Skip to comments.Freeper audiophile opinions
Posted on 08/16/2010 10:01:21 PM PDT by djf
In the last two months or so, I decided to brush off my turntable.
You know, those big heavy things that spin these black things around.
Now I have over 200 CD's. And most of my records were kinda abandoned in the late 80's when I got married. But lately, I have been seeing (and buying) records again at garage sales, etc.
I have the Bang & Olufsen 1602 with the MMC20EN cartridge, getting picked up by a Radio Shack (Believe it!!) STA-80 receiver into my main setup, dual Behringer A500 amps (460 wpc) into the Polk SDA-SRS original speakers.
The sound is astounding. I have a number of albums that I also have on CD and there is simply no comparison. A good friend of mine who is an electrical engineer and has done alot of audio work confirms what I say,he says he can see it on the scopes. Better transients and more complete harmonics. More consistent bass.
So I am curious about FReeper opinions. A resurgence of vinyl maybe??
This ain't yur grandmas i-Pod!!!
Would not mind getting your set up and the list of all the equipment you are using to turn those albums to good sounding cds.
Would not mind getting your set up and the list of all the equipment you are using to turn those albums to good sounding cds.
I’ve got my turntable setup in my garage, I’ll throw on some wax when I’m working on one of my MGB’s, some Led Zep, Doors or CCR. I’ve been collecting vinyl for a decade or so now, lots of bands still put it out. I’ll wait for new release dates and try and score the limited color first pressings. Cut my musical teeth on my dad’s LZ and Clapton records in the early 90’s, still prefer vinyl to CD’s.
Nope. I have 18 gigs of music on my iPhone. Vinyl can’t compete with that...
I had about 200 albums and when we bought our house, I left them with a friend and they got lost in the shuffle. The ones I’ve been picking up I check pretty close (for instance I got Rolling Stones Undercover and a Heart disk), both have just a few minor clicks, but otherwise, they are excellent.
Especially the Heart album. Those gals could really belt out a tune!
Dunno. Just sounds way more musical to me. Even the studio recordings have a way more “live” feel to them.
If anyone knows of a GOOD, RELIABLE source for used or better yet new vynil, please post it! Thanks!
Most definately. I sell LP's online and business is pretty good. Check ebay for deals - also gemm.com, therecordranch.com and musicstack.com. Lots of deals to be had if you don't mind hunting a little. There's also a good forum at the recordcollectorsguild.com - lot's to learn there.
Welcome back to the land of vinyl.. Rock on!!
The only thing that comes close are SACD and hi-resolution downloads, but the selection is relatively small. Lots of vinyl out there.
I became aware of the superiority of vinyl about 10 years ago. Great equipment is expensive, but retains value pretty well. There are bargains out there in old LP’s, and soon you will learn which recordings and performances are great, along with which labels tend to be better than others. There are now also some audiophile 45rpm records (33-1/3 size) that sound even better than the standard 33-1/3 lp’s too.
There are new vinyl records being produced. Some are made from the old tapes, others are new. One of my favorites is the direct to disk, but there are not many of those. A Bing search should turn up many vinyl sources, and there are also stores in many cities now that carry both new and quality used LP’s.
I have enough LPs bought when I was younger—Classical and New Age—to build a house. Now it is CD’s and cassete tapes out the wazoo. My opinion now? Vinyl beats them all on a very good sound system. Always the sound is richer and deeper on vinyl.
I have actually been buying vinyl of my favorite albums from the past to frame and hang up in my office. Recently, I have been looking at turntables so I can actually listen to them like in the past as well.
A lot of artists now also have a special order vinyl editions of new music they have out. I think the interest in vinyl has always been there but it may be growing.
Thanks for starting this thread. I will be watching it as I am in the market for a turntable.
Big difference between quantity and quality.
I’d invite you over to hear the Polks but I’m not sure your fillings would be able to handle them...
I have literally had pictures fall off the walls when I pushed them.
I’m old school but couldn’t afford Bang-Olaffsen. Do have a decent Pioneer TT, and a lot of old wax. We do CD’s and everyone but me has Ipods.
If it’s worth listening to it’s worth running a discwasher over before dropping the tonearm.
Thats it. B&O.
Handmade replacement cartridge will run me about 400 bucks. I should get one now before the guy who makes them is six feet under!!!
With regard to vinyl vs. CD - it all depends on how the music was produced. The CD, being 100% digital, allows you to encode anything - any sound that fits the dynamic range. The vinyl, being limited to the physical track, allows you to encode some sounds, but not the other. During production these limits were known and taken care of.
So if someone is intent on producing a super-wideband CD (with 41 kSa/s you can encode up to 20.5 kHz) he can do it. If someone wants to record the same 20+ kHz onto the vinyl, that might be not that easy.
