back to article Vinyl-fetish hipsters might just have a point

Hipsters. They're this decade's yuppies, but with worse facial hair. And an annoying predilection for pointless retro-technology fetishm that manifests itself in a love for vinyl records. Actually, scratch that complaint (pardon the pun). Or at least scratch it for the new 'ULTRA LP' format that Jack White, formerly of The White …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge

Excuse me sir, but I've loved vinyl before hipsters were ever around. Yes I am aware of the irony of that statement, but it's the truth. There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's or MP3's. You could with cassette's, to a point anyway. They are, to the audiophile - not the hipster, a superior technology to have when listening to music. And if you're lucky enough to have valves in your hifi when listening to the vinyl, well I envy you.

That said, not totally a fan of Jack White but this vinyl intrigues me. I may just have to buy it!

19
23
Silver badge

I have an album on both vinyl and CD... the vinyl sounds much better, the bass is better defined. However, I didn't realise until recently how much fiddling had to be done by engineers prior to pressing vinyl, without which the larger bass-frequency grooves would drastically reduce the playing time of the LP.

I prefer the sound in this instance, but it is an artefact of people working within a technical limitation. Pure it isn't.

My personal ideal situation would be for music to be available in an uncompressed (audio-wise, not bitrate) neutral format, and any volume equalisation etc to be left as an option on the users playback device.

28
2
Silver badge

There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's

Of course you can, just pre-process to add more third-harmonic dstortion before recording.

Vinyls may sound warmer, or subjectively "better", but it isn't superior, the sound that comes out is not as close to the original as that from a CD.

Of course, few people get to hear "original" sound, in a recording studio, and how often have you been to a concert and thought the atmosphere was fantastic, but the audio quality just wasn't as good as the record? You probably blamed it on the accoustic of the hall?

34
3
Devil

Old gits like me who were around when vinyl was the only medium will remember the messages that the mastering engineers sometimes scratched into the space between the runout grooves in the centre of the record.

The best example is probably on "Heaven and Hell" by Vangelis. This has an incredibly large dynamic range and apparently took many attempts before they got the compression right to be able to fit it onto the disc. The runout message reads "And it was!".

10
0
Silver badge

On the album that followed Bat Out Of Hell, someone had inscribed 'Chicken Out Of Hell' in the same manner. The other side had 'Reeks Of Old Chicken'. At the time, I wasn't sure if that was cool and amusing or just very rude.

1
0
Silver badge

"Of course, few people get to hear "original" sound, in a recording studio, and how often have you been to a concert and thought the atmosphere was fantastic, but the audio quality just wasn't as good as the record? You probably blamed it on the accoustic of the hall?"

True. Yesterday I saw Yes at the Royal Albert Hall and I struggled at times to follow the intricacies of Close To The Edge as they were drowned in an overall wall of sound - I guess the sound engineers just turned the volume of everything to eleven and thought that was a good idea. I also think that Chris Squire's setup had a driver blown in one of the speakers... So, even CDs on my system at home sound "better". But, boy, did I enjoy being there!!

3
0
Anonymous Coward

@ Dave 126

Vinyl has the bass artificially attenuated before the cutting process and then boosted by the amp on playback. It's so the needle doesn't wobble and jump all over the place and reducing the wear of the vinyl by avoid large changes of direction plus many other reasons. There is so much crap talked about vinyl, it is a medium of it's day and there are far better and more robust digital solutions available today. After all most recording studios abandoned analogue years ago.

24
1
Silver badge

There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's or MP3's

Record amps/pre-amps have an RIAA-declared standard set of filters that produce the sound you're looking for. Without that, vinyl would, and does, sound bloody awful.

However what vinyl does allow, which CDs don't, is the ability to cue up by grabbing the medium itself and spinning it about a bit. It's something that's kept vinyl alive even up until today amongst the DJ crowd, though these days it tends more toward time-coded vinyl than buying a separate slab for each EP, LP or single.

Lovely user interface, but I won't pretend it has "better quality", any more than valves have "better quality" than transistors.

23
1

Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

Re: "if you're lucky enough to have valves in your hifi when listening to the vinyl, well I envy you.": If you think valve amps sound better than transistors, well I pity you.

I worked with valve and transistor amps in the late 60's as transistors were starting to make inroads into hifi territory. Part of my job as a research technician was mapping transfer functions and distortion of various devices. Valves have an "S" shaped transfer function, whereas transistors are much more linear, but with a sharp cutoff at top and bottom. At 99% max output a transitor is still fairly distortion free, whereas a valve would be up around 50-80% distortion. However at 100% output, the transistor distorts to buggery and the output is full of odd numbered harmonics, which sound awful to the human ear, whereas the even numbered harmonics of a valve are just 1, 2, 3 octave overtones, which the ear accepts as nice "warm" sounds. But, they are not what was recorded; they are still distortion.

