Sorry, vinyl aficionados, but CDs most accurately capture the clarity of musical performances. If you look at the grooves of a standard long-play record, or LP, through a microscope, you'll see that each is filled with what look like rolling hills. These are, in fact, an extremely close replication of the shape of the sound waves from the musician's instrument. But because the needle that carves the groove is shaped slightly different than the needle that reads it, the LP will never sound exactly like the original performance. (Not to mention that changes in temperature and humidity warp vinyl over time.)
The mathematical data encoded on a CD, however, is a nearly exact representation of the original sound. Comparing an LP and a CD made from the same microphone signal, the LP's groove must perfectly match the signal to sound close to CD-quality, which is almost impossible, says Stanley Lipshitz, who studies electro-acoustics and digital-signal processing in the Audio Research Group at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Even so, some audiophiles claim to hear a natural sound, vaguely described as "musical warmth," when listening to vinyl. What they're hearing, Lipshitz says, is most likely the deficiencies of the record player. Sound waves from the speakers and the needle's rise-and-fall passage over the grooves cause the LP to vibrate. The needle picks up these extra vibrations and adds them to the music, creating the "fullness" that's associated with LPs. "Some people mistake this defect for a virtue," Lipshitz says.
But when it comes to portable music, people stuff their iPods with tunes of far worse quality than either CDs or LPs. MP3s are compressed files that cut as much as 90 percent of the sound from the original recording, by using computer models of human hearing and removing subtle sounds that most of us don't realize we're missing. A compressed recording of a French horn, for example, might lack the slight reverberations from the concert hall.
Instead of filling his digital music player with thousands of songs of crummy sound quality, Grammy Award–winning producer Jim Anderson keeps his iPod stocked with just 55 songs in an uncompressed format, including jazz pianist Keith Jarrett's epic live solo concerts in Germany. (Anderson prefers the lossless AIFF format, in which one minute of stereo audio occupies 10 megabytes.) "If I were to cut the CD down to an MP3, I'd be throwing out all the stuff in the room that makes the piano sound as full as it does," says Anderson, who is also chair of the department of recorded music at New York University. "I hear the piano exactly as it was at the concert."
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Idiots. Commercial issue CDs are plagued with all kinds of problems. Your idiotic abuse of "science" to prove your point is laughable because it doesn't address the practical and present weaknesses of CD ... it only plays with thought experiments based on theory.
Did Jim Anderson mention to you that Keith Jarrett listens to vinyl?
... didn't think so.
I think Jim Anderson needs to pull his head out of his AIFF, get a real stereo system, and listen to a few records. The Grammys are littered with idiots that compress the living heck out of the music, giving us 2dB of dynamic range, while all the gladhanders say "yay for you!" - and schmucks like Anderson are the reason our standards (and our expectations) are declining faster than technology has a chance to screw it up more.
I agree that the sound of MP3's is less "realistic" and lower quality than original, but we have to look at it the consumer way. Most of the people who listen to music on the go, for example on iPods, do not have the acoustically developped ears that Mr. Anderson has. Even though most of the sounds are eliminated in the compression process, chances are that if you play the same song to a normal person, first time you play it in MP3 format, the second in AIFF or any other high-quality format, he/she would not notice a difference (or will notice a slight change). So, people rather sacrifice that small part of high quality, for the storage MP3 compressing offers.
As a professional recording engineer I know that playback from digital media (cd, dvd) is going to be a more accurate representation of the original recording than playback of the same recording from vinyl.
That being said, I still enjoy listening to vinyl. It usually is a bit "warmer" sounding than its digital counterpart, but it wouldn't be ideal for referencing.
I belive, Mr. Sonics, that your reference to compression is of overall dynamics in commercial CDs. That is completely different than compressed file formats like mp3.
In the article above, Jim Anderson doesn't say anything about vinyl. He only speaks the truth about the low sound quality of mp3. If Jim Anderson is a "shmuck", then I would think we are all doomed.
sonics seems to be comparing MP3 quality to that of a vinyl record, whereas the actual article acknowledges that the quality of the MP3 is MUCH lower than that of either a CD or vinyl.
Uncompressed digitized audio of the sort referred to in the article (10MB / 60s) works out to 174762 B/s. Assuming a 24-bit sample, that's 58.3k samples/sec. I'm a little groggy at the moment, so I don't really want to do the math but one could calculate the maximum possible size of the needle point in order to duplicate the accuracy of the above digital recording assuming an LP of 12" diameter spinning at 33 1/3 rpm (ie: 3.49 rad/s).
My guess is that mathematically and physically speaking, a CD offers a more accurate representation of the original music. It's perfectly legitimate to prefer a less accurate but, in your mind, better sounding rendition of the original work. Some people prefer Picasso to Da Vinci, and I don't see any problem with that.
OK guys, do the math.
Digital audio is a gestalt, right? Number of samples per waveform. The higher the frequency, the fewer samples per waveform.
So - 1 Hz, theoretically, would be sampled 44,100 times over the course of it's waveform. Well, that's a lot of samples, I'd say. Lots of room to connect the dots and make something that looks like a fairly decent "analog" of the original.
10 Hz then gets sampled 4,410 times per second. Not bad, still plenty of dots with not much space in between.
100 Hz gets sampled 441 times per second. Being a bass frequency, the ear isn't necessarily sensitive to any 100 Hz oriented transient, so we can forgive the fewer samples that make the waveform.
1,000 Hz ... where the ear is really sensitive - only 44.1 samples per waveform cycle. Not looking so good.
10,000 Hz - where transients get their attack, where "air" exists and harmonics glow around the notes, where guitars and harps and pianos and cymbals and triangles and xlyophones develop myriad rainbows of harmonic bloom ... only 4.41 samples per cycle.
So when you speak of "accurate" you don't seem to betaking into account the very mathematics built into limiting Red Book CD.
An analog recording "samples" a 10Hz waveform as many times per second as it "samples" a 100Hz waveform, a 1,000 Hz waveform, a 10,000 Hz waveform, etc. It is a more accurate system simply because it is able to capture entire waveforms through ultrasonics, whereas digital becomes less accurate as frequency rises.
Mathematically speaking, CD offers something considerably less accurate than analog recording. 16 bit, 44.1k samples per second is miserable. Now - I've heard SACDs made from direct to DSD recordings that are mind blowing. All those missing harmonics come right back in full color.
So I'm not dissing digital altogether - but CD is really a garbage standard that is, thankfully, getting tossed. Why is it getting tossed? Because it never was a high fidelity medium ... it's strengths were convenience and portability. iPod upped the ante in both of those categories, so CD is going by way of the dodo. It has lost its reason for being.
And my point about Jim Anderson is simply this - if he's going to bat for an iPod's sound, he's lost his hearing. An iPod is convenient, portable, but it's not high fidelity. By normal hifi standards it's a piece of shite. No Grammy award winning producer should wear his iPod on his sleeve and expect to be respected for it. It's like saying that 3-Michelin-Star winner Eric Ripert feels just fine about using previously frozen fish on his menu at Le Bernardin. Would never happen in a million years. Why? Because he'd lose the respect of his peers, he'd lose the Michelin stars, and he'd lose his career.
My point about compression was, as the other writer rightly described, a point about dynamic compression, not digital compression. The reason I brought that up is simply this - using a person's Grammy-winning credit as a reason to believe they are an expert is misleading. These are the people that are compressing the dynamic life out of the music, and then getting awards for the effort.
Well... 48kHz is not really so bad if you do the math. Humans can hear up to about 20kHz. If you have an audio signal which is bandlimmited to 20kHz and you sample it at a frequency greater than 40kHz (known as the Nyquist sampling frequency) you can mathematically recreate the exact original signal--zero loss. The only reason that 44kHz sampling does not exactly recreate the signal is the fact that there are no idealized filters, so you can't exactly band-limit the signal to 20khz and some aliasing occurs.
What this guy totally fails to take into account is that CD are compressed heavily in the recording process. They do this so people driving cars can hear everything due to the road and wind noise. Vinyl blows CDs out of the water for this very fact.
You can do a test and see for yourself how much better vinyl is by A/Bing them. The detail in vinyl is just far superior.
I came across a link a few months ago from a private research site called DHF (dhf-masterworks.com), which purports to have developed a rendering process for producing compressed audio of a higher listening quality than CDs. Yeah, we've heard this before and normally I wouldn't give such a thing a second look, but in this case I took it seriously enough to visit. I've been listening to the developer's classical internet broadcasts for a few years now on Live365's Baroque.FM and also his new WCCB (wccb-classical-fm.com), and am mightily impressed by the detail and warmth of the mp3 streaming there.
What's this got to do with the CD vs. Vinyl debate? I myself listen mostly to classical and jazz, and am a serious vinyl audiophile. On the other hand, with the emergence of the ipod and like I've also become a music-phile, wanting to have all of my music portable. Until now I haven't found a happy medium so I listen to my high end system and vinyl at home, and 'make do' with my ipod on the go. Now it seems there may be a 3rd alternative emerging in DHF-type audio that may offer the best of both worlds.
As for CDs, they were great as a 'make do' given their durability and portability during 80s and 90s, but given their high price and lack of resonant depth and harmonics, I can't see buying any more of these when a much more compact and higher fidelity alternative may be available out there. I have no idea what the scientific basis for DHF is, but I know what I hear and IMHO DHF is definitely much closer to vinyl than CDs ever got.
T Bone Burnette has purported that a new compression system, named XO∆E, will allow MP3s to be better than CDs. I haven't yet heard the system, but I don't have much hope. No shortage of "miracle cures" in the digital domain - witness the old Burwen Bobcat for evidence.
48kHz, as one writer suggested as being good enough, is not. Do the math again. At just 10kHz (1/2 of human hearing bandwidth), the PCM system samples the waveform just 4.8 times per cycle. That is not enough if you're going to be serious about fidelity, about quality.
Listen ... I have an iPod. I can take my music on the road with me. It's enjoyable, but it's not high fidelity. It's medium fidelity, maybe. But these digital devices are designed and built to satisfy measurements, not to satisfy perception. They are built to standards provable by machines, not by human hearing.
When the difference between a real high fidelity LP and a CD or an iPod track are A/B'd side to side, it never fails to miserably embarrass the CD or MP3. Never ever fails. It's a sledgehammer to the noggin. Comparing low fi LP to CD is less of a contest - and that's what naysayers tend to use as their defense of CD. But there is no contest between high quality LP and CD, it's easily provable, easily demonstrable, and unquestionable when the two are played side by side.
To be honest why are we really arguing about this subject anyway. Both techs are antiqued. Cd's are going out and very few records are still bein produced. Insults aside digital is the way the world is becoming. Even tv is soon going to be mandatory digital. So whether you choose to use vinyl, cd, 8 track, tape or blue-ray the world keeps turning and its not going to change much either way.
To be honest why are we really arguing about this subject anyway. Both techs are antiqued. Cd's are going out and very few records are still being produced. Insults aside digital is the way the world is becoming. Even tv is soon going to be mandatory digital. So whether you choose to use vinyl, cd, 8 track, tape or blue-ray the world keeps turning and its not going to change much either way.
Commercial CDs may be plagued with all kinds of problems, but those problems aren't inherent to the medium itself...they're a result of the way those CDs are produced (and, more specifically, mastered, for the most part at least).
As far as the math is concerned, with only 44.1 samples per waveform "not looking so good"...it doesn't matter how good that looks, because that's more than enough to perfectly reproduce the signal captured. Same with the 4.41 samples per cycle at 10kHz, etc...it may not appear logically that that's enough, but it's actually more than enough, and that was proven decades ago. Even though the filters used in today's converters aren't perfect, digital recording today is still more accurate than analog recording ever was. Sure, whether analog recording sounds "better" is open to debate, but accuracy is not.
Nobody, including the author, is disputing whether analog is better than digital. Of course it is, when the analog recording is perfect.
Vinyl records, however, as an analog medium do have significant drawbacks, even for the serious audiophile. If you're so insistent on having the music exactly as it was recorded get the master on tape. You can also reproduce much of that warmth that is induced by a record player by using a tube amplifier, which will generate many of the same harmonics.
Again, nobody said CDs are better than the original analog recording. That said, there seems to be a lot of people here who think even CDs are compressed, which of course they aren't.
There have been 100's of bets placed where an audiophile said he could tell the difference, and in most every case, where the experiment was done correctly, he was proven wrong. Here's just one such example:
It's called the placebo effect. Don't kid yourself ... it's an amazingly powerful effect, and if it makes you think you music is better than digital then more power to you, but don't take your prejudices as an opportunity to insult others.
Dear sonics and all other "audiophiles"
Unfortunately the term "audiophile" has come to mean the size of the bank roll you put behind your stereo system and record collection, and has nothing to do with actual knowledge of the sound recording process or musical medium production.
Most of those "hi-fi" vinyl records that you own were pressed from digital recordings, recorded and/or mastered on a ProTools setup. All the digital sampling "rounding-off" of the sound is built in to your vinyl. Recording directly to 2in. tape and true analog mastering are extremely rare in the music business these days due to cost.
Also, your vinyl is only good once, so enjoy that first listening. If the record hasn't already been warped or defected in the production cycle, shipping, or by temperature and humidity before it even reaches your hands, you will get one good play through. While you're doing that, the needle is degrading the grooves of the vinyl, and soon, that "warmth" that you love will start to envelope all of the more delicate frequencies being gradually worn away.
The haze that must fill your mind to believe that a process from the 1940's is still the best means of musical reproduction makes me feel sad for you. A process that was derided in its time by other "audiophiles," you may know them as concert-goers. You would do well to stop surrounding yourself with thousands of dollars in imitation and find your way to the nearest concert hall.
Given how digital playback works, whereby the waveform is essentially drawn in "steps," the number of which is determined by the sampling rate, and the distance from the center line, as it were, by the bit depth (headroom), of course an analog playback solution sounds better to some - it is as if the same image is both photographed with an older digital camera and painted - the photograph will be imperfect, but will be perceived as more perfect than the painting to some.
To others, it will seem cold, and artifacts from the digital photography process may show - the reds may not look as "red," for instance, due to the presence of only one CCD in the camera (much like 16 bit audio not having as much perceived dynamic range to some. The painting will seem more "human," and more "artistic," "warm," and a lot of other intangible, yet equally important adjectives.
Much like this, CDs, at 44.1kHz and 16 bit, may be more "perfect" to some, but less "human" to others. That said, from my understanding 192kHz and 32 bit is what is required for a digital audio file to not exhibit any digital artifacts, even subtle ones.
I love morons like sonics that call everyone idiot and have apparently no clue whatsoever about the subject.
I do enjoy vinyl a lot, even with the high level of distortions it induce.
That said, CD is a far more accurate format. Wether you prefer it over wax is entirely a subjective issue.
As far as CD is concerned, it's probably plagued by cheap implementation and badly designed converters and clocking system in the consumer realm.
That said, a 24 bits formatat 48kHz or better: 60KHz delivery format wouldn't arm.
This is based on both theory and personal experience, so no need to respond sonics. Just learn a bit more and try to behave before calling everyone idiots and appear as the arse you are.
Here is one issue that was not addressed in this piece which I feel makes a considerable difference in the overall sound output.
Vinyl record is an analog based sound source.
CD is a digital based sound source.
I would say someone listening to the vinyl record on a high end stereo system that takes the analog signal and directs it through an analog stereo system then the sound will be very good. If the vinyl turntable is connected to a digital amplifier that converts the signal from analog to digital and then back to analog to be listened to then some of the original audio quality will be lost.
Someone listening to a CD on a high end digital system using optical cable connections would not experience the loss in audio quality thus get the best possible sound from the CD recording. If the portable CD player is connected through the headphone output to a stereo system then some audio quality is lost.
Either way, there are methods that ensure that the original recorded sound is preserved as much as possible while listening to a vinyl record or CD. The average person would not take in to account that converting the original signal from analog to digital or digital to analog will cause some of the audio quality to be lost.
Are vinyl records better over CD in audio reproduction?
This is still up for debate.
What I would like to say is if the original recording in mastered on to digital media, would it not make sense to create a copy also on a digital media like a CD to maintain the audio quality instead of converting this to an analog vinyl disk?
Yes this looks great to me that when it comes to portable music, people stuff their iPods with tunes of far worse quality than either CDs or LPs. MP3s are compressed files that cut as much as 90 percent of the sound from the original recording, by using computer models of human hearing and removing subtle sounds that most of us don’t realize we’re missing. A compressed recording of a French horn, for example, might lack the slight reverberations from the concert hall.you sell your <a href="http://www.icollectrecords.com">Old Records</a> for top dollar! With us, you can <a href="http://www.icollectrecords.com">sell old records</a> and blues records in a fast, secure and safe manner!