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-   -   LA Weekly article: Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl (http://www.sonicyouth.com/gossip/showthread.php?t=111126)

a baby in 1980 01.28.2015 12:05 PM

LA Weekly article: Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl
 
http://www.laweekly.com/music/why-cd...-vinyl-5352162

Rather interesting article.

lucyrulesok 01.29.2015 07:25 AM

hmm i didn't read the whole thing (very long) but 'more accurate' does not necessarily equal 'better' IMO

lucyrulesok 01.29.2015 07:28 AM

also - saying that albums are too long for vinyl so they have to reduce the quality to get them to fit is v silly. this is also a limitation with cd.

plus the best albums are not longer than 40 minutes anyway (i appreciate this is contentious haha but i have a short attention span - hence not reading the entire article)

Rob Instigator 01.29.2015 09:07 AM

I would say that CD's reproduce the sound with more fidelity, but with most people's speakers and headphones and stereo systems (do people still have those?) or bluetooth speakers, it is impossible to tell the difference.

One thing though,

with a proper equalizer, I can turn up a vinyl record far louder than a CD and still hear everything in the mix. with CD's the louder I put it the more I can see the lack of dynamic range.

Rob Instigator 01.29.2015 09:09 AM

Albini has made a living out of recording properly so that the low end comes through amazingly clear and loud on shellac records.

SuchFriendsAreDangerous 01.29.2015 09:26 AM

Honestly ive always felt the best of both worlds is analog recording and digital mixdown

Bytor Peltor 01.29.2015 09:57 AM

Back in 93, Robot Records released the Edward Ka-spel 10", 'Inferno / Illusion." I believe it was Robot Records first ever release. The CloudZero forum had several complaints about the vinyl being too noisy, full of snaps and pops. This was a very quite sounding release, but it didn't sound quiet......even when playing the vinyl for the first time.

It wasn't until Soleilmoon compiled various Ka-spel tracks on a CD release a few years later that you could "hear" the tracks as Ka-spel intended.

For me, vinyl almost always sounds better......but there are a few releases where I prefer CD.

 

evollove 01.29.2015 03:07 PM

The record player in my car skips like a motherfucker.

Actually, I'm in the market for a good CD player. Do they even make those anymore?

blue 01.29.2015 05:09 PM

Quote:

CRAPPY SOUND FOREVER

Early CDs, like the MP3s that followed, didn’t sound all that great. Dr. John Diamond treated psychotic patients with music, but by 1989 he sensed that it had all gone wrong. He claims that the natural healing and therapeutic properties of music were lost in the rush to digitize. He believes that certain pieces of music can help soothe and heal, if they are the entirely analog versions, while the digital versions actually have the reverse effect. When his test subjects are played digital recordings, they get agitated and twitchy.

Throughout the history of recorded music, we have tended to value convenience over quality every time. Edison cylinders didn’t really sound as good as live performers, but you could carry them around and play them whenever you wanted. LPs, revolving slower, didn’t sound as rich as 45s or 78s, but you didn’t have to attend to them as much. And cassettes? Are you kidding?

We were told that CDs would last forever and sound squeaky clean, but they really don’t sound as good as LPs, and the jury is out regarding their durability. The spectrum of sound on analog mediums has an infinite number of gradations, whereas in the digital world everything is sliced into a finite number of slivers. Slivers and bits might fool the ear into believing that they represent a continuous audio spectrum (psychoacoustics at work), but by nature they are still ones and zeros; steps rather than a smooth slope. MP3s? They may be the most convenient medium so far, but I can’t help thinking that the psychoacoustic trickery used to develop them—the ability to cause the mind to think and feel that all the musical information is there when in reality a huge percentage has been removed—is a continuation of this trend in which we are seduced by convenience.

