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rmilewsk
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Does analog really sound better than digital?

After years of ignoring high end audio I decided to get back into it a year ago. I'm surprised that after 20 years of really smart people working on making digital sound better that a lot of people don't think it sounds better. Does analog really sound better than digital? (Specifically an LP vs. a CD) I know everyone will tell me to listen and make up my own mind. I will do that. I'm wondering what other people on here think. Also do the Editor, authors and contributors to Stereophile continuously listen to both analog and digital? If not why not?

bifcake
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Analog doesn't sound better to me at all. It sounds warmer, but I think that's because analog has limited upper frequency response. I also find that analog bass isn't as deep or impactful. Granted, I haven't heard 100k players, but I heard 10k players and I was unimpressed. Another thing is that I can't get over the clicks and pops of the record. That alone kills it for me. I can't call something hi-fi if there's extraneous noise generated by the playback mechanism. I find that a good CD player stands heads and shoulders above a comparable turntable. Of course, there are people out there who will swear up and down that I'm wrong and deaf.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

The answer is...it depends upon the software for each format. I have equally bad sounding music from CD and LPs.

The argument for me is vinyl, done right, can be very magical and real sounding to me. It takes more effort to get great sound from vinyl. The old addage...buy right, buy once is so true. 20+ years later we are just beginning to get digital right.

MF has said that even if you buy an MMF5 or Rega P3 you might think you are hearing it all, but sadly not. It just takes more money to get great sound out of vinyl, but if you are willing to committ to it, it is there for the taking.

I think much less that an Acoustech Phono Stage and you are still behind the game. The better Rega, VPI, SME, Thorens, Project, Sota, and Linn tables can move you along. I am also afraid that unless you ante up a grand or more on a very good cartridge you will be missing much.

I do not think that if the format matters to you that an investment of near $4-5K wouild get you most of the way there, and you must include an lp vacuum cleaning machine to complete the job. The VPI at about $700 is excellent.

If dropping $5K on an Ayre C5-Xe is in the cards, then you should be willing to invest the same if you want most of what vinyl has to offer. The latest 180-200 gram vinyl releases are excellent. I bought K622 and Norah Jones on virgin vinyl and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite format. The vinyl is superb.

Think about a MMF9, or a REGA P5, or the amazing VPI Scout , or Project RM 9.1 with an Acoustech Phono Stage and a Lyra Helikon at a total of about $4,500.00.

Buy right...buy once.

CECE
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Snap, crackle pop....yupper. When ya get a good LP, free of that stuff it sounds fine. Few and far between, even cleaned with VPI record cleaner. SACD smokes everything. Wonder why Philips/Sony invented DSD etc? Cus' it was teh next step above CD, which is the replacement of teh 100 year old spinning piece of plastic. I'm sure when the 100+ year old Incandescent lamp finally dissapers, now that people finally are using CFL in their homes, even though it's been around since like 1982 when Philips introduced the first one, they are now cheaper, better, smaller. Of course the stalwarts will insiste the 100W room heaters are better, the extra heat and short life makes a more homey enviorment....riiiight. Take and SACD and an LP of teh same recording..SACD wins. Ease of use, sound, no noise. Play teh Rolling Stones LP, then do teh SACD, LP is unlistenable, so is teh CD versions. If it takes $100K to play a record and to some sounds so good, it's a useless medium. REK-O-Kut used to be used for teh making of LP's that didn't cost $100K ....Me thinks the LP/Vinyl crowd is extremely misguided. $7,000 cartridges, yupper, sounds like a winner. !932 chevy I'm sure is better than a current Porsche...oh yeah. Vinyl is not final, only in siding, even then it's really only about 30 years. SACD/DSD finally got you to hear teh original recordings. LP has distortion, noise, and everytime ya play it, you are destroying it!!! Sounds so 19th century. Oh, it is!!!! Some LP's sound fine, when ya get lucky, i do have some that really are indistinguishable from a CD, until that one snap hits ya, game over!!! My remote doesn't work on the VPI either how come?

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

For the last 20 years I pretty much ignored analog.

Yeah I still had 400 of my original 800 LP's, and I listened to some of them occasionally, but I considered it a dead-end and just kept my old Harman-Kardon T-60 turntable and Grace cartridge. The LPs sounded fair, but certainly not as good as my CDs or SACDs.

Recently I bought an Audio Research LS-26 preamp and an AYRE C5xe SACD player, and the sound was really spectacular.
I basically think I have the state-of-the-art in digital playback now, so I decided to try a little upgrading on the analog side.

I traded in my Audio Research PH-1 phono stage for a PH-5, and whoa! what an improvement! Some of my LPs were now sounding almost as good as my CDs. What a great improvement;
a wonderful phono stage: a world of difference.

