these upgrades without futzing with the TT and record each time I wanted to enjoy this improvement; I downloaded to the PC (for the third time)

Presently, I'm enjoying the incredible improvement in nuance these improvements have made. (when "nuance" is improved, so is everything else)
@seventies - WRT...
One method, already mentioned, is to induce a 'label' to digitally transcribe into high resolution digital their vinyl offerings....whether or not the 'offerings' were 'cut' from sound wave to tape to acetate or from sound wave to digital to acetate.
This may be cost-effective for the listener, but can it be profitable for the studio ?
I believe it is profitable - here are a couple of examples that I know of...

Take a look at the Jeton Audiophile Legends albums - on one album I have, they reproduced tracks from Jeton direct to disc masters via a Clearaudio Master Reference turntable.
- I have one album by Acker Bilk on vinyl that was created by playing and recording direct to disk archive copies of tracks, but I am not sure if this is their standard production method

I believe Audiophile Legends markets both vinyl and digital formats, so the digital formats may well offer what you are seeking.

Considering the effort they go to - their albums are reasonably priced

Another company that offers superbly recorded analogue masters is Tacet. They do offer both digital and vinyl formats. They are a "little anal" about the process of recording, most everything they do goes onto analogue tape

Unfortunately on many of the vinyl pressings I own, whilst providing excellent sound quality, they do suffer from "ghosting" - where the groove  following the groove currently being played can be heard due to distortions introduced by the cutting head. This is only an issue where the currently played groove is a quiet passage and the following groove is much louder.

I thought it strange that they went to such lengths during the recording of the music and then did not follow through with the vinyl format by using more space between the grooves on the master.

So in this case - the digital format would actually sound better than the vinyl 

In both cases - the process is very specialized and driven by people with "audiophile tendencies" - but the more mainstream labels these days use a digital masters, so they would see no "value" in such processes. 

Regards - Steve


Thank you cleeds. But euphonic would mean "true sound" which it is not.
There are a host of distortions that are inherent in the analog process that are not present in digital. This is easy to demonstrate playing exactly the same master of Dylan's Desire in 24/192 digital download and 45 rpm analog at the same time, in sync so you can switch back and forth between the two. The digital has a wider dynamic range as you would expect and is more detailed. You can hear this particularly in the violin. In spite of this every last person I have done this for prefers the vinyl. The violin's details are rounded over giving a smoother presentation. The music and Dylan's voice are recessed, farther away giving one a sense of the third dimension where as the Digital is up front. Having said all this it is impossible to blind this experiment because the vinyl has occasional tics on the quiet parts that can not be hidden. But I would bet that played apart people would have a harder time deciding on a preference. 
Nelson Pass admits adding harmonic distortion to his amps because it makes audiophiles happier. Certainly a preference can be based on different masters but this may not be just a digital to analog comparison. I have all the original Roxy Music Albums and just got the remastered box set. The remasters are so much better that people who never liked Roxy 
are now collecting their music (two friends of mine). If you were to compare these new masters in digital to the old vinyl there would be no competition. I have many digital remasters that are superior to the original vinyl. Led Zeppelin One is a good example another would be Bowie's Aladdin Sane. 
mijostyn
Thank you cleeds. But euphonic would mean "true sound" which it is not.
The definition of euphonic is "pleasing to the ear" not "true sound." In fact, euphonic reflects a deviation from accuracy. I’m not sure why you seek to apply your own, conflicting definition to such a simple word.
There are a host of distortions that are inherent in the analog process that are not present in digital.
Of course. That’s why digital was invented. It’s also true that many of those inherent analog distortions can be reduced to levels that can be below audibility, just as the potentially superior specs of digital don’t always yield a better sounding result.
This is easy to demonstrate playing exactly the same master of Dylan’s Desire in 24/192 digital download and 45 rpm analog at the same time, in sync so you can switch back and forth between the two. The digital has a wider dynamic range as you would expect and is more detailed. You can hear this particularly in the violin. In spite of this every last person I have done this for prefers the vinyl.
If the digital has a wider dynamic range than the LP, then it’s most likely the two are not cut from the same exact master. The digital recording may have wider DR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the higher quality transfer, especially if it was made from an old master and you’re comparing it to something like an original pressing or early Mo-Fi release. So this test of yours proves nothing by itself.