It’s music in pill form, it delivers vitamins, it does the job, but something is missing. We are often offered, and gladly accept, convenient mediums that are “good enough,” rather than ones that are actually better.
Where does this road of compromise end, and does it really matter if we lose a little quality along the way? Isn’t the quality or accuracy of a recording somewhat irrelevant to music’s use and enjoyment? We laugh out loud at antics on fuzzy, grainy, and atrociously low-resolution YouTube postings, and we talk to our loved ones on mobile-phone networks with voice quality that would make Alexander Graham Bell roll over in his grave. Information theory tells us that the amount of bits needed to communicate certain kinds of content—what someone is saying, or the antics of a cat, for example—can really be much lower than we think. If we only need to understand the verbal content of someone on the telephone, then the quality can be surprisingly bad and we’ll still know what our friends and family are saying. It doesn’t seem to matter that so much is missing.
Maybe “good enough” is okay.

Or maybe not. Reacting to this tendency, some musicians have decided to go back to analog recording, and some have perversely gone out of their way to make their recordings sound as lo-fi as possible—as bad as they can get away with. They want to get as far from digital cleanliness as possible. Why would bad quality, fuzziness, and distortion imply that the music is more authentic? The idea is that if one accepts that crisp and clean recordings are inherently soulless, then the opposite, dirty and rough, must therefore be straight from the heart. That might not sound logical, but that’s the way we think. It’s all part of the recurring belief that conflates new technologies with being inauthentic. Bad—even fake bad, in this way of thinking—means good. It’s confusing, because most digital music does not sound “bad.” If anything, it sounds conventionally good—clean, spotless, with a full range of frequen- cies. Though it is actually less rich sounding than previous technologies, it fools the ear into believing that it sounds better. It’s this shiny, glossy quality that is considered suspect by many music fans. In response, they overvalue the easily audible drawbacks of a previous era—the hiss, crackle, and dis- tortion. In my opinion, realness and soul lie in the music itself, not in the scratches and pops of old records. So, while the cleanliness and “perfection”of much current music is not a guarantee of a moving musical experience, neither is their opposite.

If, following the lead of the phone company, we find ourselves talking about communication and information transmission when we talk about music, then maybe some of the sonic richness of LPs is indeed superfluous and can be eliminated with no serious loss. Could this work with speech as well? Yes and no. Music has more going on simultaneously than speech, for starters. Looking at a reproduction of a painting is certainly not the same as standing in front of the real thing, but an awful lot of the emotion, intent, ideas, and sensibility can indeed be communicated—even via a cheap repro- duction. Similarly, I can be moved to tears by a truly awful recording or a bad copy of a good recording. Would I be moved even more if the quality were higher? I doubt it. So why bother?

There does come a time, however, when the richness of the retinal or aural experience is so diminished that the communication—in this case the enjoyment of the music—becomes unintelligible. But how can we define that? I first heard rock, pop, and soul songs on a crappy-sounding transistor radio, and they changed my life completely. The sound quality was atrocious, but that tinny sound was communicating a wealth of information. Though it was an audio transmission that carried the news, it was the social and cultural message embedded in the music that electrified me as much as the sound did. Those extra-musical components that got carried along with the music didn’t demand a high-resolution signal—good enough was good enough. I’m not saying that tinny sound should be considered satisfying or desirable, or that we should never strive for more than “good enough,” but it’s amazing how much lo-fi or lo-res information can communicate. Live concerts don’t generally have perfect sound either, but they can move us deeply.

Now I begin to ask myself if the fuzziness and ambiguity inherent in low- quality signals and reproductions might actually be a factor that gives the viewer or listener a way in. I know from writing lyrics that some details—names, places, locations—are desirable; they anchor the piece in the real world. But so are ambiguities. By letting the listener or viewer fill in the blanks, complete the picture (or piece of music), the work becomes personalized and the audience can adapt it to their own lives and situations. They become more involved with the work, and an intimacy and involvement becomes possible that perfection might have kept at bay. Maybe the lo-fi music crowd has a point?

David Byrne, How Music Works

floatingslowly 01.29.2015 05:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bytor Peltor
 


sweet jumpin' Jesus, I want this. I'm so man-crushy for Ka-Spel. it's the lisp, surely it's the lisp.

