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  1. #1
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    Why do my LP's sound better than CDs?

    I've recently started playing my vinyl again after ignoring it for about 10 years. I was able to find a new stylus for my Signet OM40 cartridge to put on my Denon DP37L turntable.
    I also upgraded the RCA jacks with Monster interconnects when I had a recent short.
    Good analog equipment...but definitely not what an audiophile would consider high-end.

    I was floored by how good the sound quality was compared to my CD player. A Denon 2200 Universal player. I tried doing an A/B comparison on albums I had both in LP and CD form and I was horrified to hear that the LP's sound better to me!

    The music was tighter, sharper, and cleaner. Sure you had a little surface noise but that was usual only noticible between tracks and at the quietest of passages. The CD's on the other hand had a harshness to them. Particularly the higher frequencies had a shrillness to it. Female vocals had an echo and the bass seemed more muddy.

    Mind you none of this was apparent to me when I only listened to CD's...it was only when I hooked up my turntable and compared the two did I hear these differences. Could there be something wrong with my CD player? I've gone through all the audio set menus on the 2200 and I believe everything to be set up correctly. Could there be something obvious I'm missing? Would it sound better if I connected it through a Tosc link to my AVR's CD input instead of the DVD input? Here's the rest of my equipment:

    Denon 3805
    ATI 1502 amp (front only)
    Polk LSi 15
    Polk LSi C
    Polk FXi 3 (rears)
    Velodyne DLS4000 sub
    Monster M series biwire(front and center only)
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  2. #2
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    The shrillness and hardness seems to be component specific

    There may be couple of reasons for this, but one that was suggested in the latest edition of Hi-Fi News, that I had not thought of before but once you think about it, it is fairly obvious, that is that the limited dynamic range of LPs gives them an upper hand much in the same way as subtle use of compression makes wide dynamic range music more listenable on dynamically challenged equipment. More to the point and on more subjective level and even objective level, there are a variety of reasons why an LP may sound better than the equivalent CD, however shrillness and harshness should not be included or least should be very minimal except on the most incompetent engineered CDs, so without mincing words, I will suggest that your CDP or DAC section of your receiver is very sub-standard vis -a vis your analog gear.

    As for your question, I very much doubt that changing the digital input will alter the sound much since they pass through same DAC, changing from toslink to coaxial may have some effect but not so much as to totally banish the reported issues, though you may give a try. Since you are already using the DAC section of your receiver, audition better DACs. Also why not try out the analog outputs of your CDP, they may sound better than the receiver.
    Last edited by theaudiohobby; 03-07-2005 at 10:31 AM.

  3. #3
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    Isn't it frustrating?

    I've been recently ramping up my home theater and computer audio - surround receiver/speakers, airport express, etc and have been listening to my vintage thorens/fisher/klipsch system much less. In fact I was just about to go buy a denon 2200 like you've got. I was toying with the idea of packing up the vintage system for a while because the speakers, turntable and records take up so much space. Digital is so much more convenient, I also felt like the digital end of my system was getting pretty good.

    Then I threw on a record after not listening to vinyl for while. GEEZ! The sound is so much better it is just silly. All the experimenting and investment and time spent on the digital end just can't compete with my 25 yo turntable, worn out shure cartridge, 40 year old tube receiver, and 25 year old klipsch speakers. I guess I won't be able to pack up the records after all!

    So we've established that the denon 2200 is inferior to vinyl, but how has it been for you in general as a player? I am considering buying this guy used for a decent price. How's the video, sacd, etc?

    Thanks,
    Eric

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericl
    I've been recently ramping up my home theater and computer audio - surround receiver/speakers, airport express, etc and have been listening to my vintage thorens/fisher/klipsch system much less. In fact I was just about to go buy a denon 2200 like you've got. I was toying with the idea of packing up the vintage system for a while because the speakers, turntable and records take up so much space. Digital is so much more convenient, I also felt like the digital end of my system was getting pretty good.

    Then I threw on a record after not listening to vinyl for while. GEEZ! The sound is so much better it is just silly. All the experimenting and investment and time spent on the digital end just can't compete with my 25 yo turntable, worn out shure cartridge, 40 year old tube receiver, and 25 year old klipsch speakers. I guess I won't be able to pack up the records after all!