In any event, I’ve done similar comparisons with similar results, but also find that sometimes the digital version sounds better. And that’s the point: Sometimes, the best available version of a recording is on LP, and sometimes it’s on digital.

The Mercury Living Presence LPs are good examples of this - the best version is always one of the early LPs. Although a lot of effort went in to the digital transfers, the original master tapes have aged to the point that they just can’t compete with the sonics of the LPs.

And returning to the thread topic - it is possible to make digital transfers of those old Mercury LPs that are indistinguishable from the LP itself. On this, @mijostyn, we seem to agree.


Steve and cleeds and others,

So studios do sell digital 'copies' of vinyl sources.

Do you agree that the audio result of initial digital recording, tape recording, and 'direct to disc' analog recording (via vinyl lathe cutting or lacquer to 'stamper' to vinyl) is distinct (and to many 'euphonic') so long as the music is played back from vinyl, whether or not that analog playback signal is converted to hi resolution digital ? 
If so, returning to the start of this 'thread', what imbues 'vinyl' with that sonic characteristic ?

I suspect by the process of elimination....which contributors to this thread greatly aided....that it is the electro-mechanical disc cutting and disc reading process, to which RIAA equalization is integral.
Is it the electro-mechanical cutting process ? Is it the electro-mechanical reading process ?  These cannot be separated.

The result of those two electro-mechanical processes can as you affirmed be rendered digitally and as such "indistinguishable from the lp source".

So why bother with lp's, turntables, cartridges and phono pre-amps ? Why not await more from companies like Jeton Audiophile Legends ?

One may, of course, wish to digitize an lp collection.  One may even feel that high frequencies (in particular) are far better preserved on lp's made 3 to 5 decades ago than on 'master tapes' of the same performances.

Respondents to this thread appreciate that such 'lp rips' must be done very well...or not done at all.

Again thanks
seventies
Do you agree that the audio result of initial digital recording, tape recording, and 'direct to disc' analog recording (via vinyl lathe cutting or lacquer to 'stamper' to vinyl) is distinct (and to many 'euphonic') so long as the music is played back from vinyl, whether or not that analog playback signal is converted to hi resolution digital ?
No, I don't. The very best quality LP playback is very, very close to the best quality digital playback.

Of course, some people like LP distortion and will go out of their way to maximize it. They'll use warm-sounding phono cartridges, tube phono sections with gobs of distortion and their alignment geometry will often be out of spec. But they like the euphonic result, which is fine. But that's not my approach - I want sound as close to neutral as I can get, regardless of the source. I want whatever distortion is inherent to be as little as possible.
Cleeds,
I'm not sure we're on different pages.
I am not talking about 'quality' connoting 'accuracy' of reproduction of a performance.
I am talking about a sonic characteristic, a sonic 'signature' if you wish, which is achieved only through the intermediary of vinyl.
Once that cutting to/reading from vinyl is accomplished the analog result can be converted to digital with preservation of that characteristic.
Were the case otherwise, why would one chose 'vinyl' or digitized playback from vinyl over high resolution digital recordings processed without intervention of vinyl ?
Cleeds there is additional dynamic compression that takes place during the process of cutting a record. The noise floor of digital is much lower.
As far as accuracy and low distortion is concerned high resolution digital is far superior. This does not mean that it sounds better in all cases.
I was discussing one particular case in direct comparison. Unless you have done the same thing you are making assumptions and in reality have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Your latin is also a bit rusty. You can criticize me all you want. Have fun.  
seventies
I’m not sure we’re on different pages ... I am talking about a sonic characteristic, a sonic ’signature’ if you wish, which is achieved only through the intermediary of vinyl.
That’s where we disagree. I don’t think vinyl has any such inherent magic, special sonic signature.
Cleeds,