Great for a guitar amp where you want smooth sounding distortion, but it is not "HiFi".

Then take into account that valve amps needed a transformer - a transformer! - in the output, with hysteresis, core saturation and all the other non-linearities you get putting audio through a lump of copper and iron - I mean a massively inductive device, and you are not even in the same ballpark as "Fidelity", let alone "High".

Modern transistor amps have come on in leaps and bounds since my day, whereas valves were already htiing their development ceilings back then.

Remember, when Quad advertised "The closest approach to the original sound", (never disputed) they were advertising their transistor amps, not their valve amps.

Oh, and if you are listening to vinyl with a standard arc-tracing tone arm, you are not hearing what was cut with the linear tracking lathe - and don't forget RIAA equalisation adding a bit more non-linearity.

Anyway, this is all moot for me now; as a teenager working in audio, I could hear up to 21kHz, now the only thing above 10kHz I hear is the constant tinnitus from listening to too many loud rock bands!

44
0

The accoustics of the Royal Albert Hall

"Yesterday I saw Yes at the Royal Albert Hall and I struggled at times to follow the intricacies of Close To The Edge as they were drowned in an overall wall of sound."

That's largely due to the R.A.H. being an acoustically horrible place. It's the wrong shape (round) and too tall. I understand the baffles they have hung from the ceiling have made it less bad, but given the starting point they could barely make it worse!

7
0
Bronze badge
Meh

"but the audio quality just wasn't as good as the record? You probably blamed it on the accoustic of the hall?"

This is one reason why I don't go to see bands any more. The work of art is the album made in a recording studio. The tour which follows is a series of poor approximations. The other reason has nothing to do with audio quality and everything to do with not wishing to rub shoulders with filthy humans. People tell me I'm weird.

11
1
Vic
Silver badge

how often have you been to a concert and thought the atmosphere was fantastic, but the audio quality just wasn't as good as the record? You probably blamed it on the accoustic of the hall?

I once saw Maiden play Monsters of Rock (IIRC). With the sun behind the stage, you could see the speakers through the curtain-type drapes they had over the fron of the rig.

It looked like the cabs had just been thrown up onto the scaffolding and cabled up wherever they fell. "Oh well", thinks I, "they obviously know what they're doing".

They bloody didn't. It was one of the worst-engineered gigs I've ever been to...

Vic.

2
0
Silver badge

"This is one reason why I don't go to see bands any more. The work of art is the album made in a recording studio. The tour which follows is a series of poor approximations. The other reason has nothing to do with audio quality and everything to do with not wishing to rub shoulders with filthy humans. People tell me I'm weird."

They're wrong: You aren't.

When I used to go, mainly to see Numan1, I tried to always make sure I had a seat near the back. Invariably, when the man came on stage, most people would move forwards - but I stayed where I was to avoid all the horrible, horrible humans.

And best of all, because of the slope in many venues, I could often remain seated and still see the show over all the people standing at the front! I probably looked a bit odd, but I don't care!

1. I'm a long-time Numan fan, but the best concert I've ever been to was a Tori Amos one - everyone remained seated. It was very civilised.

1
0
Silver badge

There is no "warmth" to a record, or "depth", or any of the other audiophile descriptive nonsense that gets attached to a record. None whatsoever. Any difference in perception probably has more to do with the ritual associated with getting the record out, putting it on the turntable, cleaning the dust off, putting the needle on and endless tinkering trying to get the thing to play without pops, hissing or other imperfections.

If I played an LP and digitally sampled it 44Hz sample rate, then I doubt there would be many people on earth who could tell the difference between the original and the sample outputs in a blind test where other biases are removed.

15
0
Bronze badge

But in fairness..

if you didn't look odd at a Numan concert, you'd look odd. (Though if you want really odd, try a John Foxx concert.)

2
0
Silver badge

Re: But in fairness..

True, dat! :)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: But in fairness..

>True, dat!

You just had to bring DAT into this thread, didn't you?

5
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Alas, I am unable to hear the sublime differences between vinyl and digital music, even a low bit rate mp3, due to years of listening to live music.

If only I'd know how badly this was affecting me when I was a youngster, nowadays I can't even see the point in spending more than a tenner on speaker cables. Oh the shame!