    So we've established that the denon 2200 is inferior to vinyl, but how has it been for you in general as a player? I am considering buying this guy used for a decent price. How's the video, sacd, etc?

    Thanks,
    Eric
    Keeping in mind that I've never owned anything other than conventional CD players before the higher resolution formats sound "good" to me...but still not as good as my analog. One source material I was fortunute to have in all three formats: LP, conventional CD, and SACD. That was the Police Synchronicity...a very well recorded album. While the SACD sound was noticibly better than conventional CD...my 20 year old LP blew them both away!

    The dynamic range issue that the previous poster mentioned is possible...it does make sense, but if that's the case why don't they mix down the digital sources to compensate for this? I mean like you say...digital is easy right? I would certainly expect a SACD to sound as good as it possibly can. There no way a 20 year old over the counter LP should sound better.

    There are a couple of quircks about the 2200 I don't like. You can't que up a track to play.
    You must first start the disk playing from the begining, skip to the track you want, then quickly hit pause (or skip back again)...quite annoying. Also the fast scan feature is useless...it only has one speed...which I believe is only 2x...and it's completely audible.
    The onscreen menu is far from intuitive and the instruction manual is only of minimal help...of course this is a patented and well documented Denon shortcoming.

    On the other hand...the video is awesome. Reads every DVD I throw at it, great picture, great sound. No complaints on the video end...but keep in mind I'm probably 85% audio
    and 15% video...and a good chunk of that video is music concerts.

    I love my Denon turntable though! Would trade it for anything!

    Does anyone think I would benefit from buy a higher end CD player (Linn, Meridian, etc) and using that for 2 channel listening exclusively?

  5. #5
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Denon equipment

    When I was first seduced by hearing a high end system I decided to junk my exsisting equipment. I had probably paid about $500 for the whole set-up. Clearly seperates were the way to go. I bought an expensive Denon 20 bit(!) CD and an expensive Denon integerated Amp about $1,400 and a pair of $800 speakers (used). This was 15 years ago, I thought that the amount I spent was real money and I was in the big time. I wasn't very happy with the end result.

    Now I know that careful attention to each piece of gear, picking pieces from manufacturers that have good reputations for that particular kind of device is neccesary to avhieve optimum sound for a given price point. Over the years I have gone back and listened to Denon digital gear and to me it always has that harsness, glare or etch. I haven't heard every thing they make but what I have heard has a consistent signature in the mid to upper mid frequency range which to me at least is unpleasant.

  6. #6
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    Welcome to the Club!

    Quote Originally Posted by 20to20K
    ...the LP's sound better to me!
    Me, too! Possible reasons - not that I say "possible":

    1) Redbook CD is simply not high enough resolution to accurately reproduce music. This would make some sense in that my SACD's level the playing field between analog and digital.
    2) The recordings you have were done well on vinyl and the digitization to CD was done less well.
    3) Your digital components are not up to snuff. Note that I own a Denon PMA-2000R CDP in my basement system and I do not find it harsh sounding. It's actually a tad bit on the dull side. However, after recently replacing my DAC in my main system, redbook CD sound is much improved. Still not as good as vinyl but much closer.
    4) The reputedly narrower frequency response of the LP is shaving off some glare that the CD passes through.
    5) The LP has some measurable built-in distortions that convey more of a sense of realism while being less accurate and you like the sound of these distortions.

    There are probably more. I would lean more towards number 2 and then number 1 in which case you have few options for improvement. You might audition a few other CD players and see if that helps any and use the Denon for high rez audio and video. My personal feeling is that if vinyl sounds better to you than CD, you might simply start checking out flea markets and used shops and buying more vinyl!

  7. #7
    Forum Regular risabet's Avatar
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    A Bit Off Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    There may be couple of reasons for this, but one that was suggested in the latest edition of Hi-Fi News, that I had not thought of before but once you think about it, it is fairly obvious, that is that the limited dynamic range of LPs gives them an upper hand much in the same way as subtle use of compression makes wide dynamic range music more listenable on dynamically challenged equipment. More to the point and on more subjective level and even objective level, there are a variety of reasons why an LP may sound better than the equivalent CD, however shrillness and harshness should not be included or least should be very minimal except on the most incompetent engineered CDs, so without mincing words, I will suggest that your CDP or DAC section of your receiver is very sub-standard vis -a vis your analog gear.

