Why analogue (vinyl) sounds better that digital

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cyrus

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Why analogue (vinyl) sounds better than digital

A vinyl record is an analog recording, and CDs and DVDs are digital recordings. Take a look at the graph below. Original sound is analog by definition. A digital recording takes snapshots of the analog signal at a certain rate (for CDs it is 44,100 times per second) and measures each snapshot with a certain accuracy (for CDs it is 16-bit, which means the value must be one of 65,536 possible values).

analoguevsdigital.gif

This means that, by definition, a digital recording is not capturing the complete sound wave. It is approximating it with a series of steps. Some sounds that have very quick transitions, such as a drum beat or a trumpet's tone, will be distorted because they change too quickly for the sample rate.

In your home stereo the CD or DVD player takes this digital recording and converts it to an analog signal, which is fed to your amplifier. The amplifier then raises the voltage of the signal to a level powerful enough to drive your speaker.

A vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound's waveform. This means that no information is lost. The output of a record player is analog. It can be fed directly to your amplifier with no conversion.

This means that the waveforms from a vinyl recording can be much more accurate, and that can be heard in the richness of the sound. But there is a downside, any specks of dust or damage to the disc can be heard as noise or static. During quiet spots in songs this noise may be heard over the music. Digital recordings don't degrade over time, and if the digital recording contains silence, then there will be no noise.

From the graph above you can see that CD quality audio does not do a very good job of replicating the original signal. The main ways to improve the quality of a digital recording are to increase the sampling rate and to increase the accuracy of the sampling.
 
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paj4x4

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An enlightening post Cyrus. It?s been years since I?ve last heard vinyl music. It must be quite taxing to take care of vinyl?s here in Mumbai where dust pollution is quite high/prevalent.
 

Anil kumar

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Thanx to Cyrus for MOTIVATION
I still listen to vinyl. It sounds different. All vinyls doesn't sound good, it depends on vinyl pressing (recording on vinyl)
Maintaining vinyl is very toughf in todays dusty condition.
I wash vinyl with mild soap before i play, so that keeps static and dust
at bay. But i still enjoy ABBA, Boney M, Dire Straits and Lipps Inc on vinyl,
it sounds clean and warm.
 

vinyl_man

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An enlightening post Cyrus. It?s been years since I?ve last heard vinyl music. It must be quite taxing to take care of vinyl?s here in Mumbai where dust pollution is quite high/prevalent.
I am in mumbai and i have learnt that nothing much happens to vinyl except that it needs to be given some air once in a while. The rains caused some havoc this season, the dampening of my ceiling brought about fungus deposits on one of the sleeves of my very rare beatles record. But the vinyl itself is intact.
 

Absolute Phase

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I am in mumbai and i have learnt that nothing much happens to vinyl except that it needs to be given some air once in a while. The rains caused some havoc this season, the dampening of my ceiling brought about fungus deposits on one of the sleeves of my very rare beatles record. But the vinyl itself is intact.

Make sure you use MFSL Anti-Static sleeves and you will never get fungus. Also make sure you have a nice LP Cleaner, like Nitty Grittty or any other. Yes do air them, makes a huge difference. You also get some nice outer sleeves. And most of all use the LPs.
 

reignofchaos

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Why analogue (vinyl) sounds better than digital

A vinyl record is an analog recording, and CDs and DVDs are digital recordings. Take a look at the graph below. Original sound is analog by definition. A digital recording takes snapshots of the analog signal at a certain rate (for CDs it is 44,100 times per second) and measures each snapshot with a certain accuracy (for CDs it is 16-bit, which means the value must be one of 65,536 possible values).

View attachment 29

This means that, by definition, a digital recording is not capturing the complete sound wave. It is approximating it with a series of steps. Some sounds that have very quick transitions, such as a drum beat or a trumpet's tone, will be distorted because they change too quickly for the sample rate.

In your home stereo the CD or DVD player takes this digital recording and converts it to an analog signal, which is fed to your amplifier. The amplifier then raises the voltage of the signal to a level powerful enough to drive your speaker.

A vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound's waveform. This means that no information is lost. The output of a record player is analog. It can be fed directly to your amplifier with no conversion.

This means that the waveforms from a vinyl recording can be much more accurate, and that can be heard in the richness of the sound. But there is a downside, any specks of dust or damage to the disc can be heard as noise or static. During quiet spots in songs this noise may be heard over the music. Digital recordings don't degrade over time, and if the digital recording contains silence, then there will be no noise.

From the graph above you can see that CD quality audio does not do a very good job of replicating the original signal. The main ways to improve the quality of a digital recording are to increase the sampling rate and to increase the accuracy of the sampling.

What a complete load of bull. Anyone who's read Nyquist's theorem knows that the waveform can be exactly reconstructed if the sampling frequency is high enough - i.e. twice the maximum frequency of the input signal.

I suggest you read this and be enlightened :p.

Nyquist??Shannon sampling theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The real reason why DACs sound different and people perceive analog vinyl to be better than digital has all got to do with the engineering of the parts used in the CD players. The theory is exact and if one can design a theoretically exact system, they will get the exact reconstruction of the input signal.
 
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mister_moonlight

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What a complete load of bull....

took the words right off my keyboard ;)

I do have a few vinyl copies of recently released music, and i find the only reason to prefer vinyl over CD is the lack of dynamic range compression on vinyl (due to physical limitations of the format). For example, RHCP's stadium Arcadium CD sounds like shit compared to the same release on Vinyl. Its another matter that Steve Hoffman had a hand in correctly mastering, but i digress...
 

Hiten

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I agree with 'reignofchaos' that with proper setup we can get exact sound reproduction and there should be no doubt that Digital (CD/DVD) format is technically superior otherwise we would not have progressed from 78 rpm to 45 then 33 and 16 then to cassettes and DATS and finally to digital.
As for Why do we "feel" digital is not better ? I think we don't like the idea of someone tinkering with analog signal which could have been given to us directly is digitally processed and given to us. So we should forget digital vs analog and listen to both after all mood and atmosphere is also important. I also love "Different" sound of Vinyl. Why ? Please visit following link.
Vinyl vs. CD
It says exactly what I feel about Vinyl
Thanks everyone
 

rsud

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What a complete load of bull. Anyone who's read Nyquist's theorem knows that the waveform can be exactly reconstructed if the sampling frequency is high enough - i.e. twice the maximum frequency of the input signal.

I suggest you read this and be enlightened :p.

Nyquist??Shannon sampling theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The real reason why DACs sound different and people perceive analog vinyl to be better than digital has all got to do with the engineering of the parts used in the CD players. The theory is exact and if one can design a theoretically exact system, they will get the exact reconstruction of the input signal.

You are essentially correct. The Nyquist theory is correct (but there is some info that while it accounts for frequency using twice sampling rate it does not account for the variable rise and fall time of the signal). The vast majority of folks have no idea that theory to practice is quite another matter.

Many digital distortions have now been identified and are caused by limitations of electronics. Jitter, which is the imprecise timing between samples during digitization (analogue to digital) and during DA (digital to analogue) has proven to be audible at picosecond range.

Gain riding is another interesting one where the distorting is the overshoot as the circuity overshoots or undershoots the sample. Its like the momentum of the signal that overshoots the mark as samples are stitched together.

Next is the electrical noise from the DA or AD bleeding into the analogue signal. And electrical noise from the motor at it continually adjusts to maintain proper speed.

So, yes in theory both analogue and digital are perfect! Yet what is pathetic is that folks write off analogue because they recognize the source of distortion yet with digital they spout "digits are digits" and it must be perfect!
 

gobble

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I agree. The people who did the physics and maths did not do it with their ears.

I grew up with vinyl only and every listening session was like a live performance in my house - right there. The attack, presence, and immediacy are absent in CDs. Something is lacking about digitized music for sure.

