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Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

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Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by CTV » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:42 pm

BBC wrote:More than one million vinyl records have been sold in the UK so far this year "Only five years ago this business was worth around £3m a year. This year it's going to be worth £20m."

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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Refugee » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:04 pm

I have just recently dug out a load of vinyl records.
I intend to copy them to hard disc so that I get the vinyl mix to play on vintage kit with the digital functionality.
Those CD and mobile phone or DAB mixes do vintage equipment no justice at all.
A good pair of vintage amplifiers of any age with period speakers for the vinyls such as my system will show up just how they mix modern stuff.
Vinyl is coming back because the record companies are not offering a vinyl mix on digital formats.

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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Katie Bush » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:06 am

Vinyl is a far more robust durable audio recording medium than any other, and will outlast any digital electronic, compact disc or magnetic tape.. Okay, it is easily damaged and physically degraded, but will at least remain readable, in part, if not in whole.

As an aside, I use Steinberg/Pinnacle "Clean" V5 to record and restore my vinyl collection (digitally :ccg ) and as good as it may be, it will never replace the original recordings.. It does however, afford the ability to remove surface noise and to remaster the original material.. It can be very satisfiying to recover and re-record damaged and noisy vinyl - but you need the patience of a saint if you want to get it just right.


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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Wolfie » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:18 am

One of the points being made on the news was that younger people being introduced to vinyl for the first time are amazed at the much richer and better quality sound.. Doh!

Haven't we been telling them that for years?? I think it's time to roll out the "I told you so" speech.

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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Paul_RK » Sat Nov 29, 2014 12:13 pm

The really interesting part to me is why, as with valve vs. transistor amplifiers, demand and sales fell as far as they did before rising again. There must be truths about individual or social psychology to be unearthed in the way that in both cases there was a nadir for the older technology when a very few people indeed cared about its advantages.

I remember my own somewhat grudging "conversion" to the compact disc. A secondhand player came my way cheaply at the local auction room in 1988, I bought a CD or two to experience the novelty and then very few more for a while, until in the early '90s some of the new music I wanted to hear - I think the very first instance was Peter Hammill's Fall of the House of Usher, which I see was released in November '91 - just wasn't being released on LP. Over the next few years I came to value the relative simplicity of cueing tracks on CD and my purchasing habits changed, but clearly it took a while as I have Neil Young LPs from as late as the middle '90s, which I've noticed lately are changing hands at £60-£100 each on account of their scarcity because hardly anyone else was still buying vinyl by then. I'm only a very occasional purchaser of new vinyl and haven't really moved back toward it at all in recent years, as the convenience and absence of random noises of CD generally weigh with me over its presentational advantages and warmer acoustic. I'd long tended anyway with new records to play them once for the purpose of copying them to cassette, and thereafter just to play the cassette except when for a special aural treat I'd let the stylus hit the groove again.

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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Mark Hennessy » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:23 pm

In every objective measure, vinyl is unquestionably inferior to CD. Significantly so.

Yet still, some people prefer vinyl. This is partly because they prefer the sound; but it is also about other factors as well. The "theatre of vinyl" - that is the setup of the deck, the cleaning of the stylus, the caring for the discs - is a big part of the attraction. Just like lacing up a 1/4" tape. This increased "interaction" makes you feel more connected to the music.

What about the sound itself? It needs to be separated out into two distinct areas: (1) what the medium (vinyl) does to the audio signal, and (2) how the signal is modified before it is fed into the cutting lathe.

Taking (1) first, it's clear that you have much less dynamic range on vinyl. You might get 60dB if you were lucky. Whereas 16 bit digital audio offers over 90dB. A clear and unambiguous victory. Whether anyone needs more than 60dB at home is questionable - what is the noise floor of a typical lounge? 30dBA? How loud do you play? 90dBA when head-banging...

In terms of frequency response, there are no limitations with CD. You can record any frequency in the audio band at any level you want, at any part of the stereo sound-stage. With vinyl, too much bass - especially panned away from the centre of the image - will render a record untraceable. Too much treble will overheat the cutting lathe.

With CD, harmonic distortion is a non-issue. With vinyl, the THD is about 1% at best - varying with frequency, and getting worse with every playing.

Not to mention speed variations, off-centre holes, warps, etc, etc.

Following on, (2) is about modifying the signal in the light of all these limitations. A "mastering engineer" will compress (reduce the dynamic range) of the signal - turning up the quiet parts of the performance so they don't become lost in the noise of even virgin vinyl. The bass end will be examined - often resulting in the peak levels being limited, but also applying compression to bring up the average level, so the loss of peak level isn't so noticeable. Of course, the bass content has to be mixed to mono. Similar comments apply to the HF end, as not only do you have to restrict the level for the sake of the cutting head, but you have to consider how things will sound once the record has had a few plays. It's a minefield.

Back in the day, good vinyl mastering engineers really earned their fees. They were an essential step between the recording studio and the cutting lathe, and they were very skilled at squeezing out the best results from a medium that is technically very poor indeed.

It's this "mastering" process that makes direct AB comparisons between vinyl and CD impossible. When you compare two nominally identical recordings, no matter how good condition the vinyl might be in, you can't eliminate the effect of the mastering process from the audio you hear.

In a way, it's this "mastering" process that gives vinyl a "rich" sound. We like compression, we like distortion. We like high frequencies to be gently curtailed. The mastering engineer will be trying to achieve a sound that sounds OK in a range of different situations - from a Dansette upwards - so will be doing everything he can to make a "nice" sound that is not too demanding from a technical point of view.

In a way, mastering isn't required for CD - the completed mix that comes from the recording studio would "fit" on the CD with no loss, and the joy of CD is that it potentially offers us the chance to hear what the mix engineer heard. But mastering is still done - mostly because few people listen on good hi-fi systems. Sometimes mastering is done in a very bad way (loudness wars), but whatever the merits, the mastering for CD will be different for vinyl and different for download. It will be different for SACD as well, so if you hear differences with SACD (compared to CD), that'll be what you hear - not the medium (24/192 is total overkill for delivery to the home, and adds nothing to the performance in a technical sense that we can actually perceive).

In a way, re-mastering is nothing more than a marketing opportunity. It is very rare to find a remastered CD that sounds better than the original. Most remasters are a crude application of compression and limiting to make it sound "bigger". The classic example being "Brothers In Arms", where the original has a staggering dynamic range (for a rock/pop recording). The PMR (peak to mean ratio) is 25-30dB or more in places. A typical modern rock/pop recording would be well under 10dB. The remastered version of Brothers In Arms is about 10-12dB, and sounds very dull as a result.

Ultimately, one might well have a strong preference for the vinyl - and expressing that preference is fine because that's a subjective opinion based on all sorts of factors - not just the sound. But sadly, those that claim that vinyl is a better medium than CD are making an objective statement that is demonstrably wrong. If you prefer vinyl, you prefer high amounts of harmonic distortion, a less dynamic sound, and less high and low frequency energy. And you enjoy all the paraphernalia that surrounds vinyl replay. Absolutely nothing wrong with that preference :bba

CD as a medium is potentially "blameless". It's just a shame that the record companies choose to abuse it. There are some staggeringly good CDs out there, but they are hard to find.

Personally, I occasionally play vinyl, and it's good fun. It has no right to sound as good as it does - it's very enjoyable. But a CD that hasn't been messed about with at the mastering stage is simply light-years ahead.

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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by Valvebloke » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:59 pm

And extending Mark's analysis to its logical conclusion, lossless digital audio files read from a local store or streamed over a suitably high bandwidth connection and fed straight into a DAC will be even better than CD. CD is, after all, just this with the addition of an optical store (the CD itself) and its reader (the transport mechanism plus laser/photodiode). At the very best all these do is to deliver the digital stream 100% accurately. If they do anything else at all then that will only corrupt the digital stream.


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Re: Vinyl record sales hit 18-year high

Post by rob t » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:58 pm

I agree with Mark that cds can sound excellent certainly some I have from the early 80's are great as is the latest pink Floyd CD.
BUT most CDS from the mid 90's onwards sound awful on a home HIFI .
if you want an example other than brothers in arms try Fleetwood mac rumors the 80's CD is far better than the re release from the 90's.
and worst sounding of all are the CDS marked as digitally remastered.
Rob T

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