Are vinyls just snake oil?

So I’ve been thinking a bit about this.
First of all, I want to say that I’m not the most informed person on the argument, and I’m not claiming that I’m 100% right, I just want to hear what other people’s have to say about this.
I’ve looked a bit around and I didn’t see anyone with a convincing argument on why vinyls are actually better, so I’m giving it a shot.

Vinyls are made from pressing the material on a negative mold and that preserve the “analog” source from which vinyls are made.
But those molds are made from a digital recording, not directly from the analog source. The actual singer/band music isn’t directly written on the mold, but is stored in digital form, mixed, and then “printed” on the mold.

This concept is similar to printing digital photographs: even though the photograph is in an analog form once printed, it can not represent more information than the original photo had on pc, at best the print can blend better the sides of the pixels, resulting in an ARGUABLY better result.

And I think what is happening with vinyls is something similar; I think the music has received a better analog to digital transformation than the one that our DACs can make, or it is better mixed, and the analog sound is been printed in the best state that it can be.

But then again, there are people with DACs that are thousands of dollars, are those really that much worse than the one they use to make the molds?
The other difference is maybe the digital source, when making vinyls they might have access to files with a higher resolution than the one that is stored on a CD.

What do you think about this? Do you think that with a top-top-end DAC and the same file they use to make vinyls we could have the same result? Are vinyls sprinkled with magic dust that makes the sound better? Is it just the charm of the old good stuff? Let me know!

ps. I didn’t take into consideration tape recordings because I don’t think those are used anymore.

1 Like

VInyl’s Aren’t objectively better if you think about it they are technically objectively worse degrade over the uses, unreliable you have to watch it and be nearby just in case the needle slips or something, and you have less dynamic range. but unfortunately most of the time for older music vynl had the better masters compared to what you are getting online or cds these days. It’a also a purely analog way of storing and playing music so for those who are obsessed with the “analogue” sound its basically the only option most of the time. there are also those that just enjoy the experience of vynil “it forces you to pay attention” and " listen to an album from start to finish" you have to stay nearby and you can’t exactly skip a song you dont like sure you can place the needle to try to skip it but it’s weird and not exact. other people on here can probably make a much better argument for them cause Im not a fan of vynils either but I kinda see their value

1 Like

I think most people are asking the wrong questions when it comes to vinyl verses digital.

If one wants to know which is “better,” meaning from an analytical point of view, the answer is obvious, it’s digital.

The better question to ask is, ‘how different is the sound of vinyl compared to digital?’ An analogy to the answer would be knowing a tube amp changes the sound of a song verses how the same song sounds on a solid state amplifier.

I don’t know all of the technical details about it, but from what I understand, vinyl is unable to reproduce the full dynamic range of sound, and that bass, below a certain frequency becomes mono rather than stereo.

When choosing to listen to music regardless of whether or not it was originally recorded as analog, or pressed in from an original digital recording, one needs to remember that the vinyl will always sound different from it’s fully digital counterparts.

It’s not about better or worse since that answer is known. Rather it’s about what the listener prefers to hear.

4 Likes

While they aren’t the gold studio standard for recording anymore, they are still actually used more than you think on the music production side of things, 15ips reel to reel still has an extremely desirable sound for some engineers and is either used to achieve a specific sonic character or if they want a very high quality full analog recording. Even if a true tape machine is not used, tape simulation is extremely common as well. Very rare and expensive for consumer playback though (pre recorded tape albums are pricy and the lower grade stuff isn’t that great, with limited selection, expect to pay and arm and a leg for anything close to a master tape, mainly only vintage machines out there since not many people are making new ones, etc)

Also most of the way that high res releases of older albums even exist is from higher resolution rips of the master tape (same thing with remasters), if a master tape isn’t available sometimes a specific vinyl pressing will be used instead

No, you have to master differently for vinyl to overcome it’s weaknesses which will inherently change the sound, along with the fact that all turntables and all dacs have a sonic character, so even 2 dacs playing the same file will sound different

Also I don’t know much about vinyl admittedly but from what I hear, modern vinyl is more for the novelty or specialness factor than it is sound quality. There are a few putting out very high quality modern pressings but that’s not all that common

4 Likes

Agree with @SandboxGeneral, and would also add it probably depends on the mastering a lot. The order the music is presented in vinyl is very important since the groves shrink in length as you get closer to the center of the disc, which is not exactly a problem with digital media. Anyways, here is a video I find interesting in the topic:


(see the full video beyond the clickbait =P)
7 Likes

Vinyl’s are just cool. Its great to hold the record and check out lyrics, artwork. Also if you have already started listening to it there is a much higher chance you wont skip any tracks.
Overall if you have a great speaker setup and you are willing to pay for music then vinyl makes lot of sense. (and paying 10 bucks a month for spotify is hardly paying for music, imagine having to buy all those records, tracks for full price like people used to… would go broke within a day :smiley: )

I agree with Andrew 100%. If you’re going to go through the ritual and ceremony of putting a vinyl record on then you usually end up paying more attention to the music. It’s a cost/benefit thing that goes through your mind that doesn’t happen when you click play on Tidal or Spotify or your local digital collection, it just happens too fast to appreciate most of the time.

