CD is obsolete and records are collectible. I've replaced all of my CDs by storage medias.
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Most important things:
1) good speed control - should not be an issue with most good tables but worth confirming
2) isolation from tt motor vibrations, various designs to accomplish this,
3) isolation from vibration casued by music playing, a solid/rigid foundation UNDER the table is the key
4) good match between cart compliance and tonearm. There is a lot of information available on teh internet from knowledgeable sources about how to achieve this to avoid problematic resonance frequencies.
5) would be to make sure phono amp section is well isolated from any nearby external EM fields, such as those created by motors or transformers in nearby appliances, electrical cables, etc. Low level analog phono signals, devices, ICs are especially sensitive to hum/noise caused by EM fields
6) Of course, a good electrical ground is also critical to avoid/eliminate any hum
Get these ingredients right and hi fi phono sound can be a really special treat.
I like both. CD is more convenient. LP is great too.
I own three TTs and six CD machines...
2,600 or so CDs,, and 5,000 albums on LP (with sets as one item)
I own a LOT of albums in both formats. i would say 50% of my CDs i also own the LP.
So when i am lazy.. it is Cd all the way.
If I had to choose ONE like in the desert island scenario.. It would be LP.
In terms of sound quality, I don't think there is a clear winner. However, I think digital is a more accurate way of reproducing music. Analogue introduces some distortions and omits some information, and therefore may ultimately sound more musical to the human ear.
One variable to consider is the recording process: was it recorded and mastered for vinyl or digital? Another variable to consider is the type of music. Amplified/digital musics may be bettered served by digital. Unamplified jazz, vocals, chamber music lend themselves to vinyl.
I have about 1500 lps, 700 cds, with not too many duplicates and about another 1,500,000 albums on spotify. I listen to about 30 % spotify background music, 25% cd's, and 40% LP's. the other 5% of the time computer which I am just starting. I am considering downsizing only to re-focus my life in a different area. For sound I prefer the LP's.
When I was out and about this afternoon, I found myself thinking, for some reason, about U2's debut album. I've got "Boy" on vinyl, on CD, and have the CD ripped to a server. Since I just felt like hearing it, more or less in the background, I fired up the computer when I got home and listened that way. It grabbed my attention, leaving me wanting more, remembering how much I liked this record back in the day. So, later on, once this foolish baseball game I'm listening to is mercifully over, I'll likely spin the vinyl before bed and really listen.
That's how I do it, anyway, choosing convenience or quality depending on my goal and needs at that particular moment.
There are pluses and minuses for the sound of either format for me. I can do without the occasional CD "digititis" and I tolerate LP noise. I used to have mushy bass but upgraded my equipment so LP's sound tighter now.
I like the convenience of CD's. LP's are somehow cooler.
Overall I give CD's the edge. I come from the time long before CD's and I have many old LP's but I'll take detail over warmth if it's not too edgy.
Thanks each one of you for your thoughts and comments so far. I think most of us recognize that LPs and CDs have their own unique sound but I tend to think that records are more fun because its more hands on.
Hodu, I agree that U2 is a great bunch of musicians and have their recordings on both vinyl and CDs. Last time I listened to them I was playing Vinyl & it wasn't that long ago.
Records are definitely more hands on than CD.
In terms of features that make it easier to find and discover music to listen to however, music servers and services and various computer devices to play them are where its at, not CDs.
I have a sizable record and CD library. However, I spend most of my time listening by far with my various Logitech Squeeze devices, mostly from my music server (on which all my CDs reside) or other sources like Pandora or Internet radio to help discover more new music.
I listen to records when I get the urge to listen to something that i own only there usually, once in a while for an alternate version of what I might have on CD/server.
I have not listened to a CD directly for years. All new CDs get ripped to music server and I listen from there.
Sometimes I use the Denon CD player/recorder I have on my main rig to record vinyl or tape to CD and then similarly rip the CD to music server to listen. I have even done this with old 78s that I own or come across on occasion.
If I had the time, I would transfer more of my records to music server, but that takes a lot of time that I do not have available mostly.
Although I put everything to music server, I keep all original source material, records, CDs, tapes as a backup if ever needed and for general reference. Record albums are still the best physical package readily available out there for album art, liner notes, etc.
I do play CDs on occasion in the car still when radio otherwise won't cut it.
Neither CD or vinyl has all the benefits always in regards to sound quality, both formats sound very good on my system and quality of individual recordings case by case makes the biggest difference, so I really have no preference either way when it comes to just sound quality alone. Either format can win on any given day.
In general, I will pay more for a new CD than a new record. Occasionally, I find something only available on record that I must have and pay a premium for. I always look for good values whenever I can in both vinyl and CD format. That helps me build out my music library faster and more cost effectively. if only I could just snap my fingers and get it all magically tagged correctly on the music server for easy access and playback when wanted, especially the records! That would be the ultimate!
DIgital music and music servers are very hands on also by the way, for the most part. But in a different way than records. ALso its more rip once/play many. Records have to be handled every time you want to listen. I grew up with records so I do find enjoyment in that aspect of records alone still from time to time.
I'm in the "I prefer CD camp" due to convenience. I've yet to find or hear a PC setup that that sounds great that wouldn't break me financially. Having it all at my fingertips is not a selling point, to me. My recent acquisition of a great SACD player has renewed, in tremendous fashion, my appreciation of CDs (and SACDs) all over again.
CDs can and do sound great when properly partnered with other gear. As for TTs, I love what they can do but again, the cost is too dear and I'm getting lazier nowadays.
