Thread: CD vs Vinyl
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Old 07-14-2009   #60
bobstcyr
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 5
Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

A number of years ago I compared my oracle delphi MkV turntable fitted with an eminent technology tone arm and a vanden hull mc cartridge - running through a morrison preamp, conrad johnson amps and quad 63 speakers.
I have a pretty good ear. I've been listening to music for many decades, studied music at university and have been building instruments since 1971 and spend a lot of time listening to minute differences between instruments that many people would never notice or listen for. I can tell for instance by ear many details about a players techniques etc. So I consider my ears fairly well trained and able to hear fairly subtle detail in music performance.
I hooked up a relatively inexpensive mass market cd player and connected the 2 through an A/B comparator box.
The box used very good cabeling, gold and mercury contact switching etc. - it was a custom laboratory equipment. The box also was able to match the two inputs for volume within .2 dB.
The box allowed the listener to choose to listen to input A (record player) or B (CD player) or push the middel button which randomly would play either A or B. The listener could listen to A or B as much as they liked and when they felt they would be able to tell the difference they would then press the middle button and after listening would then guess which they were listening to. The listener would do this a number of times and the results were recorded and checked. If the listener could tell the difference reliably then the results would clearly show this. If the listener couldn't tell then the results would be close to chance or 50/50.
We had about 20 titles that we had both the CD and LP. I did the test numerous times, so did my wife and many of my audiophile friends and even some of my none audiophile friends. The results were quite astonishing. On some of the titles nearly everyone was able to tell the difference but on most of the titles no one could reliably detect the difference.
Puzzled about this I asked an audio engineer acquaintance. It's easy he said, on some CD mastering the engineer fools around enough with settings, eq or whatever that the two formats are for all intents different recordings. These would be easy to tell apart. The recordings that had been remastered properly for CD format would sound like the LP and therefore would be indistinquishable and, they were. These results seem to show that the engineering in the recording - mikes, placement, mixing, mastering etc. have more effect on the final sound than the playback technology.
I kept doing the comparison for a week, hunting down more CD titles. At the end of the week I was convinced. I sold the table, arm and cartridge
You can try this for yourself. You will have to enlist the aid of a 2nd party to do the switching for you and act as the "random" selector since that function won't be built in and volume matching may be a little tricky too. You could use a good quality passive volume control.
I'm sure you've heard it before but - very little of our hearing goes on in our ears, most of it goes on between them, and is influenced by everything else there. If the difference is really there and audible you should be able to pick it out blindfolded.
It's an educational and fun experiment. By the way the sound level matching is important many experiments have shown that listeners will choose the louder of two choices as sounding better pretty much every time.
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