Do I expect too much from records/analog?

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Bullitt5094
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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by Bullitt5094 » 26 Feb 2019 13:35

Good discussion. Thank you! Nobody has thrown me under the bus yet for being a digital hack. That is appreciated.

I used noise gates in my car audio competition days. And "rumble filters" are out there too. But neither are the lesser of two evils as far as I'm concerned.
analogaudio: I agree there is noise in the signal path prior to the pressing. But when I listen to an almost pristine copy of "Michael Johnson-There is a Breeze" from the early 70s vs a CD/FLAC file, the difference in noise level is more than noticeably better in favor of the CD. I have many other examples. Both formats have seen the same dirty signal path of the 70s.
zlartibartfast: I bought almost all the MFS records I liked over the years. Drove my wife nuts that I would replicate most of my collection. I agree they are superior and I do enjoy the difference in the cleanliness of the super records and the 180 gram vinyl more recently available. It DOES help.

So what it seems to come down to is my original conclusion. Learn to enjoy the analog experience by ignoring its limitations. But I've decided to take additional steps. I have a loaner Acoustic Signature Primus on the way for a test to see if a "modern" turntable will show a noticeable improvement in the sound. Depending on that analysis I'm likely to also have my 165 "gone through" by a professional to optimize it. I've done the easy obvious stuff like bearing cleaning/oiling and that helped. But maybe some additional TLC by a pro is a good idea too.

Thanks Folks! I appreciate your opinions, suggestions and time.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by rewfew » 26 Feb 2019 15:37

You've gone up 10db in speaker sensitivity, so, that contributes quite a bit to your base level of surface noise. I have 98db sensitivity speakers and some records are very distracting. But most records I have are pretty acceptable in surface noise. It doesn't seem to bother me. You'll either just get use to it, or have to abandon the old vinyl play. One thought maybe is a cartridge that tracks at a lower downward force.

Bullitt5094
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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by Bullitt5094 » 27 Feb 2019 13:59

I agree both the speaker efficiency and the low noise level of my system and listening environment expose the base noise level of vinyl playback. Chalk this up to unintended consequences.

The Hanna is a very revealing cartridge. With it paired to my Whest pre-amp, also very quiet and revealing, you pass through everything from the grooves and it gets amplified.

The Hanna will track the ortofon test record below 2 grams but I have it set at 2. Isn't that a pretty reasonable weight? I wouldn't think that would be a problem but I never considered that as a factor.

Maybe I need to get a Valve amp and throw some non-offensive 2nd order distortion in there as a distraction.

rewfew
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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by rewfew » 27 Feb 2019 14:54

Bullitt5094 wrote:
27 Feb 2019 13:59
I wouldn't think that would be a problem but I never considered that as a factor.
Just me flinging something out there. Your no doubt right. A few tenth's of gram's more is probably negligible to the distraction your honing in on. I think you spelled it out in your first post. You've made some significant improvements and changes to your basic system's character. And now the veil has been removed from what used to be masked. I use tube amps. Good ones won't distract you with this oft mentioned 2nd order distortion. Good ones will reveal the same characteristics of your distraction. It's the old rock and a hard place. So either accept the inherent noise floor of vinyl and appreciate the natural presentation it has, or embrace fully your digital. No need to tear your hair out obsessing, spending needless bucks futilely. Maybe if you shelf vinyl for a while, when you come back out of curiosity your perspective may change. Look whatchadid, now I'm going to be listening for it. Naw... It really doesn't bother me, I expect some and I think my mind filters it out. Free

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by soulmerchant » 27 Feb 2019 22:22

Ever listen to Pink Floyd "wish you were here" on digital and (original) vinyl ? WHY does the digital sound so TERRIBLE?

Dynamics. Today's mastering is TERRIBLE. Yes, back in the day vinyl had only on average 75db snr, but at least there were PROFESSIONAL sound engineers who could use that.

Today's sound engineers are ***** (insert favorite expletive here). They don't use what Digital can offer, since they only care about playback on CELLPHONES. I am talking about 99% of them... and don't even get me started on hip-hoppers and k-poppers. Totally SAD state today folks....

Even a so-called high-end FLAC file of "wish you were here" can't touch the original vinyl from 1975 which was (probably) mastered from a 2nd generation 15 IPS tape, with EQ to manage the bass, etc.

I can tell you now that playing 15 IPS true 3rd and 4th generation master tapes blows away EVERY digital source. Period. You would think "why did they screw up the sound so bad when making that ceedee".

The closest to the master tape experience is some vinyl records. Even then, pretty much every home vinyl playback system has limitations.

Vinyl was done for the masses. Digital for even greater masses.

So if your digital source sounds better than vinyl, then I am sorry to tell you that your vinyl playback system is maybe mediocre. But if the digital sounds ok, then just go with the flow.

DON'T ever go visit anyone with a reportedly incredible system, or god forbid a really decent studio level tape machine....

One guy I know visited me and his eyes popped out and jaw dropped when I put on a blue note mono record. His system took him ages and lots of money to put together - it's all digital of course.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by skaterblack » 27 Feb 2019 22:52

I have people amazed at how quiet my records are. I think they have expectations of vinyl based on some poor experiences. "Listen to the music and ignore the noise" is my philosophy. If a record has an scratch or too excessive surface noise, it goes in the dumpster. If you get out of vinyl, you can send me your records!

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by vanakaru » 28 Feb 2019 09:14

soulmerchant wrote:
27 Feb 2019 22:22
Ever listen to Pink Floyd "wish you were here" on digital and (original) vinyl ? WHY does the digital sound so TERRIBLE?
This is really interesting - I have just the opposite experience. When I got the 2011 remaster of "wish" digipack it was like this music has opened up. It has been my favourite album since 1975 but it never had sounded so good. My vinyl system is nothing special but not too shabby either. I have put good effort into finding the best sounding turntable and cartridge and preamp. So go figure.
I remember when CDs came about the main excitement was the noiseless playback. And you did not have to flip the record witch was really annoying when listening psychedelic rock opuses. But now when I listen vinyl again last 10 odd years I have come to like the pop and crackle and no need to listen the whole record if I get bored but am lazy enough to go and shut it off. So I like the mechanical noises that vinyl medium apparently comes with - it is a part of the deal. If I want clean sound I go digital and I have not experienced any superiority either of these. Both can sound great.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 28 Feb 2019 09:33

vanakaru wrote:
28 Feb 2019 09:14


This is really interesting - I have just the opposite experience. When I got the 2011 remaster of "wish" digipack it was like this music has opened up. It has been my favourite album since 1975 but it never had sounded so good. My vinyl system is nothing special but not too shabby either. I have put good effort into finding the best sounding turntable and cartridge and preamp. So go figure.
Today you can find a lot of different reissues of the same album on vinyl and CD`s. In the old days it was one label and his subsidiaries in some regions. Some of them are excellent, others are crap, at the end price is practically the same for both releases. I don`t know how the copyrights goes on for reissues.

soulmerchant
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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by soulmerchant » 28 Feb 2019 16:14

vanakaru wrote:
28 Feb 2019 09:14
soulmerchant wrote:
27 Feb 2019 22:22
Ever listen to Pink Floyd "wish you were here" on digital and (original) vinyl ? WHY does the digital sound so TERRIBLE?
This is really interesting - I have just the opposite experience. When I got the 2011 remaster of "wish" digipack it was like this music has opened up. It has been my favourite album since 1975 but it never had sounded so good.
I will be kind, and note that the 2011 SACD is pretty much the best digital version I have heard. It is actually OK, but you can't just play it on any old ceedee player. It needs to be played back correctly, or correctly ripped to FLAC then played on a good music server. The earliest ceedee releases, as well as the Sony sbm release in particular were pretty horrible.

I much prefer the original vinyl, but my vinyl setup is more ridiculous than most I suppose. I am not a fan of surround sound re-mastered but maybe I am just being too old and crusty. :)

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by reisod » 28 Feb 2019 21:44

There are way too many variables in play to define any one given camp as the clear winner. It's not like comparing R2R with 8-track. There are completely solid reasons to love vinyl, CD, FLAC, and lossy streaming services. You shouldn't feel compelled to appreciate only one of them.

For myself:

If its background music, I'm 100% on Spotify. It sounds terrible for critical listening, but pretty good if I'm not paying attention, and ridiculously convenient.

If I'm actively listening, I'm mostly in vinyl, but sometimes CD. I have my reasons for both, but not because I've bought into some perspective that one sounds consistently, analytically better than the other.

I do think that the recording signal chain (record > mix > master), the craft of the mastering engineer, and for vinyl the physical quality and condition of the medium, are significantly more critical than Digital vs. Analog or CD/FLAC vs Vinyl.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by northa40 » 01 Mar 2019 18:05

This a going to be an odd response to the question, but here goes. When I listen to Digital music sources, I hear music, but when play analog sources, vinyl mostly, I listen to the music. I recently purchased a cd, hurried home to listen to it, only to be uninspired, it was ok but not engaging. My thoughts were why didn't it sound good, its quite, dynamic but just not like vinyl. I will take some snap crackle pop with my music, it just sounds better.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by Ghaasl » 02 Mar 2019 13:49

I’m of the camp that plays digital files/cd for background noise while doing tasks around the house, similar to having a radio on in the shop at work. When it comes to actually listening for relaxation/enjoyment, it’s to the LP collection I go. That is of course if I have an analogue copy of what I want to play at that moment. I use my CD collection to “fill the gaps” in my album collection until I go on another record buying spree.

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by abs1 » 02 Mar 2019 18:15

Ghaasl wrote:
02 Mar 2019 13:49
I’m of the camp that plays digital files/cd for background noise while doing tasks around the house, similar to having a radio on in the shop at work. When it comes to actually listening for relaxation/enjoyment, it’s to the LP collection I go. That is of course if I have an analogue copy of what I want to play at that moment. I use my CD collection to “fill the gaps” in my album collection until I go on another record buying spree.
+1

There's just something about analog that digital just doesn't have. I'm not very good with words so an explanation is somewhat difficult, but I'll just say that to me analog sounds like real music while digital sounds artificial.

Cheers,
Al

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by feldman » 03 Mar 2019 17:08

Bullitt5094 wrote:
25 Feb 2019 15:32
First the question: can records/analog come close to acceptable base noise levels? Acceptable meaning not annoying noise when no music present on 80db-ish playback levels.

And the facts... I've participated the Audiophile hobby since I actually got my first job in the 70s. I've ridden the evolution wave of Digital while still enjoying my TD-165 that I originally purchased new in the 70s. Only TT I've ever owned.
BUT, I'm becoming less enamored with records. I've recently gone through a system renaissance that includes some of what I consider high-end speakers, amps and digital hardware. This digital signal path seems to be really exposing the limitation of the record format on several levels. Adding to the impression is a very quiet, properly treated dedicated listening room also with a very low ambient noise level. The limitation I'm most concerned with is the base noise of records.

So I know it's hard to quantify, but are expectations too great for vinyl format to have ignorable noise levels on decent playback levels? Am I likely to need a more modern turntable than my well cared for TD-165 with a Hanna SL and Whest Two.2 preamp? BTW there is zero noise present until the needle hits the groove. And I've tried everything from my old collection of albums to new 180gr pressing with varying levels of success. Or non-success as the case may be.

I expect the final answer to be "Yes, you expect too much, but above the noise level analog sounds better. Just use selective listening". Is this the final answer?

Thanks for any input!
Even if you could reach that elusive point where the vinyl records and your analog front end (turntable) are noiseless, you'd still be hearing the tape noise/hiss that is coming from the source. So the answer is no, you cannot rid your listening experience from the accidental noise.

But same is true for listening to live music. Even in the most optimal circumstances, there will be noise that is unrelated to the sounds performers are making with their instruments/voices. Also, people in the audience shuffling in their seats, clothes rustling, coughing, heck -- breathing! If you can't deal with that level of ambient noise, your only option is to listen to digitally recorded electronica.

The thing I really resent is when purist engineers decide to do something about the inevitable tape hiss. They apply noise reduction gimmicks and chop off the tape hiss and in the process castrate the music that is recorded on the tape. Last time I heard that was on the 50th anniversary remix of the Beatles White Album (released on November 9, 2018). They doctored copies of the master tapes, eliminated tape hiss and produced lifeless, gutless mix. Real abomination!

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Re: Do I expect too much from records/analog?

Post by Vinylfreak86 » 03 Mar 2019 17:20

feldman wrote:
03 Mar 2019 17:08

They apply noise reduction gimmicks and chop off the tape hiss and in the process castrate the music that is recorded on the tape. Last time I heard that was on the 50th anniversary remix of the Beatles White Album (released on November 9, 2018). They doctored copies of the master tapes, eliminated tape hiss and produced lifeless, gutless mix. Real abomination!
Did you ever think that they did that because they were forced to? Because original master tapes were damaged at that level, that you would hear a lot of damage when listening the music if the whole material wasn`t digitalised and processed to this level that at the end you hear digitally polished clean sound. Maybe not totally natural, but they did what they could. Other option would be to find original vinyl release in perfect condition, record it on reel to reel and make analog mastering. But the end quality is questionable in this case, but more natural yes.