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hollowman
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Analog vs. Digital: it's the LAST mile that counts

A recent YouTube video about how most Mobile Fidelity "One-Step" vinyl releases, since about 2015, have been sourced from DIGITAL masters to produce lacquers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtJRis-Ba1Q

The vlogger (The In Groove, Phoenix, AZ) admits some of the best-sounding MFSL releases, in his estimation, have been in the last 7 years. But the vlogger is, nevertheless, very concerned that the purity of the all-analog chain has been desecrated by this sacrilege. He's on a bind!

Well the fact that digitally mastered Lps sound great (and superior to CD) is not new ... including SPARS code "ADA" and "DDA".
---Think: Telarc.
---Think: most of the commercial vinyl releases (pop, rock) since the early 80's because of cost-effective digital-delay lines used in the lacquer cutter machines.
--- Think: the art and science talents and skills of the mastering engineer.
FINALLY, the LAST MILE. Playback. The LP playback system can be thought of as a D/A processor. Maybe the ideal D/A processor. Maybe why a super complex (and $$) preamp sounds superior to one with few parts. PROPERLY buffering and "conditioning" an audio signal to slither thru ones ear canals, into the mind/brain system, is part of that LAST MILE hurdle.

geoffkait
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Nothing wrong with the idea

Nothing wrong with the idea digitally remaster vinyl of any manufacture could sound better than it’s CD counterpart. Most likely the majority of vinyl releases in the past 15 years, like the 180 gram LPs. Once you have a digital file it’s quite simply to remaster it, compress it, whatever. And to distribute it. But I digress. The primary reasons digitally mastered or remastered LPs sound so good relative to CD is because vinyl playback is not plagued by the chronic problems that afflict CDs and CD players/transports. These chronic problems include but are not limited to, the CDs themselves are often out of round so they wobble and flutter during play, causing errors when laser tries to stay on the data spiral. This problem is exacerbated when the CD is not perfectly level when spinning.

Then there’s the problem with scattered laser light getting into the photodetector, which is not smart enough to be able to distinguish real reflected signal from scattered light. The scattering occurs even when the laser is reading the physical nanoscale data and is scattered around inside the transport.
This scattered light is difficult to address, that’s why the problem has remained lo, all these years. The laser beam is infrared, invisible, light so it’s quite difficult to absorb or eliminate.

Other issues with CD playback like internal vibration, external vibration, internal and external RFI should and can be dealt with.

hollowman
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D/A and D vs A

Recall that orig Soundstream digital system (late 70s, used by Telarc, et al) was a 50khz system. So, better than RED BOOK, which was oddly a VIDEO-based 44.1khz codec (which is a fraction that ends with an odd numeral, and math gets messy when it comes to sample rate conv and digital filtering).

Fear and confusion of the UNKNOWN is a big issue. I think Esposito expressed this honestly.
You think bits is bits. It ain't that simple.
You think analog vs digital. It ain't that simple.
You think discovery of Higgs Boson would solve some problems. No. Just more questions.
And then there is Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Hard Problem of consciousness.
Etc...

geoffkait
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Making things perhaps even

Making things perhaps even more confusing, the most critical part of CD playback is when the CD laser reads the physical data on the CD. You basically have a quantum mechanical device (quantum well) trying to read nanoscale pits and lands on a data spiral spinning more than 250 rpm. All this in a firestorm if reflected and scattered light. This portion of the CD playback is actually an analog process, gentle readers. The photodetector simply counts the reflection (lands) and non reflections (pits) and the length of them as well. These reflections and non reflections are not interpreted as meaningful digital data until later down the road. There are around 12 of so discrete sequences of 1 and 0 according to the REDBOOK standard and those sequences are encoded on the CD as pits and lands. It’s easy to see that a wobbly, fluttering CD could make it extremely difficult for the laser beam to stay on the data spiral, making it impossible for the laser servo mechanism to keep up. Reed Solomon can’t keep up either.

hollowman
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The LAST mile SHOULD be ANALOG...

... well, for now.
The German YouTube vlogger SchlipperSchlopper, who used to work for German Radio, has collected vintage BROADCAST equipment, and other gear from the 50's to early 80s', and rips vinyl to digital for his YouTube channel. One of his tricks is to TAPE the output of the phono pre-amp onto a high-quality open-reel deck, and THEN feed the output of the deck to A/D card.
I suspect the tape heads and deck electronics are acting like that $$$ pre-amp, almost "magically" massaging and lubricating the audio signal like Goldilocks to get it "just right".
I have to say, the results are extremely interesting.
https://www.youtube.com/user/Schlipperschlopper

geoffkait
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Gee, if only you could go

Gee, if only you could go back in time and use better electronics to master some of the classic RCA and Mercury recordings. Hey, wait, that’s just what RCA and Mercury have done! They used modern electronics including tape machines to master some of the classic Living Stereo and Living Presence recordings from the 50s and 60s. I heard one of these a couple weeks ago and it is very interesting. I believe the one I heard is DSD mastered. My DSD CDs of Dylan and Stones are fantastic too. Any way to bypass the CD player is a step in the right direction.

hollowman
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MoFi using DSD

Yes, the big news this week has been the "revelation" that Mobile Fidelity has been using DSD for their 1-Step releases.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shg0780YgAE
While MoFi should've or before) , and were only recently forced to come out of hiding, .... all that said , their decision to go DSD was an acceptable one. ESPECIALLY given the the CLAIM that several steps of the stamping process is removed with 1-Step ("Mother" and "Father"; see MoFi's web site).
Again, think of everything from the cutting lathe to the phono preamp as a sort of D/A processor (this includes: the mastering engineer, the LP stamper , the vinyl, the turntable, the cartridge). Use your imagination. You're an audiophile ... and you know DACs can sound different from each other. Various topologies can have a unique sound signature (non-oversampling; oversampling; DF design -- min. phase, etc; number of DF taps; Delta-Sigma; R2R ladder; DEM; etc.)

hollowman
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The retroactive noble lie!

Many have asked: "Did Mobile Fidelity Lie??" YES. Was it a NOBLE lie? Did it lead to serendipity? Hmmm... well, the DSD in-between led to the 1-Step process, which has less mechanical processing (plating steps -- very possibly a huge plus for LP playback). The results were good enough to have "fooled" so many customers and "experts" for over a decade -- suggesting the "analog" sound signature is largely incorporated from the cutting lathe, mastering engineer's "art", vinyl plate/pressing quality, turntable, tonearm, phono cart, phono preamp.
Personally, I do know that if I rip an LP carefully to a high-rez digital file, I preserve a good deal of the LP's analog "goodness" into the WAV file. The WHOLE cutting lathe --> phono preamp "stage" needs psycho-acoustic analysis and formal academic research. There! I just created a retroactive noble lie! MoFi: Feel free to use this post for your legal defense or future advertising campaigns.

geoffkait
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Two thousand bucks for Mobile

Two thousand bucks for Mobile Fidelity one step Abraxas on eBay. Are they out of mind?

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