There is once again a ‘Vinyl vs Digital’ thread on the hardware page, with a lot of categorical statements. Clearly, some ‘know’ that A is vastly superior to B for all recordings of all music, and that anyone who disagrees is (as so often on that page) delusional, dishonest or deaf.
At least some of us have failed to reach such a simple, universal and categorical conclusion. For people in that equivocal camp, it might be good to share views on which versions of which famous & great music we favour.
To take a few easy examples, while recognising that YMMV: -
Ziggy Stardust - If you haven’t got/ can’t afford the 6E/ 4E vinyl that so many regard as definitively best, don’t panic! The Discogs descriptions are pretty fair and several orange label or green label RCA cuts have most or all of the drumming subtlety, loud morse code (on Starman) and swinging Moonage Daydream that the various digital versions may appear not to have. Of course, some may not want Ziggy at all, but there is probably no hope for you…
Tres Hombres - please don’t get the expensive 180g vinyl with (for example) 08122799699 on the label. I did and tried to like it, really I did. If you want an ‘everything louder than everything else’ version, just buy the CD or stream it. If you want the original sound, get an old US pressing or the purple London label version.
Hot Rats - FZ may have been a genius, but apparently not at digitisation. Get the yellow label Reprise UK vinyl or just about any 1970s US or German or Japanese vinyl for proper drums and an even balance. If you can get the Bizarre label first press, bathe in the smug feeling as well as the unsurpassed (imho) sound. Or get the post 1987 digital version, which has extended solos as Frank spanks his plank. Please don’t get the early digital versions or anything based on them and imagine that you will really hear what all the fuss was about.
Pieces of a Man - you don’t have to buy a tatty original except for the cred! The 180g Flying Dutchman vinyl has all the uncompressed subtlety that my old CD hasn’t. There are good CD versions of this (and most worthwhile GSH music) but the streams I can find are not those versions.
Red - my 200g vinyl says ‘newly cut from masters approved by Robert Fripp’. It’s more vigorous than my old copy and the cello has not been hidden, or worn down by time. However, the Expanded and Remastered stream and the KC50 versions are more than good enough to impress my old ears too - and cheaper.
Back to Black - I don’t understand why the heavy vinyl with LC00407 on the cover can sound more involving or convey her distress better than the excellent digital versions, but multiple listeners who couldn’t see which input button I pressed on the preamp have agreed that it does.
Fool’s Gold - you know you really want the 9:53 long version for the extra Squire-ing thereon. I have the 12 inch on Silvertone. It’s great of course, and a good deal more pleasing than other vinyl cuts I have heard, but is it any better than the Remastered version on the 20th Anniversary stream on Tidal with its fractionally more intelligible vocals, marginally reduced high hat and more subterranean bass? I think that’s a YES, but I just had to play both to check - it’s a fine line.
That’s enough to get us started surely? Any takers for which version of Kind Of Blue we should all be playing?