@U2 Forum

U2 => The Music and Lyrics => Topic started by: Swedescott on October 10, 2018, 12:55:44 PM

Title: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Swedescott on October 10, 2018, 12:55:44 PM
Hi everyone,

Apologies for a basic question, but I'm not an audiophile:  what are the benefits to buying vinyl?  With the recent releases by U2.com (and JT and Zooropa forthcoming, just announced), I would love to be educated on why that is preferable?

Is it a warmer, different sound?  And are CDs not being recorded (again, apologies if that's not the right word; "pressed"? "mixed"?) to capture that same sound out of the speakers? 

I would love to start building a U2 collection on vinyl for the aesthetics (both of the album, and around the house) but looking to justify the cost.

Thank you!
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: hollywoodswag on October 10, 2018, 01:25:50 PM
I have a few albums on vinyl despite not having a record player just yet (I'm probably going to get one around Christmas), but I didn't buy them for the sound. I just bought them because I thought it might be a fun to pop on a great album and then sit back and relax on the couch and really enjoy the listening experience. I don't see myself getting more than a few dozen records, though, as only albums I absolutely, truly love from start to finish are going to be worth it from a cost perspective.

That last sentence may be coming from my wife more than me, haha.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: laoghaire on October 10, 2018, 05:14:11 PM
I'm not an audiophile but I'm surprised none have answered yet, so I'll take a swing.

My understanding is that CDs are digitally compressed - there is less information on a CD file than there are in the grooves of a record. You technically could have an uncompressed audio file on CD but the filesize would be too large to fit an album on CD. For most of us, the CD is just fine - it is high quality. But not top quality.

MP3s are lower quality. If you compare a CD recording with an MP3 you'll likely hear the difference.

Now, I remember all the hisses and crackles when playing records, but if you have a record in great condition and a good turntable and needle, my understanding is that you can get a fuller sound, and you might even be able to notice sounds that escaped your attention previously. I haven't played a record since around 1992 but I surmise this from having compared listening to SOE on MP3 (my original purchase) and eventually listening from CD. I was very familiar with the album when I switched to CD, so I was able to notice the differences. They were not earth-shattering, but I could hear them. It just sounded clearer, a bit fuller.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 10, 2018, 08:45:37 PM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
I'm not an audiophile but I'm surprised none have answered yet, so I'll take a swing.

My understanding is that CDs are digitally compressed - there is less information on a CD file than there are in the grooves of a record. You technically could have an uncompressed audio file on CD but the filesize would be too large to fit an album on CD. For most of us, the CD is just fine - it is high quality. But not top quality.

MP3s are lower quality. If you compare a CD recording with an MP3 you'll likely hear the difference.

Now, I remember all the hisses and crackles when playing records, but if you have a record in great condition and a good turntable and needle, my understanding is that you can get a fuller sound, and you might even be able to notice sounds that escaped your attention previously. I haven't played a record since around 1992 but I surmise this from having compared listening to SOE on MP3 (my original purchase) and eventually listening from CD. I was very familiar with the album when I switched to CD, so I was able to notice the differences. They were not earth-shattering, but I could hear them. It just sounded clearer, a bit fuller.

Short answer...its nostalgia and novelty.    There is some misinformation in what youíve read.  Lots of confusion around ďcompressionĒ.  You are talking about file compression, which is done to make a digital file smaller.  CDs are not compressed.  They contain 16-bit audio sampled at 44.1khz.  MP3s use lossy compression. Vinyl is analog but with any modern recording it was originally recorded digitally and then converted to analog.  So there is no ďloss of informationĒ between a Cd and vinyl.  In fact, when the master for a vinyl record is created, the bass has to be attenuated in order to keep the needle from jumping out of the groove.  CDs have far more dynamic range and lower noise compared to vinyl.

