How important is the source?

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jaxwired

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Feb 7, 2009
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steve_1979 said:
lindsayt said:
If digital music has better sound quality than vinyl, how come my vinyl version of Jethro Tull's Broadsword and the Beast sounds better than my CD version in my system? The CD version sounds as if an incredible shrinking man was given one of those metal scouring pads and then shrunk down to size and given the task of scrubbing all the grooves.
Some CD's have limited dynamic range deliberately recorded onto them because of the loudness war. Have you ever heard the RHCP album 'Californication'? The CD is almost unlistenable because it's so bad but if you hear the the pre-mastered studio version the quality is much better.

Recording and mastering are very important factors of the sound quality. But all thing being equal digital is much more accurate than vinyl can ever be.
It all depends on the mastering process used on the CD. That Tull CD was mastered at the worse possible time for CD mastering, the early 80's. The engineers didn't know how to master for CDs at the time. But worse, many of the recordings that were re-released on CD in the 80's were not created from the original master tapes. The record companies were scrambling to re-release everything and they didn't worry about finding the original masters so they used whatever copy they found first which was often a copy of a copy of a copy, etc.

If you want to know which format sounds better, vinyl or CD, compare recent releases. If you primarily listen to pre-1990 music, then vinyl is a very good choice.
 

relocated

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Jan 20, 2012
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lindsayt wrote:

If digital music has better sound quality than vinyl, how come my vinyl version of Jethro Tull's Broadsword and the Beast sounds better than my CD version in my system? The CD version sounds as if an incredible shrinking man was given one of those metal scouring pads and then shrunk down to size and given the task of scrubbing all the grooves.

Some cd versions of albums were taken from 4 channel [remember QS,SQ, CD4 etc?] tapes and they didn't even use the front channels properly as well as failing to use the originals on the equipment that recorded or best suited the originals. Little wonder that some albums released as cd were so awful.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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To reply OPs question I think it is very much dependent on how good are your speakers and amplifier to reproduce the music. If they can pick up all the very minor details then a good source will certainly benefit otherwise it is just a waste of money.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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jaxwired said:
steve_1979 said:
lindsayt said:
If digital music has better sound quality than vinyl, how come my vinyl version of Jethro Tull's Broadsword and the Beast sounds better than my CD version in my system? The CD version sounds as if an incredible shrinking man was given one of those metal scouring pads and then shrunk down to size and given the task of scrubbing all the grooves.
Some CD's have limited dynamic range deliberately recorded onto them because of the loudness war. Have you ever heard the RHCP album 'Californication'? The CD is almost unlistenable because it's so bad but if you hear the the pre-mastered studio version the quality is much better.

Recording and mastering are very important factors of the sound quality. But all thing being equal digital is much more accurate than vinyl can ever be.
It all depends on the mastering process used on the CD. That Tull CD was mastered at the worse possible time for CD mastering, the early 80's. The engineers didn't know how to master for CDs at the time. But worse, many of the recordings that were re-released on CD in the 80's were not created from the original master tapes. The record companies were scrambling to re-release everything and they didn't worry about finding the original masters so they used whatever copy they found first which was often a copy of a copy of a copy, etc.

If you want to know which format sounds better, vinyl or CD, compare recent releases. If you primarily listen to pre-1990 music, then vinyl is a very good choice.
Jethro Tull's Broadsword and the Beast is a quite obviously digital recording from 1982. You can tell it's a digital recording by listening to either the vinyl or CD version. This still doesn't stop it from being well enough recorded and mastered to make it an enjoyable listen. I think it's highly likely that the CD version of this album was mastered from the master recording.

I listen primarily to pre-1990 music.

Are you saying that mastering quality over-rides vinyl or CD format choice when it comes to sound quality? In which case, can you or anyone else nominate a range of CD's that are better mastered than the vinyl versions? I'm not including greatest hits nor compilations where they often cram too many tracks onto the lps making them sound much worse than the original releases.

If the majority of recorded music sounds better on the vinyl version than the CD version then this suggests to me that poor mastering may just be being used as an excuse. It's possible that vinyl might be technically better than CD's in certain respects that affect overall sound quality.

If it sounds better it is better.

Kate Bush's The Dreaming on CD has the same sonic faults as Broadsword and the Beast when compared to the vinyl version in my system. These are the only 2 albums I have on both formats. If someone can suggest a few CD's that they think sound better than the vinyl versions then I will try to check these out.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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Guys, the compression will be in the mastering, not in individual recordings. If compression is evident in one format, moreso than another, then a different master has been used for that recording.

This does not mean that either format has supremecy for outright sound quality, but CD is clearly better in terms of practicality, ease of use and storage, with sound quality being far more consistent that vinyl, particularly with use over time.

Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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Overdose said:
Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
It is far more than that. Vinyl has outlasted ALL sound formats, and will continue to do so (I wonder how long for). If it was really as bad as some claim, it would've died out years ago. Those that claim technical accuracy may well have a point, but those that just want to enjoy their system rather than argue about it are still listening to vinyl, and will continue to do so. I bought my first turntable in a long time last year, and don't regret a single penny.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Overdose said:
Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
It is far more than that. Vinyl has outlasted ALL sound formats, and will continue to do so (I wonder how long for). If it was really as bad as some claim, it would've died out years ago. Those that claim technical accuracy may well have a point, but those that just want to enjoy their system rather than argue about it are still listening to vinyl, and will continue to do so. I bought my first turntable in a long time last year, and don't regret a single penny.
Agreed. Turntables or vinyl in general isn't flawless (nor is any other format). They all add to this wonderful - sometimes mad - hobby of hi-fi.

Personally, I think vinyl adds an addtional dimension (simplicity)...
 

BenLaw

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Nov 21, 2010
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plastic penguin said:
FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Overdose said:
Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
It is far more than that. Vinyl has outlasted ALL sound formats, and will continue to do so (I wonder how long for). If it was really as bad as some claim, it would've died out years ago. Those that claim technical accuracy may well have a point, but those that just want to enjoy their system rather than argue about it are still listening to vinyl, and will continue to do so. I bought my first turntable in a long time last year, and don't regret a single penny.
Agreed. Turntables or vinyl in general isn't flawless (nor is any other format). They all add to this wonderful - sometimes mad - hobby of hi-fi.

Personally, I think vinyl adds an addtional dimension (simplicity)...
Simplicity?! :O
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
BenLaw said:
plastic penguin said:
FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Overdose said:
Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
It is far more than that. Vinyl has outlasted ALL sound formats, and will continue to do so (I wonder how long for). If it was really as bad as some claim, it would've died out years ago. Those that claim technical accuracy may well have a point, but those that just want to enjoy their system rather than argue about it are still listening to vinyl, and will continue to do so. I bought my first turntable in a long time last year, and don't regret a single penny.
Agreed. Turntables or vinyl in general isn't flawless (nor is any other format). They all add to this wonderful - sometimes mad - hobby of hi-fi.

Personally, I think vinyl adds an addtional dimension (simplicity)...
Simplicity?! :O
Yup. Simplicity. Don't have worry about routers not coping or no additional USB cables or coax. Place the record of the platter and click 'on' and away you go. Simples. :)
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Overdose said:
Vinyl is all well and good, but lets not pretend it's anything more than a quaint and cermonious way to listen to music these days.
It is far more than that. Vinyl has outlasted ALL sound formats, and will continue to do so (I wonder how long for). If it was really as bad as some claim, it would've died out years ago. Those that claim technical accuracy may well have a point, but those that just want to enjoy their system rather than argue about it are still listening to vinyl, and will continue to do so. I bought my first turntable in a long time last year, and don't regret a single penny.
You could say that many 'classic' cars have outlasted their more modern counterparts too, but that doesn't mean you'd want to spend any length of time driving around in one. Unreliable, thirsty, poor braking and not particularly safe in general.

For 2011 Vinyl accounted for about 0.3% of music media sales, with CD at 76%. Of course vinyl has been and will continue to be around for some time to come, many years I'd say, but then, so are flint arrow heads and fossils. That doesn't make the format superior, just outdated.
 

idc

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Jan 2, 2008
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For digital files the importance is that there is no corruption and the bit rate is above 320kbps.

For CDs the importance is in the original recording and replay is minor if at all.

For vinyl the source is very important and getting that needle into the groove with minimal background noise.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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Overdose said:
You could say that many 'classic' cars have outlasted their more modern counterparts too, but that doesn't mean you'd want to spend any length of time driving around in one. Unreliable, thirsty, poor braking and not particularly safe in general.

For 2011 Vinyl accounted for about 0.3% of music media sales, with CD at 76%. Of course vinyl has been and will continue to be around for some time to come, many years I'd say, but then, so are flint arrow heads and fossils. That doesn't make the format superior, just outdated.
I suppose it depends on which reports you read. I did hear that digital downloads finally overtook sales of physical formats recently, which doesn't really tally up with what you say above. I don't believe any reports I read - all I see is a lot of vinyl available on Ebay, more record stores springing up over the UK, and our open evenings with Diverse Vinyl being very busy indeed - if they didn't feel it was worth driving from Newport to take part, I'm sure they'd say so.

I don't think Classic cars are a good analogy. Efficiency and safety has nothing to do with a turntable, although engineering does - the performance of the turntable relies on it's engineering. The number of turntables we sell online and in store would suggest that turntables are from disappearing to rubbish heaps - SME arms are still very popular, as are Gyrodecs and rega decks.

:)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yah! The source is very important. Just like every other aspect of playback. When looking for that perfect sound, everything has to be right. Speakers, amp and source (cd player / streamer) and if streamer, then the digital quality has got to be top notch.

Cables, pah this is another debate, but imho a speaker cable is a speaker cable. The benefits of over-expensive cabling is minimal.

..Sega Saturn .. Really. Grow up. hehe
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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FrankHarveyHiFi said:
Overdose said:
You could say that many 'classic' cars have outlasted their more modern counterparts too, but that doesn't mean you'd want to spend any length of time driving around in one. Unreliable, thirsty, poor braking and not particularly safe in general.

