Vinyl is like Owning the 24 bit Digital Master in a Physical Format

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Gumby

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This is my newest realization.  It’s a revelation for me.  I’ve been debating with myself the benefits and cons  of owning LPs, and up to now, I’ve been struggling with the decision to go all in on Digital or Vinyl.  But now it dawned on me; Vinyl is the Digital Master in its physical form. 

I can buy 24 bit Downloads, but I don’t trust the security of those files.  They can be lost, corrupted, etc, even with backups. 

All or most Masters are Recorded in 24 Bit digital.  The vinyl master is made using the 24 Bit file, which is great because 24 bits has the millions of sample output levels needed to reproduce smooth natural sounding music.

Therefore vinyl gives a physical copy of the master, which can also be ripped back to 24 Bit digital, if we want.

Am I right in this realization or not really? 

Elizabeth

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Well, it depends....
I have mostly used vinyl. LOTS of used vinyl.
Last year I upgraded speakers, and a few other things to improve the sound quality. Now... I listen to some few of my LPs and realize they are WORN OUT.. Actually previously I would not have noticed how worn they are.. but now, yeah, I can. particularly old Classical LPs seem to be the worst off. But some, sound great.
So for LPs... the 24 bit like sound all depends are they 'like new'.. or are they worn? and to what degree?

On the other hand, I bought a great new SACD/DAC player that makes CDs sound like 24 bit, IF they are good. naturally some CDs also are relatively poor sound, and do not sound fantastic. But the fact is, some DO sound fantastic.

So IMO it is all a crapshoot. good recordings can sound great. average ones not so good. Same with Lps. but with LPs you have to add in the actual physical record wear.
I suppose actual 24 bit downloads have the same problems. The recording may be poor anyway. 24 bit or not.The playback chain may not do them justice, or may show the limitations of individual poor recordings... 24bit or whatever.

rollo

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  Well put Elizabeth. We are so dependent to the source.


charles

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Vinyl is the Digital Master in its physical form.
Do you mean say in the first time you play it, in the second time it will be less than 24.
I can buy 24 bit Downloads, but I don’t trust the security of those files.  They can be lost, corrupted, etc, even with backups. 
The era from buying files and all the associated computer hardware and software to play these files ended, now you just listen streamer and pay according, no complex hardware need.
All or most Masters are Recorded in 24 Bit digital.  The vinyl master is made using the 24 Bit file, which is great because 24 bits has the millions of sample output levels needed to reproduce smooth natural sounding music.
Vinyl made from digital masters are no so great imo, but it just me.

LesterSleepsIn

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On the other hand, I bought a great new SACD/DAC player that makes CDs sound like 24 bit, IF they are good. naturally some CDs also are relatively poor sound, and do not sound fantastic. But the fact is, some DO sound fantastic.


If I may, what’s the new SACD/DAC player? I thought you preferred to buy older used and upgrade with a good dac?

Cheers,
Lester

Elizabeth

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If I may, what’s the new SACD/DAC player? I thought you preferred to buy older used and upgrade with a good dac?

Cheers,
Lester
Sorry for the confusion! The player is a Marantz SA-10. Yes it is a SACD player, and YES I use it pretty much exclusively as a DAC, to play CDs from one of my pile of five disc CD changers. It is that good (as a DAC playing redbook CDs it converts to DSD.)
I am playing Ani DiFranco right now on a five disc changer with Toslink to the Marantz. Outstanding!

toocool4

Gumby your realisation is wrong, i think you are just trying to justify going with vinyl.
Both vinyl (analogue) & digital (CD / download ect) have good and bad in them, but they are different. Just go with either one and no need to compare.

dB Cooper

Not really.

In fact, I would take issue with almost every statement in the OP.

The pops, clicks, rumble, surface noise, tracking error, pre-echo, post-echo, 20 dB deterioration in S/N at the inner grooves compared to the lead-in grooves, crosstalk, mono bass, and the other shortcomings of this format are definitely not 'part of the master', which is not 'almost always 24 bit'. A true 24 bit master recording can capture 40-50 dB more dynamic range than your vinyl LP. Putting an analog master in a 24-bit delivery format does not make it  a 24 bit recording any more than putting a steak on a bigger plate makes it a bigger steak.

The several percent distortion added by your phono cart (and also by the lathe used to cut the master further back in the signal chain) wasn't part of the master tape either. Nor was the deterioration in SQ that builds with each pass of the needle. I'll take a digital file over an LP anyday for integrity of the content. Enjoy your TT, it sounds better than it has any right to given its myriad flaws, and while you're at it, listen to digital too. Music first and foremost. As you can probably tell, I don't miss vinyl at all, but to each his/her own.

I suggest looking through some of the posts at Real HD Audio (under maintenace as I write this, but bookmark it) or buy his book.

Freo-1

Not really.

