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  1. #1
    it's about the music
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Is there any point in getting one of the newer albums on LP?

    i was considering the possibility of aqcuiring some modern albums on vinyl, for example some pearl jam, porcupine tree and bad religion
    HOWEVER, if those were recorded using digital techniques, the sonic advantage of vinyl is pretty much gone.
    in fact, if they were mastered for CD and then just transferred to vinyl, wont this mean they'll sound ever worse?
    is there any point in getting them other than the sheer pleasure of slamming a slice of vinyl on my turntable?
    I remember the days when I thought 128kbps sounded great and had never spent more than 10 bucks on cables...

  2. #2
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    on some faraway beach...
    Almost all pop type recordings go through some digital processing regardless of whether they are an analog recording or not. In fact, most vinyl cutting lathes use a digital delay line these days instead of the old analog preview head in order to set the groove spacing. So one could argue that there is no advantage to vinyl. But just about everyone that spins vinyl and buys new records knows that probably 90%of the time the vinyl sounds better than the CD on comparable systems (although it's not always easy to say what "comparable" systems means). One reason is that the vinyl release is usually mastered by someone other than the one who did the CD and usually they aren't under pressure to make it as loud as possible, so even if they are both from the same "raw" digital source, the CD usually goes through a ton of compression to squeeze the loud sounds into the limited headroom offered on CD, and possibly a ton of EQ to give it even more of a boombox friendly bass and sizzling high end, all while it is being mastered. The vinyl is often farmed out to another label that specializes in mastering and pressing records, so it might be cut "flat" without any extra compression. All depends on what the artist and label want. But I've seldom found a CD that sounded as good as its vinyl counterpart.

    Lots of the "indie" stuff is still done analog too, although like I said above, not many of them make it all the way to the grooves without some kind of digital conversion. Some do though. I think some of those Pearl Jam albums are all analog, or close to it.

    Another reason is that most recordings are done in higher resolution than 16-bits @ 44.1KHz today so there is a possibility (slim though it may be) that the record was cut with a higher resolution and sample rate source than the 16-bits @ 44.1KHz offered on CD.

    And records are generally just more fun, and sometimes come with extra tracks, and are sometimes cheaper too!

  3. #3
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    below the noise floor
    I agree -- the final mixdown of a CD has to be at 16/44.1, but vinyl can be at whatever highest res at which it was mixed. For example -- if they were using a 24/96 ProTools system, you still get all of that 24/96, but when they transfer it to CD, you have to trim it down quite a bit.

    And as Dave said, you'd be surprised how much of it is still done in analog. Look for the name "Steve Albini", and you're pretty much guaranteed it's been done in analog.

    So yes, there absolutely is still a point.
    Eschew fascism.
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    SF Bay Area
    I think the viability of it would also vary with the length of the album. With Direct Metal Mastering, an LP can be made to play longer than a CD. However with the additional length, the level on the source decreases. Surface noise is just a fact of life with vinyl, and with those longer albums, their playback level is so low that the surface noise can be very distracting. I remember one album (don't remember the artist) from the late-80s maintained the 60+ minute playing time of the CD by mastering the longer side at a lower level. The liner notes simply told the listener to crank up side 2!

    With some other albums that I've seen (dance music and electronica compilations in particular), the vinyl version gets expanded into a double album. In those cases, you don't have the same sonic limitations, but you do pay a higher price.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    May 2002

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  6. #6
    Mutant from table 9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Pearl Jam would probably prefer that you get their music on vinyl. Bad Religon too for that matter. There are lots of good reasons to buy vinyl over CD, but I don't think that there will ever be a consensus on sound quality. One of the best reasons is limited edition stuff. For example, the White Stripes released their cover of "Jolene" only on 7 inch. I have a bunch of stuff thats only available on vinyl.

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