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Vinyl To Signal the End for CDs? 883

PJ1216 writes to mention that vinyl seems poised to make a comeback in the music industry. Some are even predicting that this comeback coupled with the surge in digital music sales could possibly close the door on CDs. "Portability is no longer any reason to stick with CDs, and neither is audio quality. Although vinyl purists are ripe for parody, they're right about one thing: Records can sound better than CDs. Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound. Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary."
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Vinyl To Signal the End for CDs?

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  • by RailGunner ( 554645 ) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:28PM (#21162197) Journal
    Forget vinyl - when can we get things recorded in Analog to Water? [wikiquote.org]

    Plus, when you're done listening to it, you can make Ramen noodles with Skwisgaar's solos, or maybe even coffee with Toki's Rhythm Guitar parts...

    DETHKLOK RULES!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by davester666 ( 731373 )
      No, this is just a way for them to be able to re-sell you the same content you already have. Now, re-mastered Beatles albums, now only on vinyl! And of course, it's a format that's easily damaged, and wears out just by listening to it [and yes, I know you can get very expensive record players that use laser's or some such thing instead of a needle]. Leave it to the music industry to give you want you don't want...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by falconwolf ( 725481 )

        No, this is just a way for them to be able to re-sell you the same content you already have. Now, re-mastered Beatles albums, now only on vinyl! And of course, it's a format that's easily damaged, and wears out just by listening to it [and yes, I know you can get very expensive record players that use laser's or some such thing instead of a needle]. Leave it to the music industry to give you want you don't want...

        Ah but many of us want vinyl. I've been causally looking around for a turntable and I've

      • by Fett101 ( 810894 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:51PM (#21164389)
        "and yes, I know you can get very expensive record players that use laser's or some such thing instead of a needle"

        They call them CD players I believe.
      • by Lillesvin ( 797939 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @08:52PM (#21165083) Homepage

        And of course, it's a format that's easily damaged, and wears out just by listening to it [and yes, I know you can get very expensive record players that use laser's or some such thing instead of a needle].

        I'm sorry, but there are just so many things wrong with that, that I have to reply.

        Vinyl is not as easily damaged as one would think. I have a pretty big vinyl collection and a reasonably sized CD collection (about 180 of them) and guess which one's I'm having trouble listening to... I can't listen to my Deftones - Adrenaline CD, because it has a few minor scratches that mess up each and every track on the CD rendering it completely and utterly useless - and that CD is only about 10 years old. Now, I've got a vinyl in my collection that's about twice as old (an old Danish children's record) which I've "borrowed" from my dad. It has been handled a lot by myself and my 4 sisters back when we were kids but it plays fine. The jacket's all torn and I know for a fact that it's been treated really, really rough. Sure, there are the occasional pops and maybe a skip or two when it plays, but if I increase the weight of the needle just a little, it plays the record in its entirety without a single skip... Now, try to do that with my Deftones CD... (Though, I'm not really that keen on listening to it any longer.)

        To reiterate:

        • Vinyl (+20 yrs old, handled/dropped a LOT by kids, plenty of visible scratches): Still plays fine.
        • CD (~10 yrs old, played mostly in an NAD CD player, treated nicely, very few visible scratches): Completely useless.

        Re your wearing out issue... If you adjust the weight of the needle right (and no, it's really not that hard) and use a decent one, then you'll be able to play your records for at least as long as your CDs. Remember, CDs deteriorate as well - they don't even have to be played to get all messed up! As long as you treat your LPs reasonably, they'll last for a loooong time - at least, I have some records that are way older than myself (26 yrs) and they play just fine. Besides, CDs can't be treated all that bad either, without rendering them unplayable...

        As for the laser-thingy. I can't say much, as I have never actually seen (or heard) one, but from what I've heard people say about it, the sound isn't all that good and definitely not worth it. But as I said, I have no experience with it myself. Try googling it if your interested, that's where I found some reviews back when I was checking it out.

        • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @10:26PM (#21165889) Homepage
          Only a fool keeps his data, music or otherwise, on a plastic disk of any sort. Your data belongs on a RAID. That NEVER degrades EVER, and with offsite backups, it will survive even the destruction of your house.

          Vinyl and CDs are for suckers.

          P.S. Anecdotes are worthless. You fail at science.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zakezuke ( 229119 )

          Re your wearing out issue... If you adjust the weight of the needle right (and no, it's really not that hard) and use a decent one, then you'll be able to play your records for at least as long as your CDs. Remember, CDs deteriorate as well - they don't even have to be played to get all messed up! As long as you treat your LPs reasonably, they'll last for a loooong time - at least, I have some records that are way older than myself (26 yrs) and they play just fine. Besides, CDs can't be treated all that bad either, without rendering them unplayable...

          Well, regardless a well played record will wear out, perhaps prematurely due to user incompetence. On top of that, you have styli to replace, and belts if you don't have a direct drive. On top of that, you better keep them at a good temp, I remember as a child all my muppet show discs warped. I'll agree vinyl takes much abuse yet still remains somewhat playable, but CDs play well play after play. And on top of that you have issues with grounding, and picking up random electrical noise. And on top of

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mfnickster ( 182520 )

            On top of that, you better keep them at a good temp, I remember as a child all my muppet show discs warped.

            Dude, it wasn't your discs - the Muppet Show itself was warped!

        • by unitron ( 5733 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @04:51AM (#21167975) Homepage Journal

          Vinyl is not as easily damaged as one would think.

          Actually it's damaged much more easily than you think. That 2 grams or less of tracking force translates into tens of thousands of pounds per square inch and a lot of heat from friction because the contact area of the stylus with the groove wall is so very small.

          When you play a record the area contacted by the stylus gets deformed because it is softened by the heat and squeezed by the pressure. The vinyl is supposed to have a "memory" and return to its original state after maybe an hour or so, but of course it doesn't recover absolutely completely, and this damage is cumulative. If you replay the record within a few minutes then the deformed area gets deformed even further and can't recover fully from both the deformation to the original deformation and the original deformation itself. Also any teeny little speck of dust gets "welded" into the groove wall by the stylus, further altering the wiggles in the groove from their original form.

          The ability to hear this damage varies from one person to another.

    • Re:New Analog Format (Score:4, Informative)

      by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @11:27PM (#21166315) Homepage
      It sounds like someone at Wired has drank the audiophile kool-aid...

      Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.
      Are you kidding me? A CD with a sampling frequency of 44 kHz carries sound up to 20 kHz, which is beyond the hearing limit of most humans. An analog groove may in theory carry sound up to very high frequencies, but is badly limited in practice by the difficulty of cutting a precise high-frequency groove, the non-linear response of the cartridge at high frequency, and a host of other factors. Not to mention the fact that NO ONE CAN HEAR THOSE SOUNDS above 20 kHz! And to get top-notch frequency response out of a record player, you have to obsess over the cleanliness and storage of your records and player... and even then you're likely to degrade the frequency response RAPIDLY to well below the level of a CD (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_record#Frequency_response_and_noise)

      Wired seems to take all the standard audiophile BS hook, line, and sinker... "analog provides a warmer sound" (much more total harmonic distortion than a digital player), etc.

      The argument about hot mastered [wikipedia.org] CDs is particularly hilarious (reduced dynamic range). Basically, this is a result of crappy commercial pressure to sound louder, and is common but by no means universal. The fact that vinyl lacks this possibility is touted as an advantage. It's like claiming that a knife is better than a gun, because you can't shoot yourself in the foot with the knife.

      For a devastating rebuttal of audiophile BS from a very experienced engineer, read Douglas Self's site: http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/ampins/pseudo/subjectv.htm [pipex.com]
  • not this again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by onemorehour ( 162028 ) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:28PM (#21162209)

    Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

    This statement is true, but completely irrelevant. The fact that a recording medium is analog does not mean that it is better at accurately recording and reproducing a sound than a digital medium. Magnetic tapes are also analog recordings. Putting a pencil on a string, hanging it next to a speaker, and having it draw a line on a moving sheet of paper is also an analog recording.

    It's true that a digital recording can never contain the amount of data in a vinyl groove, but who is saying that all the data in a vinyl groove is more of an accurate representation of all the data extant in the original sound wave than a digitally sampled recording?

    Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

    This is similarly irrelevant. Compression is a way of altering a sound wave, and has nothing to do with the final recording medium. Overcompression is a problem, but this is not an argument for vinyl over CD--it's just a comment on postprocessing techniques.

    • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:33PM (#21162303) Journal
      It's true that a digital recording can never contain the amount of data in a vinyl groove, but who is saying that all the data in a vinyl groove is more of an accurate representation of all the data extant in the original sound wave than a digitally sampled recording?

      Not to mention data degradation as the needle passes over the groove for the hundredth time ... it will wear on the groove.
      The other advantage of a CD is that the data on a CD is precise, an exact copy of the original, and any functioning CD player will interpret the CD identically. Analog information on a vinyl LP, on the other hand, is subject to an analog input system (the needle) which will vary from player to player as to its mechanical properties, which will influence the sound it picks up from the record.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lattyware ( 934246 )
        Of course, if you use crap speakers, this is all irrelevant anyway.
        • by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @06:12PM (#21163029)
          Or crap cables (i.e. below $5,000).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
            Or crap cables (i.e. below $5,000).