1 Like

Vinyl and digital are different ways to serve music.
Like others have said, most vinyl releases have lyrics on the sleeve or bigger artworks included with them to check out while the music plays.

You know stuff was recorded prior to 1988.
I’m not sure really see the point of material mastered for digital on Vinyl. (note I didn’t say digitally mastered).
Vinyl sounds like vinyl, nothing digital sounds way, there are a number of reasons for this.
The first is really dynamic range, this ought to be a win for digital, but the early direct analog masters on CD sounded terrible and the “fix” the recording studios came up with was to compress the dynamic range, that later led the “loudness wars”.
Albums mastered for Vinyl tended to be less compressed than the later digital masters.
Bass sounds different on Vinyl, the grooves can’t practically encode low bass in stereo, so bass ends up becoming mono as frequencies drop.
You get some natural filtering from the transducer in the cartridge.

Now all that being said, anyone who says Vinyl doesn’t sound good has never heard a high end turntable with a good phono preamp. And anyone who says digital doesn’t sound good hasn’t compared that to a similarly priced DAC.

Higher resolution recordings closed the gap for digital over Vinyl for me, SACD had masters that were as good as some of the Vinyl masters, and many of the good 24bit masters now are comparable IMO.

4 Likes

Btw I totally agree, both are a great option, I actually prefer some songs in digital, while for others I really like the way the vinyl sounds. It really also depends on how well the vinyl is made.

I grew up with something like this before the cd came out.
And honestly I had and still have a lot more connection to music.
I don’t have that with the streamings, because I don’t appreciate it that much.

And when you put a record on it is just a better feeling than a click on the mouse. :grin:

The younger generation doesn’t even know what a record player is, most of them don’t even know what a record player is.

I still have a couple of records and cd’s and with today’s dac’s you can get a little bit more out. :wink::hugs:.
And good Cd Player or turntable can be found again and again on the after Market.

Surely such a thing takes up space in the apartment that is a disadvantage, a hard disk is quickly bought and plugged in and needs no space.

But purely out of nostalgia and handling I prefer this if I can.

The collecting of vinyl is like collecting baseball cards or collecting watches.

The snake oil helps the false artificial scarcity of a collecting hobby.

From a sound perspective…idk, I think it provides a unique sound, ymmv on “better”.

2 Likes

Great topic, learned something new on bass signal. Think records are like a time machine a way to experiance the sound at the time the music was recorded. Audio marty mcfly.

And its an excuse to get more gear.:slightly_smiling_face:

Actually early vinyls (pre-1948[0]) were recorded directly to the vinyl master although the quality wasn’t up to much.

0: When tape started to be used for mastering. I have a CD which is a dump of the master tapes Lead Belly recorded in 1948 and you can hear his excitement at the quality he was hearing.

Hi-rez downloads snake oil too ?

1 Like

Yea, you should only use Hi-Rez audio LAN or WLAN ports for music downloads.
Sound will not be the same when going trough a standard LAN port.

Almost forgot. Hi-Res audio network cables also. Combination of both or nothing.

How much dynamic range and resolution is lost when going through LAN or WLAN ports ?

Niche, but saw on the youtubes high resolution music being sold on memory card in japan. Which i would buy for the novelty. Also assume that would sell internationally where streaming and digital download in not available.

Great that there is option.will spend the extra $2 for the download i really liked or if its a track that is known to be recorded/mix for the highest playback fidelity.

Generally no but they could be if it’s just an upsampled version of a cd quality copy (but that’s not common to have a reputable site sell you something like that).

The main benefit to some of the high res downloads are that for older albums they either end up being better quality tape transfers or remasters, which can definitely be worthwhile. For new releases, if it’s something like 24/44.1 vs 16/44.1 it might not make an appreciable difference if there isn’t a remaster, but if you can get a track in the native high res format it was mixed and mastered in that can sometimes provide a nice quality bump depending on your dac and how it handles higher resolution files (if the artist actually used high res samples and recordings at least, but you avoid dithering either way so that’s good).

Generally as a rule of thumb if it isn’t too expensive I would pick up high res stuff if I can, but I wouldn’t be worried about it if I can only get cd quality either, as long as it’s at least cd quality lossless it’s good

2 Likes

So for a lower hominid like myself, audiophile vinyl is a singer 911 and hires digital is 2020 911GT ?

I think the availability of 24 bit formats tends to let engineers mix with less compression and more dynamic range, so the masters end up better.
Assuming they aren’t just aiming for loud.

2 Likes