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Vinyl sounds good, but do we have to listen to it? Dynamics Plugins
Old 13th March 2014
  #1
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Vinyl sounds good, but do we have to listen to it?

Ok, I know this is one of those annoying topics everyone is probably sick of, but here goes...

As everyone knows, vinyl is becoming extremely popular again, and for a variety of reasons. From what I can gather, people who buy vinyl seem to fall into 1 of 3 categories.

1. People who think vinyl is fun. Maybe they used to listen to records with their dad, or maybe they just like the whole process of pulling a big record out of its cover and putting the needle down. Maybe then you like to sit in front of your speakers and listen to it the whole way through, and really appreciate the music. Cool. Have fun. I get it.

2. People who think analog is technically "superior" to digital. These people usually have some gross misconceptions about digital sampling, and say things like "it's just a bunch of samples man" or "ones and zeros, ppssshhh" and "digital can't touch the REAL THING dude". These people are grossly ignorant and don't seem to care. Not cool, I don't get it.

3. People who realize that vinyl is technically inferior to digital, but enjoy the distortion, non-linearities, and noise of vinyl because it sounds better to them. They might also appreciate the way the record was mastered because it wasn't crushed by an L1, or maybe it was cut a littler brighter that the CD master, to compensate for the way records start to sound dull over time. Cool, I get it.

Ok, so category #1 I have no problem with. Like I said, I get it, it's fun. Go fill your basement with stand-up arcade games and old coke machines too. Nostalgia is fun, who could possibly argue with someone who simply enjoys something they find nostalgic?

Category #2 people are basically morons. They don't understand how digital sampling works, yet they love to put their ignorance on a pedestal in the hopes of impressing some other ignorant people, and feeling pretty cool about themselves. I really don't care to argue with these people, any more than I'd like to argue with a flat earther or creationist. They're wrong and should learn some science.

I get what category #3 people are saying, but I still have a problem with it. Ok, let's say that for at least some categories of music, vinyl masters tend to sound way better that their CD counterparts. I know they're out there, I've heard them. They do sound better. But the reason they sound better is largely not because they are currently playing on a record in the listener's living room, it's because the recording was mastered to vinyl (meaning no L1, different EQ curve perhaps, plus all the non-linearities and noise of vinyl). What I'm saying is that if we really love the sound of vinyl, and we don't think digital is a bunch of evil ones and zeros, couldn't we just master to vinyl, then make a digital transfer from the vinyl? You could even use the BEST vinyl setup known to man to perform the transfer. Fancy needles and preamps, etc. Wouldn't this really be the ultimate vinyl lover's dream??? All the qualities of a vinyl master, and an incredible analog playback device all digitally encoded for everyone who DOESN'T have an incredible analog system to appreciate it?

Hope this doesn't sound like I'm whining. I get that people like the way vinyl sounds, and often they're right. But vinyl sounds better because of distortion and noise, and the way it was mastered, not because digital is inferior. I know most of you guys know this, not trying to insinuate that anyone here is ignorant of these facts.

I just see people shelling out tons of cash for records, needles, turntables, etc. and wonder, if people really love the sound of vinyl, wouldn't a vinyl sourced digital master be the best of both worlds? All the convenience of digital with the vinyl sound people seem to love? Is anyone out there doing this? Are there just too many category #2 consumers who would refuse to believe this is really the best way to enjoy vinyl?
Old 13th March 2014
  #2
Gear Addict
 

I am sometimes #1.

Agree with you about #2 #3.

I actually, in the last 5 years or so, prefer the sound of recordings made with tape or tape sims for all the sweet mild distortion etc.
Old 13th March 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
4) Vinyl imposes formal structure on the music and listening experience. It only runs so long before you flip it over (pause between movements) and not coincidentally the lengths are in keeping with lengths evolved in music over centuries.
Old 13th March 2014
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeDrive View Post
if people really love the sound of vinyl, wouldn't a vinyl sourced digital master be the best of both worlds? All the convenience of digital with the vinyl sound people seem to love?
I suggest trying it and reporting back.
Old 13th March 2014
  #5
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#4 DJs who enjoy using their ears and not their eyes.
Old 13th March 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinner View Post
I am sometimes #1.