            Real traditionalists would do this scientifically and measure dick size.

            Audiophiles hate CD because it democratized the medium. There was no audible difference between a $300 player and a $3,000 player.

            The car nuts did the same thing in the early 30s. As mass produced automobiles drove prices down they got sniffy about the fact that it was no longer an exclusive club for the mega-rich. Thats when the term vintage car was invented and the London-Brighton run. What the

            • Re:not this again... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @11:45PM (#21166461) Homepage Journal

              There was no audible difference between a $300 player and a $3,000 player.

              Parent poster is actually quite on target in a lot of instances (though not all... many times "You get what you paid for").

              As a matter of fact, for quite some time, J.C.Whitney used to sell "no-name" brand (well, they had a name, but it wasn't Sony, JVC, etc) speakers and such. I found a pair of free-air subs with amazing sound. Turns out that (besides being very cheap, going down to 18Hz, having a high signal to noise ratio and handling a lot of power) they were actually made by that "no-name" company for one of the "big name" companies, with the surplus (of an updated line) being labelled in the actual (no-name) manufacturer's name instead of the big-brand name.

              Very thrilled with them... and at $20 a pop, far less than the $100+ each they were being sold for with the "Name Brand" on them. Same specs, same speakers, same company made them, different name on them.

              The key is this part... A little research can save a lot of money... many times it's simply the company that no one has heard of - but has wonderful quality, or (as in my example) the company that actually manufactures the stuff for the name brand. CompUSA for instance (yeah, I know they suck as a whole) used to sell many CompUSA branded stuff made for them by big name companies. When BenQ WAS getting the best reviews on DVD-RW drives, we were selling them CompUSA branded for really cheap... 30% less than BenQ boxed drives (that were 100% identical right down to the BenQ label on the drive itself). A bunch of our cases were relabelled Antec cases (that you could buy for 20% from Antec - or us).

              Just buying cheap though, will invariably mean you get what you pay for (older Apex DVD players, anyone?).

      • Regarding degradation due to needles and quality shift due to needle choice: Many modern turntables actually use a laser instead of a needle. Of course, this means that the audio is digitally sampled at the vinyl....

        The other issue though is that pretty much all music produced these days (99.99% of studio music, and a large chunk of "live" music as well) has been post-processed with digital effects and adjustments. At this point, you've already converted everything into a digital format; writing it back to vinyl won't gain anything back, and writing it to CD only down-samples the master audio somewhat and merges the tracks. If you write it to one of the DVD Audio formats instead of Red Book, you don't even get the down-sampling.

        There are things you can do when using digital recording equipment that you simply can't do with vinyl, and most of the industry uses digital recording equipment nowadays.
        • Re:not this again... (Score:5, Informative)

          by zsazsa ( 141679 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @06:21PM (#21163167) Homepage
          No, a laser does not mean that it is digitally sampled. And there's just one record player that uses a laser, and it's quite expensive.
        • Re:not this again... (Score:4, Informative)

          by soleblaze ( 628864 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @06:46PM (#21163521)
          There's only 3 laser turntables. They're around $10-14k, and don't get very good reviews. These models were actually invented in '83, but never gained widespread sales due to the CD coming out soon after. I've never heard of it being anything other than a novelty. Due to it's sensitivity it's not even useful to read old vinyls without damaging them. That's usually done by taking high resolution photos and tracking the groove with software.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rho ( 6063 )

          Lasers don't push dust out of the way. So it's either snap-crackle-pop, or some kind of filter in your turntable. Or you live in a Class 100 cleanroom.

        • Re:not this again... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by purplenoise ( 1075855 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @11:03PM (#21166141)
          Given the speakers, headphones, and rooms that most people have, any argument about media quality is utterly pointless.

          This is simply a media stunt by the recording industry's marketing departments to try and popularize a physical object that people must pay for. Vinyl has all the sex appeal to become that object.

          Vinyl needs to be compressed even more so than CD's, as heavy bass can be enough to make the needle pop right out of the groove.

          However, all the arguments about increased sound quality, as you point out, are absurd.

          I am a mastering engineer, software engineer and have worked on audio software. And in all of my experience there are only a couple of things left to improve upon with current digital audio technology, but for a very small amount of return.

          When the music is mixed digitally using certain "professional tools" (no pun intended) it is done in fixed point. A few companies have realized that using double precision floating point *does* sound better. And the difference is measurable. Some sound engineers believe it's also very audible.