Regards
 

stevieboy

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The vast majority of folks have no idea that theory to practice is quite another matter.

in the words of meatloaf 'you took the words right out of my mouth'

reignofchaos also said
"if one can design a theoretically exact system, they will get the exact reconstruction of the input signal."

the fact of the matter i'm sensing is that digital 'theory' might offer more possibilities but the actual implementation has fallen far short of what it can be as rsud has pointed out in his post.

i first got into vinyl cos i had a deep purple album 'burn' recorded onto cassette and even that cassette made the cd sound sterile and empty. am not going to get into an argument of which is better but for me vinyl certainly has more 'soul'.

regards
 

brejeshvarma

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MY EXPERIENCE

I have heard people saying greatness of VINYLS.Last week I got an opportunity to seriously listen to mediocre Turntable from Toshiba.There were the usual vinyl clicks and pops..But I felt as if the singer was in front of me ,just there, not even a mike.... and singing..so were the drums...so realistic..CD's may be much more clearer,without noises....but this feeling,i have not got before.I dont wonder why these audiophiles are behind them.

I listen to a lot of cassetes and some of them ,i have the CD as well.The cassetes gave much better base,depth of voice etc.(I use a NAK).

I very much like the clarity part of a cd ,but....!!!

After all no theory can explain your pleasure!!!
 

stevieboy

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"In practice, neither of the two statements of the sampling theorem described above can be completely satisfied, and neither can the reconstruction formula be precisely implemented."

"Furthermore, in practice, a signal can never be perfectly bandlimited, since ideal "brick-wall" filters cannot be realized."

reignofchaos,

the above quotes are from your own link. and while i haven't read the article completely, just skimmed through, the above quotes seem to imply that though the theorem is perfect, its implementation seems to be impossible! so i don't understand you throwing a link that claims that digital is superior to vinyl especially when in the article quoted itself the theorem is made out to be idealistic but far from implementable. so perhaps the original post isn't completely 'a load of bull' and i certainly got 'enlightened' and convinced that vinyl is superior. after all what use is theory if you haven't been able to implement it for years now? :p and the waveform that the original poster cyrus has posted seem to be the norm. some perhaps following the waveform closer but definitely not 'perfect'.

what exactly do you mean when you say 'engineering parts in a CD player'? and do these parts contribute to some other aspect of music reproduction or do they relate only to reproducing the waveform? cos the waveform is under discussion not any other parts of the cd player right now. i dont think anyone would disagree that quality of parts affects sound quality. happens in vinyl too. to me it seems to be a clearcut case of digital recreated waveform not being perfectly true to original. period.

regards
 

rsud

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in the words of meatloaf 'you took the words right out of my mouth'

reignofchaos also said
"if one can design a theoretically exact system, they will get the exact reconstruction of the input signal."

the fact of the matter i'm sensing is that digital 'theory' might offer more possibilities but the actual implementation has fallen far short of what it can be as rsud has pointed out in his post.

i first got into vinyl cos i had a deep purple album 'burn' recorded onto cassette and even that cassette made the cd sound sterile and empty. am not going to get into an argument of which is better but for me vinyl certainly has more 'soul'.

regards

Of course vinyl also has its own set of issues. I am a fan of best sound possible and at the moment Vinyl is it.

Vinyl's achillies heal is external vibrations which requires sophisticated setups to minimize. This can't be done cheap.

But better electronics that minimaize digital distortions can continue to decrease in cost. Eventually digital with higher sampling rates, better electronics should overtake vinyl.

Amazingly, at the moment each release of digital (cds to mp3s, etc) seems to be on a path of worse quality. Hopefully as storage becomes less of an issue this trend will reverse.
 

