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Mastering Vinyl, Myths, questions, discussion
analog scott
post Jun 29 2010, 14:10
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jun 29 2010, 14:20) *
QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 11:25) *
But that actually has happened quite frequently. Vinyl releases of the same title have been issued without the hypercompression used on the CDs of the same titles. So why try to counter something that is actually a real world phenomenon by completely misrepresenting it and then branding it a myth?
Oh for goodness sake man!

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?ti...ter_than_the_CD

It's like you have this irrational response - "someone might be dissing vinyl here - I must argue with it" - like a clockwork toy that gets wound up and just can't stop!

Cheers,
David.


Wow, you use pure ad hominem and call *my* response irrational? How about offering a logical argument that is supported by facts like I did instead of pure personal attack? Maybe we have very different ideas about what is irrational. I didn't really expect that from you. I don't really care if people like vinyl or not or dis it. But what we have here is a claim of a myth that seesm to me to be eroneous. Your rationalization of it was even worse than an eronous claim of a myth. I'm gonna give Axon enough credit and presume he really didn't take blatent factual errors, apply gross logical fallacies and turn it all into a strawman. I really would like to think that axon is refering to claims that actually have been made and that I am simply unaware of. But to say there is a pervasiveness to it implies that someone like myself who pays attention to the vinyl scene would have seen ot by now. I haven't. So if someone can show me what I have been missing I'll happily concede the point. But if what we have here is a construct of assumptions about what other people are thinking then maybe it is kinda out of place in a wiki article. Axon did invite ciritque did he not?

This post has been edited by analog scott: Jun 29 2010, 14:18
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2Bdecided
post Jun 29 2010, 14:57
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QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 14:10) *
Wow, you use pure ad hominem and call *my* response irrational?
You argued something that was already in the article. I provided a link.

QUOTE
But what we have here is a claim of a myth that seesm to me to be eroneous. Your rationalization of it was even worse than an eronous claim of a myth. I'm gonna give Axon enough credit and presume he really didn't take blatent factual errors, apply gross logical fallacies and turn it all into a strawman. I really would like to think that axon is refering to claims that actually have been made and that I am simply unaware of. But to say there is a pervasiveness to it implies that someone like myself who pays attention to the vinyl scene would have seen ot by now. I haven't. So if someone can show me what I have been missing I'll happily concede the point.
Again, you ask for something that's already in the article!

e.g. this link...
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-f...side-vinyl.html
...guy assumes vinyl must have been from superior master because it sounds so good - mastering engineer tells him it wasn't.

I've certainly read...
a) assumptions that vinyl can't be cut from brick-walled CDs masters, therefore it must have less limiting - so it should sound at least a little better - backed up with erroneous waveform comparisons which, when examined more closely, show exactly the same limiting on vinyl and CD!
b) statements that a given release sounds better on vinyl than CD, followed by assumptions that it must be because it's better mastering - then found out that it's the same mastering.
...but I didn't bookmark these, and wouldn't know where to start to try to find them again.

That anyone would choose to argue that something isn't a myth (or whatever) because they haven't heard it is just silly.

Or else it's just subtle trolling. I don't know. Either way, I've failed because I've joined the very argument I described as silly!

Cheers,
David.
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analog scott
post Jun 29 2010, 18:06
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jun 29 2010, 15:57) *
QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 14:10) *
Wow, you use pure ad hominem and call *my* response irrational?
You argued something that was already in the article. I provided a link.

QUOTE
But what we have here is a claim of a myth that seesm to me to be eroneous. Your rationalization of it was even worse than an eronous claim of a myth. I'm gonna give Axon enough credit and presume he really didn't take blatent factual errors, apply gross logical fallacies and turn it all into a strawman. I really would like to think that axon is refering to claims that actually have been made and that I am simply unaware of. But to say there is a pervasiveness to it implies that someone like myself who pays attention to the vinyl scene would have seen ot by now. I haven't. So if someone can show me what I have been missing I'll happily concede the point.
Again, you ask for something that's already in the article!

e.g. this link...
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-f...side-vinyl.html
...guy assumes vinyl must have been from superior master because it sounds so good - mastering engineer tells him it wasn't.


Yeah I read that too. I don't see anything in there that supports the assertion that there is a pervasive belief that "vinyl records must have intrinsically different masterings than CDs of the same material."
What I see there is *one* example of a reviewer in disbelief that *one particular* LP was sourced from a CD master because it sounded so good to him. I don't see how this is in any way the same thing as believing " "vinyl records must have intrinsically different masterings than CDs of the same material." and on top of that the guy who recounts the story did not actually master the vinyl so we don't know that the CD and the vinyl were actually mastered from identical *signals* only identical *sources.* There easily could have been some fancy EQ and other niceties on the vinyl not to mention a nice sprinkling of euphonic colorations from the reviewer's equipment.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jun 29 2010, 15:57) *
I've certainly read...
a) assumptions that vinyl can't be cut from brick-walled CDs masters, therefore it must have less limiting - so it should sound at least a little better - backed up with erroneous waveform comparisons which, when examined more closely, show exactly the same limiting on vinyl and CD!
b) statements that a given release sounds better on vinyl than CD, followed by assumptions that it must be because it's better mastering - then found out that it's the same mastering.
...but I didn't bookmark these, and wouldn't know where to start to try to find them again.

