Urgent LP Issue

happy_hifi

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Hello,

Having just read about the Neil Young opinion that all (or near as damn it) LP records these days, are taken from digital masters, therefor making the whole business of buying an LP pretty much redundant, I'm wondering if we are not all being duped and have been for some considerable time. If Analogue masters are now largely out of favour, are we indeed listening to a CD when we play an LP record. If this is anywhere near being true, I understand how hi-fi magazines will want to back away from the point, because of all of the business that Lp's are now generating and all of the add on business, like Record Store Day etc etc, not to mention all of the turntable manufacturers etc that appear to be doing amazing business just now.

What is the truth here. Do we really have to go back to the fifties, sixties and seventies to buy geuine analogue records of decent quality. Are the nineties onwards largely a huge digital waste of time.

It seems that someone brave needs to stand up here and be counted. Is Neil Young telling the truth by and large. Are we being diddled. Is What Hi-Fi prepared to stand up and tell it like it is. I hope so.

Neil.
 

MajorFubar

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I haven't read the article, but yes, by and large, all music is now tracked (recorded) and mastered digitally. This has been the norm for the last 25 years. Did you think all the artists and producers out there were still routinely recording all the new music you hear today on 24-track tape machines from the ark lol? If you did then I can see why this has been a bit of a culture shock for you.

That doesn't mean the LP is cut from the exact same digital master as the CD. For a multitude of reasons, it probably isn't in most cases. But I don't think there was ever an intention to con you or make you think otherwise.
 

Jim-W

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If you want analogue recordings then, yes, it's the 50's, 60's, 70's and I agree that the industry didn't really pretend otherwise. When cds emerged, most people were happy enough with indestructible digital sound and, inevitably, records of the 80's and 90's and the present day certainly began to sound different; this, for me, was less dynamic, less warm and with a digital sheen. The newly released 'Beatles In Mono' lps were supposedly cut entirely from analogue masters and with no digital preocessing at any stage so I guess there are analogue records available today. By and large though, as Neil pointed out, you're getting an lp that sounds pretty much like a cd.

Further to this, the introduction of very forward/bright cartridges, like the Ortofon 2M red and very thin speakers which seem more attuned to digital, replay have compounded this phenomena.

I don't think records from the 80's onwards sound that bad if played on a sympathetic system but they're crtainly not analogue in essence: that's one of the reasons that I only buy second-hand and from the analogue era and why I'm not keen on cd and vinyl reissues of records from the 60's, 70's etc. Collectors want those originals beccause they're rare of course, but also because they sound better, ie Blue Note records and Columbia 6 eye stereo copies.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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There is a lot of uninformed rubbish on the internet about digital recordings. I've got dozens of classical (digital) recordings on LP from the early 1980s, so it's been the norm for 35 years now. The digital recordings sounded better than the analogue ones and this was before consumers could buy CDs. None of these recordings were 'hires', but they had the big advantage of having no problems with tape hiss, wow and flutter etc.

When digital recording became available, the record companies switched to them for classical recordings. I don't think any recording engineer would want to go back to tapes. It shouldn't be about 'warm, analogue' sound. It should be about the best possible reproduction.

The interesting thing is that early digital recordings had more dynamics than tape recordings and that the LP couldn't faithfully reproduce the dynamic range of digital recordings.
 

Frank Harvey

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Just a bit of scaremongering on Neil Young's part because of his failing (digital) Pono enterprise. To say that the music is taken from CD masters is true, but also not really telling the full story. Records (except for one or two cases) aren't produced from CDs.
 

Jim-W

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iMark said:
There is a lot of uninformed rubbish on the internet about digital recordings. I've got dozens of classical (digital) recordings on LP from the early 1980s, so it's been the norm for 35 years now. The digital recordings sounded better than the analogue ones and this was before consumers could buy CDs. None of these recordings were 'hires', but they had the big advantage of having no problems with tape hiss, wow and flutter etc.

When digital recording became available, the record companies switched to them for classical recordings. I don't think any recording engineer would want to go back to tapes. It shouldn't be about 'warm, analogue' sound. It should be about the best possible reproduction.

The interesting thing is that early digital recordings had more dynamics than tape recordings and that the LP couldn't faithfully reproduce the dynamic range of digital recordings.
Why shouldn't it? If that's somebody's preference, then what's the problem? I'd rather have imperfect reproduction than ridiculously mastered cds and lps that are far too loud and bright; it may well be the mastering process and not the fault of digital recording but it's very evident nonetheless...and to my ears, it's unpleasant.
 

MajorFubar

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Jim-W said:
Why shouldn't it? If that's somebody's preference, then what's the problem?
Because as an engineer or producer you want the recording equipment to record the sound faithfully and neutrally.

