Why vinyl?

Here are couple of short articles to read before responding.



Vinylheads will jump on this, but hopefully some digital aficionados will also chime in.
From the second article:

"As for the actual sound quality, the argument is debatable at best, and completely moot at worst. Only the most discerning audiophile can spot the difference on any kind of respectable sound system"

Obviously this guy is not an audiophile, therefore he is unqualified to comment as such. He speaks on a purely superficial, business oriented level, without concern to sound quality. Next time he needs to put down his pen (oops..I mean laptop...cause who uses a pen to write an article anymore? too "inconvenient") and breathe before writing an article out of spite after being scolded by vinyl head DJ's about his decision to switch to digital.

"The medium is the message, and when it comes to being a DJ, the message is digital. Resist if you will, but the future is clear – music technology is going to continue to evolve with or without you."

The *medium* is the message? Wow this guy is really lost. I can see why he would prefer digital over vinyl as a medium for DJ's simply due to convenience, but he seems to think that DJs are the only crowd keeping vinyl alive. I find that hard to believe. He takes a shot at audiophiles "holding on" to records, when the whole basis of the article is convenient transportation of his media as a DJ. An unbalanced argument that holds no merit, as far as I'm concerned.
I've been into vinyl for two years. I think it's unbeatable (and its advantages most obvious) with any music recorded in which the engineer's aim was to preserve the original acoustic as well. As an orchestral musician for 26 years, I've never heard instruments better resolved. I did the SACD thing, and it was an improvement over CD, and I've also auditioned high-end players, up to 10K extensively. No contest. Maybe someday there will be a digital breakthrough.
If you hear a well produced/mastered piece of vinyl and the same well produced/mastered piece on CD in a good system, I believe you will have your answer? Is vinyl more troublesome than just popping in a CD and pressing play? Well hell yes but, for audiophiles convenience is not the #1 priority. Sound quality is. There are some really good digital front ends out there but, for me, they can't compete with a high quality vinyl setup.
Regardless of the content of the articles, the thing that poped out at me, was that the anti-vinyl article was written in 2006, whereas the pro-vinyl article was written, a year later, in 2007. Apparently as time goes by, things are getting better for vinyl, and worse for CD.

As far as the content of the articles, I disagree with both of them. In the first article, obviously this guy is out of touch, as the current vinyl boom is not being driven by us audiophiles, (we are way too few in number, IMHO), but instead is being driven by the college crowd, who, for some reason, (hopefully, because they sound better than CDs!), have determined that vinyl is worth buying, and hence the industry is now producing it in greater numbers than they have for the past decade. And in the second article, personally, I think CDs will remain the industry standard means of distributing music in a non-downloadable format. (At least for the near future, until something cheaper and smaller come along anyway.)

My two cents worth anyway.
I am into vinyl and believe it to be better, for all the well-known reasons, but there are serious quality control issues with vinyl - my sense is that there are more 'weak links' between a good master and a good LP than between the master and a CD. there is some seriously bad sounding new vinyl out there, so it's important that there are forums like audiogon where people can discuss these matters and warn each other of the junk. I have bought great sounding LPs that were just low-price, indie rock (bonnie prince billy's 'master and everyone') as well as overpriced 'audiophile' LPs (waterlily's Imrat Khan doing 'Ajmer') that are pretty much unlistenable.
Musicslug is right to some degree. However, there have always been quality control issues - both on LP and on CD. Why would we have Mofi reissues of standard LP's if the originals were perfect? Many, many CD's are poorly mastered. Some of mine are only playable on the truck system - i.e. Cher's Greatest Hits (OK; I have no taste).

to me, the hallmark of either a good CD system or a good vinyl system is that I can hear what's reproduced - and that includes a poor sound stage, compression of the music signal, and the subway rumbling under the church the baroque quartet was recorded in.

Just my two cents,
the generalization that one is better than the other breaks down when you compare specific recordings. both have instances of winners and losers. having both formats in a stereo simply gives you choice, and the ability to find music which is exclusive to one or the other. as an artform, the long player, be it cd or lp, is fun to collect, and each have their place.
People who buy, listen too and cherish good vinyl in the end could not care any less about the ones who must stand on some soapbox to cry "Vinyl is Dead!" I mean why bother? You want your lossy MP3, iPod cr*p? Good, go listen to it. Lossy digital formats are perfectly acceptable for casual listening and for personal listening through ear-buds. On this, the ear-bud thing it's funny at how much some will spend on the ear-buds to listen to generally poor quality lossy music. But I digress, I listen to MP3 on my personal player, it's fine, ok and I don't expect much from it. But I'd never use an iPod or other MP3 player on my home system. Sorry but I want to enjoy the performance even my well designed but modest home system can give. I did not plow hard earned money into said system to plug it with audio output from cr*ppy lossy music sound. Even the CD is borderline HiFi to me, acceptable, enjoyable but not the be all and end all of recorded sound, just a good alternative to my LP's.

Back to vinyl. It is not only the fact that it is generally a better sounding format, more human, more emotional and more real so to speak than all but maybe the best mastered music played on highest quality digital disc players but it's also about the the journey... From finding LP's you like, to staring at the big beautiful covers, looking at liner notes and then the cool black disc. Those are sound waves you see cut into vinyl and nothing else gives you that. Clean it up and put it on a nice turntable and system and you will have 40+ minutes of simple relaxing pleasure. Unlike digital media CD, HD and flash based. you want to listen to each song on vinyl as its too much a hassle to skip tracks. You soon get into the groove so to speak and maybe learn to appreciate other songs on the album that do not get much or any airplay. With CD's and other digital media it's too easy to just skip forward. Look at many young kids using MP3 etc. and watch them often skip through track after track not even listening to the whole song at times. I mean what gives?

