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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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Pio2001
post Apr 18 2003, 11:58
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Right, the digital was virtually a copy of the vinyl. The copy must not sound better than the original.

About the turntable, I'm not sure if it is good or bad. It belongs to the SL-3xxx series of Technics, that is the "direct drive without crystal clock" series, that is below the SL-1xxx, that are the "direct drive with crystal clock". They are usually cheap, however, this one was sold more expensive than an SL-1200, both second hand, and I can't find any mention of this SL-3100 in any Technics official, non official, or vintage webpage.

The cartridge, on the other hand is a good one. The Trackmaster EL is not meant for DJs, the Trackmaster AL is. According to Stanton docs, the EL one is for studio. But in fact the only difference is the tip, that is Stereohedron (special elliptic cut) for the EL, and spherical for the AL. The conception is DJ based, which just means that the stylus is hard, so as to get a heavy tracking force (2 to 5 grams).

We compared it to an audiophile-beloved Audio Technica (not the top one, but a little one in the 150 $ range), and the Audio Technica overbright treble was blown away by the Stanton linearity on classical records. But the Stanton also suffers from too much bass.
Before, I had a Denon DL-110 on a Rega Planar 3 turntable.

In conclusion, it's not worse than audiophile cartridges in the same price range.

Edit : I remember that the comparison was done with a Trackmaster AL. It was in a shop and it's possible also that the speakers had too much treble to begin with, and also that the record had too little treble... after all, don't draw too much conclusions from this...

Edit : replaced "conclusions from the above" with "conclusions from this", less confusing.
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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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