Mortte Jousimo 01.31.2015 01:25 AM

CRAPPY SOUND FOREVER

Early CDs, like the MP3s that followed, didn’t sound all that great. Dr. John Diamond treated psychotic patients with music, but by 1989 he sensed that it had all gone wrong. He claims that the natural healing and therapeutic properties of music were lost in the rush to digitize. He believes that certain pieces of music can help soothe and heal, if they are the entirely analog versions, while the digital versions actually have the reverse effect. When his test subjects are played digital recordings, they get agitated and twitchy.

Throughout the history of recorded music, we have tended to value convenience over quality every time. Edison cylinders didn’t really sound as good as live performers, but you could carry them around and play them whenever you wanted. LPs, revolving slower, didn’t sound as rich as 45s or 78s, but you didn’t have to attend to them as much. And cassettes? Are you kidding?

We were told that CDs would last forever and sound squeaky clean, but they really don’t sound as good as LPs, and the jury is out regarding their durability. The spectrum of sound on analog mediums has an infinite number of gradations, whereas in the digital world everything is sliced into a finite number of slivers. Slivers and bits might fool the ear into believing that they represent a continuous audio spectrum (psychoacoustics at work), but by nature they are still ones and zeros; steps rather than a smooth slope. MP3s? They may be the most convenient medium so far, but I can’t help thinking that the psychoacoustic trickery used to develop them—the ability to cause the mind to think and feel that all the musical information is there when in reality a huge percentage has been removed—is a continuation of this trend in which we are seduced by convenience.

It’s music in pill form, it delivers vitamins, it does the job, but something is missing. We are often offered, and gladly accept, convenient mediums that are “good enough,” rather than ones that are actually better.
Where does this road of compromise end, and does it really matter if we lose a little quality along the way? Isn’t the quality or accuracy of a recording somewhat irrelevant to music’s use and enjoyment? We laugh out loud at antics on fuzzy, grainy, and atrociously low-resolution YouTube postings, and we talk to our loved ones on mobile-phone networks with voice quality that would make Alexander Graham Bell roll over in his grave. Information theory tells us that the amount of bits needed to communicate certain kinds of content—what someone is saying, or the antics of a cat, for example—can really be much lower than we think. If we only need to understand the verbal content of someone on the telephone, then the quality can be surprisingly bad and we’ll still know what our friends and family are saying. It doesn’t seem to matter that so much is missing.
Maybe “good enough” is okay.

Or maybe not. Reacting to this tendency, some musicians have decided to go back to analog recording, and some have perversely gone out of their way to make their recordings sound as lo-fi as possible—as bad as they can get away with. They want to get as far from digital cleanliness as possible. Why would bad quality, fuzziness, and distortion imply that the music is more authentic? The idea is that if one accepts that crisp and clean recordings are inherently soulless, then the opposite, dirty and rough, must therefore be straight from the heart. That might not sound logical, but that’s the way we think. It’s all part of the recurring belief that conflates new technologies with being inauthentic. Bad—even fake bad, in this way of thinking—means good. It’s confusing, because most digital music does not sound “bad.” If anything, it sounds conventionally good—clean, spotless, with a full range of frequen- cies. Though it is actually less rich sounding than previous technologies, it fools the ear into believing that it sounds better. It’s this shiny, glossy quality that is considered suspect by many music fans. In response, they overvalue the easily audible drawbacks of a previous era—the hiss, crackle, and dis- tortion. In my opinion, realness and soul lie in the music itself, not in the scratches and pops of old records. So, while the cleanliness and “perfection”of much current music is not a guarantee of a moving musical experience, neither is their opposite.

If, following the lead of the phone company, we find ourselves talking about communication and information transmission when we talk about music, then maybe some of the sonic richness of LPs is indeed superfluous and can be eliminated with no serious loss. Could this work with speech as well? Yes and no. Music has more going on simultaneously than speech, for starters. Looking at a reproduction of a painting is certainly not the same as standing in front of the real thing, but an awful lot of the emotion, intent, ideas, and sensibility can indeed be communicated—even via a cheap repro- duction. Similarly, I can be moved to tears by a truly awful recording or a bad copy of a good recording. Would I be moved even more if the quality were higher? I doubt it. So why bother?