So vinyl especially the LP gives you glorious cover art, nice liners, nice and cool looking discs. You can get a plug and play turntable or you can others to tweak till your heart's content. You can shop for new and used vinyl to build up huge physical (ie: unlike non-physical digital flash or HD libraries) libraries quite cheaply. You do not have to worry about future format incompatibility as hard drives may. You don't have to worry about the loss of all your hard drive or flash media music files being corrupted or lost. You do not have to open your computer to scroll through endless menus to find music. With vinyl and even the CD it's just look through your physical collection.

I am a vinyl fan but I too still enjoy having my CD player and CD's. I am also looking at getting back into audio cassettes, not just for the fun of recording and more so preserving my favourite vinyl onto analogue cassettes. I can and do do this with my stand alone CD recorder but this is a digital copy. I am toying with bringing back a cassette deck into my system for the fun of analog preservation. But also to allow me to exploit another used audio market, 2nd hand audio cassettes.

So in conclusion it's comical at how the digital geeks want to denigrate vinyl they even want to denigrate the digital CD but they are yelling into the wind because in reality those who like and want vinyl aren't listening nor do they really care. The lossy music recording freaks who care not to learn how to enjoy the simple pleasure and quality of sound a well recorded and produced music has but only want some priding ability to say "I have 500Gigs of music on a hard drive." "Yeah 25,000 songs, blah, blah, blah." as if it is some special thing. They miss out the art of of learning to develop skills of serious music listening and the associated pleasure of it. To simply sit down, relax and TO LISTEN! This is these geeks loss. So be it then.
Its all a matter of tastes/hobbies. I would usually argue that once a person is introduced to an audiophile quality system they will see the light - it's simply not true (my brothers love my system and actually have brought friends over to hear - but they have Circuit City systems at home).
Most people don't care enough to spend what's necessary on a decent system, they just never will.
Audiophiles, our group, is the minority. Because of this, convenience will win. Let's just hope there is enough of us to keep the better formats alive. Our best hope is to introduce our hobby, our love, to friends and family and hope it takes.

Digital will from now on be in front simply because of convenience. This also means most R&D will be in digital. The upside - we can hope it means, regardless of preference, that digital gets better.

But, it already has. We have SACD and DVDA. Ok, I know, it's still digital but it's a step forward.
Wait, SACD/DVDA is all but dead.
Why? Convenience.
SACD and DVDA killed by Ipods and MP3s.

The death of SACD and DVDA has an upside -
VINYL re-issue/re-emergence.

I think audiophiles are born such (or at least the propensity). It's like perfect pitch, which can be learned (the jury still out on if alwas true), if storngly desired.

I loved what Les_creative_edge said about digital music collectors with "500Gigs of music". Yeh, 500Gigs of music of good music?
No, maybe a couple gigs of good music which will be listened to poorly.
Why do vinyl lovers feel that they have to disparage cds and people who listen to them? Michael Fremer started this trend and it has been adopted by too many of his followers.

As others have said, there are good and bad sounding lps and cds. If you prefer vinyl that's great, but as we know no two people have the same preferences for much of anything in audio. So enjoy your vinyl and let people who enjoy cd do so in peace.

People talk about the resurgent popularity of vinyl but it's still just a tiny fraction of cd sales, even among audiophiles, I would guess.

The sound quality of cds and cd players is steadily improving and will continue to do so for many years. Audiophile digital downloads will offer even better sound quality eventually, but I will wait for that technology to mature a little.

Maybe the vinyl lovers can answer a question I have. How do you enjoy listening to 45rpm vinyl when you have to get up every 10 minutes to flip, clean and tweak? I'm sure the albums sound great but the ratio of listening time to time spent fooling with your lps and gear seems a little low to me.
Well, I question myself all the time after getting back into vinyl 2 years ago. Should I dump the Lp's and table, and just get some kind of higher end SACD/Cd player, as I have a bunch of both.

Then as the other day, I do a self test. Recently it was what was supposed to be the best CD version of AJA, mastered by Steve Hoffman vs. the newer Cisco LP of AJA. Yep they do sound different, but I just like the LP sound better overall.

Recently on another board it was mentioned that CD must be better as it is in the majority, and the majority buy it, so it must be better. Obviously a silly comment. But then it must be the majority that has caused death of what I'll call high end discs, such as the "gold" type remaster CD, and SACD/DVD-A, because these folks did not support them.

Yet vinyl is going crazy, Classic records, Speakers Corner, or guys like Steve Hoffman and a few others putting forth a large amount of effort and time in quality pressings on Vinyl.In the current Stereophile, in an interview with the guy who owns RTI, he has never seen such a request and backlog for vinyl pressings. They had a number of some 280,000 pressings of I believe just the 2 Led Zeppelin 4 lp boxes. This does not include all the other current pressings from Classic/MoFi or the new Warner Re-releases, and a host of others. Some of the best talent is working on Vinyl. Obviously enough people are buying to support the effort in this format!!!

So I'm convinced to stay with Viyl, and am looking at a TT upgrade. To each his own.

Vinyl lovers do not really disparage people who listen to CD's, many vinyl lovers also invest quite a bit in to CD's. But it has been vinyl being bashed since 1982 by hearing "PERFECT SOUND FORVEVER!" as buzz words. Many of us fell into the trap of CD sound and many of us came to realise that it was more hype than fact. I dropped out of vinyl in late 1986, not to return til 2003. I like a fish took the bait about what is not heard on CD's such as pops and crackles etc. We were told to listen to not what is their and many of us fell for it not realising that something else was not their or there but in a disturbing way, lack of soul and a steely edge to many CD's and cd players sound.

