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#1 boyo

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:23 AM

I'm hoping that Jim and Greg seek some research before discussing this topic. I know that there's a certain attitude on Sound Opinions that it's all rock and roll and a boombox is all you need. The MP3 vs. CD vs. Vinyl sound quality discrepency is NOT subtle. Quite simply CDs and MP3s are fatiguing to listen to, especially at high volume. I swear anyone with working ears can hear the difference. This is easily demonstrated and I'm willing to do so at a convienent location on the Near West Side of Chicago (near UIC/Taylor Street). Email me at patrick@cpgallagher.com if interested
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#2 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:05 PM

I'm sorry, but CD quality nowadays is on par with LP quality. When CD first started appearing yes the fidelity was much worse, but I'd like to see you prove that with a modern CD and even an older pristine LP that there is much of a difference (if any at all).
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

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#3 Mitchell

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:06 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.
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#4 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:09 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.


Most of the time, modern LPs use the same master as the CDs so I don't know if that's even true.
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." - Mark Hollis
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#5 throughsilver

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:47 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.

Most of the time, modern LPs use the same master as the CDs so I don't know if that's even true.

there has been a trend in the last few years to compress digital tapes almost to the point of the level display not moving from the beginning to the end of the song (second reason). This started with rap, filtered through to dance and club mixes, and finally to most new commercial pop releases. The result is that what used to be the peak level is now the average level and we’re talking 6 to 8 dB louder than is physically possible to put on a phonograph record (or analog tape). Remember that the groove can only move so far before the playback stylus mistracks or skips, and magnetic tape can only be driven so hard before it saturates. At any level, a digital recorder is only printing ones and zeroes. There is no digital counterpart. The bottom line is that a really compressed CD or DAT is going to be 6 to 8 dB louder than your record.

source

also: no way do modern cds sound as good as records. some do, but not as a rule.

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#6 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 02:35 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.

Most of the time, modern LPs use the same master as the CDs so I don't know if that's even true.

there has been a trend in the last few years to compress digital tapes almost to the point of the level display not moving from the beginning to the end of the song (second reason). This started with rap, filtered through to dance and club mixes, and finally to most new commercial pop releases. The result is that what used to be the peak level is now the average level and we’re talking 6 to 8 dB louder than is physically possible to put on a phonograph record (or analog tape). Remember that the groove can only move so far before the playback stylus mistracks or skips, and magnetic tape can only be driven so hard before it saturates. At any level, a digital recorder is only printing ones and zeroes. There is no digital counterpart. The bottom line is that a really compressed CD or DAT is going to be 6 to 8 dB louder than your record.

source

also: no way do modern cds sound as good as records. some do, but not as a rule.


The OP made it sound as if CDs never sound as good as LPs I didn't say it was always the case that CDs sound as good, but if well recorded a CD can sound just as good.
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." - Mark Hollis
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#7 throughsilver

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 03:20 PM

what op said is largely irrelevant; quotation was response to your loudness/mastering comment.

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#8 boyo

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:04 PM

You can get into endless discussions about the topic and I anticipate the Sound Opinions show to be a waste of time if itgoes point/counter-point. So, I'm suggesting people sit down and listen for themselves. I haven't had a CD or SACD beat vinyl yet in a head-to-head comparison using the same tube amp and speakers. Although some CDs can come close, it's usually because the vinyl version was a crap pressing (oh yeah, it happens). Vinyl simply holds more information than a CD. I'm not saying it's the most convinient format, just the best sounding...and I'm inviting Jim and Greg to listen for themselves. You shouldn't do the show without doing the research. I think the better question is...do people care? I do believe if you hear what music can sound like...when it can't be put into the background because it's so engaging..you'd begin to care. Great sound can do that.
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#9 pigfuck

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:36 PM

You can get into endless discussions about the topic and I anticipate the Sound Opinions show to be a waste of time if itgoes point/counter-point. So, I'm suggesting people sit down and listen for themselves. I haven't had a CD or SACD beat vinyl yet in a head-to-head comparison using the same tube amp and speakers. Although some CDs can come close, it's usually because the vinyl version was a crap pressing (oh yeah, it happens). Vinyl simply holds more information than a CD.

I'm not saying it's the most convinient format, just the best sounding...and I'm inviting Jim and Greg to listen for themselves. You shouldn't do the show without doing the research.

