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What sounds better: CD or Vinyl?

  • CD

    Votes: 26 66.7%
  • Vinyl

    Votes: 13 33.3%

  • Total voters
    39
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---Edit---
I just saw somewhere that the dynamic range of a vinyl record is 50dB and is 96dB for a CD.
yes, although these figures will vary depending on the vinyl engineer and in the case of cd the production engineer.

I've also seen it posted that a CD is way more closely matched to the original recording than any Vinyl album.
I would say of late it is the other way around, although the actual record quality is closer on cd, unfortunately the mixdown and dynamics on cd's are being squeezed to nothing in order to get volume.
 

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I agree with DRF. Whilst the CD has a much larger dynamic range it seems that today most CD's are mastered to have the highest average volume. To accomplish this many of the dynamics of the music is removed
 

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I agree with DRF. Whilst the CD has a much larger dynamic range it seems that today most CD's are mastered to have the highest average volume. To accomplish this many of the dynamics of the music is removed
However, if vinyl were the current medium of choice, they would be going through the same issues..

also, I will agree that there are a LOT of CD's that are being mixed high.. but not all of them.

Take a Telarc CD and compare it to any vinyl record of the same recording on any turntable you can find. My assumption (since I've not done this myself, and can only rely on someone who has) is that the CD will be MUCH closer to the original recording than the vinyl record. That doesn't mean that you won't like the vinyl record better, just that it won't be as accurate.

JCD
 

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So what's your take... which one sounds better, CD or Vinyl?
Define better... :scratchhead:

While the CD has the capacity to be a more accurate and natural sounding faximile of the original it lacks the often favorable "warmth" of vinyl that's due to the distortion brought on by the analogue and tube circuitry. But the warmth can be brought into a digital recording by using an analogue fron end, tube preamps and signal processors, or by feeding it back thru tape and then back to digital.
Even digital plug ins and DSPs can introduce a decent analogue warmth.

If by better you mean it fulfils it's purpose more effectivly then CDs are better as they faithfuly and accurately reproduce the original recording.

The lack of dynamic range due to the level wars among record companies asside, the CD is a more accurate faximile what the engineer hears when they're sitting in front of their console and listening to their trusted monitors.
 
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I find the mastering of the album more important than the medium on which it is found.

Lots of examples of great vinyl and horrible CD's; the inverse holds true as well.

:)
 

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However, if vinyl were the current medium of choice, they would be going through the same issues..


JCD
not really, on vinyl, there is a tradeoff between runtime and dynamic range/level. Whereas on CD dynamic range and record level does not effect the runtime.
 

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not really, on vinyl, there is a tradeoff between runtime and dynamic range/level. Whereas on CD dynamic range and record level does not effect the runtime.
Actually, the loudness or level wars started with vinyl. They were being pushed to the limit then and the new media are being pushed to the limit today. Vinyl just has more limits so it cannot be pushed as far.

If a record on the old Jukebox played louder than the one before it, it was perceived to be better.

Compression is what makes the vinyl and Cd louder and you can fit even more compressed audio on a vinyl than uncompressed, and it will seem louder psychoacoustically. If you have a .5 second long sound at 90 dB it will seem much quieter than the same sound at the same level for 3 seconds.

The more you compress it, the more you can fit. They just compress it then bring the overall level up to fill the space of the uncompressed audio.

That's where the dynamics go.
 

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Hi guys,

I understand why audio signal compression would make things seem louder. But help me understand how it will contribute to a longer play time on an LP, and to what degree.
 

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On a LP the waveform of the audio is scratched into the surface of the disk.
The continuation of the spiral represents time and the range from the inside of the disk to the outside represents amplitude or dynamic range.

A very loud signal, especially lower frequencies takes up more of the amplitude space.
Dynamic compression does just that. It brings the louder amplitudes down according to it's parameters.
If you have a compressor with the settings at:

Threshold = -18dB (the compressor will not effect the signal until it reaches -18dBfs)
Ratio = 4.0:1 (for every 4 dB past the threshold the compressor outputs only 1dB.)
Attack = 8.00ms (once the threshold is reached it takes 8 ms for the compressor to compress fully)
Release = 350.0 ms (once back below the threshold it takes 350 ms for the compressor to fully stop compressing)

...and your signal hits -10dBfs, the compressor will only allow a max level of -16dBfs.
That's an attenuation of 6dB.

Now you can either apply 6dB of makeup gain to get back to -10dBfs or use that extra 6dB to fit more time onto the same LP.
 

