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Casual vinyl vs digital blind test
Pio2001
post Mar 30 2003, 22:56
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Today a friend visited me, so I seized the occasion to perform a hardware blind test. Computer blind test, like original vs MP3, I can do them alone with a program, but for real vinyl vs CD blind tests, I need someone to switch the source selector "in my back".

It was a "vinyl versus digital" test. A vinyl was playing back. The line out of the ampli was directed into the DAT deck, 48 kHz 16 bits. The ampli vinyl input (pure analog) was compared to the DAT input (digitized to 48 kHz 16 bits).

Preliminaries listening sessions : the digital sound seems more bright, shiny and detailed to me, the vinyl more smooth, silky and "noisy". The digital sound seems also "tiresome". No difference in frequencies or definition, just feelings.
The voice seemed to be more separated to the instruments on the digital version to her, though there is quite no difference between the two versions.

Then, in turn, the operator writes down on a paper a serial of sources, digital or analog, that are going to be played. The subject must then write on his own paper the source that he thinks he is listening to, for each session. Then the results are compared. After the test the roles are inverted, the operator becomes subject, and the subject operator.

Results :
Me :
6/10, but I guessed 3 of them recognizing the level difference, the real result is then 3/7.
Her :
5/8. After 5 trials she said she couldn't concentrate. We stopped for 2 minutes, then I played the references again, and she said the feeling was opposite now : the voice seemed more detached in the analog version, and that she had probably inverted all previous answers. Anyway, noting 0 for false and 1 for true, she got
0 0 0 1 1 -pause- 1 1 1 , so it's a failure whatever way we interpret the results.

Here's a sample of what we listened to, to illustrate the ability of digital to reproduce the "warm, fuzzy, fat, analog sound of vinyl".
sandra.mpc 516 kB, 22 seconds

Setup :
Technics SL-3100 turntable. Stanton Trackmaster EL cartridge, 5 grams tracking force, 3 grams of antiskate (it's the maximum on this turntable).
Arcam Diva A85 ampli, Sony DTC 55ES DAT, Dynaudio Gemini Speakers (not equalized, this time).
Between each trial, the operator switches the source selector (electronic commands) to a silent input, adjusts the volume to match the levels (digital volume display), then switch back the selector to the new source.

Records : Cocteau Twins - treasure (Virgin), track 1 & 3. Not convincing. So we used Sandra - 10/10 - Maria Magdalena for the blind tests.
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dvautier
post Mar 4 2007, 20:41
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I have looked at lots of technical comparisons between both CD and LP media and I feel that the real issue is the way the music is edited and mixed. I have many examples of “original” or so called “re-mastered” recordings on CD that don’t sound original at all and perhaps far from it to be sure. The low end of these so-called CD “remasters” can sound fuzzy and exaggerated, the brass is often be too harsh and muddled, the violins appear too sweet. My overwhelming preference is to do my own digitizing of vinyl and burn it to CD. In that way I get the best of both worlds. I get a very true and original rendition of the vinyl with no loss of quality and sometimes even an improvement. And believe it, the cost of good digitizing is not that much.

The undisputed convenience of CD and IPOD is undeniable, where I can take it anywhere and play it anywhere. Imagine walking around with a bunch of records, let alone allowing those magnificent beauties to be played of somebody’s half assed TT. No chance my friend.

The “original” original recorded music is probably kept on several very high quality 30 IPS real-to-real tapes in a guarded and hermetically controlled vault somewhere. The recordings were made on several individual tracks from mikes placed in different locations. Editors go in and re-mix the tracks nowadays and produce new and so-called “improved” copies, which don’t often resemble the familiar stuff we have known and loved in years past. biggrin.gif

In the world we live in today digitized music on CDs and IPODs are the media of choice. However there seems to be a great tendency among people who control original copyrights to rearrange and remix and thus give us something new but maybe not improved. So I prefer a digitized copy of the vinyl anytime.
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krabapple
post Mar 11 2007, 07:30
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QUOTE (dvautier @ Mar 4 2007, 14:41) *
I have looked at lots of technical comparisons between both CD and LP media and I feel that the real issue is the way the music is edited and mixed. I have many examples of “original” or so called “re-mastered” recordings on CD that don’t sound original at all and perhaps far from it to be sure. The low end of these so-called CD “remasters” can sound fuzzy and exaggerated, the brass is often be too harsh and muddled, the violins appear too sweet. My overwhelming preference is to do my own digitizing of vinyl and burn it to CD. In that way I get the best of both worlds. I get a very true and original rendition of the vinyl with no loss of quality and sometimes even an improvement. And believe it, the cost of good digitizing is not that much.

The undisputed convenience of CD and IPOD is undeniable, where I can take it anywhere and play it anywhere. Imagine walking around with a bunch of records, let alone allowing those magnificent beauties to be played of somebody’s half assed TT. No chance my friend.

The “original” original recorded music is probably kept on several very high quality 30 IPS real-to-real tapes in a guarded and hermetically controlled vault somewhere. The recordings were made on several individual tracks from mikes placed in different locations. Editors go in and re-mix the tracks nowadays and produce new and so-called “improved” copies, which don’t often resemble the familiar stuff we have known and loved in years past. biggrin.gif



Remixing is actually quite rare for rock/pop/jazz CD releases.

As for LP, extremely few LPs are 'straight' transcriptions of the master tapes to vinyl; there are almost always 'adjustments' made to the sound, to accomodate the consumer delivery medium -- that's what 'mastering' was originally FOR. The promise of CD was that for the first time it would allow consumers to hear what the music was 'supposed' to sound like, more or less as the recording engineers printed mixed it to two-track. without the necessary compromises made for LP cutting. But it's not that simple. There are confounding factors -- for one thing, some master tapes were recorded such that they were *intended* to be re-EQ'd etc for the delivery medium (usually LP). But the mastering moves that sound good on LP don't necessarily sound good on CD. So mastering engineers had to learn how to master for CD.

The other confounding factor is the urge to 'improve' the sound of the masters, either to correct honest mistakes (like, the album was recorded in a studio where the monitors were bass heavy, so the master tape has too little bass) or to make them sound 'more modern'. We know what that has led to.

Ultimately mastering can't just be a slavish devotion to straight digital transfer of master tapes, nor can it be always trying to 'improve' the masters. The art is in knowing when to tinker, and when to leave stuff alone.
Not all mastering engineers are good at it, and the ones who are, aren't always allowed to do what they think is best.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Mar 11 2007, 07:32
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Posts in this topic
- Pio2001   Casual vinyl vs digital blind test   Mar 30 2003, 22:56
- - lucpes   Comparing vinyl to digital sound is a very subjec...   Apr 17 2003, 11:56
- - budgie   I made very long and sometimes more than thorny wa...   Apr 17 2003, 12:16
- - jkauff   I don't think that's a fair comparison. Th...   Apr 18 2003, 00:42
- - fewtch   Not suggesting it means anything, but it's int...   Apr 18 2003, 08:01
- - Continuum   QUOTE (lucpes @ Posted on Apr 17 2003 - 12:56...   Apr 18 2003, 08:42
- - Garf   QUOTE (fewtch @ Apr 18 2003 - 09:01 AM)Not su...   Apr 18 2003, 11:42
- - Pio2001   Right, the digital was virtually a copy of the vin...   Apr 18 2003, 11:58
- - shazzan   I have heard this argument alot. Its true that vin...   Feb 26 2007, 12:39
|- - eofor   QUOTE (shazzan @ Feb 26 2007, 12:39) I ha...   Feb 26 2007, 13:26
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (shazzan @ Feb 26 2007, 11:39) viny...   Feb 26 2007, 13:29
- - AndyH-ha   Also the other way around: phonograph records can ...   Feb 26 2007, 15:03
|- - JeanLuc   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 26 2007, 15:03...   Feb 26 2007, 17:02
- - fistandantilus   Speaking from a personal view i think nostalgia ha...   Feb 26 2007, 17:41
|- - eofor   QUOTE (fistandantilus @ Feb 26 2007, 17:4...   Feb 26 2007, 18:22
- - dvautier   I have looked at lots of technical comparisons bet...   Mar 4 2007, 20:41
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (dvautier @ Mar 4 2007, 14:41) I ha...   Mar 11 2007, 07:30
- - pepoluan   dvautier: I agree. You seem to hit it right on the...   Mar 5 2007, 09:03
- - boojum   I have a pretty high-end audio system and do not t...   Mar 11 2007, 06:50
- - ShowsOn   I think the difference is the mastering as well. S...   Mar 11 2007, 08:51
- - krabapple   QUOTE (ShowsOn @ Mar 11 2007, 03:51) I th...   Mar 11 2007, 22:15


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