That anyone would choose to argue that something isn't a myth (or whatever) because they haven't heard it is just silly.

Or else it's just subtle trolling. I don't know. Either way, I've failed because I've joined the very argument I described as silly!

Cheers,
David.



Maybe if you cut back on the rhetoric and stick to the subject it will be a bit less silly. Bad day or something?
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krabapple
post Jun 30 2010, 06:56
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Wow, can this get MORE silly?

I think most of us can agree:

-- vinyl masterings are OFTEN -- maybe TYPICALLY -- different from the corresponding CD release
-- but by no means NECESSARILY different

And that these are the most salient points.

By extension, the belief that the masterings are 'intrinsically' (i.e., necessarily) different, would be wrong. This belief definitely exists among audio consumers. Whether it is 'pervasive' enough to rise to the level of 'myth' strikes me as a matter of concern mainly to pedantic, semantic nitpickers. But out of humanitarian concern Axon should modify the wiki language to prevent a tragic twisted-underwear-induced injury to sensitive readers.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Jun 30 2010, 06:57
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MichaelW
post Jun 30 2010, 07:59
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I was in my local, rather good, secondhand record store and general hipster emporium. They are meeting the vinyl craze, selling lots of those funny old 12" pizza plates, and there's a prominent ad, put out I think by Projekt or one of the turntable manufacturers, saying "MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER ON VINYL" (shouting in poster). Now, it doesn't say anything about mastering, but if anyone wants evidence of pervasive myths, I offer that as a sighting in the field.
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botface
post Jun 30 2010, 08:12
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 30 2010, 06:56) *
Whether it is 'pervasive' enough to rise to the level of 'myth' strikes me as a matter of concern mainly to pedantic, semantic nitpickers.

So, of paramount importance to most HA members then wink.gif
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analog scott
post Jun 30 2010, 09:01
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 30 2010, 07:56) *
Wow, can this get MORE silly?

I think most of us can agree:

-- vinyl masterings are OFTEN -- maybe TYPICALLY -- different from the corresponding CD release
-- but by no means NECESSARILY different

And that these are the most salient points.

By extension, the belief that the masterings are 'intrinsically' (i.e., necessarily) different, would be wrong. This belief definitely exists among audio consumers. Whether it is 'pervasive' enough to rise to the level of 'myth' strikes me as a matter of concern mainly to pedantic, semantic nitpickers. But out of humanitarian concern Axon should modify the wiki language to prevent a tragic twisted-underwear-induced injury to sensitive readers.



OK that was funny. agreed on all points.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jun 30 2010, 11:48
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jun 28 2010, 15:07) *
QUOTE (Arnyk)

For openers, IMO any discussion of mastering needs to start out with a discussion of well, mastering. This one dives into a current controversy about mastering that is very narrow.

Ummm.... guilty as charged Arny, I'm about as ivory tower as they come in terms of never actually producing audio in any meaninful sense, but you'll have to forgive me for writing this wiki entry to only deal with answering the questions that people actually care about on the subject, and in such a way as to appeal to the broadest possible audience - ie, leaving questions of audibility on separate pages, and focusing primarily on intrinsic qualities of the masters in question. The changes you seem to be proposing would alienate anti-TOS8 people for no good reason and go into minutiae of mastering which are not at all necessary for explaining the important topics. I don't dispute that audibility discussions need to be on the wiki in one form or another but I think that they ought to be separated from discussions about format/processing intrinsics, because so much of why people care about vinyl is due to intrinsics rather than sound quality, and there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that.

This is not an encyclopedia entry on the static topic ("Vinyl Mastering"). Perhaps that means it needs a new title, such as "Differences between vinyl and CD mastering" or whatnot.


Axon, you've mde up a straw man called "A discussion of the mintuae of mastering" and are now arguing with yourself. What I was talking about is an overview of the purpose of mastering - a paragraph or so. If one understands the basic purpose of mastering, much of the rest of this discussion makes a lot more sense.

One of the best introductions of mastering I've ever seen is online in a document called "The rec.audio.pro FAQ"
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jun 30 2010, 14:06
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QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 09:06) *
QUOTE (cliveb @ Jun 29 2010, 12:55) *
QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 10:20) *
2. While your comments are novel and interesting on a theoretical basis they really are non issues in the world of vinyl since no one is actually doing what you are talking about there.

Not sure I understand what you're getting at. Are you saying that my comment is not relevant because in the real world nobody actually cuts vinyl LPs from the same hypercompressed master as the CD? The impression I get from what others have said is that this is precisely what seems to be going on in some cases. If that isn't what you're saying, can you try and rephrase?



Compression is not a black and white issue. I will as a matter of logic assert that when the compression is so severe that the cutting heads will burn out that *yes* there is no real world vinyl cut form such masters. Are there CDs and vinyl cut from identical masters that are already compressed first? yeah of course. It happens both ways.


This is all pretty ironic becase back in the day, compression was widely used to cut vinyl to help circumvent its limited dynamic range, and CDs were less likely to be compressed because the medium was up to just about any signal you could send down a wire.

Hypercompressed audio can definately be recorded on vinyl, all you have to do is cut the recording levels. Music that is both hot and hypercomressed can also be put on vinyl with appropriate reductions in recorded level.

Today, compression is essentially an artistic, not a technical choice, if we're talking about digital media. Hypercompression is not being done for technical reasons.

Currently, new vinyl releases are specialty items that are not intended for the general market of music lovers. Furthermore, the number of new vinyl titles is such a thin fraction of all new releases that anybody who just listens to vinyl is missing most of the action.
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MichaelW
post Jun 30 2010, 23:52
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QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 30 2010, 20:10) *
Music sounds better on vinyl, music sounds better on CD.... yadda yadda. depends on the circumstances and the judge no?


No.
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greynol
post Jul 1 2010, 00:57
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I think all he's trying to say is that it's the eye of the beholder. Some people have a preference for coloration, others don't.

Frankly, I am getting quite annoyed at the possibility that a thread dedicated to creating an accurate and informative wiki article may devolve into a pissing match over the sound of vinyl.


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greynol
post Jul 1 2010, 01:11
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QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 30 2010, 01:01) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 30 2010, 07:56) *
Whether it is 'pervasive' enough to rise to the level of 'myth' strikes me as a matter of concern mainly to pedantic, semantic nitpickers.

agreed (on all points)

Good, I binned your subsequent post potentially starting the cycle once again and will give you the chance to either be constructive or leave the discussion. Seriously, these are your only two choices.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jul 1 2010, 01:41


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Axon
post Jul 1 2010, 02:18
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Oh for f*cks sake people. I don't mind pedantry - this entire topic is all about splitting hairs - but this is getting a little weird.

QUOTE (krabapple @ Jun 30 2010, 00:56) *
I think most of us can agree:

-- vinyl masterings are OFTEN -- maybe TYPICALLY -- different from the corresponding CD release
-- but by no means NECESSARILY different

And that these are the most salient points.

I can agree with these points, buuuut... I really am asserting something much stronger than this.

I don't claim to have much of any hard evidence for my beliefs here, besides counterexamples.. Such is the life of of the amateur researcher. But I will claim that there isn't any hard evidence arguing the contrary position. And the soft evidence I do have is pretty damn strong TYVM. 
So here I will try to outline precisely what I am trying to argue here, as a hypothesis, which is both quite falsifiable and not impossible to find hard evidence for assuming it's true.

---

For the class of vinyl releases with a "hypercompressed" CD of the same material released simultaneously, where there are no public claims one way or the other about the processing chain of the vinyl master (ie, at which point does the signal flow of the CD and vinyl masters diverge): let's say that some proportion of these vinyl releases' masters are sourced from a signal less hypercompresed than the CD master. Let's call this proportion Plh.

(As a point of reference, the "myth" claim that analog scott originally objected to, I believe, represents the belief that Plh=1 - that, due to restrictions on modulation velocity/acceleration, cutting head temperature limits, tracking etc, no hypercompressed material is allowed on vinyl. I think krab's post settled everybody on that point.)