People like to say analog is warmer but nobody can really tell you what that means.  Vinyl sounds different and its perfectly fine if you like that vinyage sound but it is not higher fidelity in any way shape or form.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: BurningDownLove on October 10, 2018, 10:09:33 PM
Iím definitely not an expert in all the technical specifics, but just speaking from personal experience, I got a record player about a year and a half ago and it quickly became my favorite way to listen to the albums I love. U2ís albums in particular sound incredible to me on vinyl. They sound fuller, warmer, clearer, and I absolutely pick up on new things I canít hear in the mp3s.

Iím also very fortunate to have an excellent pair of speakers that I was given by my dad, which makes a big difference. You can hear a lot more of the nuances when you crank up the volume on those things.   ;)

Iím taking a music class this semester and my professor laments the fact that, in his view,  mp3s in no way convey the music the way the artist intended it to sound. So perhaps vinyl comes closer to capturing that.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 11, 2018, 04:51:02 AM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
Iím definitely not an expert in all the technical specifics, but just speaking from personal experience, I got a record player about a year and a half ago and it quickly became my favorite way to listen to the albums I love. U2ís albums in particular sound incredible to me on vinyl. They sound fuller, warmer, clearer, and I absolutely pick up on new things I canít hear in the mp3s.

Iím also very fortunate to have an excellent pair of speakers that I was given by my dad, which makes a big difference. You can hear a lot more of the nuances when you crank up the volume on those things.   ;)

Iím taking a music class this semester and my professor laments the fact that, in his view,  mp3s in no way convey the music the way the artist intended it to sound. So perhaps vinyl comes closer to capturing that.

When people compare one format to another they often are not doing a true blind test playing the same content through the same system and having someone switch for them.  I have done that and at a 256 bitrate I canít reliably pick out a CD from MP3.  You canít compare streaming to CD because rarely is your network connection giving you the full streamed bitrate.

Of course you can always pick out vinyl because it sounds so much ďlessĒ than the CD.  You may like that sound but it is much further from the original source than the CD, in terms of accuracy.  Vinyl simply doesnít have the physical capacity to carry the resolution of a CD.


https://www.npr.org/2012/02/10/146697658/why-vinyl-sounds-better-than-cd-or-not



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: laoghaire on October 11, 2018, 06:29:39 AM
It's not that I can come upon somebody playing music on a home or car stereo and say, "yup, just listening I can tell that's a CD (or MP3)." But if you play an MP3 version and CD version of the same song back to back on the same system, it's not difficult at all to tell which song is higher quality.

I don't care about the difference for most songs, but I do for some.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 11, 2018, 01:01:28 PM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
It's not that I can come upon somebody playing music on a home or car stereo and say, "yup, just listening I can tell that's a CD (or MP3)." But if you play an MP3 version and CD version of the same song back to back on the same system, it's not difficult at all to tell which song is higher quality.

I don't care about the difference for most songs, but I do for some.

I can tell if the mp3 is streaming from a phone but if its a 256 bitrate mp3 burned onto a cd and played on the same cd player as the cd, I can only pick correctly about half the time.  Which means I canít tell which is which at all.  You will be right half the time just guessing.  Which is all I can do.  I cannot hear the difference.  I believe some people can.  But not many.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: rockatansky on October 12, 2018, 11:26:38 AM
Can't speak to the technical aspects of cd's vs vinyl.  What I've missed with cd's is the full size jacket and liner notes that you get with vinyl.  I have some really old vinyl (U2 included) but also stuff from 60's/70's.  It was always cool to read the liner notes in the jacket.  And you could really read it, without using a magnifying glass you use with CD's.  :)
Also the jacket artwork is better.  It's an actual physical sensation you get with a vinyl record that's satisfying to me.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: laoghaire on October 12, 2018, 02:11:37 PM
Ha, when I got the SOE CD I was looking forward to the insert.