The dynamic range of the CD is also larger. If you have 16-bit samples (which are the standard today) this yields 96 dB. This is a huge range. The dynamic range of vinyl is about 80 dB.
So all things considered, IMO you should take all the vinyl that you have and encode it (without lossy compression!) into the digital format. Then you can make backups, listen to the music wherever and whenever you want, and the original media will not be worn or scratched.
With regard to your friend's opinion, the transients are defined by the frequency response of the channel, and the frequency range of the CD is limited only by the filter after the DAC. You can build as good a filter as you want, just throw OAs at the problem. Expensive audio cards (FireWire or USB) already have those filters done right. The card in your PC most likely has abysmal performance, since they can't afford too many components.
With regard to "more complete harmonics" I don't know what it means. A harmonic is really an unwanted artifact produced by nonlinearity of something in the channel. Harmonics do not exist at the source, they are added by the machine that recorded the music and played it back. In reality both the instrument and the ear are highly nonlinear, and there are lots of harmonics produced naturally, but here we want to evaluate an ideal channel.
All in all, a modern digital recording and playback system is far better, technically, than the vinyl. The main difference is in what is recorded.
As for equipment I've got a Yamaha CR-640 receiver and a Pioneer PL-600 turntable. Both from about 1980. I bought them both about a year ago because I got on a vintage kick for some reason. The Yamaha I bought because I like its brushed aluminum and green incandescent lights:
The B&O tables are super sleek but apparently it's getting tough to find styluses for them. I think only one company still makes them, called Goldring.
Vinyl does indeed wear out.
But I am not sure recording it to standard CD wav format really is better. It’s only 23KHZ, I know, people will say that unless you’re some kind of bat you can’t hear the difference, but I swear it sounds different to me!!
I kbow for a while back in the 80’s I transferred a bunch of CD’s to R2R (I had a nice Sony R2R that would go to 7 1/2 ips) and playing it back from tape sounded better than the original CD’s!
My pop had a Fisher setup from 1960 with a tuning eye. Even the static between radio channels sounded sonorous.
The Polks are very sensitive.
But to truly drive them you need current. The kind of current that makes the lights in your house dim down a bit!
In 84 when Stereo Review tested them, they had to feed them 1600 wpc before the speakers clipped.
Alot of the older HiFi stuff was built like a rock. I still troll the pawns shops, etc. looking for older Marantz, that kind of stuff...
I almost bought a Marantz. It came came down to blue or green lights, and I went went with green. You’re right about the old gear being built like a rock. That’s another reason it’s so cool. I love the feel of my Yamaha’s weighted tuning knob, as corny as that sounds.
Garage sale 2 weeks ago. Some guy who buys and sells Boeing surplus items and other things.
Bought a bag of audio cables for $5.
Got it home... about $160 bucks worth of grounded, shielded Monster audio and HDMI video cables. I noticed the difference as soon as I plugged them in.
Interesting thread. I was just last night considering going back to a turntable and vinyl . So this discussion is helpful.
I was proud of my stereo system in the late ‘70’s. It wasn’t top of the line, but sound was pretty decent. Album covers were fun to read too, better than the microscopic print of CD’s.
Most adults can't hear sounds above 15 kHz. But even if they do, the CD format encodes and decodes up to 20 kHz just fine, because it's pure math. The vinyl physically can't record much of high frequency signals - the link to hydrogenaudio that I provided has some words on that subject:
"Additionally, during playback, the turntable's stylus has limits on what grooves it can successfully track. Cartridges can only track grooves of a finite modulation width (measured in microns) that decreases in frequency. For instance, a cartridge may only be able to track a 300um-wide groove at 300hz, and yet only 50um at 20khz. This also places limits on the acceleration and velocity limits the record master can take."
So the difference that you are hearing is basically an equalizer that had been applied to the master signal before recording. Your experience with CD to tape transfer seems to confirm that, because the tape has its own problems.
A modern digital system (not necessarily a CD) will reproduce with great accuracy what you feed into it. So if you feed your vinyl into a modern 24-bit ADC, with oversampling and such, and then play it back you should get exactly the original vinyl sound. There would be simply no technical reason for it to be different. You can try and see what happens.
I mean, I am sure you know that I know the technical reasons why a CD should sound as good. But when my ears hear something new that I NEVER heard from the CD, that means somehow, something is different.
I get the impression you might have a good opinion on this:
What do you think of class D amps? They’re inexpensive and seem to handle a lot of power and should handle transients pretty well.
Is there more harmonic distortion?
There always is, and most of the preferences in equipment seem to be in response to how the sound is shaped by the distortion, as much as the actual amount of distortion. Anybody whose talked to a Tube amp guitar player will agree on this.
And those glass tubes do sound sweet when pumped full of telecaster.
Final thought: aren’t speakers the weakest link in a system? I’ve seen thousand dollar electronics driving muddy speaker cabinets. Damn shame, that.