Jim-W said:
it may well be the mastering process and not the fault of digital recording but it's very evident nonetheless...and to my ears, it's unpleasant.
There could be many reasons, but none of them are purely because of digital capture.
 

Jim-W

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MajorFubar said:
Jim-W said:
Why shouldn't it? If that's somebody's preference, then what's the problem?
Because as an engineer or producer you want the recording equipment to record the sound faithfully and neutrally.

Jim-W said:
it may well be the mastering process and not the fault of digital recording but it's very evident nonetheless...and to my ears, it's unpleasant.
There could be many reasons, but none of them are purely because of digital capture.
Well, 'faithfully' and 'neutrally' open up a vast philosophical vista; in brief, then, we're reliant on the brain, ears and judgement of an engineer in the same way as the analogue process. Or is it that we can now capture sound in clean and sterile glory without a trace of nuance? I think analogue tape is far more capable of capturing ambience and nuance than digital's 0's and 1's. I do understand the science and I realise that digital offers a less distorted sound as Alan Shaw pointed out with his oscilloscope experiments; it doesn't mean I have to prefer that sound though.

No, the 'loudness wars' are chiefly responsible.
 

jimbofisher

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The funniest thing I find about Neil Young's comments are that for a man saying vinyl is a fad and not worth it he sure knows how to fleece his fans. His vinyl brand new is some of the most expensive out there. The cheapest I have seen for his latest, Storytone, is £45 and usually around the £60 - £70 mark for a double LP.
 

The_Lhc

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Jim-W said:
If you want analogue recordings then, yes, it's the 50's, 60's, 70's and I agree that the industry didn't really pretend otherwise. When cds emerged, most people were happy enough with indestructible digital sound and, inevitably, records of the 80's and 90's and the present day certainly began to sound different; this, for me, was less dynamic, less warm and with a digital sheen. The newly released 'Beatles In Mono' lps were supposedly cut entirely from analogue masters and with no digital preocessing at any stage so I guess there are analogue records available today.
Look for anything from the Analogue Productions stable, they've produced a series of remasters that have gone back to the original analogue tapes and mastered them entirely in the analogue domain (to the extent of actually building their own analogue equipment where the original equipment is no longer available). Naturally the music is largely 50s and 60s, so if you don't like that era you're a little out of luck but the Nat King Cole LPs are extraordinary. They're not cheap though, typically £50, although they're usually double LPs.

By and large though, as Neil pointed out, you're getting an lp that sounds pretty much like a cd.
That's not entirely the case, the LP won't have the same sort of dynamic range compression applied to it (you can't compress a vinyl recording to the same extent as CD).
 

Jim-W

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jimbofisher said:
The funniest thing I find about Neil Young's comments are that for a man saying vinyl is a fad and not worth it he sure knows how to fleece his fans. His vinyl brand new is some of the most expensive out there. The cheapest I have seen for his latest, Storytone, is £45 and usually around the £60 - £70 mark for a double LP.
It's also most amusing that in the days before the toblerone aka Pono, Neil was a veritable spokesman for vinyl; he invariably attacked cd's for their sound quality in interviews and made sure that all of his records had a vinyl release. Now, vinyl is a 'fashion accessory' and 'a fad'. I love Neil in all his contrariness but I stopped buying his records after, 'Are You Passionate?' and that was one too many. £60 for Neil crooning with an orchestra? I don't even want to hear it, I'm afraid to say.
 

Jim-W

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The_Lhc said:
Jim-W said:
If you want analogue recordings then, yes, it's the 50's, 60's, 70's and I agree that the industry didn't really pretend otherwise. When cds emerged, most people were happy enough with indestructible digital sound and, inevitably, records of the 80's and 90's and the present day certainly began to sound different; this, for me, was less dynamic, less warm and with a digital sheen. The newly released 'Beatles In Mono' lps were supposedly cut entirely from analogue masters and with no digital preocessing at any stage so I guess there are analogue records available today.
Look for anything from the Analogue Productions stable, they've produced a series of remasters that have gone back to the original analogue tapes and mastered them entirely in the analogue domain (to the extent of actually building their own analogue equipment where the original equipment is no longer available). Naturally the music is largely 50s and 60s, so if you don't like that era you're a little out of luck but the Nat King Cole LPs are extraordinary. They're not cheap though, typically £50, although they're usually double LPs.

By and large though, as Neil pointed out, you're getting an lp that sounds pretty much like a cd.
That's not entirely the case, the LP won't have the same sort of dynamic range compression applied to it (you can't compress a vinyl recording to the same extent as CD).
Yes, I will look out for Analogue Productions; it sounds like a great company. I've got a few Nat King Cole originals and they sound lovely; I can imagine with an extra bit of love and care they would sound extraordinary as you say. Thanks.
 