Memo to U2: your fans are old now. We can't read 4pt font. Like, literally, we can't read it at all.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: ian ryan on October 12, 2018, 03:15:29 PM
For me, itís mainly about the large, tactile quality of it. I only buy U2 vinyl; Iím not really interested in getting any other artistís vinyl. One of my big hopes as screens got high res was that artists would make cool, digital album booklets and art to go along with their releases, just for the visual art of it. There was a bit of an effort at it from Apple with their LP feature, but it didnít catch on. Once it became clear that artists werenít going to take advantage of what a full digital album could be (with the possible exception of Beyoncť), I figured Iíd start collecting some U2 vinyl, as Iíve always loved what U2 does visually. It really scratched my itch, so now Iím all in for vinyl and box sets now.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 12, 2018, 03:48:23 PM
I miss the looking at the album cover too but I sure donít miss the crackles and pops, the cleaning and stylus maintenance, and flipping or changing records every 15 minutes.  Mostly I donít miss the space and clutter.  I have a large vinyl collection from back in the day and a huge CD collection that, fortunately, stopped growing after the advent of the internet as a delivery medium and hard drive as a storage medium.  Nope, I donít want to go back.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: 64ac30 on October 12, 2018, 09:11:19 PM
If you really hear a ďdifferenceĒ youíre lying to yourself. On the other hand, some people have vinyl sound system that sound better than their speaker setup. But you canít hear a difference in vinyl vs sound. People buy for the colletability.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: jc619er on October 15, 2018, 04:53:09 PM
 This will be a debate forever if you can or can't hear a difference. Vinyl is just a different experience all around. To me it's more peaceful and fun. It forces you to sit and actually experience and album which nobody does anymore these days. Do I feel it sounds better, yes in some ways. In some ways I prefer CD more. MP3 is purely for convenience, but when I can I like to plan an uncompressed digital file. When it comes to that I can 100% tell the difference in a compressed and uncompressed file. But as Tortuga said earlier, you won't hear the difference in a 256k file played on a digital player and one burned on to a CD, this is true, but if you have a 256k file and an uncompressed file side by side to me there is a huge difference and most people say there isn't.

But put all that aside, any musical medium only sounds as good as your stereo, and most times these days people aren't spending a lot on a vinyl setup so to hear an immediate difference, you probably won't. It's more for the collectors sake of it.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: robgalloway on October 15, 2018, 11:36:38 PM
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 itís more about the feel. I released my own album on vinyl/cd/digital last year and vinyl is the one that feels like weíre in the room with you. The sound is mixed and mastered differently for vinyl also ... I donít know what the difference is but I prefer it ... always have ... Iíd much rather play my slightly crackly original copy of Joshua Tree than play a remastered digital file.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 16, 2018, 06:32:09 AM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
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 itís more about the feel. I released my own album on vinyl/cd/digital last year and vinyl is the one that feels like weíre in the room with you. The sound is mixed and mastered differently for vinyl also ... I donít know what the difference is but I prefer it ... always have ... Iíd much rather play my slightly crackly original copy of Joshua Tree than play a remastered digital file.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I think when people say they can hear the difference theyíre not really comparing apples to apples.  For example, their MP3 ďsourceĒ 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 doesnít spend their life career like a recording engineer) can tell a 320 kbps from uncompressed).  Most engineers will tell you they canít 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 donít buy that itís ďeasier on the earsĒ than a so-called ďharshĒ digital recording.  Thatís just imagination at work and the power of suggestion.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: laoghaire 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.
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 16, 2018, 02:41:44 PM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
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 ďleaves outĒ 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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: laoghaire 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.
Title: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga on October 16, 2018, 04:22:48 PM
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
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 didnít think I said you were imagining the difference between your low bitrate lossy file and the CD.  Yes, with what youíre comparing you can probably hear the difference.  I agreed with that in my post.

What I was saying with the ďimaginingĒ 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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Serious-but-embarassing question: why buy vinyl?
Post by: Tortuga 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 Ď60í as 000000.

In the early days there wasnít enough processing power to do that kind of decoding realtime so it wasnít an option.

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


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk