digital vs. vinyl comparison

compact disc, dacs, mp3 players and streaming audio
silvershadelynx
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digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by silvershadelynx » 24 Aug 2018 01:34

Sorry if this topic has been discussed before, but tonight I did a comparison between two vinyl records and the digital version on Spotify. A year ago I compared the Pet Shop Boys "Yes" cd against the vinyl record and the vinyl record sounded better.

But this time both digital versions - Enya - Shepherd Moons (I have a 1991 pressing ) and Kraftwerk - Computer Love (recent pressing) - sounded better then the vinyl versions.

I compared the 1991 vinyl version of Enya - Sheperd Moons to a Spotify 2009 rematered version and tha latter sounded warmer (more LF) and "more spacious". The Kraftwerk sounded warmer as well on Spotify.

I was a bit disappointed by the results. I think I heard a subtle change in pitch / frequency when changing source. I think I have to check the rotation speed of my vinyl record player. But I'm wondering if it could be the cart / stylus causing the quality difference, and / or the pressing (theres a newer pressing of the Enya album), or is Spotify just better quality in this case? (I didn't expect this outcome). I use a AT100E cart / stylus and I use DIY electrostatic loudspeakers.

silvershadelynx
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by silvershadelynx » 24 Aug 2018 17:50

Just did another comparison:

Paolo Conte - paolo conte collezione (vinyl) compared a few tracks to Spotify equivalents. The vinyl sounded cleary better, just calmer and better balanced.

Jean Michel Jarre - Chronology - both the vinyl and Spotify version sound equally bad. Just a bad, flat sounding and dull recording :(

With all comparisons it seems the pitch of the vinylplayer is too high, the digital equivalents sound a bit lower in frequency. Futhermore some digital songs seem to have a bit better LF extension - I prefer the bass in a few digital songs. I want to find out if I can improve my LF range of my turntable. All in all I'm happy I made these comparisons as I learned about the pitch / frequency difference and LF extension!

johnnywalker
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by johnnywalker » 24 Aug 2018 18:39

I couldn't opine on your comparison of vinyl vs. digital (I have done the same but using CDs instead of Spotify, and there is a clear winner - in almost all cases, the vinyl sounds better to my ear), but as for the bass response with your AT100E, I have a suggestion. I have one of those, too, and I run it at 1.8 grams tracking force and have no complaints about bass. Yes, the recommended tracking force is 1.4, but in my experience, the cart not only has better bass response, it also tracks better at 1.8. YMMV.

silvershadelynx
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by silvershadelynx » 24 Aug 2018 18:57

Thanks for your reply Johnny,

at the moment the tracking weight is at 1.4 grams as stated as optimal in the user guide. I will try and compare at 1.8 grams. Do you 1.8 grams will result in more record wear? If I'm correct it could be the other way around, resulting in less wear? Just asking to be sure...

eddie edirol
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by eddie edirol » 24 Aug 2018 20:09

You don’t have to worry about wear until you get to around the 2.5-3g range.

Also be careful comparing vinyl to digital simply because Spotify might not always have the highest quality sound, and the vinyl versions of recordings are always mastered separately than digital ones simply because of the medium. Things could get twisted in the process of either one. So naturally, one might sound better than the other, but it’s on an individual recording basis. It not something that can Be generalized.
Also keep in mind your playing source on the turntable. Your cartridge and speakers (at least) can color the sound and fool you. Nothing can be completely neutral to do this comparison.
All you can do is see which sounds better in your particular system and just play that medium for that album.
If you really want to be anal about it, you’ll have to do that for every album.
I personally only listen to vinyl, because I don’t want to keep switching formats during a listening session.

Plus I like watching my turntable spin, like I’m 6 and seeing one for the first time...

dysmike
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by dysmike » 24 Aug 2018 22:12

Also, I have CD's that sound horrible vs the same album as LP and vise versa. Sometimes, it's just the mix for THAT pressing/release. So, if you're serious about doing back to backs.. they should be the exact same release as well.

Then there's a whole list of things that can affect sound between the playback device (stylist or cd transport) and the speakers.

johnnywalker
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by johnnywalker » 25 Aug 2018 15:26

Silver, I don't worry about record wear from tracking the AT100E .4 gram above its recommended tracking force; it's much more problematical to track a cart too light than it is too heavy. I also track my AT440MLb at 1.8, too, and have no bass problems at all.

Pauw
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by Pauw » 25 Aug 2018 15:58

Going back to the origin of the post....it's always important to compare like with like....often digital sources can be recorded or set to be louder than a vinyl source. This was a marketing trick that often made digital sound "better"....It is important to make sure this factor is removed in any comparison.

drywhitetoast
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by drywhitetoast » 25 Aug 2018 16:57

Way too many variables for this comparison honestly.
I think it is fun to do comparisons but kind of hard to evaluate accurately.
Me, I like my gatefold album covers, the hiss the odd time and I know without comparisons, that my blues albums for instance can not be reproduced in a better way digitally where I would have access to that source.

Anyways, where is the damn popcorn.
I need popcorn for this.

Damn.

silvershadelynx
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by silvershadelynx » 26 Aug 2018 14:59

Hi guys, thanks again for sharing your ideas.

@Pauw: good point, I will take that into account next test!

@johnnywalker: thanks, I will test this afternoon @ 1.8 grams and report back

@Eddie edito, dysmike and drywhitetoast: I’m aware of the separate mastering for vinyl / digital but thanks for pointing. I agree that it’s not just about sound quality but the whole experience for vinyl. To conclude, I think it’s the recording, mastering and pressing that’s the most important factor for final audio quality, not the medium (vinyl or digital).

Although not being a good comparison I did another test with the same tracks I compared in my aforementioned test but I changed one thing: the circumference of my platter that is driven by the belt of my Pioneer PL12D turntable. At the first test I discovered a higher (in my subjective opinion) pitch when switching from digital (Spotify) source to analog (turntable) source. First I printed the paper strobe disc pattern but it wasn’t that visible, I used a halogen bulb. I did manage to see the black lines moving clockwise so I decided to just count 33 turns of the platter and timing using a stopwatch. I counted (approximately) 33 1/3 turns which took 58 seconds.

I’m wondering if one should be able to hear this in pitch? (About 3%)

I expanded the platter diameter by using two postman elastic bands (hope this is the correct English word). I did a new test and in my opinion, although the test was done hours later, the Enya record sounded much better. (better than the Spotify version) Not just the pitch was more close to the digital source, the soundstage was better as well, much “spacier” experience. The Kraftwerk album sounded better as well (pitch), but I still preferred the bass of the digital source.

Erin1
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by Erin1 » 28 Aug 2018 06:39

I find that my digital files ripped from CDs in the majority of cases sound better than the vinyl equivalent, but I have a very good DAC.

Just like turntables and cartridges arent all created equal, digital players are not all created equal.

Spotify is playing, but through which device?
A chromecast (for example) is a crude sounding device. I tried one and didnt like it much.

I advise not to limit yourself to thinking one format is always better than another. Sound quality is relative to your playback equipment, your expectations, your mood etc.

silvershadelynx
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by silvershadelynx » 28 Aug 2018 09:49

@Erin1: thanks for your reply. I agree on sound quality being relative to many factors. Mood is an important one is my impression: sometimes it sounds fantastically, other times dull and ininteresting.

I used Spotify on my laptop and I sent the digital signal to my MiniDSP 2x4 HD DSP.

jiiteepee
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by jiiteepee » 28 Aug 2018 15:41

IMO, live Vinyl vs CD comparison is too complicated to do. I'd rather compare by 1st transfering the vinyl into digital format, then match the levels and finally run comparison. Here's one I did few y ago.

Album (2LP incl CD):
Emmylou Harris - All Intended To Be
Nonesuch Records (a WMG Company) 2008

Files: 30sec (3MB FLAC 16-bit/44.1kHz files) samples from opening track: Shores Of White Sand (downloads are hosted from Google Drive)

LPRIP+HPLPHUM is recorded using 24/96 and then down converted to 16/44.1
CDREC+HPLPHUM is CD recorded using same path/settings/filters as LPRIP
CDRIP is wav format rip from CD
CDRIP+HPLPHUM is CDRIP with same filters what was used in analog recordings (noticed that the HP filter is different from the LPRIP)

Hum removal filter (Electri-Q) @ 50Hz
24/96 -> 16/44.1 done using r8brain free.

vinylrayk
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by vinylrayk » 28 Aug 2018 15:59

Differences observed are more attributable to different mastering and/or other variables than to digital vs vinyl medium. Play the version that sounds best to you.

Ray K

Pauw
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Re: digital vs. vinyl comparison

Post by Pauw » 28 Aug 2018 18:24

I think that digital vis analogue boils down to this....they are two sides of the same coin...both have their strengths....both their weaknesses ......enjoy which ever sounds best to you.

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