The_Lhc

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Jim-W said:
Yes, I will look out for Analogue Productions; it sounds like a great company. I've got a few Nat King Cole originals and they sound lovely; I can imagine with an extra bit of love and care they would sound extraordinary as you say. Thanks.
Put it this way, my other half actually started crying at one point listening to Love is The Thing. In a good way I mean...
 

Frank Harvey

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Jim-W said:
Yes, I will look out for Analogue Productions; it sounds like a great company. I've got a few Nat King Cole originals and they sound lovely; I can imagine with an extra bit of love and care they would sound extraordinary as you say. Thanks.
I'm told their release of The Doors' L.A. Woman is stunning. Their releases are a little more expensive, but they go the extra mile to ensure the highest quality possible. It is at this level most people would have a real hard time trying to justify the digital version's superiority...
 

The_Lhc

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David@FrankHarvey said:
Jim-W said:
Yes, I will look out for Analogue Productions; it sounds like a great company. I've got a few Nat King Cole originals and they sound lovely; I can imagine with an extra bit of love and care they would sound extraordinary as you say. Thanks.
I'm told their release of The Doors' L.A. Woman is stunning.
Yeah, I keep umming and aaahing over that one...
 

MajorFubar

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Jim-W said:
Well, 'faithfully' and 'neutrally' open up a vast philosophical vista; in brief, then, we're reliant on the brain, ears and judgement of an engineer in the same way as the analogue process. Or is it that we can now capture sound in clean and sterile glory without a trace of nuance? I think analogue tape is far more capable of capturing ambience and nuance than digital's 0's and 1's. I do understand the science and I realise that digital offers a less distorted sound as Alan Shaw pointed out with his oscilloscope experiments; it doesn't mean I have to prefer that sound though.

No, the 'loudness wars' are chiefly responsible.
You have your opinion, you're very welcome to it, and I'm not going to come along and tell you which you should prefer. But yes, from the perspective of recording exactly what's sent to it without any additional sweeteners, fat or preservatives, digital wins.

But...there is a slight addendum you may be pleasantly surprised to hear. While it's true that nearly all albums are tracked and mastered digitally, sometimes producers or mastering engineers have been known to fire the digital master to two-track 1/4" analogue tape to get the warmth and 'tape-compression' that's pleasing to the ear yet difficult to achieve convincingly with plugins in ProTools and Logic. Having recorded it to tape, they play it back into the computer, and that becomes the final digital master. Certainly the Beatles 'Love' mashup album was mastered this way (I read Giles Martin's production notes some years ago) and there are no doubt others. In fact I think I read somewhere that the Chilie Peppers do it this way as well. Cool eh? :)
 

Jim-W

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MajorFubar said:
Jim-W said:
Well, 'faithfully' and 'neutrally' open up a vast philosophical vista; in brief, then, we're reliant on the brain, ears and judgement of an engineer in the same way as the analogue process. Or is it that we can now capture sound in clean and sterile glory without a trace of nuance? I think analogue tape is far more capable of capturing ambience and nuance than digital's 0's and 1's. I do understand the science and I realise that digital offers a less distorted sound as Alan Shaw pointed out with his oscilloscope experiments; it doesn't mean I have to prefer that sound though.

No, the 'loudness wars' are chiefly responsible.
You have your opinion, you're very welcome to it, and I'm not going to come along and tell you which you should prefer. But yes, from the perspective of recording exactly what's sent to it without any additional sweeteners, fat or preservatives, digital wins.

But...there is a slight addendum you may be pleasantly surprised to hear. While it's true that nearly all albums are tracked and mastered digitally, sometimes producers or mastering engineers have been known to fire the digital master to two-track 1/4" analogue tape to get the warmth and 'tape-compression' that's pleasing to the ear yet difficult to achieve convincingly with plugins in ProTools and Logic. Having recorded it to tape, they play it back into the computer, and that becomes the final digital master. Certainly the Beatles 'Love' mashup album was mastered this way (I read Giles Martin's production notes some years ago) and there are no doubt others. In fact I think I read somewhere that the Chilie Peppers do it this way as well. Cool eh? :)

I didn't know this; yes, it's very interesting and may explain why I fail to engage fully with digital recordings. Perhaps I crave warmth! I do accept that digital is the cleanest signal of course but it does lack a certain something. Thanks for the info.
 

