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Old 07-17-2009   #67
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

I've been thinking about and studying this topic for some time. There have been comments that the CD format (16-bit 44.1kHz sampling) is insufficient to produce good playback. If you believe information theory (Nyquist criterion), a sample rate of twice the analog spectrum is sufficient to perfectly reproduce the analog spectrum, so 44. 1kHz meets the criterion, and then some. The sampling frequency was chosen somewhat higher than the Nyquist rate since practical filters needed to prevent aliasing have a finite slope. Now, is 16 bits enough to represent the levels. 16 bits represents about 120dB of dynamic range, pretty good.

Most people will hear a CD as "perfect". There are those that claim both that the overtones and harmonics above 20kHz can be sensed and feel the need for more than 120dB dynamic range will claim otherwise (I actually tend to be in this camp, and digitize at 96kHz and 24 bits), but that is seriously more than any vinyl record can produce.

I have come to believe that this is all the recording engineers fault, pressured by artists and radio stations that want their music to "pop". If you put a scope on the output of a CD and a vinyl recording of the same piece, you will find that they do not resemble each other very much. I've found some CD's to be compressed so much, that the average level for the entire disk was -3dB. Back in the '70s, the average level for rock was -18dB, and this is what is typically found on vinyl (also because the medium doesn't handle the "all loud" format very well - hence the RIAA equalization curve). So, we will play our vinyl louder to make it sound the same level as the CD, and the added dynamic range will give the music much more impact.

The good news on all of this is while some SACD and DVD-Audio releases are affected, nearly all DVD-Audio discs also contain a Dolby Digital (AC3) or DTS sound track to allow the disc to be played in DVD-Video players without DVD-Audio playback capability. Dolby Digital has a defined and calibrated reference average playback level (-20dB), and the DTS track will also follow this level. It is therefore beneficial that the high-resolution DVD-Audio soundtrack will be produced at the same reference level—and this indeed is normally the case.

As these new high-resolution formats are marketed largely at audiophiles, attempts to master them for loudness would almost certainly be counterproductive, as the target audience is likely to be highly critical of sound quality and dynamics.

Sure, something could be done. The producers could adopt a common alignment level, which would be enforced by audio standards organizations. For example, the European Broadcast Union standards call for 18 dB of headroom. This would reduce the need to produce music that is mastered for loudness. Hybrid SACD, which allow two layers of audio data, could offer a compromise: two versions of music would be mastered, one that is compressed and one that is left as-is. The version with compressed audio could be played in environments which benefit from compression, such as on car stereos or portable audio players. The version left as-is can then be played in quiet environments with high-fidelity equipment.
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Old 07-17-2009   #68
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

Thanks Bill, I've always thought perceived differences, some of which I've heard myself, was due to the material recorded on the media rather than the media itself. On paper the CD is the superior media as your post says, but often the LP will sound better. Not the media's fault, but the mastering.
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Old 07-17-2009   #69
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

Quote:
Originally Posted by tleddy@earthlink.net View Post
I had the good fortune to be able to run a direct comparison among the following media with my 28 y/o daughter and her fiance':

I used my main system with a Sony SACD/CD player, Placette line stage, custom ultra-linear tube amp and Harbeth 40 speakers for the test. Analog was a Linn with Itok Arm and Grado cartridge.

I happened to have a recording in CD, SACD and Vinyl of a Stones album and my daughter had the same on her iPod in MP-3 format (CD Red Book is now available on iTunes).

My daughter and fiance' are NOT hifi folks... just your average casual listeners.

So, we have

MP-3
CD Red Book
SACD
Vinyl

Simply put, they were astounded in the difference in sound quality among the media!! And to their profound amazement, the differences were not subtle... their rankings:

Vinyl...... SACD.... CD.... MP-3 Enough said.
Yep.

I said the same thing in my post on p.5 of this thread (though I didn't mention SACD's or MP-3's).

I've tried super-expensive CD players (McIntosh/Marantz/Mark Levinson/Meridian) and in my system, vinyl still trumps CD: Vinyl simply sounds more "real" than any CD I've listened to. And sounding more "real" to me is what this hobby is about.

I now use a Sony SACD player as a transport and run the two-channel digital output through an Adcom 700 DAC because I do prefer HDCD encoded CD's over any other digital format I've heard.

IMO, SACD was simply a crass marketing attempt by Sony to extend their royalty revenue from the sliver discs after their CD patent expired. But like the entire recording industry, they got blindsided by iTunes and downloads. Consider this: One day's revenue from the iTunes store equals the total annual sales of SACD for 2008. Consumers have voted for convenience over sound quality and I find that sad.

