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 …

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  1. wolfetone Silver 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!

    1. Dave 126 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.

      1. qwertyuiop
        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!".

        1. frank ly

          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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. Phil O'Sophical 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?

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        "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!!

        1. Ed 13

          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!

        2. Captain Hogwash Silver 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.

          1. VinceH

            "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. Jess

              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.)

              1. VinceH

                Re: But in fairness..

                True, dat! :)

                1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                  Re: But in fairness..

                  >True, dat!

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

            2. BongoJoe

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

          2. phuzz Silver 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!

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "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.

          4. BlueGreen

            "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).

          5. Sorry that handle is already taken. 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.

          6. This post has been deleted by its author

          7. Robert Helpmann?? Silver 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.

      2. Vic

        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.

      3. sisk 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.

        1. M Gale

          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. Dave 126 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.

          2. sisk 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.

      4. BongoJoe

        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.

    3. M Gale

      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.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        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).

        1. M Gale

          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.

    4. GrahamT

      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!

      1. boltar 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!

        1. M Gale

          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.

          1. BlueGreen

            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.

            1. M Gale

              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.

            2. Mike Flugennock

              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.

            3. Euripides Pants Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: significant wave of deafness

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

            4. Geoffrey W Silver badge

              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. Vic

          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.

        3. Mike Flugennock

          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.

        4. JeffUK

          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 :)

    5. DrXym 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.

    6. boltar 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.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Vinyl warm sound = RIAA equalisation curve

      No more natural than CD - sorry.

  2. Dave 126 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?

    1. Lamont Cranston

      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.

    2. Stratman

      "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"

  3. Christian Berger 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.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      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.

  4. foo_bar_baz

    Zero compression

    Nice

    1. Uffish

      Re: Zero compression

      Ultra-linear guitar amps?

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Zero compression

      >Zero compression

      >Nice

      But very, very unlikely. Vinyl doesn't have the dynamic range to play bass and kick drum at a decent level without compression.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Zero compression

        Excuse me for pointing out the bleedingly obvious (well to people my age that is) that not all music comes with overbearing drum and Bass lines. That is one reason why I don't buy much new stuff any more.

        May I humbly suggest that you listen to something like Echoes (Pink Floyd) where the start and end of the track is just wind noise.

        There is a song from the 1960's called 'Silence Is Golden'. more so-called artists these days could do with remembering that and its equivalent, 'Less is More'.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n03g8nsaBro

        1. Hairy Spod
          Coat

          Re: Zero compression

          I couldnt stand to listen to all of that you tube link. The compression was awfull.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Zero compression

          There is a song from the 1960's called 'Silence Is Golden'.

          Try John Cage's "4 minutes 33 seconds": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY7UK-6aaNA

          No distortion, no compression...

        3. Mike Flugennock

          Re: Zero compression

          Good example, there -- not to mention it's one of my all-time favorite Floyd albums.

          Still, even though it ends with the noise of wind rushing, there's the twenty-odd minutes in between that go from soft and dreamy to loud, distorted jams with pumping hard drum and bass lines. That's what was so great about Floyd; they could gently caress one moment, and peel the skin off your face the next.

          (God damn, what an awesome record that was. Now I need to go and listen to it again...)

        4. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Zero compression

          "May I humbly suggest that you listen to something like Echoes (Pink Floyd) where the start and end of the track is just wind noise."

          Or it could just be dust on the record. How would you tell?

      2. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Zero compression

        I remember reading once that to reproduce the full dynamic range of a grand piano, you'd need 9kwatts of amplification (though I don't remember what speaker efficiency was assumed). For an orchestra or marching band, it must be several 10s of k.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Frankee Llonnygog

          9kw ! I find this somewhat hard to believe and technobabble worthy of Stanley Unwin.

          References please.

          1. Uffish
            Megaphone

            Re: References please

            I don't know where Frankee Llonnygog got his figures from but here at Uffish Towers I find that I need quite a lot of power from the living room record player to get a comfortable volume level in the potting shed at the far end of the gardens.

            From a prosoundweb.com article :-

            "Rock or heavy metal music in a stadium, arena or ampitheater (100 to 300 feet from loudspeaker to audience): At least 4,000 to 15,000 W"

          2. Frankee Llonnygog

            Re: @ Frankee Llonnygog

            I have a feeling the 9k was mentioned in a book by Gilbert Briggs (all hail, etc) in which case it cannot be wrong!

            However, after a bit of less vintage research, it seems that that a solo piano can reach 110db at one metre. Assuming a modern speaker with an average sensitivity of about 88db, you'll need a more reasonable 200 watts to reproduce that. That assumes that the audio recording chain can capture the full 30db crest factor of the piano. If there's also an orchestra, it'll be at least double the volume, so you'll need 2k. I guess you could go all out and try to reproduce the dynamic range of the Saint Saens 3rd symphony in your living room but you should probably get a structural survey done first.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              WTF?

              Re: @ Frankee Llonnygog

              As I said before, pure Stanley Unwin. A Gilbert Briggs demonstration in the 1950s using a small pocket transistor radio and a horn loaded speaker was able to show comfortable listening volumes to his audience in The Albert Hall.