2
0
Bronze badge

"This is one reason why I don't go to see bands any more."

Another good reason is that you can drink beer in your own home for less than £8 a pint, in a glass made of glass, and you can get to the bogs when you need to.

God I am old.

11
0
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

"Anyway, this is all moot for me now; as a teenager working in audio, I could hear up to 21kHz, now the only thing above 10kHz I hear is the constant tinnitus from listening to too many loud rock bands!"

Anyone else remember being able to hear the CRT scan sound from CRT TVs? When I was young I could never understand how my parents couldn't hear when I'd secretly switched the TV on with the sound down because the squealing was obvious to me. Sadly I can't here it anymore when I switch on an old TV though TBH its a fairly useless skill now though with LCDs!

9
0
Silver badge

"There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's or MP3's. You could with cassette's, to a point anyway."

Just shove the output through an adjustable low pass filter (or a graphic equaliser - whatever happened to them?) and you'll soon be able to recreate the sound.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

Anyone else remember being able to hear the CRT scan sound from CRT TVs?

Oh yes. I have frankly amazing hearing for my age, so I can tell if a CRT has been fired up in the next room. Or even, three feet from my face as the case is right now. Probably has something to do with me not habitually playing headphones at full blast or cranking the amp volume up to 12 in my younger days.

And yes, it's an AOC 5glr, TCO '99 compliant as an indicator of age. It works.

2
0
Silver badge

"everything to do with not wishing to rub shoulders with filthy humans"

U wot? Has it not been revealed unto you the joys of the ....

... MOSH! MOSH! MOSH!

I miss moshing (sob).

1
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

Anyone else remember being able to hear the CRT scan sound from CRT TVs?

I can still hear it, despite being of an age where I really shouldn't be able to.

Sadly, the rest of my frequency response is pretty much screwed :-(

Vic.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

> not habitually playing headphones at full blast

Now this is interesting. The level people play their music at shocks me. True story: some guy a couple of seats away on a bus was playing his music loudly enough to be irritating. I turned to ask if perhaps he'd be considerate enough to play it through headphones... and turned back. He was.

I've been standing six feet away from a guy on the street and could tell he was listening to rockafeller skank. FFS, I could clearly make out the words. I've recently been twenty feet (no exaggeration) away from a guy on a bus wearing headphones and could hear the beat. This and many more, on london streets not some dozy corner of devon or summat, and the volume's clearly been increasing over the years.

So I've been predicting a significant wave of deafness for a decade now. Odd thing is, I've seen no evidence of it. Nothing first hand, nothing in the news, it's really odd. Glad of it, mind, but odd.

Just an observation.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

Ah see, some headphones leak a hell of a lot more than others. I have a set of cans that I have for indoor use that I'd never bother with on the bus, partly because they are ridiculously huge, and partly because they seem to double as loudspeakers.

These days there is an EU-enforced limit on the volume of anything you can plug headphones into (which some manufacturers have a magic-hack way around). Generally if your ears are ringing after listening, that's a cue that the sound was too loud. It's still unlikely though, that you're going to be seeing many 18-30 year olds with burst ear drums due to loud headphones.

However, my hearing still goes up to a good 5, 6 or more KHz higher than other people my age and younger, with some teenagers not able to perceive the range of audio that I can. Of course, some have better ears, generally young children, but I still consider myself either damned lucky or just sensible.

Though it is a bit annoying to walk past one of the local curry houses when they've decided to turn the anti-chav "ultrasonic" blasters on. Affects teenagers only? My pasty white arse it does.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: That CRT scan tone

Man, it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

When I was young I, too, could tell if there was a TV set on in the house the moment I walked in the door, because I could hear that really high-pitched tone, right at the top end of my hearing range.

Surprisingly, after nearly 40 years of arena rock shows -- including wicked-assed loud performances by The Who, Pink Floyd, Slade and the Grateful Dead -- I can still tell when my wife has the TV on in the bedroom (it's a 12 year old flat-view CRT hooked up to the satellite box) by listening for the CRT scan tone.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

Some years back, I was quite surprised to find out that Pete Townshend's hearing issues were caused not by the massive decibel levels on-stage, but in the studio, where he was cranking his headphones as high as he could stand it.

His audiologist finally had to put his foot down and order Pete to spend not more than two hours at a stretch playing through headphones in the studio in an effort to deal with his tinnitus, which was apparently getting really bad at the time. Pete discusses his audiologist visits at length in The Kids Are Alright.

1
0
Silver badge

Vinyls may sound warmer, or subjectively "better", but it isn't superior, the sound that comes out is not as close to the original as that from a CD.

That may have been true when CDs first came out, but not for many years now. With current tech we can perfectly capture the sound on vinyl, something that will never be possible with any digital format.

Mind you most of us wouldn't be able to tell the difference between $4000 worth of analog equipment playing a modern vinyl and cheap headphones plugged into a smartphone with MP3s anyway. Even as a part time DJ I think audiophiles are a bit off their rockers.

0
8
Joke

Re: significant wave of deafness

There is a looming deafness epidemic. You just won't hear about it...

4
0
Silver badge

something that will never be possible with any digital format.

Better than 192KHz 24/32 bit non-compressed digital audio? The default VIA HD audio chipset on my motherboard can handle rates that high, let alone a "decent" sound card or ADC/DAC combo.

When the sample rate and accuracy of the digital portion exceeds the noise floor of the analogue portion of the circuit, I fail to see how the ol' spinning black disks can possibly exceed the quality of a good digital reproduction solution.

I also mentioned time-coded vinyl earlier. You should give it a try: The user interface that you're used to, plus all you ever need is two records and maybe a couple of spares just in case something bad happens at a gig. The audio comes from a bunch of MP3s, MP4s, lossless FLACs or uncompressed WAVs, and you can cue, speed up, slow down and scratch about with it just like it was recorded onto the vinyl. You also get the extra advantage that any feedback travelling into the stylus is basically ignored by the computer that's reading the time code.

It really is an awesome thing.

1
0
Silver badge

>These days there is an EU-enforced limit on the volume of anything you can plug headphones into (which some manufacturers have a magic-hack way around).

Set the region to 'Rest of the world', usually. Works on my Sansa Clip. Tried it on a Sony and it reduced the range of frequencies the FM radio could tune in to, and it couldn't be reset.

0
0

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

RE: " I've seen no evidence of it." (deafness)

Actually you HAVE seen, or heard, evidence of it; in the steadily increasing volume of the music you hear people listening to. They have to keep increasing the volume to compensate for hearing loss.

2
0
Bronze badge

Of course, few people get to hear "original" sound, in a recording studio, and how often have you been to a concert and thought the atmosphere was fantastic, but the audio quality just wasn't as good as the record? You probably blamed it on the accoustic of the hall?

On the other hand, when Deep Purple made Fireball they found that the sound in the studio was 'too dead'. Ian Paice combatted this on his part by setting up his drums in the corridor.

Then for the next abum they decided to go one step further. And hence not only was rock history made but a very excellent sounding album was recorded within the rooms and hallways of the Grand Hotel, Montreaux.

Very few albums have ever sounded so good and I have heard so many different versions: remasterings and remixes but none come close to the sound of the heavy vinyl of the original recording. The heavier vinyl always sounded better than the later thinner and darker vinyl offerings for some reason.

Anyway, the point is that one some albums no matter of tinkering with the later versions do they come close. Many may do sound better on CD but that one opus still sounds the best of all on vinyl.

0
0
Bronze badge

Near the back of the hall would be near to the mixing desk. And guess where the best sound would be?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Vinyl warm sound = RIAA equalisation curve

No more natural than CD - sorry.

0
0
Silver badge

This is one reason why I don't go to see bands any more. The work of art is the album made in a recording studio. The tour which follows is a series of poor approximations.

That depends whether you agree with the band's vision for the album. Some bands play excellent live shows, but produce completely over-engineered and sterile studio recordings of the same material. One live performance I went to resulted in me never listening to the band's recorded material ever again, because their albums couldn't come close to comparing with the experience I had at the concert. I haven't worked out whether it's the band or producer to blame for that.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's or MP3's

Part of this does come from the mastering being scaled back a tad. Vinyl just doesn't suffer from the same, blatant, digital clipping that MP3s and CDs suffer from in this day and age. If you do put a clipped waveform onto a vinyl, the response of the needle will smooth off the worst of the damage, hence reducing the harshness of the sound.

Of course, this vinyl will sound MUCH better than the CD release for one reason from the article above:

- Zero compression used in the mastering

Now THAT is good news. The CD release will almost certainly be dynamically compressed and fully of clipping/distortion (the usual in other words), whilst the vinyl should be rich, dynamic and natural. If only more bands could look at mastering stuff properly for vinyl. Last one I saw before this was Red Hod Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium (vinyl was mastered separately by Steven Hoffman and sounds fantastic in comparison to the CD).

0
0
Bronze badge
Childcatcher

@ Captain Hogwash

The work of art is the album made in a recording studio.