The key phrase to use is “digital is for people that can’t handle reality”.
Vinyl on a quality analog system DOES sound better than CDs.
I’m partner in a company that sells audiophile equipment. One year we had a show with the top of the line digital system from XXX - $8K CD player, 10K amp, 25K speakers. Next to it we had a vinyl system with a 12K turntable with 5K cartridge and 5K preamp, 8K amp, 25K speakers. Beside those there were a couple of other vinyl systems that were steps down in price.
People flew in to Montana to spend a week of listening.
Hands down the consensus was vinyl was better.
My partner has thousands of records albums - it’s dangerous to let the guy get in the vicinity of a record store. ;-)
For great sound, check the remastered Blue Note tapes done by Steve Hoffman. Bottom line, I like the sound of vinyl better.
A short history of the CD vs Vinyl sound controversey:
(with facts taken from my memory so feel free to kibbutz and correct)
The main difference betwen cd’s and records are noise, dynamic range compression, and limited bass especially since it is generally mixed monophonically below 100 hz on records. Very rarely do records get mixed with bass below 40 hz(at -3db cut off reference) due do the tendency for needles to mistrack due to the extremes in the groove cutting at sub 30 hz frequencies, especially at maximum dynamic range.
Records themselves are generally limited to a dynamic range of 60 db though some early telarc digital discs(1812 overture) touted about 90 db though the subtle lower dynamics got lost in the vinyl noise and the cannon shots could cause the needle to jump out of its track unless you had a very high quality cartridge/needle set up.
Hence to overcome vinyl noise, soft sounds were made a little louder and loud sounds were made softer inorder to avoid distortion and needle mistracking. This limited dynamic range may sound quite musical and it was also faily simple to find a comfortable volume setting and leave it there. Rock music of course uses a limited dynamic range within 20 to 30 db between soft and loud passages with 60 db transients such as drum riffs, hence one could play rock moderatly loud without having to dash to the volume control as one might when listening to a symphony playing up to a loud stirring crescendo at a record’s maximum dynamic range.
Another point to consider regarding the musicality of records(a personal matter of taste) vs. CD’s is that because of the inherent vinyl noise and limitations of dynamic range especially in the ability to record bass, frequency equalization curves were developed to combat this issue. A number of different curves were in use before the RIAA curve was universally adopted in the late 50’s.(yes that RIAA which did fine audio engineering before they became a money grubbing, lawyer infested shell organization). It specified minimum hi fidelity frequency standards and later stereo standards and a wonderful sounding frequency optimization curve for vinyl recordings.
The frequency equalization pre-emphasis curves boosted audio high frequencies of audio recording while decreasing the recording’s bass frequencies on the master tape before the signal was sent to the cutting lathe. This allowed more “space” for music to be recorded on a record, hence the creation of the first long playing records with up to 35 to 40 minutes a side with careful cutting at 33 and 1/3rd rpm’s. Upon play back, a reverse RIAA “de-emphasis” curve was to be applied with higher frequencies dulled which restored proper treble balance while effectively masking much high frequency vinyl noise(think dolby NR on cassettes) while the bass frequencies were boosted to restore proper bass balance. Because of the problem of low bass rumble and infrasonics, the RIAA chose a 30 hz cutoff frequency at the low end so that low bass vinyl transients would not be enhanced and magnified upon re-equalization(hence the famous 30hz to 15000 hz RIAA frequency reponse curve, though later records would extend to 20khz)
Hence, the early recording engineers, developed musical recording techniques that sounded good to them, using electron tubed equipment, primitive oscilloscopes and their own ears and those of musicians and critics at the time. It isn’t any wonder, then that many records sound great, even very warm and musical, putting some CD’s to shame.
Yet records break down and are limited in musical storage. Even with archival quality care, they get scratchy. Musical transients, evident in snare drums for example are dull compared with CD’s and lasers don’t mistrack when the cannon on Telarcs 1812 overture are played. The newer high resolution digital recorders are breath taking in their sonics and even mixed down to 16 bits/44khz sampling(phillips/sony orange book) the music benefits greatly. It becomes more a matter now of mixing and production, the ear and the art get the highest attention in the new digital audio recording era...the limitations are gone. Even those rockers who claim that “tubes” are warmer get a benefit when they record digitally from their old “tubed amps” and there are even response curves purporting to mimic tube sound in use.