              This was taken from Ian R Sinclair's excellent "Beginners Guide to Audio", 1981 reprint which I have had for many years.

              1. Frankee Llonnygog

                Re: @ Frankee Llonnygog

                Horn loaded speakers often better 100db sensitivity

              2. Frankee Llonnygog

                Re: @ Frankee Llonnygog

                By the way, I resent that comparison to Stanley Unwin. Try for yourself the rigourous maths that underpins my statements. Sinfully add ten to the Sensysensibility of the speakaloud and multiforcinate it by the logariddle of the powowwow of the amplitubinator. The resolf in decibabys is the volubitude of the loutsqueaker.

        2. Rubber Policeman

          Re: Zero compression

          Hard to believe -- obviously, the sonic energy radiated has to be supplied by the pianist.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zero compression

        The only time you're likely to hear music with "zero compression" is live - and the disadvantages to that have already been discussed!

    3. Kristian Walsh

      Re: Zero compression

      I seriously doubt the "zero compression" thing. Sounds like marketing gimmickry to appeal to uneducated customers who just think "compression= bad", while not realising that compression in an analogue medium isn't the same as in digital.

      All analogue recordings are compressed at some stage. Often at several stages. If they weren't, you wouldn't be able to hear them half the time, and you certainly wouldn't be able to listen on headphones without risking serious damage to your ears.

      Fetish is a good description of the modern attitude to analogue. It's better "because analogue." - and that's the about the depth of the knowledge behind the dogma.

      I like analogue - the world we live in is analogue. But, there's no reason why a digital recording can't match and exceed an analogue one (the reason is that the "recording" isn't one step, but several, and in an analogue chain, every process raises the noise floor, something that's only true of some digital processes).

      The reasons why CDs in particular sound like crap have nothing to do with the digital audio technology, and everything to do with misinformed record company execs forcing mastering engineers to do terrible things to their work. Here's a very good example from Ian Sheppard of Dynamic Range Day : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-O5l6NSsdY

      1. Vector

        Re: Zero compression

        "Sounds like marketing gimmickry to appeal to uneducated customers..."

        The whole thing is nothing but marketing gimmickry:

        Here - tear off the labels, we've hidden goodies under there...

        This track has two different beginnings! And you'll go through hell trying to select the one you like, once the novelty wears thin.

        It's got a pretty picture on it! oh...but you already ruined the look trying to get to those hidden tracks.

        ...Stop screwing around with the playback hardware and play some music already!!!

        1. Mike Flugennock

          Re: Zero compression

          Yeah, sounds basically like fun gimmicks that don't really add to the quality of the recording.

          Besides, it's nothing new, really. As I recall, Monty Python's Matching Tie And Handkerchief had three "sides"; one side of the disc had two sets of close parallel grooves cut into it, and you'd get a different side's worth of material depending on where the needle dropped.

        2. M Gale

          Re: Zero compression

          It's got a pretty picture on it! oh...but you already ruined the look trying to get to those hidden tracks.

          To be fair, if they've been halfway sensible about it, the "label" track will be etched onto printed/coloured vinyl. Same stuff that gets used to make records where the entire face is a 12" round picture.

          Though as for whether sticking a track so far toward the spindle that anything outside of a professional DJ deck won't be able to play it is sensible or not, I leave for the reader to decide.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Zero compression

        I still own a cassette deck -- an Onkyo 3-head machine, lightly used and well-kept -- and a few years ago, just for the hell of it, I made a dub of my copy of the 24-bit remastered CD reissue of Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue, using Dolby C on metal oxide tape.

        It actually sounded quite good -- the bass "warmed up" without turning muddy, and the high end was more "sparkly" without turning raspy.

        I understand you can get even better results dubbing digital-to-analog on a high-end quarter-inch open-reel deck.

        1. Pristine Audio

          Re: Zero compression

          >I understand you can get even better results dubbing digital-to-analog on a high-end quarter-inch open-reel deck.

          I have a couple of high end Studer open-reel tape machines. If I wasted my time copying digital recordings onto tape I could enjoy added tape hiss. Mmmm

  5. Knives&Faux

    I go to a lot of record fairs and trade a good amount of vinyl and the 'scene' doesn't really have any hipsters. It's overwhelmingly men over 40 who just love everything about vinyl which is very collectible.

    Also one cannot skin-up on a MP3.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Comment of the day.

      Also one cannot skin-up on a MP3.

      +1

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Comment of the day.

        The fold-out cover of my old vinyl copy of Yes' Close To The Edge was so heavily used for this purpose that I suspect that even today I could extract tiny flecks of marijuana from the centerfold crease.

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      Go to a vintage audio fair

      You'll find everyone from hipsters to tweed jacketed geezers who look like they were on first name terms with James Watson-Watt

    3. M Gale

      Also one cannot skin-up on a MP3.

      I hope you were using the record sleeve, and not the vinyl itself.

