♫ Episode #51 – Ask Andy: Is Vinyl Better than CD?

By Kirk on May 5, 2017

We welcome Andy Doe to discuss the pros and cons of vinyl versus CD.

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  • All analog formats can provide superb sound — except LP. It’s the worst form of analog, and so bad that no serious listener takes it seriously. Yes, LPs can sound highly euphonic — but euphony is not accuracy.
    When CDs came in, J Gordon Holt predicted that audiophiles wouldn’t like them, because you didn’t have to fuss before playing the recording.
    By the way, with a good arm and ‘table, clean LPs can be essentially click and pop free.
    It’s true that listening in the dark improves subjective sound quality.

  • I had to laugh when you mention how the defects of the vinyl becomes an accepted part of the music: years ago I bought the famous Rolling Stones’ Sticky Finger lp with the zipper(!) in it, of course the zipper damaged the record. The vinyl was fine until you would get to the solo part of “Can you hear me knocking” track and, to this day, in digital form I STILL expect those few licks in the middle of the solo to go a couple bars longer then it actually was.

  • I doubt it is possible to settle the question of the superiority of vinyl in a discussion that omits subjects like table quality or cartridge quality. Most listeners have never heard vinyl played with a low-output, moving-coil cartridge. Meanwhile, most vinyl sound-quality advocates never listen to vinyl played by anything except a low-output, moving-coil cartridge.

    Meanwhile, there exists no controversy over whether vinyl sounds better than “lossy” digital music forms like MP3. I believe that the appeal of vinyl to many young music lovers is attributable in large part to the fact that it is the only lossless music reproduction that many of them have ever heard. Of course they are smitten.

    • Phonograph levels have such high distortion (as well as many mechanical problems) that no one can doubt their gross inability to accurately render their source material. This is not true of any other form of analog recording.

      People who claim that LPs offer the highest possible level of fidelity are confusing what they like with what is accurate.

      • You may be right about the distortion. You are certainly wrong on “no one can doubt…” part. The grave problem with this whole discussion is that it is entirely one-sided. Nobody makes the stronger arguments for the superiority of vinyl. For instance, I have experienced vinyl to produce an “in the room” realism of sound that digital doesn’t match (though DSD comes closer than even good PCM0). But on TNT, Andy Doe assures Chris & Kirk that they are right to scoff at the audiophiles who fetishize vinyl sound quality. I can’t guess what they think is being accomplished.

  • I always thought that analog (LPs) were better than digital (CDs et. al.) simply because digital is an approximation, but I see now that was a simplistic view.
    Nevertheless, my Sheffield Lab direct to master disc LPs are the best sounding recorded music I’ve ever encountered.

  • An analog signal is continuous. A digital emulation breaks the continuous signal into n arbitrary samples of that signal at various frequencies on along the analog continuum.

    If someone can demonstrate that no compression and/or clipping occurs at the extremes of each of those n sample envelopes, I might be satisfied.

    As it is, I hear something, a flood of miniscule, unwanted, superfluous and distorting information. ESPECIALLY on mp3s. But perhaps there’s a reason you’re not tackling mp3’s here – because they are genuinely inferior and if it were even possible, harmful.