And there is much good classical music and opera music to be had on vinyl that will never be transferred to CD.

As for new music, well, IMO not much really good material has been produced since the late 1970's: Go into the music section of any Best Buy, Target, etc. and you'll always see a huge assortment of "commemorative" reissues of rock classics from the 1960's and 1970's, like the recent Woodstock reissue that Target had an exclusive on. The major labels have discovered they can make more $$$ by re-issuing previously recorded material (and calling it "undiscovered") from their blue-chip artists than by finding and promoting new talent.

I think the music industry killed themselves in many ways, some of which include:

1. Cutting back on their A&R departments to find new talent - The major labels got fat and happy from the earnings of their established artists and forget they had to keep replenishing their talent pools. Yes, there were feeble efforts with talentless artists and genres such as "grunge" and "punk rock" but they had no sticking power. And now there is hip-hop and rap, but this genre sells far fewer albums than C&W so it is a niche genre and not one that appeals to the masses.

2. Their unmitigated arrogance in trying to force consumers to buy albums when what they wanted was singles.

3. Their silly war on MP-3 and downloading - This was a major distraction that re-directed their management's focus from growing their business to a feeble effort to stop downloading. The only people who made money here were the lawyers who collected their fees from the major labels while the settlements the labels received from the cases they won came no where close to covering their legal expenses.

4. Producers insistence on mixing almost all new CD's with little dynamic range so they would sound "louder" when played on FM and cheap stereos.

5. FM broadcasters insistence on cranking their Orban's for maximum compression in an attempt to be the "loudest" station on the dial.

6. Failing to recognize that DVD's with as much a 4 or 5 hours of material are a much better entertainment value than a 74 minute CD - Particularly when both are available for the same price.

You want more proof? Well, look at the artists now that now bypass the traditional music industry distribution channels and sign exclusive distribution deals with WalMart, Target and Best Buy.

I think the graduate business schools in the future will use the actions of the music industry in the 1990's as a great case study of how to kill a business by alienating your best customers by suing the and by forgetting they were in the entertainment business, not necessarily the album business: They literally gave away their entertainment business to the movie companies with their DVD's and they gave away their music business to Steven Jobs because he "got it" that people wanted songs, not albums.

As always, YMMV, of course. But I feel no pity for the music industry. They did this to themselves.

© 2009 Timothy M. Britt (MusicIndustryMaven@gmail.com)
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Old 08-26-2009   #70
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillD View Post
I've been thinking about and studying this topic for some time. There have been comments that the CD format (16-bit 44.1kHz sampling) is insufficient to produce good playback. If you believe information theory (Nyquist criterion), a sample rate of twice the analog spectrum is sufficient to perfectly reproduce the analog spectrum, so 44. 1kHz meets the criterion, and then some. The sampling frequency was chosen somewhat higher than the Nyquist rate since practical filters needed to prevent aliasing have a finite slope. Now, is 16 bits enough to represent the levels. 16 bits represents about 120dB of dynamic range, pretty good.

Most people will hear a CD as "perfect". There are those that claim both that the overtones and harmonics above 20kHz can be sensed and feel the need for more than 120dB dynamic range will claim otherwise (I actually tend to be in this camp, and digitize at 96kHz and 24 bits), but that is seriously more than any vinyl record can produce.

I have come to believe that this is all the recording engineers fault, pressured by artists and radio stations that want their music to "pop". If you put a scope on the output of a CD and a vinyl recording of the same piece, you will find that they do not resemble each other very much. I've found some CD's to be compressed so much, that the average level for the entire disk was -3dB. Back in the '70s, the average level for rock was -18dB, and this is what is typically found on vinyl (also because the medium doesn't handle the "all loud" format very well - hence the RIAA equalization curve). So, we will play our vinyl louder to make it sound the same level as the CD, and the added dynamic range will give the music much more impact.

The good news on all of this is while some SACD and DVD-Audio releases are affected, nearly all DVD-Audio discs also contain a Dolby Digital (AC3) or DTS sound track to allow the disc to be played in DVD-Video players without DVD-Audio playback capability. Dolby Digital has a defined and calibrated reference average playback level (-20dB), and the DTS track will also follow this level. It is therefore beneficial that the high-resolution DVD-Audio soundtrack will be produced at the same reference level—and this indeed is normally the case.

As these new high-resolution formats are marketed largely at audiophiles, attempts to master them for loudness would almost certainly be counterproductive, as the target audience is likely to be highly critical of sound quality and dynamics.

