Author Topic: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?  (Read 582 times)

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Offline Tortuga

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Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2018, 06:32:09 AM »
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If you can tell the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a CD then you should be able to hear spiders crawling on a wall or ants walking in the garden.

As for Vinyl it’s more about the feel. I released my own album on vinyl/cd/digital last year and vinyl is the one that feels like we’re in the room with you. The sound is mixed and mastered differently for vinyl also ... I don’t know what the difference is but I prefer it ... always have ... I’d much rather play my slightly crackly original copy of Joshua Tree than play a remastered digital file.


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I think when people say they can hear the difference they’re not really comparing apples to apples.  For example, their MP3 “source” is music played back on a smartphone plugged into a receiver input from its headphone jack (possibly streamed over a low bandwidth wifi connection) compared to a CD player plugged into the receiver through a line level connection.

I agree no way an untrained listener (as in, someone who doesn’t spend their life career like a recording engineer) can tell a 320 kbps from uncompressed).  Most engineers will tell you they can’t as well.  There have been numerous articles reporting this based on actual trials.

As for vinyl, I believe it is easily distinguishable from a CD or MP3, if nothing else because of its noise floor.  I get that the EQ curve is appealing.  I still have vinyl and I like it the way I like an old b&w movie. But no way is it higher fidelity or a more accurate reproduction of the music it represents.  I also don’t buy that it’s “easier on the ears” than a so-called “harsh” digital recording.  That’s just imagination at work and the power of suggestion.


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« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 06:33:43 AM by Tortuga »

Offline laoghaire

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Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2018, 09:51:27 AM »
It's pretty basic. A larger filesize carries more audio information than a smaller filesize. I am not only an untrainer listener, I'm hearing impaired. And there is a difference and even I can hear it. It would be very odd if you couldn't.

Listening on the exact same device with the exact same headphones, the exact same song back to back. LIAWHL. I see my file is actually an M4A file not MP3. 5.56MB.

The other file is AIFF, 27.1MB.

If you are going to argue there is no difference you clearly haven't tried it.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2018, 02:41:44 PM »
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It's pretty basic. A larger filesize carries more audio information than a smaller filesize. I am not only an untrainer listener, I'm hearing impaired. And there is a difference and even I can hear it. It would be very odd if you couldn't.

Listening on the exact same device with the exact same headphones, the exact same song back to back. LIAWHL. I see my file is actually an M4A file not MP3. 5.56MB.

The other file is AIFF, 27.1MB.

If you are going to argue there is no difference you clearly haven't tried it.

I clearly have tried it.  As I said earlier, it depends on the bitrate.  M4A can be either lossless or lossy depending on if it is compressed using ALAC (lossless) vs AAC (lossy).  If this is an Apple Music file then it is probably 128 kbps AAC, which is the default setting and yes, many people can hear a difference at that bitrate, especially with music that you know really well.  You can change your settings to a higher bitrate or lossless compression format.

The file size being smaller does not mean there is necessarily less information.  The original format for representing music digitally was very inefficient.  Lossless compression results in a file size of roughly half an uncompressed (CD) file but there is NO loss of information.  If you think you hear a difference between uncompressed and ALAC you are imagining things.

Even with lossy compression, at the higher bitrates (256 and above?) its very difficult for most people to hear a difference.  This is because the compression algorithm “leaves out” information that is difficult for the human ear to hear anyway.  So even in a lossy format less information is not noticeable to many people.  It just depends on the bitrate.


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Offline laoghaire

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Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 03:17:20 PM »
I just can't take arguments based on "you're imagining things" seriously, but if it's that important to you, have at it.

Offline Tortuga

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Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2018, 04:22:48 PM »
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I just can't take arguments based on "you're imagining things" seriously, but if it's that important to you, have at it.

Oh sorry.  I thought it was important to you, which is why I took the time to explain it.   I hope you didn’t think I said you were imagining the difference between your low bitrate lossy file and the CD.  Yes, with what you’re comparing you can probably hear the difference.  I agreed with that in my post.

What I was saying with the “imagining” comment is that a lossless compressed file has exactly the same information as an uncompressed file.  There is no difference.  The takeaway benefit for you is that you can change your settings to  ALAC and have 100% CD quality while only using half the space of a CD.  Its a win win.  From your OP I thought you were trying to decide if the various formats were worth the trouble.


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« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 04:37:46 PM by Tortuga »

Offline Tortuga

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Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2018, 04:47:07 PM »
Laoghaire:

In case you are curious how lossless compression works:

If you have an uncompressed datastream like this:

110000001000111100

ALAC will encode it as:

11601304100

When you play it back the decoder will stream back ‘60’ as 000000.

In the early days there wasn’t enough processing power to do that kind of decoding realtime so it wasn’t an option.

You seem like a curious person so I thought you might find that interesting.


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« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 04:48:54 PM by Tortuga »

Offline zooguitar

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Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2018, 07:17:58 PM »
Quote
If you can tell the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a CD then you should be able to hear spiders crawling on a wall or ants walking in the garden.

Ah, no. Once you go beyond headphones that cost more than $30 (or $100 for bluetooth headphones), you can easily hear the difference between even a 320kbps MP3 vs CD.

The truth is somewhere in the middle re: vinyl vs CD. The bad impression some people have for CD audio quality stems from the original wave of catalog re-issues in the 80s and early 90s. Partly due to limitations of the technology at the time, and largely due to the cheapskate nature record labels rushed out the first wave of back catalog CDs, those CDs from that period mostly sound like crap compared to a brand new vinyl counterpart. The Beatles and Stones were the first artists who personally supervised their original CD catalog releases. Led Zeppelin was the first who made the pointed effort to release "re-mastered" second wave catalog CDs that were properly mixed to the medium.

By the mid 1990s, mastering for CD had pretty much been perfected, IMHO. I would argue that, barring bonus tracks or actual remixes, there's no need to buy a re-master of any major label album that came out after 1995.

As for vinyl, what other posters have written is definitely true: most albums recorded after 2001 are exclusively recorded and mixed digitally. So there's no analog element that is getting preserved by listening to it on a vinyl medium.