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br67
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Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Hi.

I need some help checking if a statement is correct.

Someone I spoke to recently told me that vinyl is 98% high fidelity while CD is only 60%.

What he means is vinyl is 98% like listening to a live band while CD is only 60% like listening to a live band.

Is there any truth to these numbers?

Any help is welcome.

Tks.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Welcome br67. Regarding your question, I'll venture a couple of responses:

1- Taken by themselves, those two numbers relative to one another make no sense. Too much depends on the playback systems. If your friend believes they represent an accurate representation of playback on his system, maybe he needs a new digital front end.

2 - Unless the system in question is very very good, that 98% figure is too high.

That goal equalling live sound is tough to reach for either analog or digital. Good systems will fall between those percentages (closer to the top end)whether the source is analog or digital. With gear available these days you can be very good either way. The analog/digital argument isn't really settled any other way than by individual preference.

gkc
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Percentages are useless. Superiority depends on your tastes, the quality of your CD player, the quality of your analog playback system, the quality of the CD's you enjoy hearing, and the quality of the LP's you enjoy hearing. Assuming, of course, that you have speakers, amplification, and a room that can resolve the differences -- and a clear idea of what you want all this stuff to do.

I own about 2500 CD's and a cost-no-object playback system. I own about 3000 LP's, with a less-than-cost-no-object vinyl playback system (I own VPI, not Caliburn -- expensive, but certainly not state-of-the-wallet). Most of the time I prefer vinyl. I want to re-create my memories of the live concert experience. Vinyl, most of the time (but certainly not all of the time), does this a bit better than CD's. However, there are CD's that get me closer to this memory than equivalent Vinyl. Generalizations are not possible. Percentages are not possible. This ain't Chemistry, it's MUSIC! If you want quantification, get an abacus.

Sorry I can't help you. 30 years of concert going and hi-fi shopping have brought me to this. I can't help you. Get a ticket to a live event, and start wandering the showrooms.

You don't go to live events? Then you will have to formulate your own criteria for sectors of the percentage pie. Good luck, and happy tunes, whatever your frame of reference be...

bobedaone
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Oh dear, it's another digital versus analog battle royale. I think quantifying the fidelity is misguided. I will say that I believe analog to sound more real than digital, although 98% seems awfully optimistic. I also think 60% for digital may not be giving the medium much credit. I bet your source is a vinylphile. I love analog, and I'll have a turntable in my system as soon as finances allow. For my money, it doesn't get any better than a clean record on a good 'table.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

The one thing that has become crystal clear in my going to some recent live acoustic music events at Emory University; a violin recital with piano accompaniment and a organ recital on a huge pipe organ, is a LACK OF AUDIO COMPRESSION. You must take this into account when talking about accurate music playback. When you look at recorded music from any source in a wave form editor the compression becomes obvious, especially in pop music.

To me there is a continuousness with vinyl that only the best cd player can capture. Both Cheapskate and Clifton have excellent LP rigs and cd/sacd playbck gear, and although short of MF's Caliburn, still very nice lp gear for sure.

One thing seems sure lately that the market for excellent digital playback in the $1K to $2K category is getting crowded these days with some excellent machines. This is true if you only upgrade to say a BenchMark outboard DAC.

The same goes for the resurgence in turntables. I know that once you get into VPI Scout Jr, Rega P5, MMF 9, Sota, Thorens 850, the New Marantz, et al, that vinyl starts getting pretty magical. You just have to work at it a little, but the ROI is there.

Lamont Sanford
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

I've listened to 180gram LPs taken from the original master tapes and this is close as any of us are going to get to hearing what the band and producers were hearing while they were producing the album to begin with. So, even though the percentages cited aren't substantiated I have to agree that with the right quality and equipment LPs are more realistic if the original recordings were analog to begin with. For example, Creedence Clearwater Revival catalog on vinyl and SACD for Acoustic Sounds.

Note: The above collection is also available in SACD for those that are not so-called analogists. LPs still come with their shortcomings. But the band was either listening to their music on tape or LP at the time. The medium used is not the issue. The issue is your own preference on how and why you want to listen to the music. That is the core prerequisite for the audiophile. If all you want to do is listen to music than get one of those Tivoli Model One systems or better yet just go down to Target and pick something out and take it home. I use Tivoli in my office and my coworkers think it is high end audiophile equipment (go figure). But at home relaxing in my chais lounge it is a different story. That is my laboratory for listening to music with my own set of values in mind.

gkc
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Absolutely, Lamont. Da Shadow knows...

It is a personal pursuit. No need for Audio Nazis. Still, if one is going to make claims for universal excellence, one has to strictly define criteria. I know of no criteria that apply to everyone. In the end, it is supposed to be fun. I find it also enlightening, but I wouldn't presume to impose high seriousness on everyone.

For me, the live concert experience is the reference -- er, I mean the memory of it. It is an elusive goal and beyond attempts at logical proof. I prefer vinyl, but I keep the CD's and SACD's around for a reason.

I just don't think percentages can limn truth with the illusory accuracy they promise. I hate to keep beating this to death, but, "Bring out Number, Weight, and Measure in a year of dearth."

DBZ
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Jim:

I agree with much of what you said. I'd like to respond though to one point, which I think is a common audiophile misconception: that pop music would sound better if the dynamic range weren't compressed. In fact, dynamic compression is an essential part of the sound of most pop recordings. Rock music would sound awfully wimpy without compression. Most people don't realize that compression makes recordings sound louder, not quieter. I used to work as a recording engineer, and I invariably used compression on rock vocals, bass guitar, and often on other instruments. (Electric guitar and Hammond organ often need no further compression from the engineer because the overdriven tube amplifiers produce plenty of it.) I would have done so even if the recording and playback media had unlimited dynamic range. Many folk and jazz recordings are also improved through the use of compression. Of course, it has to be done artfully so that the impact of the attack isn't lost.

Classical fans would probably prefer that the recording and playback present the full dynamic range heard in the concert hall. But keep in mind that you'd need a very quiet room, and equipment capable of playing very, very loudly to actually reproduce that, even if the recording medium could handle it.

By the way, I think it's silly for some of the other posters to stake out philosophical positions for or against analog or digital. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each has many examples of great and awful recordings. I'd wager, though, that almost any audiophile would be delighted with the sound of a studio-quality analog reel-to-reel tape, if there were any way to play back the original master in your living room.

Elk
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

DBZ is absolutely correct.

Additionally, most classical recordings benefit from judicious compression. Compression makes the individual instruments lay better into the ensemble and creates a more coherent sound.

Microphones "hear" differently than ears and without the visual cues our minds process sound differently. Accoordingly the job of recording, mixing and mastering engineers is tough.

As to the start of this thread, in my opinion both digital and analog capture maybe 25% of a live acoustic performance. Both have their strengths which I find to be about equal. We have a loooong way to go.

Monty
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

I'm certainly not going to discount your experience as a recording engineer, but I most certainly think there is far too much compression being used in popular music at the expense of dynamic range and the soaring and emotional contrasts of music. I'm not against using compression, I'm against using so darn much of it.

I can listen to an older cd of popular music and switch to a modern cd of popular music and have to attenuate the volume by a considerable amount to keep from being assaulted. And, by an overwhelming margin, I prefer the older cd's sound to the heavily compressed sound of modern cds.

buelligan
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

"I'd wager, though, that almost any audiophile would be delighted with the sound of a studio-quality analog reel-to-reel tape, if there were any way to play back the original master in your living room."

These folks are making very nearly that wager.

http://www.tapeproject.com/

It makes my mouth water and my wallet cringe.

Elk
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Monty, I certainly agree with you and I suspect that DBZ does as well.

DBZ raises an excellent point however; rock, pop and modern country would absolutely fall flat without compression. As a classical musician (and recordist) I was quite surprised to learn how compression is used in contemporary music. For example, I had no clue how critical compression is to the sound of an electric bass, both recorded and live.

DBZ
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

That Tape Project idea is fascinating. But I wonder whether it's really the way to get the best sound into your living room. I went to their web site and I see that what the buyer gets is actually third generation ( two generations removed from the original master). Certainly it looks like these copies will be well done (I've never seen a 1" stereo machine before) but I wonder whether it wouldn't sound better to copy the original master tape directly to some form of hi-Rez digital audio.
And I wonder how many people will go out and buy a really high quality 15 inch per second 1/4" reel to reel deck.

I used to love the sound of my Otari 5050 Mk III reel to reel, though. I would sometimes make recordings direct to two-track with no multi-track tape involved. Even though that wasn't a state-of-the art deck, the resolution was wonderful. But nobody else ended up with a copy that sounded as good. At best, it got pressed to vinyl. At worst, it was copied to a cassette tape.

DBZ
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

I agree with you Monty. (and with Elk) Many popular recordings these days use way too much compression. Compare Santana's Abraxas (1969) with Santana's Supernatural (1999). The first one was recorded when the dynamic range of tape and vinyl was fairly limited, yet the recording retains plenty of dynamic shading and expression. The second one was recorded completely digitally, with 90DB of dynamic range to work with, and it has almost no dynamic variation. It's just designed to sound as continuously loud as it possibly can. A real shame. Imagine what Abraxas could have sounded like if they had modern equipment to work with back then.

I think that in the 60's and 70's, the bands were willing to assume that their fans would crank up the music in the quiet of their living rooms, and appreciate the dynamic constrasts. Now they seem to assume that everyone will listen on their IPOD on a noisy bus.

Using compression and EQ well is a real art. And I hope not a lost art. But I guess they're more likely to be used tastefully these days on jazz or folk recordings. Diana Krall and Alison Kraus recordings are good examples.

buelligan
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Wouldn't it be fun to determine for ourselves how a hi-rez digital recording of the masters would compare to their product on one of their machines.

I readily admit to a certain nostalgia about reel-to-reel. I remember being absolutely awestruck by machines such as the Technics RS-1500s.

Elk
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

Santana's Supernatural CD has only about a 3dB dynamic range throughout the entire recording. Literally. It is the recording equivalent of someone yelling at you for an hour.

A high resolution copy of a analog master would sound wonderful and would be a hoot.

commsysman
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Re: Vinyl vs CD - fidelity

There is no question that the most realistic sound quality I have ever heard comes from vinyl.

I have the AYRE C5xe SACD player, which cost $6000, and is pretty much considered a standard, and I have NO recordings of a piano that sound actually REAL played through it (and I have over 1000 SACDs and CDs. I am running it balanced into an Audio Research LS-26 and using Vandersteen Model 3A speakers and subs.

Vinyl is another story; I have quite a number of piano recordings that can be played at a volume that closely simulates the dynamics and power of the piano to the point where I really can close my eyes and believe that there is a piano 10 feet in front me; one that is particularly striking is Rudolf Serkin playing the Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata, and another is Horowitz playing the Liszt Sonata; two very dramatic performances, truly brought to life by vinyl. I have several audiophile-quality CDs of these pieces, and none of them even come close to that level of realism and dynamics.

The LP playback sytem is a $1000 Music Hall MMF-7, with a $500 Benz Micro cartridge and an Audio Research PH-5 line stage, so I have about half as much money there as in my AYRE C5xe. I am sure there are better turntables and cartridges out there, yet what I am hearing from it is truly impressive.

I have several recordings where I have been able to compare the CD and SACD and Lp of the same performance, and vinyl comes out better on most of them, if not all. Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain sounds great on SACD and vinyl, some differences but both very good. Jazz at the Pawnshop is better on vinyl, but the CD sounds pretty damn good also.
Etc. etc.

Another place where vinyl really asserts its superiority is recordings of pipe organs. I thought I had some pretty realistic sounding CDs and SACDs until I got rid of my 30-year-old Harmon-Kardon turntable and PH1 linestage (which is poor, by the way) and got the new stuff. The ambiance of the cathedrals and churches comes through from the vinyl in a dramatic and realistic manner that CDs cant match.

That is what I hear.

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