      Though if you were using the vinyl, I would like to smoke your stylus.

  6. Thomas Gray

    Dual track is nothing new

    One of the Monty Python albums (I think it was Another...) did the same thing - two completely different Side Ones. For some reason I didn't catch the "other" groove until the third time of playing - imagine my surprise!

    1. Fogcat

      Re: Dual track is nothing new

      It was "matching tie and handkerchief", it completely foxed me as well, thought I had a faulty record.

      1. Refugee from Windows

        Re: Dual track is nothing new

        Sorry I mate I scratched your record on the leadout...... doesn't quite make it on other formats.

        1. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

          Re: Dual track is nothing new

          I remember the "Ride a Reindeer" christmas novelty record. A 4 groove 45, each track lasting approximately 40 seconds and each with a different winning reindeer. Place your bets...

          1. Darryl

            Re: Dual track is nothing new

            We had a board game back in the 70's with the same idea (can't remember the name). You 'released a song' and then played the 3-groove 45 to see if it was a hit, a flop, or broke even.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Dual track is nothing new

      Secret Policeman's Ball?

  7. ChrisJC

    All good stuff. Just don't confuse listening to vinyl on a valve amp with high fidelity reproduction, because it isn't. It might be 'warm', and 'mellow', but it's not hi-fi.

    Chris.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      RE ChrisJC but it's not hi-fi.

      go see if you can find the 1969 double blind test (by Quad) on their old valve amps vs 303s and 405s - the golden ears at the time couldn't tell the difference.

      Things arent much better these days - even quads into design rather than high fidelity. But thats where the money is.

      Oxygen free listening room anyone?

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: RE ChrisJC but it's not hi-fi.

        Quad are still making what's (essentially) the ESL63 loudspeaker, because it's impossible to improve on it - though they do have a model that's 50% bigger (6 elements rather than 4 per speaker) to enhance the bass, though you'd need a bigger room than mine to put them in!

        Earlier this year, my 30-year-old ESL63s started to hiss a little as the insulation was breaking down. I took them back to Quad and (for just over a grand) they completely refurbished them with new electrostatic elements as fitted to the current speaker range (which retail for £6,400 the pair). That's what I call customer service! I trust they will now see me out :)

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: RE ChrisJC but it's not hi-fi.

          That's what I call customer service!

          And possibly why Quad are still around after 30+ years. How many of the current "outsource it to China" race-to-the-bottom companies will still be here in 2044?

          I used to drool over Quad speakers. Still do, but still couldn't justfy the price :(

          1. Mike Perrin
            Meh

            Re: RE ChrisJC but it's not hi-fi.

            Quad were bought out in 1995, and are currently owned by the IAG group, along with other famous names in British Hifi. All their production comes from China, and has been for many years.

            http://www.internationalaudiogroup.com/

          2. Chris Miller

            Re: couldn't justfy the price

            You also need a very sympathetic partner, or one that values quality music reproduction enough to put up with their somewhat 'intrusive' form factor. :)

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      It's perfectly possible to build hi-fi valve amps

      Just pointless

      1. Fihart

        Re: It's perfectly possible to build hi-fi valve amps @Frankee Llonnygog

        Hmmm. Valve amps are still widely in production and despite vast cost, presumably, still sell. They almost disappeared in the 1970s because of cost of construction (loads of copper for transformers) -- and the lack of maintenance needed by transistor amps.

        I have both Quad valve and more recent Quad 405-2 transistor amplifier systems. Also own a Quad 33 transistor pre-amp.

        The Quad valve power amp was fabulous sounding. Tiny output (15 watts RMS per channel) but you could drive it hard without obvious distortion. Ceased using it mainly because of cost of replacement valves. Quad's valve preamp was, incidentally, crappy while the transistor 33 is pretty good.

        Have since used amps as varied as Sony, Yamaha, Cyrus, NAD, Marantz, but recently got the (1980s vintage British built) 405 system and am very impressed. The treble is much better and bass is in a different class to the (similarly aged) NAD. The extra power (110 watts vs the NAD's 55) is better at driving my big B&W DM2s.

        Not to say that the NAD (nor other Japanese-made amps/receivers of the period) were necessarily bad sounding. And despite birds-nest wiring compared to British designs, the Japs are incredibly durable. I have a still extant Kenwood budget amp from about 1969.

        1. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: It's perfectly possible to build hi-fi valve amps @Frankee Llonnygog

          If we define hifi as uncoloured sound reproduction, then it doesn't really matter whether it's achieved by valves or transistors. Of course we may not actually prefer uncoloured sound reproduction. I don't. That's why my main speakers are two Murphy baffle radios and my upstairs sets are Grundig Raumklang IVs and Wharfedale extensions speakers with 8" RS/DDs

        2. BongoJoe

          Re: It's perfectly possible to build hi-fi valve amps @Frankee Llonnygog

          Valve amps: I have this little beauty right out of my USB port into my Beyer cans: xDuoo TA-01

  8. hypernovasoftware

    And after the first playing, the sound degrades over time with every replay causing damage to the grooves.

    I'll take digital thank you.