Agree with you about #2 #3.

I actually, in the last 5 years or so, prefer the sound of recordings made with tape or tape sims for all the sweet mild distortion etc.
I remember from the behind the scenes featurettes on The Incredibles, that all the brass for the soundtrack was recorded first on reel-to-reel, then converted to digital for the mixdown, specifically because the engineers liked the coloration that a tape deck gives to those instruments.

So, I support those who generally fall into the OP's category #3, because some of the best in the business are in that category. It's not a criminal offense to prefer a "lower-fi" sound with the inherent artifacts and "distortion", so long as you know that that's what it is, and that you're not "losing" any inherent accuracy of sound by going digital as #2 adherents believe.
Old 14th March 2014
  #7
mfx
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hmmm...

I'm old, love vinyl, I have vinyl that plays and has outlived the plastic generation.

I'm an obsessive collector and it looks great in the ikea racks

Have had my decks for over 20 years and still prefer the tactility of vinyls. Never took to cds mixing and traktor...takes all the fun out it. Have Traktor every time I think I'll record some vinyls to wav/mp3, never get round to it. To busy enjoy the music. Mixing vinyls you listen closer to to what you are doing sonically rather than looking at waveforms and seeing how they match. MP3s are convenient but often forgotten.

Not all the time but a glitch/scratch on vinyl, the rest of the record might play, glitch on cd and you might hear some minutes, glitch on mp3 - its dead.

There's some music which sounds great from a production value on vinyl and some which really should never have made it to the format conversion.

There's a sense of value and worth to vinyl, you treat it with care. In turn I believe that a lot of vinyl is mixed with the same sensibility...not all. I do admit there are some vinyls that have been mixed and pressed which are to low in volume. In short some sound great on vinyl and some better on cd that is down to the mastering and pressing. So I can not agree with #3 it's on a case by case basis.

I view it similar to art (drawings/paintings) some works better on canvas or paper, water or oil paintings.

I'm happy vinyls making/made a comeback. I now buy more music and albums...that's got to be great for all working in the music industry....maybe.

...and I love to hear a little distortion and crackle on the sound, our ears are a powerful tool and it's amazing how these disappear into the background when listening to a great recording.

You can put vinyl are in a frame and on the wall...

In short I agree with some of your points, but not all...nostalgia and sound is largely superior in vinyl than cd...to me.
Old 14th March 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeDrive View Post
...if people really love the sound of vinyl, wouldn't a vinyl sourced digital master be the best of both worlds? All the convenience of digital with the vinyl sound people seem to love?
I had the same thought as you and why I posted this: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/maste...s-selling.html

I think that many folks (not all) like the "sound of vinyl" purely due to nostalgia. They remember great songs and times of their past when records were played on "stereos" with big wooden speakers, etc. It sounded warm and it LOOKED warm - it's cozy and it's "home".

But I have listened to some of my old LPs recently and they sound - bad. Noisy, distorted, etc. I didn't hear it back then because it was normal and my ears blocked it out and focused on the music.

I also remember the first time I heard a CD and thought, "WOW"!!
Old 14th March 2014
  #9
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Awesome post. Great points made, but what I don't get is: Why are we downing anything that relates to people listening to music?

I know when I fell in love with music. I was 5 and my Dad bought me a copy of The Beatles' "Beatles for Sale". When I listen to "No Reply" to this day, I remember for a fraction of a moment, what I felt like when I was 5, sitting next to pops listening to that record and what old Radio Shack record cleaner smelled like. That definitely puts me in category #1. There are millions of people with similar stories, what is the problem?

EDIT1: Just realized you said you have no problem, but the rest of it sounded so negative that I initially thought you did (basement, old coke machines, arcade machines, basically dissing heads like all they watch is syndicated 70's & 80's sitcoms - it's cool, I knew I was going to get old ONE day).

As I got older and learned more about technical aspects of audio, I slipped into category #3. You left out that listening to vinyl doesn't just require hooking up a turntable to a preamp, then amp and then speakers. You have to "tune" the turntable, make sure it's not skating too much, the right weight for the cartridge/needle, that the platter is balanced, etc. Then it's like "oh ****, some needles sound different than others? What's that about?" and for some it snowballs from there. It's a process! It's fun!