Hypothesis: Based on all available evidence, Plh << 0.5. That is, for albums with simultaneous CD/vinyl releases, where the CD is hypercompressed and the vinyl is of unknown mastering provenance, one would expect very few vinyl masters to be less hypercompressed then the CD masters. Therefore, buying a vinyl release, in order to (primarily) avoid hypercompression that is known to exist on the CD, is not likely to do so.
  • There is no conclusive empirical evidence supporting the position that Plh >= 0.5. AFAIK, there isn't even evidence that Plh > 0.5 in any reasonably sampled subset of vinyl releases that fit the class of releases being discussed - like, what one would find in a given record store, or for a particular genre or even label.
  • There is much anecdotal evidence supporting the position that 0 < Plh < 0.5. In fact, from anecdotal evidence, Plh ought to be predicted to be fairly close to 0. I base this claim on the following points.
    • Based on my own (very limited) analysis comparing digital transcriptions of vinyl to CD versions that I have access to, every hypercompressed CD I looked at looked clipped to exactly (or almost exactly) the same magnitude on the transcription. IIRC, this is for perhaps a sample size of roughly 2-3 albums. For albums with mild or nonexistent hypercompression on CD (a much larger number), all of the equivalent vinyl transcriptions I've looked at had no additional dynamic range and no unambiguous improvement in limiting/clipping magnitude.
    • The impression I get, from reading comments made by cutting engineers on forums, is that the overwhelming majority of the sources they receive for vinyl mastering are the same as the equivalent CD masters.
  • A priori, there are reasons for believing the near-certainty that Plh < 0.5, and there are decent reasons to believe Plh << 0.5.
    • My understanding of the vinyl mastering process is that, overall, it is typically more expensive or more time-consuming to source the vinyl master from a separate audio signal than the CD master, particularly if it is to be meaningfully separate (ie, does not contain hypercompression present on the CD release).
    • If extra attention was paid to the vinyl mastering, in the sense that it was less hypercompressed, assuming this represented an added expense in production, it would be reasonable to expect that this would be prominently featured in the marketing for the vinyl release, to best capitalize on the investment. This was most certainly true of, eg, Steve Hoffman's mastering of Icky Thump[i], of the mastering of [i]Mudcrutch, etc. I have no idea what proportion of Plh for which this is actually true, though.
    • My impression of the opinions of "a significant fraction" of people - perhaps "most" - who prefer vinyl over CD on sound quality grounds, are going to base their belief more on the intrinsics of the formats, rather than the quality of the masters being used. (It would not surprise me if most producers/musicians with such preferences believe the same thing.) From a return-on-investment point of view, this is an incentive for a label not to use a less hypercompressed master for vinyl, because such a feature simply would not sway the buying decisions of some/most customers and thus not provide a significant return on investment. It is worth noting that the belief that hypercompression is inimical to vinyl as a format plays into this incentive.
    • Fundamentally, this is not a sound quality that consumers have terribly accurate accuracy in estimating. IIRC, Bob Katz estimates in Mastering Audio that transients can usually be hard limited to -6db down without audible insult. Moreover, even trained and well-respected mastering engineers will prefer vinyl even when it is hypercompressed to the same degree that the CD is. And most music listeners only know about the "loudness wars" only in the context that their CDs mastered in the 1980s sound much quieter than those in the 90s/2000s - sound quality itself tends to be a secondary discussion. That leads me to believe that, while hypercompression in itself is often audible and ABXable, believing differences in its magnitude are consistently identifiable is very unjustified.

      This matters because IMHO product quality in a market is positively correlated with the accuracy in which consumers are able to estimate it. When there is little reason to believe that consumers will consistently tell the difference when a vinyl master is less hypercompressed than a CD master, there is little reason to believe that most labels and producers will go to such troubles.
By "hypercompressed" here, I mean that multiple points exist in a 44.1khz PCM signal, where there is constant (or nearly constant) slope for over 0.5ms (22 samples) of the waveform, and such constant slope is best explained by aggressive hard limiting or outright clipping at some point in the signal flow (from recording to mastering). A signal which is significantly "less hypercompressed" than another will have correlated peaks but much smaller durations of constant slope.


---

OK - does that make sense to everybody? Is this a reasonably cogent argument? How may this be full falsified (or proven)?

QUOTE
But out of humanitarian concern Axon should modify the wiki language to prevent a tragic twisted-underwear-induced injury to sensitive readers.
Point taken, and after this argument is over with I am certainly going to rewrite the page in places, including with this issue. But there are some pretty fundamental issues people are having with the page as a whole that need to be discussed first.


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Axon
post Jul 1 2010, 02:43
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Scott, all flaming aside, I would like to thank you for your detailed criticisms of the page, and I am working through them as I find the time/words to say.

QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 04:51) *
As I see it the two most basic catagories of reasons why the mastering may be different can be divided into two


1. Differences in the signal fed to the converter and cutter preamp.
2. Differences in how any given converter or the cutting lathe that was used will handle that signal.

Differences in the signal can stem form choice of source, equipment used for the source, and deliberate manipulation of the signal ie compression, summing bass to mono, noise reduction, eq, other signal processors etc etc.
Differences in how a given converter or cutting lathe handles the signal can depend both on the equipment itself and the signal being fed to it. One can not forget that over the span of the existence of CDs and vinyl there have been any number of changes and variations in this hardware.

If you start citing specific causes for differences you will end up with a very long article.
.. Eh. I think the complete list of possible differences is going to be very long, but I can't imagine how listing the detailed differences which account for 95% of all mastering cases would be a whole lot larger than the ~7 we're talking about. Some classes of differences, like acceleration limiting in the cutting amplifier and pre-eq in the master to compensate for frequency losses in the cutting/playback process, tend to be ridiculously complex and/or have very obscure behavior at a detailed level, but their general audible effect seems easy enough to explain, as is a basic model of behavior (with a little handwaving of course).

Regardless, I think it's very important to explain to people the down and dirty of what goes on in the vinyl signal chain, precisely because of misapprehensions from both sides of the debate - some people think that there's any sort of purity in what goes on in cutting a record, and others think it's some ridiculously dirty sausage-grinding fest that is wholly unsuitable for the reproduction of audio. The truth is obviously well away from both, and I think that even if only a subset of detailed differences are discussed, all readers will benefit.

QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 05:16) *
This section implies some pretty bold specific assertions about what is and is not "better."  How do you really know if a vinyl master is "better" than a CD? You listen, compare and choose a preference. It really is that simple. The tricky problem is stting up an aural comparison in a way that is most fair. Blind? Level matched? How does one level match different masterings? Choice of playback hardware?
Fair enough. I've got a really abstract idea in my head of what "quality" means, particularly with respect to limiting/clipping artifacts, and it's pretty clear here that when I was discussing audible sound quality in that section, I should have said something to the effect of "quality of the signal with respect to limiting/clipping". Or something like that.

I'd like to say that I tried hard in other wiki pages on vinyl to step around issues of strict sound quality/superiority to make the information more meaningful to all readers, and I think I broke that rule here. This was a really poor choice of terminology on my part and you are correct in calling me out on it.

QUOTE
But that actually has happened quite frequently. Vinyl releases of the same title have been issued without the hypercompression used on the CDs of the same titles. So why try to counter something that is actually a real world phenomenon by completely misrepresenting it and then branding it a myth?
Two reasons.
  • "Quite frequently" != "most of the time". Just because there are several very prominent examples of such uncompressed releases does not make it a good policy to always buy vinyl for such reasons.
  • As I mentioned before, almost all of those releases were prominently advertised one way or another: Usually somebody chimes in on sh.tv about it, and AFAIK, some mention of it is made on the packaging of the record itself. When you already know the provenance of the mastering you can obviously decide one way or another how that matters to you. The situation of the unknown master - where you don't have knowledge of the vinyl mastering signal chain w.r.t. hypercompression, at least until you buy the vinyl - is, I believe, a far more common situation (in terms of records available at record stores), and sort of makes those marketed/well-known releases moot as counterexamples.


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Axon
post Jul 1 2010, 02:54
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 30 2010, 18:57) *
I think all he's trying to say is that it's the eye of the beholder. Some people have a preference for coloration, others don't.
No. It's a lot simpler than that (and like I just said my poor terminology did not help here).

PREFERENCE IS SUBJECTIVE AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED FOR ANY REASON.

So I think scott was in a very large sense right for the quoted statement in his original post, or at least the quoted bits of it (the rest I see has been moderated).

However, if one does decide to justify a preference, it can be for good reasons, or it can be for sh*tty reasons. Rationalization crosses the boundary from the subjective to the objective and as such can be accepted or rejected in terms of the objective reality shared by all people.

Unfortunately, the particular technical details of vinyl vs CD - IMNSHO, combined with the age-old geek wangfest of desiring better specs on one's equipment than the Joneses / hipster douchefest of being more authentic a listener than the average fan - invite a whole lot of very sh*tty reasons for justifying vinyl. And I think it's very important (and not at all contradictory!) to categorically reject such poor reasoning while respecting peoples' subjective preferences and opinions.

I need to get back to work so that's probably going to conclude my comments for the day.

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greynol
post Jul 1 2010, 04:06
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jun 30 2010, 18:54) *
PREFERENCE IS SUBJECTIVE AND DOES NOT NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED FOR ANY REASON.

I'm totally cool with that! (no need to argue over how one arrives at complete de-coloration, or some other angle for similar needless argumentation).


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MichaelW
post Jul 1 2010, 05:37
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 1 2010, 11:57) *
I think all he's trying to say is that it's the eye of the beholder. Some people have a preference for coloration, others don't.


If the claim is that some people prefer colouration, then of course that is an observation that is true; and while it is possible to discuss preferences in a reasoned way, it's foolish to just say they're wrong, and I can understand circumstances in which vinyl would be great.

On the other hand, to claim that whether or not something "is better" depends on the judge is not the same thing. There are entirely reasonable meanings for "sounds better" that can be usefully contrasted with "is a sound I prefer." You can run through a long and winding road of argumentation about the relationship between the two statements, but a lot of unenlightening heat rises from arguments which are sometimes conducted as though there is some public, agreeable meaning for "better," but which then retreat into the inviolability of personal preference when the going gets tough.

And that's before you get into the difference between engineering criteria and aesthetic criteria.
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cliveb
post Jul 1 2010, 08:38
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 02:18) *
OK - does that make sense to everybody? Is this a reasonably cogent argument?

As an argument based on speculation, it makes sense. The problem is that you appear to have not much experimental evidence to back it up - I get the impression that you've compared a few CD/LP releases, but not that many.

QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 02:18) *
How may this be full falsified (or proven)?

By taking a statistically meaningful sample of concurrent CD and vinyl releases and testing them?

It would also prove instructive to try and sample releases from different periods in history. My guess would be that the proportion of vinyl releases that are mastered differently to their CD counterpart was higher in the past, and has been progressively falling as time goes by.
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2Bdecided
post Jul 1 2010, 09:37
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OT-ish, but...

QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 02:18) *
Assuming the preference remained in a blind test, and assuming these same people could be taught to understand and accept what they're hearing (unlikely!), then there would be a market for an accurate "vinyl simulator".

If some people prefer
CD master > vinyl > player > amp > speakers
...over...
CD master > CD > player > amp > speakers
...then it would seem to make sense to simulate the vinyl experience digitally, and use it as a fb2k plug-in when listening to music - rather than go to the hassle of buying vinyl!

Cheers,
David.
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googlebot
post Jul 1 2010, 11:14
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 1 2010, 10:37) *
...then it would seem to make sense to simulate the vinyl experience digitally, and use it as a fb2k plug-in when listening to music - rather than go to the hassle of buying vinyl!


It would be nice if there was such a plugin, but the available ones that I have tested are all crap. They add selectable amounts of noise, rumble and some simple distortion (in the best case non-linear), crackling, and sometimes even hum. The result is ugly most of the time and you instantly want to switch it off. Take the LP version of the same CD and its euphonic distortion will sound much more pleasing even on a cheap turntable (though still not necessarily better than the CD). I prefer CD resolution digital files most of the time, but there are certainly releases that could use some euphonic treatment.* I think the positive aspects of euphonic distortion are severely under-researched.** Why are these plugins incapable of delivering what they are trying to model? They do try to implement all aspects, which are considered to be altering sound on vinyl, still the overall picture doesn't fit. I do think that, not for euphonic distortion in general, a turntable's pattern of distortion could be deciphered completely. But the physical models would have to be much more refined than what is available for purchase today.

* I do not consider this a CD vs. LP issue, but the result of sterile mastering, that can be somewhat fixed by "degrading" the record manually.
** Maybe it never will be, when the number of variables is so high that scientific analysis cannot be successful, so that only artistic approaches turn out to be able to handle them.

This post has been edited by googlebot: Jul 1 2010, 11:50
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botface
post Jul 1 2010, 11:28
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 1 2010, 09:37) *
OT-ish, but...

QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 02:18) *
Assuming the preference remained in a blind test, and assuming these same people could be taught to understand and accept what they're hearing (unlikely!), then there would be a market for an accurate "vinyl simulator".

If some people prefer
CD master > vinyl > player > amp > speakers
...over...
CD master > CD > player > amp > speakers
...then it would seem to make sense to simulate the vinyl experience digitally, and use it as a fb2k plug-in when listening to music - rather than go to the hassle of buying vinyl!

Cheers,
David.

Isn't that what the device in this thread was all about? http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....rt=#entry593049
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analog scott
post Jul 1 2010, 14:21
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QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 03:43) *
Scott, all flaming aside, I would like to thank you for your detailed criticisms of the page, and I am working through them as I find the time/words to say.

QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 04:51) *
As I see it the two most basic catagories of reasons why the mastering may be different can be divided into two


1. Differences in the signal fed to the converter and cutter preamp.
2. Differences in how any given converter or the cutting lathe that was used will handle that signal.

Differences in the signal can stem form choice of source, equipment used for the source, and deliberate manipulation of the signal ie compression, summing bass to mono, noise reduction, eq, other signal processors etc etc.
Differences in how a given converter or cutting lathe handles the signal can depend both on the equipment itself and the signal being fed to it. One can not forget that over the span of the existence of CDs and vinyl there have been any number of changes and variations in this hardware.

If you start citing specific causes for differences you will end up with a very long article.
.. Eh. I think the complete list of possible differences is going to be very long, but I can't imagine how listing the detailed differences which account for 95% of all mastering cases would be a whole lot larger than the ~7 we're talking about. Some classes of differences, like acceleration limiting in the cutting amplifier and pre-eq in the master to compensate for frequency losses in the cutting/playback process, tend to be ridiculously complex and/or have very obscure behavior at a detailed level, but their general audible effect seems easy enough to explain, as is a basic model of behavior (with a little handwaving of course).

Regardless, I think it's very important to explain to people the down and dirty of what goes on in the vinyl signal chain, precisely because of misapprehensions from both sides of the debate - some people think that there's any sort of purity in what goes on in cutting a record, and others think it's some ridiculously dirty sausage-grinding fest that is wholly unsuitable for the reproduction of audio. The truth is obviously well away from both, and I think that even if only a subset of detailed differences are discussed, all readers will benefit.



i think it would be a noble endeavour to cover the "down and dirty" but I really think we are talking book material not article material. I'll give you a few examples off the top of my head. Please bear with me this is off the top of my head so I'm not providing links or references. Buuuuut when I am done traveling from Bulgaria to the U.S. I will do my best to provide you with some interesting reference material.

