Daily Blog- Ross Jones – April 24, 2008: VINYL VS. CD; THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING.

Our fearless publisher, JJ, is embarking on a quest to determine whether indeed vinyl sounds better than CD (or SACD, for that matter). Being that this is SECRETS, and JJ being JJ, expect large helpings of objective, verifiable observations backed by solid technical data.

Of course, none of it will make a whit of difference to those who have already reached their own conclusions. This particular debate doesn’t quite rank up there with evolution vs. intelligent design, but I suspect that most folks who have an opinion on the matter would not be classified as having an open mind.

I grew up with vinyl (because there were no other options in those days), and still vividly remember my first A/B comparison between an LP and CD. It was a decidedly unscientific experiment conducted in 1987, shortly after the introduction of CD. I used my Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, purchased when it first came out in 1967 and with 20 years of wear on the grooves, against the brand new (in 1987) CD of the same album on a first generation Aiwa CD player.

I focused on the fade-out at the end of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, followed by several seconds of blank leader, then the jolting guitar intro to “Getting Better All The Time”. Two things struck me. The first was that, after a lifetime of hearing pops, crackles, and rumble in the spaces between LP tracks, on the CD there was an eerie silence. The second thing was how tinny and compressed the CD sounded compared to vinyl. I immediately thought, “that’s an interesting trade-off.” So I am really looking forward to JJ’s saga.

Who knows, I may be in the market for another pressing of Sgt. Peppers.

3 Responses to “Daily Blog- Ross Jones – April 24, 2008: VINYL VS. CD; THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING.”

  1. Tyler Says:

    Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, many of those early CDs were mastered as they would be for LP, which left them bright and harsh. Also, I think people preceived the much lower noise and cleaner sound as being sterile. I know I was reluctant at first and didn’t get a CD player until 1994.

    I really like SACD and DVD-A. They are really pretty much transparent to the master (assuming good mastering). I would be very surprised if JJ found that LPs sound better than SACDs/DVD-As. The other thing being that SACDs will sound “perfect” forever while an LP loses quality at every playback.

    Looking forward to JJ’s analysis.

  2. Ross Jones Says:

    SACD and DVD-A are my preferred playback media as well. As you mention, the real issue is the quality of the original source material being used, and the mastering process involved.

  3. Feiliz Says:

    There is a thread at the Sound & Vision website which is discussing this very topic. Somebody made a CD with vinyl and digital tracks to show the diferences.

    http://forums.soundandvisionmag.com/audiovideo/board/message?board.id=40&thread.id=85909

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