Thread: CD vs Vinyl
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Old 09-03-2009   #74
BillD
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

I'm certainly no vinyl hater; I have ten feet of shelf space packed with LPs (and a little space to overflow). Moreover, I'm not one of those "if you can't measure it, it ain't there" guys, even though I am an engineer. But, I am enough of an engineer to be curious about things rather than believing in voodoo. I believe that vinyl sounds different because the way it was produced. The vinyl record has some serious fidelity shortcomings that were made up for in the RIAA equalization curve, which looks almost like a straight slide centered at 1kHz with a 20dB boost at 20Hz and a 20dB cut at 20kHz. We are accustomed to hearing this frequency dependent compression/expansion applied to all vinyl with various stages of accuracy. We are in fact so familiar with the way vinyl sounds, it is the de facto benchmark. Therefore, to us that have grown up with vinyl, it will always sound better. To those that haven't........ The same goes for tubes (although there are some better technical arguments about even versus odd distortion harmonics that favor tubes). But overall distortion figures for tube amps pall by comparison to SS amps, and they can't even touch SS for sheer power. The fact is that us aficionados grew up hearing tube amps, and we therefore use them to compare all others to. This is true of vinyl too, even though CDs, like SS amps are "technically" far superior (or should be if recorded correctly). And, the music medium is becoming more and more digital with synthesizers, electric pianos, even digital guitars. Converting this stuff to analog to put on a tape to drive a master cutter, etc. isn't doing the music any favors.

So, we are at a crossroads. There's a younger generation of audiophiles growing up that never had established vinyl as a benchmark. High fidelity is a better set of earbuds for their iPod and ripping CDs to MP3 at a VBR of up to 320 kbps. Sure, some will inherit their dad's stereo and come to embrace true high fidelity, but I doubt it will be reminiscing about vinyl and tube amps. To them, vinyl will have flaws overcome by the digital medium. It will be clumsy to use (what do you mean I have to turn the album over and carefully place the stylus on the record). Their sound reference will be the iPod, or their dad's stereo. Only those kids that grew up with an audiophile of the Tube Amp/Vinyl era for a parent will likely have the same frame of reference (a vanishingly small number). And it's not all that bad, just different.

Remember, there are no absolutes in this hobby. It's all about how it sounds to you. WHile all people hear similarly, no two people hear exactly alike, and personal preference plays a part too. So, to the poster who said "have you ever heard The Beatles 'Love' album on vinyl - enough said", I prefer it on DTS 5.1 surrround off a DVD-A at 24-bit 96kHz.
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