As for the old RIAA curves, they are no longer needed for CD’s and even higher resolution audio recordings; though when some of the first CD reissues of old albums came out the engineers forgot to compensate for the RIAA curves applied on the mastertapes. Thus these cd’s sounded bright and harsh and lacking in warmth and bass punch. Also when it came to new digital classical recordings, folks had a surprise coming to them in the form of enhanced 92 db dynamic range being played thru modest systems; people got frustrated in turning up the sound on low passages and sprinting to the receiver to lower the volume on louder passages. Bass was also cleaner and went down to 5 hz with out record rumble hence a lot of woofers got ‘woofed’ out of existence and some earlier amps burnt out as they couldn’t handle the transients. Frequency highs extended flat to 22k with no audible distortion. Yet cd’s don’t produce ear fatique as there is no vinyl rumble to tire the ears.
So in the end, it comes down to personal taste in terms of sound and personal needs such as storage and convenience. CD’s are noiseless but are high in resolution in dynamic range and frequency response. Records are mixed in ways that make the best of their their inherent limitations thus having their own unique warm sound and character that will sound different(even great!) even from a CD of the same given album and group (without the RIAA curve that is necessarily applied to the vinyl version). As for me, I’ll stick with CD’s.
PS: An interesting experiment would be to apply an RIAA pre-emephasis curve on to the analog imputs going into a digital recorder with analog de-emphasis applied at the home receiver pre-amp before going to the output amps, then the speakers. ( Most modern recievers and DVD/CD players have the means now to limit dynamic range to personal taste). It would be interesting to hear folks judgments on the sound quality.
I'm actually planning on building a class D amplifier for my simple needs. They are quite good today. Some offer THD+N as low as 0.005%. Since I don't need tens of Watts of output I can use a single IC, like TPA3123D2. They are very efficient.
There always is, and most of the preferences in equipment seem to be in response to how the sound is shaped by the distortion
These days you need to provide your own distortion if you want it :-) Amplifiers are made much better today than they were 30-50 years ago. On the other hand, an inexpensive DSP will give you all the pulse shaping control that you ever wanted. Get yourself an eval board with SHARC® or Blackfin® on it, and experiment :-) Perhaps you will end up with something that other people will find useful. But IMO that market is shrinking fast.
Final thought: arent speakers the weakest link in a system? Ive seen thousand dollar electronics driving muddy speaker cabinets.
Speakers are expensive; this leads to many design shortcuts that manufacturers can take to reduce the cost at expense of some quality. High and low frequencies cost more than the 300-3400 Hz telephone spectrum :-) You buys your speakers, you takes your chances.
Unfortunately speakers are the weakest link though some high end equipment can use return signals from the speakers and instantaneously apply a shaped corrective signal to improve the electrical behavior and linearity of the speaker, theoretically improving the sound output. The best sounding speakers in my book for transients are satellite/ sub woofer systems with active passovers sending low bass to the subs and frequencies above 180 to the sats. Most home theater systems do that now as well as having features that all low bass from all channels gets routed thru the sub woofer.
Of course the type of speaker one needs depends on the room size and one’s listening needs.
Former road musician. I could handle ok, sounds like fun too! I’m kinda partial to my old drummer’s set up tho, he had some pretty sweet HK gear running through some fat Macintosh speakers. No clue about model #’s, unfortunately.
When you did the comparison show, did you compensate for the r-l and l-r blending that occurs when vinyl is played when you compared the same albums via the CD player. Some highend cd players allow for a small amount of blend similar to what occurs in a phonograph cartridge. Tweaked highend equipment playing vinyl or otherwise is always going to sound much better than a bestbuy middling brand speakers and mid grade Yamaha receiver....even if I put a turntable and my old realistic outboard RIAA cartridge pre-amp into the system. My flawed equipment has enough resolution though to let me hear if a cd or record has been properly mixed and recorded. I definitely hear the degradation in quality in MP3’s vs their CD counter parts even if mp3’s have been mixed in a high bit rate above 192k. As for records, not having access to a high end turntable, I can only say that at the lower end, the noise and compression inherent in my classical recording drove me away to CD’s. Yes I could hear a difference in the vinyl version of say Andre Previn/LSO “Les Images pour Orchestre”(circa 1980) on EMI Angel vs the CD version when it came out in 1987; but it was a difference in channel separation/ dynamic range and lack of noise(other than a live sense of ambience apparent in both recordings).
I asked about R-L and L-R because in my early rear speaker set ups, I configured them in a series with the positives going to the receiver positives with the two negatives connected to each other and not to the receivers ground. This created a acoustic cross talk cancellation effect that widened the listening field and had the effect of releasing a record’s hidden ambience. I found, especially in earlier CD’s the effect didn’t always work as well as it did in vinyl. The culprit was 25 to 40 db channel separation average on records due to engineering techniques and of course the difference signal artifacts produced by the magnetic cartridges i used. Engineers learned to put a little more ambience signals in their stereo recordings and CD sound improved a lot. Telarc’s minimal miking and mixing in its classical recordings actually translated extremely well from vinyl to digital especially after they got rid of those early nasty dry sounding Soundstream digital recorders from 1978 to 1980 and went to SONY and other brands.