My intent in this thread was to ascertain and discuss the validity of vinyl sound achieved without vinyl.
Increased measurable distortion and decreased dynamic range inherent in vinyl playback are, I believe, hard to dispute.
Various explanations have been offered as to why some prefer the sound of playback from vinyl.
I had no intent of adding to those explanations.
If for you, Cleeds, high quality (with all that implies) music reproduction with and reproduction without intermediary of vinyl are indistinguishable or nearly so, "read no further".... 
If, conversely, they are quite DISTINGUISHABLE, and if high quality digital reproduction of vinyl playback is sonically INDISTINGUISHABLE from direct vinyl playback, why not let music companies do the playback, purchase the digital result, and sidestep the expense and hassle of direct vinyl playback ?
This approach risks financial compromise of the resurgent vinyl production and home vinyl playback components of the music reproduction industry.
May I quite genuinely ask if you or other readers of this 'thread' are aware of letters to audiophile magazines or websites voicing similar thoughts ?
I appreciate your input and your helping me to verbalize these ideas.
Seventies 
@seventies - what appears to be something that may be "quite achievable", certainly from a technical perspective
- I think that it would be a considerable undertaking for any record label to setup yet another "stream" of source material to package and store (if on CD), distribute and market.

And that’s before you factor in which sample rates to provide

So what appears to be a relatively simple undertaking, may actually may turn out to be something few labels would even consider.

Generally - Record Exec’s are there to make money - fast!
- and today, spinning of a vinyl stream of business from a digital source is relatively easy

Spinning off a digital source from a vinyl replay would probably be considered as - NOT required, NOT profitable or even sensible, by those same Record Exec’s - just to cater to "a few" audiophiles

Jeton is a very specialized company and provide highly specialized product to a select few - not the mode of operation of your more normal record companies

High-res digital audio, well above 24/192, is readily available from many sites and the trend will continue to even higher rates. But even so, the companies thqt offer high res digital are not so "mainstream" - I'm thinking apple here :-)

I think higher-res digital may probably satisfy the vast majority of audiophiles

I also think for the "kids of today" the more recent "allure of vinyl" has far more to do with it being unique, as opposed to sounding superior
- they just like to have something different to show off to their friends
- they also like those other traits of vinyl, such as the artwork and the sleeve content.
- and - most vinyl today comes with a convenient digital download - best of both worlds

At least - that is my own personal view of this particular line of thought.

Cheers - Steve

Cleeds,
With all those thoughts I largely or entirely agree.
Please let me know if you elsewhere come upon similar discussion, this being a relatively specific discussion.   There are bits and pieces, but where to find a more comprehensive review ?
Meanwhile, my 'own personal view' is focused on DXD as a PCM/DSD 'one format suits all high resolution seekers' solution.
Another topic I'm happy to discuss.
Again thanks,
'Seventies'
seventies
Increased measurable distortion and decreased dynamic range inherent in vinyl playback are, I believe, hard to dispute.
The potential dynamic range of the LP format exceeds that which most music requires. That was true even before the loudness wars, which have only further reduced dynamic range. If you have any doubts about that, check the dynamic range database.

The distortions that are inherent in LP playback can often be reduced to levels that are essentially inaudible, and that’s why sometimes the best version of a particular recording is the one from LP. At their very best, the results from LP and digital are very, very close. So your wish to obtain the quality of "vinyl playback" without using a turntable doesn’t really make any sense.

As I mentioned previously, some people enjoy the warm, euphonic, tubey distortion they can get by using sonically colored turntables, pickup arms, cartridges and phono sections. Perhaps that’s the sound you’d like to achieve using only digital playback.

There is more to vinyl than just the sound. There is the collection and handling of records. There is no way to duplicate this digitally even if you can duplicate the sound digitally. Those of you who do not think you can have obviously not tried it. Don't believe me. Michael Fremer has commented on this subject numerous times and uses the process for demonstration all the time. Personally, I do not record my records to the hard drive. It takes way to much time and effort. I'm just fine with playing my records the old fashioned way. There is a mystique in the process. Watching the record spin in wonder that such a crude process could sound so good. 
Buy the way Cleeds, all vinyl playback systems are sonically colored and euphORic. Reality is sometimes a hard pill tp swallow. 
I disagree with the basic premise of this thread.

