Thread: CD vs Vinyl
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Old 09-05-2009   #79
BillD
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Posts: 13
Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

Well, I've talked to Bob, and have 5 of his amps and two of his preamps (the 2 Sunfire pieces are for A/V). I currently have no tube equipment, but I was just at a friend's house in Santa Fe and listened to his Sunfire Vacuum Tube Reference preamp, and it was delicious. It even has a tube phono preamp. I love Carver stuff for the bang for the buck, and I know how to work on his mag-coil designs, so I can keep my stuff going that I bought in the early 1980's. Bob is very pragmatic and if there is a question he'll be the first to say "let's try it and find out". Bob is very much into tubes these days. The sound from modern tube gear is much cleaner these days as people learn to keep the output within the linear limits of the tubes. In the 50s and 60s, the tube amps were so underpowered that most were operating at clipping (or above) and that numbness was the soft clipping that tubes do with high levels of second-order harmonic distortion that make single-ended triode amps sound fat. Because the attack time of tubes is slower (slew rate) and the exhibit relatively high output impedance (damping), highs are soft and bass is tubby in most tube amps. But there is magic in the mid-range! Also, modern day capacitors have made tube-amps much better than they used to be. But this is about CD versus Vinyl.

I might have assumed wrongly that we were talking about the digital format, not the CD (44.1 kHz, 16-bit) format solely. I agree that, to me, a good pressing (probably from some European house) on 180 g. virgin vinyl of an album sounds better than a CD. A little softer, maybe, but with better fullness and (of course) dynamic range. Part of the latter could be the result of the recording engineer compressing the CD, but I have made this test myself. When you move up the line to SACD or DVD-A however, the recording engineers are more careful because the artist clearly cares enough about their music to be putting it out on these low-volume formats. I just received Gaucho on DVD-A (96 kHz, 24-bit stereo and 5.1) and have the 180g vinyl on order to do the comparison (in stereo, of course).

I was never a fan of quadraphonic, but I do like a well done 5.1 format DVD-A or SACD. The Beatles Love album was mentioned earlier which is great in 5.1 on DVD-A. Diana Krall's The Girl In The Other Room is another in 5.1 SACD. If you want to try out all the new formats, I recommend getting an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player (or a DV-980H if you aren't into the Blu-ray formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master).
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