So yes some of us push back against the CD because we kept getting hammered by its hype.

Yes, one can buy some nice CD players nowadays and even some in the past. But the quality of CD or digital production today is on a declining slope and it's just sad that the industry is messing up what can be good in CD's to push the nonsense they do now in terms of production.

So same goes with lossy digital formats which truly are not hifi. I get sick of the nonsense too of satellite radio advertising it as CD quality sound. NO IT'S NOT! Good FM still sounds better than the over compressed garbage of sat radio.

Many of us who enjoy vinyl also DEMAND good sound and will accept good sound of CD's if engineered well and played on a good CD player. But it should not have to be so hard to get it. I know I will not be able to get all my music wants on vinyl, FINE! I am more than happy using CD's as a quality alternative. But I am tired of the hype of CD's for 25+ years and the industry pushes similar hype on lossy formats, GIVE ME A BREAK!

Those who want their music solely on MP3 or other lossy formats can have it. I force nobody to play LP's, CD's cassette tapes or whatever. If they want 500 Gigs on a hard drive of compressed MP3 junk it's their business just don't tell me it sounds good and tell me vinyl is not better sounding than most if not all other formats. SACD/DVD-A gives vinyl a good run for the money but is not as better, even if it was both formats are DEAD or close to it. Vinyl has a physical library through history going in to the millions of titles. CD's maybe a few hundred thousand.
I live happily with both formats in my system though I prefer vinyl first. I am also as noted in my previous post looking at getting back into audio cassette as another choice and fun aspect of recording and playback.

So in conclusion, I don't hear most vinyl lovers bash CD listeners, we just pick apart the flaws in the format and like to trounce the nonsensical hype of it over the last 25 years and we will do the same with lossy formats for as long as the industry markets said as a quality audio format.

I think we all know that most of what's said in here is said with tongue in cheek.
We all probably have digital in our systems but prefer vinyl, most audiophiles that really explore both - do.
High end digital player advertisements tout "sounds as good as vinyl". That pretty much explains it all.
I doubt anyone thinks a person is less because they listen to digital music. It's just a matter of taste and convenience.
My previous post said "keep the better formats alive". I didn't say keep the better analog formats alive.
I'm not into vinyl cause I like cleaning albums, or flipping them over or the nostalgia or even the cover art, I'm into Vinyl cause it sounds better.
Since I made the transition BACK to vinyl my listening session have become twice as long, the music is simply more enjoyable.

No, I don't enjoy the extra work but the sound, the music, that's what it's about.

Most of us are chasing something and for some vinyl gets them closer.
Les creative:
Really good post response and I agree. I've never left vinyl, being an amateur record collector since the 70's, basically a Rega man with a P-3 and now a P-9 for the last 5 years. I only got into CD's around 2001 with a used Planet. Now I have a Rega Jupiter 2000. Here's my thing: I have two separate and almost equal systems in two different rooms in different parts of the house; a cd system and a Lp system. I am not one to say the cd sucks; I have quite a few cd's I think sound great. I'm just not going to say "Well Lps are better and Cd's are inferior". They are different, and at times I can't pinpoint what it is exactly that makes them different. I guess I like the LP better but for classical I like the lack of surface noise and pops and clicks that digital provides; although I have many great classical LP's so good you don't notice or hear surface noise. Anyway I feel sorry for these current generations that have never heard a good stereo system or good music for that matter. Today's youth live in abject musical poverty.
What I'm wondering, is new music mastered from an analog source or is it digitally mastered and then pressed on Vinyl?

Wouldn't this greatly affect the sound.

I'm not overly technical and to tell you the truth don't know if I could tell the difference.

For example, I ordered a 200gram copy of Nirvana MTV Unplugged. Pressed by Simply Vinyl UK, which I've found out has (had) been accused of using CDs as masters, and it sounds not too great. Really compressed.

My analog rig sucks right now, so I'll wait to make final jugdement, but I assumed since it was an all acoustic version of Nirvana, it would sound great. The CD is really good.

Also, I started listening to music on Vinyl (34 years old) and kinda skipped the whole CD period. I've never really owned a CD player. Now, I just use a Macbook, iTunes and an Airport Express into a tube DAC... now that is convenience..

Great for parties/guests.

For the CDs I do have, I just use a 1st generation Sony Playstation that I bought for $35.

I figure if I really like the MP3/Aiff version, I'll buy the LP and use analog for "critical" listening.

Records are fun to collect and looking for them is a great way to kill and afternoon.
I don't think "todays youth live in abject musical poverty". It goes back to what I said in my first post in this thread about introducing someone to real audio. Some can't hear it others don't care.
I'm going to use my family as an example.
I have one son, one daughter, three nephews, one niece, two brothers.
Out of that mix only one nephew is into audio (he's going vinyl as well - on his own not from anyting I said).
All the others do digital, the more convenient the better.
They have all heard my system and really enjoy it, but except for one nephew not a priority (thats 2/9 or 22.2%).
There is still good music being created. The problem is there is almost too much music (even with RAP re-categorized as non-musical vulgar poetry with PC percussion) being put out it's hard to weed through the garbage.
One last thing I should mention. The percentage of my family that prefers vinyl over digital is 100%. They just don't care enough to put in the time.
Sjungdahl & Xiekitchen,

First yes I think too many young kids, teens and adults have sadly missed or are missing the boat about what entertainment a good and it does not have to be too pricey sound system can be like. It's disappointing because hype and marketing mostly nonsense and drivel abounds and it can drive anyone crazy if they can't learn to shut it all out at times. Youth get badly caught up in the "I want it now." and "I deserve it now." mentality, look at all too many of their lousy role models. They hurry up and stop, hurry up and stop never realising what is passing them by. This point reminds me of a verse in Pieces of Eight from STYX

It's six oclock
Good morning sounds are everywhere
The warmth of spring, a gentle breeze blows through my hair

I hurry through my life never stopping to see
How beautiful it was meant to be

Im just a prisoner in a kings disguise
Broken dreams as we shuffle by

I think if youth can be exposed to good quality music early enough and to the pure, simple pleasure of it to listen, enjoy and relax to they then have a chance to carry on with many of the joys of it we all had as we grew up and still have today.

