Adventures In Audio

The Vinyl Revival - So wrong on so many levels

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The vinyl revival - So vinyl is becoming popular again. But what about the scratches? The surface noise? The distortion? The rumble? The mistracking? The list of reasons not to listen to vinyl goes on and on. Like a broken record.


Here's a great comment from YouTube from viewer Rob Parsons, unedited and verbatim. Thanks Rob...

"I've been playing (keyboard/Synth) and listening to music since the late 1950's onwards, I worked in the record industry, Warner Bros and others, I did every job in the industry except cut and press vinyl, I also ran a string of record shops and lastly I recorded on a private independent label and with IC records in Germany. I am also a qualified Network Engineer, Cisco Instructor, Microsoft Instructor, Computing Instructor, I have also done programming, Machine code, Basic, Cobol, C+, C++ and some others I can't recall. So I think it is fair to say I have a reasonable understanding of Music/Recording/Digital Computing/Music Industry.

Digital sounded great to me, at first, as my use and experience grew however I've concluded that the sound digital recordings produce is in fact inferior to analogue.

When you digitise an analogue signal it changes at a fundamental level, so much so that I hear them as totally different sounding pieces, the most obvious place this is noticeable is in the studio recording process.

When you record an analogue sound digitally the first thing that happens is large information loss during conversion to a binary imitation of the original sound. If you wish to slow down a recording of a particular individual track (say slow down a string section) to obtain an effect, once you get past a slow down of 2 or 3 whole notes digital fails, this is because it is an imitation of the original with large amounts of original information missing, this totally changes the sound, in analogue it's just the same sound slower (or faster if your are speeding it up), in digital it is a totally different sound that has almost no relationship to the original, digital simply can't do it. This is because digital gives you a synthetic interpretation not an original copy (like tape, much closer to a full capture) of the sound.

Another place the inferior aspects of digital is noticeable is in synthesis (synthesisers), so not a sampled instrument but a new sound from nothing, this takes many, many times longer to produce digitally (often you give up because of time taken or it just can't do it) and the end product is 90% of the time inferior to an analogue synthesiser. This is why there is a big swing to analogue synthesisers that has seen the rebirth of MOOG and have Korg make analogue and make reproductions such as the ARP Odyssey.

When you record with analogue you capture much closer too all the sound produced (the faster the tape runs the better), with digital it takes a tiny sample point converts it to binary (so straight away you do not have an original capture but a synthetic interpretation) and then there is a gap between samples (very small but still a gap), that it does not capture the original at all, it makes up the missing information in this gap with an algorithm that tries to imitate what is missing by comparing the sample points that surround the missing/blank spot.

When I played students (15yrs-18yrs) analogue recordings of music they knew and had only heard digitally (CD) quite a few were taken aback, they said things such as, I can hear sounds in the music I never heard before or it feels more full/richer and it feels warmer.

You are caught up in the technical aspects so much that you no longer hear the music, you have trained your mind to be alert and sensitive to noise, distortion, rumble etc., etc. You no longer hear the music unless everything is stripped from it to the point of cold, clinical, artificial sound. If that's what you want that's ok but it's not what I want from music.

This clinical approach has lead to the current situation where the next generation don't listen to music at all, some have even expressed hatred for it, they cannot relate to it, this is (I believe), because it has been stripped of essential information which gives music it's connection to the deeper effects it has on the listener, it is sound stripped of it's audio emotive content.

I can't see digital being able to equal or surpass analogue until they can do at least 512bit samples but there is still the problem of it being an imitation of the original not a copy/capture of the original. This is the thoughts of 60+ years of exp.


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More revivals...


Thursday March 10, 2022

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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