And the final outcome: Magnetic tape beats vinyl.
Well we don’t really know about this one but based on our research this seems to be the case. But let us be realistic.
A good turntable is going to put us back about R7 000 to R8 000 and then we are only just starting up our engines. A good professional series tape recorder, which you don’t really need is going to be upwards of R20 000. But here’s the crunch: the tests get done on a master tape copy or at least as damned near to a master reproduction. These cost upwards of R4 500 per tape.
If we take the vinyl and record to a professional series reel to reel deck the reproduction can never be better. Likewise tape recorder to vinyl unless you have the master copy vinyl already. We won’t bicker here – most people will understand this but here’s the crunch. Just what amount, what value do we put on this reproduction which is so outstanding, so good, that the hairs stand up on your arms? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Value wise digital lies top of the list. I will argue the point that the Zoom H6 hand held recorder from record to reproduction at under R7 000.00 cannot be beaten by any analog system. The audiophile community understand the rationale about having an excellent DAC and of course, ADC. Your digital CD player output frequency range varies between 20 Hertz and 20 kHz. Those engineers behind CD format weren’t on Opium when they devised that 44.1kHz was the optimum sampling frequency. It’s twice the maximum frequency we can hear after all. What then makes vinyl then second best and tape, the ultimate in audio luxury? Well these are analog pages after all, right?
To put things in perspective one needs to be the right age, that age which brought us through analog into our digital world. The first listenings to digital after twenty years of vinyl, R2R and cassette tapes. Crystal clear, frighteningly clear in fact. Great dynamic range and when played loud, no feedback. No skipping, jumping, popping and cracking. Just beautiful sound. Picture this in your mind for thirty seconds and now jump to 2010. Invited into a friend’s home to undergo a blind listening test. No reason given – just blindfolded, ears open and listen. Dark Side of the Moon. Different, very, very different. Ambience, colour, warmth. No new amplifier, no new speakers just a Linn Sondeck and a brand new vinyl reproduction. This was the same freaky feeling I had when listening to my brother’s vinyl reproduction of The Wall after years of listening to the digital format.
What do you think?
Next: Part II – start your engines folks and open your wallets – here comes the 1950s and 1960s Reel to Reel….