There does come a time, however, when the richness of the retinal or aural experience is so diminished that the communication—in this case the enjoyment of the music—becomes unintelligible. But how can we define that? I first heard rock, pop, and soul songs on a crappy-sounding transistor radio, and they changed my life completely. The sound quality was atrocious, but that tinny sound was communicating a wealth of information. Though it was an audio transmission that carried the news, it was the social and cultural message embedded in the music that electrified me as much as the sound did. Those extra-musical components that got carried along with the music didn’t demand a high-resolution signal—good enough was good enough. I’m not saying that tinny sound should be considered satisfying or desirable, or that we should never strive for more than “good enough,” but it’s amazing how much lo-fi or lo-res information can communicate. Live concerts don’t generally have perfect sound either, but they can move us deeply.

Now I begin to ask myself if the fuzziness and ambiguity inherent in low- quality signals and reproductions might actually be a factor that gives the viewer or listener a way in. I know from writing lyrics that some details—names, places, locations—are desirable; they anchor the piece in the real world. But so are ambiguities. By letting the listener or viewer fill in the blanks, complete the picture (or piece of music), the work becomes personalized and the audience can adapt it to their own lives and situations. They become more involved with the work, and an intimacy and involvement becomes possible that perfection might have kept at bay. Maybe the lo-fi music crowd has a point?


I agree this fully! First I listened was Black Sabbath cassettes with very lousy cassette player and I found the world of music. I still donīt need music to be too clean, thatīs the main reason why I prefer vinyl instead of other formats. Thatīs also the reason why most of new music just doesnīt sound good to me.

Savage Clone 01.31.2015 03:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by floatingslowly
sweet jumpin' Jesus, I want this. I'm so man-crushy for Ka-Spel. it's the lisp, surely it's the lisp.




HAY YOU HIJACKED MY LEG


and I got that record when it came out so face-rub remark goes here.

LifeDistortion 01.31.2015 04:11 PM

I think the timing for this article is interesting, which I read yesterday. This article that makes the case/argument that CDs capture the music more than vinyl does. Since its the CD that is on the verge of being discontinued in favor of music flies be it iTunes or streaming. Vinyl isn't going away, plenty still buy vinyl, not the case with CDs. Nobody really makes issue of the fragility of CDs, but people keep their records pristine.

!@#$%! 01.31.2015 05:31 PM

that was a great read

some of the last (newly manufactured) LPs i bought had: parts that skipped, off-center holes that made the needle go sideways, bumps that made the arm fly up & down, various forms of scratches, unreachable grooves the auto-return arm would refuse to track, & other assorted headaches (e.g., having to get off the bed every 20' to flip/change records). pretty as they are they took up too much space in the house and when they were within reach my cat would use the spines as scratches, the little fucker. plus needles are consumables and not cheap.

if mirrorshades ever shows up here again, i'll offer to sell him back his records (he was sorry he had to sell them at the time).

let the auto-da-fé begin

SuchFriendsAreDangerous 01.31.2015 06:50 PM

That was a good read.. ive always preferred analog recording but felt digital mix down gets a bad rap by the vinyl snobs.. cds (so long as the mastering is good) never sounded worse than vinyl to me. Further the idea the cds aren't durable is just nonsense. Anyone who is ever had a car full of cds or carried a discman knows cds are almost as indestructible as c assettes.. and i agree, digital download format is inferior to good cds..

Bytor Peltor 02.03.2015 09:50 PM

This past Saturday, January 31......courtesy of our old buddy, Dead-Air: The CD Revival NOW
 

rebeccagotcursedout 02.03.2015 11:37 PM

some records sound better on vinyl than on cd. thats for sure.

why does it matter? if its before 75 and it sounds like shit, then get it on vinyl.

you have ears. use them!!


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