Vinyl vs digital

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Emark600

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Vinyl is hugely overrated in my view. Digital music sounds better than vinyl to me. I don't need over sized album covers as most album covers are not very good to start with. If I want to find the words to a song I'll just go online and find them. Cd's are cheaper than vinyl so for less money I can own the same music on cd than on vinyl and saying money always a win in my book.
each to their own, but wholly disagree.
 

Edbostan

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Earlier this year I purchased my lasest (and hopefully last) turntable.

I am back to purchasing LPs. Usually ones from my early hifi days.

My latest acquisition is Street Life by The Crusaders.

Whilst waiting for it to turn up. I happen to be glancing at Tidal. So why not purchase a digital version at the same time?

So it's a 24bit 192KHz version vs vinyl.

It's early days, and the vinyl sounds better (though it's coming through at a higher volume, so I have to keep adjusting the levels during an A-B comparison.)

The equipment to be compared will be:

Michell Gyrodec, Rega RB303, Ortofon 2M Blue, through a Cambridge Alva Duo phono pre-amp

Pioneer N50A streamer: Playing files from a NAS and a laptop connected directly (USB)
Yamaha CD S2100: CD player which has a PC USB input.

Amp is a Cambridge Azur 851A with Tannoy Revolution XT8F

Full report later, but so far, it's the streamer vs vinyl and it's very close.

But this will not be a five minute test.

Which will come out top?

Stay tuned.

and.... why not add your own findings
After years of playing records I ditched vinyl when I bought my first cd player back in the 80s. Up until then I was always fettling my turntable, checking tracking, alignment, bias and tracking weight values. Then there was stylus and cartridge replacement and the common enemy dust and static. I stored my cd collection on a NAS, but I don't bother adding to that now as I stream Amazon Music via my Sonos Connect into hi-fi amp with a world library of music available.
 

SteveR750

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Assuming same master then a 24 bit lossless file will always be more faithful than vinyl, there are orders of magnitude higher distortion with the latter. Harmonic distortion is nice and cuddly and warm so it's appealing sonically. Technically vinyl is massively inferior at orders of cost magnitude higher, but that doesn't mean its not enjoyable. A bit like bit perfect vs DSP, depends on your mood and what you're listening to perhaps.
 
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SteveR750

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Yamaha CD S2100 CD player with a USB computer input vs Gyrodec.

Once again it's a 24bit 192KHz file vs a 40 plus year old record on a Gyrodec, Rega RB303, Ortofon 2M Blue conbination.

CD on one input and the turntable on another.
Starting both and the same time and switching between inputs.

It's a draw!
I could not tell the difference.

Now it makes me wonder if I should simply stick to high quality digital files...
Weill it did for a nano second, but I love my Gyrodec and I love records.
Probably because there are so many good memories going out and buying records.

West End, Greek Street and Oxford Street. Then on to Tottenham Court Road to see hifi I could not afford.
Ending up at the KFC or Wimpy on Tottenham Court Road. A walk up to Warren Street tube station, then home :)


For me, a digital file can never match the tactile feel of a record.
There is a ritual, a process that us older folk are reminded of from years ago when our lives lay out before us, the page blank and yet to coloured in. Music is so much more than vibrations in a groove, packets of streamed data, even the sound emanating from a speaker; it's a journey that takes you outside of the moment. That's one of the appeals of vinyl, I'm transported back to my youth when this ritual was the norm. The SQ of the music is only a part of the experience which digital streaming is missing. Its all too instant, a world full of playlists where the B sides never get played. I wonder how many great tracks are gathering dust on the shelves of Spotify because no one listens to albums anymore.
 