For 2011 Vinyl accounted for about 0.3% of music media sales, with CD at 76%. Of course vinyl has been and will continue to be around for some time to come, many years I'd say, but then, so are flint arrow heads and fossils. That doesn't make the format superior, just outdated.
I suppose it depends on which reports you read. I did hear that digital downloads finally overtook sales of physical formats recently, which doesn't really tally up with what you say above. I don't believe any reports I read - all I see is a lot of vinyl available on Ebay, more record stores springing up over the UK, and our open evenings with Diverse Vinyl being very busy indeed - if they didn't feel it was worth driving from Newport to take part, I'm sure they'd say so.

I don't think Classic cars are a good analogy. Efficiency and safety has nothing to do with a turntable, although engineering does - the performance of the turntable relies on it's engineering. The number of turntables we sell online and in store would suggest that turntables are from disappearing to rubbish heaps - SME arms are still very popular, as are Gyrodecs and rega decks.

:)
The figures are from a WHF report, I presume that those figures are now satisfactory? Whatever, as a percentage, vinyl counts for very little in terms of music media sales, which is the point I made. Such low figures are the preserve of collectibles, curios and other niche products. Vinyl will never again be considered mainstream, regardless of how nostalgic it may seem. That doesn't mean that it is not enjoyed by its fans, but each to their own.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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Sound quality and sales figures of recorded formats are independent of each other. Sales figures and marketing are somewhat dependent on each other. Sales figures and convenience whilst getting an acceptable sound are somewhat dependent on each other. Sales figures and cost to get an acceptable sound are somewhat dependent on each other.

How else can you explain the sales figures for compact pre-recorded cassettes in the late 1970's and early 1980's? The sales figures of vinyl vs CD over the 1980's? The sales figures of high speed pre-recorded reel to reel tapes in the 1950's to 1970's?

On the subject of durability, I've bought 150 2nd hand CD's so far this year. About 20% of them suffer from skipping, which is really annoying when it happens. I buy about 200 vinyl albums and 12" singles each year. About 20% are excessively scratched or warped, making them annoyingly noisy to listen to or scratched or warped in a way that makes them skip.

I just can't accept that CD's are inherently better sounding than vinyl when my ears are telling me otherwise so far. At the moment it seems that the biggest reason for me to buy CD's is to listen to music recorded after 1990 that isn't easily available on vinyl.
 

CnoEvil

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IMO. The quality of the source is key, but must be commensurate with the rest of the system.

What proportion of funds it takes up is, in my view, dependent on what the source is ie. A TT needs more of the budget than a CDP, and a CDP needs more of the budget than a Streamer......in other words, I could happily live with a £1k Streamer in a highend system (though that doesn't mean spending more doesn't make a very noticeable difference).

I also agree with those who say how stunningly good a properly set up, expensive TT can sound.

If pushed. I would rather have cheaper speakers driven really well with a more expensive amp, than the other way round.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them, as the digital data that is streamed to them cannot be improved in any way, so only the DAC can be said to influence the sound, and IMO, there's barely anything between DACs in terms of performance.

A CDP is similar in that once it's read the data it just puts it through a DAC, so for me whilst the source is very important, it need not be very expensive, I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in extremely quickly where the source is concerned, irrespective of the quality of the rest of the system.
 

CnoEvil

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maxflinn said:
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them, as the digital data that is streamed to them cannot be improved in any way, so only the DAC can be said to influence the sound, and IMO, there's barely anything between DACs in terms of performance.

A CDP is similar in that once it's read the data it just puts it through a DAC, so for me whilst the source is very important, it need not be very expensive, I think the law of diminishing returns kicks in extremely quickly where the source is concerned, irrespective of the quality of the rest of the system.
There is no doubt the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

It takes a really good system to make the most out of an expensive source.

IMO A good Streamer will usually out perform the equivalently priced CDP

There is much more to a Streamer than the Dac.....how it's implemented is what matters

The only way to hear what extra money gets you, is going to a dem where they insert ever more expensive sources into a system that's good enough to show the differences......speculation seldom leads to worthwhile knowledge.

I never tell anyone to take my word for anything, but encourage those interested to hear for themselves.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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maxflinn said:
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them...
Any in particular?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
chebby said:
maxflinn said:
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them...
Any in particular?
Go away, Chebby.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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maxflinn said:
chebby said:
maxflinn said:
I can understand people wanting a high end streamer that's nicely packaged, with a built in DAC, internet radio, perhaps even amplification, but I don't get why beyond function, some people spend so much money on them...
Any in particular?
Go away, Chebby.
It's a pertinent question. I have - for instance - heard the NaimUniti on a number of occasions and I also happen to have owned it's near equivalent in seperates form.

I know it sounds better than my (functionally similar) M-CR603 but I wouldn't say it sounds £2000 better.

However, despite the price and VFM differential being so large - in my opinion at least - I would still buy a 'Uniti if I had enough money to afford one comfortably.

That's why I asked which 'high-end' streamer/DAC/amp/tuner in particular that you had heard to base your comment on.
 

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