back to article Hybrid CD vinyl unites warring tribes

Here's something you don't see very often. Veteran Detroit techno producer Jeff Mills has solved the vinyl or CD conundrum with a new "hybrid" disc that plays in both. It's a five-inch single with a CD stuck on the back. For younger readers baffled by such arcane technical jargon, allow us to explain. Music was once sold on …

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Flame

Oh dear....

I can't wait to see all the Audiophiles unleash their flaming wrath upon the "birate" comment, which is, I guess, exactly what it's there for.

This should be fun...

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WTF?

lol now thats what I call inverted snobbery

What an immensly stupid idea.

A total and utter wast of time.

Apart from anything else if both formats can be played back to back, throught the self same signal path then the vinyltards will have to finally accept that

a) you cannot hear cds aliasing and,

b) vinyl sounds like shit to start with and only gets worse with time.

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Oh, yeah...

Regarding your a) - you indeed cannot hear CD artifacts when listening to it on your PC through your Logitech super bass boost extra surround all in one fifty one channel "speaker" the size of the match boxes (as of course one should).

Regarding your b) - presumably your vinyl experience is limited to using 15-quid Tesco turntables connected to an iPod dock, connected to the said Logitech super bass boost extra surround all in one fifty one channel "speaker" the size of the match boxes. The sound does get worse with time - you're right on that one.

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really?

and i thought it was those of us with technics turntables still buying vinyl?

some of us never bought into the cd turntables as it takes zero skill

buy seriously - £30 for a jeff mills single is pretty poor! and i thought i'd payed over the odds a few times for vinyl lol

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Coat

5" 'single'

If played at 45 RPM, that will probably be about 3 minutes of music (remember, singles used to be 7", and the inner 3 inches or so were the label, that some turntables won't track). At 33 RPM, you will get more (and not have to change the belt position on a Rega P1), but the quality of 33 RPM singles was always questionable.

To put it in perspective, Bohemian Rhapsody only just fitted onto a 7" single at about 6 minutes long, and some copies skipped from new because the grooves were too close together. My original 7incher sounds awful compared to the album.

You will need something to fill the hole in the middle, though. A standard autochanger hub is the wrong size.

Bring back the 12" LP! So much more space for the cover art.

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Running time

If memory serves, and I can't be arsed checking discogs at the moment, Peter Gabriel's Biko was the longest 45rpm 7" at 8' 12", followed by the little know Sidewalk Talk by Jellybean Benitez w/ Madonna on vocals at 7' 59"

I'm sure some train spotter will put me right though...

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FAIL

Erm, how does that work then?

Glancing over at my pair of 1210's in the corner, I see that the hole in the middle of this is far too large to fit over the spindle, and far to small to fit over the 45 adaptor.

Awesome idea though, I play music on both formats and if I could buy singles like this that would be great!

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Coffee/keyboard

Shiny side down

"but remember, if you're putting it on a vinyl player, it's shiny side down."

Well that's pretty easy to remember - it's shiny side down if you put it in a CD player as well. Simples!

I am owed a new keyboard after your explanation of the old tech to the kids.

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Pirate

ROM not a BIT

Using programming tools as sophisticated as diamonds or as simple as a sewing needle you could alter the "content" on vinyl. Those who believe vinyl is/was superior also tend to object to flouride in the water supply and can often be picked out of a crowd by their cheerful tinfoil hats.

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Boffin

ROM discs

Several magazines had them as home computer "cover discs" You connected the Record player turntable up to the Audio Input on the Home Computer or Game Console and typed LOAD or some-such. Then you could run and even often edit the program before storing it on backup tape.

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Happy

Frank Sidebottom

in his days with the Freshies used to put Spectrum games on the b-sides of his singles.

With a shitty Dixons turntable you got the play the game once before the paper-clip stylus wrecked the grooves...

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Silver badge

Not much difference then

"but remember, if you're putting it on a vinyl player, it's shiny side down"

Shirley it'll be "shiny side down" on both?

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Anonymous Coward

No bit rate

Vinyl is analog, so there's no bit rate.

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Anonymous Coward

Well I never

I'm sure the author hadn't realised that...

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Analogue...

doesnt have a bit rate, as it doesnt have bits. Just a frequency response

I suspect you being a bit cheeky though right?

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Megaphone

Of course it has bits

Sorry, but vinyl very definitely does have bits. ;-)

As a person who grew up in his early twenties during the vinyl/CD change over I and the rest of my friends had to put up with crappy vinyl singles filled with crackling 7" singles or rumbling 12" that sounded worse and worse each month.

Music magazines in the 1980s were full of awful reviews of new releases which were obviously made using recycled vinyl and sounded like some one was crunching a hobnob biscuit in the background. Only records of classical music or golden oldies at 5 times the usual price used brand-new clean vinyl. The rest of the music sold had bits, lots of very solid bits in the grooves!

We'd try putting anti-static gadgets on the turn-table, placing the record in expensive anti-static/anti-dust sleeves, even coating the record in special liquid to try to dampen down the crackling. We'd try expensive styluses, endlessly balancing our arms and replacing cartridges. But nothing worked.

Let's not forget there was a reason why people swapped quickly to CD. Vinyl was so damn delicate and awful to listen to!

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Erm...

"requiring people to buy a new player, and also buy their music all over again."

Only if you'd got rid of your old player, surely? Or if you believed the hype.

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Thumb Up

Thats awesome!

Just remember that scratching is only good on one side...

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I like

That's a pretty cool idea. I'd just be worried about inserting it in to one of those slot based drives as it might get all scratched.

BTW, excellent history lesson!

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WTF?

Gimmick

But the hole in the middle will either be too big for my record player or too small for my CD player...

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WTF?

iPod?

But where does the USB cable go? Or is it some sort of proprietary connector. I still don't understand how I can listen to this on my iPod.

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Bitrate

"A typical vinyl LP has a bandwidth of about 18kHz (when it's brand new, it might get up to about 22kHz). There is certainly some audio stuff above that, but it generally bears no relation to meaningful programme material (ie. it's noise and distortion). So let's be generous and assume a bandwidth of 22kHz: you'll need to sample this at 44kHz. The dynamic range of a beautifully pressed LP on virgin vinyl can get to about 65-70dB on a good day with a following wind, which equates to slightly less than 12 bits. So the bit rate required is 44,000 x 12 x 2 (for stereo), giving about 1030kbs. A more typical LP (18kHz bandwidth, dynamic range of 55dB) needs a bit rate of about 650kbs. For comparison purposes, the CD bit rate is 1378kbs."

- http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t35530.html

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Boffin

Bit Rate

Well since they have found frequencies over 30Khz reproduced from some early recordings, and I think over 40KHz, you need to at least double the bit rate than for CD.

Also the earlier format does not assume that everything is a pure sinewave and that you can reproduce it with a bit rate only slightly above 2x f, so multiply the bit-rate a bit more.

I think that super-audio CD may have been similar to 45rpm vinyl.

There was also a version of vinyl that also stored video at full un-compressed rate!!

The funniest conversation I remember at Uni was someone waxing lyrical about the sound quality from their brand new, only £300 CD player compared to the record player included in their £50 stereo, and someone asking them if they had ever heard what a £300 record player could do!! (This was in the Radio station, with Technicks SL1000 decks with Rega arms!)

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Silver badge

That's the Nyquist frequency you refer to?

That's a mathematically proven way to avoid aliasing. So your 27Khz wave doesn't end up appearing on disc identically to a 15Khz wave, or whatever. The sampling rate of CDs was selected so that every audible frequency could be stored without aliasing. No sine wave assumptions are made — possibly you're thinking of Fourier-related schemes such as are usually used for compressed audio?

Irrespective of the quality of CDs for reproducing audio, I for one have no interest in whether the medium I'm listening to can reproduce frequencies I can't hear.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

£30 for a farking CD?

Worse - for a TECHNO CD?!? Sheesh! No wonder folks quit buying this stuff. At approx US$1.50 to the £ that's an awful lot for a CD, quasi-retrocool factor or no.

On the other hand, it's good to know that all those vinyl classics on the living room shelf might again be worth something to anyone besides me.

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Thumb Up

The days of vinyl ROMDs. I remember them well...

There were, at one time, three main types of ROMD, all competing with each other and defined by their size and speed. They were collectively known as "records".

Kids in my day called the smallest ones "singles" and the larger ones "LPs" for the larger ones. The true audiophile would only ever call the latter "albums" though.

What's even more impressive is that they were packaged in eco-friendly, recyclable cases made of card and paper which has proven very durable too. The later "CD" came in a cheap, nasty plastic affair which fell apart only seconds after leaving the shop you bought it from.

*

I also remember the RWACs ("rewritable audio cassettes") which many cars still supported as recently as 5-10 years ago. I did try nailing one to a CD once. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when he saw what it did to his record player. We still don't talk to each other.

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Remember them not-so-well

As I'm actually younger than the CD spec - though not by much. I do remember-and used myself-my parents' collection of LP ROMDs, though.