People these days don't do their oil changes either. A lot of these dudes don't even check their oil gauges or even know how much pressure their tires need to have; I don't see these dudes going around saying "Man, guys who do their own oil changes suck!"

It's audio, ****, be happy anytime someone tells you they spend time listening to it and not glued to f-ing Youtube!

EDIT2: With regards to your question: "All the convenience of digital with the vinyl sound people seem to love? Is anyone out there doing this?" Yep! My vinyl transfers, most of them have a bit of crackle; all I get rid of are the loud spikes and run them through my HEDD for flavor. Interestingly, the other day I turned on the radio and heard Billie Jean on the radio and was honestly shocked to hear how thin it sounds on the radio. My vinyl transfer/remaster sounds sooo much punchier to me. It's not like how I heard it back in the 80's on my dad's stereo, it's better!
Old 14th March 2014
  #10
I have a lot of vinyl ripped to 96khz, 24bit FLAC. It's great to have in this format. But I swear to god, it doesn't sound the same. Barring all technical details, differences between the digital and analogue playback can be felt. But who knows, effects of the placebo are strong. Gotta make a blind test video and stick it on youtube.
Old 14th March 2014
  #11
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Thanks for all replies guys. I was thinking about this some more, and I guess the thing that bugs me about this whole thing is this: When digital audio started to become the new medium of choice, we realized there were certain things about analog that we missed, things digital lacked. The most obvious of which is tape saturation. So what did the industry do? It kept using 2 inch tape, and musicians and engineers got the sound they wanted before going to digital. Then they presented the consumer with a convenient and extremely robust digital format with which to listen to what they had created. Something that could really convey EXACTLY what they were hearing in the studio. We didn't make claims about the superiority of cassettes and reel-to-reel and insist these were superior formats.

Digital technology is technically superior in every way to old analog formats, and if there is some non-linearity that we like in an analog format, we should view it as an EFFECT that we like, and not simply cling to the old format, right?
Old 14th March 2014
  #12
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Vinyl is great, but modern pressing are mostly so bad that I prefer "crushed with L1 to -7dbRMS" because I have less distortion here.
Old 14th March 2014
  #13
mfx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sat159p1 View Post
Vinyl is great, but modern pressing are mostly so bad that I prefer "crushed with L1 to -7dbRMS" because I have less distortion here.
This is very true, in actual fact some pressing are diabolical. That being said if you know where to search, you will find some releases that have it bang on.
Old 14th March 2014
  #14
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Verified Member
I am a mastering engineer for digital formats.

I woke up this morning and put on a copy of Sunny Day Real Estate's Pink lp (original press) while doing the washing up.

I enjoyed it.
Old 14th March 2014
  #15
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I have only two vinyls - I do not like vinyl surface noise, click and pops. I also do not like hpf'ed bass on vinyl [also monophonised bass] and weaker transients / HF content. I listen to music, to sound - not to disruptions.
Old 14th March 2014
  #16
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in response to the thread's title: Yes!!

As long as labels continue to churn out vinyl-CD simultaneous releases where the digital version has half the crest factor of the vinyl(analog), and engineers^* continue to insist it's the "same master" being used for both - heck yeah, we'll buy the vinyl and do our own needle drops to 24bit at home, and make lossys from that!




^* - This qualifies that NOT ALL engineers engage in this deceptive process, to be crystal clear on that point.

P.S. And please do not post that lame Production Advice video from you know who about vinyl DR vs digital DR of a certain French duo. I've seen it too many times to count.

Last edited by The_K_Man; 14th March 2014 at 12:56 PM.. Reason: used
Old 14th March 2014
  #17
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I can buy an LP for under 1 euro that sounds better than any modern mastered version including High Sample rates. That is a plus of vinyl.
As a DJ it is more fluid and tactile. The problem is not the digital it is the systems often used for playback. From the DAC to mastering practices used.