          In short, sampling a signal, scaling it, summing it and then truncating (or dithering) it, does more than shifting it's level and burying the lower end under the quantization threshold. No technical name exists for this type of distortion, but it is a self correlated noise upon the signal, or cross correlated with the other signals being mixed upon it. What it amounts to is to putting the signal thru a transfer function consisting of a jagged diagonal line (instead of a perfect diagonal line, whose slope matches the gain applied) or jagged grid that shifts up and down with the value of the other streams being mixed. This is analogous to rendering a diagonal line on a computer. The higher the resolution (number of bits) the better. But sadly, at the recording and mixing stage, mixing a large number of tracks with say 24 bits of fixed point resolution is ridiculously bad, even if the final master will be dithered and truncated at 16 bits, because this distorting process will occur repeatedly, for each gainstage, for each track summed. One solution to this is to apply gain and sum at double precision floating point. Yet another, less popular solution, is to actually reproduce each track back into the analog world using high quality DACS and sum in the analog domain. Both sound nearly as good, and certainly better than summing at 24 bits fixed point.

          Second, there are certain IIR filters that can't be implemented at just 2x the bandwith. Because of this, the choices are: Upsample and downsample just for that filter (which is computationally expensive and if done at all, seldom done correctly) or just run the entire audio stream at 4 or 8x the bandwith.

          What is done today by most studios is run the entire project at 88.2 or 96 kHz sampling frequency. This is great, but requires a very high quality downsampler at the end of the chain to convey the final result.

          One could argue that vinyl masters can be cut from a DAC running at 96 kHz and thus have an increased frequency resolution. But that improvement pales in the light of the background hiss level, additional bass compression required for vinyl, preamp distortion, de-emphasis equalizer tolerances, motor speed stability deviations, etc.

          I wonder if we just had a tiny speaker on top of a CD player reproducing the very high frequencies that come from the "needle" whether it would finally pass for vinyl.

          I bet that much of what is perceived as sounding better for vinyl is the fact that people can hear the sound of the mechanics (the needle itself) as well as the speakers. I remember as a child, that the records sounded a lot better when the turntable lid was open.


          -arr
          • The correct way to mix audio in fixed point is as follows:

            1) Convert your gain or envelope from a floating point number to a fraction (G/256 or G/65536)
            2) Multiply the track by the instantaneous gain/attenuation factor G (but don't divide yet).
            3) Add masking noise
            4) Sum across all mixed tracks
            5) Divide by (N*256 or N*65536) where N is the number of mixed tracks

            You can do this accurately with all 32-bit quantities if your tracks are 16-bit. If you need 24 or 32-bit fidelity, then you're already considering f
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by teslar ( 706653 )

        any functioning CD player will interpret the CD identically.

        If you're trying to say that your CD will sound identically on every CD player, this is completely untrue. First, different CD players will deal with errors on the disc differently. But much more critically, the most important part of the interpretation of the data on the CD by the player is the transformation from a digital input signal into an analog output signal and here, there are huge differences which will affect what you hear. This is why y

    • Re:not this again... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:45PM (#21162519)
      Actually the statement about Nyquist's theorem is poppycock. This a mathematical fact, not some weird subjective result open to interpretation. Saying that Nyquist's theorem is wrong is equivalent to stating that the value of pi is really 6.

      As you said, the comment about compression is nonsense. Compression is the removal of dynamic range, and is actually REQUIRED for vinyl to get the low volume sounds out of the vinyl surface noise to make them audible.

      The truth of the matter is that vinyl records are crap compared to CD's in every measurable way - distortion, dynamic range, frequency response, signal to noise ratio, you name it. Are they perfect? No, that does not exist in technology. The Redbook standard is a tad short of the maximum theoretical dynamic range and frequency response the human ear is capable of. The conversion of digital data back to analog is tricky to get right. But it is superior to vinyl.

      But some people do like vinyl better. Audio tastes are funny. People become habituated to certain types of distortion and other artifacts in the sound. To them is sounds better. But by any measurable means it looks like garbage compared to CD.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by blueturffan ( 867705 )

        The truth of the matter is that vinyl records are crap compared to CD's in every measurable way - distortion, dynamic range, frequency response, signal to noise ratio, you name it.
        My memory of this is a little fuzzy, but it seems like my vinyl records produced superior Wow and Flutter to anything I've ever heard from a CD
      • I can hear the difference. I happened to get both a CD and a vinyl recording of the exact same classical performance many years ago. I still had my turntable and a top-of-the-line Denon CD player. The vinyl recording had more hiss to it than the CD. That was to be expected. However, the vinyl recording also gave me a better impression of actually being right in from the performers (a quartet). It just also happened to give me the impression of an army of small hissing bugs that had joined us.

        I do bel

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by philicorda ( 544449 )
          Aliasing noise is not related to sample rate or bit depth. A properly dithered 8bit 7KHz recording will have a high noise floor, and be severely band limited, but will not have aliasing artifacts. The noise floor is 'white' noise, and not related to the signal. The glitchy sound you associate with low bandwidth recordings is due to not dithering properly, data compression, or as using it as an effect etc. Have a play with some audio editing software some day. It's interesting how good the audio sounds at 1
      • Nyquist's theorem (Score:4, Informative)

        by IvyKing ( 732111 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:28PM (#21164085)

        Actually the statement about Nyquist's theorem is poppycock. This a mathematical fact, not some weird subjective result open to interpretation. Saying that Nyquist's theorem is wrong is equivalent to stating that the value of pi is really 6.


        There's a lot of subtleties involved in going from Nyquist's theorem to actual practice. Some are related to problems of numerical analysis and others relate to how close you want the upper frequency cut-off to approach the Nyquist limit. The numerical analysis aspect is that the digital (discrete) representation is never exact, having said that, it is close enough most of the time (e.g. bass in mid-range). Getting usable frequency response to be close to the Nyquist limit requires use of 'brick-wall' filters which do bad things to time domain response - probably the worst case being an instrument like the triangle.


        Some of this is covered on the design and implementation of direct digital synthesizers.


        Compression is the removal of dynamic range, and is actually REQUIRED for vinyl to get the low volume sounds out of the vinyl surface noise to make them audible.


        BS. What's required is pre-emphasis (e.g. the 'RIAA curve' created ca 1950, back when the RIAA was doing something useful). To get a decent amount of recording time on vinyl, you don't want a consistently high recording level (requires larger spacing between grooves and may burn out the cutting head) - which argues against using compression.


        While a properly made CD will typically sound better than a vinyl recording, the article was correct in stating that CD's lend themselves more to overcompressing than vinyl and that has to do with the process of cutting the record (see points about groove spacing and burning out the cutting head).

    • by DFDumont ( 19326 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:46PM (#21162551)
      Although a digital representation cannot completely represent an analogue waveform, it is true that it can:
      - produce an approximation that differs from the original by less than can be detected by the human ear, which does have its limits
      - produce an approximation that is BETTER than a recording made in a physical medium.

      The issue with recording on a physical medium - irrespective of type or method, is that the stylus (whatever it may be) has mass. As such it is subject to Newton's first law and will resist changes to its momentum. This will have the audio effect of diminishing the frequency response in proportion to the frequency. This attenuation of the high end of the audio spectrum is what gives vinyl its 'richer' sound - NOT that it is more faithfully approximating the original sound wave.

      Remember EVERYTHING is an approximation - including the pressure wave in the air that was the original transcription from the instrument.
    • by John Allsup ( 987 ) <doctor@inna@house.allsup@co> on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:47PM (#21162575) Homepage Journal

      This is similarly irrelevant. Compression is a way of altering a sound wave, and has nothing to do with the final recording medium. Overcompression is a problem, but this is not an argument for vinyl over CD--it's just a comment on postprocessing techniques

      Whilst that is true, the problem is that a typical CD recording available today will be overcompressed whereas a typical vinyl recording won't be. Thus if I want to buy a decent recording, it may well be that the vinyl version is better than the CD version despite what the technical capabilities of the two media may be. That said, if vinyl sales rocket and CD sales plummet, we will most likely see a change in how CDs are mastered -- I expect both media to be around for a long time yet.
    • It's true that a digital recording can never contain the amount of data in a vinyl groove, but who is saying that all the data in a vinyl groove is more of an accurate representation of all the data extant in the original sound wave than a digitally sampled recording?

      The kicker for me showing a total lack of understanding of the technology is the popularity of USB turntables. They can't keep them in stock. Quick, someone show me any analog signal in a USB specification.. Analog is better.. Analog is king
  • by jcicora ( 949398 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:29PM (#21162221) Journal
    ...8 tracks are due to make a comeback in 5 years
  • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#21162229)
    In 3, 2, 1...
    • by djasbestos ( 1035410 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:38PM (#21162373)
      Cue continuous number countdown in infinite discreet values between 3 and 0 as parodic analogy to aforementioned war in 3, 2.99999999999999999999999999999...
  • Not until (Score:5, Funny)

    by Serhei ( 1150661 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#21162235)
    Not until laptops come with a vinyl drive.
  • Mechanical Wear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasonwea ( 598696 ) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#21162241) Homepage
    Too bad you'd need a US$10000 player [elpj.com] to prevent your vinyl from wearing out. I for one would prefer properly mastered losslessly compressed audio files (or CDs if need be).
  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:30PM (#21162245)
    Vinyl is better than CDs because the lack of technology and features means that the people who make 'em can't fuck 'em up as much?

    And they say technology can't solve social problems. Or, in this case, lack of technology...

    -F
  • by daves ( 23318 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:31PM (#21162263) Journal
    Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes...

    This guy doesn't know what he is talking about.
    • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:44PM (#21162509)
      Exactly, if he actually went and researched a little he would find
      that vinyl required a good deal MORE compression and severely limited
      frequency response (as the needle can only track certain features).
      It also has severe inter-channel crosstalk, poor low frequency
      response, and a much higher noise floor.

      Of course, as a fashion statement, none of these things matter.

      However to claim it is in any way technically better is just laughable.
  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:32PM (#21162267)
    People don't want vinyl. There's a tiny subset in the audiophille market who do. The vast majority of people don't care. Just look at the victory of mp3 in the marketplace, and the lack of demand for high quality encodings- convenience beats quality, every single time. Vinyls are not, and never will be convenient. You may see CDs phased out in a decade or two as music goes purely digital, but you won't see CDs giving way to vinyl. No portable players, no players in cars, no way to play it at a friend's house (since they won't likely have a vinyl player). Its DOA.
  • by logicassasin ( 318009 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:32PM (#21162273)
    ... but a resurgance in vinyl would be a good thing. For DJ's like myself, it never left. I can still usually buy the latest dance and hip hop on vinyl, and software like Serato Scratch and Traktor Scratch allow one to manipulate mp3's just like vinyl through the use of a special interface and timecoded records. Buying pop is a CD only affair. Sucks, but record companies make the bulk of their money from CD sales.

    Sure, most of your top-40 DJ's use CD's, and that's not a bad thing, but DJ purists still prefer vinyl.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by king-manic ( 409855 )

      ... but a resurgance in vinyl would be a good thing. For DJ's like myself, it never left. I can still usually buy the latest dance and hip hop on vinyl, and software like Serato Scratch and Traktor Scratch allow one to manipulate mp3's just like vinyl through the use of a special interface and timecoded records. Buying pop is a CD only affair. Sucks, but record companies make the bulk of their money from CD sales.

      Sure, most of your top-40 DJ's use CD's, and that's not a bad thing, but DJ purists still prefer vinyl.

      These days it's more a cultural quirk of DJ's then actual technological limitation. The primary reason vinyl is popular with the DJ's here is that you can manipulate/spin with it and people won't take you seriously as a DJ until you do. You can now spin with digital formats in exactly the same manner. So your left only with the cultural inertia.

  • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:32PM (#21162285) Homepage
    Ah yes, the centre groove.....

    More important though, there is one thing that vinyl lacks - error correction. A couple of scratches on a CD don't make that much difference usually because the CD player will compensate, but once you've gouged a vinyl record that pop or click is there forever.
  • Vinyl collection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:34PM (#21162311) Homepage Journal

    Years ago, when CDs first emerged I picked up a few Telarc disks and was impressed. Stupidly I assumed this meant all CDs would be of high quality and began physically downsizing my music collection. At some point, after unloading some treasures I'll never see again (for less than $$$$ on ebay anyway) I listened through a few recent exchanges and realised a lot of CD re-issues were shite. Bollox! I halted the exchange and have since retained the majority of my vinyl collection and even added to it. Some of that old well mastered stuff is well beyond the means of modestly priced CD player and even some immodestly priced ones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iabervon ( 1971 )
      You'd do better to digitize all of your vinyl now. Just because CD reissues are generally incompetantly done doesn't mean that you can't make an effectively perfect digital recording of the signal your player produces when playing the vinyl before it gets damaged by wear and environment. It doesn't matter for the signal that goes to your speakers whether it is driven by record player or a DAC.

      One thing about remastering is that the original recording may have been done with a vinyl-based idea of the thresho
  • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:34PM (#21162317)
    The loudness war does bring an interesting twist to the debate of vinyl vs. digital (CD). I was never one to choose vinyl before; I believe that the "warmth" that vinyl was known for was just hiss from the needle.

    That being said, I'm pulling out some old vinyl and giving it a try. At least I don't have to worry about it not working on a old turntable (anything made in the last 30 years, at least), or DRM for that matter. Also, cover art looks better on an album than on CD. :-)
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:37PM (#21162363)
    Audiophiles are the only people on the planet that wish Macs were MORE expensive.
     
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:41PM (#21162445) Homepage Journal
    "Nyquist's theorem to the contrary."
    Damm right my ears are so good that I can toss out the cornerstone of DSP!

    Vinyl doesn't have an infinite resolution anymore than a photograph does. You can not keep blowing up a photograph even though it is an analog recording medium. Vinyl does have a finite resolution just like digital methods.
    And guess what? They will still use digital equipment in the studios because there is no quality loss when making copies! They will just move the DAC stage from your receiver to the cutting head for the record.
    Nope your as wrong as any creationist and showing just as deep an understanding of science.

    Yes the loudness wars are making CDs crap but that has nothing to do with digital vs analog.

    I hate to sound like a member of the tin hat bunch but I have to wonder if this isn't a brilliant plan by the music companies to sell you the same music yet again! It is a lot harder to rip a record and put it on your ipod than a CD. So they sell you the "Better sounding" record for your home stereo and then the digital download full of DRM for your music player.

    • Yep (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      The only difference with analogue is that the limit is gradual, with digital the limit is harsh. With a record, you are going to get a SNR of somewhere around perhaps 70dB if everything is right (quality equipment, new recording, no dust, etc). That means that noise will start 70dB below the loudest signal. However you'll find that the dynamic range is more than that. What happens is that you can hear things below the noise floor. Just because the noise is there, doesn't mean that you can't hear anything be
  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:43PM (#21162477) Homepage
    A friend of mine and I had this battle about 10 years ago. He had a very high-end turntable from Linn and I had a CD player from Nakamichi. His argument was that vinyl retained a certain "warmth" and "depth" of sound that was lost in digital recordings. We played jazz, classical and soft rock tracks from various artists and the CD simply blew the turntable out of the water. The vinyl recording, even on his ultra high-end turntable and component stereo system, still audibly popped and crackled. The CD sounded absolutely clear and had an impressive depth of sound. The argument died for me that day. Technology is king.
  • Sweet, sweet noise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xPsi ( 851544 ) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:45PM (#21162527)

    Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove
    Finally someone who understands! I've been saying the same thing about wax cylinders [wikipedia.org] for years. For those in the know, the extra data is called "noise" and is due to a complex process whereby audio information is obtained by scraping one material across another and then amplifying it. A lot.
  • Loudness War (Score:4, Interesting)

    by this great guy ( 922511 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:47PM (#21162563)
    The "Loudness War" explained in 112 seconds: http://youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ [youtube.com]
  • Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:54PM (#21162727) Journal
    first: I like CDs. I like vinyl. I have an AWESOME turntable (SOTA Comet), and I'm a real fanatic about music.

    But the FA is missing one REALLY HUGE point:

    Most people don't "listen" to music. They use it as a soundtrack to their sad pathetic lives as they schlep their bodies to and from work, or put it on as background during dinner, or an ambient enhancement while reading or cruising the web, or as something to hide the sounds of bedsprings while they fuck their paramour du jour.

    But VERY FEW people sit and listen to music with the attention one would need to bother with discerning the subtleties between different recording principles. Music is under competition from a thousand different directions, and people's lives are so busy, that sitting around in a comfy chair with a nice drink and listening, being MOVED by music, being swet away by something that matters, is an increasingly rare event.

    I consider this a sad thing, but not unexpected, given the circumstances. There is no urge toward quality. fuck - if there was, then I wouldn't have 160 gigs of 192bps mp3 files. WHY do I, as a lover of fine audio, have so much mp3? Because I can't fit my stereo system into my office, and I like working to music. I am not uncommon. I know MANY people with extensive record and CD collections who have huge mp3 selections. And I also know many people who have huge mp3 collections and very few CDs and no vinyl records at all. They are perfectly good people who CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. They are not deaf - they just don't care. And more and more people are like that.

    So, in short, I think vinyl will NEVER replace CDs. CDs and vinyl will be replaced by high quality digital audio downloads and digital/cable/internet radio. I love my vinyl, but I'm not stupid about it.

    RS

  • contrary? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSkyIsPurple ( 901118 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @05:54PM (#21162737)
    >no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary."

    Sure, I could sample at 1 bazillion hertz, but if I'm only sampling at 1 bit I'm not going to be reproducing the original signal very well, since my sample size isn't high enough to differentiate the data I care about. And if I can't tell what data looks like, Nyquist can't tell me anything about how much sampling I need to do in order to capture it accurately.

    Nyquist doesn't directly say anything about the sample size (8 bits, 16 bits, etc, just the sample rate (22 KHz, etc).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ford Prefect ( 8777 )

      Sure, I could sample at 1 bazillion hertz, but if I'm only sampling at 1 bit I'm not going to be reproducing the original signal very well, since my sample size isn't high enough to differentiate the data I care about.

      Interestingly, the not-particularly-successful Super Audio CD [wikipedia.org] samples at 2.8224 MHz, one bit per sample.

      Delta-sigma modulation [wikipedia.org] apparently, instead of the usual, good old pulse-code modulation [wikipedia.org] used on CDs, uncompressed MP3s, and just about everything else...

  • Games (Score:5, Funny)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@mqdu[ ]net ['ck.' in gap]> on Monday October 29, 2007 @06:49PM (#21163561)
    I can't wait to play Bioshock off an analog vinyl disk. I'll bet the graphics will be AWESOME.
  • tagged riaaeqcurve (Score:3, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:03PM (#21163715) Homepage Journal
    Tagged this article riaaeqcurve

    Analog on vinyl is not lossless. From Wikipedia:

    RIAA equalization is a specification for the correct playback of gramophone records, established by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The purpose of the equalization is to permit greater playback times, improve sound quality, and to limit the physical extremes that would otherwise arise from recording analog records without such equalization.


    . . .[snip]. . .

    RIAA equalization is therefore a form of preemphasis on recording, and deemphasis on playback. A record is cut with the low frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted, and on playback the opposite occurs. The result is a flat frequency response, but with noise such as hiss and clicks arising from the surface of the medium itself much attenuated. The other main benefit of the system is that low frequencies, which would otherwise cause the cutter to make large excursions when cutting a groove, are much reduced, so grooves are smaller and more can be fitted in a given surface area, yielding longer playback times. This also has the benefit of eliminating physical stresses on the playback stylus which might otherwise be hard to cope with, or cause unpleasant distortion.

    A potential drawback of the system is that rumble from the playback turntable's drive mechanism is greatly amplified, which means that players have to be carefully designed to avoid this.

    RIAA equalization is not a simple low-pass filter. It carefully defines transition points in three places - 75 s, 318 s and 3180 s, which correspond to 2122 Hz, 500 Hz and 50 Hz. Implementing this characteristic is not especially difficult, but more involved than a simple linear amplifier. The phono input of most hi-fi amplifiers have this characteristic built in, though it is omitted in many modern designs, due to the gradual obsolescence of vinyl records. A solution in this case is to buy a special preamplifier which will adapt a magnetic cartridge to a standard line-level input, and implement the RIAA equalization curve separately. Some modern turntables feature built-in preamplification to the RIAA standard. Special preamplifiers are also available for the various equalization curves used on pre-1954 records.


    [snip]

    Think of it as analog dynamic range compression.
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:07PM (#21163793) Homepage Journal
    The latest toys for audiophiles:

    Devices to demagnetize your CDs. Or your vinyl. Yes, demagnitize your plastic. (I predict that some dumbass will reply to this defending one or both of these devices, with a lot of technobabble they don't understand, because it doesn't actually mean anything.)

    $100 speaker cables.

    $8000 speaker cables. (Current flamewar going on between manufacturers of the two over which is the bigger pile of steaming shit.)

    Tube amplifiers.

    $485 wooden volume control knobs for your tube amplifiers.

    Magic markers to color the edges of your audio CDs to improve the sound.

    Magic laquer to paint on your transistors.

    Note that any of these claimed miracles would easily qualify for the $1,000,000 JREF prize - if they worked. None of the manufacturers, or the reviewers or editors for various audiophile magazines, has the time - maybe half an hour - to win a $1,000,000, which they all confidently claim they could win. If only they had the time.

    Audiophiles are idiots.
  • by 2ms ( 232331 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @07:27PM (#21164069)
    I'm very surprised to hear compression brought out as an advantage for vinyl. In practice, compression is an ever-present concern in playing records -- in order for the needle to get enough contact, it has to be compressed using the weight of the record player arm. This physical compression of the stylus translates into (directly proportional) compression of the audio signal since the travel of the needle is reduced. Any warping or scratch on record and more compression is needed so it doesn't skip.
  • Again!? (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre AT geekbiker DOT net> on Monday October 29, 2007 @08:04PM (#21164559) Homepage Journal
    I am not fucking going to replace my entire music collection yet again. I bought vinyl albums first. Was smart enough to skip the eight-track mistake. Then I went to cassette. Now I have CDs. I've paid for my music three times. More if you count the vinyl albums I had to replace become of excessive wear (Dark Side of the Moon never gets old!).

    This is an evil plot by the RIAA to extract more money from us. They finally realized that we aren't buying the shit they try to pass off as music these days, so they looked at the income history, realized the switch to CDs was their biggest financial windfall ever, and are trying to repeat it.

    I'm not falling for it. It's time we go string up some of those bastards! Get a rope and meet me in front of their office.

    Hey, even if I'm wrong about the reason is no reason to not lynch those bastards. Let's do it. It'll be a hoot.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday October 29, 2007 @08:10PM (#21164633)
    ... for wax cylinders.
  • by famebait ( 450028 ) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @09:18AM (#21169491)
    Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

    Apart for being hogwash to begin with, it also reveals ignorance about how modern vinyl is produced. For the last few decades, the machine that cuts the master uses a digital buffer in order to be able to adjust groove widths to signal strengths (enough slack all the way through would mean very short play times).

    Plus practically all mastering is done digitally today anyway.

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