First, I don’t agree that digital recordings of LPs sound indistinguishable from the originals in all respects.

Second, I don’t agree that the reason LPs often sound better than digital recordings is euphonic distortions or colorations.

Addressing the first point, in my experience, digital recordings of LPs can sound extremely good and can be indistinguishable from the original at a superficial level. But over the longer term the digital recording suffers from the same issues as all digital recordings - a slight sense of artificiality, a slight sense of remove from the musical event, and a sense of unease which is so slight as to be almost unfelt. These differences are not apparent on an A/B comparison, but do become apparent if listening over a longer time period. This is not to say that digital recordings of LPs (or digital recordings per se) cannot sound good or be enjoyed over the longer term; they certainly can, but it is a different experience to listening to a purely analog recording.

Second, it is true that LP playback involves many distortions and colorations, introduced by the various stages of equilization, the physical process of playback, including tracking distortions and the mechanical movement of the stylus in the groove, the and the additional gain stages (amongst others). But I believe for most listeners of high end vinyl systems, vinyl remains preferable despite these obvious issues.

The distortions in vinyl are often only too audible, and yet we tolerate them precisely because vinyl does seem to recreate something of the original performance that digital somehow does not capture. It is not that vinyl sounds better because it is adding something; it is that digital is still not yet able to reproduce something essential in the musical experience. It may be timing errors and pre or post-ringing, it may be aliasing artifacts, I don’t really know. Digital has improved remarkably over the last decade or so and is extremely good. At a superficial level it really does sound "transparent" to the source material; but at a deeper level many of us continue to have a sense that there is still something missing. And that is why we still listen to vinyl, despite its obvious limitations, distortions and colorations - we listen through these because it still captures something essential which digital has not quite been able to do yet.

If it were true that people prefer vinyl because of additive distortions and colorations, then this would be relatively easy to demonstrate. Digital recordings on LP would sound just as good as analog recordings. But they don’t. Digital recordings played back as LPs still sound digital - they still have that sense of artificiality, only with LP’s distortions added as well. And it would be possible to add LP-like distortions and colorations to digital files to make them sound like LPs. I have seen many attempts at this and they have all failed - they still just sound like bad digital recordings, and nothing like good analog playback.

If digital recordings of LPs were in fact indistinguishable from the originals, and the reason people prefer LPs is because of additive distortions, then I would agree that this would be a strong argument for the superiority of digital playback. But I do not think those premises are correct, and the reason many - though not all - discerning people with good critical listening skills and good hi fi systems prefer vinyl is the inherent limitations of digital, not the additive distortions of vinyl.
@rossb It would be helpful for you to disclose the ADC and DAC on which you base this conclusion. It's all relative to the level of equipment.
rossb
Your statement "digital recordings played back as lp's still sound digital"
is a great point for discussion.
Remember records marketed as 'digital' recordings ?  I still have a few.
I should retrieve and play them.
Meanwhile, what proportion of newly produced lp's are made without intervention of digital....from tape I presume ?
All answers appreciated.
rossb,  I hate to tell you this, but vinyl sounds artificial too.  Anyone can tell the difference between a vinyl record playing in the room and people performing in the room.

You like vinyl and that's great, but it's just a substitute for the real thing.  When we get to the point where you can't tell the difference between a live performance and a reproduction someday, it will be digital or some not yet developed form of information storage and playback.
To the above, that is correct, any form of recorded music is, recorded. It is not live, and has whatever coloration the recording may add. However, if a live show was recorded flat, no EQ, or any other fix, effect etc... IMO that recording would sound better on vinyl vs. digital. Perhaps it is a personal preference, but I too think vinyl has the edge on SQ over digital. 
Post removed 
Just recently on another Forum I visit but am not a Member.
There has been Needle Drops carried out to present a Vinyl System with a Particular Device added.

There was a suggestion made on how to listen to the needle drops using a Digital Set Up, and a few who followed the information were quite impressed with what they were perceiving.

To get this correct does seems to make sense as a Cartridge today is quite a expensive consumable and if a Digital Recording of any Vinyl Album can satisfy a owner/user, and be used as a Substitute for the Vinyl, then the Cartridge might get used a little less and lengthen it usable life.

Removing the TT Set Up from the equation and a DAC,
what is the projected outlay to acquire the Devices required to produce a Recording of a Analogue to Digital Conversion.

   
mijostyn
There is more to vinyl than just the sound. There is the collection and handling of records. There is no way to duplicate this digitally even if you can duplicate the sound digitally. Those of you who do not think you can have obviously not tried it. Don’t believe me. Michael Fremer has commented on this subject numerous times and uses the process for demonstration all the time.
Some will disagree, but not me. It is incredible how digital can capture the sound of an LP, especially if you’re not confined to 16/44.1
Personally, I do not record my records to the hard drive. It takes way to much time and effort. I’m just fine with playing my records the old fashioned way.
Same here - it’s tedious process to dub an LP to digital. I have done it with just a handful of exceptional or rare recordings that I also wanted to be able to have in a digital playlist but otherwise, when I want to play an LP, I just play an LP.
Buy the way Cleeds, all vinyl playback systems are sonically colored and euphORic. Reality is sometimes a hard pill tp swallow.
I am sorry if reality is so difficult for you to accept that you seek relief through euphoria. I hope it is not drug-induced, because that’s a slippery slope.

Here is the definition of euphoria:
yoo-fawr-ee-uh, -fohr- noun 1. A state of intense happiness and self-confidence: She was flooded with euphoria as she went to the podium to receive her Student Research Award.Psychology.
2. a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.
(Obviously, your inanimate turntable cannot have, "A state of intense happiness and self-confidence.")
@rossb,

I agree with your first point.  I take it as a given that subjecting a signal to yet another process, especially in the home environment, would necessarily degrade it tp some extent.  It may sound superficially unchanged, but in the low level and spatial details that we, audiophiles, crave it will change IMO.

I do disagree with your second point.  HW of VPI measures the success of his TTs by how close their sound comes to master tapes.  Any difference has to be called distortion, whether by having the tape altered so that it is ready for the cutting process, or by all the cutting plating and duplication implicit in the disk production process.  

Consider the difference between an analog master tape and the first disk to come out of production (and they deteriorate as production continues) played on an excellent set-up.  Consider also the difference between that master tape and a digital copy made by the best available professional ADC equipment and played back on an excellent set-up.  I's only a surmise but I suspect the digital copy would be "virtually" indistinguishable from the original.  The vinyl would be fairly easy to distinguish; I'm not saying which would be "better."

I have a pretty good analog set-up and am building a good digital one.  Lots of learning here, especially about what comes before the DAC.  I like them both though it is hard to argue with the ease of dealing with the digital.  I just press an icon on my phone to hear anything in my digital collection.  It may be strange, compared to what I have written, but I tend to judge changes in my digital set-up to my analog sound.--specially spatial things.  Of course, some digital sounds DIGITAL.  And some analog sounds lousy.  But some digital stereo sounds as good as anything.  At the moment I am thinking of new Shostakovich/Nelsons recordings.  But some old old, originally analog, recordings (RCA, Decca for ex.) sound just great and no worse than the original disks that I have--some really better.

So at the moment I do not prefer one medium over the other (convenience notwithstanding).  Just my $.02.
I am just some random dude on the web, so I would not expect anyone to take my word as gospel, but like the person I link to, the concepts are familiar.

Nothing like my first post to jump into the fire.

It is easy to dismiss out of hand that one does not agree with the premise that records cannot be digitized and played back with no detectable degradation. However, if the difference cannot be discerned then it does not exist. Claiming it is something that can be felt over time sounds nice, but it has never been the case where extended listening increased the chance of noticing a change. I don’t think anyone can provide any evidence to support that. There is evidence of the opposite.


