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
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.