As to the RWAC devices, I actually prefer one in a used car to a CD player, as most of the latter-in cars of my price range-lack an auxiliary input jack. Simplicity itself, though, to hook up a RWAC adapter to my MP3 player, or any other new (or old, if I find a portable 8-track player and want to use it) device that comes along.

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Flame

I may be a little out of DATe here

but the bit rate will be the same as the original digital recording ;)

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hmmm

@ Naughtyhorse

vinyl only sounds shit when its scratched being played thru a shite system. on a decent system its better quality than CD. even on my technics (far from high end - these are djing decks) the quality is comparable to cd, but obviously nowhere near as good as HD audio like master audio etc

all the people banging on about size of disk have no idea what they are on about. ive got 8min long 5" vinyls. its how tightly packed the lines are. djs favour 45s as they sound better and are easier to mix with as the disk is moving faster. i also have 33s that are quite short and use a whole side, and i even have 33s with about 18 mins on each side!

its a crap idea anyway as surely the cd will be scratched to fuck when you are queueing up the track? vinyl actually self cleans when doing this. a cd doesnt work the same way on slip-mats does it!

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Headmaster

Fos those who don't seem aware of the fact:

Jeff Mills has made some of the most interesting music of the last couple of decades. The man is a genius. To dismiss what he does as "techno" is akin to describing the oeuvre of Bob Dylan as "folk". It might work for many, but not for me.

It fits well with his work and his approach that he has done this; he is an avid proponent of analogue synths and drum machines.

A live recording was made of his DJ'ing in a club called the Liquid Room in Japan in 1995 which still sounds startling and innovative today, if you can find it.

And ten years or so ago he played in my town and it was astounding.

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Anonymous Coward

With respect to other posters....

...who are talking out of their asses, has anyone ever sat down and done a subjective listening test between records and CDs? Y'know, listen to the song on CD first, then using the same system, listen to the same song on a clean record. It *sounds* better.

Then if you're really a geek, hook both players up to a recording oscilloscope, and overlay the sine waves. Tell me there isn't something lost in the conversion process.

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Stop

Something lost?

Yes. Quite a lot was lost when CDs took over from vinyl.

- Surface noise ("mush").

- Surface damage (clicks and pops).

- Tracing distortion, due to the replay stylus being a different shape from the cutter.

- Tracking distortion (variable across the disc and usually worst at the inside groove radii).

- Rumble (worst at the outside groove radii).

- Input preamplifier noise (especially with a nice wide bandwidth, low output moving coil PU).

- RIAA EQ inaccuracies (inevitable).

- Even acoustic feedback, on a bad day. (It was certainly a bad day when it happened!)

And I'm saying that as an old-school analogue _enthusiast_, who both built most of his own system (including the turntable) and did quite a few A-B comparisons before the years did for the ears. The acid test isn't which sounds "better" - which can arise by just adding a small quantity of low-order distortion , which adds "warmth" - but which sounds most like the original sound, if there is an original sound of course. On that basis, vinyl << CD. Sad, for those of us who love some of the superb engineering which made analogue audio possible, but true.

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Acid Test

You're saying the acid test isn't which sounds better, but which is most accurate when compared to the original?

So why are we spending all our hard earned money on hi-fi if it doesn't sound better than the next bit of hi-fi kit?

Sure, bring out the THD+N figures, the S/N noise ratio, intermodulation distortion, but any professional designer in audio knows they're a load of b**cks, they serve as a guide to work towards in design, but the figures don't truely represent how music sounds, you can't judge the audio performance of hi-fi using the classic set of metrics the manufacturers provide.

On paper, in tech specs CD is better than vinyl. But those in the know, know full well it isn't.

I'm saying this and I've been a life long user of CDs who has only recently "discovered" vinyl.

People saying that CD has better frequency response, better dynamic range...I say, kiss my proverbial rear, go talk to the pros that make the high end recording gear used in all the top studios.

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Silver badge

But where are the Vacuum tubes/Valves

Surely one must consider that thermionic emission devices have "warmer" sound. All the better to melt the plastic/vinyl (which I have done!).

Diamonds are forever when it comes to pickups. None of this silly laser diode stuff that doesn't even contact (and not wear out) the recording media!

(*SIGH*)

Oh, I can hear all that 40kHz audio stuff they are talking about in my 50+ year old ears!

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Pint

Reminds me of Al Murray's "Pub Landlord"

His routine on British thinking: "The glass is from France, the beer is from Germany. Put them together and what have you got? A beautiful British pint!"