It is hard to let go of emotional attachment. Turntables are cool. Streaming is not cool. My turntable is art, it is engineering, it is freaken cool. I am under no illusions it is accurate and having heard what comes directly from a microphone, what goes into a digitization system and out, and what comes via vinyl on great systems, I say that confidently.
But listening to music is not about accuracy for most, it is about what you like. While I understand the psychology to elevate what you like to being somehow better, is it helpful when you are out for the best sound for you, and you personally?

So that link, from an extended colleague, Dave McNair. You may not like or believe what he says, but it is in my experience accurate.
https://parttimeaudiophile.com/2020/10/17/hi-fi-why-do-records-sound-better-the-ivory-tower/

Without applying DSP, I find I usually prefer a rock or pop studio release better on vinyl. Orchestra I usually prefer a good quality digital. Small venue recordings is a mix but usually I lean towards digital if the background is quiet and the processing is minimal.

Ifyou are recording and playing back your vinyl with digital, be very careful with your DAC. Expensive does not mean better for this use case. A DAC designed for accuracy (Benchmark) may outperform a euphonic DAC like MSB, and unless you are sampling at a high rate, a non oversampling DAC would be a poor choice as you would be stacking colorations. Then again, you may like it, but if you already love your vinyl setup, then go for an accurate DAC.

Benchmark also makes the best vinyl transfer to digital, on your hard-drive.

Presently I'm working on my third time down-loading my vinyl to hard-drive. After purchasing a more expensive cartridge and NOS tubes for the phono-pre, in order to enjoy the improvements on playback from the computer, this has to be done.

It wasn't easy to get identical results from just spinning a record and computer playback, but many of us have it.

The advantages are many; I can program my play-list and listen all night long in the bedroom rig without getting out of bed.

My old records are clean and like new because I seldom handle them.

I think you enjoy records more when you program the playlist for mood, and select LP's that generate that mood.


Enjoy the music.
Gentlemen, as the dust settles and more information, some recently 'published' as in 'Positive Feedback', becomes available, I find it hard to dispute that:

1. Analog tape is 'gone' save for a few 'boutique' studios.
2. Almost all digital and vinyl commercial recordings are made from digital encoding and recording of  the analog audio signal.
3. The 'magic'....if there is such magic...of vinyl resides in the electro-mechanical 'cutting' and replaying process, and this characteristic is reproducible by high resolution digitalization of vinyl playback.

As digital technology advances the foregoing comments become moot.
With availability of quad DSD, 'DXD' or still higher resolution, record players will go the way of Edison devices. 

'Meanwhile', I suspect that 'vintage' LP's retain sonic information, particularly high frequency information, longer and better than audio tape, which is subject to different forms of time-related degradation.

That may be the best reason to hold on to those expensive record players.

Seventies, no argument from me except there is something special about the LP. Somehow it blends with the human psyche. I do not think it will disappear so fast. Eventually maybe as supplies of oil dry up.
Cleeds, that is exactly what I mean and my point. Vinyl is like cat nip. We are drawn to it for reasons that go beyond just the sound.. There is something about digital that disturbs the minds of many of us and it is not the sound as that can be excellent. There are several here that have expressed a hatred of digital that is unfounded. Why? What is it about the format that bothers them. They will say that it sounds bad but that is not the reason unless they truly have not been exposed to the better digital sources. All modern music is captured as digital files. I guess if they don't see it or rather hear it directly it does not matter? As long as it finishes up on vinyl? 
@seventies, this topic has been beat to death over the years; many claiming digital is more pure than analogue and analogue has so many colorations that don't exist in digital. If you are simply ripping your LPs for ease of use, that is one thing. But if you really get serious with this you need to consider using a master clock.

24/96 files with a master clock sound much better than 24/192 files w/o a master clock.

and 24 / 192 files with a master clock begin to sound more like high speed analog tape.

so while both formats have their advantages and drawbacks, digital does not out do real analogue....

Although it's been stated a dozen times, some people don't believe it because they have not, or can not achieve it. That is, duplication of a vinyl LP to the hard-drive on a computer to the extent that even the most devoted vinyl enthusiast can not tell the difference between the computer playback and the record being played on the turntable.