One example, right over on Stevehoffman.tv there is a discussion of dynamic range that has veered off into a discussion of the classic golden age RCA LPs. Steve Hoffman made a reference to the big switch RCA made from the Scully cutters to the Nuemanns and mentioned that some of the "magic" was lost. Well, the magic is pretty easily identifiable colorations form that particular lathe and cutting head. Steve goes into some detail about the resonances in that cutter and how it affected the RCA sound(on an older thread). This is a sound that is much loved by any number of audiophiles. RCA since that point went on to reissue those titles in a few different incarnations all with their own sound. Then The Chesky Bros did a vinyl reissue series with very modern equipment (at the time) with mixed results. Then Classics took a stab with mixed results. Classics hit their stride and did some highly regarded 45 rpm masters cut by Bernie Grundman on his custom Scully lathe with a tube cutter. If you want to get down and dirty you would probably have to go into some depth on the sonic signature of the old Scully system used by RCA in the 50s and the affect that each renovation in equipment had on the RCA titles. Then what? Details on the Cheskys and the multiple incarnations from Classics? you can take one title and have a whole lotta material. I didn't even get into the variations of each cut that can be found on the "original shaded dog" versions that are much beloved by some audiophiles.

Here is another even more complicated example. The amazing London/Decca catalog. Arguably some of the most amazing full bodied orchestral recordings were made under the Decca banner. These LPs were mastered in the Decca mastering lab by a team of legendary cutting engineers over a period of well, since the 50s to now. If you are looking for a classic myth in mastering the London/Decca label has a great one. The myth goes that the Deccas are intrinsically superior to the Brittish cut Londons made for export to the U.S. Fact is over that 50 year period both were cut from the same masters in the same facilities by the same legendary team and after the fact one label or the other was slapped on. But the thing is there was substantial variation between different cuts of the same titles over the years due to differences in engineers and equipment not to mention laquer quality. It gets really complex. There is a terrible rule of thumb in audio that "original" means "better" and there is no better example of this not being true than with the Deccas. Many of their best "recordings" were done in the early sixties but it seems that their best cutting equipment went on line in the late sixties and IMO many of the best sounding versions were somewhat later cuts by particular engineers of earlier recordings. If you want to get down and dirty the equipment used and the engineers who did the cutting are well documented. but it is a lot of information. Then.... we have the great reissues by Speakers Corner and King Super Analog each of which had their own equipment chain and philosophies on mastering and each of which wrought some great results all be it very different results.

You will find similar stories with just about every label. Mercury, Blue Note, Impulse, Reprise, Atlantic.... Just a sample from Atlantic. I am an avid Yes fan. I have literally 13 different masterings of one of their albums, Close to the Edge. they all sound different and clearly all went through very different chains. My favorite version was cut by mastering legend George Piros. he actually cut three different versions over the years of this one title and all three are different!

I'm tellin ya this is a book, not an article.


QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 03:43) *
QUOTE (analog scott @ Jun 29 2010, 05:16) *
This section implies some pretty bold specific assertions about what is and is not "better."  How do you really know if a vinyl master is "better" than a CD? You listen, compare and choose a preference. It really is that simple. The tricky problem is stting up an aural comparison in a way that is most fair. Blind? Level matched? How does one level match different masterings? Choice of playback hardware?
Fair enough. I've got a really abstract idea in my head of what "quality" means, particularly with respect to limiting/clipping artifacts, and it's pretty clear here that when I was discussing audible sound quality in that section, I should have said something to the effect of "quality of the signal with respect to limiting/clipping". Or something like that.

I'd like to say that I tried hard in other wiki pages on vinyl to step around issues of strict sound quality/superiority to make the information more meaningful to all readers, and I think I broke that rule here. This was a really poor choice of terminology on my part and you are correct in calling me out on it.



I get where you are coming from on the subject of compression but here is another example. recently several Van Morrison titles were reissued on vinyl. One of which several of us over SHF felt was really good but not quite as good as the original. Steve quickly chimed in and pointed out the new reissue was uncompressed whilt the original had 2:1 compression. I couldn't tell from listening that the original was compressed at all. I thought the differences were really kind of subtle and a mixed bag slightly favoring the original. Looks like I prefered the cut with 2:1 compression! I enjoy a clear victor when making comparisons between masterings. All to often you get a mixed bag and I know from group auditions you rarely get a concensus. That is why i think the real issue is making fair comparisons. that is tricky.
QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 03:43) *
QUOTE
But that actually has happened quite frequently. Vinyl releases of the same title have been issued without the hypercompression used on the CDs of the same titles. So why try to counter something that is actually a real world phenomenon by completely misrepresenting it and then branding it a myth?
Two reasons.
  • "Quite frequently" != "most of the time". Just because there are several very prominent examples of such uncompressed releases does not make it a good policy to always buy vinyl for such reasons.
  • As I mentioned before, almost all of those releases were prominently advertised one way or another: Usually somebody chimes in on sh.tv about it, and AFAIK, some mention of it is made on the packaging of the record itself. When you already know the provenance of the mastering you can obviously decide one way or another how that matters to you. The situation of the unknown master - where you don't have knowledge of the vinyl mastering signal chain w.r.t. hypercompression, at least until you buy the vinyl - is, I believe, a far more common situation (in terms of records available at record stores), and sort of makes those marketed/well-known releases moot as counterexamples.




I think the *fact* that can be stated is that you can find both. When we start speculating on frequency or other peoples' perceptions on what and why we get into trouble. The water is very muddy there.
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analog scott
post Jul 1 2010, 14:40
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QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jul 1 2010, 06:37) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Jul 1 2010, 11:57) *
I think all he's trying to say is that it's the eye of the beholder. Some people have a preference for coloration, others don't.


If the claim is that some people prefer colouration, then of course that is an observation that is true; and while it is possible to discuss preferences in a reasoned way, it's foolish to just say they're wrong, and I can understand circumstances in which vinyl would be great.


Well that was actually my point. I was literally poking fun at either stance Vinyl sound better than CD or CD sounds better than vinyl. I merely said it depends on the circumstance. Circulstance meaning all the variables, mastering, hardware, listener preferences etc etc. For either blanket hasty generalization to actually be true for any individual would require a profound unwavering flat out irrational bias.


QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jul 1 2010, 06:37) *
On the other hand, to claim that whether or not something "is better" depends on the judge is not the same thing. There are entirely reasonable meanings for "sounds better" that can be usefully contrasted with "is a sound I prefer."



Of course, there are reasonable "meanings" (plural) which may not only vary but even contradict each other. Once you pick a standard by which to measure excellence you can often find some objective measure. But the choice of standard is ultimately totally subjective.

QUOTE (MichaelW @ Jul 1 2010, 06:37) *
You can run through a long and winding road of argumentation about the relationship between the two statements, but a lot of unenlightening heat rises from arguments which are sometimes conducted as though there is some public, agreeable meaning for "better," but which then retreat into the inviolability of personal preference when the going gets tough.

And that's before you get into the difference between engineering criteria and aesthetic criteria.



All of which is why I tried to poke fun at the idea. Better to walk away from "better" on a wiki article about mastering IMO. this is such a can o worms.
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analog scott
post Jul 1 2010, 14:55
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jul 1 2010, 10:37) *
OT-ish, but...

QUOTE (Axon @ Jul 1 2010, 02:18) *
Assuming the preference remained in a blind test, and assuming these same people could be taught to understand and accept what they're hearing (unlikely!), then there would be a market for an accurate "vinyl simulator".

If some people prefer
CD master > vinyl > player > amp > speakers
...over...
CD master > CD > player > amp > speakers
...then it would seem to make sense to simulate the vinyl experience digitally, and use it as a fb2k plug-in when listening to music - rather than go to the hassle of buying vinyl!

Cheers,
David.



The problem is with the baggage that comes with calling something a vinyl simulator. There is a market for a vinyl simulator. Just look at the prices of the old DCC CDs and consider some of the comments Steve Hoffman has made about how he went to great lengths the make the CDs and the LPs sound as much like each other as possible.

Of course the other problem is you need a mastering simulator to go with the vinyl simulator. Good luck with that.
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2Bdecided
post Jul 1 2010, 17:08
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QUOTE (googlebot @ Jul 1 2010, 11:14) *
* I do not consider this a CD vs. LP issue, but the result of sterile mastering, that can be somewhat fixed by "degrading" the record manually.
I think that's true of the vast majority of recordings. The very process of recording and reproducing audio loses so much of the original sound that it's no surprise to me that the final result can sound nicer if we try to put "something" back in, rather than just reproduce what's left as accurately as possible.

I suspect the recordings and systems which maintain the most of the original sound need the least "something extra" to sound "nice", but I could be wrong. Certainly recordings which capture appropriate ambience seem to work better "as is" than dry recordings. Also if the recordings are of "artificial" or electric instruments, which can only be heard through speakers anyway, then adding a little playback distortion may sometimes get you closer to the original sound - as heard by a listener at the time of recording, rather than as captured at the line input to a mixer! If it was captured that way. You can, of course, put a mic infront of a speaker to capture the sound of a particular loudspeaker - but not completely (in the same way as a mic can't capture the sound of a real instrument in a room completely).

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jul 1 2010, 17:11
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