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Thanks, Matt. I figured it was something to do with the groove witdth, and groove width affecting dynamic range. Now were engineers mixing with compression to get more play time, or to make things seem louder? Probably both to some degree, or perhaps it would depend on the recording.

Thanks again.
 

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perhaps it would depend on the recording.
Right, and the engineer and artist's wishes sometimes too.

But as you can see, loudness and play time are a balance and compression helps to tilt the balance.
But compression and quality are a balance as well.

Everyone wants their record to sound better. Louder volume causes the illusion of better. Compression causes the illusion of louder volumes. Dynamic range and naturalness suffer when compression is overused. An overly compressed CD or vinyl will cause fatigue to the ears over a shorter time and can really take away from the performance.
For pop and rock they will often crush it to death. For classical and jazz they use just enough compression to keep above the noise floor of the medium and to "limit" huge dynamic peaks from clipping or causing the needle to jump off of the disk.

Many engineers have thrown the dynamic range vs compression balance out the window (ex. Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers) and just squash the album.

I happen to like Californication and think it was a murder well done. Kind of avant-garde.

Most Cds that are treated this way however are not very pleasing.
Especially with home studios trying to compete with big budget albums like Californication.
Instead of daisy chaining 3 or 4 $5,000 analogue tube compressors and setting them to compliment each other, they're using quick and easy presets on a plug in.:hush:
 

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Actually, the loudness or level wars started with vinyl. They were being pushed to the limit then and the new media are being pushed to the limit today. Vinyl just has more limits so it cannot be pushed as far.

If a record on the old Jukebox played louder than the one before it, it was perceived to be better.

Compression is what makes the vinyl and Cd louder and you can fit even more compressed audio on a vinyl than uncompressed, and it will seem louder psychoacoustically. If you have a .5 second long sound at 90 dB it will seem much quieter than the same sound at the same level for 3 seconds.

The more you compress it, the more you can fit. They just compress it then bring the overall level up to fill the space of the uncompressed audio.

That's where the dynamics go.

I didn't realise that the level wars started on vinyl, I always assumed the reason some vinyl recordings sounded better was simply because serious thought had to go into what they were going to compromise in order to get the runtime they wanted. I still don't see how compression can make a cd louder? It may appear that way but a cd has rooftop that can't be breached.
 

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I still don't see how compression can make a cd louder? It may appear that way but a cd has rooftop that can't be breached.
Well, it's relative to the CD's maximum level. Compression basically makes the quiet things louder, and the loud things quieter, such that dynamic range is limited. Once they get the quiet sounds and the loud sounds to be closer to one another, they can then crank up the overall level to approach the maximum allowed.

Think of an instrument that's relatively quiet -- a triangle. And then think of a cannon blast; very loud! There's a lot of dynamic range between the two. Applying compression will cause those two instruments to be closer to each other in loudness as perceived by the listener. Since compression generally crushes dynamic range toward the "middle" of the sound level, they have to increase the overall level of the signal (which is easy to do). Once that's brought up (again, to a relative maximum), it's done.

They still haven't breached the maximum level allowed by the CD format. However, if you play a CD that's mastered with a lot of compression and then compare it to the same music that has a more natural dynamic range, the compressed one will sound louder. It sounds louder because all instruments appear to be loud all the time -- from the triangle to the cannon blast, and everything in between.
 

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Is it just me or are my post showing up at inaccurate places in the series?
Either a glitch on my PC or something...

Anyway...

Compression does what it's name implies. It compresses the audio.
And it starts with the loudest peaks and works it's way down.

A snare drum that is uncompressed and hist 0dBfs might look like this:




Once you compress it, the loudest parts go down by the amount you set.
The rest stays the same.




Then you use make up gain to bring the whole thing back up to 0dBfs




Because you have lowered the amplitude of the loudest peak, you have created more room to bring the rest of the audio up. And since the compressed and boosted sound has more overall amplitude, it will be louder than just a quick attack and less overall amplitude.
 

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I get it, it doesn't make it louder, it makes it louder :T

I thought you were somehow infering something else.
 

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Although I beleive CD sounds better in many cases. I love vinyl and would put on a record rather than the same release on CD. I get a 1000% more enjoyment from my LP collection than from my CD collection.
 

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I get it, it doesn't make it louder, it makes it louder :T

I thought you were somehow infering something else.
Compression doesn't make audio louder. It actually makes it quieter.
Adding gain to the signal is what makes it louder.

Compression is just needed to add gain to the signal without distorting and clipping it.
 
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