I think the better question is...do people care? I do believe if you hear what music can sound like...when it can't be put into the background because it's so engaging..you'd begin to care. Great sound can do that.


Your initial postulate, w/r/t fatigue, is definitely on point: I listened to records ALL DAY today and my ears never tired. I've been listening to high quality, lossless mp3s for the last hour and my ears are definitely fatigued. One could say that it's an aggregate effect akin to loosening the pickle jar, but this is a pretty common experience. I feel tired when I listen to digital music - CDs and mp3s alike - and refreshed when I listen to analog. Like Zeno knew, there's an entire world to be found between 0 and 1.
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#10 Fiat Records

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:56 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.


Most of the time, modern LPs use the same master as the CDs so I don't know if that's even true.

I'm pretty sure that vinyl is always mastered differently than CDs. It has to be because of the properties of vinyl. There are also restraints on the sound which aren't there for CDs. And the restraints that vinyl has are actually a virtue in that they are mastered quieter, which cuts down on the clipping and distortion that a lot of CDs get. Now as for the mix, yes, usually the mix is the same for vinyl and CD. And quite a bit of vinyl is digitally sourced, so that kind of throws out the notion that analog has all of these superhuman properties that can't be attained by CDs.

So don't get me wrong... I'm not a huge proponent of the "vinyl is technically superior to CDs" idea. I realize that CDs can (although this depends on a number of issues such as the quality of the stereo setup, cartridge/needle, quality of pressing, mastering, etc etc) have as good or better sound quality as vinyl... but to me, there's something about putting a record on, seeing the sound being physically pulled from the vinyl, and basically the whole process of it. The ritual. I like that. There's something organic about it. My record player plays things a bit faster than it should... to some people that would bother them, but to me... I don't know, it makes it more personable. Plus, the artwork is always bigger and prettier. That's gotta count for something.

#11 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:21 PM

CD quality is on par, only if it's not mixed as loud as possible.


Most of the time, modern LPs use the same master as the CDs so I don't know if that's even true.

I'm pretty sure that vinyl is always mastered differently than CDs. It has to be because of the properties of vinyl. There are also restraints on the sound which aren't there for CDs. And the restraints that vinyl has are actually a virtue in that they are mastered quieter, which cuts down on the clipping and distortion that a lot of CDs get. Now as for the mix, yes, usually the mix is the same for vinyl and CD. And quite a bit of vinyl is digitally sourced, so that kind of throws out the notion that analog has all of these superhuman properties that can't be attained by CDs.

So don't get me wrong... I'm not a huge proponent of the "vinyl is technically superior to CDs" idea. I realize that CDs can (although this depends on a number of issues such as the quality of the stereo setup, cartridge/needle, quality of pressing, mastering, etc etc) have as good or better sound quality as vinyl... but to me, there's something about putting a record on, seeing the sound being physically pulled from the vinyl, and basically the whole process of it. The ritual. I like that. There's something organic about it. My record player plays things a bit faster than it should... to some people that would bother them, but to me... I don't know, it makes it more personable. Plus, the artwork is always bigger and prettier. That's gotta count for something.


I never denied that it feels better to play records over CDs(I only buy LPs now). I just don't like people claiming that there's a huge difference in sound between LPs and CDs. I have a pretty nice stereo setup and a really good headphone setup and I honestly would have trouble telling the difference between LPs or CDs.
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." - Mark Hollis
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#12 Fiat Records

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:33 PM

Well it's hard (some would say impossible) to defend the fact that most CDs are mastered far too loudly which leads to poor sound quality. No matter how good your setup is, it can't un-do clipping. Whereas vinyl can't be mastered too loudly. It's physical properties won't allow it.

This is cliche... but there's a "sound-war" going on which is causing everything to be louder, so that it sticks out amongst other music (or rather, so that it's able to fit in with other music). The reason for this is record labels don't want their music to be quieter than everything else out there... radio stations routinely send as loud a signal as possible so that people going through the stations will notice it. Vinyl is akin to that quiet music station that sounds really good when you manually turn the volume up after listening to the top 40 at a low level which is hurting your ear drums. The same thing happens with television. Stations are putting their volume louder and louder to draw attention from channel surfers. It's even worse for commercials which are more prone than actual programs to rely on gimmicks to entice a viewer. So when you're watching Seinfeld and it seems to be at a normal level, and then a Swiffer commercial comes on and blows your ear drums... that's why. They want you to notice it. Now... I'm not really as militant about this as most vinyl-lovers are, but I figured I'd explain that side of the argument.