Hiten

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Hello everyone
I dont know if this news is latest. Recording industry has come with new dvd audio format which is 24 bit with higher sampling rate here is the link to it.
HowStuffWorks "Is the sound on vinyl records better than on CDs or DVDs?"
Now to everyone my question is, if digital format improves will you still stick to vinyl ?
I will because there are lot more things attached to vinyl besides only quality.
 

stevieboy

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hi hitensitapara,

for one, i have titles on lp that i sure wouldn't find on any other format. also the charm and involvement that goes with vinyl is something i'd miss. taking care of it, buying sleeves, cleaning the records, the bigger record art and most of all watching them spin at night with just the glow of tubes and the power supply blue light all adds up to an experience. it's just so much more soothing than cd. i'm sure dvd audio might be better than cd but sounding like vinyl? i doubt it. something about vinyl makes it pretty unique and that's why i love it. note i'm not getting into a 'better' debate which never goes anywhere. it just sounds 'vinyl' to me and its sure gonna stay. i havent bought a cd in bout 3 years now and dont aim too ever again, with a few exceptions.

regards
 

smedhavi

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DVD audio is a pretty old and almost dead format. It was a competitor to SACD.

Right now, I am looking forward to audio only blu-ray disks. The initial ones are out, but the standards are yet to stabilize. The good part is that it would work on my regular Blu-ray player and not need any new hardware. Meanwhile I continue to buy vinyl LP records, audio CDs/HDCDs and blu-ray concerts (with video).

Regards,
Sharad


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My primary setup:
* Panasonic BD30 Blu-ray, NAD C542 CD player, Project Debut III TT with NAD PP2,Denon DRW-585 Cassette Deck
* Denon AVR 2809, NAD C372 Amp
* Monitor Audio RS6 with Definitive Technology Super Cube II subwoofer
* Projector: Plus U5-111 (Next on the line for upgrade)
 

ajinkya

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after all what use is theory if you haven't been able to implement it for years now? :p
to me it seems to be a clearcut case of digital recreated waveform not being perfectly true to original. period.

Hi Stevie,

Theory is useful to guide implementation and by nature, it has to be ideal and mathematically precise. We have a theory in feedback control systems where, with infinite gain, one gets the inverse model of the plant to be controlled and then the system is supposed to be tracked perfectly. In practice, infinite gain is impossible and getting a plant inverse is also difficult because of model uncertainty. This does not mean that system theory is useless. In fact, every time you step into a plane, drive a car, spin a CD (or even tape or LP...anything with a controlled motor), you're using an 'imperfect' implementation of this 'exact' theory. I don't see people complaining while using all this 'poorly implemented' technology :)
We make compromises where needed and engineer the system to do what we want it to, keeping physical limitations in mind..

Fact of the matter is, LP (analog) has more resolution than CD (16 bit) currently does. However, with higher sampling, the 'original' signal will be almost perfectly matched to the quantised signal. Enough anyway, for practical reproduction at the output of the DAC. And the small niggles in the quantised digital signal will not be significant for us to hear. I really admire the bandwidth and sensitivity of the human ear but let's not go overboard with what it can do (or hear).

As far as vinyl and CD comparisons, I do agree that LP sounds warmer than CD. Whether it sounds better or not is an individual preference. And the cost of maintaining an LP is a headache that many of us would rather avoid. I'm going the opposite way by converting all my CDs to digital storage and playing them through a networked media player and external DAC. That's the other extreme to an LP lover :D

regards,
Ajinkya.
 

stevieboy

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Hi Stevie,

I don't see people complaining while using all this 'poorly implemented' technology :)
regards,
Ajinkya.

hi ajinkya,

people are indeed complaining about the poorly implemented cd and returning to vinyl in greater numbers each year! i'm one of them and so are the other vinyl lovers here i suppose.

sure every theory isn't implemented to perfection but the poster 'reignofchaos' used a 'perfect' theorem to call the original post complete bull and i was just pointing out that reality is far from 'perfect theory' as you've just mentioned.

to each their own! i know of one other music lover in bangalore who's going down the same route as you - media server based stored music through a reimyo dac. me? down the line i'm gonna convert my lps into aac files that i can play on a comp at work perhaps then. or an ipod when i get one :)

regards
 
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