In fact, I would take issue with almost every statement in the OP.

The pops, clicks, rumble, surface noise, tracking error, pre-echo, post-echo, 20 dB deterioration in S/N at the inner grooves compared to the lead-in grooves, and the other shortcomings of this format are definitely not 'part of the master', which is not 'almost always 24 bit'. A true 24 bit master recording can capture 40-50 dB more dynamic range than your vinyl LP. Putting an analog master in a 24-bit delivery format does not make it  a 24 bit recording any more than putting a steak on a bigger plate makes it a bigger steak.

The several percent distortion added by your phono cart (and also by the lathe used to cut the master further back in the signal chain) wasn't part of the master tape either. Nor was the deterioration in SQ that builds with each pass of the needle. I'll take a digital file over an LP anyday for integrity of the content. Enjoy your TT, it sounds better than it has any right to given its myriad flaws, and while you're at it, listen to digital too. Music first and foremost. As you can probably tell, I don't miss vinyl at all, but to each his/her own.

I suggest looking through some of the posts at Real HD Audio or buy his book.


Well stated!  I was also going to recommend Dr. Mark @  Real HD Audio as well.


Here's one more analogy:  If the original picture is only 480I, converting the picture to HD/4K will not help the picture to look any better.  Same with the audio source.

GregC

Vinyl sounds outstanding (in my opinion) because it starts and stays in the analog domain minus the RIAA correction.  The closer in lineage the vinyl is to the original master tape source, the better.   

I own a very nice analog and digital front end, and the convenience of digital is great, but I still prefer the sound of a well recorded near mint condition record.

Bob2

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" the convenience of digital is great, but I still prefer the sound of a well recorded near mint condition record"

+1

Elizabeth

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If we are all 'lining up' on 'which side' are YOU... Well if I had to choose one, the other to forever vanish entirely, not even remembered..
I would side with the silver discs.
Progress.
Side with horses or cars? Cars.
Progress.
Candles or electric lights. Electric lights.
Progress.

timind


Am I right in this realization or not really?

No, you are not right. But feel free to enjoy the your lps.

Gumby

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I'll take a digital file over an LP anyday for integrity of the content. Enjoy your TT, it sounds better than it has any right to given its myriad flaws, and while you're at it, listen to digital too. Music first and foremost.

Thanks for the facts about vinyl.  I said in my op I was debating with myself the pros and cons of vinyl.   

But science does not explain the reality of the experience.  How do all the “myriad flaws” lead to the global enjoyment of vinyl.    You said it yourself ,...”Enjoy your TT, it sounds better than it has any right to given its myriad flaws”, and yet the music can sound fantastic,....as good, or better than digital.

I’m after smooth natural sounding music, not “the integrity of the content”.  I couldn’t care if what I’m hearing sounds just like the engineer intended. If, as you say,...”Music first and foremost”, then isn’t the real integrity the way the content makes you feel?   I can listen to LPs for hours with a grin. I have yet to experience that with digital. 

I said in the original post,...vinyl is the digital master in its physical form.  What other medium exists that captures musical sound waves in physical form?  Other than vinyl or tape, or our ears at a live show, none.   

The main message of my op, was that I’m after the encapsulation of music, in its physical form, and is vinyl the best medium to capture it.     I shouldn’t have talked about the master. I don’t know the facts.




dB Cooper


But science does not explain the reality of the experience.  How do all the “myriad flaws” lead to the global enjoyment of vinyl.    You said it yourself ,...”Enjoy your TT, it sounds better than it has any right to given its myriad flaws”, and yet the music can sound fantastic,....as good, or better than digital.

Well, we just disagree about vinyl sounding "better than digital" I guess. To my ear (and my stuff would be considered 'mid-fi' by some around here) the best digital recordings absolutely steamroll the best analog recordings. This isn't to say it's not possible to make a bad digital recording or a great analog recording.
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I’m after smooth natural sounding music, not “the integrity of the content”.  I couldn’t care if what I’m hearing sounds just like the engineer intended.

I could... in fact, it's pretty much the entire premise of 'high fidelity'. To me, the audible distortions contributed by the analog tape, cutting and stamping processes, and playback (several percent for each step if you're lucky and each step was taken with painstaking care, which often doesn't happen) do not 'sound natural'.
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If, as you say,...”Music first and foremost”, then isn’t the real integrity the way the content makes you feel?   I can listen to LPs for hours with a grin. I have yet to experience that with digital. 