As I produce music also I prefer to release on vinyl but I follow pretty strict rules and know its plus and limitations.
Playing time: +6dB levels means louder release no compression. I hate compression and limiters.
Customers who want my music usually search it out which also I think contributes to the fact they will take a bit longer to listen to a release and further take better care of the actual vinyl. I know I do when I search out records both as a DJ and listener.

Digital, even CD can sound more neutral and with in the last few years of converts DAC in the cheap range like an ODAC you can get reference "master quality" sound for a very cheap price.
Old 14th March 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sempoo View Post
I have only two vinyls - I do not like vinyl surface noise, click and pops. I also do not like hpf'ed bass on vinyl [also monophonised bass] and weaker transients / HF content. I listen to music, to sound - not to disruptions.
The "mono" bass is a myth. Ever heard of the Beatles?
Old 14th March 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfx View Post
This is very true, in actual fact some pressing are diabolical. That being said if you know where to search, you will find some releases that have it bang on.
Yep, but they're sometimes priced over $300. That's probably another reason I would stick with digital.
Old 14th March 2014
  #20
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I just love the sound of vinyl. In many cases I have the CD and the record of the same album. I like them both but for different reasons.

There is nothing wrong with listening to vinyl or a CD. It is music and if you enjoy it so much the better. I wish more people took time to really listen to music today. Most people have it on as a noise source when the are driving or walking or running. To actually sit down and really listen to a record for 40+ minutes (with a turn over int he middle) is really satisfying.

I have a number of interns working here. They all have some vinyl and they all have a turntable, speakers and an amplifier to listen to the vinyl on. They also have their IPODS or their phones or their laptops or tablets so they can take their music with them. They come into the mastering room and we listen to vinyl together and they go out and buy more vinyl. They have learned what it means to really listen to music for 40+ minutes and not be doing 83 other things at the same time. They also are learning how to listen and what are the difference between the vinyl and CD copies of the same thing. Educated ears may mean that people will get upset with the quality of MP3s and start wanting to listen to CDs and Vinyl again. I am all for the vinyl rebirth.

Long live vinyl!
Old 15th March 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeDrive View Post
...if people really love the sound of vinyl, wouldn't a vinyl sourced digital master be the best of both worlds? All the convenience of digital with the vinyl sound people seem to love? Is anyone out there doing this?
OK. I've been doing this for lo these many years, altho not so much for the sound but rather because vinyl, over time, is the most durable archive medium. As my handle suggests, I've specialized in "studio quality" LP to digital transfers and remasters, sometime for my own pleasure and sometimes for commercial release. So I pretty much live the several issues you are raising.

As you realize, there is nothing intrinsically superior about the LP sound, and there is no technical reason why CDs shouldn't simply sound better. As noted, the difference lays mostly in a radically different approach to mixing and mastering, especially with older LPs with good dynamics vs. the latest generation of digital media that have had the musical and dynamic life squashed and mp3'd out of them.

That said, there are a few other subtle things I've observed that maybe favor the "LP sound." For starts and as noted, the dynamics, at least on older LPs, are nearly always better, with a greater than 15 dB peak to average ratio being common. Similarly, there is often a significant variation in average levels from track to track on the old LPs. When I remaster an LP, I usually normalize the average track levels to be fairly close to each other in order to accommodate the fact that current listening practices and environments are VERY different than they were 30 years ago when the LP was at its peak. The result is often a certain subtle relentlessness that the old LPs did not have but that modern listeners typically expect.

Another subtle difference is overall cleanliness of sound. Current recording and production techniques, especially when well done, can result in a recording that to my ears is "hyper realistic." I listen to a lot of live unamplified acoustic music, and it never sounds as pristine and as clearly etched when performed live as it does on most well-produced CDs. There typically seems to be a certain relaxed and maybe more realistic (?) aspect to LP sound that makes it more comfortable to relate to. Some of that may involve the surface noise intrinsic to vinyl, as well as tape hiss, with the resulting stochastic resonance (think analog dither) enhancing the recording's "inner detail." In my work, I try not to remove all of the surface noise and tape hiss except in the quietest moments and at fade out when the hiss is noticeable and thus more objectionable than helpful.

Something else I wonder about, and that is even more subtle, is the intrinsic difference in rise time between LP and digital sound. In theory, anyway, digital can go from 0000 to 1111 instantly, vinyl, and tape, cannot. I can speculate, but not prove, that the slower rise time of analog media also results in a more "comfortable" sound.

Another very subtle, but I suspect pernicious, problem with especially the older digital recordings is jitter. It has been clearly shown that in most cases system jitter can be ignored. However, jitter at any ADC stage will be indistinguishably "baked into" the resulting digital file and will then likely be modified and increased any and every time that that digital file is processed. A lot of especially older ADCs were fairly jittery and I suspect that it is quite possible that digitally processed jitter may account for some of the subtle but real unpleasantness of older digital recordings. Analog has its problems, but jitter is not one of them.

The last issue I'll address is the "audiophile" aspect of LP playback. Talk about a bunch of gearslutz! I've been listening to and playing with mid to high-end audio for decades. When it comes to high-end LP gear, and indeed a lot of audiophile gear in general, I get the rather uncomfortable sense that a lot of the tweaking of carts and turntables and stuff boils down to subtly EQing the system by other means. Past a certain point there is going to be far greater differences in the program material than there should be in the gear. But maybe I'm a cynic.

In any case, whatever works for you works for me. Enjoy!
Old 15th March 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LP2CD View Post
Something else I wonder about, and that is even more subtle, is the intrinsic difference in rise time between LP and digital sound. In theory, anyway, digital can go from 0000 to 1111 instantly, vinyl, and tape, cannot. I can speculate, but not prove, that the slower rise time of analog media also results in a more "comfortable" sound.
Absolutely not. Digital can't go from 0 to 1 instantly. It is just a mis representation of samples. In the digital world, there is nothing between samples. And after reconstruction, it is as smooth as analog.

Instant rise time contain frequencies to + infinity. Since digital is band limited, rise time is cannot be instant.
Old 15th March 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
To actually sit down and really listen to a record for 40+ minutes (with a turn over int he middle) is really satisfying
Completely agree - the ritual of vinyl is why it's such an important format. I know of no other format that presents the listener with big artwork and then makes them perform a bunch of actions to listen to the music. It forces habit, technique and concentration - I'm sure there's an element of placebo effect too, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Vinyl listeners seem to be the sort of people that have been less afflicted by internet attention span deficit!
Old 15th March 2014
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomaker View Post
Completely agree - the ritual of vinyl is why it's such an important format. I know of no other format that presents the listener with big artwork and then makes them perform a bunch of actions to listen to the music. It forces habit, technique and concentration - I'm sure there's an element of placebo effect too, but I don't see that as a bad thing. Vinyl listeners seem to be the sort of people that have been less afflicted by internet attention span deficit!
This is spot on, except I'm not sure whether "internet attention span deficit" is that much of a factor for devoted music fans. I'm thinking of the large number of vinyl unboxing videos on YouTube (over 100,000, the last time I checked), most of which are being made by teens-tweens who are avid internet and social media users. We're seeing new kinds of habits, techniques and concentration -- different than the ritualized ways many of us who grew up in the era of mail order and record stores got into listening to music, but vinyl (or other physical formats) are just as captivating.

You can't make a compelling unboxing video if the thing you're unboxing is a mp3, aac or a .rar archive...
Old 15th March 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubic Spline View Post
Absolutely not. Digital can't go from 0 to 1 instantly. It is just a mis representation of samples. In the digital world, there is nothing between samples. And after reconstruction, it is as smooth as analog.

Instant rise time contain frequencies to + infinity. Since digital is band limited, rise time is cannot be instant.
Absolutely true. I should have said "almost instantly" compared to the very real physical limitations of vinyl and, indeed, pretty much any analog media I can think of. In my post, I think I make it clear that I'm very much speculating about the potential effect of a slower rise time in analog sound reproduction. I'm very willing to be enlightened on that point.

BTW, I very much agree with both monomaker and oudplayer (I LOVE the oud! Mono can sound remarkably good, too.) that, for many people, effort and ritual are without a doubt a significant factors in vinyl's appeal. Unlike the playing of digital media, which typically involves little more than poking a button, one has to actually *want* to listen to an LP, and be willing to invest real time and effort and specialized equipment into the business of getting it to play. That alone will focus attention and often inspire one to want to get a return on the effort invested by actually listening.
Old 21st March 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
Awesome post.
Indeed! I tend to fall in cat # 2 but I know that CDs are more reliable, practical (I can't bring my turntable in car and please no one remind me of Sony's first disc-man ok, I know what it was... lol) and there's no surface noise and crackly distortion at the the end of the LP...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
EDIT1: ...
As I got older and learned more about technical aspects of audio, I slipped into category #3. You left out that listening to vinyl doesn't just require hooking up a turntable to a preamp, then amp and then speakers. You have to "tune" the turntable, make sure it's not skating too much, the right weight for the cartridge/needle, that the platter is balanced, etc. Then it's like "oh ****, some needles sound different than others? What's that about?" and for some it snowballs from there. It's a process! It's fun!
of course it is! (except when you drop the needle to hard doing a finger-cue because your arm lifter isn't gentle or precise enough for a half-second replay and makes a nice scratch in your record. Ahhg!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
People these days don't do their oil changes either. A lot of these dudes don't even check their oil gauges or even know how much pressure their tires need to have; I don't see these dudes going around saying "Man, guys who do their own oil changes suck!"
Ha Ha! yeah, and those dumbasses changing their own brakes, think they're so smart...

You hit the nail on the head for that one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
It's audio, ****, be happy anytime someone tells you they spend time listening to it and not glued to f-ing Youtube!
Indeed! (I'm glued to gearslutz, though... am I bad?)
Old 21st March 2014
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_K_Man View Post
in response to the thread's title: Yes!!

As long as labels continue to churn out vinyl-CD simultaneous releases where the digital version has half the crest factor of the vinyl(analog), and engineers^* continue to insist it's the "same master" being used for both - heck yeah, we'll buy the vinyl and do our own needle drops to 24bit at home, and make lossys from that!




^* - This qualifies that NOT ALL engineers engage in this deceptive process, to be crystal clear on that point.

P.S. And please do not post that lame Production Advice video from you know who about vinyl DR vs digital DR of a certain French duo. I've seen it too many times to count.
Are you talking about this?
Old 21st March 2014
  #28
Lives for gear
vinyl is not going extremely popular. its a niche. vinyl at its best is extremly inferior to proper digiatl audio. in the old times nothing was better than today. its the old mans myth about retro = better because the old man didnt get what has happened in the last 30 years.

come on guys ... vinyl is nothing more than old retro-bs.
Old 21st March 2014
  #29
mfx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
vinyl is not going extremely popular. its a niche. vinyl at its best is extremly inferior to proper digiatl audio. in the old times nothing was better than today. its the old mans myth about retro = better because the old man didnt get what has happened in the last 30 years.

come on guys ... vinyl is nothing more than old retro-bs.
So on a parallel analogue synths, outboard gear and analogue desks are inferior to their digital counterparts?
Old 21st March 2014
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfx View Post
So on a parallel analogue synths, outboard gear and analogue desks are inferior to their digital counterparts?
No. But we were talking about vinyl. As a medium, it certainly is. Just try to create a vinyl from a vinyl from a vinyl and you'll easily hear the true fidelity of the medium.

IMHO, the really interesting aspect about the "sound" of vinyl is that the whole system forms a music instrument. The plastic contains minimal data, which is seriously warmed up during playback (not just the frequency de-emphasis). Much like electric guitars. E-guitars alone sound like ****, it's always the system as a whole. In fact, cheap "hifi" systems follow the same principle: Rather than trying to reproduce with great fidelity, they don't even try and saturate the audio in a "nice" manner via processing or physical tricks.

The final result can sound great! But it's still a weak medium by today's standards. It's expensive, heavy, dirty, industrial (with all the negative aspects of it), sensitive to damage and shockingly outdated from an environmental point of view.

Similar to old-timer cars or planes: Everybody loves them, everybody hypes them. There's wide consensus about their beauty. But nobody really buys or uses them, nobody wins races with them. They are not practical and incredibly inefficient by today's standards.
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