True! That was just an example that came to mind. The best balance seems to be above-the-line/below-the-line, as it were. Point is somebody has to be skilled at business, or know how to watch accountants!
To a point though, I can understand this even from a not-old-man perspective. They’re collectibles, you can display them, frame them, show them off or admire them in ways you can’t with downloads or even CDs. It makes sense that if you downloaded an act’s album as MP3s (illegally) you’d still want to support them financially AND have a nice piece of kit to hang on your wall. That’s even more appealing to me than just buying the album from iTunes.
Besides which, vinyl sounds worse than CD and high bit-rate audio files anyway -
“All-analog” doesn’t always happen: Many modern vinyl records are produced from digital masters, either recordings made natively in software such as Pro Tools or converted from tape before being sent along for mass production. When I visited Gonsalves, he was working on My Brightest Diamond’s new album — from his computer. But analog-to-digital conversion (and vice versa) has come along quite a bit since the birth of the CD, and Gonsalves says he asks for high-definition, 24-bit files to master from if digital’s the option.
Still, as artists and labels hop on the vinyl trend, some new vinyl releases may be mastered from CD-quality audio, not the high-resolution formats audiophiles and folks like Neil Young adore. Is a CD-quality album going to sound more accurate on vinyl than a CD? Nope. But it will sound more vinyl-y, if that’s your preference.
“There’s basically nothing you can do to make an hour-long album on one record sound good,” Gonsalves said. Vinyl’s capable of a lot, but only if the grooves are wide enough for the needle to track them properly. A longer album means skinnier grooves, a quieter sound and more noise. Likewise, the ear-rattling sounds of dubstep weren’t really meant for your turntable. “If you had taken Skrillex into Motown Studios, they would’ve said, ‘It’s uncuttable!’” Gonsalves said, thanks to the strain the high-energy music would put on the needle’s journey.
Vinyl can struggle with highs and lows: High-pitched frequencies (drum cymbals, hi-hats) and sibilance (think “s” sounds) can cause the ugly crackle of distortion, while deep bass panned between the left and right channels can knock around the needle. “It should basically be in mono," Gonsalves said. Otherwise, “that’s a hard path for a needle to trace.”
The beginning of an album side sounds better than the end: As the album’s circumference shrinks toward the middle, the needle speed changes and it can’t follow every millimeter of the groove. If the song that closes side A or B is a complicated one — say, one with a busy harmonica solo — it may well sound less than hi-fi. That’s why those double-LPs are worth the extra flipping.
Surface noise: “The warm sound of the vinyl, that’s a form of noise that you get from dealing with the lacquer material and having it go through this manufacturing process,” Gonsalves said. The vinyl format can generate other issues: crackles and pops, records that skip and the whine of a needle against the LP, all problems that the CD advertised itself on solving decades ago. But for many, these sounds are just part of the vinyl experience, adding to the charm of a format that takes some extra effort — and often rewards it.
Listened to the Luke Cage Soundtrack tonight. It was pretty good. It felt like something Tarantino would put together without seeming like it was just derivative of his style and musical tastes.
Spotify played this as a suggested song yesterday. Never heard of the band before. Thought it was pretty cool and sought out the whole album which has a similar synth soundtrack feel to it.
That’s one opinion (and you seem to have only copied the ‘bad’ section), I was given a demo of listening to a vinyl album on a Linn LP12 turntable with all the top notch amps etc and it sounded phenomenal compared to the CD. The digital format truncates certain sounds so you could hear extra elements on the analogue vinyl.
It is with the caveat though that the setup costs several thousand pounds but I’ll take the view of my lugholes over an article.
I take the pragmatic view that my ears aren’t that good any more
The “bad” section was longer than the “good” section.
That wasn’t the article I had in mind which I read in 2015 - it went into more detail and was far more… conclusive.
Experience > articles.
Have you tried the same? Put together a top sound system and play both side by side?
All the points in the article Andrew posted make sense. But in mitigation, consider that many bands who reissue old albums on vinyl are working from their original analogue tapes, so invalidating the digital-analogue argument. And those albums are still 40 minutes, not an hour, thus invalidating the groove density argument. Also, they use heavyweight plastic compared with what they used to use, and I suspect that might invalidate the other objections.
The article does say “some new vinyl releases”, though, so it’s implicitly acknowledging that.
I listen exclusively to 128 kbps MP3s, so I’m eminently qualified to crap on people raving about vinyl “sounding” better.
Like you said though, it takes a top sound system to even get the most out of vinyl - most people (even those buying vinyl) listen to music through their laptops and iPhones now so it’s irrelevant.
This was the article I was after:
Ludwig’s colleague Bob Clearmountain is one of the industry’s most respected mixing engineers, responsible for setting the levels of a band’s performance before it’s sent to the mastering engineer. He has worked with everyone from The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Ricky Martin and Lenny Kravitz.
When Clearmountain mixed vinyl albums for Columbia Records, he says the label required the test pressing of each LP to play on an old, cheap turntable without skipping, or it would have to be mixed again. Too much bass in one speaker could make the needle skip out of the groove, as would too much sibilance — a harsh “s” — in a singer’s voice.
Clearmountain, who now works out of Mix This! in Pacific Palisades, says that when he heard the vinyl test pressings of the albums he’d worked on in the studio, he always felt the same way: depressed.
“I’d just listen and go: ‘Jesus, after all that work, that’s all I get?’ It was sort of a percentage of what we did in the studio,” he says. “All that work and trying to make everything sound so good, and the vinyl just wasn’t as good.”
Scott Metcalfe, director of recording arts and sciences at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, says the move to CDs was especially beneficial for reproducing classical recordings.
“Really in every way measurable, the digital formats are going to exceed analog in dynamic range, meaning the distance between how loud and how soft,” he says. “In the classical world, [that means] getting really quiet music that isn’t obscured by the pops and clicks of vinyl or just the noise floor of the friction of the stylus against the [LP] itself.”
That said, every audio engineer L.A. Weekly spoke to said it’s not hard to find LPs that sound better than CDs. Mastering, production and manufacturing variables can drastically tilt the scale either way.
Even before the advent of the CD, there had been a “loudness war” in the music industry — the desire to make an album louder than its competitors, so it would catch the attention of listeners and radio programmers. But when CDs made it possible to increase the volume exponentially — no more skipping needles — nuance and dynamics often suffered.
Because vinyl’s restrictions do not permit the same abuse of audio levels as the CD, Mayo says that listeners might hear a wider dynamic range in an album mixed separately for vinyl over a compact disc version optimized for loudness — even though vinyl, as a format, has a narrower range than CD.
“It’s not just the format,” Mayo says. “It’s what you do with it.”
On the physicality:
It’s also clear that the vinyl experience is about more than just sound. Pete Lyman, co-owner and chief mastering technician at Infrasonic Sound, an audio and vinyl mastering studio in Echo Park, says he believes listeners are gravitating toward vinyl for the physical experience of owning, holding and flipping an LP.
“I don’t think that [sound is] really the appeal for people right now,” Lyman says. “They like the collectability factor. They like the whole ritual and process of listening to it. They’re more engaged with the music that way.”
Final paragraph (it’s a long piece, well worth the read):
“Every way you can measure it, digital is going to be superior,” Metcalfe says. “It really does come down to the preference of the end user.”
Or, as Kees Immink says: “Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don’t say that the sound is better.”
It sounds better.
WHAT DID KEES IMMINK JUST SAY?!
I like marmalade and mustard.
That’s not even a real name.
You aren’t experiencing real life but just made up people on the internet.
At the same time?
Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to the new Run The Jewels. It’s good so far; need to give it more time while referring to a lyrics sheet (that’s how I listen to raps).
He was was of the rebel generals in Star Wars I think.
I think he’s the guy Warwick Davis plays in Rogue One.
“Lock S-foils to attack position”
Right now, band Shark Island - their album ''Law of the Order". I wonder if they still operate.
Today is Classical Music Wednesdays and I shall be mostly listening to Dvorak’s Cello Concerto:
(But not that recording.)