    1. Purple-Stater

      Unless you use a modern turntable with a laser "needle".

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      you can take digital

      and use it to record your vynl - you get to keep your vinyl in good condition and in a few years it will be worth more than your digital!

  9. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Joke

    But, but...

    How did they put DRM in the grooves?!

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: But, but...

      They tried. There was an attempt (I forget the name) in the 'home taping is killing music' era - an inaudible signal embedded into the recording which would act as a 'do not record' flag to cassette decks, so if you tried to record your vinyl onto tape for a friend it would either record silence or stop the motor. It failed dismally: Cassette deck manufacturers had no incentive to respect the signal, detection was expensive without digital technology, and the signal was not so inaudible as intended.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: But, but... @Suricou Raven

        I think you are forgetting how 'primitive' most audio systems were. If it were just a signal, then you would have had to have all tape recorders, from the lowest cost to the highest HiFi to implement such a system.

        No. It was more devious and complex than that.

        There is a frequency inequality in the recording mechanism for audio tape that is fixed by generating a high frequency bias signal in the recording circuit that will not actually be recorded on the tape, because it is outside of the frequency response of tape (this is a gross simplification. See the Wikipedia article on Tape bias for more information).

        What they did was put a high frequency subharmonic of the bias frequency as an interference signal on the record that caused 'beat' patterns (the audio version of a moire pattern) that were low enough in frequency that they would be recorded onto the tape, spoiling the recording.

        But it never worked properly for several reasons. Firstly, the frequency of the bias signal generated by the tape recorder was not very accurate and depended on the type of tape the recorder was optimised to use (cheap analogue electronics of the time being a bit variable, as was the speed of cheap record decks). Secondly, the audio range of record player cartridges varied according to the quality - generally cheap ones did not track above about 14 of 15KHz, and thus would not pick up the interference signal unless it was within the audio range, and thirdly, the very best HiFi was perfectly capable of reproducing the interference signal, and some audiophiles claimed that they could hear it (even though it was supposed to be supersonic).

        It could also be defeated by a notch or high frequency roll-off filter, and a lot of LoFi (and some HiFi) had these as so-called "scratch" filters.

        So it was only marginally effective, easily defeated, and detracted from the listening experience. It was soon dropped.

      2. JQW

        Re: But, but...

        There was a rights management system name Copycode that some aspects of the recording industry were attempting to get implemented circa 1987, when DAT was being launched.

        That system worked by cutting a notch into all recordings at around 3.8kHz. Recording devices fitted with Copycode circuitry would look for the absence of any signals at this frequency, and if so would prevent recording.

        The people behind Copycode claimed it was inaudible. Many others disagreed, and the system was often mockingly called 'The A-flat Remover'. It naturally was never adopted, but the farce behind it was one of the contributing factors to DAT not being taken seriously as a home system.

    2. DJV Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: But, but...

      Dunno about DRM, but back in the 70s I almost convinced a (hard of thinking) work colleague that if you looked extremely closely at the grooves you could see the lyrics. Well, how else would the singer know which words to sing?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was me thinking you stick a record on and let it play.

    The point of vinyl being you can't skip tracks so easily, so a good album is required. Once we started being able to skip tracks easily the filler rubbish started appearing more on records.

    So if your record requires you to do all manner of strange things to play it you've lost already.

    1. M Gale

      There was me thinking you stick a record on and let it play.

      This.

      The Monty Python example can just about be forgiven because they're as mad as a box of frogs. However, I don't expect to buy a record and then have to play Where's Wally to hear the damned music.

      I'm also wondering how the auto-lift record players are going to cope with the inside-out track or the one "hidden" in the centre label. In fact I don't wonder: They won't cope with it. Well done, I guess we all have to go out and buy either a shit USB vinyl player or a stupendously expensive set of Technics or Stantons just to play the record?

      How about just make it work?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @M Gale

        You're right.

        Most record decks, even manual ones, will not allow the arm to move much further in than the outside edge of the label. This is normally because of the bias counterweight, but also to prevent the stylus being damaged from 'playing the label'.

        I'm also surprised about it having a 78 RPM track. Almost no record decks made in the last 30 years can even play at 78 RPM.

        My Project, and most belt other decks like Linn, Rega et. al. have to have the belt manually moved to a different pulley position in order to play 45s. I think that there is a conversion kit which consists of a larger pulley and a longer belt for my Project, but I don't intend to fork out for and then mod my desk just for this record!

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: @M Gale

          > Almost no record decks made in the last 30 years can even play at 78 RPM.

          Record it at 45 onto a computer and fiddle it up to 78 equivalent. Copy to mp3 player. Put LP back in sleeve and place on shelf. Create eBay seller account... etc

          1. jai

            Re: @M Gale

            a better solution is just to wait for someone else to do all that, AND record the two hidden tracks, and upload the .ogg files to usenet or something, then download and play on your digital device

            although, i doubt i'll bother. if Mr White is so concerned with retro, he won't be wanting any of my modern money and i'm all out of shillings and pence.

