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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to hear from those who have compared vinyl vs CD. What differences did you notice and what was your preference?

Of course, this means comparing with everything the same, except the source - the same track on CD then vinyl. As soon as you compare with different speakers or tracks, or different sound systems on different occasions, it's not really a comparison.

I had a chance to compare in this way when invited for a demo by another enthusiast in a dedicated room with a high end setup. To my ears there was definitely a difference and I felt at the time it was in favour of vinyl. It was enough to get my attention and want to experience this more.

Of course, with vinyl there is extra expense and inconvenience, but I'm not considering this here. There are also issues like the little pop noises, but I'm not so concerned with them either. Sound quality. Which is more enjoyable to listen to? Which captures music better? Yes, I'm after subjective opinions!
 

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I'm far from an expert, but in my opinion vinyl sounds better. I had a pair of Technics 1200s and Shure needles for years and loved them. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is, but if I had the same album on vinyl and CD, I'd always prefer the vinyl. It took a while and sometimes I regret it, but I eventually tired of the hassle of vinyl and am now a 21st century digital boy.
 

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In general, vinyl is favored more and for the most part I agree. Although, digital media like CDs have come a long way in sound quality. Especially with some of the higher quality standards like SACD and now with all the lossless audio options, digital media has closed the gap dramatically on vinyl. Personally, I did enjoy the vinyls I listened to most recently, but I often find myself too easily distracted and bothered by pops and crackles from dirt, dust and whatnot that get on the vinyls. Personally that takes me more out of the listening experience than anything. Sure there are ways to limit it, but often times when I feel I want to listen to music, popping in a CD or listening on my Squeezebox.

Plus the disc authoring for CDs also has improved so while there is still a gap in quality with CDs versus Vinyl, a sacrifice must be made either way. Great quality recording with occasion pops and crackles, or a not quite as great, but still good quality recording without the hiccups.

Just my opinion and experience.
 

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The big difference between vinyl and CD is dynamics and quality. In order to get a vinyl album to sound as good or better than a CD you need to own a turntable and fang that is very high end costing in the neighborhood of $1000. A good quality CD player can be had for less than $200.
Vinyl tends to sound warmer than CD but wares down ever so slightly every time you play it. With most recordings done in the digital environment these days the dynamics of CD tend to be better and usually cleaner.
Does vinyl have its place still in 2009? I think so (I still use mine from time to time) but to buy an album over a CD if available the answer is simple CD lasts a very long time and does not warp, degrade with playing it or collect dust causing the dreaded crackle.
 

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I had a chance to compare in this way when invited for a demo by another enthusiast in a dedicated room with a high end setup. To my ears there was definitely a difference and I felt at the time it was in favour of vinyl. It was enough to get my attention and want to experience this more.
Do I win any money if I guess which fellow enthusiast correctly? (am I sending something back with him for example?)

I had the exact same pleasure on that great system. (I can even make a stab at the track you were able to compare)

Couple of points, of course only applicable to me.

First off, that was the first time I could actually hear a difference! It could be that I did not take the time on previous occasions to find the differences, and it could have helped that he was able to give pointers to the difference he could hear (which of course I then could)

However, to me, neither was preferrable over the other.maybe in other words, the things that rock my boat were not the things changed (note not even using the word improved).

Ever seen the optical illusion of the two vases...or a face? the gestalt switch.

That was all the difference was for me, I could *click* preference to one, and just as easily *click* preference back to the other. Did that make any sense?

Secondly, I must emphasise that expense of that vinyl front end. Me, well let's just say that when/if I spend money on audio it must be a clear, decisive and noticeable improvement. Bang for buck.

there was no way that fulfilled any of those points.

Couple that with the availability of the music I listen to (hmm, ignore the optimist reports of vinyl making this huge resurgence...it doesn't apply to me) the decision was a no brainer.

Admittedly my set up could skew these comparisons (when I compared vinyl to cd at home). I use straight digital out into my deqx, which then does all the conversions etc.

However, that also means I have never spent more than $100 on a cdp!! the cheapest dvd player from Big W. And I compared $6000 vinyl set up, meh..why on earth would you bother? (haha, that leads to other arguments don't it...from the 'vinyl is superior' brigade...why is audio such a religion? I just don't get it)

This fellow you mention, he is the exception rather than the rule. He has treated his room.