    As for your question, I very much doubt that changing the digital input will alter the sound much since they pass through same DAC, changing from toslink to coaxial may have some effect but not so much as to totally banish the reported issues, though you may give a try. Since you are already using the DAC section of your receiver, audition better DACs. Also why not try out the analog outputs of your CDP, they may sound better than the receiver.

    True the dynamic range of analog is limited compared to the theoretical limit of digital media; reality is that very few popular or classical recordings utilize all of the dynamic range of either format. Popular music is dreadfully compressed and most vinyl albums, save the few Classical Decca's, Living Stereos, Lyritas etc are not utilizing the full DR of that medium either. Some of the rock reissues are better but most current music is recorded horribly

    Personally, I have yet to hear any pair of recordings, when presented on CD and vinyl, where the vinyl isn't preferable in almost every important aspect save, sometimes, bass clarity, not necessarily bass extension. Specifically Appalachian Spring (Reference Recordings, RR-22 and CREF-22), when compared side by side on vinyl and on CD, with matched levels, sounds significantly more realistic on vinyl then on CD.

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  8. #8
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    Oops!

    [QUOTE=musicoverall]Me, too! Possible reasons - not that I say "possible":QUOTE]

    "Not" in the above sentence should be "Note"..

  9. #9
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    I think that LP sounds better to most of you because it was mastered with better care than their CD counterparts. Also early digital recording used digital recorders with brickwall filters in their D/A conversion. Very nasty on the high frequencies. I believe musicoverall pretty much summed it all up.
    Sir Terrence

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20to20K
    I was floored by how good the sound quality was compared to my CD player. A Denon 2200 Universal player. I tried doing an A/B comparison on albums I had both in LP and CD form and I was horrified to hear that the LP's sound better to me!
    Why tell us what your equipment is? Do you think hearing LPs as being superior has something to do with your specific equipment?

    There are four reasons you might hear LPs as being better than your CDs, but I only know three:

    1) You have bad judgement of what is "better" recorded sound.
    2) The recordings on CD are not as good as those on vinyl.
    3) Vinyl is adding some effect that you like.

    Item 2) is often the problem as recordings have to be mixed differently for LP than CD and the CD mix is not done very well. This is true of many pop/rock CDs as often no care is taken in creating the CD. Even if the recording has been properly remixed for CD, you may not like the recording engineer's take on how the music should sound.

    Item 3) either the noise level is acting as a audible biasing agent (don't ask) or perhaps the hyper demensionality displayed by the way LPs kludge stereo is to your liking.

    This has come up before so I will simply make two points:

    a) The CD medium is significantly superior in every measured variable including noise, distortion and frequency response (except for extension of recorded high frequencies into the ultrasonic).

    b) You can check these factors by either listening to better recordings--such as non-multitracked jazz or classical on both LP and CD or you can take a more experimental approach (which I know you might like) and record your LP onto a recordable CD and then make the comparison (they should sound identical). If they do sound identical, then either factor 2) or 3) above is true.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    You said your DVD / CD player is hooked up with a toslink? Try a coax cable connection if possible. Always sounds better to me. If one of your components lacks a coax input / output, try a glass toslink if yours is not glass. You will hear a difference in detail, bass and smoothness.

    I just bought this inexpensive one on eBay, a big improvement over the Monster toslink I was using. http://stores.ebay.com/24-7-MINIDISC...eNameZl2QQtZkm

  12. #12
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    I've really really tried, honest! Vinyl still sounds better to me. My lady friends prefer vinyl also. I can listen for longer periods of time when playing vinyl. I have quite a few recordings on vinyl and CD. In every instance I prefer the vinyl. The CD may have greater bass extension and no surface noise but somehow there is more there there with vinyl. No, that is not an editing mistake.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by risabet
    True the dynamic range of analog is limited compared to the theoretical limit of digital media; reality is that very few popular or classical recordings utilize all of the dynamic range of either format. Popular music is dreadfully compressed and most vinyl albums, save the few Classical Decca's, Living Stereos, Lyritas etc are not utilizing the full DR of that medium either. Some of the rock reissues are better but most current music is recorded horribly
    I think you should take a look a the DR across the whole frequency spectrum for LPs, it is non linear, have a look, RIAA curve is a dB levels compensation curve, dB levels have to be lifted to compensate for its limited dynamic range in the bass regions.

  14. #14
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    One of the beauties of vinyl reproduction,,,

    Quote Originally Posted by 20to20K
    I've recently started playing my vinyl again after ignoring it for about 10 years. I was able to find a new stylus for my Signet OM40 cartridge to put on my Denon DP37L turntable.
    I
    I was floored by how good the sound quality was compared to my CD player. A Denon 2200 Universal player. I tried doing an A/B comparison on albums I had both in LP and CD form and I was horrified to hear that the LP's sound better to me!
    ... is that phono cartridges, being transducers, are just as euphonic as speakers. You can radically change ths sound of your vinyl playback by simply replacing your cartridge. Some are warm and woody, some are bright and analytical, some have depressed midranges, fat ones, skinny ones, kids who play on rocks...
    Last edited by markw; 03-08-2005 at 06:05 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    ... is that phono cartridges, being transducers, are just as euphonic as speakers. You can radically change ths sound of your vinyl playback by simply replacing your cartridge. Some are warm and woody, some are bright and analytical, some have depressed midranges, fat ones, skinny ones, kids who play on rocks...
    markw and Pat D

    What turntables are price competitive below 1500USD? I know the Project turntables, are there any others?

  16. #16
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    markw and Pat D

    What turntables are price competitive below 1500USD? I know the Project turntables, are there any others?
    Here in the US we have access to Music Hall TT's. I don't know if they are available in the UK. Check www.needledoctor.com
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  17. #17
    Forum Regular risabet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    I think you should take a look a the DR across the whole frequency spectrum for LPs, it is non linear, have a look, RIAA curve is a dB levels compensation curve, dB levels have to be lifted to compensate for its limited dynamic range in the bass regions.
    The RIAA curve is set up to allow the cutting stylus to maximize the amount of music on a side. In doing so, the designers of the system boosted the trble and lowered the level of the bass. This minimized the power that the cutting head would need, limited the groove pitch cut into the record and maximized the time of each side.

    To my knowledge, the RIAA curve was not meant to limit the dynamic range of the album, as the inverse curve in phono pre-amps is just that and if properly done should lead to "flat" frequency response and whatever DR the engineer put on the tape, in theory.

    However, as a transducer system the cartridge will run into grooves that cannot be tracked i.e. Tealrc's "1812 Overture." A problem CD's don't have.

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  18. #18
    RGA
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    Is there really a reason you need to know why? You won't know why based off of the lack of good information you're getting in this thread...there is quite a difference of opinion on dynamic range and which is in fact superior as to the medium -- the definition was conveniantly changed around 1982 (gee when CD came out) to make it look a lot better than it really is -- this was discussed in UHF's first book.

    This site which is pretty problematic still makes for interesting reading regarding the measured response of LP (but his viny rig is not particularly high grade but still) http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...DsDynamics.php

    A large part of this comes down to the recording -- who really cares about nitpicking over the format -- no low says you only have to have on or the other -- why not have both? If the Jackson Browne "Running on Empty" album sounds better on vinyl than the same album on cd (which is the case) then if this is one of your favorite albums and you can point to 30 such albums you bought in a row like this then get a turntable --- or if there are plenty of singles and older lbums you like that are not on cd or SACD(and probably never will be) then vinyl is something to get.

    So too is cd for the same reason -- I can;t get Loreena McKennitt or Acoustic Alchemy on vinyl -- I like them enough that it's worth getting a cd player JUST for those two artists...and luckily they are very well recorded cds.

    i tend to agree that it's the recordings that people take issue with mostly and then blame the format -- but not all cds are bright so that indicates a recording issue not the format. CDs generally get played back on poor cd players and then we get question begging pseudo scientists on about non true to life tests.