        2. Pristine Audio

          Re: @M Gale

          I have a Rega Planar 78 (based on the Planar 2) which runs at one speed and one speed only: 78rpm. But it's also set up with 78rpm stylii which are designed to fit shellace grooves that are around 4 times wider than vinyl microgrooves, and would sound pretty grim on this release - if any of the narrower ones could actually track the groove.

          I suspect the reason, beyond total gimmick, for the higher speeds "under the label" is due to huge treble drop-off at the centre thanks to the much reduced linear velocity of the grooves that close to the hole. Given the way regular LPs suffer end-of-side distortion, those faster centre grooves must sound abysmal. I'm guessing they're not expecting many people to actually bother setting systems up to play them.

          One final thing that demands correction: a completely mint shellac 78 is very shiny. When I see a 78 with a matte finish I give it a very wide berth as it's clearly completely shagged from being played to death, usually with a very heavy steel needle.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        turntable issue

        I can remember in the late '80s, early '90s, people talking up the sound quality of CDs by pointing out how crappy LPs sounded. When they failed to mention that by the early '90s, almost every possible component in turntables -- even supposedly high-end tables -- was being made of plastic. So, if your LPs sounded like crap back then, it's likely because they were being played on those crappy late '80s consumer-grade turntables full of crap plastic parts.

        That's the problem with those USB turntables they're advertising to people who want to burn digital copies of their LPs -- it's a good idea, except that they're using those same kind of crap turntables full of plastic parts.

        If you're trying to preserve any old LPs you have that are still in good shape, you'd be better off with a proper DJ turntable with the proper set of adapting connectors.

        1. Fihart

          Re: turntable issue @Mike Flugennock

          You are quite right that USB turntables are rubbish. But if the proper DJ turntable you refer to is the Technics -- frankly, it's not a great sounding deck.

          Main benefit for DJs (and for recording individual tracks to CD) is near-instant start of the direct drive motor. The constant speed can also be detected by some listeners, compared to belt drive. But the arm is very basic and its bearings seem sloppy if not adjusted.

          I've done side-by-side comparisons with friends between a Technics SL1210 Mk2 and a 1970s vintage Thorens 125 (the large electronically controlled belt drive model) fitted with a Mission arm. Same ADC cartridge in both turntables.

          Predictably, a musician claimed to detect the better speed control of the Technics, but all agreed that the Thorens was in a different class for sound. The Technics sounded blurred, I suspect because its very limited suspension was poor at rejecting low frequency feedback compared to the wobbly suspension of the Thorens. Tapping the Technics body during playback produced an audible boom in the speakers, while the Thorens was immune.

          Compared to the Mission arm, Technics arm is clearly not a precision design, particularly the bearings.

  11. PeterI

    Speakers...

    Well for true studio sound you need some Yamaha NS10s as your speakers (yes they're slightly crap but that's what most pop stuff was mixed with)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Speakers...

      And earlier recording studios had a listening room with speakers on a par with those found in pocket radios... after all, if the track doesn't sound good over the airwaves to the punter at home, he isn't going to buy the record!

      1. Vic

        Re: Speakers...

        if the track doesn't sound good over the airwaves to the punter at home, he isn't going to buy the record!

        My band recorded an EP many years ago. The "engineer"[1] that came with the studio wanted to do the mixdown on this lovely set of studio monitors. We had to threaten him with violence to get the mix done on a crappy set of 4" speakers instead. And the resulting mix sounded wonderful on a car stereo - which is exactly what we were after.

        Vic.

        [1] I use the term quite wrongly. We booked this studio because it had a Neumann U87, which remains my favourite microphone. We ended up having to send the bloke that came with it on the chip-run, whilst the two guitarists in the band did the mix. We were both working as sound engineers at the time...

        1. Mike Flugennock

          Re: Speakers...

          When mixing albums with the Grateful Dead in the late '70s, Jerry Garcia used to do a standard cassette dub of the album in its current "state of play" to listen to in his car for just this reason. He'd play the work mix on his car stereo while doing his daily driving, and take notes to use in making changes to the mix in the studio. In fact, I think he even had a set of car stereo speakers similar to the set in his own car installed in the mixing booth at the studio.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Speakers...

        I recall once hearing about a style of mixing in the early/mid '60s known as the "car radio mix" -- that is, tracks purposely mixed so they'd sound good on a car radio, which is where most teenagers were listening to their rock'n'roll at the time. Of course, this was before sophisticated car stereo systems really started taking off.

        So, if you're listening to a digital reissue of an old Paul Revere And The Raiders album and wondering why the low end sounds so flat and "punchy", it's because it was originally mixed to be heard on the seven-inch dashboard speaker of a car radio, not your big fancy modern system at home.

  12. Fihart

    Compression can be good.

    I've noticed how smooth sounding and crackle free are early Decca FFRR classical vinyl (I have mostly post 1958 stereo pressings). I suspect the secret is in compression -- dynamic range and bass are not as obvious as on (say) 1980s pressings. Indeed, some of these oldies strongly remind me of cinema sound from my childhood in the 1960s, but they are rather lovely.

    The lack of distractions caused by ticks and clicks is a relief (compared with later pressings). Of course, on the well-known principal that everything made since 1961 is substandard, it may also be that Decca used decent vinyl stock in the early days of stereo, knowing that the few buyers probably had (fairly) hi fi gear.

    A website in S. Korea is dedicated to 1950's Decca titles -- the cover artwork is kitsch in the extreme but has a certain charm.

    Also worth checking out early Motown albums issued via EMI in the UK -- again compression packs lots of sound into the grooves, making them seemingly impervious to damage.

    1. Pristine Audio

      Re: Compression can be good.

      Decca started issuing FFRR recordings in 1945 and LPs in 1950, so your albums aren't "early". In fact most Decca vinyl pressings in the early days were pretty grim and sounded much better in their Ace Of Clubs budget reissues at the end of the 50s and thereafter.

      Personally, given the choice between mint 50s vinyl and mint 70s or 80s vinyl of the same recording I'd go for the 80s unless there was a very good reason not to.

      (This all refers to classical music releases, BTW)

      1. Fihart

        Re: Compression can be good. @Pristine Audio

        God, so many literalists on this site.

        Okay I should have said Decca FFSS.

        Main point is that Decca made LPs in the 1950s that are still listenable today because (I think) compression helped reduce surface noise. The quieter bits aren't so quiet, so you don't hear the clicks. To me this makes up for the fact that sound may not be authentic compared to 1970/80s releases. And the ones I have sound pleasant, nevertheless.

  13. Fihart

    Vinyl vs CD

    Conflicting evidence:

    1) In the early days of CD many vinyl titles were rushed onto CD using dubious master tapes. For example, Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits which scandalised the artists to the extent that they mention the isue in liner notes to a subsequent remastered box set.

    Friends have uncovered this same issue when copying vinyl album to CD (via standalone CD Recorder, not computer) and comparing the resulting CDR with a commercial CD.

    2) Recording vinyl to CD (via standalone device or computer) can produce better results than playing the original vinyl. The simple reason is that, unlike a CD player, the turntable is subject to feedback from the speakers. This is reduced or avoided if the recording to CD is monitored at lower than normal playback levels (or via headphones).

    3) I would say that, usually, recent commercial CD reissues of old vinyl hits (The Doors albums are a good example) sound better than the vinyl originals.WEA in particular seem to have taken care to use good master tapes to provide greater dynamic range than was possible in the vinyl process.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Vinyl vs CD

      Sampling an LP at 44Hz and doing a blind test would be a good way to put paid to the drivel that LPs are somehow better. If the LP were better then the sample should be measurably worse to someone who is randomly played clips of one or the other without knowing which is which. I expect that there would be no difference in results

      Any difference between LP and CD versions are solely to do with the master track and any processing that went on during the reproduction of it.

      1. Mike Perrin
        Boffin

        Re: Vinyl vs CD

        You cannot 'sample' an LP, it is played with an analogue transducer (the cartridge) producing an analogue low level signal which needs to be amplified and equalised (inverse RIAA) before it reaches the same line level signal that the CD player output produces. All that and feedback too, how close to the LP are you?

        But you are right about mastering - original records were mastered from analogue tapes, these days modern (+ reissue) records are produced from PCM masters several generations away from their predecessors 25+ years ago. The original Beatles master tapes have gone for good - the recent re-issues are from PCM copies. You can play a modern LP, you are still hearing digital...

  14. Jonathan Walsh
    Holmes

    Hidden

    Not really hidden tracks if they have to tell you about them.

  15. Neil B

    It never ceases to amaze me how much information can be carved onto a bit of plastic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes

      It's only a mild advancement on a carved stone tablet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: information [...] carved onto a bit of plastic.

      Are you referring to the music, or the hologram? I would guess the latter probably contains far more bits...

  16. Purple-Stater

    Multiple thises, thats, and whatsits...

    Too danged gimmicky. If you want to make music, then do so. Tracks UNDER the label??? Why would I want to vandalize my own records?

    1. johnnytruant

      Re: Multiple thises, thats, and whatsits...

      It can be played through the label.

      Although for one side you'll need a turntable which goes at 78rpm to play it back.

      The hologram thing is cool though.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-8B-_Jq2ro

  17. Vinyl-Junkie

    There's a kind of inverted bell curve to vinyl...

    In the beginning, sides were quite short, the vinyl was very heavy and the bass compression could be reduced and it would still fit and not distort. Starting from the mid-70s and the oil crisis vinyl got thinner and there is a distinctly noticeable change in bass quality until we get to the nadir in the 80s (and I'm sure part of this was record companies producing crap quality LPs to convince people that CD was better) when the records were being pressed onto something that was the same thickness as an Airfix kit! As vinyl resurfaced in the noughties and we got audiophile pressings on heavyweight vinyl with CD running times split over 4 sides so the quality of the reproduction has gone up again; bass particularly.

    And I do think there is something lacking in CDs against vinyl. I have had Sound of Contact's Dimensionaut on CD for a while now and it's a good album. I listened to it for the first time on vinyl last night and it just sounds so much better (Linn Lp12 v Arcam CD82 (with CD92PSU/ DAC upgrade, both plugged into the same amp).

    I am prepared to admit that the difference may be subjective, if you grew up listening to vinyl you think vinyl sounds better, and if you grew up listening to CD then it's CD you prefer. This doesn't explain hipsters, but it may be that's just because they've splashed out for decent kit to play the vinyl on rather than the £50 mini-system they listend to CDs on....

    There are some fallacies in this discussion though! Vinyl does not degrade through repeated playing (unless you're careless enough to scratch it). I have a copy of Queen's Night at the Opera which I bought the week it was released. It still sounded gorgeous 30 years later, after being played, on average, at least once a fortnight, when I replaced it.... ...with the 30th anniversary remastered edition on 180g vinyl....

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: There's a kind of inverted bell curve to vinyl...

      I forgot to add that the other major benefit to vinyl (as I proved last night) is being able to read the sleevenotes and lyrics whilst listening without a spotlight and a pair of (extra-strong) reading glasses!

    2. Pristine Audio

      Re: There's a kind of inverted bell curve to vinyl...

      When the first vinyl records were released they were heavy so as to seem familiar to the shellac discs they replaced. The thickness of the vinyl has no real bearing on sound quality - there are a hundred and one other ways in which this was and is compromised as a master tape makes its way to a vinyl master. Cramming more and more onto a side is the biggest culprit here.

      But the modern fetish for 45rpm heavy virgin vinyl is more about extracting cash from mugs. I've heard significantly better sound quality from regular mint 80s pressings than from the modern allegedly audiophile equivalent. And both are beaten hands down in just about every way (apart from added distortion, rumble, wow and flutter, dynamic range limitation etc.) by any halfway competent digital reproduction.

    3. Vic

      Re: There's a kind of inverted bell curve to vinyl...

      Vinyl does not degrade through repeated playing

      Of course it does. It's a contact surface, and there is friction. This necessarily results in abrasion to the recorded surface.

      Whether or not that wear is significant is a different point - but it is certainly the case that vinyl is degraded by playing it.

      Vic.

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Thats got to be a wind up

    cos there's fuck all else out there will play 78s.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Thats got to be a wind up

      But you can always use your finger to speed the turntable up a bit! After all, the label paper you are tracking through is going to ruin you stylus anyway...

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Thats got to be a wind up

      LOL -very good! :) However not actually true as at least one version of the Ion USB transcription decks has a 78 option (or had when they first came out, anyway).

      1. M Gale

        Re: Thats got to be a wind up

        Ah, but do they have a 16RPM option?

        I miss the 16RPM option.

        (Edited to add "RPM", because I'm sure some jokers will come up with some kind of pun based on barely-legal or pedobear)

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Re: Thats got to be a wind up

          I bought 'Who's Next' back in the 70s and put it on the family's hi-fi, but I hadn't noticed the speed was set to 16rpm. The piano on 'Baba O'Reilly' went on for ages and sounded very odd.

          My first 'proper turntable was a Lenco L75, which had a conical pulley and a lever to continuously vary the speed from less than 16 to well over 78, plus a strobe disc to get the speed spot-on. Built like a tank, it was.

          1. Frankee Llonnygog

            Re: Thats got to be a wind up

            Visit Lenco Heaven and see in what high esteem these fine packers are still held

    3. Vic

      Re: Thats got to be a wind up

      cos there's fuck all else out there will play 78s.

      Not so. I bought my missus a Dansette for Christmas, and that does 78s.

      Vic.

  19. heyrick Silver badge

    "Side A plays from the inside out"

    How is that going to work? Many of the record players that I have seen in my life would retract the stylus and switch off when it reaches the inner end.

    As for playing inside the label, I just looked at my turntable [*] and I don't think it is capable of swinging the arm in that far - again, the automatic disengage mechanism.

    * - I can hook it up to the computer but I don't as it sounds terrible. Does anything (Audacity?) have a free RIAA plugin to correct the raw sound from the record?

    1. M Gale

      Re: "Side A plays from the inside out"

      Audacity does indeed have such an option.

      Effects->Equalization.

      Select the "RIAA" curve from the little drop-down menu.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: "Side A plays from the inside out"

        Thank you. I've been wanting to transcribe my vinyl for a time, but Audacity was not being nice to me. That little nugget will help immensely.

    2. Pristine Audio

      Re: "Side A plays from the inside out"

      Records that played from the inside out were common in broadcasting before tape. But yes, you need a non-automatic turntable to play them.

    3. Vic

      Re: "Side A plays from the inside out"

      Does anything (Audacity?) have a free RIAA plugin to correct the raw sound from the record?

      JAMin does.

      Vic.

      1. M Gale

        Re: "Side A plays from the inside out"

        JAMin does.

        Looks nice. Just a shame it's part of JACK. A more fiddly audio set-up I have yet to encounter. "Professional Quality" quite possibly, but also in the same way that 3D Studio Max requires a degree-level education to get past "render a sphere with a texture", and Cisco's IOS generally shouldn't be attempted by anybody who still possesses a shred of sanity.

  20. Squeezer

    When transferring my old vinyl to digital and normalising the peak signal to full scale (after removing scratches and clicks) I almost always find that the end result is quieter than all modern CDs, even of the same album. This is because of the "louder is better" fetish to make CDs "stand out", but the trouble is that once everybody does it nobody stands out any more...

    Having sat behind the engineer who mixed and mastered our last couple of CDs, with HDD studios it's now become standard that each instrument has some compression applied to bring up the quiet bits and limit the loudest peaks, and then the final mix has the same. The end result is a higher overall level but with reduced dynamic range -- which is a waste of the much higher SNR of digital compared to vinyl, but that's the way recording is done nowadays :-(

    1. Vic

      The end result is a higher overall level but with reduced dynamic range -- which is a waste of the much higher SNR of digital compared to vinyl

      Exactly so.

      When I see the phrase "digitally remastered", I always read "fucked up by some deaf YTS trainee". I suspect this effect is why people still claim vinyl sounds better than CD - it generally does, but that's because of the way the masters are screwed up prior to producing the CD, not because of the technology itself.

      Vic.

  21. AbelSoul
    Coat

    I quite like this idea. Not a huge fan of Jack White but I might be tempted to get this.

    Sure, it's gimmicky but in a rather groovey (aherm) kind of way.

  22. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    NTNOCN

    "I'd like to buy a gramphone, please"

    .

    .

    .

    1. Vic

      Re: NTNOCN

      > "I'd like to buy a gramphone, please"

      A gramophone, grandad?

      vic.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: NTNOCN

        Well, that's much more up to date than a phonograph. They just aren't making new Edison cylinders any more these days.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: NTNOCN

          Make 'em yourself:

          http://www.edisontechcenter.org/waxCylMake.html

  23. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Otari 1" 8 track

    I used to use one of these and for instruments like a saxaphone you can't beat the tape compression,

    it never went into distortion.

    http://www.the8trackshack.com.au/shack-pics-002.jpg

  24. Christopher Rogers

    Dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.

    Monty Python were at this a long time ago....Matching Tie and Handkerchief.

  25. Carl

    at last

    Some proper engineers putting this "vinyl is awesome" BS out to pasture.

    Im no audio or electronic engineer but I remember buying my first CD player and CD ("Swagger" by the Blue Aeroplanes, since you didn't ask) and thinking to myself: "Fuck me. That tone is fucking brilliant".

    I don't think I've listened to a bumpy, crackly, hummy piece of shit lump of vinyl since.

    1. Uffish

      Re: hummy

      That good eh?

  26. Carl

    This is the same Jack White

    ...that espouses minimalism, right?

  27. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    Vinly is all well and good, but...

    ... you simply can't beat the warm and wholesome sound of two rocks being bashed together roughly in time with the strange rythmns pulsating inside my otherwise empty skull.

  28. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Bad news for them of us with Pioneer 15R decks then. The auto arm lift will defeat this artsy-fartsy cleverness and 78 rpm cannot be achieved.

    Also: Why does this "artist" hate the 16rpm enthusiast, and why is there no cylinder format version?

  29. Truth4u

    thats nothing

    my 8 track has hidden tracks just press the button for the track you want.

    im the coolest hipster in Shoreditch.

  30. John Savard Silver badge

    Too Good to Be True?

    A hand etched hologram? I thought humans didn't live long enough, and holograms were too complex, for that to be possible. Everything else was weird, but completely believable, but this seems to be strictly in April Fool territory.

    No doubt, though, the news item is factual, and I'm simply misunderstanding what is meant by a "hand-etched hologram". Somebody didn't really use a tiny needle to scratch all those interference fringes into the master, did they?

    1. M Gale

      Re: Too Good to Be True?

      Somebody didn't really use a tiny needle to scratch all those interference fringes into the master, did they?

      Apparently they can be done.

      I remember reading about them before Youtube came along, but I could never get a sharp enough needle nor be patient enough to make anything useful. That and old CD jewel cases aren't really the best for the task. Nice that the guy who made the site put that video up to demonstrate how it works more clearly.

      I think there's some debate as to whether these are "real" holograms because you don't use a laser to make them; but since they are the same sort of etched-pattern affair that credit card holograms use, just on a larger scale, I don't see why they aren't.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What everyone said about

    hipsters and do you actually know who buys the most records? I didn't think so. There's this group of people called DJs who will even go so far as have records pressed just so they can spin them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What everyone said about

      my hobby is pressing rare recordings of owl noises on experimental homemade vinyl substitute discs.

  32. The Andy

    Eh "theory that vinyl has mystical music-enhancing qualities"? Someone needs to learn the pros & cons of digital vs analogue in music.

    "Hipster" has become a meaningless term people throw around to label anything they personally don't like or understand. Just like "Emo" 7/8 years ago.

    I judge the people that use the terms like that far more harshly than the people labeled with them.

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