My advice? Forget the (to me) minor improvements audiophiles (washing my mouth out as I type, horrible word) wax so loudly about, at least until you have sorted the major stuff, speakers and room.

That is where you will get your bang for the buck (I know you are working on the first part, for all I know you may have addressed the second too).

AND, any improvements it may bring for your ears will be more apparent after that anyway!

I just 'get annoyed' when audiophiles (oops, wash my mouth out again) rave about the little stuff..and you see pics of their setup...glass walls, bare floors, one speaker in the corner and one in the open...and we are to take their word for it?:wits-end:

Oooh, little rant popped out there didn't it! sorry 'bout that chief.

Back on topic then, so to re-cap my experience was that the important parts of the reproduction (for me) were not even affected, I am talking scale, soundstage width and depth, ambience. From memory there was a 'thicker' aspect to the upper bass/lower midrange, that was about it. As I said, easy to flick between vases and face, so why spend 10k+ for that?

And, it is all down to preference only, I mean how can you argue that the thicker (or leaner) lower mid is correct over the other, we have no way of knowing that.

, think of the music you could buy for that dough, isn't music what it's supposed to be about?

My opinion only and all that, (and the rant was all mine)
 

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Thanks for the impressions, Terry!

I think the term audiophile is a difficult word to throw around. On the other hand, I would consider myself an avid audio enthusiast, which I will venture to say is another way of saying "audiophile".

The point of these hobbies, home theater and music listening, is to enjoy it. People get different levels of enjoyment and what they consider to be "good" differs from the next person. That's what I love about these hobbies. It is also what I don't like so much because we often have things determined to be "good" and "not-so-good" by others who don't have the same hearing, equipment, room acoustics, personal preference, etc.

What sounds good to one, won't sound good to someone else. I love it that way. I like my audio to sound a certain way; accuracy isn't everything. If we wanted something to sound 100% transparent to the source, then there would not be a need for fifty-thousand different brands to put out components and speakers that are supposedly giving us just that. I like to think of it as "accurate to my perception" because really that's all it is. I think instruments, vocals, sounds, songs should sound a certain way and I am trying to find equipment and speakers that match my perception.
 

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Thanks for the impressions, Terry!

I think the term audiophile is a difficult word to throw around. On the other hand, I would consider myself an avid audio enthusiast, which I will venture to say is another way of saying "audiophile".
Sorry about the rant, guess it was just pent up frustration.

The point of these hobbies, home theater and music listening, is to enjoy it. People get different levels of enjoyment and what they consider to be "good" differs from the next person. That's what I love about these hobbies. It is also what I don't like so much because we often have things determined to be "good" and "not-so-good" by others who don't have the same hearing, equipment, room acoustics, personal preference, etc.
There in lies the rub. I would put a more strict definition on audiophile, and unfortunately it often does NOT include the phrase 'music lover'. Oh yeah, the protestation would be made that they do (must) love music, but audiophiles often get to a stage where the music is simply a vehicle for 'system adoration'.

'Wow, that sounds good, listen to how it reproduces this and listen to how it reproduces that'.

Oh yeah, and how was the music itself?

Which is why another part of my definition of audiophile is 'one that has ten well recorded pieces of music that, once they change another component, they listen to again before the next change'.

As you can see, I am on a major anti audiophile kick atm. Hopefully I will grow our of it!:dontknow:

It was, maybe only for me, one of the major reasons I have left most audio forums...the constant discussion of components could only lead to a constant focusing on components. Now I have my system sorted, and well on the way to having the room sorted, I can forget all that and slowly get back to listening to music, not listening to the system.

And, I can well imagine it is a bit like giving up cigarettes, if you've been smoking for twenty years it could take a while till you are no longer thinking about it!!!:hissyfit:

What sounds good to one, won't sound good to someone else. I love it that way. I like my audio to sound a certain way; accuracy isn't everything. If we wanted something to sound 100% transparent to the source, then there would not be a need for fifty-thousand different brands to put out components and speakers that are supposedly giving us just that. I like to think of it as "accurate to my perception" because really that's all it is. I think instruments, vocals, sounds, songs should sound a certain way and I am trying to find equipment and speakers that match my perception.
A couple of great points here, well for those who are NOT religious in their approach to audio. (my way is the only right way)

As a result of being able to hear many great systems (inc the one alluded to in the first post) I very quickly realised there are many equally valid paths to a fantastic result, there is no one true path. For me that was actually a liberating experience.

I would have been mortified if someone had not agreed that my system was 'the best'. Now I know there is no 'the best', there are many excellent systems and we all have individual tastes and preferences. I am secure in the knowledge that no-one would ever hear my system and say it was not very good indeed, but can fully and totally accept that it will not be to everyone's taste (that was the liberating part). And absolutely no offense would be taken.

BUT, can I dispute a small part of your statement? After many auditions of gear, I simply conclude that there is no real substantive difference between modern electrical components, once knowledge and level matching is taken into consideration.

I have done the experiments, tested others etc. I am not saying there is no difference, but I am saying that whatever difference there is, is minor. Completely opposite to the rave reviews in the mags and from audiophiles.

Sounds like it's getting a bit OT, but not really. To me, the difference between vinyl and cd is in this camp, not really worth it. Esp considering that to really start to get the difference you must consider the cost of the vinyl set up.

Put that money towards proper room treatment....boy then I can guarantee you that you will get improvements.

For me it is 'fix the big stuff' before you 'sweat the little stuff'.

And I guess that is what is at the bottom of my 'annoyance' with audiophile think. Some poor newbie comes on and asks 'how do I improve my system?' (I know newbie does not apply to the op or most here)

Sorry, I get annoyed when the audiophile recommendation is expensive speaker cables or power cords. The poor new guy does not know any better (else he would not need to ask for advice), and all the ads in the mags are for expensive cables, of course he is gonna believe it.:explode:

And as I said, take a look at the majority of audiophile systems in the galleries around, most would be like listening in the bathroom! And note the comments often left, 'wow expensive components' equals 'must sound fantastic' etc. I look and think 'oh yuck, it would be unlistenable!'

Bling, the name factor, the awe you get from other audiophiles about how much it cost, audiophilia is as much a fashion industry as the catwalk.

And about as shallow.

Anyway, rant over for good.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the replies!

Yesterday I watched a few youtube videos showing how records are cut and made. I have to say when you consider everything that happens along the chain with vinyl, from making the actual disc to all the links in the chain in a turntable which introduce some form of change to the signal, it's amazing that vinyl could even compete, much less give a better experience.

Do I win any money if I guess which fellow enthusiast correctly? (am I sending something back with him for example?)
CONGRATULATIONS! You've guessed correctly. You are now the happy recipient of $5,000,000 in monopoly money!

I had the exact same pleasure on that great system. (I can even make a stab at the track you were able to compare)
It was a great system. The first serious vinyl system I heard. It was quite an adjustment though, as he had a heavily treated room and box speakers. My system then was open baffle in an untreated room, so it almost felt like listening to headphones to me. Still, the speakers had a relaxed presentation similar to mine, so it was a great system to compare. I'm not sure which track you're referring to, but there were quite a few. I didn't find it hard to notice a difference, but I found it hard to pinpoint exactly what it was.

There was something more appealing about it, but I'm not about to go out and invest heavily in vinyl over it.

It was actually a friend who isn't into audio at all who put me onto the idea of getting a turntable. She mentioned a place where you can pick up all kinds of vinyl ultra cheap, ie for the cost of a CD come out with a big pile. Then I thought of the idea of renovating and upgrading an old cheapie. Using it for the motor and harder to make bits, getting a new tone arm and creating a fancy curvy base. Somehow the idea still has some appeal.

My advice? Forget the (to me) minor improvements audiophiles (washing my mouth out as I type, horrible word) wax so loudly about, at least until you have sorted the major stuff, speakers and room.
I couldn't agree more. However, this is more of a sidetrack than a priority item. I'm one of the last people to worry too much about anything in the chain before the speakers. I don't use an external DAC, I use a DVD player for music, I run Ultracurve full range. I should almost be excommunicated for that last audio sin!

And cables? Well I make my own when I get around to it to keep them neat.

There in lies the rub. I would put a more strict definition on audiophile, and unfortunately it often does NOT include the phrase 'music lover'. Oh yeah, the protestation would be made that they do (must) love music, but audiophiles often get to a stage where the music is simply a vehicle for 'system adoration'.
Perhaps the word gets tarnished by those who call themselves audiophiles. If I call myself an audiophile, a lot of people will get the wrong idea! Audiophile comes from the Latin "audio" and the Greek "Philos" which means "loving." In other words, an audiophile is someone who is passionate about high quality audio. Probably not quite the same thing as a pure music lover - many of them have the most basic sound systems, spend their money on CDs and going to live performances, rather than spending more than a lifetime of concert tickets trying to bring the concert home!

I'll agree wholeheartedly that it's crazy how so many audiophiles "major on minor issues." Someone will ask what they can upgrade in their system, and it's astounding that so many will emphatically insist that the best upgrades are the things that make typically inaudible differences!

Terry, have you seen this?
http://www.nousaine.com/

I read some interesting articles in there recently. I think you might find some of them particularly interesting. In particular "can you trust your ears?"
 

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As my dads ms sets in more its affecting his dexterity and hand strength alot he has a really hard time adjusting his belt drive turn table when he needs to so he's going to buy a direct drive unit with a button to change speeds.

And he said he will give me his current Ariston Audio turn table once it arrives! :yay2: woo hoo!!!
I love that turn table!
 

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I have quite a few old vinyls, that I copied onto the computer using Sound Forge, and digitally removed some of the cracks and pops, and some of the noise, then burnt them to cd's. When I play the cd's, it sounds like a perfectly clean vinyl, without wearing out the original. I've had friends come over while I was listening to the cd's, and were looking around for my turntable.
 

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I have a number of albums in both LP and CD. The LPs are older, purchased in the 70's and 80s. I bought many of the same albums on CD later on for the sake of portability, especially for use in my car. I have to say that in every case, I much prefer the sound of the LP over that of the CD.

The LP always sounds richer, warmer, fuller, more alive, and vibrant. I can locate every instrument and voice in a three dimensional space more easily on vinyl. By comparison, the CD version tends to sound somewhat flat to me, as though all the sound is mixed to near the same level. It lacks the same feeling of warmth that the LP has, and occasionally the CD version will sound tinny. There just seems to be more sound coming out of the vinyl. I hear things on the LP that I can't hear, or can't hear as well, on the CD. On the other hand, the CD always sounds cleaner than the vinyl; there is no low level hiss from the CD like there is from the vinyl, nor the snaps, crackles, and pops caused by dust and grime. You can really hear the difference in between tracks.

But I am by no means satisfied that vinyl is always better sounding than CD. My testing has been neither scientific, nor comprehensive. All of my same-album comparisons are of recordings that were originally made for the vinyl medium. In many cases, the CD was obtained from one of those mail-order bulk-music clubs. You know the type; select 12 CDs for $1 and sign up to buy four more CDs over the next three months at full price. They probably weren't the best quality releases. Also, I haven't compared more recent recordings that were undoubtedly intended for distribution via the digital medium. Some of these have been subsequently pressed on vinyl, so comparisons are possible.

Another disparity in my casual comparisons is in the relative quality of my playback equipment. My Rega P5 turntable is not audiophile gear, but it is a definite quality step or two above my Sony 5-CD changer. A more fair comparison would pit a $1k or so compact disc player against my P5.

I'm in the market for a new and better CD player, possibly a tube type, so I may be able to do better comparisons soon. I'm inclined to think that the vinyl will still hold an edge over the CD, even with a better CD player. After all, my ears and my brain, just like the vinyl album, are an analog design.
 

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To start with, I mainly listen to CD's simply because of the convenience (i.e. the 200 CD stacker)

There are so many factors with vinyl - the turntable, the arm, the cartridge, the needle shape, the pre-amp to name a few.

A (very) long time ago I upgraded my old turntable to a Rega Planar with SME series 3 arm and Shure V15 type 4 cartridge and the difference was simply amazing. But, to be honest, you could put a different cartridge in the same setup and it would sound different again.

When I first bought a cd player, the Sony CDP1, I was amazed! No clicks no record hiss, then after a few months I bought a CD which I had listened to a lot on Vinyl - Dire Straits "Love over gold" and was disappointed with the CD. Then I bought DSOTM and again felt let down, they have now re-mastered DSOTM at least three times, the latest for the 25th anniversary on SACD.

Later on I bought a Sony 200 Disc changer and immediately noticed an improvement, I upgraded my receiver & I used a fibre optic cable to connect it to my Yamaha VSX 710 and it was better again. This time I could instantly switch between RCA & digital to hear the difference.

I still like my Vinyl setup but don't want to wear out the records so I keep it for special occasions when I want to "spoil" myself.

I think as media densities increase we will finally get some truly inspiring recordings.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It's always good to get a mix of opinions! Definitely food for thought. Thanks for all the replies guys.

What I'm curious about is, what are the differences in the process? We know there is the digital vs analogue difference, as well as the noise, pops and so on. But what about the way they are recorded/mastered? Does one have a dynamic range advantage over the other?

My feeling is that what goes on inside the recdording studio has far more impact. I have CDs that sound very real on my system, but most have such obvious cues that you are listening to a CD. I also feel that DVDs (movies) are far better compared to mose CDs. Voices are much more lifelike.
 

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CD's do not have enough dynamic range to record a wooden clapper! The DVD audio format is far superior to CD format and, as I said, it can only get better (hopefully).

The vagaries of analog playback are immense and very subjective whereas Cd's and dvd's only have what the mixer/producer intended.

I read an interesting article on Nakamichi moving coil cartridges and they were trying to find why some sounded bad, some sounded OK and some sounded excellent.

In the end they found the excellent ones had good phase AND linear frequency response.
the OK ones had either good phase OR linear frequency response.
And the bad ones had bad phase AND bad frequency response.

Hopefully we can eventually get our recordings in a format that is better than required so we cannot distinguish from a live or recorded event.

Next, Loudspeakers 101 - how can we make them equal to the task of reproducing what is on our (perfect) recording.........
 

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My music collection is reasonably large (3.5K+ LP's, 1.2K+ CD's). I have quite a few of the same recordings on vinyl and CD. On most of the duplicate recordings LP's sound better. There is more "there" there on the LP's. Some might call it a richer deeper midrange. The highs seem to be smoother most of the time also.
It's necessary to spend $1000 or more to get this kind of vinyl replay quality. However for those like me who have a substantial investment in vinyl it's worth it. I currently use a VPI HW-19, Rega RB-300, Sumiko Blackbird for vinyl playback. I'm selling this rig and replacing it with an Oracle TT and arm to be determined soon.
 

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What I'm curious about is, what are the differences in the process? We know there is the digital vs analogue difference, as well as the noise, pops and so on. But what about the way they are recorded/mastered? Does one have a dynamic range advantage over the other?
Keep in mind most LPs were recorded pre 90's using an all analog recording path including magnetic media. This in its self has limitations and dynamic range and channel separation will suffer due to this. Electronic instruments like keyboards have come a long ways with respect to quality compared to what was used in the 80's/90's and the samples have gotten so good now that its sometimes hard to tell if its is a sample or the real thing.
All of this will effect the quality of a recording if your comparing CD to an LP as well.
 

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Keep in mind most LPs were recorded pre 90's using an all analog recording path including magnetic media. This in its self has limitations and dynamic range and channel separation will suffer due to this. Electronic instruments like keyboards have come a long ways with respect to quality compared to what was used in the 80's/90's and the samples have gotten so good now that its sometimes hard to tell if its is a sample or the real thing.
All of this will effect the quality of a recording if your comparing CD to an LP as well.
The thing to remember is that most of those old analog recorded LP's have greater dynamic range than most of todays recent CD releases. Unfortunately, most of todays recordings are mastered to sound good in a car.:eek:
 

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The thing to remember is that most of those old analog recorded LP's have greater dynamic range than most of todays recent CD releases. Unfortunately, most of todays recordings are mastered to sound good in a car.:eek:
Where do you have that information from? Recordings never went below 30Hz back before digital came about as analog devices could not record it accurately. Even the best quality magnetic recorders had limitations. Now we go well into the single digits for dynamic range.
Todays recordings are not by any means geared for playback in a car.
 

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Where do you have that information from? Recordings never went below 30Hz back before digital came about as analog devices could not record it accurately. Even the best quality magnetic recorders had limitations. Now we go well into the single digits for dynamic range.
Todays recordings are not by any means geared for playback in a car.
I think he means dynamic range in dB not Hz.
 
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