Some years ago, when this argument was raging, they (analogers) said it couldn't be done. The PC and the digital people said it could. I knew very little about PC at that time so I listened. There are cards that you have to change in your computer, plus have the proper analog to digital conversion equipment that's compatible with your computer. "Benchmark" came out with the conversion unit. (There was none available when I began, so I had to buy one of lesser than audiophile quality and rebuild it, I'm an electronics technician)

I'm not sure if you can purchase the Benchmark new any more because I think they quit making it. But no one is saying the LP is not special; I am saying that I capture every nuance that it delivers, and enjoy the exquisite sound of each LP on my computer play-back.





Guys,
Thanks to all.
For me, certainly, a learning experience.
I do find high end playback of vinyl made from analog tape preferable to16/44.1 versions of the same albums, to high definition tape transfer of old master tapes, and to  'remastered' (hiss filtering with treble augmentation) analog tape recordings, but not to high definition digitally recorded music.
Digitalization of those voluminous lp collections is, if the sonic result is to approximate direct lp playback, tedious, time consuming, and demands (as in part johnss mentioned) expensive equipment.
I would like to see 'labels' offer high end' digital conversions of 'master' vinyl pressings as opposed to the tape transfers they sometimes market without stating the source of such offerings.
Do some offer digitalization of sometimes 'historic' vinyl pressings, perhaps 'master pressings' made at the outset of the commercialization of a performance  ? 
Hm. One thing I don't see mentioned here is the issue of bandwidth. Any LP made since the dawn of the stereo era (1958) has potential bandwidth to over 40KHz. Bandwidth during playback has been in that realm for a while too- most phono preamps have bandwidth on the RIAA de-emphasis curve that goes well beyond 20KHz! We spec ours to 100KHz. Most phono cartridges made since about 1970 or so have no worries going to 40KHz and MC cartridges can go much higher. In a nutshell the LP is apparently the widest bandwidth format available.


Now I know there isn't anything up there but probably noise and distortion. But there is also the issue of phase shift, and that is interpreted by the ear as a tonality. Phase shift exists whenever there is a filter; over the broadest spectrum if 6db per octave (going to 10x or 1/10 the frequency of the cutoff, depending on whether its a low frequency or high frequency cutoff) and less spectrum with increasing orders, although more phase shift as you approach the cutoff frequency.


I notice the difference between analog and digital right away; so does my girlfriend; its not hard to hear. I've not done research but I suspect that bandwidth thing has been ignored in this ongoing...  - thing.



A master clock only attempts to compensate for design deficiencies that may exist in a playback system. With USB DACs or networked DACs, and half decent electronics, there is little requirement for them in most cases.

Analog tape is not a panacea. Just like vinyl, it significantly colors the sound.I think part of the problem is that even though so many audiophile talk about "real" or "natural" sound, very few have heard what most instruments sound like not when not colored by the environment, absent of the influence of other instruments, when recorded closely, etc. Even musicians who play regularly are sometimes surprised to hear how they sound recorded. Live orchestra is heavily influenced by seating position and hall design and mood. Perhaps what most audiophiles, most of who are older, consider natural or realistic, is not natural or realistic, but familiar?

A nice discussion of tape, and tape plug ins for digital work flows that emulate tape sound:https://www.uaudio.com/blog/analog-tape-recording-basics/

Most digital is oversampled on recording and upsampled on playback. Phase shift will be minimal in the audio band and much less than vinyl. Historically magnetic tape either had bandwidth on the top end or bass on the bottom end. Those classic vinyl releases off analog tape were based on a source with limited bandwidth themselves no matter what a playback system was capable. If people could hear anything past 20Khz, I suspect poor channel matching in vinyl setups would drive them batty.  I notice the difference too between analog sources and digital. One done in a reasonable fashion sounds exactly what is coming off the microphones. One does not.
i have never, even on megabuck equipment, heard the best specimen LPs sound subjectively and objectively "better" [less distorted/changed greater dynamic and frequency range], than i have on the best digital. that said, i've heard lots of bad digital. and lots more of bad analog. furthermore i never understood how some reviewers of Lp recordings can describe "silent surfaces" as i ALWAYS hear some surface noise even on a virgin pressing.