There is a ritual, a process that us older folk are reminded of from years ago when our lives lay out before us, the page blank and yet to coloured in. Music is so much more than vibrations in a groove, packets of streamed data, even the sound emanating from a speaker; it's a journey that takes you outside of the moment. That's one of the appeals of vinyl, I'm transported back to my youth when this ritual was the norm. The SQ of the music is only a part of the experience which digital streaming is missing. Its all too instant, a world full of playlists where the B sides never get played. I wonder how many great tracks are gathering dust on the shelves of Spotify because no one listens to albums anymore.
Well said sir, my sentiments entirely.
So many of the yoof of today want to grab a track here and a track there or maybe build a playlist.... Very few have probably heard a concept album all the way through or a classical rendition from start to finish.
 

camcroft

Well-known member
Can you blame them with the likes of BGT and the likes. Lets try to sound like some old group or singer to appeal to the older crowd.The winners have got song writers lining up with songs and they are Lennon and Mcartney wannabes themselves.
 

robdmarsh

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I am a total digital fan now but loved vinyl for years. As for which is better, neither one is better than the other. I've heard some things over streaming which just sound stunning and I think would take a very good turntable to match. On the other hand, some other music which I loved so much on vinyl just sounds lackluster over digital. Dark Side of the Moon is a case in point: I just tried streaming it on Amazon HD and was pretty underwhelmed. This could very well be a mastering thing. I was listening to a 2011 remaster and it left me pretty cold.
 
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Moonfanatic

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Interesting thread. There are many factors to consider here and to conduct a fair comparison, you need to 1. use a TT/phonostage of equal capability to a streamer/DAC. 2. Be clear about the master tape for the music concerned. There is no guarantee that the same master tape was used for the vinyl/digital versions. If they are different masters, it is NOT a fair comparison.

Due to the limitations imposed by the vinyl format, the vinyl will tend to be warmer, but that’s a (nice) compromise of RIAA, so right away you can see it is deviating from the original master tape. With a high resolution digital file, there are no compromises whatsoever, but what I have observed over the years is utter laziness on the part of studios, with the loudness war. I’ve also heard humble CDs done remarkably well, such that they wipe the floor with vinyl. The other issue with vinyl is that it is inherently noisy. You don’t understand what an issue noise is listening to music until you hear a system that has a total lack of noise! You can only achieve that with digital.

There will be albums that sound better on vinyl, but that’s a mastering issue, it’s got nothing to do with digital being bad. On balance, I prefer digital.
 
Interesting thread. There are many factors to consider here and to conduct a fair comparison, you need to 1. use a TT/phonostage of equal capability to a streamer/DAC. 2. Be clear about the master tape for the music concerned. There is no guarantee that the same master tape was used for the vinyl/digital versions. If they are different masters, it is NOT a fair comparison.
It’s very hard to agree what ‘equal capability’ means, let alone find products that meet that description. Best simply recognise these are different media, and individuals can choose.
 

Moonfanatic

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It’s very hard to agree what ‘equal capability’ means, let alone find products that meet that description. Best simply recognise these are different media, and individuals can choose.
Of course it is, which is why when I see a lot of assertions made, it just shows it is subjective. That said, a digital source does have distinct advantages, the far lower noise floor being one of them. Other than some good mastering in some historical recordings, I struggle to see the advantage of vinyl. Digital music, done properly has no disadvantages. You can’t say that about vinyl.
 
Of course it is, which is why when I see a lot of assertions made, it just shows it is subjective. That said, a digital source does have distinct advantages, the far lower noise floor being one of them. Other than some good mastering in some historical recordings, I struggle to see the advantage of vinyl. Digital music, done properly has no disadvantages. You can’t say that about vinyl.
Yes, there’s no disputing the technical advantages digital has.

Where it’s less clear is if you are a collector of a particular era or genre. For example various jazz and classical recordings of the past have no master tape from which to make a digital version. And sometimes a great LP has a special ‘magic’ which is hard to describe. Lastly, direct cuts LPs, though rare, are sometimes uniquely dynamic.
 
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Rodolfo

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"....because no one listens to albums anymore."
A sad calculation/generalization: way inaccurate, but closer than I'd prefer, only because it's influenced musicians, publishers, and streaming services who always follow the masses. It's modern "Top 40 radio", though it's more like top 400.

