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Q: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: monroe22-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 17 Jul 2004 20:03 PDT
Expires: 16 Aug 2004 20:03 PDT
Question ID: 375592
It is generally agreed among the serious listeners of classical music
that the best of the now obsolete vinyl LP records had a superior
tonal quality and better fidelity than any CD. Is this true, and why?
(Note: all you rock fans, take a hike and don't bother commenting. You
know less about music than an earthworm.)
Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
Answered By: paul_b_18-ga on 18 Jul 2004 06:09 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

The key to this question is the difference between a digital and an
analog recording. Natural sound is by definition analog.
When a CD recording is created, this analog is sound is digitized. To
do this, they take a lot of snapshots of the analog sound. For a CD
recording they take 44,100 snapshots in a minute. These snapshots are
then converted to digital information with a certain precision. For a
CD recording this precision is 16 bits which means that every one of
the 44,100 snapshots needs to be converted into one of the 65,536
(2^16) possible values.

You can probably see where I am going: by definition a digital
recording doesn't include all the sound information. You could
visualize a CD recording as a really large chest with a lot of
drawers. Because the number of snapshots that are taken are not
infinite (the maximum is 44,100 per minute), the process of taking
snapshots results in the loss of information. Information is further
lost because each of these snapshots must be made to fit in one of the
65,536 drawers of the chest.

A record player which plays LP?s is strictly analog. A vinyl record
has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound's
waveform. The record player than transforms this groove to an analogue
sound signal which can be fed into an amplifier.
In this process, no information can be lost. No snapshots need to be
taken and the sound doesn't need be converted to one of the possible
65,536 values. There basically is an infinite number of 'snapshots'
and 'possible values'. Therefore vinyl recording sound richer than CD
recordings (as long as you have a decent vinyl record player).

Be aware that recent DVD Audio players and Super Audio CD players come
closer to vinyl recordings as they have a much larger number of
possible snapshots in one minute (up to 192,000) and because these
snapshots can be converted to a larger number of possible values (up
to 16,777,216 possible values, or 24 bit).

Search strategy;
Google: vinyl OR LP "better than" sound CD 

I hope you have enough information. If you need any more, please ask
for a clarification!

Thank you,
monroe22-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks paul b 18...a very helpful clarification...

Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
From: neilzero-ga on 18 Jul 2004 08:34 PDT
IMHO = In my humble opinion, enough CD samples per second and enough
drawers are used to give the vinyl a negligible advantage. The needle
and cartrage used to record and to play back vinyl, both have some
mechanical resonaces which add elements to the recording (a very fast
vibrato) Both of these are reduced significantly by using a laser beam
for both record and play back of CD and DVD. There are perhaps a dozen
other factors which cause the listerer to hear less than high
fidelity. The tradeoffs with these (including cost) are more important
than the number of samples and drawers in most practical situations.
If you prefer the vinyl sound it is clearly best for you.   Neil
Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
From: monroe22-ga on 18 Jul 2004 16:02 PDT
neilzero: A most interesting comment. Yes, LP equipment is indeed
subject to mechanical interference, while CDs are not, other than
contaminated tracks.
Probably, LPs played on the best available equipment are the most
satisfying, whereas CDs played on average systems are fine. As an
older person whose hearing range has deteriorated, I am pleased with
CD sound and lack of surface noise. My reminiscence of great LP sound
is of course subjective.
Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
From: agruhn-ga on 19 Jul 2004 09:28 PDT
Also important in this discussion is the inclusion of the additional
effects added by LPs that trigger the ways in which we listen to the
music we hear.  Primarily there's the tactile element of records
(having to flip the record halfway through, larger artwork, etc..)
that makes listening to vinyl more of an active event as opposed to
letting music play in the background.  Secondly, the addition of
surface noise from use, dust, mold, etc is quite often more "true" to
the music, the history of the artist, the history of the LP itself,
and the connection the listener has with the particular record.

- I find more truth in my highly-listened-to first pressing of "Kind
of Blue" than I would in any audiophile re-release.  Just some
Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
From: rayljr-ga on 03 Aug 2004 10:00 PDT
The sampling rate for CDs is 44,100 cycles/second, not per minute.
This "conforms" to the fulfill the Nyquist criterion (> 40 kHz or 2x
the analog frequency).

However the 20 kHz "brick wall filtering" does not mean 20 kHz
frequencies are faithfully reproduced. There's a lot more audio
information to sample at the higher frequencies. Advantage goes to a
clean vinyl record - e.g. some Technics cartridges can pick up >75 kHz
& can even drive the bats bats - not possible on a CD. Higher
frequency or >20 kHz ?inaudible? harmonics have been shown to affect
the human sense of hearing. The ear might not pick it out in a DBT
(double blind test), but the brain wave scans show there clearly is an
effect. I never really trusted those DBTs anyway. ;-)

So ?clean? vinyl can be advantageous or competitive for the last
several octaves. That's where the nickname ?tin ears? for CD fans
comes from - e.g. the cymbals played which are among the highest
frequencies produced by the orchestra (or even rock band if you'd
care). ;-)

This vinyl advantage starts to give way even after the 1st play on any
turntable, no matter how well balanced & built. After all, vinyl is a
1 on Moh's scale of hardness & diamond is a 10. If the diamond stylus
never touched the vinyl surface, there wouldn't be any sound. But
depending on how well implemented the turntable, stylus weight &
tracking balance are implemented, this advantage will ?wear away? at
certain degrees.

But for lower frequencies, the advantages for the CD mentioned above
in this thread lean to the CD. Plus, on a CD the laser never touches
or affects the source disc. What to do? Listen to vinyl in good
condition on a good turntable, or a well recorded & mastered CD
(usually the later releases or masters), 24-bit 96 kHz digital
recordings or the for now occasional SACD or DVD-A. One idea might be
to make a  24/192 hi-rez digital recording (24/96 for multi-channel)
off a brand new LP or vinyl platter. One could do this with a RME or
Lynx sound card, good calibrated condenser microphone, a good
turntable/stylus... & a DVD RW drive or even burned right to a hard

If you notice the same is true of digital (in the sense of the word
digital, e.g. Class D) vs. analog amps - where digital amps are now
becoming very popular for home & car subwoofers. They are slowly
creeping into the home amplifier market, but seem to need a bit more
switching/sampling power for the higher frequencies to get on par with
higher-end Class A or AB amps. Interesting, when they first debuted
like CDs, they were called ?the perfect sound?. ;-) Some are pretty
good, even sound like a tube amp & all very efficient.

Some of the best vinyl releases I've ever heard are Decca 78's (some
even on a mono speaker setup) & a LP DJ version special release, which
are made of super-thick vinyl. I also like linear or ?tangential?
tracking arms on a turntable, because of the centrifugal force from
the stylus which can get ?substantial? towards the end of play & wear
out the outer groove or right channel more than the other. Also vinyl
is cut or ?recorded? on a linear system.
Subject: Re: Vinyl LP sound versus CD sound
From: kesshutsu-ga on 21 Nov 2004 23:27 PST
That's 44,100 samples -per second- ..not per minute.

It was mentioned that there are a possible infinite ammount of
snapshots taken which is infact incorrect. I'd say infact.. that when
you get down to how many unique sounds are happening per second on a
vinyl.. (try to calculate it's sampling rate.. as if it were a digital
system) ..You'd find that a Super Audio CD had much better response..
not to mention there's much less noise.. and more channels

Bottom line SACD > Vinyl

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