Does modern vinyl still sound better than digital?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by RFrecordings, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. RFrecordings

    RFrecordings Active Member

    I apologize if this is the wrong forum for this, but I wasn't sure exactly what would be the best board.

    Anyway, we all know that something like Abbey Road sounds hundreds of times better on vinyl than on any remastered digital track, but does this same concept apply to modern day music?

    I always thought that because most modern music was recorded digitally that it wouldn't matter if it was transferred to vinyl or not. Does this hold true?
     
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm interested in this question as well. Mind you, not all modern music is recorded digitally necessarily. There are a lot of studios that still track to 2"tape.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Welcome back BTW!

    I think what sounded better was analog. I think AD conversion is also better now than it was 6 years ago, or when the last Abbey Road was remastered to CD.
     
  4. thegrobinson

    thegrobinson Active Member

    I think the difference in sound quality you're hearing is from the remastering. It's different than what you've originally heard and it's not what you're ear has always called right.

    What you could also be hearing is the audio artifacts inherent to vinyl discs and other analog formats.

    When was the release of the vinyl and digital copies you're talking about? What specific digital format are you referencing?
     
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I still appreciate the physical limitations of vinyl -- I don't think it "sounds better" -- I think the recordings that are used to go to vinyl sound better.
     
  6. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Good point, MM!


    In the dark ages of digital, and you really can call it that, some did things to music because they found out they could.
    No need to do it, but hey, we tweak the sheit out of the 20 kHz portion, anyway... :-(
    Also, some nasty deciples of lunacy have taken vinyl masters and used them for CD masters. How this can be possible?
    Kill me, ...idk. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Any owner of a halfway decent record player was shocked about the lack of warmth and decided forthwith that CD and digital is devils work...Period.
    That this is not true can be heard on many excellent sounding and digitally recorded CDs. Digital is innocent of what morans have done
    to this medium before they learned to work with it the good old fashioned way: using the ear and, if lucky, even better: brain and ears....

    Although my turntable is seldomly used these days, I, too, enjoy my old vinyls, but more for the rarity of the records and for the old times sakes.
    They all needed to be digitally restaurated to get rid of the damnifications of time .
     
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    we all know that something like Abbey Road sounds hundreds of times better on vinyl than on any remastered digital track, but does this same concept apply to modern day music?

    Complete and utter nonsense.
     
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The most recent remastering is 2009. So unless you are posting from the future...in which case can you give me some stock tips?
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I wouldn't know Bob. Last time I pulled that record (vinyl) out was in the 70's. Its in my collection waiting for my retirement days when I can relax and enjoy the good old analog days and memories of how we all sat around a stereo (together). I've never listened to it on CD, to compare.
     
  10. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Where there is light there is shadow,too (how however this translates to English).
    Out of curiosity I pulled a number of records out and I was surprised how many bad sounding, badly produced and badly performed productions there are.
    My impression is that there is a bright shine of glory from the past around "vinyl" that it does not fully deserve. I admit, I have never bothered, 35 years back,
    how those records sounded. We didn't have the HiEnd gear to appreciate it, anyway. We made party and had a whale of a time with our music and that was good so...
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Exactly Rainer. I tent to think we can do a better job on all recordings today, if we are using the best of all worlds. What I'm saying is.

    If The Beatles were recording that same album today and using all the same instruments, room ... but recording it into a high end DAW system, possibly hybrid, whatever turns you on.... then mastered it to either vinyl or CD, I think the CD, if done well with some headroom, would sound better than vinyl.
     
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure that it would actually sound any better. Surely it would be easier to edit and produce. But by 1969 Abbey Road had state of the art equipment at all points of the signal chain, and for many points there really has not been much improvement in the sound quality - we use the same mics and board today (if we can get them). We certainly have a greater variety of good equipment now, and I guess tape machines and analog outboard units continued to improve over the next ten years or so. But you are going to have a hard time beating John Lennon's voice through a U87 to a Neve preamp/eq/compressor to a good tape machine in term of sound quality.

    Now if you put that tape in the hands of a good ME and have it mastered for vinyl and for CD I think the differences at with current technology would be incredibly small. Of course, we all know that incredibly small differences in really high quality products can generate HUGE arguments, but that doesn't mean they aren't incredibly small.
     
  13. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Better is pretty subjective when it comes to something like this. If you had clean enough preamps and AD converters you could probably cut something to vinyl and then put that back into digital to make CDs that sound just like vinyl (I've recorded a bunch of spoken word vinyl to DAW and to my ear it's essentially the same). I don't say this to sound like I think digital is better, but it is cleaner. Vinyl might give a weak recording some cool vibe that it wouldn't have on CD, but it's not really making it "better" in my opinion, just different.

    I do absolutely love vinyl myself, but I love it for it's flaws not for it's virtues. I love the hiss and crackle and pops (dirty vinyl? I'm told vinyl can be much cleaner but haven't really had that be my personal experience). I've considered many times recording a whole bunch of dead air off of a record out of my collection, stitching it all together and then playing it in the background on songs I've recorded to DAW. Maybe that's tacky, but I like what it gives to a recording... maybe a less tacky way to do that would be to cut the songs to vinyl and then mail that to the ME? Not sure how unmastered modern rock would do on vinyl though, might be too much bass at times.
     
