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BrianP
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A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

I mentioned in another post that the local indie record store (Happy Trails in Corvallis, Oregon) reports vinyl now outselling CDs. I was in there the other day and got to talking with a kid (maybe 16) who was buying some heavy metal albums. I asked him why he was buying vinyl rather than CDs and he said it sounded better. Pressed for details, he explained: "When you crank up a CD it just gets louder. A record sounds, y'know, BIGGER!"

Jeff Wong
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

That's a pretty neat observation on the kid's part.

bifcake
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Let's buy the kid a victrola for Xmas. It'll make things even bigger.

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Metallica on 78 RPM through an acoustic horn- now that's a concept!!! Somehow I think they might just approve...

smejias
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
Pressed for details, he explained: "When you crank up a CD it just gets louder. A record sounds, y'know, BIGGER!"

This is excellent. What an encouraging thing to hear, and what a smart kid! Thanks for sharing.

absolutepitch
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Older thread, but though you guys might like the reference to vinyl revival, sort of.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1702369,00.html

rabpaul
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


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When you crank up a CD it just gets louder. A record sounds, y'know, BIGGER!


Forgive me but its been 25 years since I actually put an LP on a turntable. What does "Bigger" in this context mean?

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

To me, as one who listens to both CD and vinyl, I'd say the kid meant that the LP retains more of the three dimensional aspect of the recording, thus bigger. CDs often sound flatter and thinner, especially if comparing a budget CD player to a budget turntable. The differences decrease as you spend more but I'd put a $200 'table up against a CD player any day. "The kid shows promise methinks..."

rvance
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:

Quote:
When you crank up a CD it just gets louder. A record sounds, y'know, BIGGER!


Forgive me but its been 25 years since I actually put an LP on a turntable. What does "Bigger" in this context mean?

This kid is still in touch with his imagination and sense of wonder. If you try, Rab, you can figure it out, too!

KBK
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
To me, as one who listens to both CD and vinyl, I'd say the kid meant that the LP retains more of the three dimensional aspect of the recording, thus bigger. CDs often sound flatter and thinner, especially if comparing a budget CD player to a budget turntable. The differences decrease as you spend more but I'd put a $200 'table up against a CD player any day. "The kid shows promise methinks..."

Hell, I'd put a used 20 year old Technics belt drive TT off of Ebay, for $25, against a $3k SACD player....ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. It's when that happens, and one hears the difference...I go back to the point I made in another thread:

If you lined up the folks responsible for digital audio, specifically the CD..in front of me, I'd kick them all square in the balls as hard as I could, to the point of breaking my foot.

Nearly 25 years later,and the quality of recorded music still hasn't recovered.

BillB
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:

Quote:

Hell, I'd put a used 20 year old Technics belt drive TT off of Ebay, for $25, against a $3k SACD player....ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. It's when that happens, and one hears the difference...I go back to the point I made in another thread:

If you lined up the folks responsible for digital audio, specifically the CD..in front of me, I'd kick them all square in the balls as hard as I could, to the point of breaking my foot.

Nearly 25 years later,and the quality of recorded music still hasn't recovered.

I would take that bet. If you would too, I'll gladly ship you my old turntable and cartridge (still works fine, and it's better than a Technics). Then you ship me the $3k sacd player. Then everyone's happy!

rabpaul
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:

Quote:
To me, as one who listens to both CD and vinyl, I'd say the kid meant that the LP retains more of the three dimensional aspect of the recording, thus bigger. CDs often sound flatter and thinner, especially if comparing a budget CD player to a budget turntable. The differences decrease as you spend more but I'd put a $200 'table up against a CD player any day. "The kid shows promise methinks..."

Hell, I'd put a used 20 year old Technics belt drive TT off of Ebay, for $25, against a $3k SACD player....ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. It's when that happens, and one hears the difference...I go back to the point I made in another thread:

If you lined up the folks responsible for digital audio, specifically the CD..in front of me, I'd kick them all square in the balls as hard as I could, to the point of breaking my foot.

Nearly 25 years later,and the quality of recorded music still hasn't recovered.


Does turning up the volume increase depth, spatial attributes or image size?
Could "bigger" be his reaction to louder euphonics at higher volumes?
Would that TT ($200/$25) include arm, cartridge and phono amp?
Would this TT ($200/$25) image better and detail as well as a 1K+ CDP e.g Apollo/840C?

