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Vinyl or CD ?

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Katie Bush
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I'm just guessing, but would it be fair to say that I am not alone in finding vinyl recordings to be far more satisfying than the same works recorded on CD?

Since playing around with my Hi-Fi is about the limit of my activities just now, I've been playing an awful lot of music of late.. I find my vinyl, despite it's pops and clicks, to be much richer sounding, and always playable.. I have also discovered that more than a few of my CDs are now unplayable, or just not as nice to listen to.

The worrying aspect of the unplayable CDs is that they are all 'store bought' original ?pressings? many of which have now developed little pin-holes and peep-holes in their recorded surfaces.. Some have only a slight hint of degradation around the very edges, whilst others are covered in clear/see through spots all over the disc.

I am rapidly developing the opinion that most, if not all, of my CD collection will be unplayable in a few years.

Conversly, I have a few shellac recordings from before the war that still play very well, and all of my vinyl from the late 60's onwards still plays as good as ever, notwithstanding the obvious surface noise.

Marion

 
Posted : 10/05/2013 10:54 pm
Lloyd
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I was listening to some rather nice heavy metal earlier on vinyl (Amorphis :=D ), It did sound good on the old Technics SL-5! I also have it on CD, but it was originally purchased from iTunes, then burned to disc. Although the CD sounds good (and the AAC version from iTunes) I still got the impression the vinyl was just nicer, The bass was heavier, but still had plenty of treble, and wasn't distorted in any way at all. The CD version I thought was lacking bass, and it also makes the spectrum analyser on my amp light up fully, must be recorded too loud, or the output from my CD player is too loud!

All the pops and clicks soon disappear behind the music when it gets a bit louder anyway, so I don't really notice them, plus I always give the record a quick wipe with a brush thing too.

The other good thing about the vinyl copy is they put different bonus tracks on it too :=D

Regards,
Lloyd

 
Posted : 10/05/2013 11:28 pm
ianj
 ianj
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I like both,but find that a lot of modern cds ar far too compressed and over modulated.I've not had any cds go bad on me, but one of the earliest ones that I bought, from 1988, has gone from silver to adeep bronze in colour,and patchy.It still plays perfectly in my Technics player though.

 
Posted : 10/05/2013 11:38 pm
sideband
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I like both,but find that a lot of modern cds ar far too compressed and over modulated.

Yes agree here. It is the compression (or over-compression) that spoils CD. Most CD's sound fine in the car but the same ones at home can be tiring to listen to. Never have that problem with vinyl. A good comparison is Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon'. Incredible smooth bass on vinyl, not so good on CD which has been ' Digitally remastered'.

Classical music doesn't seem to be compressed (or at least not as much) and is just as good on CD as vinyl (at least I think so)

Rich

PS. Not sure you can 'overmodulate' a CD. It's digital after all and consists of '0' and '1'. It's more likely over-compression that causes the distortion.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:14 am
Anonymous
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Some / many CDs are badly mastered. A properly mastered CD is better. It's true that some titles are "better" on Vinyl than CD, but actually that's a production problem not the technology.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:24 am
Katie Bush
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Musical qualities aside, one of my main concerns just now is that CDs of twenty year old, and less, are becoming unplayable, and by that I mean some of them simply cannot be read by the CD player, or in some cases, the player can display the number of tracks, plus total run-time etc, but then fails to find any tracks.

I had one CD in particular which would play nineteen out of twenty tracks, but no way would track 20 be played.. In the end, I was able to recover all twenty tracks by copying the disc on my PC, using Steinberg Clean V.5, and write a new CDA disc from there.

It is looking more likely that this may be the only salvation for many of my CDs.. The point being that vinyl doesn't have the same problem of becoming unreadable - or at least, not quite.

I use this good old software to record from vinyl, clean, and ultimately write to CDA.. With care, it is possible to 'master' a reasonably faithful facsimile of the original recording, but even then, I doubt it is as good as the original vinyl.

Marion

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:37 am
Mark Hennessy
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A lot of the differences people hear when comparing CD with vinyl are caused by differences in mastering.

Recordings needed to be mastered before being cut to vinyl. The raw mix from the studio would typically be unsuitable - perhaps too much dynamic range, perhaps too much bass that is not dead-centre (which would result in a groove that couldn't be tracked), perhaps too much HF energy that would overload the cutting head. Typically, the mix would need to be compressed a little, some judicious EQ would be applied, and perhaps other tweaks too. Back in the day, the best vinyl mastering engineers were highly regarded and rewarded.

The important point to remember is that mastering was necessary because of the limitations of the vinyl format. It was fortunate that the mastering engineers made changes that generally resulted in a nicer sound, and of course the vinyl medium added distortion of its own, which can also sound "nice", so all in all, it's not surprising that some people prefer vinyl.

When it comes to CD, it could be argued that there is no need for mastering! Even the best modern studio with 24 bit recording at 192kHz won't produce anything that can be listened to sensibly that CD can't handle. As a delivery medium, CD is blameless. During recording and post-production, the higher sample rates and bit-depths are useful, but for delivery, no-one needs more than 16 bits. Sadly, the move to high-res (like SA-CD and downloads) is much more to do with marketing than audio quality. Not that anyone would ever admit to that!

Anyway, CDs are mastered. Partly because early CDs that were pretty much straight transfers from the final mix sounded quite different to the vinyl, which helped to give CD a bad name in the early days. Bypassing the work of the vinyl mastering engineer resulted in a sound that was closer to what the mix engineer would have heard, but give the general public a choice, and they'll generally prefer the gently compressed and EQ'd version.

Unfortunately, like any tool, compression can be abused. Just Google "loudness war". It's a very sad state of affairs.

Modern CDs can be heavily clipped and grossly distorted. It's so sad. Having spent decades struggling with the limitations of analogue delivery mediums (media?), we now have a blameless delivery medium that is filled with terrible quality audio. Honestly, some CDs I've analysed could be reduced from 16 bits to 4 bits and no-one would know the difference.

Of course, radio has a lot to answer for here. Why should "pop" recordings be done to any standard when they are going to be shoved through an Optimod? And remember that most radio studios make no effort to control the levels through the desk these days - compressors built into the desk do that to an extent, and the Optimod finishes the job. And most pop music is consumed via mobile phone loudspeakers. Quality audio is a seriously niche hobby these days - much more so than it ever was. Of course, the hi-fi industry is partly to blame for that, with outrageous cables and accessories, but that's another story...

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:50 am
Mark Hennessy
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Musical qualities aside, one of my main concerns just now is that CDs of twenty year old, and less, are becoming unplayable, and by that I mean some of them simply cannot be read by the CD player, or in some cases, the player can display the number of tracks, plus total run-time etc, but then fails to find any tracks.

Out of my several hundred CDs here, I don't think I've got any that are playing up. Not even the second-hand ones that haven't been as carefully looked after as my own.

But I do have several CD players, and one or two of them are a bit fussy.

With care, it is possible to 'master' a reasonably faithful facsimile of the original recording, but even then, I doubt it is as good as the original vinyl.

Depends on how you're doing it, and how good your sound card is. And the software, of course. But, as a general principle, providing you're not clipping, there is no loss of quality from going from analogue to digital and back again. There are a lot of myths out there, sadly.

It's a bit fast-paced, but some might find this interesting: http://www.xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml - I highly recommend a look.

Mark

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:57 am
Anonymous
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Unless you are using carefully stored "archival" quality CDR the life of your own CD recordings is poor. Commercial CDs are pressed and don't suffer the same corrosion issues as DVD. But even the DVD that the reflective layer has corroded can in theory be read as they are pressed.

I've seen players get poor as they are worn, but never seen read issues with an unscratched CD. I've read very very badly scored disks by cleaning in soapy water, drying and wiping with baby oil. Then I have been able to play/copy them.

I've had plenty of "home recorded" CDs go bad. That's an issue with the dye, that problem doesn't exist with commercial pressed disks.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 1:23 am
Refugee
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CD failures do happen. I have got a commercial one that has two tracks in the middle that do not play.
They do copy to hard disc and play fine again.
Blank media for home recording is very variable and I have got some very cheap discs that do not even have an easy way of working out what way up they are supposed to go in the drive that have a better data life than the ones from PC world (branded Pcline). Most of the proper branded ones are a lot better.
I would advise that all CDs should be kept in the dark though.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 3:14 am
Jamie
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For me it has to be vinyl. Of course I use MP3/CD for portable listening but Vinyl and a decent HIFI make for a good home listening.

even though my MP3s are 320KB/s (that, higher than 128KB/s the standard CD bitrate) they still sound "harsh", vinyl sounds more "mellow" and to me better.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 10:42 am
Anonymous
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the sound quality of cd's is something that has been bugging me for quite a time now i have owned cd players from the mid 80's and have some cd's that sound fantastic. but in the last 4 years things seem to of got worse, as an egsample i bought amy winehouse back to black some tracks were so bad (a kind of distortion that sounds like playing a record with fluff on the sylus) that i took it back thinking i had a faulty cd the replacement was just as bad.
on the other hand i have some mary black cd's that cant be faulted.
i do find that i can listen to vinal for hours at a time i cant do that with cd.
mind you i also have records that sound awfull.
i have 2 cd's that now unpayable you can see that the metal layer has a kind of fungus on it both came from the late 80's.
imho you need to spend a lot of money to get the best out of vinyl and have a certain amount of expertise
where as a cheap cd player will give ok results with no messsing about.
rob t

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 11:48 am
Mark Hennessy
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even though my MP3s are 320KB/s (that, higher than 128KB/s the standard CD bitrate) they still sound "harsh", vinyl sounds more "mellow" and to me better.

CDs are around 1.4Mb per second.

16 bits per sample, 44,100 samples per second, 2 channels. Multiply them together.

You have plenty of choices at which date-rate to make your MP3 files at. There is no standard for CD or anything. As much as the bit-rate, the choice of encoder makes a big difference. And in general, there is no benefit in going beyond 256kb/s with MP3 - perhaps surprisingly, MP2 can be better than MP3 at higher bit-rates.

(Note the lower-case "b", which means "bits". Upper-case "B" is for Bytes)

If a CD is harsh, then it's a poor recording, or you have a problem with your playback system. Or you don't like what the recording and mastering engineers intended, and prefer the compromised version that made it to vinyl. Personal preference is absolutely fine, but it's important to be aware of the facts. Often, a preference for vinyl has much more to do with emotions than anything else. Which is fine.

As a medium, CD is not "harsh"; CD gives you a perfect copy of what was heard by the mastering engineer. Vinyl is technically very compromised and adds noise and distortion to the sound, and wears out. These are simple engineering facts.

Whether you want to hear exactly what the engineer heard is another question - many recordings are deliberately compromised for "artistic" reasons, and vinyl can help to take the edge of these.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 11:55 am
Anonymous
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even though my MP3s are 320KB/s (that, higher than 128KB/s the standard CD bitrate)

Bit rate on CDs AFTER removing overhead bits is
44100 x 16 x 2 = 1,411,200 b/s = 1411.2K bps = 176.4 KB/s
Best bit rate on MP3 is 320,000 b/s = 320 Kbps = 40 KB/s

B = Bytes (8 bits in a Byte)
b = bits
K = 1000 (only is 1024 when counting Memory chips as 2^10 = 1024 and even then K is wrong!)
{edit Mark beat me!)

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 11:56 am
Anonymous
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I'm going to come at this from a different angle. Analogue discs had an indefinable 'object value' which has never been matched with cds (less so: downloads). From the early shellac discs to the later vinyl - the 'object' had a presence which just seemed to have an intrinsic value all its own. To hold a 12" cardboard sleeve and take out a huge black disc - the physical act of putting a stylus in a groove - reading the lyrics, story, credits - putting the poster on your wall - and lastly: that 'record smell' ...all added up to an 'event' which (for me) is lost with CD. The activity of playing an 'album' seemed as important as the music which filled the room. The difference between a teabag-cuppa and a Chinese tea ceremony perhaps? In that respect, it's clear that the attachment some have to vinyl is not rooted in the sound quality (the arguments there can rage on for hours!) and are not defined by scientific explanations but emotional ones, if we're honest).

In some ways, this has posed a huge problem for the marketing departments as a 'download' just doesn't appear to have the same financial value perception as the cardboard, gatefold, album with inserts. It would seem that we have a greater 'connection' with the physical (as opposed to the cloud - Spotify) and cds just seem - well - a 'cheaper' experience.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 12:32 pm
Anonymous
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A download isn't the same value as it's only a non-transferable licence. I'm only interested in a Download if it's a disposable item or Software I can make a backup or legally free. Hence I mostly buy physical books, disks etc.

Downloaded Books, Video & Audio can't replace physical tapes, ROMs, disks. Unless it's Public Domain or has permission for physical copies it's not at all the same sale. Even then it's impossible for an ordinary home user to make a disc of durability of pressed CD, DVD, or BD. Or a decent printed book.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 1:22 pm
Jamie
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Of course, at the end of the day it's down to personal preference. Maybe I should have highlighted CDs burned via myself are 320KB/s. I have some official releases and they do sound OK. But I will always prefer holding vinyl to a CD. Don't forget it's a piece of history too. and nothing can beat the fascination of how tiny indents in a record can be converted to audible music!

Of course, Not all vinyl is good. For instance ABC's "The Lexicon of love" is about as this as paper, and thus' the recording sounds the same as if it were on paper! :'(

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 1:33 pm
Lloyd
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imho you need to spend a lot of money to get the best out of vinyl and have a certain amount of expertise
where as a cheap cd player will give ok results with no messsing about.
rob t

I must say I have got very good results for very little money! I use a Technics SL-5 linear tracking thing (which I've been told are crap...) cost £5, a Goodmans Delta 800a, which cost £10, and a pair of Sony SS7200 speakers, which cost £10 (ok, their quite battered!!).

I also use a Philips CD104, which was also quite cheap at £12, very good player :=D

I have got some vinyl that is completely awfull to listen to as well, one which springs to mind is an Evanescence 7" of Call me when your sober, which has too much bass on it, so much so it actually threw the stylus onto the next groove when I played it last!

I use both CD and vinyl, both are good format's, I probably use CD's way more often than vinyl, mainly because they don't wear out (unless you scuff them about too much!) and their easier to set going, and just leave them, no turning over every 3 or 4 songs!

it must be down to the mastering on my latest Amorphis album, the iTunes download sounds rather harsh, to the point I have to turn it down as it just doesn't sound nice, but the vinyl of it I can play very loud without it sounding harsh at all. I might have to get my hands on one of those CD recorders and just copy the vinyl to CD!

Lloyd.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 1:39 pm
Anonymous
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But a CD has a real spiral groove for tracking, small dents at the bottom that are converted to sound ... It plays from the inside to the edge like old 16" 78 RPM cinema disks.

A Home writeable CD still has a pressed groove under the clear surface. The top surface has a dye and reflective aluminium backing. The dye is either clear or opaque after writing to optically simulate the pressed pits on commercial disks.

I have 78s, 33s & 45s, but I prefer a good quality CD. Every time I play the analogue disk I am destroying it. I have unimportant ones for testing old record players.

Using 2 part silicon on a cleaned disk you can make a mould. This then can be filled with polyester resin. Then you can replicate a valuable 78.

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 1:49 pm
Jamie
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Every time I play the analogue disk I am destroying it.

But Michael, You could argue.. Every time we use our Valve TVs or Radios we're destroying the valves? They only have a limited life especially CRT's and there's only a limited number about! :thumbl:

 
Posted : 11/05/2013 2:01 pm
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