That's unfortunate. I've experienced it with my Tivoli One table radio. Ive experienced it with vinyl, and with digital. While content is king, digital tells me the truth about the source- and presents in transparently- in a way that analog just can't. Unfortunately, if the recording contains the artifacts which we've been discussing some of, the truth may not be pleasant. (The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." -'When Harley Was One'). I stop grinning as soon as I hear the first inevitable  snap-crackle-pop. Even the million-dollar system at CAF couldn't get me past that. BTW as I mentioned in another thread, if you are listening to Tidal, Qobuz, most music players with their own volume controls, and those controls are maxed, you are listening to clipping. Clipping sounds bad. A good example is 'Trilogy' by the Chick Corea Trio. It's recorded at high levels and will clip hard if this isn't taken into account. If your digital front end isn't clipping like software players or streaming apps can, that recording (amongst others) 'puts you there' like no analog recording I've ever heard.

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I said in the original post,...vinyl is the digital master in its physical form.  What other medium exists that captures musical sound waves in physical form?  Other than vinyl or tape, or our ears at a live show, none.

Well, technically tape stores the sound wave as a magnetic rather than physical representation. But that's nitpicking to a certain extent. My issue was that is that there are significant, audible, and unavoidable distortions introduced in getting from that analog tape master to that spinning piece of vinyl. I am all for people getting the most enjoyment from their music any way they can. If that's from technology that originated with Thomas Edison, then OK. But I think that you like it in spite of its flaws, not because of them. Ultimately, as someone here says in their avatar (forget who, sorry), "Audio- it's all a big fake." So it is.... We're just trying to find sound that can convince our ears that it's not. Different routes exist to the suspension of disbelief.


ricmon

" the convenience of digital is great, but I still prefer the sound of a well recorded near mint condition record"

+1

+2  :P

Gumby

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"Audio- it's all a big fake." So it is.... We're just trying to find sound that can convince our ears that it's not. Different routes exist to the suspension of disbelief.

Oh man Cooper, so true. 
I also had a Tivoli Radio.  Loved it.  The iPal, before the Bluetooth version. Mainly listened to terrestrial radio and a simple CD player.  That little guy put a smile on my face everyday.  It was simple, cute, and sounded smooth across the board.  It wasn’t trying hard to be something else.  My expectation of it was to just listen to music. It was that Tivoli Radio that opened the door to getting back into hi-fi.   I enjoyed it so much, I thought, “hey let’s expand on this sound”,....and so the journey began. 

I gave the Tivoli iPal to my sister. She’s happy with it and wants nothing else.  I miss that feeling.  Sometimes I wish I stayed that simple.  I think I was happier.   

Tom Bombadil

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This is copied from a recording engineer's post.

LP can reproduce higher frequencies, but it's a difficult thing. If you're not spending well over $1,000 on your turntable, it's unlikely your pickup will handle much beyond 20kHz, even though the highest frequencies put on vinyl are boosted 20dB, because of this kind of loss (low frequencies are cut by 20dB... part of this same RIAA companing curve, because full fidelity low frequency information would leave an LP with only about 10 minutes of play time and cause most playback arms to skate uncontrollably across the disc -- too much mechanical energy). It's also the case that going above 20kHz or so will actually destroy the cutting lathes used to cut LP masters, so if the material does contain higher frequency information, it's either filtered (just as it would be for CD) or it has to be cut at 1/2 to 1/3 speed. So yeah, it's possible for an LP to have higher frequency information -- in the 70s, there was a format called Quadradisc that modulated the back channels of a quadrophonic mix up beyond the 20kHz point, modulated on a 30kHz carrier. Equipment for this was very expensive... some Quadradisc turntables ran $5,000 or more at today's prices, and they had problems with channel separation and bleed, but overall, it does demonstrate the possibility of higher frequencies on LP.

Vinyl typically manages to deliver 60-70dB of signal over noise... the difference between the highest signal level and where the noise overrides any signal. Modern digital recording (Blu-ray audio, HD Tracks, Pono, etc) are recorded at 24-bits, yielding a 144dB SNR.  (Edit:  Thus vinyl is roughly equivalent to 10 to 12-bit digital)

So basically, most people playing LPs won't get higher frequencies than on CD, they will get lower dynamic range and more noise. So why do some people think vinyl sounds better?  STILL you'll absolutely find LPs that sound better than the same CD release. I know all of this and I guarantee that you will, even though it shouldn't be likely. Not on every release, but yeah, some LPs sound better than the same release on CD.  Because vinyl has become a specialty item for enthusiasts, LPs actually often just plain get a better quality master release.

Elizabeth

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Speaking of what gets a better mastering... I have noticed the Redbook on dual SACD/CD (Redbook) the Redbook on the dual SACD/CD is better sounding than the same CD as just a CD.. Nearly every time.

Tom Bombadil

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Speaking of what gets a better mastering... I have noticed the Redbook on dual SACD/CD (Redbook) the Redbook on the dual SACD/CD is better sounding than the same CD as just a CD.. Nearly every time.

I agree.  Attention to mastering is the key to digital quality every time.   A standard Redbook CD can sound fantastic if done to high standards.  I have a few JVC XRCDs  which are phenomenal but I'm not convinced that this is due to the XRCD process.