I got into hifi about the age of 12 but music was played in my family's home even younger. But about age 12 I read through my first audio magazine and buddies of mine and I all got into it about the same time and way, Christmas and birthday gifts of good basic stereo systems from Japan Inc. From there it was spend part of our allowances on vinyl albums until we began working and then part of our pay cheques were spent on vinyl and gear. Sometimes I bought the wrong stuff for me but I learned and it became a hobby and an outlet to slip away from the hype and stress of daily life for a few hours hear and there.

There was nothing like going to the record shop buying some LP's and rushing home to throw them on my turntable. I wanted always to have better and better sound and gear. Today I stil do but am not as anal about it given as an adult you understand or should about money and learning to shop better and appreciate it more. Appreciation was instilled into me and my sibling at young ages. It became a part of the experience and a desire to take care of things we had especially more pricey or expensive stuff. For me it all added up to the joy of good hifi and recorded music.

I think my advice to parents with young kids, play music and try to teach them to sit down and just listen maybe as schools kids do it with their homework, Lord knows that's how I did it a lot of it and from there they will more likely understand why not just good vinyl is great but good CD's too.
Fun articles - thanks for posting.

The whole format thing is, IMO, something only we get worked up about. I have two kids, and both of them love music, constantly listen, are always listening to new music. Neither has the money to focus much on sound quality, but there is always a conversation to be had with them around what they're listening to lately, something any parent relishes with their teenagers.

And I have lots of friends for whom music is somewhere between a strong interest and a passion. Again, the format is something nobody cares to talk about, but music is always a relevant topic.

All of the angst about music becoming less a part of people's lives just doesn't ring true with my experience.
I agree we do get caught up in the format thing, this is the Analog fourm after all.
I also agree that finding new music and talking about what's out and even discussing older music with younger listeners (especialy family) is so enjoyable.
So what if their interest is not audiophile - it's still music.
It's the same as before digital. Some go the extra and get into audio as a hobby - some don't. If not it doesn't mean they don't enjoy music.

I think the concern with us audiophiles is the possible loss of the better formats due to "hype" and convenience.

My family takes listening a little further. My brother and I were in a band years ago, now we play in the family band. At family functions we play, myself on drums and/or keyboard, my brother and two nephews with guitars (one nephew also plays drums).
Now that's fun.
I wonder how many members in Analog forum buy new LPs in regular basis, maybe more than 20 a year?
I have about 600 LPs, and all but about 5 are bought used. I paid $10~25 for those new LPs, all reissues from originals.
Are you (we?) into vinyl enough to pay $20+ each? Or, are majority in this forum just happy to listen to 60~70's recordings?
I just wonder whether much of the reason of LP's coming back is that there are still many used (cheap and in good sound quality) LPs around.
What if there were not much good used (cheap) LPs available and all have to pay $20+ for each LP? Would vinly still be as popular as in today?
Ihcho, it may or may not make you feel better, but the cost of new vinyl in the '70's--$8.99 to $11.99 for Classical on major labels--probably gets very close to $30 in today's money. Inflation calculator anyone? : )

Just too assure, if vinyl was to regain popularity as it did in the 60's-70's the price of new vinyl would drop closer to the $15.00 range based on volume sale alone. This would put it inline with CD sales and priced competitively among other recorded media products. But I think most vinyl lovers will keep buying vinyl even if used bins dried up (not likely to happen) but of course the pace would slow down.

Part of the fun is getting used vinyl cheap but I think for most of us it's still about how the LP's sound.
I'm curious, does anyone (who was around at the time) believe that $8.99 equals $30.99, regardless of what an academic estimate of money is?

It doesn't seem the same to me at all, and I used to buy a lot of records. Let's not deal with the 1980s LP inflation due to the cost they wanted to ring out of us as they introduced the cash-cow CD format...


Using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator $9.00 in 1985 is equal to about $16.50 today.

New vinyl toady an be pricey because its still cottage industry and lower volume than in the 70's-80's. In terms of dollar for dollar, new vinyl will likely always be more pricey factoring inflation than it was in the 70's and 80's. Just not as much is sold even though vinyl is enjoying a resurgence.
While I know much specialty vinyl is 25-50 bucks, don't forget Sundazed for instance, at 15-18 bucks for good sounding vinyl, also the last Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan were super cheap for the quality of the vinyl I got. Seems like Willie and Van Morrison were like 15 bucks or less.
Thanks for the responses, I don't begrudge 180 gram LPs selling at $30.00 a pop (so to speak) - that's the nature of the business today. I would like it to be less, but that's true for a lot in audio, I'd rather it was healthy and viable rather than cheap.

I just questioned the justification that $8.00 = $30.00, given how buying three records in 1978 felt and contrasting that with what buying three records does to the wallet now. I like the Bank of Canada number more, but I get in trouble when I start talking about "feelings" and currency value, but so be it.

As someone who collects mono records, I'm beginning to think I'd pay a premium for undamaged, clean 50's classical LPs (forget Jazz, my income would have to increase exponentially). I also have a hard time spending $18-20 for CDs.