MajorFubar

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Jim-W said:
I didn't know this; yes, it's very interesting and may explain why I fail to engage fully with digital recordings. Perhaps I crave warmth! I do accept that digital is the cleanest signal of course but it does lack a certain something. Thanks for the info.
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
 

Freddy58

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but it's long been my belief that it's the physical interaction between the stylus and the groove that creates that certain 'something' that's hard to quantify. Some have described the sound as being more 'organic', 'warm', or even 'musical'. When the guitar player strums a chord, it's a physical interaction, maybe this is something that is somehow transmitted when we spin a vinyl? Dunno...

I knew I should have stopped at a pint *biggrin*

Neil Young - "The needle and the damage done" *biggrin*
 

Freddy58

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MajorFubar said:
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
Mr Fubar, given your insights, maybe you can tell us, why are some recordings so bad?
 

Jim-W

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MajorFubar said:
Jim-W said:
I didn't know this; yes, it's very interesting and may explain why I fail to engage fully with digital recordings. Perhaps I crave warmth! I do accept that digital is the cleanest signal of course but it does lack a certain something. Thanks for the info.
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
I very much respect your interest in and understanding of the whole process; alas, I'm only mildly interested in that aspect of records/cds or whatever. Oh, I can tell when a record has been nicely recorded and I can now tell, especally on Blue Note and ECM jazz records, when an instrument has been effectively miked and when the engineer has no idea! My real interest is in the creative process and the finished product: the music, in other words. I spent my working life deconstructing words, images and films etc but strangely, or perhaps because of that fact, I have no interest in understanding the intricacies of recorded sound. Perhaps if I did know more, I would constantly be listening out for stuff and it would spoil my engagement with the music in the same way that I can't watch a film or read a novel without pulling it to pieces. I tell you what though, I'm glad there are people who can engineer decent sound and take an interest in it because, obviously, it allows people like me to just enjoy music. I will google the basics though as you suggest and then maybe I can go on the 'hifi' part of the forum and argue with people about the correct length of cable and its directionality! I jest, of course. Thanks for your replies.
 

Jim-W

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Freddy58 said:
MajorFubar said:
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
Mr Fubar, given your insights, maybe you can tell us, why are some recordings so bad?
He's not a mister, Freddy; he's a Major! Get it right, man!
 

Freddy58

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Jim-W said:
Freddy58 said:
MajorFubar said:
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
Mr Fubar, given your insights, maybe you can tell us, why are some recordings so bad?
He's not a mister, Freddy; he's a Major! Get it right, man!
I don't think it would matter how I titled him, he's ignoring my posts. He's in a huff with me...
 

Freddy58

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Jan 24, 2014
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Freddy58 said:
Jim-W said:
Freddy58 said:
MajorFubar said:
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
Mr Fubar, given your insights, maybe you can tell us, why are some recordings so bad?
He's not a mister, Freddy; he's a Major! Get it right, man!
I don't think it would matter how I titled him, he's ignoring my posts. He's in a huff with me...
I'd still like to know why some recordings are so bad though. For instance, Grace Jones 'Nightclubbing' is a fabulous sounding recording, whereas U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' sounds dreadful.
 

Jim-W

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Freddy58 said:
Freddy58 said:
Jim-W said:
Freddy58 said:
MajorFubar said:
You're very welcome.

Sometimes I think it would do HiFi enthusiasts an absolute power of good if they at least genned-up just a little bit on recording techniques and mixing and mastering processes. Just so they at least know the basics of what goes on behind that big glass panel in a control room, and what happens between the end of the recording sessions and the CD hitting their player's tray (or indeed, the LP hitting their TT's platter). You don't have to become an expert; that's a career in itself. But at least Google or YouTube the basics. In fact that's exactly how my lifelong interest in recording and production began (decades before YouTube sadly): a simple yearning as a young boy to know 'how on earth do they do that'.
Mr Fubar, given your insights, maybe you can tell us, why are some recordings so bad?
He's not a mister, Freddy; he's a Major! Get it right, man!
I don't think it would matter how I titled him, he's ignoring my posts. He's in a huff with me...
I'd still like to know why some recordings are so bad though. For instance, Grace Jones 'Nightclubbing' is a fabulous sounding recording, whereas U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' sounds dreadful.
Very different types of records for different audiences, really. 'Nightclubbing' does sound very sparkly and clear with a nice bottom end ( oooer, missus) and I have no idea what U2 records sound like: perhaps a bit more cluttered and layered I would imagine. Still, maybe it's a case of the engineering or maybe that was ok and it's the mastering. Perhaps somebody who knows will reply to you. What I do think is that 'Nightclubbing' was produced in a specific way for a specific, dance/ club audience with a wide and spacious sound...very radio friendly too.
 

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