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
If you lined up the folks responsible for digital audio, specifically the CD..in front of me, I'd kick them all square in the balls as hard as I could, to the point of breaking my foot.

Nearly 25 years later,and the quality of recorded music still hasn't recovered.

Not only has the quality of recorded music not recovered but now we have the music (and movie) industry in a fierce battle with their consumers over various copy protection issues. As time goes on it is becoming more and more apparent that it is very difficult (if not downright impossible) to protect digital content. Add in the ease of copying and distributing digital content and you can see what a grand old mess this digital format has created.

My simple solution to the problem of the "illegal" copying of music and movies is the music and movie industries to go back to analog!! Bring back the LP, the cassette and the VHS.

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

"bring back the LP, the cassette and the VHS"

The LP never left, but commercial cassettes sucked worse than CDs, and VHS was a sad approximation of what's films should be. Chopped aspect ratio, horrible grain and color rendition with garbage sound. Please don't wish those back ---- I just got an HD-DVD player a month ago and films look better through it than 80% of the movie theaters you'll go to! It's what digital should be: uncompressed, high bandwidth goodness with wide gamut color, detail and excellent sonic reproduction!

I love my records because they represent an evolved and mature reproduction format. CDs are in fact getting close though on the better players. It's only been the last year or so though that I've felt that way. It's been a long road for digital...

jazzfan
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

I believe that you missed the correct tone for my post. I was merely trying to make a point about the present situation regarding the hostility of the music industry towards their costumer base and not a complete endorsement of all things analog. Although an LP can and often does sound better than it's CD counterpart, you're quite right about poor quality of the audio and video cassette.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Unless you are upsampling, a redbook CD will almost always be the weakest link in your system. The CD format is simply not worthy of a high end system without some kind of upsampling. SACD or CD that is upsampled to DSD, however, is a different story.

I suspect that many of the tweaks and upgrades that audiophiles make are actually attempts to remedy or mask the deficiencies of the CD format itself.

High resolution digital or upsampled CD is where it is at these days, but the equipment is very expensive.

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Oh- OK, gotcha. Yeah, DRM is unfriendly and anti consumer in every way. Although I have to say, I never downloaded anything free except as a means to see if I wanted to buy it. Unfortunately a lot of kids never could get past the idea that if it looks free is is- but it ain't!

papaned
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

I'm right behind you KBK with my size 14 foot, and I'll finish off anyone you miss !Curse those original digital designers for saddling us still with 16/44. It's too late for me and too expensive to change formats now where the hi-rez product has been abandoned.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Hi Rab,

I've only been experimenting and listening in the world of vinyl over the past two or so years, so in this department I'm a novice. While my digital front end is not state-of-the-art in the absolute sense, it is good for the time being. I decided to give the vinyl thing a whirl. I swapped an older DAC with my friend for an older Mission 775SM that had been a little 'tweaked'. It had an Alphason HR100S arm and Stanton 881S cartridge. Not state-of-the-art at all. I am fortunate enough to own an MFA MC Reference Prototype built for CES, and this phonostage was and is state of the art. What I heard on first listen bowled me for six. All the records I played (used, old, and picked up at the Salvation Army or other thrift shops) sounded incredibly present and alive. The top end seemed so unfettered. There was a sense of great energy, but in a very natural way. The sond flowed out of the speakers with such a great sense of ease and power. That started me on my vinyl journey.

I completely understand what this young lad hears when he says bigger. A CD, quite frequently will tend to sound somewhat strained and compressed when the volume is turned up a lot. Vinyl does not do this in the same way, I find.

rabpaul
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
A CD, quite frequently will tend to sound somewhat strained and compressed when the volume is turned up a lot. Vinyl does not do this in the same way, I find.


I was thinking about the word "bigger" used here and now believe it to mean more alive or real.
CDPs generate digital noise which unless addressed, I believe, will cause the symptoms like strain and compression at higher listening levels.
If you take a run of the mill CDP and compare with a run of the mill TT system I would not be surprised at all if the CDP system falls short in many areas. However its just not right to say that a 1K TT system will be better in all or many areas than say a 3K CDP system. The difference between them narrows with better built (as in more expensive) CD systems. If effort is made to address digital noise i.e its isolation and overall noise floor of the system, that difference will become even closer.