Ihcho, I buy a lot of new vinyl, as much of it in my opinion is very good. I also buy good old unopened vinyl, and mint used. I find life is to short for crappy beatup vinyl to experiment. Are people buying new vinyl, if you read my post early on in this thread, I talked about The RTI pressing pland, who has never seen the volume of backlog for vinyl. For instance they mention they have orders in house initially for 50,000 of the Led Zeppelin box 4 LP sets. This is after the CDs has been out for awhile. Obviously that is 200,000 lps to produce, so yes there are a few customers. This does not includes all the other labels. So is it more then CD, no, but I do not think anybody ever thought it would be. But it is growing at a fast rate, while CDs fall off year by year to MP3 downloads. To a point that maybe even now daily MP3's aquired in some kind of legal or illegal download are actually used more daily then CD for music play.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Telarc records in '82 were $16.99. I bought one in Musicland. An audiophile label of course, just like the $30 new lp's of today. Let's not forget the huge weight, (and today's freight charges) involved in getting the lp's to the warehouse. Of course, I was a teenager in the late '70's, so $8.99 seemed like a load of money. $30 today also equals 6 Big Mac meals. Yuck.
I bought a lot of LPs for under $5, BUT my D2D and "audiophile" recordings were mostly in the mid-teens and some higher. I think you have to compare 180 gram current pressing to the high-end recordings of the 1970s and 1980s. When you do that, the cost ($30) feels comparable to me. $50 is a different story.

I've paid $50 for a lot of reissues. So far, the quality of the master and the pressings (particularly 45 rpms) have been worth it. (Thanksfully I make way more, inflation adjusted, money than I did in the '70s and '80s)

1) cheap used
2) very good sound is possible
3) older coots like me have a big investment in vinyl from the olden days already so why not more?
4) larger format with artwork that adds to the package and text fonts large enough to read.
Digital is still in its infancy. I think that digital, maybe not cd but maybe 24/96 downloads or whatever comes next, will surpass the best sound quality available today in the not too distant future.

As far as sales numbers go, there's a January 10, 2008 Time magazine article about the resurgence of vinyl that has the 2007 numbers.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, of total album sales for 2007:
vinyl makes up about 0.2%
digital downloads are 10%
cds are 89.7%

The article says that Nielsen SoundScan may undercount vinyl since they don't always include sales at smaller indie shops where vinyl does best.

The 0.2% equals 990,000 vinyl albums sold in 2007, up 15.4% from 858,000 units sold in 2006.

So let's say they missed half the vinyl album sales, if we double the vinyl sales for 2007 we are still under 2 million sold for the entire year and have an increase of only 264,000 units over 2006.

The real growth is not in vinyl, downloads or cds. Video games on dvd are by far the fastest growing home entertainment product.
By the way I forgot to mention. I have 10 gigs of digital music on my home laptop (listening to Joni Mitchell through headphones now), another couple gigs on my work laptop and we have a music server at work.
Mapman, I loved the big font comment. I first got glasses at 41 because I couldn't read the back of CDs - completely true.
We all use digital, it's convenient for casual listening or checking out music we may be interested in.
When I was at teens (late 70s and early 80s in Korea), I had spent $2~$3 for new albums (licensed copies made in Korea) with my own pocket money. I guess I've bought over 300 LPs, all bought new.
Now, there are many other sources of related entertainment -- CDs, movie and music DVDs, downloads, computer games, ..., and well LPs. I have about 600 CDs, mostly bought new (from stores or BMG, CBS, ...), and 100 DVDs, mostly new at around $20 (but no downloads and no games). But spending $20 for a new LP is still a bit odd to me now. (Even though I had spent about $2000 for TTs, cartridges, and preamps over last two years.) A few reasons:
1. I can salvage garage/estate sales and buy bulk of 20 LPs at $10~20. In most cases, half of them are in very good condition.
2. I live in a small town that has only one record store that sells very limited LPs. I can count them that probably at 100~200 new LPs. Most likely what I am looking for is not there.
3. If I go to the Internet or ebay, there is $4.00 minimum shipping/handling charges per piece.

The best LP I bought recently is Muddy Water's Folk Singer. The sound quality is amazing. $30 well spent.
Few other reissue LPs from Lenard Cohen, Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis were so so, not any better than listening to CDs. So, I am very cautious in buying new LPs. I won't just walk into a record store and grap one that looks appealing as I have done for CDs and DVDs. I will only select some of those which have high regards on recording and sound quality.

The resurgence of vinyl has, IMHO, much more to do with the recent increase in turntable/cartridge sales. Those who have spent on new turntables have not spent as much on new LPs.
Digital gets a bad rap. The current CD format is 25 years old already (amazing, isn't it). 331/3 Lps were the bomb for only about 30 years. I have many CDs that sound better than many LPs.

The medium is not so important as the will of the manufacturer to do it right.

Digital technology today can support much higher quality although cost for mass market consumption is probably an issue. The best possible seldom finds it's way to the masses, but it does to those willing or able to pay.

The big unknowns surround which channels will be most successful in delivering the higher quality stuff.

So love your vinyl, but do keep an open mind to better things that are possible both today and in teh near future.
One thing stands out from many of the responses. The quality of the recording and mastering is the primary delimiter whether LP or CD.

One person asked a question that has yet to be answered. If new releases on vinyl are from a digital recording/master, what's to gain on the LP?
Agree with ojgalli 100% + very good point!

With good playback equipment (ie your medium to higher-end home stereo/audio system) mastering and production is by far more important than delivery medium.

There are some very old recordings that are full of technical flaws from a modern perspective yet sound most wonderful and enjoyable on a good system.

For example, I've heard some very old stuff by Louis Armstrong broadcast over the internet on WWOZ, New Orleans, using my Roku Soundbridge, on Christmas Day (wish I could remember exactly what the recordings were??) that blew me away as much as anything I've heard on the best vinyl or CD.
Ojgalli writes, what's to gain on a digital lp? I'd take a digital lp any day over the same CD, at least for orchestral music. Presumably, the Lp is cut directly from the master digital tape, which preserves the hi-rez. The tape is "number-crunched" when transcribed to CD with "flattening" and harsh results. I still like analog, (or at least the better, more tasteful recording technology that came with it), but digital lps work for me too.
Jdaniel: Not sure I follow you. Are you saying that IF the original master is 24/96 or higher, the LP is cut directly from that master through a 24/96 DAC, and that CDs are pressed from a downconversion, 24/96 to 16/44? What if, as is the case most of the time, the original recording is 16/44? And can an LP handle all of the information on a 24/96 recording without loss?

And a related question that goes out to all.

Do LPs from an analog master sound better than LPs from a digital master?
It is hard to compare LPs from analogue to digital masters as the masters are one or the other. So engineering during process will be different. In other words take say Steely Dan, Gaucho, it is an analogue mastered disc, there is no digital recorded version made at the same time so to notice any difference is impossible. I will say that IMO a high quality analogue master will produce a better LP copy than a digital master will BUT! some LP's made from digital master such as Donald Fagen's, Night fly and Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms both sound great as LP's. Other LP's made via digital masters sound thin and lifeless for the most part, maybe not as bad as their CD counterparts but not as good as if they were to have been mastered from analogue. It all comes down to the technicians, the gear and the resulting production chain.

I think LP's still sound better than the CD counterparts from digital master only because again the stylus tracks a groove even if that grove was cut from an original digital master. The additional harmonics the stylus may give can lead to a warming up of the sound.

Conversely same goes if you record an LP onto a CD and play it vs. a commercially made version the Home made one seems to hold onto the added dimensions and harmonics the commercially made one often lacks.

But what would be needed is a good engineering crew running a high quality analogue master setup and a similar digital setup to record and produce the masters of the artists at the same time and after such each master needs to be equally and carefully mixed down and made into production master for LP's to be made from. That is not likely to happen as there is no financial need to nor wanted to devote to such in a commercial way.
So, Les,
you are saying that the vinyl version of a digitally recorded event sounds better because of the 'added' distortion inherent in analogue playback?
I agree, but this does prove, of course, that analogue doesn't sound better because it 'preserves' or 'records' better the original sound, but because pleasant euphonics are added.
03-14-08: Ojgalli asked:

"And a related question that goes out to all.

Do LPs from an analog master sound better than LPs from a digital master?"

Generally I think the answer is "yes" so long as we're talking hi rez digital, such as 1-bit DSD @5.6mHz. Some early digital cannot be rescued, but the good stuff, with good mics and good mastering are incredibly good. Even the best analog tapes have tape noise and or tape compression. However, there are so many great, historic and well done analog recordings that just can't be ignored.

Some of the very best recordings I have are DSD-mastered SACD or DVD-As in two-channel. These rival my very best D2D analog LP, which tend to blow away most, but not all, of my analog tape mastered LPs. We I make DSD archives of my D2D LP at 5.6mHz, I can't tell them from the original disc.



I think it is both.

On an anlogue mastered tape the sounds, frequencies and harmonics are left 100% in analogue form from the moment the tape recorded them to the cutting of the master disc and the pressing of vinyl. Every step of the chain can add or detract to the sound and colour. Poor master disc cutting will affect the sound but good master disc cutting will eventually give you a superior mold to press vinyl from. Poor vinyl material will affect the sound good vinyl material will preserve sound better. A better turntable, tonearm, cartridge all set up and in proper working order will retrieve sound from the groove better.

I think a cut master from a high quality say 24/96 digital master will produce a good vinyl LP. The cartridge will track it well if the cartridge is well made and in good order. The cartridge will possibly add to the harmonics of the sound and that will affect sound.

Digital will not be perfect either. Mix downs to errors in transfers and all generations of digital transfers and production have bit code errors. Quality of components and ultimately quality of the discs and CD players will all affect sound quality of the music. The saying that all CD players sound the same is untrue. Not all CD discs themselves are same quality. So no matter what you used analogue or digital by the time the consumer gets the product it has been affected by the chain of production. Some cases worse others not be they both CD or vinyl including a cd from analogue or digital masters or be it a vinyl LP from a digital master or an analogue one.

In the end I think an LP from analogue masters will sound truer to what the music should sound like than one from a digital source or from a CD made from the analogue masters will likely sound better than digital masters. It is all degree of compromise to the consumer. This is why some listeners are fine with $29 CD players and with MP3 sound when others spend thousands on a CD player. This is why some consumers are fine wit $79 cheapy turntables but others will spend thousands.

I think the best source for quality recorded sound is better to best analogue reel to reel machines. But are not as practical for most consumers. Vinyl will be less accurate but will vary from deck to deck because of how it all works. Digital is chock full of possible compromises and other errors. In the end an LP is likely more accurate overall and more natural to our ears than a CD. A digital LP will likely be more pleasing than the CD version because the few inaccuracies it may add will more likely be heard as more pleasing to the listener where as the inevitable inaccuracies in CD playback are nothing but negatives to the listener. I hope this all makes sense.

Why vinyl? Very simple, everything about it is more fun and allows for more interaction between the listener and the source.

