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Old 1st July 2012, 09:08 AM   #1
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Default New " digital" vinyl vs old "analog" vinyl

I just read this article that maintains that any new vinyl, like my daughters new , "Nicki Minaj" album sounds the way it does ( please be objective about this, please) because it was recorded digitally then transferred to vinyl, instead of recorded onto tape then transferred. Apparently tape is no longer even made!
I thought it was the way they mix new music. As most people listen to compressed mp3 i figured they make it sound like that so it sounds good on a car radio or an ipod.
Anyway, I would like an informed opinion as it sounds like hi fi b/s! What is more important, the method of capture or the method of playback?
The result would be that anything recorded since about 1990 isn't worth listening to on vinyl ( again, objective please).

Last edited by bullpeters; 1st July 2012 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 1st July 2012, 11:15 AM   #2
PChi is offline PChi  United Kingdom
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I wouldn't say tape was all that good. On some records it was possible to hear tape hiss above the background noise that vinyl produces. Dolby did well out of electronic processing to improve the perceived dynamic range.
On others it was possible to hear tape print through even on on vinyl records.

On many multi-tracked and processed old records the sound quality was poor. Tape is hardly a uniform frequency response / low distortion, wide dynamic range system. Despite this some old recordings could sound pretty good.

I agree that the problem is the way they mix new music. I think that the way it has been used is more important than the technology.

In my opinion records are poor so if it is available on CD it will be generally better than how it sounds on vinyl. Vinyl is also a relatively high distortion, not brilliant dynamic range or particularly well controlled frequency response system. Some people prefer the sound quality of vinyl but I think that it is less realistic than CD. Either Vinyl or CD are OK and probably less of an issue that the loudspeakers used or the mixing process.
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Old 1st July 2012, 11:33 AM   #3
pdul is offline pdul  Denmark
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Greed and sale are the driving forces of the record industry, but let us just hope that there is just enough headroom for the sound engeneers to still take a little pride in their work. If the source of good recordings is drying out, this forum could as well change to be about Ipods and Mp3`s
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Old 1st July 2012, 11:41 AM   #4
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It seems clear that 'quiet bits' in a recording will just not be audible to someone listening to headphones on a bus or in the street, so there must be pressure to reduce the dynamic range of recordings. The same goes for radio in cars. Presumably vinyl pressings will often simply use the same compressed source material.

Nowadays, however, applying compression at the playback end would be so simple and cheap, it's a shame that they can't sell/broadcast recordings with the full dynamic range and allow the user to select the compression level themselves.
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Old 1st July 2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Vinyl pressings have always needed careful manipulation of dynamics, particularly at the bottom end. But I think analogue tape was always the weakest link in the chain. We were stunned by those direct-to-disc releases. Breathtaking.

And I was amused listening the other night, at only reasonable domestic levels, to a vinyl recording of mediaeval music, where you could easily hear the tape hiss start a second before the music, and cut out a second after it finished. And this on an old album that had hardly been well looked after, and played with a Stanton 681 broadcast cartridge (the only one I have left!)

I used to make my living with analogue tape. But it was never adequate to the task.

I often wondered if vinyl and tape were mutually antithetical. A good tape recording wasn't bad. A good vinyl direct-to-disc was great. But a vinyl pressing of a tape recording was very ordinary. Hmmmm.

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Old 1st July 2012, 02:29 PM   #6
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I have purchased a significant number modern vinyl recordings, most are digitally mastered, some are analog mastered. Analog recording tape is still made in Holland by RMG, and sporadically here in the USA. (Quantegy last time I knew, but very spotty from this source)

What I can say is that those recent recordings where vinyl was part of the original release plan seem to be universally good. I play them on a TD-124/II with a Schick arm and one of two Ortofon SPUs. (Meister Silver and GM E II)

The old RCA LSC and Mercury Living Presence analog tape seems to have been pretty quiet, but they often recorded at 30ips on very heavily tweaked machines. I have some of the originals on vinyl and some reissues, tape hiss isn't a problem with these recordings, but I do have plenty where the tape hiss is audible at the beginning and end, tape print through is also audible in some cases, and I have recordings that are clearly over cut as well - both recent and 1970s vintage. (Pre-echo LOL) I've also heard a number of the Tape Project reissues of RCA Masters, and these are usually breathtaking in terms of dynamics, resolution and are quiet - they're also insanely expensive..
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." - Carl Sagan
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Old 1st July 2012, 02:49 PM   #7
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Ditto on all points of your last sentence.
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Old 5th July 2012, 03:40 PM   #8
lu432 is offline lu432  United States
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I would prefer to send a digitally mastered track on to vinyl than any analog format. Personal preference, but there are people that like the previous, I don't subscribe to "formatisim" if it sounds good, and it was tracked and mixed well, it will be enjoyable by any enthusiast.
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Old 5th July 2012, 04:00 PM   #9
a.wayne is offline a.wayne  United States
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Ditto on tape project recordings ...

Funny way back when recordings we're done on tape and Playedback in the studio, that sound was never ever captured on vinyl releases. Im willing to accept somewhat that the problem with digital today maybe in the recording and mixing technique. Aside, digital recordings lose a lot of the recorded space vs analog, its apparent on instruments , voices , everything really ...

Last edited by a.wayne; 5th July 2012 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 5th July 2012, 04:50 PM   #10
lu432 is offline lu432  United States
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Originally Posted by a.wayne View Post
Ditto on tape project recordings ...

Funny way back when recordings we're done on tape and Playedback in the studio, that sound was never ever captured on vinyl releases. Im willing to accept somewhat that the problem with digital today maybe in the recording and mixing technique. Aside, digital recordings lose a lot of the recorded space vs analog, its apparent on instruments , voices , everything really ...
Its all the in the technique and experience of the engineer. Digital formats don't lose anything, compared to digital recordings. As a matter of fact Digital in terms of quality playback far out perform digital media here are some facts:

The amount of noise that a piece of audio equipment adds to the original signal can be quantified. Mathematically, this can be expressed by means of the signal to noise ratio (SNR). Sometimes the maximum possible dynamic range of the system is quoted instead.
Consumer analog cassette tapes may have a dynamic range of 60 to 70 dB

Analog FM broadcasts rarely have a dynamic range exceeding 50 dB.
The dynamic range of a direct-cut vinyl record may surpass 70 dB.
Analog studio master tapes using Dolby-A noise reduction can have a dynamic range of around 80 dB.
And then there is 16 Bit Digital and 24 Bit Digital

16-bit digital audio dynamic range is about 96 dB

24-bit digital audio has a theoretical maximum S/N of 144 dB
And we haven't even covered SACD or Sigma-Delta Modulation (DSD).

It is all in the quality of the song writing and the ability of the tracking and mixing engineers to capture and produce an exceptional song. The medium in which it is played back only really has an importance factor of 1%. When people talk about some format sounding superior it really is all about the "emotional" connection people make with formats and standards and nothing to do with the caliber of the engineering that goes into the production (It's really the audio/music industries version of the placebo effect). If more focus went into hiring caliber engineers rather than "cutting out the middle man" projects would sound a hell of a lot better regardless of formats.
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