A friend suggested that the Grace cartridge was not really all that good, so I ordered a Clearaudio Aurum cartridge for $200, and that made a big improvement also. Now 50% of my LPs are sounding spectacular; better than the CDs, except maybe somewhat lacking in bass!

Then disaster struck; my old turntable died. Every revolution it went "bomp" and the platter oscillated up and down a quarter of an inch. Not good...bad bearing obviously. Oh, well it gave me more than 30 good years of service.

Hmmm...time for action...6 hours of intensive research later I make a midnight online order and get a Music Hall MMF-7 and Benz Micro Ace cartridge ordered; overnight shipping please (gotta listen to more of that record collection...lol).

The LPs now sound so much better than even the SACDs that it is blowing me away; far more dynamic and far better bass definition. This is especially obvious when I compare the same exact recording. I have at least 10 recordings where I have the CD and LP, and in some cases the SACD, and there is no question that the LPs deliver better sound. Some examples; Brubecks Take 5, Cantate Domino, Jazz at the Pawnshop, Tomas Ornbergs Blue 5, the original OPUS 3 Test Record, the Hammerklavier Sonata by Ruolf Serkin, etc. etc.

And, remember, we are talking about a $6000 SACD player (rated A+, incidentally...) being bested by a turntable and cartridge that cost $1500 total (and rated only class C for the turntable and B in the case of the cartridge). The Benz Micro Ace is way way better than the Clearaudio, especially with regard to the bass; the bass kicks ass.

My eyes have certainly been opened; I ignored analog for 20 years, but I am a believer now. And by the way, only about 20% of my old LPs have enough click/pop problems that I find them an issue that interferes with my listening. In my experience, these are more often manufacturing defects, not from wear or damage.

If you think LPs don't sound a LOT better than CDs, you need to come over to my house; your ears will tell you what is what real real fast; no doubt about it!

jazzfan
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

DUP,

Your posts are getting much more rational these days. In fact, in this last post you didn't even mention that Albert King SACD that you're always raving about. However, your spelling still sucks but even that is improving. Keep up the good work.

Buddha
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

If you like measurements, go find a 1kHz sine wave reproduced by an LP and by an SACD or CD and compare.

Doesn't take a hundred grand to squash the limited detail that digital still produces.

Digital sine wave (measured by JA):

Analog sine wave:

Which do you think is more accurate?

Which do you think would do a better job at reproducing complex musical signals?

Yeah, no remote. But if your attention span is longer than part of a song, it ain't a burden.

Also, it sounds like some people don't know about the sonic importance of clean records. I can't remember the last pop or click I heard.

So, call me when digital can at least produce a clean sine wave and I'll consider promoting it to mid-fi.

Cheers!

PS: I do like the fact that digital is more drunk resistant than vinyl, so it's not all bad.

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Hey Buddha; who said anything about measurements....lol??

And by the way, your waveform example is ludicrous because that Wadia waveform is at -91 db, which is virtually inaudible. At audible levels you will see no distortion in an a pure sinewave on any CD player; that has nothing to do with why the sound quality IS different.

The reason the sound quality is different is a LOT more complex than your ridiculous and simplistic example; it is all about what happens when MANY frequencies are mixed and have to be processed digitally and the intermodulation effects that occur; don't try to prove something with an out-of-context irrelevant example.

(By the way, if you TRIED to record a -91 db level on vinyl and look at it on a scope, the surface noise would be 100 times greater than the waveform and you wouldn't even be able to SEE it...lol..digital has a big edge there!)

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I just got a new copy of SONATA from Stereophile, and it has so many clicks and pops I can't listen to it; rotten pressing.

Most clicks and pops are manufacturing defects; they have nothing to do with cleaning the damn record. They are from embedded impurities in the vinyl.

I have cleaned the hell out the 20% of my records that have problems, and it helps very little.

Buddha
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Other than wondering who's piss it was in your Cheerios this morning, I'll just ask if you can find a 0dB example?

I can't.

I think I did mention musical signals, you can look again, but maybe you were too angry about the picture to catch that part?

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

No piss and Cheerios today, buddy, and I'm not the least bit angry, but your comparison of that Wadia waveform with a pristine sinwewave is just so technically silly and irrelevant that I had to say something.

At 0db or any relevant level they all produce absolutely pure sine waves, as does a $100 receiver; pure sine waves are easy to reproduce and that is irrelevant to reproduction of complex MUSIC waveforms.

To make a real comparison, you would have to compare the -91db wadia waveform with a -91db signal recorded on vinyl. Since the typical surface noise of vinyl is about -60db, the noise would be 1000 times the magnitude of your sine wave, and you couldn't even tell it was there. Do you get it now?

A more relevant test could be done at a low but audible level, say -40db. At that level any CD player would put out an absolutely pure sinewave and the vinyl would probably show a little noise on the waveform; all of which proves absolutely nothing about which is better-sounding; your whole example misses the point entirely.

The reason vinyl sounds better than CD has nothing to do with any test or comparison anyone can make with a simple sinewave as a signal. If it was that simple it would have been a big duhhh from an engineering standpoint to never have come out with CDs in the first place. The resons are complex and lie in the harmonic distortion performance of the many stages of the recording process, software production, and playback process; it is anything but simple.

Your attempt to make it so simple is, well, simplistic and a mile off target.

Buddha
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I still ain't seen that sine wave you mention at 0dB.

I'd love to.

I wonder why JA puts in such irrelevant and silly measurements, then?

I think the best test, as we both seem to agree on, would be done with an actual multi-instrumental signal, but I've never seen that, either.

Is this one of those "my way or the highway" Commsysman posts that turn into you listing your credentials?

Spare me that, I read those while you were fighting with other members.

Thanks, I understand you better now.

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

The reason JA put that in is to show how much error there is in the waveform at that infinitessimally low level; a level at which vinyl is totally non-functional due to a noise floor that is much much higher.

A 0db test is not possible because neither format supports a level that high; a fact you seem to be blissfully ignorant of (among MANY other things).

I can see that your inabilty to understand the technical reasons for the lack of logic in your example is causing you to turn to personal vindictiveness. I am not going to get into a pissing contest with you. If you want to settle down and try to discuss the technical issue in a factual and civilized manner, we can attempt to do that.

Buddha
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?


Quote:
The reason JA put that in is to show how much error there is in the waveform at that infinitessimally low level; a level at which vinyl is totally non-functional due to a noise floor that is much much higher.

A 0db test is not possible because neither format supports a level that high; a fact you seem to be blissfully ignorant of (among MANY other things).

Ooh, the wrath of Commsysman.

Dang, the feeling was over before I could finish typing "wrath."

Do it again, only now I'll never know...

(Blissful use of "the DUP button.")

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

There is no wrath or anger on My part. I though you were interested in a rational discussion of an issue, and your response is to attack me personally. I thought you might be more mature than that. My mistake.

I guess I should have realized that anyone who would think that such an off-the-wall, simplistic example proves something meaningful is not going to be competent to engage in a technical discussion of the relevant facts. Again; my mistake. Please read the edits on the previous posts.

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Analog bass not as deep or impactful?

That is the opposite of my system, and I am using the AYRE C5xe player, rated A+ by Stereophile ($6000)!

Your comments sound like what I WAS hearing before I upgraded to the Audio Research PH-5 phono stage ($2500), the Music Hall MMF-7 turntable ($1000), and the Micro Benz Ace cartridge ($550). Try this stuff and you will realize what true bass is...and it doesn't come from CDs (SACD is better, but vinyl is BEST!)

By the way...none of my analog components is even rated class A...and the vinyl sounds more dynamic and real than the A+ SACD player...think about that!

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Analog is the winner for me. It's possible to get a digital rig that will outperform a good turntable, but it will cost much more. At my level in the market, vinyl is king. I can get a record for a dollar, clean it up, and sit down for some beautiful listening. Insofar as hi-fi facilitates your connection to the music, I'll always prefer analog. I think people who focus on surface noise are missing what's underneath.

CECE
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Can't remember the last snap or pop you heard? You have more than bad ears, you may have old timers disease!!!!!!!

CECE
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Why ain't ya using Ree-Reel then, better anaalog, less nosie. I still have a ree-reel, ain't used it in ages, Philips 4504 or sumptin' like that worked great, last time I fired it up, just had to replace stretched blets.

bobedaone
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Actually, DUP, if not for the relative difficulty of finding reel-to-reel recordings, I'd be using one. I don't think it's the age of a medium that indicates its obsolescence, but rather its quality. To me, the few inconveniences of analog are worth tolerating for the wonderful sound. If I could get analog tape as easily and inexpensively as used records, there might be reels in my future. I think you raise a good point. If I had unlimited money, I'd hire real musicians to play in my house full-time!

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Damn straight it does!!!

Elk
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Does anyone have a since wave of a 1kHz tone as actually produced by a turntable playing an LP with a 1kHz tone on it?

There is no question that digital is off of the theoretical idea. I would like to see how close (or far) vinyl actually gets.

tandy
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Reel to reel sounds better than LP? We are on earth here, DUP, not spaced out. Get real.

DBZ
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Buddha, you've posted a picture of a digital sine wave at -90db!. In other words, at the very quietest level that a CD can reproduce. It's only using one bit (or two?) at that level. A good CD player will produce a lovely-looking sine wave at any normal listening level. By contrast, a turntable cannot produce a sine wave at -90db at all. That's way below the noise floor of an LP. Once you go down below -70db or so on an LP, you can detect nothing but noise.

This does not mean, though, that there aren't some benefits to good LP playback. To my ears, good vinyl seems to capture some transient information that CDs don't. I've noticed this mostly with well-recorded acoustic music such as guitar and mandolin playing. For example, I have a nice vinyl pressing of a David Grisman album that I also have on CD. The pluck of the strings sounds more realistic on vinyl. But I don't know whether that's an inherent limitation of CD or whether the CD just wasn't mastered as well as it could have been. I do have some theories, though, for why 44.1khz might not be sufficient to capture all musical transients or accurately reproduce the timing of reverberant reflections.

Buddha
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Hi, DBZ, I was being iconoclastic.

The big difference, for me, is that analog captures - pardon a visual description - that little something that happens around a sound that is kind of like a halo of the source of the sound.

Like, when you hear a trumpet note, there's more to the note than the note. You get a feel for what the source "looks like," sonically, when you hear it live or on analog.

Digital can't do that, yet.

There just seems to be more "space" around the music source with analog that's more like a live experience.

I'm not talkin' 'live' as in standing in front of a stack of speakers at The House of Blues, I mean more like live acoustic music.

Even reproducing a solo acoustic guitar seems to be just out of reach of digital in this regard.

Then, as the number of players increase, analog does a better job allowing me to listen to what everybody is up to. Digital seems to homogenize that experience.

When I A/B LP vs. digital for non-audiophiles, they seem very adept at picking out what analog is doing right vs. the digital source.

LP still wins the battle at creating that "hey, something cool is happening" feeling.

Cheers.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I have the following Shure Test records that anyone who will take care of and return them to me is welcome to run their own experiments with. Yoiu will obviously need an scope, which I do not any more.

TTR 109 1KHZ b 5cm/sec left and right channels
TTR 103 10.8KHZ pulsed 2db steps
1.0 and 1.5 KHZ mixed 2 db steps
400 HZ and 4 KHZ mixed 2 db steps

TTR 102 1,5,10KHZ sweeps and also has various stepped recorded velocities up to 27.1 cm/sec which very few carts can track at moderate or any tracking weight. Mistracking can damage this record. Be careful. Send a private message if interested.

V15 Type V tracking record Audio Obstacle Course

Advise.

DBZ
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Yeah, I tend to agree with you about some the advantages of LP. And I'm sorry to see the nasty responses you received to your original post. I posted mine without reading those first.

I think it's awfully silly to stake out a position in analog vs. digital as though it were some sort of religious war. I've got various recordings in both digital and analog formats. Sometimes the LP sounds better, and sometimes the CD. Often, the difference is due more to the mastering and pressing of the particular release than to the inherent nature of the medium.

But at their very best, LP and CD each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, a CD's ability to reproduce strong, low bass accurately can't be beat. That's not surprising, since the resolution of a digital recording gets better and better the lower in frequency you go and the higher in volume you go (up to the clipping point). Analog -- whether you're dealing with tape or vinyl -- is just the opposite: the lower and louder the sound, the more distortion.

By the way, I think somebody above mentioned analog reel-to-reel tape. I used to work as a recording engineer in the 1970's and early 1980's, in the days of really good analog recorders and the first glimmerings of digital recording. Reel-to-reel rocks! The best decks, with the best tape, make recordings that would satisfy any audiophile. Unfortunately, you can't take the master tape home with you, and any attempt to copy it involves loss of quality. But some of the newer digital remasterings made directly from the original master tapes sound awfully good. Often much better than the LPs you could buy back in the 1970s, which were often made off of third generation (or worse) tapes.

tandy
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I prefer the direct to disc recordings, with no tape involved. Problem is a limited number of Lps that can be produced.

Mapleshade uses a tape machine that does sound open and transparent, but the frequency response is not the greatest, but it still beats almost all of the CDs I have for sounding live.

The best CDs I own don't beat it overall, but do manage to do one or two things slightly better, like highs.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

When listening to live music are you physically hearing something closer to analog or digital? Since digital is basically nothing more than groups of zeros and ones and analog is measurements of continuous variables of such things like the physical quantities of length, width, voltage, and pressure having an output that is proportional to its input.

