Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

compact disc, dacs, mp3 players and streaming audio
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mjz
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Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by mjz » 07 Feb 2019 21:54

I made the switch to digital high resolution years ago convinced it is better than analog in terms of dynamic range, low noise and overall sound - and I can play over and over and never hear a click or pop not to mention - on demand (no getting up to change the record).

But then my brother-in-law gave me an LP (45 rpm remastered 180 gram album) for Christmas. I told him he's nuts, I don't listen to LP's anymore even though I have my college collection still neatly displayed (part of the decor in my home office!) next to the Britannica - also a museum piece. He laughed.

After all of the holiday merry making and I was alone with my dogs again without any family around, I dug out my old vintage Technics SL-D2 turntable (w/ Shure V15 type III) out of curiosity. I also dug out an old phono pre-amp TC-750 I had in a drawer so I could digitize a few old albums years ago through my computer. I connected the pre-amp to my high end Krell based stereo which has never seen a turntable connected to it. I then put the needle to the LP and sat back.

Wow ... I was stunned. The warmth, wide sound stage imaging and "presence" was simply amazing. I could also could hear the preamp - so I decided to get a new PHO-8 preamp and then I fell out of my chair when I played the album again.

Anyone know why digital can't be 'made' to sound like vinyl? It seems it would be so easy, but analog just sounds more real to me. I went to my old LP's and started playing them again. Each one - especially the ones I digitized and filtered out the clicks and pops (and sound excellent) just sound better. True - the dynamic range isn't there, but it's close enough for the music to reach your soul.

I don't understand why digital isn't as warm sounding. I'm just amazed that I have to buy LP's again.

lenjack
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by lenjack » 08 Feb 2019 02:45

Apparently, you like the 3rd harmonic distortion, and tilted frequency response of these particular records.

Dimal
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by Dimal » 08 Feb 2019 13:18

lenjack wrote:
08 Feb 2019 02:45
Apparently, you like the 3rd harmonic distortion
Pretty sure that would be 2nd Order Harmonics... 8)

Mal.

mjz
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by mjz » 08 Feb 2019 15:27

Dimal wrote:
08 Feb 2019 13:18
lenjack wrote:
08 Feb 2019 02:45
Apparently, you like the 3rd harmonic distortion
Pretty sure that would be 2nd Order Harmonics... 8)

Mal.
I guess that's why people like vinyl.

plyscds
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by plyscds » 11 Feb 2019 16:01

All music storage schemes put their unique sonic stamp on the information they hold, both in preparation and playback. The odd thing about human listeners is how they react to their perceptions of the differences in what they hear, if they hear any differences at all. The perceived differences in cartridges, stylus types, platter mats, speakers, tonearms, and a ton of other analog universe variations can all start range wars. Add to that the different potential sounds and listener reactions between storage formats, and you might as well try listening to a butterfly crossing Niagara Falls.

What gets forgotten in all this opining is the human capacity to adjust over a time to newness in sensory input. We can adjust to the different-ness of a new car, or a new sofa, or a new house. We can adjust to a friend having to move away. We can adjust to a new look in one of the rooms in our residences. Or to a new hairdo our spouse is sporting. This capacity for adapting can just as easily be applied to listening to and enjoying different music formats. It just takes a little patience and time for the auditory system to adjust to a slightly different norm. Give this patience some more time, and the familiarity with the changes will itself become a new norm.

savakntr
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by savakntr » 11 Feb 2019 17:15

It needs efforts and resources, at the end one can achieve warm analogue sound from digital front end.
I am lucky to enjoy such a result with warm analogue sound

Shadowman82
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by Shadowman82 » 12 Feb 2019 00:04

I feel that SA-CD did/does achieve something like that warm analog sound , at least it did for me but since not that much is available on it that I like I stick with Vinyl . I think digital if well mastered and high resolution ( higher than CD) can sound warm and pleasing .

DualSpinsMyVinyl
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by DualSpinsMyVinyl » 12 Feb 2019 02:52

Having matured during the heyday of vinyl and really not embracing digital to any extent when it began to appear on the market, I feel that there is only so much that you and your computer can do to manipulate one's and zeros to sound acceptable. You can sterilize it, filter it to remove all ambient background sounds to clean it up, increase the volume level etc. This just makes it cold and lifeless. Because these manipulations are available and utilized by so-called experts this is labeled as better. I realize that this is simplistic and that I am not an expert on digital recording. I do know that I as an individual prefer analog over digital. This could also be an age thing and subconsciously not wanting to accept change.

vanakaru
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by vanakaru » 12 Feb 2019 06:14

Analog sound is created in real environment that has its impact. So in very subtle way every listening session is different. While in digital world all is consistent and thus become boring more easy.

lockgroove
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by lockgroove » 12 Feb 2019 12:49

Digital can sound as warm as analog! The best way is to take your analog source that sounds "warm" and just record it digitally as cleanly as possible, and you will have an exact copy of that warmth.

So the question becomes, why has it been so cold and flat for so long?

The world of mastering has had to learn to adapt most of all, taking their long studied and learned processes of analog mastering and trying to apply them to digital reproduction. You will notice firstly that the actual sound of vinyl records ADDS a certain warmth and fullness to the final mastered product that never was there in the mastering studio. The mastering studio was set up to give just enough processing so the vinyl records aren't overdone. When applied to CD, the result sounds flat and lifeless but still very good in terms of clarity, dynamic range, and consistency over time. Eventually mastering engineers learned that they could beef up the sound of masters to sound fuller and warmer when transferred to digital media which are not "forgiving" or "helpful" in making things sound "better". With most records no longer being produced to add their level of "warmth" and fullness, in favor just digital records, mastering engineers had to learn to fill that missing warmth gap, just as the recording engineers had to fill the missing warmth gap when tape was not being used. In the worst case scenario, you get a flat recording with a flat mastering and the CD release sounds lifeless and uninspiring.

When an artist records a track like a guitar, bass, drums, or vocal, coming off tape they always had a great sonic result of this "helpful" sound that everyone took for granted. When that same artist recorded onto digital formats, like WAV files in a DAW, playing them back sounded like you had to fight to get a good sound. Recording engineers have figured out how to make up for that missing sonic character, and so did mastering engineers. That doesn't mean some recording and mastering engineers who are new are making mistakes that render new releases poor sounding, because it still happens today, but that is just a quality control issue of the final product.

plyscds
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by plyscds » 12 Feb 2019 18:28

"Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?"

That, by now, is a tired "old" question often posed. Not to cast anything negative upon those who ask it, but from where I have been and experienced in recorded music, sometimes I have to ask - what are you complaining about.

If you haven't lived through the Fifties and Sixties and listened to music through the muddy and plastic-y boxes and enclosures that radios and record players of that era were mass marketed with you probably can't identify with my early music listening experiences. They were all melodies wrapped in indecipherable muddy mysteries. High Fidelity was something you may have heard about, but had neither the money to indulge in it or the knowledge of where to look for it.

It was by accident after installing a rear panel speaker from the factory radio in my AM radio equipped Mustang that I discovered that tuning it's radio just a hair to the right of optimum reception could enhance higher frequency playback. A little more low end from the tone knob made up for lost bass. I discovered tweeters in the late '70s which opened up a whole new world of music playback, and I've been making my way, slowly, up that mountain ever since.

What we have to work with in recorded music playback nowadays is so much better than where the undertaking was in it's formative years. All this back 'n' forth between formats is as productive as whether an Indianapolis 500 race car will be faster in blue or red paint. Neither one is 100% perfect. Pick one that suits and then go have fun with it.

*****

As an afterthought, try to imagine a Twilight Zone episode where the recordings get to pick their listeners....

ravelax
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by ravelax » 12 Feb 2019 21:06

I have over 1000 LP's, some of them sound "warm", some don't. I also have hundreds of CD's, same there, some sound warm, some don't. I have never been able to hear any correlation between "warmth" and medium... If your CD's sound too "cold" to you, try a tube amp.

Roberto C2H3
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by Roberto C2H3 » 12 Feb 2019 21:38

Quoting a fellow VE member: "All sound is analog."

lenjack
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by lenjack » 12 Feb 2019 21:56

True. Some Lp's sound cold, while some sound warm, and some cd's sound cold, while some sound warm.

hobie1dog
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Re: Why can't digital sound as 'warm' as analog?

Post by hobie1dog » 12 Feb 2019 22:51

The question is : would you be willing to be blindfolded, driven to another location, sat in a space and listen to a system, and be willing to bet both of your testicles to a guy holding a butchers clever that you could tell wether or not you were listening to digital or analog?

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