No, but a live performance is a different kind of art than a studio recording. I was very fortunate to work for a company that got free tickets to all events at an event venue. I got to see over 100 shows one year and came to appreciate the difference between the good and the less-than good. I feel that if it is a live performance, I should expect just that - a performance. It should no longer about about the music alone, but also with the interaction with the audience, the set, and so on.

As far as sound quality, most groups do not put as much effort into it as I would like. The Dead were the best. I could not hear any distortion anywhere during their concerts - not in the main hall, not on the stairs, not in the restrooms.

1
0
Silver badge

I also mentioned time-coded vinyl earlier. You should give it a try: The user interface that you're used to, plus all you ever need is two records and maybe a couple of spares just in case something bad happens at a gig.

I'll take your word for it. My turntables are actually virtual and my music lives on a couple external HDDs (mirrored for backup purposes - they both go with me but I only use one at a time). My time DJing isn't lucrative enough to justify the expense for DJ-quality turntables. It's a hobby that pays a little for me, not a potential career path.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: There's a warmth to the sound from vinyl you just can't recreate with CD's or MP3's

If you do put a clipped waveform onto a vinyl

What you're basically saying is that if the master is a bunch of crap, the copies will be bunches of crap. Just that a stylus will act like a low pass filter to disguise the crap. This is not an indictment against CDs, or high-rate digital music files.

I'll just use a low pass filter. Or, perhaps, not try recording past the 0Db mark. If I want the genuine vinyl sound, I understand that some people are making expensive boxes (and the occasional free VST plugin) that put very authentic-sounding hisses, pops and clicks into the recording.

0
0

Re: Vinyl-fetish hipsters don't have a point

The sound of the 'Degauss' button on a CRT monitor that hasn't been degaussed in years is one of the best sounds in the world :)

0
0
Silver badge

Dang! Only the other day I queued up some CD-ripped tracks on an MP3 player, only to remember that one of them contained 12 minutes of silence followed by some noise... the fashion in the 90s was to have 'secret' tracks at the end of CDs. This was the last track of 'Padlocked Tonic' by Parlour Talk, but there was a Nirvana CD album that did the same.

These vinyl tricks sound much more fun.

What was that? Play it backwards whilst watching Alice in Wonderland and consuming mind altering chemicals, and you might just hear a secret message?

0
0
Silver badge

Damn, that was an annoying trick!

Almost as bad was the trick of hiding tracks before the first, so you had to skip the CD down to -1, or whatever, which wasn't always possible, depending on hardware.

If it's something worth hearing, include it on the album proper - if not, just leave it off, and save it for a b-side.

5
0

"What was that? Play it backwards whilst watching Alice in Wonderland and consuming mind altering chemicals, and you might just hear a secret message?"

The message should be "You're ruining your stylus, you're ruining your stylus"

5
0
Silver badge

You can do lots of nice hacks with vinyl

I mean the simpler the medium is the more weird tricks you can do with it.

Also vinyl has the great advantage that on flea-markets you can get it for next to nothing. So you can just buy records there randomly and you might find something you like.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: You can do lots of nice hacks with vinyl

I was a teenager in the early '70s and so I'm intimately familiar with vinyl -- and that's why I can't understand all the retro-fetishism, especially after having heard many of my old faves again after buying them on CD. I honestly can't understand how anyone could be nostalgic for the limited recording time -- twenty-five minutes to a side, max -- and the surface noise, and the limited dynamic range.

The OCD audiophile types might have a point about "warmth" and such, but I've found that a properly-sampled FLAC or high-rate mp3 sampled from vinyl in good condition is a totally suitable compromise. My digital copy of Quadrophenia is a 320kbps FLAC sampled from a virgin vinyl import pressing, and it sounds excellent.

A lot of it, of course, depends on the quality of the source material. One of my favorite radio moments from the mid '80s, when CDs started catching on big on radio, was when a local classic-rock station played the CD reissue of The Who's "I Can't Explain". As the track ended, the DJ comes on and announces "...and there's The Who from 1965 with 'I Can't Explain', sounding even trashier on CD." The DJ may have been only half-joking, considering the masters the label had to work with -- likely a four-track master recorded on comparitively primitive equipment, and which had been in storage for twenty years. Compare that to something like Dark Side Of The Moon, impeccably mixed and mastered on a 24-track deck in a state-of-the-art (for 1972) studio.

Of course, let's not forget the one great advantage vinyl has over CD/mp3 -- you can't encode DRM onto vinyl.

3
0
Bronze badge

Zero compression

Nice

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Zero compression

Ultra-linear guitar amps?

2
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums