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Old 13th August 2007, 11:53 PM   #1
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Default vinyl v cd differences - phono pre and cd-player

This may seem like the opening of a can of worms, but I hope it isn't.

Having recently recovered some of my old vinyl albums from my folks in England, I was eager to get playing them. I purchased a Rega P2 for a good price and just finished a Hagermann Cornet2 using 12AU7 and 12AX7. I expect that with around 50 hours on it, the Cornet2 is getting burned in by now.

Anyway, I have a couple of duplicates. The first is Alan Parsons I-Robot, which I have on 120g vinyl and the first CD release.

When I played the vinyl yesterday, my wife just about fell over. She likened the sound of the vinyl to what she remembers of the father's vinyl album. She said that she hadn't realized that the CD version was poor in comparison.

We did a side-by-side, switching inputs on my Aikido preamp. The differences were phenomenal. The vinyl was full, bass strong and the music well centered in the soundstage. The CD was weak, poor bass and alsmost sounded as if it was out-of-phase (maybe my DIY cd interconnect or RCA on the Aikido are messed-up).

My CD player is pretty good (Rega Apollo).

My question is this:

Assuming that my signal wiring and CD player are correct, and that the CD release corresponds with the vinyl, then where in my Aikido would I look for improvement?

I used Sonicaps in the phono and Dynamicaps for the DC blocking caps on the output, whereas my Aikido only uses Auricaps.

My Aikido B+ is also at around 280VDC, giving 140V per side in the 6SN7s. Many folk recommend a higher B+ (up to 360VDC). Maybe this would be a big help. Would replacing my 50uF motor-run caps with Solens in the PSU help?

This evening, I'll switch inputs between vinyl and cd-player, and switch interconnects also. In case there is a big disparity between CD and vinyl of I-Robot, I'll try a comparison between Dark Side Of The Moon, which I has as original UK vinyl and CD.

Regards,
Charlie
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Old 14th August 2007, 12:13 AM   #2
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I think it's probably remastering, master tape generation etc that's more the cause of large sonic differences than anything else. If the CD is a low (sales) volume item, and the transfer to digital was made in the early days of CD, then based on a lot of discs I own, it was a fairly poor transfer and the sales volume isn't enough to allow the time and expense to do it again.
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Old 14th August 2007, 12:27 AM   #3
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Brett,

I am wondering if this is actually the case. I do know that over the last few years, Alan Parsons has been remastering many of his earlier works. Given his skill as an audio engineer, I would expect that the newer CD releases will sound as good as possible.

Regards,
Charlie
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Old 14th August 2007, 12:42 AM   #4
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Wouldn't surprise me a bit. I recently got the Moody Blues Millenium Edition greatest hits. Remastered by a 12 year old. Sounds better on the radio than this CD. Like they're playing in a barrel.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn most CD's are improperly mastered, and we are missing quite a bit of the capability of CD's.
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Old 14th August 2007, 02:03 AM   #5
arnoldc is offline arnoldc  Philippines
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Hi Charlie, why don't you try some XRCD from JVC... This will reveal the capabilities of your CD player.
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Old 14th August 2007, 03:02 AM   #6
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Arnoldc,

XRCD ??? And will they play on the Rega?

Sorry for the ignorance,

Charlie
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Old 14th August 2007, 03:24 AM   #7
arnoldc is offline arnoldc  Philippines
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Yes.

http://www.xrcd.com/tech/xrcd24a_e.html
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Old 14th August 2007, 01:05 PM   #8
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I've found the majority of CD masterings are fairly wretched. Mobile Fidelity / JVC's XRCD / etc are exceptions - offering sonics that are comparable to a decent analog rig (provided your digital rig is up to snuff).
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Old 14th August 2007, 01:50 PM   #9
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Yeah, like kstagger I've got a lot of CDs that are simply awful, and that's why I'm getting back into vinyl. A good CD can be great, but "remastered" is absolutely no guarantee of that. I don't think the people that do the remastering have even listened to the original album, and my guess is everybody today has settled on the same studio monitors that have nothing to do with how a home system sounds. Or, maybe their hearing is shot. Don't stop listening to CDs, as they can be great, but recognize that a lot aren't and vinyl isn't dead.
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Old 14th August 2007, 04:57 PM   #10
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I have duplicates of a number of Mercury Living Presence classical recordings both on cd and vinyl. Some vinyl is vintage, and some is more recently pressed, and despite the huge amount of care that Wilma Cozart Fine put into the CD remastering the LPs clobber each and every one of them. This is something audiophiles in my neck of the woods have been discussing vehmently since 1984, and one of the reasons why I still play vinyl despite having quite good sounding digital. (Recently rebuilt my analog front end - Thorens TD-125, SME3009S2, and designed a new very low noise tube phono stage - all this after quite a long hiatus from analog.)

The best sounding CDs in my collection are generally by outfits like Reference Recordings and Harmonia Mundi, and even here the LPs when available always sound better.

The LPs often seem to capture more sense of the acoustic space, have more natural decay into the noise floor, seem to have oodles more low level resolution, and seem to preserve the timbre of the instruments better. You'd think higher bit counts, dither and careful attention to the analog path prior to digitizing would address these issues, but it doesn't always seem to.

I will say techno and trance sound pretty good on CD and that I have no analog point of reference for this music. IMHO Old pop invariably sounds better on LP regardless of who remastered it to CD.

Linn issues a lot of their material as LPs and digital recordings of varying bit depth and rate. Material is available as downloads at good mp3 quality, standard cd quality (flac encoded) and high bit rate, bit depth to 24 bit/96KHz flac. Both Cds and SACDs as well as LPs are available by mail order. It would be very interesting to order and compare several formats as presumably Linn takes great care in the recording, mastering and production process. I would expect these recordings to represent close to the full potential of each format.
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