Are vinyls just snake oil?

That’s true for sure, but it depends on the engineer and the mastering, I have seen times where there ends up being little sonic difference in comparison, but there are times where there is a large enough difference to make it worthwhile. Ideally you would work in a 32 bit workspace (typically floating point) for music production but don’t want to get into that as it can really differ in practice lol. If the 24 bit is native and the actual files were in 24 bit then it can make the difference imo, but at times it just ends up where you might pay 2x more for not much benefit depending on the album cost

My theory is most of the issue with CD masters was with the final mix down, where when listening back at 44/16 which I assume engineers had to do, things didn’t sound good.
The availability of 24 bit masters for sale I think probably alleviates some of that issue.
I guess i don’t have any other excuse for why CD sounded so terrible early on as direct master tape transfers and so compressed later.
I’m sure there are still plenty of terrible masters being released.

That is where things can get somewhat messy in comparison to the 24 bit masters. Dithering can sometimes be fine or sound like ass, depends on the quality and type of the dither and the material itself, generally quantization distortion isn’t too much of an issue anymore, but from what I know it used to be a bigger issue. If you work in a true 32 bit fixed point, you might even have to dither twice which is not good for sound quality which some may have done in the past lol. But if you work in a 24 bit or 32 bit floating point workspace you don’t have to dither if you just release the 24 bit master so that does lend to some quality improvements imo (ofc you will still have to dither your 16 bit release since the majority of people will not be listening to your 24 bit release unless you only target audiophiles with your music which generally is not always a good idea). Also as you note previously the ability for 24 bit to have more headroom and potentially less quality loss during editing is good to have for sure (but then people may make the argument that 24 bit is only helpful for production and not consumption)

I mean at this point it comes down to skill in mastering lol, blame the people not the tech here

I have never listened to vinyl, but I would assume it comparable to using tubes or purposefully listening to “lofi” mixes. It’s just different and has a fun factor.

I wish this discussion was combined in a previous thread that was talking about the benefits of vinyl if any which clearly is not a straight forward answer.

People easily forget why digital came about in the first place. Records wear out, it’s the very nature of a stylus in a vinyl groove and not something that will sound the same the first time it was played versus the 100th time it was played. They required active maintenance to keep clean, dust and fingerprint magnets and in some cases would easily warp.

Let’s face it, the best thing about albums was the cover art, the rest is romanticized to the point of delusion once we get past the technical pros/cons.


I think it came down to both can sound excellent and just as good as each other in the high end, vinyl is more expensive in general (both higher cost in playback and medium), vinyl is a more physical and emotional experience than digital, and it all comes down to preference and budget for what makes sense, neither are snake oil and both are equally valid forms of playback


Vinyl sounds like Vinyl.
Really good Vinyl setups can have astonishing clarity and dynamics in the mid range. They sound unique for reasons mentioned above.

But really good Vinyl setups are stupid expensive even by my standards and I own 2 $3K+ DAC’s.
If your going to invest in a Vinyl setup you have to have enough good quality Vinyl to make it worth while, and that is getting expensive especially for sort after recordings, plus there is the maintenance and the inconvenience.

I’m pretty sure it was mostly just the fact the record companies saw an opportunity to resell their back catalog, coupled with mastering moving to digital.
But I think it was largely successful because of the convenience factor.
FWIW I have CD’s I bought in the 90’s that will no longer play because of bit rot, There are 100 year old records that are still in good condition.

1 Like

This is a personal anecdote though, can you compare the amount of trashed vynil out there versus CD? I have 100’s of CDs that I purchased in the 80s. not one of them has rot. I’ve seen them, but that’s customer abuse, and when it comes to abuse vinyl loses.

We can have a discussion about the technical pros/cons but if we pick a random YouTube rip of an old album, you’re guaranteed to hear pops and vinyl noise that was not part of the original master.

The only time when I look to vinyl is when the mastering of the CD is shit, particularly if the CD mastering is brickwalled to death. Oftentimes, the vinyl release has considerably less of the brickwalling or compression that went into the CD mastering. As to old vinyl, sometimes those had a better source, or are closer to the original source tapes, than later CD reissues.

I’m not saying that all vinyls are superior to CD’s, or vice versa, as I heard plenty of crappy warmpoo vinyls out there.

1 Like

I agree it’s rare, and CD’s are much more convenient.
It’s a documented issue, I had a shink wrapped copy of “Alice in Chains” from 1995 which I opened recently, and there was obvious bit rot when looking at the disk. not bad enough to make it unreadable, but clearly visible.
The manufacturers only ever claimed a 10 year shelf life if I remember correctly, but they clearly last longer than that.

I mean with vinyl rips that’s real hit or miss, dependent on a lot of things. Generally you can de-click or de-pop a rip fairly easily with good results these days, of course if you can you should really prevent those clicks pops and hiss first by cleaning the record first, and use better source gear if you can. But vinyl rips can be all over the place for quality because of the gear used, technique, and experience/skill of the person doing the rip. Also that doesn’t take into account the actual record being in good condition or good pressing or not. Same goes for tape transfers as well for the most part

Regarding cd rot, personally I haven’t had much issues with even real old cd’s since I’ve stored them well, but same goes for vinyl if you maintain it well, but I would say that vinyl is a less reliable medium in general tbh because it’s a bit more fragile and gets worse the more you play it, also more variance in pressing quality too so sometimes you have to go on a hunt for the best pressing whereas with cd you only have to hunt for the best mastering you like

Mainly because it’s pretty impossible to brickwall or overcompress vinyl without it sounding like total ass and having playback problems lol, also different audience for sure


this made me lol

Vinyl quality is also a factor. The grooves will be better defined if it’s pressed in first run vinyl rather than the off cutts repressed.
Also if you get a copy from the first run of the pressing rather than the end when the stamp is getting to the end of its life.
You can also get half speed mastered copies on virgin vinyl for ultimate quality…all these things can make an audible difference…it’s part of the fun of collecting vinyl.
Throw in the variables of TT/arm/cartridge/phono stage etc…a tweakers delight… downloaded file just don’t give you that level of engagement.
As for snake oil, all I can say is you need to hear a decent pressing on a top notch TT and you might be surprised at how good such a relatively archaic recording medium can sound.

1 Like

Interesting stuff, starting to understand old recordings that get released on CD with low gain values.

For instance diana ross & the supremes “where did our love go”
RPalbum -0.56db RGtrack -0.56db peak 0.527

There a way to isolate the vocals mix it in with session musicans and make it sound like a steely dan album ?

Steely Dan & The Supremes?

Yea, aint steely dan known for high production well recorded albums ?
Least thats what i read from another website. “There are no poorly recorded steely dan records”.

1 Like

God I love my F# A# ∞ vinyl, It has a different recording of the songs compared to the CD, and there is a lot of stuff inside, even a coin.
Since the two versions are this much different I don’t think this specific example is a valid point in CD vs vinyl, but in general, this kind of thing is what attracts me to buy vinyl.

Not a be all, end all video but I think it’s pertinent to the discussion.


Thanks for this one, timely for the discussion is right. I have never an may never get to listen to a proper Vinyl set up. I’d like to, it would be a great future reference point for me. In many ways what Steve is talking about here remind me of the way I’ve tried to think about DAC and how I have a preference for the NOS implementations.

1 Like

O my this sounds like the marantz/denon AVR debate. The denon measures better than the marantz due to filters (distortion) added to the marantz to produce a “musical” sound.