Sure, something could be done. The producers could adopt a common alignment level, which would be enforced by audio standards organizations. For example, the European Broadcast Union standards call for 18 dB of headroom. This would reduce the need to produce music that is mastered for loudness. Hybrid SACD, which allow two layers of audio data, could offer a compromise: two versions of music would be mastered, one that is compressed and one that is left as-is. The version with compressed audio could be played in environments which benefit from compression, such as on car stereos or portable audio players. The version left as-is can then be played in quiet environments with high-fidelity equipment.
Must correct serious errors in BillD's story.
The internet is full of serious and valid data, so it really is unnecessary to make so many errors and uninformed claims.
1. The analog spectrum is much wider in bandwidth than 20Hz...20kHz.
Transients of up to and over 50kHz have been proved to be of significance as to timbre and localisation of sound sources.
This is not a "claim", this is the outcome and the conclusion of scientific research.
2. Dynamic range of 16 bits is not 120dB. Each bit represents 6,02dB so 16 bits is 96,32dB.
3. Dynamic range on an lp is more than 96dB. It is not defined by the signal to noise ratio as many think, it is defined by the molecular structure of vinyl, and the smallest groove that can be imprinted into the material.
4. Human hearing easily detects discrete tones buried 20dB deep into random noise, also the conclusion of scientific research. A pristine LP read with a good stylus can produce a surface noise-to-signal ratio of way over 80dB.
The 17th harmonic riding on a violin note can reach -90dB but since it is riding on a note of say -10dB it is clearly lifted above the surface noise, provided that there is no noise modulation present.
5. The reproduction of small details in ordinary cd-players is greatly impaired by non-musical artifacts, which are real world spurious and music-alien signals which mask parts of the original content.
You can not measure that when you measure only steady state tones.
But nobody knows how to really measure music, let alone scientifically compare music played back through a variety of digital filters and dacs. It can be done, but would offend many a conceptual thinker.
Now thŕt would be the proof that 44k1/16bits digital is fatally flawed.
However look what Bob Stewart of Meridian has wrought: the apodising filter. Brilliant piece of work. Yet not more than a band-aid: the digital format that clearly supersedes analog is already there and it is called 128FS DSD. Unfortunately no-one is willing to recognize it as such and declare it a new industry standard. It's a money game.

Last edited by Marcel; 08-26-2009 at 05:29 AM..
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Old 08-26-2009   #71
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcel
Must correct serious errors in BillD's story.
The internet is full of serious and valid data, so it really is unnecessary to make so many errors and uninformed claims.
Seriously, Marcel, is it necessary to insult? Just because your internet sources are different than mine (and I might add, undocumented to any extent of your claims) is no reason to insult my assertions. For instance, you claim that 1 bit is 6.02 dB. How can this possibly be? Decibels are dimensionless numbers (logarithms, actually, powers of 10 to be more precise). Therefore, dBs must have a reference value. One bit can express only 2 numbers, zero and one. If your reference value is the zero, and your measured value is the one, the log (1/0) is undefined. So, what was the reference value?

Your other assertions seem to contradict themselves. "Dynamic range on an lp is more than 96dB" and "A pristine LP read with a good stylus can produce a surface noise-to-signal ratio of way over 80dB" and "[dynamic range] is not defined by the signal to noise ratio as many think, it is defined by the molecular structure of vinyl, and the smallest groove that can be imprinted into the material". The latter statement might be true if you consider noise part of the musical material, as many LP fans must. BTW, there is always noise modulation on an LP at -90dB (0dB reference 0.9mV cartridge output).

My conclusion from your statements is that you must have read some article pushing something. Undocumented research is no research at all. Unless you state your sources (these "conclusions of scientific research"), all your assertions are suspect. What I do I suspect is that you have been relying on Meridian marketing literature?
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Old 09-02-2009   #72
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Default Re: CD vs Vinyl

I have a few points I would like to add:

1. Measurements are not everything, if they meant so much then no one would listen to a tube amp.

2. If a Cd divides the sound up into pieces and puts it back together surely there will be losses.

3. If Cd's are so superior why does anyone bother with vinyl and why such a discussion?

4. People who go on about the background noise haven't heard cartridges like the Benz Glider or Sumiko Blackbird.

5. When are they going to make Cd's with the artwork of Lp's?

6. Anyone here heard Love by The Beatles on vinyl? Enough said.

I don't hate Cd's I just like vinyl better and they don't make a lot of albums I like on any other medium.

Also did you know that if you play an album at 88mph you will go back to when it was recorded?
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