Example, the album cover. It holds the record, same as a cd case but, can also be used in frames as wall art. I often read the backs of albums, I never read the folded up liner notes that come with cds.

Cleaning the record can be a art and meditation in itself. I know it sounds stupid but, at this time you are actually developing a relationship with the vinyl. You are caring for it and examining it. Who handles digital?

Once playing the record you actually listen to the whole record. No temptation to skip tracks. I can't count how many times I have discovered something new in the music because I couldn't skip a song. Plus, getting up and flipping the record keeps the listener alert.

The record player is a whole source of entertainment in itself. They are interesting to look at. They can be almost infinitely "tweaked" to adjust the sound. Just the arm itself has many features that can be tuned to change the sound. Not to mention different cartridges. For a audiophile, playing with and admiring the equipment is part of the deal. I just don't think any of us get the same thrill from looking at even the best cd box as we do from looking at a exotic turntable.

The debates about which sounds better is a waste of time. The research is in, they data has been well looked at and discussed to death. Sometimes a particular record will sound better than it's digital counterpart. Sometimes a cd will be preferred.

All that matters is that, for some of us, the analogue chain has a very high fun factor. Others prefer the never leave the couch, hold the remote, aim at box, factor of cds. Most of us like having both available plus, some type of digital server for when all you want is continuous background music.

That's "why vinyl?".
03-14-08: Les_creative_edge said:

"In the end I think an LP from analogue masters will sound truer to what the music should sound like than one from a digital source or from a CD made from the analogue masters will likely sound better than digital masters. I...

I think the best source for quality recorded sound is better to best analogue reel to reel machines. But are not as practical for most consumers. Vinyl will be less accurate but will vary from deck to deck because of how it all works. Digital is chock full of possible compromises and other errors. In the end an LP is likely more accurate overall and more natural to our ears than a CD. A digital LP will likely be more pleasing than the CD version because the few inaccuracies it may add will more likely be heard as more pleasing to the listener where as the inevitable inaccuracies in CD playback are nothing but negatives to the listener. ..."

I don't understand why you're concluding these things. We're talking about digital masters, not CDs. If you'd heard a 1-bit DSD master at 5.6MHz I think you'd have a hard time saying that reel-to-reel is "better" or "more accurate".

I think that the best of both analog and digital are very, very good. With 24/192 and soon-to-be widely available 32-bit, or maybe even consumer 1-bit DSD (really already here in the form of the Korg MR1000 DSD recorder for around $1000) the analog advantage has pretty well disappeared, at least to my ears.

As an amateur recordist, the convenience of 130 dB of dynamic range, lack of tape noise or compression is hard to beat.

130db dynamic range is unusable in any home listening or likely any other venue environment. The typical home will have a general background noise floor of 20-40db. If you go with 130db the max. dynamic range to be above the background noise floor will have to be a volume of 150-170db. Totally unrealistic even at rock concert levels.

I'm not against a good digital masters for vinyl but the fact is probably 99.9 % of all vinyl has been made with analogue masters.

Usable digital mastering today has been corrupted by lousy techniques aka: the LOUDNESS controversy and in reality the 16 bit digital format including the CD has more than enough dynamic range, too much really for anything but the most dynamic classical recordings. Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz etc. all have much lower levels of dynamic range, enough for vinyl to cover fair enough and the CD too as well. It's about resolution and the 16bit digital was borderline. 24/96 will give you a much better resolution capacity but reel to reel analogue covered all the resolution needed for decades now and the LP did so as well. All formats I list here had enough dynamic range for as a source for home listening. Commercial digital mastering of most music today has been destroyed by the compression to get max loudness. Too bad the industry squandered the one true superior trait 16 bit digital had over any analogue, dynamic range.

vinyl had at min 60db on lesser quality discs and 75+ db on the best discs made

R to R with Dolby NR had a similar dynamic range between 65-75 db using DBX it was over 80db

analogue cassettes were 55db with cheap tapes and no Dolby B to 75db witch Dolby C or Dolby S, again over 80db with DBX.

16 bit digital of course maxed mathematical a 96db.

But it is resolution that hurts ordinary 16bit digital and is mostly (arguably) overcome by 24bit digital. Resolution and harmonics were never an issue with good quality analogue gear. Only distortion and bottom line signal to noise ratio was. With the proper use of Dolby or DBX that was mostly gone and with better grade tapes even distortion was not a factor anymore.

I'm glad that 25+ years after digital mastering and the CD that digital has a venue for better sound now especially to make new vinyl with but the general consumer is happy as pigs n' s**t with MP3 or iPod garbage. Go figure by the time digital began to get it truly right nobody really cares except us here who want and enjoy good quality music sound be it quality analogue or digital on CD, downloaded or to make great new vinyl with.
Les, if you've ever recorded large brass ensembles live you'll appreciate the safety that 130dB of dynamic gives. I can record 40dB under 0dB and get a wonderful, low noise, hi resolution recording. With tape I'll need to be right up against the tapes limit to capture the full dynamic range (40-50dB).

You compare good analog to bad digital. I'm comparing good digital to good analog and I see them as equal today and the balance actually turning toward digital, but slowly. Good 2-channel SACDs and DVD-As now rival my best D2D analog, IMHO.

Produceers in both formats make bad choices, but that's not what I'm talking about, I'm talking about the potential of both systems.

But how can you use 130db dynamic range though? Any home listener to take advantage of this about a minimum 20db household background noise would endure 150db volume peaks. Nobody can stand that level for any length of time. You as a recording engineer may like the idea of 130db dynamic range available to you but me as listener cannot ever use it. If you use it in your recordings any low level sounds will be lost to me in order to not blow me out of my house or car along with suffering hearing damage and blown electronics. Or you will force me to ride to gain control talking way the relaxation and enjoyment of it all.

As I said if digital recording is employed properly and of a high resolution format I'd suspect LP's made from such will be very good. But good analogue gave and can still give us very good quality to master by too.

BTW just to make things clear, I'm not arguing or trying to be a jerk, just enjoying a good clean discussion and debate which all just gives us all good things to exercise our brains over.:-)
Les, my friend, no offense taken at all. Yeah, we're all just talking here and trying to learn. I understand what you saying and feel the spirit.

I suspect from you comments that you've never really done any serious recording. The 20dB of ambient noise that you mention uses up part of the dynamic range and it's often really higher.

Say you have a fine consumer reel-to-reel recorder with 115 to 120dB of dynamic range at its highest speed. Your goal is to have as little tape noise as possible, so you'll need to record at the highest level possible without exceeding the recorder's dynamic range. So, you have the group play their loudest passage and set the recording level so it's just below or just touches 0dB (115dB in this case). You're recording trumpets and trombones that easily have dynamic range of 40 to 50dB: therefore, your recorder will be set so that the quietest levels are recorded at 65dB (115dB -50dB) which is very soft, even in a quiet room.

With tape, those quiet levels will have too much noise. Of course if you use the very best professional recorder a 30ips (burning very expensive tape) you'll gain 10 more dB of dynamic range. Anyway, back to our consumer machine, you've got a problem, the dynamic range IS too huge. What you do is move your mic back or use a compressor.

With the Korg, I've an extra 15 to 20 dB of dynamic range, which is a huge advantage. For instance, at the Rocky Mountain Trumpet Fest, which features a 64-trumpet ensemble at one point, I can set my mics at the front of the stage and have someone play a few loud notes from close range and then back of 15 or 20dB for my average recording level. Since the mics are 20-feet or so from the performers and the noise level of the Korg is so low that I don't have to sit at the recorder and "ride the gain" to avoid overload. I can actually play in the ensemble, record everything and edit later.

Good pop recording have 20-30 dB of dynamic range in them. Get a Radio Shack SPL meter and hold while you listen to Nora Jones or Jane Monheit. They'll start many songs at around 72dB at the beginning then average around 83dB and then peak for just a few seconds at 92 or so dB. On a good system with a good recording, that's very pleasant, not fatigueing at all.

Now listen to a something really dynamic, like Hugh Mesekala's Simela on 45rpm LP. It goes from about 65dB to just under 100dB at my listening position. It's really exciting. They hold the peak for more than a second or two, making the peak VERY dramatic by holding it for 15 seconds or so. That's loud, but still just under 100 dB. Some on this forum might actually let that peak get up to 110 dB, particularly if they set the level based on the very quiet beginning.

So, you're still saying, "that's not 130dB" and you're right. The extra 20 to 30dB allows the recording engineer ease of recording. If Stimela were ever going to get any air play, it'd need to be compressed. Listen to Motown from the '60s and '70s or EW&F from the '70s. The trumpets are actually blowing their brains out, but they sound like toys on those recordings, due to very serious compression, used to fit the trumpet within the context of the rest of the music. Drums are also seriously compressed on most pop recordings.

So, to summarize, the 130dB of dynamic range gives the recordist the luxury of being able to set and forget and still get a high quality. Brass and percussion can be difficult to put on any recording other than those meant to be played on the very best equipment; therefore, post recording mixing will often change the level on the final master.

Les, in response to my comment, you are effectively saying that for the same digitally recorded event, most people (you included) will prefer the LP playback to the digital playback due to the nicer distortions added during the playback. I agree, but I still contend that the digital recording and playback is more faithful to the original event.
Dave, ever try recording 72 brass + 25 percussion of drum & bugle corps? I perfectly understand your need for 130+ db dynamic range in recording!! Do the microphones even have that range?
I feel that the preent state of digital, recording and playback has more potential to do justice to the recorded event, but unfortunately, not many recordings are done with quality in mind, just loud sounds.

Bob P.
03-15-08: Inpepinnovations asked:
"Dave, ever try recording 72 brass + 25 percussion of drum & bugle corps? I perfectly understand your need for 130+ db dynamic range in recording!! Do the microphones even have that range?
I feel that the preent state of digital, recording and playback has more potential to do justice to the recorded event, but unfortunately, not many recordings are done with quality in mind, just loud sounds."

No, I haven't recorded a DC, but I've heard it up close, when I helped provide the side for one of the Texas Region regionals. Florida State now marches 430+ in their marching band and I've been 20-feet from the front line. AMAZING. Next November I hope to record over 100 trumpets at the Rocky Mountain Trumpet Fest. I love the BIG sounds and nothing beats being right in the middle of it.

Yes, my AKG condensor mics have 130dB and that's it. It works for just about anything recorded at any distance. I've got a 20dB pad in case I want to record trumpet with the mic right in the bell or a drum close up.

I'm hearing a lot of good all-digital recordings, by the likes of Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Rebecca Pidgeon, Dave Gruisin, many Concord artists and others. Playback in 2-channel SACD or DVD-A is stunning. I even bought a Radiohead album in vinyl that was DDA and found it amazing and only 16-bucks.

So, I think there's hope for all formats. Digital playback is progrssing so fast (32-bit will be readily available at responsible prices within a few months) that the digital-to-vinyl gap is disappearing quickly.

I'm very happy that'll I'll be able to buy a true hi-rez harddrive, music server by the end of this year that'll do justice to my D2D recordings that I've been collecting since the 1970s. BTW, I will NOT be sending $20k Linn's way. (What a crock).