#13 boyo

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:57 PM

I never denied that it feels better to play records over CDs(I only buy LPs now). I just don't like people claiming that there's a huge difference in sound between LPs and CDs. I have a pretty nice stereo setup and a really good headphone setup and I honestly would have trouble telling the difference between LPs or CDs.


I guess it depends on your rig. I'm not making cliams, that's why I'm offering a challenge. My 9 year old is 100% in blind tests with a number of CD/vinyl combos. He gets it every time. If you can't hear the difference between a CD and vinyl version of say Murmur, then...well..I may have a run out and get some headphones. I've tried everything else (external DACs, tubes, SACDs (damn close)) and all have helped but it's still not there.
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#14 boyo

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:00 PM

The loudless war has gone grass roots http://www.turnmeup.org/
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#15 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:15 PM

I know about the loudness wars, but does anyone here really listen to top 40 pop? Most of the stuff I listen to isn't mastered for the loudness wars. The stuff that really matters shouldn't have clipping(in most cases).
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." - Mark Hollis
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#16 Fiat Records

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:26 PM

As far as double-blind tests go, there are telltale signs of something being from vinyl, such as tiny particles of dust/dirt or very minor imperfections in the surface of vinyl being audibly noticeable. Somebody who is biased towards vinyl could pick this one out as the one which is superior regardless of actual sound quality, whether it's done consciously or not. But the point/fact is... a majority of the time, CDs are mastered louder than vinyl. And this deteriorates the quality. It's possible to make CDs of extraordinary quality, but unfortunately, it isn't very common.

#17 Fiat Records

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:44 PM

I know about the loudness wars, but does anyone here really listen to top 40 pop? Most of the stuff I listen to isn't mastered for the loudness wars. The stuff that really matters shouldn't have clipping(in most cases).

Well, you might be surprised. Generally the labels are in charge of the final mastering of the record, and not the band. For instance, "Indie Superstars" the White Stripes had big problems with the loudness on the Icky Thump CD (heavy clipping), whereas the vinyl mastering was praised as being far superior. This all comes with analog-freak Jack White as the owner of Third Man Records which collaborated with Warner to release the album. So it's not just pop fodder that has the loudness problem.

#18 NewGrass

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:54 PM

I know about the loudness wars, but does anyone here really listen to top 40 pop? Most of the stuff I listen to isn't mastered for the loudness wars. The stuff that really matters shouldn't have clipping(in most cases).

Well, you might be surprised. Generally the labels are in charge of the final mastering of the record, and not the band. For instance, "Indie Superstars" the White Stripes had big problems with the loudness on the Icky Thump CD (heavy clipping), whereas the vinyl mastering was praised as being far superior. This all comes with analog-freak Jack White as the owner of Third Man Records which collaborated with Warner to release the album. So it's not just pop fodder that has the loudness problem.


That's also major label. I mean I know I'm in the minority here, but rarely do I listen to anything new on a major label that I haven't already been listening to for years. Most everything I listen to is either from the 60's/70's/80's or b ) is on an independent label. It's not out of avoiding the majors and more out of nothing I've heard out of the majors has caught my ears in years.
aleyna> i just scare off hipsters by putting my cigarette out in their eyes
aleyna> that teaches them not to get in my way.

"Before you play two notes learn how to play one note - and don't play one note unless you've got a reason to play it." - Mark Hollis
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#19 Sid Hartha

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 08:21 AM

That's also major label.

It's not limited to genre or label affiliation (in fact, Matador and Merge are probably the worst offenders) - any CD that has been mastered over the past five years or so is affected by this.

here's the waveform of a CD track from the last Cat Power record:
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here's a track from the much-hyped Japanese remaster of the mono Who Sell Out CD:
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I know from personal experience that most professional mastering engineers do this sort of thing as a matter of course now. If you tell them to turn it down (and save the dynamics), they'll resist. I had to coach a producer I was working with on what to say to the mastering engineer to prevent this.
After three attempts, the producer finally caved and had the CD mastered loud. He just got tired of arguing about it. Besides, the artist was really happy with the loud, compressed CD.

#20 Mitchell

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 08:35 AM

I have no shame in posting this link again

http://www.stylusmag...und-forever.htm
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