  14. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I don't think the Beatles on vinyl sounds better? Far from it!
    100's of times better....Wow!
    They sound better now, clearer more detailed, no noise....etc etc.
    Different for sure....I grew up listening to them on 45's in my bedroom on a record player just like the kids today listen to Justin Beaver on their ipods.
    Totally Apple(s) (TM the Beatles) and apple juice flavored orange drink (yes pun intended!)

    In later years when I bought CD's of the Beatles they were incredible!....didn't have all the crackle and noise. Clean clear beautiful sounding....

    Not sure what your looking for with this posting but there are people out there fascinated with vintage recording equipment and some unfortunately think they will sound better like the Beatles....that is just nonsense and anyone who tells you to use tape so you sound better is nuts....esoteric sure....nostalgic yeah...if that's your game...knock yourself out.
    It's really like people who like to drive around and work on vintage cars! Yeah there cool, but I would much rather have the technically sophisticated and engineered modern car..
    It's not the equipment and your not Abbey Road studios.....and it's not the Neve console or the 2" Studer....it's just the music!
    That's why there is this intangible "magic" in music....it's time, space and sound that come together with certain humans forming art...it can't even be duplicated the exact same way one hour after it was recorded....it's merely a captured moment in time!
     
  15. SASman

    SASman Active Member

    Not IMO.

    I think the technical limitations in vinyl can force people into not smashing ten bells
    of dynamic range out of their masters, this may account for it sounding "better".

    All things considered digital offers more options and can sound as good if not better.
     
  16. Scott Chae

    Scott Chae Active Member

    1. Good/better sound means that it sounds the same (or as close) as the original voice of the singer and all the instruments.
    2. The voice are analog. Digital is just a series of numbers, not the sound until DAC reads those numbers and estimates the original sound, which is analog.
    3. So there is no point comparing analog and digital while one is sound and the other is not.
    4. I have many good/poor sounding vinyl records but beautiful music in the record says it all.
     
  17. SASman

    SASman Active Member

    Hi Scott,
    1. Good/better sound means that it sounds the same (or as close) as the original voice of the singer and all the instruments.

    100pct subjective, do remember that we live in a time of some productions being purely electronic. As soon as an instrument moves a mic diaphragm it is not longer the same event just a copy.


    2. The voice are analog. Digital is just a series of numbers, not the sound until DAC reads those numbers and estimates the original sound, which is analog.

    Actually the voice is "the voice" it is neither analog or digital it is it, a phenomena. To be fair a groove in a record is by nature an "analog" of the original sound it is still merely a representation of an event, to that end they are similar.



    3. So there is no point comparing analog and digital while one is sound and the other is not.

    Actually I completely disagree, it is through differences we understand our world.
    Vinyl is not sound, it's a representation and quite an incomplete and technically limited one at that.


    4. I have many good/poor sounding vinyl records but beautiful music in the record says it all.

    The opposite is also as true, but without the pops clicks, crackles, quick top end roll off through wear, heavy vinyl processing for that medium, mono'd basss, HF limiting, lack of extreme top end etc. etc. (if the CD mastering enginer/recording/mix engineer has the dynamics in place the CD is by far superior in terms of dynamic range, it's just this situation has been abused since digital limiting came about) This is what I mean about more options, cd has the flexibility to have a very very loud master or an incredibly dynamic one, choice is up to the production team. In either event it has the potential to sound better on a cd IMO.

    It just so happens there were many hugely significant changes in recording technology and medium formats during the advent of digital technology that the sound you hear was in part engineers learning the new gear and that the first ADC/DAC was pretty bad sounding. (digital mixers/digital tape/digital eq) etc. etc.

    The CD format is in fact incredobly capable and I would suggest many many thousands and millions of recordings have not exploited it's ability.

    Try and listen to a cd version of "On an Island" by Dave Gilmour, astonishing is the word that spings to mind.

    I hope the CD lives on forever I believe it's an excellent format and a standard which audio quality should not be allowed to drop below.

    The real problem is MP3.

    Cheers

    cd mastering
     
  18. Scott Chae

    Scott Chae Active Member

    Thanks SASman.
    CD has been so great for near 30 years so far (!)
    I don't want to say that vinyl is better than ..whatever, at all.
    And I also am aware of the fact that digital means a whole system including ADC and DAC, not only the series of numbers.
    But even when the voice moves into a diaphragm, the voice signal (which is analog) turns into electrical movements but that's still analog because they all continuous movements of signals as opposed to discrete representation like numbers.
    Analogue sound vs. digital sound can make endless argue upon taste of every single ear. What important is understanding the nature of each and don't go too far.
    Someone might scream praising virtue of today's MP3 quality :)
    Cheers.
     
  19. SharkFM

    SharkFM Active Member

    Crackling wood log fire vs a clean burning natural gas fireplace.
     
  20. thegrobinson

    thegrobinson Active Member

    Well Put


    Well Said SharkFM. People prefer digital because it does what music storage media was intended to do only better. Like how a log fireplace is a more efficient way to heat your home.

    On similar grounds. People prefer vinyl for the vintage aesthetic that it provides.
     

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