Analog is preferred over digital but with digital you can get the same or better quality of reproduced sound at less cost per medium and equipment. Thus, the true audiophile strives for analog that surpasses digital. The true audiophile has a very expensive hobby and can be described as something like a mad scientist. But you didn't get that from me.

bobedaone
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I tend to agree, Lamont, that analog at the top of the market will be superior to the best digital. Cost aside, equipment attempting to reproduce the original sine waves ought to surpass binary approximations, no matter how advanced. It's also very easy, however, to fall for analog at my end of the spectrum, which I would describe as "entry hi-fi". I won't speak of measurements, nor do I have the expertise to do so. I will say that the $350 Rega P1 produces a sound that I greatly prefer to the best my $300 NAD C525BEE can offer. No graphs, no tests, nothing technical. Just listen. Perception of sound is far more complex than its production, and I can say that to me, vinyl has more realism and brings me closer to the performance than CDs. It's subjective, and the only way to form a real opinion on the subject is to listen. I know it didn't take me long to detect a difference and express a preference.
But I digress. My point here was going to be that you don't have to spend a lot of money to experience analog joy. Even at prices I can consider, the sonic benefits are not subtle. Though I respect those who prefer digital, it just no longer stirs me. Give me a few 12" discs of PVC, a decent turntable, and a couple free hours, and I'll forget about iPods and CDs faster than you can say "perfect sound forever".

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Agreed. The quality of the medium being used to listen to is very important. You can listen to a mint factory Creedence Clearwater Revival LP and it will sound like you would expect. However, listen to the newer 180 gram LPs from the original master tapes of the same album release and you have superior sound to the CD version of the album. In essence, what you have is as close as your are going to get to what the band was listening to at the studio during the time of the recording sessions. This is where the joy of analog far exceeds the digital mediums. CDs that are remastered are not like the original master tapes. They are enhanced by digital manipulation beyond the normal recording studio adjustments. In my opinion, analog is as close to the real thing you are going to get if you use quality mediums and equipment. Digital is much more artificial and is geared towards hearing something different due to digital mixing.


Quote:
analog is measurements of continuous variables of such things like the physical quantities of length, width, voltage, and pressure having an output that is proportional to its input.

Natural hearing is the opposite and equal action. We don't get this with digital enhancements. Digital mediums contain sounds that can't be recreated on stage. This is why The Beatles were genius in the studio. They were able to create analog sound that most digital sound engineers have a difficult time duplicating in the studio. It is so artificial to listen to Bach on a digital format that has been enhanced for listening pleasure. I want to hear Bach as it was played in the studio or on stage. Not after some sound engineer tinkered with a symbol here, there, and so forth. It's just too artificial though it may sound better you would never hear it in reality. Digital mediums are smoke and mirrors that are cheap and generally sound great. But that doesn't make it better than analog. Analog has the natural human presence that a digital copy will delete.

Yiangos
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

rmilewsk,i am not a die-hard analog freak,yet,the simple answer to your question is yes,analoq sounds better.I've allways knew that and even when i tried to convince myself that digital is okay,a simple a-b comparison makes me change my mind again.If i could find a medium that could play as good as analog,i would happily trade all my lps for whatever that medium might be. I never had the chance to listen to one of those megabucks cd players (MBL,Esoteric etc) and i mean those over $15,000.00 yet,i doubt they could reproduce music the way analog does.I am not sure where the problem lies,but it seems wherever "digital" creeps in,the sound deteriorates.If you would check my post in "jazz music",i purchased 3 lps from a new (to me at least) company named "Venus records".I was dissapointed with the sound quality and during my listening evaluation,i
noticed a "thickening" of the high frequencies.The whole treble region wasn't as pure and delicate as a good analog record should be.I checked and rechecked vta,vtf etc but everything was okay.In the end,i've notived a small label on all 3 lp sleeves.Digital recording. Now,don't get me wrong.I've heard cd players with good recordings that sound fabulous but if you put them side-by-side with a good record
player,the difference in sound is very obvious.I can allways
tell i am listening to lp or cd.There is a certain "sound" between the two formats that when you know what you are listening for,you can't be wrong.Even sacd can't fool me i am listening to something other than digital.

CECE
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Wanna bet? You can't be fooled? You will know it's SACD, there is no pop or occasionly a SNAP. No matter how pristine you keep them records.That's how you know it's SACD, thre is no snap, pop, click. But then maybe it's your limited system, like is always the reason for not being able to hear the differences. That's the all inclusive reason. Just like politicans always wait till "the end of the day" or move forward. Ain't the power switch on turntables digital? It's either on or off? Now that has to be coloring the sound of the entire analog system? No such thing as a truly non digital system is there. Digital just might be the most natural system after all.

Yiangos
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Dup,you don't know what you're missing.The occasional and i repeat OCCASIONAL snap or pop makes no difference to me compared to the sound quality i get.Also,the best sound comes from analoq,live music,remember?Well,unless someone stuck something digital up the musician's ahemmmm you know!

CECE
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

i got lotsa LP's, lotsa. Some sound good. SACD sounds better. with less effort on my part. Occasionaly I've played one that was hard to tell is it CD or LP, then I heard the tiny snap..LP!!! I know what I am missing. MAtter o' fact i have 3 different cartridges and 3 different arms. I can hear a difference between cartridges, all on the exact same model arm. so it ain't my wires. It's audible between different brand cartridges.

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

All of the studio MASTERS were reel-to reel tapes, until digital mastering (ugh) came in. 75% of the (wonderful-sounding) SACDs were mastered From reel-to-reel tapes. Its kind of silly to say that reel-to reel tapes don't sound better than LP; of course they do!

I had an excellent AKAI reel-to reel tape deck in the 1970s, and the reel-to-reel tapes that I bought commercially were really excellent-sounding (however, since I was using a turntable and cartridge then that don't compare to what I have now, it's hard to compare...my LPs certainly did not sound very good then using that turntable).

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I don't understand why some people think that looking at a sinewave tone is going to tell them anything relevant about performance and actual sound quality. This is certainly NOT correct.

The cheapest mass-produced receiver has .01% or less distortion when tested with a 1 KHZ sinewave test tone. It will probably have 10% or more distortion when playing orchestral music or a female singer with accompaniment, but you won't find THAT on the spec sheet...lol.

Testing anything with a sinewave will tell you almost nothing relevant to actual performance with MUSIC! A Ferrari and a Daewoo will both give you perfect results if you test them both standing still with the engine idling, but that doesn't tell you which one is the high-performance machine. That simple situation tells you NOTHING about going around a curve at high power at 100 MPH, and neither does testing an audio medium or device with a simple little single frequency.

Running a sinewave test on any part of any electronic equipment or medium is the easiest test to pass and produces the least meaningful result.

The intermodulation distortion produced when multiple frequencies are present, AS IN REAL MUSIC, is what makes the difference in sound quality! Intermodulation distortion is ALWAYS produced, in some small quantity, in every stage of recording, mastering, media production, and in every stage of the playback chain when processing REAL MUSIC consisting of a infinite number of frequencies and the intermodulations of those frequencies. The resulting sound you hear has been corrupted at least 10 times by intermodulation distortion by the time it gets to your ears; it is a miracle it is even listenable after it has been processed and corrupted that many times. That is why it is so essential to produce the smallest amount of distortion possible at each of those stages of recording, production, and playback. The distortion produced by the microphone is compounded by the distortion of the recording electronics, which is compounded again and again and again all the way through the chain of storage and reproduction

A sinewave test on one simple link in the reproduction chain will almost never show measurable distortion; it is virtually a waste of time.

The fact is that the most sophisticated tests using the most exotic test instruments prove that digital playback has better signal-to noise ratio and less distortion than LP playback, yet there is obviously something taking place that those tests do not measure or predict.

Despite the fact that the noise levels are higher and the dynamic range is much less, LP playback has convinced almost all serious listeners using even moderate quality LP playback equipment that it somehow conveys dynamics and sonic accuracy in a more realistic and better-sounding manner than even much more expensive CD playback equipment; tests have not yet been devised that prove WHY!

I hear it.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I'm surprised this link hasn't appeared in this blathering of opinions about which sounds better. This very detailed article actually includes measurements of lp playback vs. CD, DVD-A and SACD. It's a great read with some surprising results.
Dynamic Comparison of LPs vs CD

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

That is an amazing study!!!

Everyone who is concerned with this issue should certainly read it carefully. I have never seen such a definitive study of this issue before, and with such thorough methodology!

It goes a long way toward explaining much that has been discussed in this debate. Even though many specific issues are not resolved by it, it does go a long way toward explaining why the LP sounds better despite its apparent THEORETICAL disadvantages in S/N ration and dynamics.

I also have to retract what I said about the absence of tests that can shed some light on this subject; someone has done it, and apparently made some real progress. His efforts are to be applauded.

Thank you very much for posting it.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?


Quote:
I'm surprised this link hasn't appeared in this blathering of opinions about which sounds better. This very detailed article actually includes measurements of lp playback vs. CD, DVD-A and SACD. It's a great read with some surprising results.
Dynamic Comparison of LPs vs CD

That was one of the best "articles" I've ever seen on this subject.

Stereophile should pay this author to write a version of that article for the magazine.

It's brilliantly done. It's got so much stuff that we've always wondered about and heard - kudos to the author.

Can you imagine setting him loose with a Continuum and some other turntables and digital players and seeing what he can discern?

tandy
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I think we are comparing two different reel to reels Comm. You are mentioning tape machines in the recording studios, at 15 or 30 ips. I am discussing the tape machines in the home.

Yes, it would be foolish to think the LP would be better than the source if came from, the studio tape.

I think DUP was talking about home machines.


Quote:
All of the studio MASTERS were reel-to reel tapes, until digital mastering (ugh) came in. 75% of the (wonderful-sounding) SACDs were mastered From reel-to-reel tapes. Its kind of silly to say that reel-to reel tapes don't sound better than LP; of course they do!

I had an excellent AKAI reel-to reel tape deck in the 1970s, and the reel-to-reel tapes that I bought commercially were really excellent-sounding (however, since I was using a turntable and cartridge then that don't compare to what I have now, it's hard to compare...my LPs certainly did not sound very good then using that turntable).

commsysman
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

You are right, of course.

On the other hand, there were all sports of levels of quality in "home" machines.

In the late 1960s I was working in instrumentation at Douglas Aircraft, and I was able to take my AKAI into work and compare it at 7.5 IPS to the 15 IPS Ampex we used for octave analysys of DC-10 takeoff, landing, and A/C noise.

Due to the patented "Cross-Field" biasing that they used on the AKAI (and identical Roberts) tape decks, it actually had better high-frequency response and lower distortion, at 7.5 IPS than the professional model Ampex at 15 IPS. Our Nagra PORTABLE tape deck was better than both of them, however; that was some machine. All tests were performed with our H-P distortion analyzer and spectrum analyzer. The Ampex was the same model most recording studios were using for mastering in those years, using 1/2 inch tape and four or 8 tracks.

There were also some very good Tandberg and Supex 1/4 inch tape machines around in those days; I never tested them, but I believe they were also very good.

tandy
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

That is pretty amazing, good work Comm. I was assuming DUP was refering to home machines. If not, my apologies.

Hopefully DUP will learn and grow from this article. Maybe he will even start a crusade against the Cd marketeers?


Quote:
You are right, of course.

On the other hand, there were all sports of levels of quality in "home" machines.

In the late 1960s I was working in instrumentation at Douglas Aircraft, and I was able to take my AKAI into work and compare it at 7.5 IPS to the 15 IPS Ampex we used for octave analysys of DC-10 takeoff, landing, and A/C noise.

Due to the patented "Cross-Field" biasing that they used on the AKAI (and identical Roberts) tape decks, it actually had better high-frequency response and lower distortion, at 7.5 IPS than the professional model Ampex at 15 IPS. Our Nagra PORTABLE tape deck was better than both of them, however; that was some machine. All tests were performed with our H-P distortion analyzer and spectrum analyzer. The Ampex was the same model most recording studios were using for mastering in those years, using 1/2 inch tape and four or 8 tracks.

There were also some very good Tandberg and Supex 1/4 inch tape machines around in those days; I never tested them, but I believe they were also very good.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

MF liked the "sound" of a miswired distorion playing Zander $45K...and it was miswired wasn't it? Mikey liked it!!! Which is now 2 strikes...He hears demmagnetized plastic, he praises the SOUND of a miswired, distorting grossly overpriced CD ONLY player. Them's sum highly trained ears, don't cha think?
When they make an LP off the master tape, you loose the quality, when you make a DSD SACD out of it, you don't. DSD is the closest thing you can make off the original tape that doesn't lower the quality, ain't it? If you make another analog copy, even on them great 2" tapes at 15-30 IPS you still loose, but I bet you would be hard pressed to really hear, but Mickey I'm sure could, of course. DSD/SACD is the closet thing you can get for consumer use, of the original recordings, right? LP is just so much less of a medium than SACD. A good home reel-reel tape always sounded better than the LP. There is just so much more information on even a 1/4" tape. Less distrotion, less noise. Why would a miswired CD only player with some really lousy specs which JA proved the thing is really JUNK for $45K!! Sound so good to such a trained listener, me thinks he writes tall tales. For $45K, the equipment should be lab/pro grade, with specs and build quality at the greatest level. And what sane person would put vacuum tubes inside a CD player anyway? Huh? Why does MF record an analog signal onto a CD (jeeez, not even into DSD) to show peoplel how great his $100K TT is, compared to another TT? He just digitaized his great ANALOG signal, then convereted it BACK to analog using who knows what. And this 10 CENT CD-R allowed listeners to hear the differences, he just proved then how great good ole OBSOLETE CD technology is, since DSD/SACD smokes CD, DSD/SACD IS therefore better than LP's. MF also proved analog is NOT better than digital didn't he? I think MF's entire run, is to be the oddball analog guy, that's his gimmick, when even he knows, he's telling tales...As long as it sells his writeups, he makes a living. But that Furutech nonsense, really took any bit a credibilty into the dirt. He hears demagnetized plastic, but can't hear that his Zander is miswired!!! Mr. can hear phase errors, AC line cords, wall outlets blah blah blah.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

"When they make an LP off the master tape, you loose the quality, when you make a DSD SACD out of it, you don't."

>>Want to bet. Check out the other string, the link to audioholics. You lose again.

>>1/4" tape sounds better? You again show how little you actually know.

"For $45K, the equipment should be lab/pro grade, with specs and build quality at the greatest level."

>>I hope not Pro grade. That stuff is overly priced junk.

"And what sane person would put vacuum tubes inside a CD player anyway? Huh?"

>>Well, if you are that stupid, you won't be able to understand any reply.

Your constant babbling over the same thing over and over, diarrehia of the mouth. As if this one event dominates your twisted little mind, why aren't you concerned with your hypocrit scam of pretending you are so scientific?

It is one thing to have an opinion, but another to continually degrade science by refusing to accept it, and make yourself out to be the class idiot.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

DSD is dead in the water as LP sales continue to increase. Although digital is getting closer than ever, analog has still not been surpassed. The coming years will be interesting, though. HD-DVD and BRD may prove exciting as high-res music media. SACD is some awesome technology, but it just didn't catch on. Maybe someday we'll see a format kill the LP for good, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. The fact remains that a lot of audiophiles are willing to tolerate the inconveniences of vinyl for its natural, non-fatiguing sound. Those who prefer analog, Mr. Fremer included, do so not for the sake of being idiosyncratic, but because it truly is better to them.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Preamble: I am in the camp that finds both analog and digital pleasing, just different. They are different as solid state and tube amplification are different. I also like both forms of amps and own both.

Comments:

It's a fun article but there are too many variables. For example, the gain structure of the phono preamp may amplify the phono output to have a larger crest factor than the digital players' gain stages. We also don't know if the recording on the LP is actually the same as the recording on the CD. Often the source and/or processing is differs between LP and CD versions of the same piece of music. I also note a lack of calibration of the various recordings and rips against each other. Then we have the use of a consumer "do-all" soundcard as an ADC.

Consider also that her (Christine) claimed measured differences often fall within 1dB, a difference that would be very difficult for most people to hear; not nearly enough of a difference to claim one format is better than another.

Again, a great fun read and an honest attempt to try to understand what we hear. I just don't think it explains much, if anything.

Yiangos
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Dup,my two best phono cartridges,two phono stages,turntable
arm,pre and power amp,universal player,are Stereophile class A components.
My loudspeakers were Stereophile Class A full range recommended components,so,there isn't any chance my system can't reproduce all i need to hear to say which is good and which is better.I do not need magazine articles or individuals to tell me what i am supposed to hear,especially
when the difference is between night and day.I never said sacd is bad.I only said analog is better and if you can't hear the difference,good for you.You'll save yourself the task of cleaning records.

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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

Yup, I'm an idiot according to 301, please explain why you put a vacuum tube inside a CD player? Enlighten me. and yes, that pro CRAP is such junk. But somehow it it was makes teh original recordings that you then tell me how great it sounds, after it's been transfered to a CONSUMER LP. Talk bout' confused!!! Explain to me why you put a tube inside a CD player? What science am i ignoring when it comes to "audiophile" mystical beleifs? Seen any good ads like Siltech? First they freeze it then they heat it to 800C !!! That is stronger wire than fire rated UL listed wire, how the f' did they get the wire to survive 800C!!!! And you think that is SCIENCE? And of course it's audible. Why does this dude at www.emmlabs.com think the way he does? Sitting at that baord with all kinds of ckts that can't be any good. It probably has too many op amps. compare an LP to teh same recording on even consumer grade 1/4" tape, it will be better on tape than the LP. Both are analog, now you tell me 1/4" tape is not better than an LP? I think you have MF diseae?

Yiangos
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

I suppose using the same logic,since rock groups etc use p.a. systems,we should use p.a. systems at home for music reproduction.Or,even better,musicians are stupid since they do not use Legacy Audio Wispers for music reproduction instead of P.A. system.
P.S. The tube inside cd players is for the technician to see
when he is working on the equipment.

tandy
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Re: Does analog really sound better than digital?

"Yup, I'm an idiot according to 301, please explain why you put a vacuum tube inside a CD player?"

>>That has been explained before in other strings, which you have read and participated, so why are you playing ignorant again? Trying to scam us again, DUP?

"and yes, that pro CRAP is such junk."

>>Same old lack of learning. "100" op amps is not good, but as usual you won't learn.
>>Pro gear is pretty much like radio shack stuff, and overpriced. Really degrades the music.

"But somehow it it was makes teh original recordings that you then tell me how great it sounds, after it's been transfered to a CONSUMER LP."

>>Reread my previous posts. Recording studios often record LPs to 50khz and higher. How high do CD players reproduce DUP? 20khz? So you outright lied about LPs frquency response.

"Talk bout' confused!!!"

>>You are one confused puppy.

"Sitting at that baord with all kinds of ckts that can't be any good. It probably has too many op amps."

>>Having up to 100 op amps, and untold number of stages allows for perfect sound? Who are you trying to kid. So a perfect stage has been developed? Afterall, if a stage isn't perfect, how could a multitude be perfect. In fact, think how much worse with a multitude of stages.

>>Hey, maybe you should look at yourself and where you have been before continually putting our views down.

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