Speculation about Vinyl – is it really better quality than your cheap CD
There is lots of speculation as to whether vinyl is really better than CD quality when it comes to audio reproduction. To put more simply, are analog presses or recordings psycho-acoustic? Modern television standards have become so advanced that 4K already shows it’s limitations. Where do we draw the line between marketing and reality? Is our eyesight really all that good? How about those that can hear 384kHz.
If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and the best electronic circuits are the simplest, which does imply a straight line then CD can never sound better than a straight analog sound system. But…
The problem is that the digital media/medium used is cheaper, from raw material to transfer of data to resale and now we have the marketing department.
My first CD player was a Sony CDP1, purchased I think in 1984 at a cost of about R800.00. (off the shelf in Yokohama but going stale by then). By modern standards it was pretty modest but the sound quality was amazing. Sadly it went bust when some geek forgot to use the 220:110V step-down.
Cue’ing a CD
DJs in the 80s must have seen the beauty of these devices from the outset. Quick setup, no feedback, fast access and no scratches. We had endless blasts, the Sony was reliable but the disks weren’t. The backing started to flake off two disks, both Island Records – Grace Jones and if I recollect, Jimmy Cliff. So they weren’t indestructible after all.
So, when is a CD a mastercopy?
The big issue with CDs and DVDs from an audio standpoint is the processing which takes place. Sampling, bitrates, DACs – all to get an analog signal. Logic tells us that a digital copy is a perfect copy. Right? Not really but it certainly should be better than a copy of a vinyl to tape recording.
Modern CD players have become throwaway cheap – not the turntable though. Turntables, even modest units are starting to become expensive. Reel to reel tape recorders which were virtually thrown away ten years back are now are now sold as rare high fidelity devices. And now our problems start.
Good quality analog recording and vinyl reproduction is exorbitantly expensive. Digital may have its drawbacks but it will always outperform an entry level or even mildly expensive cassette or reel to reel deck in quality and bang for buck. What analog sound does have is depth creating that warm fuzzy feeling, that feeling of time travel and His Master’s Voice. Maybe noise, pops, crackles and a few other bits and pieces not tied into the original but we just love it. Or so we should.
Our motto: “the more things change, the more they stay the same”
From bits to bytes to sampling, over-sampling and converters. The outcome will always be analog. Portable media in digital format will always be the winner.