All the best,
My preference for critical listening is Vinyl. This is when I am in my favorite listening chair and just want to hear beautiful music and get lost in it.
For convenience and to just hear some tunes while I am doing other things, then CD's the nod.
Also, I would never say that vinyl is superior to CD's, but I will say it sure sounds different. I am able to make more of an emotional connection to a piece of music played back on vinyl than on CD. This is why its my first choice when I want to enjoy music and just not hear it.
"Mapman, you mentioned good speed control as one of the important factors for good vinyl reproduction. Do you think that direct drive as opposed to belt drive can maintain platter speed better?"
From my experience years ago selling many brands and models of both, I would have to say probably, by a very small margin. The biggest issue I found with belt drives was state of the belt itself. Worn belts are a problem, like in a car, and dirty belts are not uncommon and will affect speed stability if not kept clean.
I would also probably say that most people will not hear a difference between belt and direct drive when things are working well as they should. I think I am pretty sensitive to these things and personally I have no preference between the two in regards to sound quality. I have heard many cases of each sounding perfectly spectacular! There are many other factors as mentioned above that can vary widely and play a much bigger role in determining end results in practice.
Zd542, There's no doubt that CD in the 80's and some of the 90's couldn't compete with the best vinyl, but those days are over. I listened to a recent jazz CD on the ECM label last night, and the resolution and expansive lifelike soundstage could not be bettered by vinyl.
Its been shown that analogue mastertapes are lower in resolution than the highest resolution digital recordings. But I would agree that well-mastered analogue can sound better than poorly-mastered digital.
Psag, wow what an excellent response and its refreshing that you have offered no scientific measurements (which would of been ok on a different day) to support your claim and if I was sitting on the fence trying to decide which direction to go, you would have easily convinced myself that CDs are superior. I think what you have said holds alot of water. As much fun as it is to spin records the good news is that we can do both.
"I listened to a recent jazz CD on the ECM label last night, and the resolution and expansive lifelike soundstage could not be bettered by vinyl."
Well, I'm not so sure that the BEST vinyl might not still trump the best redbook CDs in this regard if measured, under ideal circumstances, but in practice, I would agree that it is a toss up case by case, recording by recording, these days.
The main reason I say this is that CD redbook format does have a defined limit for dynamic range whereas records do not, so it is possible for a record to trump any CD in regards to dynamic range and many better vinyl recordings may well do it. OF course, newer and higher resolution digital formats are a different case than CD, so results there might close the potential gap even more to the point where it does not matter at all in practice.
Mapman, I agree with you- its a toss up case by case. But at this point there's nothing residing in the vinyl that can't also be conveyed in the digital. Having said that, I continue to enjoy vinyl.
Some science: The dynamic range of analogue tape: 60-72 dB, versus HD-PCM at 96khz: 130 dB. Which would you choose?
I'm in the CD camp. I do own a turntable, but it's not hooked up at present. It is, frankly, a lot of work to get it done properly. However, when it is set up, I love the feel and sound of records.
I'm lazy. I'm transferring all my cds to hard disk using dbpoweramp. I can control foobar from my phone, so I can sit in the sweet spot and listen to whatever I want without moving.
Is that the dynamic range limit of analog tape used to master the best lps with the best dynamic range out there?
Sounds surprisingly low to me for that but dunno the details.
If so, then the tape used to master is always the bottleneck regardless of what one might be able to squeeze out of a turntable and records otherwise.
Wouldn't surprise me if production of many records out there over the years, especially those produced in the more mass production later years of the "golden age of vinyl" which extended into the 1980s fall into this category, but it would surprise me if the case with all.
Mapman, interesting reading!
I was referring to playback rather than mastering. The average analogue tape deck playback system has a dynamic range of about 60 dB. I'm not sure about mastertape and mastering equipment, but probably comparable.
Given the disparity in dynamic range between high resolution digital and analogue, it becomes difficult to argue that a high resolution digital remaster could ever be had from an analogue master.
Of course, you could say those numbers are theoretical numbers. When you listen to a digital recording it often sounds compressed compared to how analog sounds, in actual practice. Even when CD first arrived on the scene there was the specification of 90 dB Dynamic Range and 90 dB Signal to Noise Ratio. As far as achieving those dBs in one's room, I'd opine that was all mostly part of the Compact Disc marketing strategy, you know, the Perfect Sound Forever thing.
The events related in that article and their effects on sound quality of most CDs produced since the early to mid 90's compared to before as related is consistent with what I have observed in practice, FWIW.
Most CDs since the early to mid 90's sound pretty good, though few if any are perfect still, as is typically the case. The exception is newer "loudness war" type CDs where waveforms are clipped in the interest of a "louder" sound, usually for pop/rock type CDs. But there are many others that are done quite well and are quite competitive with better vinyl done well also IMHO.
I prefer both really. As others have said both have their strengths and weaknesses. LPs sound excellent overall, and noticeably better imo, but the occasional loud pops annoy me. On my rig, records play pretty quiet overall. There's more variables with vinyl playback as well. CDs can sound very good too, but half of them sound "canned." That's the drawback, imo. My cd player (Onkyo DX-7555-now out of production,) though inexpensive in relation to high end players, measures well and has low jitter as well as a high s/n ratio. So it's probably not the player at fault here. Also, channel balance seems more stable with cd as well. But, man does that vinyl sound sweet and seductive! Despite the technical flaws!