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The Sound of Vinyl

Discussion in 'Maiden Chat' started by Earendil Ancient Mariner, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Some of my friends don't believe me when I tell them that most vinyls sound better than CD. So I made this video. This is one of my favourite songs from Iron Maiden taken from their album "Somewhere in Time"... I chose this album because it has a great audio quality. I captured the audio with Audacity and I shot the video with my photo camera, that's why it has no quality, but the audio is excellent. It's better if listened to with headphones or a stereo... then I added the audio to the video with Movie Maker.
    Check it out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tGVjTOJTdo
  2. bearfan

    bearfan Ancient Mariner

    No argument here, I wish they would release their newer stuff in black vinyl (versus picture discs .. or actually both so I could have one to look at and one to play).
  3. Plissken

    Plissken Prowler

    I would prefer the CD's if they were remastered correctly.
  4. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Indeed.

    Just wondering though, Mariner. About it sounding better, what specifially are you referring to? The "warm" sound so many vinyl enthusiasts speak about? The slight softness (that's because of the high frequency limiations of vinyl. They don't have quite as good frequency response as cds. Plus the higher frequencies get slightly worn of the vinyl after some 5-10 plays) or the warm sound? The warm sound is actually distortion. Harmonic distortion caused by your gear setup and the format itself (harmonic distortion is inherit to all analog equipment, but it's a matter of amount. A lot of older equipment, back in the glory days of vinyl, had by modern standards fairly high harmonic distortion, hence the coloration of the sound). It may sound appealing, but it is really a degredation of the signal. Just a random note.   :ninja: However, sound accuracy and perception are two different things so it's not really that important anyway.  :D

    Now, the semi-technical stuff apart! It does indeed sound nice (youtube compression apart). Thanks! :)
  5. Von Bek

    Von Bek Prowler

    I have a remastered version of Somewhere in Time, and the opening track is overpowered by the drums so much that it ruins the entire song. In fact, the drums almost sound programmed. I'll stick to the original CD or the vinyl.
  6. Plissken

    Plissken Prowler

    Yeah, its gotta be the worst sounding of the remasters. I actually like some of the remasters though, like Powerslave. I think it sounds great.
  7. edclear

    edclear Prowler

    I love the sound of vinyl too, I think it's got a fuller richer sound that CD's never seem to replicate. There's no reason that a WAV or MP3 shouldn't capture that fullness tho. The only thing with vinyl was all the gunk it would collect, scratches making tracks jump around. Another plus was the actual size of the lp sleeve, just seemed more significant holding a 7" or 12" (I know I could attract a few comments about that so don't bother), but the texture and detail was just perfect. CD's and DVD's are always too plastic I suppose.
  8. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    As I said - That "fullness" is harmonic distortion (partly created by the playback gear! "True" vinyl sound isn't overly colored, but extra good gear cost dimes), limited frequency range (up to ca 15 khz) and worn off top frequencies. Detoriated sound in other words.

    :D

    However, as I said, sound accuracy and sound perception tend to differ at times.
  9. Forostar

    Forostar In the available light

    I read on wiki that there is a theory that vinyl records can audibly represent higher frequencies than compact discs. According to Red Book specifications, the compact disc has a frequency response of 2 Hz up to 22,050 Hz. Turntable rumble obscures the low-end limit of vinyl but the upper end has registered to 30 kHz and beyond. Carrier signals of Quad LPs popular in the 1970s were at 30 kHz so to be out of the range of human hearing. The average human auditory system is sensitive to frequencies from 20 Hz to a maximum of around 20,000 Hz. The upper and lower frequency limits of human hearing vary per person.


    So, am I correct when I say that people with better (than average) hearing may have a bigger chance of estimating the sound quality of an LP? In other words: their perception of the LP is better so they know the difference better?

    That fullness we're talking about, that might be the higher frequency, or not?
  10. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    P
    No. No to most of the post. You got it wrong. I will respond when I have a proper Internet access. I'm ön the phone atm.
  11. Forostar

    Forostar In the available light

    Some people say they do not hear the difference between (e.g.) 128 and 256 kbps mp3s.
    Others (like me) do. So I can imagine that hearing has to do with recognizing quality difference.
  12. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Regards to the frequency range:

    That's the highly theoretical range - Certainly not the actual range.  The information in a vinyl is stored in the grooves. It gets "translated" so to speak, in an analogue fashion. Now, in the process of converting them to waveforms, you get distortion everywhere, but most notably in the high frequency range (manifests itself as hiss which obscures a lot of the range. You know, the typical hiss you hear on old recordings etc), which is inherit to the design, the needle and the playback gear (and the playback gear can make a lot of difference! A bad phono cartridge/needle/whatever can mean incorrect playback frequency range. The 30khz stuff, that's distortion, harmonic distortion (also,.

    Besides, the top range isn't really that important! Why? Because there's no useful information there!!! You don't really need that much information past 15-16 khz. What's left is the top harmonics of the cymbals. There's nothing useful there. Hell, most of us past 20 don't really hear anything past 17 khz. I can only go to 17 khz. And it suits me fine because there's no useful information past that.

    Also, as I said, the top frequencies wear off vinyls, because of the needle (more or less frequencies wear off depending on the needle or if the "action" is set too low). The result is a softer top end. It's inherit to the design.

    Second, Vinyls have by comparison, shitty signal to noise ratio, about 30 dB shorter than a 44.1 khz 16 bit audio file (CD standard). Which is a lot.

    The fullness he's talking about is not the false frequency range beyond 30 khz. It is also harmonic distortion, or euphonic distortion if you will. That kind of distortion can sound pleasing when applied to music (tube amps, like in guitar amps!!! That's harmonic distortion) but it is distortion, harmonically related to the source. Tube preamps for vinyl setups are popular as well, and they too introduce harmonic distortion (that's what you're after really). They color the sound. That's the fullness. The harmonic distortion.



    Look, CD is, scientifically speaking, the better format. Lower noise floor, you don't have to boost the lower frequencies with your playback device like you do with a vinyl (you boost it around 20 dB. Why? WHen producing a vinyl you remove some of the lower frequencies so that you can store more information on the LP and you boost the higher frequencies - Upon playback you boost the low frequencies and for some reasons they are rolled off at the top pon playback).

    HOWEVER. When playing a CD you won't get the harmonic distortion you get when playing an LP. That's why some consider CD's to sound dull - They miss the distortion. And Harmonic distortion can sound appealing - That's why a lot of people prefer Tube amp over solid state amps.


    About mp3's. Just like vinyls introduces distortion upon playback, so does the data compression to an mp3. An mp3's top end's noise floor is higher than an uncompressed file = obscured top end. Now, when talking 320 kbit mp3's, there's still data loss in theory, for sure (not as much with Apple's own format, whatever the name was. I read an interesting article on audio data file compression). In practise?

    That's a different story altogether. My school has a 2.5 million dollar studio. The primary control room is pretty much perfectly acoustically treated, and the main speakers are ace, they cost around 10 k dollars a pair. I discussed this with one of my teachers (former student, 5 or so years older than I). Very knowledgable guy and great at producing. He can't tell the difference between FLAc and 320 mp3. He said that he AB-tested it in the primary control room, and you can't really find much better place to listen to music.

    Now, a lot of the guys wanking on and on about 320 mp3 vs FLAC, they tak about how uncompressed is always better etc (which it is - The queston is if you can tell the difference). A lot of those guys don't listen on proper equipment or in an acoustically treated room (and acoustics make a shitload of difference. My livingroom boosts the top end like, 4-6 dB due to the early reflections. Big difference if you're sitting on the couch or by the speakers), so the data compression won't matter in practise anyway. Squat (edit: Notice I'm talking about 320. Not 128 kbit).


    So, to response to this: So, am I correct when I say that people with better (than average) hearing may have a bigger chance of estimating the sound quality of an LP? In other words: their perception of the LP is better so they know the difference better?


    The answer is no. First off, the main problem with vinyls is the distortion introduced upon the creation if the vinyl and even more distortion upon playing it. There's the inherit high noise floor and then there's the mechanical noise, pop, clicks (pitch problems, related to the playback speed can occur, even if you're playing it at the supposed correct speed!) etc etc. Second, the false extended range is also just distortion (and that's not even the usable harmonic distortion. The "usable distortion", if you can call it that, is lower down the frequency scale. The rest of the distortion is hiss). Thirdly, the information beyond 16 khz or so isn't very useable anyway.

    And let's not forget that records in the 60's-70's and so, most of the gear used wasn't capable of dealing with sound beyond 20 khz, or even that far.

    The upside with vinyl is that the harmonic distortion can be perceived as pleasing. However, the CD is, scientifically speaking, vastly superior (but you can perceive the harmonic distortion as pleasing, and "full").
  13. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    That doesn't come in pub quizzes. Seriously, that was very well informed Yax. I proclaim you: Maiden Sound-Guru!  :D
  14. Forostar

    Forostar In the available light

    Thanks Yax, you've extensively talked about the source and the equipment.

    Back to the human now. Do you agree with me that hearing ability is a factor as well?

    Imagine that different people with the same set-ups play the same records and the same CDs. I surely think some people will have more ease or difficulty to hear differences than others.
  15. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Depends on what you mean by hearing ability. If we're talking about frequency range, then no, unless you take it to extremes (when you get to your sixties, you've lost everything, say, above 12-13 khz, as. You still get by though, because it's mostly the cymbals that stretches beyond that). It doesn't matter whether you can hear to 17 or 19 khz when judging a vinyl's quality (and especially not if it's an old vinyl since the 19 khz frequencies in all likelihood are worn off - If you compare it to a CD, then it might make a slight difference. The cymbals might sound slightly harsher in comparison, which is how it's meant to sound as CD's are better at representing the true, intended sound. They don't color the sound).

    One of the other teachers at school, he's lost everything beyond 13 khz, and he's still more qualified to judge the quality of recordings than, pretty much, everyone, because he's got some serious ears and brains.


    If you're talking about how well trained your ears are etc, then yes, it's a factor for sure!

    (the differences you're likely to hear compared to the cd, supposing it's not a remaster, is the pop, clicks, hiss etc plus the harmonic distortion. Harmonic distortion colors the sound).

    The CD is, the scientifically better format. It's got better signal to noise ratio = Better dynamics (that cd's nowadays have less dynamics than old vinyls is a conscious choice). Frequencies do not wear off. You do not get pop, clicks, hiss, whatever. What you may or may not like the best is a different story. The CD is still a more correct representation of the intended sound (however. Given the choice with a Priest remaster, I'd take my chances with the vinyl. It's been remastered to hell).
  16. Forostar

    Forostar In the available light

    Cheers.

    I take it that your reply confirms my point of view.
    Hell yes human factors play a role (hearing ability, serious ears, brains, you name it).
  17. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Yep, when you judge the qualty of a recording. When you AB-test vinyl vs cd, then no, it doesn't matter if you hear 19 or 25 khz (edit:Unless something extraodinary fucked up in the 20 khz register.  :p Edit: Not contradicting your latest statement! Just saying that hearing ability to the extremes isn't overly important).

    And once again, sound accuracy and perception aren't necessarily the same. Vinyls are for instance less accurate, but some like their (distorted) sound better.  :)


    Semantics can be a bitch  :D

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