Benonymous
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
"When you crank up a CD it just gets louder. A record sounds, y'know, BIGGER!"

Maybe he is hearing the effect of the RIAA equalisation in the phono preamp. An unecessary evil with CD.....

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

"Maybe he is hearing the effect of the RIAA equalisation in the phono preamp. An unecessary evil with CD..... "

Doubt that, but CDs COULD use some equalization to sound more like music!

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Actually the vast majority of vinyl is from analogue if you're getting a recording made pre-1985. Many of the best rock, classical and certainly all classic jazz recordings are all analogue. Many recordings today are analogue tape as well, but it all depends on the label, studio, producer, etc.

The thing is, even if it's coming off a digital tape, the resolution used by a studio is far superior to certainly any Redbook CD. Personally, it's not "digital" that I have an issue with (and I think many others on this forum have said this too) it's that the original 16bit 44.4khz resolution just isn't good enough for high quality reproduction. Remember the first digital camera's? They were around 1M megapixel, maybe 2 for better ones. What if they had stayed that way? We'd have all these low res, color compressed, edgy photos instead of the now film quality pictures you can get with a 8+ megapixel digital SLR. Unfortunately CDs were spec.d out a resolution that we are still living with 25 years on.

But back to digital or analogue recordings and LPs. Even SACDs then depend on the final conversion to analogue, which will be better in the studio than on most consumer players. Not all, I know. There are certainly some great ones out there- it's just too bad the format is pretty much dead.

Anyway, when it comes to studio recording and mixing it seems that the end product is as important than the initial recording format. I've encountered several recent CD/LPs that the LP sounds better because they assume that only audiophiles listen to LPs and the CDs are just going to get ripped to MP3 anyway.

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

"You people are making me think I should go back to vinyl."

Might be something to think about!

Well- it's true you can get a pretty good setup for not that much money. See the "Turntables under a $1000 thread" and you'll see some great ideas for TTs for FAR less than $1k. But here's the thing: if your LP collection is small or nil you have to consider where you're going to get them. A lot of big cities have thriving used vinyl stores which is the easiest way to dive right in. If you're not in that position you can still get fantastic audiophile albums of everything from rock, punk , jazz, classical, R&B etc. but it's not cheap. I've been collecting for 20 years so much collection at this point grows more slowly- about half of what I buy is used and the other half new.

A good place to start pricing is either AcousticSounds.com or needledoctor.com. They have gear from entry level to Rolls Royce versions.

Buddha
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

I'm loving this thread!

I wonder if "bigger" might relate to a difference in CD and LP mastering?

On the type of album the original person was buying, I wonder if, in the pursuit of 'louder,' the CD had been mastered with a narrower dynamic range. If so, then turning up the volume would make things louder, but turning up an LP with a superior dynamic range could be thought of as sounding "bigger."

I'm purely making that up, of course.

In the realm of totally personal opinion, and using weak terminology...I've recently been A/B'ing some LP/CD differences on some of the same recordings, and as you turn up a CD, there is often some sort of sonic wall that I seem to hit, where I feel like I'm listening at the limit of what the CD can do. It's like a bad date in high school. CD will only go so far before I hit 'no mas.'

With the LP of the same recording, I feel like there is still alot of room before I'd hit any such wall. LP seems more 'giving' in terms of the limit of the information available.

Many LP's just seem to go "deeper" into a recording than CD's.

It's been a sort of equipment buffet lately, trying to sort out what's what, but that feeling about CD has held forth on solid state, tubes, different speakers, different digital playback devices, and different analog toys.

Gertrude, or was it Alice, summed up the analog vs. digital debate nicely...with LP, there is just more "there" there.

*Opinion only. I cannot prove my opinion.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

*Opinion only. I cannot prove my opinion.

you really shouldn't post without proof, a peer reviewed journal reference would suffice

Benonymous
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

If we are talking "dynamic range" here. Vinyl vs CD, there is absolutely no comparison. The dynamic range of an LP is totally inferior to a CD. Everyone here is lambasting the CD format for its inadequacies. Ponder then the limitations in vinyl.

In preparing a recording to be cut to vinyl, it has to be compressed, severely, to ensure that the lathe does not "cut over" to the preceeding track already cut on the acetate. Also, the RIAA pre-emphasis curve must be added to the signal to ensure that it is compatible with the de-emphasis in the RIAA equalisation on playback.

Just as the tube amplifier self limits (due to saturation in the audio trnsformers) and emphasises the "good" 2nd harmonics, so the vinyl recording is loaded with compromises which make it sound different.

Not BETTER!

Now I am not a complete luddite here. I have listened to both versions on vinyl and CD and i must say that the vinyl sound is frendlier. In addition to that, my experience with full digital end-to-end TV is less than positive. I'd much rather watch film encoded to digital than digital to digital, and 'll tell you why.

D to D video has one defining feature. Accuracy. Film has another defining feature. Inaccuracy. With film, you get blur, due to slow emulsions and low shutter speeds. It looks more natural. With D to D you get pin sharp frames at 100fps and little blur. It is an absolute pain to watch. Stand still, open your eyes and whip your head back and forth in the horizontal plane. Blur. Natural. You just can't pick up the frames, it blurs and there's nothing you can do about it.

D to D, no blur, freaky and unnatural.

It's the same story with vinyl. It's actually the deficiencis of vinyl and tube amps that we like and that's because our senses can only process so much stuff.

Vinyl is less accurate but more enjoyable than CD.

SSSSSSS crack pop ssssssssss phut, pop, krik.......

jazzfan
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Great post, Mr. Clip

May I suggest that you change your user name from "Fresh Clip" to "Fresh Air" since many of your excellent posts are like a breath of fresh air to this occasionally stale forum.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
Great post, Mr. Clip

May I suggest that you change your user name from "Fresh Clip" to "Fresh Air" since many of your excellent posts are like a breath of fresh air to this occasionally stale forum.

X2

Elk
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
Actually the vast majority of vinyl is from analogue if you're getting a recording made pre-1985. Many of the best rock, classical and certainly all classic jazz recordings are all analogue. Many recordings today are analogue tape as well, but it all depends on the label, studio, producer, etc.


Which recordings and/or labels are recording to analog tape?

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

First- a disclaimer. I do listen to CDs on a regular basis and do not think they have no value. Just diminshed.

As to your list of vinyl limitations: well written, but sorry, I can't agree. All that you say COULD be true in theory, but it's not in practice. The world we live in IS analogue. Sine waves are NOT stair steps- pictures are NOT pixels. Reality is a continuous, wide range stream. Vinyl's not perfect, but it does a better job of approximating that reality than standard CD. I won't get into a tube discussion since that's the point here. I use a Krell 200watt class-A topology integrated amp that is certainly not euphonic, and is indeed very revealing and accurate. It's that accuracy that so easily highlights where CDs fall down. I have a Rega Apollo player, which is no slouch for sure and in fact utilizes a lot of new tricks to squeeze more out of Red book CDs.

Redbook CDs use 16 bit code descriptors- 16 bit? You mean like DOS? Like when computers still measured RAM in kbs? Yeah- that kind of code. Just listen to 192khz high-res file and you'll know what the argument is here. As I posted before- if it's high-res versus vinyl there is indeed a a parity reached. We hear SO much more than 44.4khz sample rate can pick up. It's not enough for the nuances and "thereness" that can really make a recording sing.

The compression issue we're talking about is WELL documented by posters here, John Atkinson (and almost everyone at Stereophile). That in itself is not so much a fault of CDs but of how they are viewed as an end product. Take a look around for details about that as I don't think much could be added here.

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Hi elk:

If you type in studios that "record in analogue" in Google
you get around 574 hits. Not even a great search criteria but enough to let know that a lot is out there. I have quite a few indie rock recordings taped in analogue and that sued all tube amps too, play a number of recent jazz and classical recordings.

Buddha
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Hi, Fresh Clip!

I am in full agreement about the capabilities of CD, but not about CD's as delivered for many current artists.

We live in the age of maniacal compression, to the point where new releases may sometimes have less than 10 dB dynamic range. This is especially true for genres like the one mentioned by the young listener in the story.

If he's buying back catalog LP's, then I'd bet doughnuts to doughnuts that he's getting a better dynamic range on the LP's.

I am very curious about the mixing differences of current releases and whether or not LP's are actually getting mixed with better sonics than the corresponding CD. I do not have a data-type answer. Perhaps some other members here with more sense can let me know if this is the case.

Cheers!

dbowker
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

I think in many cases LPs do get better treatment, simply because the CDs get mixed and released by one company, but then the vinyl version gets mixed and pressed by another, often audiophile-centric company.

This thread http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=26136&an=0&page=3#Post26136 talks a lot about this. I have a couple recent recordings where I got the CD and vinyl version and to me it's easy to see the different approach the end formats received. One is for computers, ripping to ipod or car, one is for serious listening.

gkc
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

My experience has been that it is impossible to generalize about the issues you raise. Your first 2 paragraphs deal with the recording process and seem theoretical -- that is, because of the way LP's are cut, they ought to be dynamically inferior. As a listener and music lover, all I can deal with is the sound that comes into my listening room.

Although I enjoy many of my 2000+ CD's immensely, my LP's consistently bring me closer to the live concert experience. Most LP's sound more dynamic than their CD counterparts, regardless of how they are cut in the recesses of the back rooms, during the finishing of the product we end up buying in the retail outlets, garage sales, or the shops that sell used vinyl.

In terms of listening enjoyment, generalizing about what "ought" to prevail will get you nowhere. That comes as the definitive lesson I have gleaned from the experience of more than 30 years of listening and striving for the most faithful recreation of the live event.

"Bigger" comes across, to me, as wider, deeper, and more immediate -- turning up the volume when an LP is playing is similar to watching a marching band come closer and closer, as it nears your place on the street. This experience gets communicated on some CD's, too, but I just don't hear it as often as I do when listening to vinyl. Most CD's sound "distant," in this analogy, and merely get louder as the level increases, not closer (as paradoxical as that sounds, it is a difference I have noted, time after time, over decades of listening to live and recorded music). With vinyl, more instruments seem to come on board, and the scale of the music becomes larger. I am not interested in the technical hypotheses, positive or negative, that attempt to explain these phenomena -- life is short, and I just want to enjoy the music. Believe me, if I sensed that CD's were somehow "better," I would offer more than 3,000 LP's for sale tomorrow.

Of course, this is not always the case. A bad LP is bad music in your listening room. A good CD is preferable. All music collections can be ranked, divided into 3 (as Caesar divided Gaul), 5, or 10. Tier by tier, though, vinyl gets me closer to the soul of the music. In your defense, I will take a superb CD over mediocre vinyl anytime. But, if I have a choice, I'll pull the vinyl every time.

It is necessary, unfortunately, to have a well set up LP playback system to get these benefits. This doesn't necessarily mean "expensive" (although, if you are careful when you shop, you usually will get improvements with more expensive components).

I have many LP's that I bought in the 1960's and 1970's. None of them make the "...sssss crack pop phut" sounds you describe. Of course, I clean them all slavishly. This is a pain in the ass, but the work pays off in terms of record and cartridge longevity, as well as in enjoyment of the music.

I also have many CD's that (regardless of how well I care for them) skip, squeak, and piddle out to the end of the disc. It is how I imagine a Martian might sound when speaking in tongues, perhaps after being zapped on the forehead by Reverend Billy Joe Bob . LP's, in my experience, are more durable and reliable, over the years, than CD's. But you have to take care of them.

My tubed amplifiers sound better than my solid state ones, too. They sound more immediate, with a larger imaginary concert stage in front of me than is projected by my very, very fine transistor amplifiers. The sound is, er, just "bigger." I don't care why this is so. I am only interested in results, in getting as close as I can to the memory of the live experience.

I don't necessarily think you ought to prefer vinyl. It's just that I do. Perhaps you don't attend as many live events as I do. Perhaps you are not bent on coming as close as possible to recreating the live event as I am. As I said, you can't just generalize. We all hear differently, and we all have different sonic ideals.

Enjoy your CD's.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Clifton, you did an excellent job presenting your experience.

And your perspective is correct; all that matters in the end is the sound.

Benonymous
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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

Thanks for the compliment jazzfan I have many fond memories tied up in vinyl, such a shame my Systemdeck got terminally damaged in storage

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound

great post, Clifton.

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Re: A "non-audiophile" comment on vinyl sound


Quote:
great post, Clifton.

Careful little Pup, you'll likely fall out of DUP's good graces congradulating a post like that... or perhaps the wait has become too long to endure and you're seeking a new lap?

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