I'm one of those "no ones".
 

podknocker

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Friesiansam

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTmYEosiK2c


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3OqVUsqkh8


This is why people prefer vinyl. It's not CDs fault, it's how the master is transferred. If you handle it with care, it's always going to sound better on CD, due to the superior technical aspects. CD is better than vinyl, but the recordings are very rarely given the care they deserve. All things being equal, CD sounds better.
I don't think HiRes ever does make sense, given most say they can't hear a difference compared to standard CD quality.

BTW, I'm one of those people that can't tell the difference.
 

WayneKerr

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I've just wasted 20 minutes of my life on those two YT videos. I don't know why people bother.

I like both CD and LP but the best reproduction I ever heard through my kit came from a 12" single.

Edit: Also these vids just seem to be an advert for DR Offline MkII, a software purchase. I get a DR tool for free with Foobar and all of my recordings have been allocated a DR score at the rip stage.
 
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podknocker

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I've just wasted 20 minutes of my life on those two YT videos. I don't know why people bother.

I like both CD and LP but the best reproduction I ever heard through my kit came from a 12" single.
That's probably because the transfer of the master was better, preserving DR etc. If the same care and attention was used to transfer these remasters to CD, then you might prefer that copy? Just a thought.

The thing is, there is a definitive, original master tape of a recording and every single technical aspect of CD trounces those of vinyl.

CD will always have the potential of sounding better, but it's the mucking around in the middle that's causing the loss of quality.

Why would Sony and Philips spend so much money in the late 70s inventing a format that sounds worse than a format developed in the 40s?

I doesn't make sense and I really don't understand this entrenched vinyl following. It can't sound better.
 
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WayneKerr

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That's probably because the transfer of the master was better, preserving DR etc. If the same care and attention was used to transfer these remasters to CD, then you might prefer that copy? Just a thought.

The thing is, there is a definitive, original master tape of a recording and every single technical aspect of CD trounces those of vinyl.

CD will always have the potential of sounding better, but it's the mucking around in the middle that's causing the loss of quality.

Why would Sony and Philips spend so much money in the late 70s inventing a format that sounds worse than a format developed in the 40s?

I doesn't make sense and I really don't understand this entrenched vinyl following. It can't sound better.
I have no idea, it was an original 70's pressing a mate brought over. I can only report what I heard with my ears.

It's no secret that record companies really want us to purchase the same album multiple times with the next new fangled format. I accepted vinyl as there was no other option until cassettes came along, I accepted CD because we were told it was superior in every way, I even dabbled with SACD. None of these have been the huge leap forward they promised to be, especially CD with the loudness wars. I have some hi-res downloads and noticed no difference from std CD so the hi-res bull doesn't cut it with me.

Hell, even vinyl is at it with 45rpm albums or supposedly direct from analogue tapes at crazy prices. Record companies are just cashing-in on our obsessive nature to have the best sounding version.
 
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podknocker

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There is a ritual, a process that us older folk are reminded of from years ago when our lives lay out before us, the page blank and yet to coloured in. Music is so much more than vibrations in a groove, packets of streamed data, even the sound emanating from a speaker; it's a journey that takes you outside of the moment. That's one of the appeals of vinyl, I'm transported back to my youth when this ritual was the norm. The SQ of the music is only a part of the experience which digital streaming is missing. Its all too instant, a world full of playlists where the B sides never get played. I wonder how many great tracks are gathering dust on the shelves of Spotify because no one listens to albums anymore.
I'm currently listening to the TOOL album, Lateralus and I often play this and many other albums, in their entirety. The nice thing about streaming on Spotify, is that I can open up the app on this PC and with the Spotify Connect feature built into my Audiolab Omnia, it's just a double click away from repeating a track, or choosing one of another 80 million tracks. Try doing that with vinyl. The music then goes from my router, to my laptop sat on top of my Omnia (fits perfectly) and then to my Omnia via bluetooth. I don't need to mess about with record sleeves and lumps of vinyl, cleaning, cartridges, placing the needle on the record, getting up after 30 mins to turn the damn thing over. Nonsense from the past.
 
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