(Well OK, pouring a pint doesn't involve double-sided sticky tape)

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Silver badge

Hole in the middle

To make a hole in the middle converter, you could use a micro-SD card and a hole punch, just to cover all formats poorly and extend the gimmick

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Joke

Next step ...

... the combo USB thumb drive/eight track tape cassette.

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oh I remember...

The earliest recording I have in my collection is a single sided 1904 12' shellac 78rpm disk of Dame Nellie Melba. (It sold for 1 guinea originally complete with a mauve label).

It was of course recorded acoustically (the ultimate in analogue recording!)

It is still playable .... not quite as good a recording as my 1919 10" vertical cut Edison acoustic recording of Rachmaninoff playing.

It is interesting to note that when "electrical" recording arrived in the 1920s many audiophiles of the day complained about how unnatural the sound of the new recordings was compared to the warmth of the acoustic recordings they replaced.

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@NaughtyHorse

You really are talking twaddle, thinking you know it all.

I worked in professional audio for one of the biggest manufacturers of studio equipment used to record music many years ago.

I grew up with CDs, the tail end of vinyl, didn't own a turntable for 25 years.

The people I worked with were recording engineers that had worked with some very famous recording artists. My colleagues all concurred that vinyl sounded better than CDs, that CDs really came into being not because they sounded better but because they didn't suffer the wear and tear of vinyl and production costs could be made lower.

Fairly recently after 25 years of CDs I purchased a semi-decent turntable, played through professional studio gear, my conclusion? I was blown away, the instruments sounded more real and I was quite frankly amazed at the quality, the definiton of what was there.

In some ways vinyl was definitely better, but I admit, it didn't sound as clean, there was always a bit of background noise to the vinyl. Pros and cons of both, but in terms of real sonic performance, the vinyl scored slightly better.

Before, you start slating vinyl, I'd suggest you go out and actually listen to some decent recordings though a decent hi-fi system first.

There are inherent limitations in 16bit 44.1KHz PCM sampling.

So much so that newer standards were developed, higher sampling frequencies and higher number of bits per sample, and it has been proven that they do sound better, SACD for example, but I bet you haven't got SACD have you? Probably not, not many people have, it's all but died.

There are performance issues with CD, so would you mind getting off the high horse until you really do know it all please. Some of us pros really do know it all :)

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Black Helicopters

That's great, but...

Does it hold the entire album on the vinyl side? I remember from my childhood days that vinyls were huge (around 12" in diameter) and the 33 1/3rpm ones play 30 minutes on one side. I imagine that the vinyl end will hold at most 2-3 songs given the size of a compact disc and assuming the vinyl portion being mastered at 33 1/3rpm.

Black heli. Because it looks like the laser warning found on CD players.

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Silver badge

Vinyl only sounds like shit when .....

Vinyl only sounds like shit when it's played on a belt-drive turntable.

Idler drive or direct drive (preferably with a 16-pole brushless motor) are where it's at.

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Troll

@AJ Stiles

=> Idler drive or direct drive (preferably with a 16-pole brushless motor) are where it's at.

And just how big and heavy a plinth is your Garrard installed in?

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Boffin

Nyquist et al

Oh dear. It's friday, it's lunchtime, I'll bite.

=> [...Nyqyist] That's a mathematically proven way to avoid aliasing. .... The

=> sampling rate of CDs was selected so that every audible frequency

=> could be stored without aliasing.

Yes, it's proven *mathematically*, and it's about aliasing. In practice, however, in order to actually prove it by demonstration as opposed to mathematics, you need theoretically perfect brickwall filters at both ends, which cut off very sharply at the chosen "nyquist frequency".

Actual filters - digital or analogue - don't do that. They have real and often subjectively unpleasant behaviour, phase oddities, pre-echo (where you get a signal that wasn't even in the original...), etc. For decent (ie transparent in the interesting part of the passband) performance you want the knee or turnover frequencies of the filters - near which the effects are usually worst - to be as far from the useful part of the passband as possible.

Nothing wrong with digital audio per se, but it turns out that 44KHz was a pretty pants sample rate to have chosen, it was simply a limitation of the available technology at the time. Higher sample rates (96KHz, 192KHz, and so on) leave the filter designers with a much easier (read: physically possible) job to do.

=> Irrespective of the quality of CDs for reproducing audio, I for one have

=> no interest in whether the medium I'm listening to can reproduce

=> frequencies I can't hear.

Ditto. I'd just like it to properly reproduce the frequencies that I *can* hear, please.

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