  19. #19
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    Compensation not limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by risabet
    To my knowledge, the RIAA curve was not meant to limit the dynamic range of the album, as the inverse curve in phono pre-amps is just that and if properly done should lead to "flat" frequency response and whatever DR the engineer put on the tape, in theory.
    Hi risabet,

    I did not say limit, I said compensation for limited DR in the lower regions, yes it also address longer play time issues, have a look at the RIAA equation.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    i tend to agree that it's the recordings that people take issue with mostly and then blame the format -- but not all cds are bright so that indicates a recording issue not the format. CDs generally get played back on poor cd players and then we get question begging pseudo scientists on about non true to life tests.
    I agree. I simply prefer the recording that sounds best to my ears - usually the LP or the SACD. I also believe, as your linked article pointed out, that there is a lot of theory in audio that doesn't stand up to empirical evidence.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    Hi risabet,

    I did not say limit, I said compensation for limited DR in the lower regions, yes it also address longer play time issues, have a look at the RIAA equation.
    I agree that RIAA is primarily designed to compensate for the inability of vinyl to store proper dynamic range at the frequency extremes. Note, however, that it doesn't help much as an LP as a rather poor dynamic range which led (in the past) to the use of dynamic range expanders. This is one of many areas in which a CD out performs the LP playback medium.

    While we are on the subject of RIAA, let's be clear for all the "purists" out there that a signal intented for LP playback goes through at least two additional processing phases (i.e., amplification stages) because RIAA equalization must be applied and then compensated for. Hence, LP is at a disadvantage without even considering the limitations of the medium. If you believe less signal modification is better (or a goal) then LP is not for you.

    In addition, LPs are made from masters that are recorded as either digital or analog tape and therefore must go through a dub to become LPs (you are listening to second generation copies at best). It is possible to record direct to disc, and such LPs sound great--the best the medium can do, but really quite inferior to CD (redbook digital).

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobotCzar
    ...such LPs sound great--the best the medium can do, but really quite inferior to CD (redbook digital).
    So if something sounds "great, but inferior", do you consider what you're comparing it to (redbook CD, in this case) to be perfect or nearly perfect?

    Also, have you ever heard a 45 RPM LP which was recorded from an analog source? That is the best the medium can do and is completely superior to redbook digital from a sonic perspective ... er... both of those statements being totally subjective, of course. But my post is not to start a medium war but just to suggest you check one of these LP's out if you ever get the opportunity... just to see if you change your mind.

  23. #23
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Talking

    Hard to play LP's in your car.
    They're so big.
    You can here some stuff really well,like nicks and scratches.
    Walk softly around a turntable.
    Making copies from LP's just dont sound as good{imo} as a cd copy.
    Look & Listen

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    Vinyl Sounds Better????

    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    So if something sounds "great, but inferior", do you consider what you're comparing it to (redbook CD, in this case) to be perfect or nearly perfect?

    Also, have you ever heard a 45 RPM LP which was recorded from an analog source? That is the best the medium can do and is completely superior to redbook digital from a sonic perspective ... er... both of those statements being totally subjective, of course. But my post is not to start a medium war but just to suggest you check one of these LP's out if you ever get the opportunity... just to see if you change your mind.
    You people must come from a different world than I do. I have some 200 vinyl albums that I have purchased throughout the years ever since the 1960s. Most are in pristine shape without as much as a fingerprint on them. I play them with a Pioneer PL540 turntable using a Shure V15 type 4 cartridge. Quite frankly there isn't a one of them that will beat a decent CD. The disks, even though they look perfect, are loaded with surface noise. To say that vinyl is better boggles my mind. The only reason I keep the vinyl that I have is simply for sentimental reasons since many of them were bought when I was quite young.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Hard to play LP's in your car.
    They're so big.
    You can here some stuff really well,like nicks and scratches.
    Walk softly around a turntable.
    Making copies from LP's just dont sound as good{imo} as a cd copy.
    Yes... unless you can get your car into your living room!
    Bigger means easier to read the label for an old man like me!
    Yes, care must be taken to keep those things off the vinyl.
    Not necessary if one's turntable is properly suspended. You could bounce a hammer off my rack and you wouldn't get the thing to skip. My heart would, of course, be another matter!
    I make CD-R copies for the car only and the system doesn't sound as good as my main stereo so in that case, I'd agree with you.

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