Vinyl and digital - let's get down to cases

Not sure there are so many. Following this forum very regularly I don’t think it’s true. For me it’s not the case. If recorded digitally, I prefer the digital version, sometimes both sound quite equal to me.
If recorded originally on analog, I always prefer the lp, for the music I like ( jazz fusion, funk, soul, blues, in the 70’s).


Yes this is an interesting thread and I’m still trying to get my mind around it. Is digital better than vinyl, I’m not sure! There are so many variables, room, equipment, how I’m feeling to name a few. Sometimes digital sounds better than vinyl and then again I do enjoy playing my records. I can hear some of the subtleties between recordings and one of my vinyl versions of Kind of Blue has incorrect labelling on sides 3 and 4. My general preference for vinyl is to obtain a good recording and good pressing, I really don’t like the different coloured vinyl, to my ears a different coloured vinyl increases the surface noise, but not all the time.

I think my biggest frustration is that I know there is a hell of a lot of music out there I know I will absolutely love, but haven’t discovered it yet and that is why I find the opinions etc. on some of the threads of this venerable forum extremely useful to point me in the direction of new music.

Finally, because I’m using the Kirmuss record restoration machine I’m getting to know my vinyl a lot better and can really hear the difference in some of the recordings and pressings. I’m on the fence about trying one of the UHQR releases as even the slightest imperfection would disappoint and I’ve read many comments on the variable quality of these reissues.

Sorry for rambling.



Do you mean the recent remaster, or the original vinyl? I have the original and must whip it out for a spin.

You are right that there are very few digital recordings that get widespread support here for the vinyl reproduction option.

A professional suggested that there should be none unless the vinyl replay system is very good and there is something really non-ideal about the CD or stream replay in hardware or software. However, we all probably own a few CDs in that category, whether most of the process was digital or whether it was made much later - Hot Rats is merely my favourite example.

In the genres you point to, there were a load of great analogue recordings in the 70s of course. However, I have owned a few flimsy re-pressings of great albums even from that era that were truly awful and degraded fast - there may well be vinyl cuts I’d prefer to the digital ones I use, but I don’t know which (hence this thread) and in any case they would probably cost a fortune.

Given your area of focus, can you point the rest of us to the best versions of (say) All Directions by The Temptations, plus the finest work from James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and other greats who get surprisingly little mention here? How about Funkadelic, Wild Cherry and Zappa’s mate Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson?

Also, @Timbo - I agree on most or all coloured vinyl and picture discs.I also agree that finding new music is hard and getting harder - we are getting old and the avenues all got a lot more fractured, but this forum and Youtube can help.

Of course, there is another entire discussion to be had about whether the elderly would rather watch (say) Jethro Tull knock out hits from the 70s (at Shepherds Bush last week, still a great flautist) or whether we should listen to the originals at home and reserve gigs for Proms and the like plus musicians under 60 whose catalogues we don’t already own.


Re your last paragraph is the preference of your classical musician friends partly down to choice and not sound quality. I use to listen to classical music on Radio 3 on the way to work. The presenter would tell you the recording and it was always a CD. So if I liked that recording that is what I bought. It was the reason for selling my record player when I bought my Naim system in 1996. If you listen to Record Review, its recommendation seems to be exclusively digital (there might be some recordings that are both digital and vinyl - but probably not many). Although the BBC changed the name of the programme from CD Review back to Record Review there are not many vinyl recordings - difficulty in getting the right track on an lp?

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@NickofWimbledon yes good point, the avenues are getting fractured. For example I do like a lot of the new jazz coming out of London i.e. Kokoroko, Ezra Collective and there is a useful forum thread for that. Also I do forget what I have in my collection, I was in Fopp’s in London last week on the top floor and there was a really lovely bit of jazz playing so I looked at the now playing CD and it was Sunday at the Village Vanguard by Bill Evans and I have that one, so going to give it another listen.

@RWC again agree, my favourite conductor is Wilhelm Furtwangler and I like his Bruckner symphony interpretations. However, a lot is recorded in mono from Cairo Radio and I think on Symphony 7, side 2 I can hear a truck pulling away from outside. Classical music I find is a enormous challenge for me to figure out what I really like, and certainly the actual quality of the recording does not play such a huge part in my listening pleasure hence the Furtwangler example. Last week in Covent Garden whilst I was having my Saturday morning coffee Fabienne Borget was singing some opera arias in the corner and it sounded so good and very emotional. So another journey I am taking is to see what I already have in the opera department, especially on vinyl as over the years I have acquired a lot of boxed sets which I still need to get around to playing.


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I have both a 1983 originally and the recent 2020 remaster. I always thought the 1983 was very good, but the 2020 remaster is excellent, and the live show with it is superb. It’s a great box set.


I agree and I am a bit surprised like you, the Temptations, Curtis, Edwin Star, Aretha, Wilson Pickett….are rarely mentioned by members here.
And jazz rock from the 70’s , the same.

The best explanation I have, and one full of big generalisations…

This is largely an old man’s hobby. When we were young, Britain (esp England) had produced a lot more than its ‘fair share’ of Guitar Heroes and highly intelligent Prog-types, so a lot more of us warmed to the music where we led the world - it wasn’t only white America that usually preferred its blues through an English lens and played loud.

It was easier for most of us to imagine growing up to be Gabriel or Bowie or Gilmour or Page or Beck or Clapton or Kossoff or Knopfler or… than to imagine growing up to be Curtis Mayfield or our own less white & less stereotypical candidates (perhaps David Hinds, Don Letts, Lynval Golding, Neville Staple, Shirley Bassey, Eddy Grant and Ranking Roger spring to mind). Also note that none of them seemed as likely to have 4 mansions, 5 Ferraris and a Lear jet…

Most of this country’s listeners also took clever lyrics and music that annoyed our parents more seriously than dance music, and the more overtly political or purposeful American (and Jamaican) performers were often focused on issues that we (as school children) really didn’t think concerned us, with a very different life experience behind them. By the time our ears and our sensibilities had adjusted a bit, our musical tastes were often already in place.

All this is of course our loss. I still have the same biases toward the obviously cerebral and away from dance music, and anyone who ever saw me dancing would understand why. Fortunately, I had friends who introduced me to different music and musicians, and the result is that I played Pieces of a Man and All Directions yesterday. Living in London from 1982, including several years just down the road from the Brixton Academy and The Fridge helped too.

To put it another way, I have been lucky, and friends have been patient.


I discovered soul and funk music when I was 20 years old, in mid eighties, then jazz rock . So not the music which I grew up. When 15/20 years also, it was Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, the Cure, Toto, Bruce Springsteen….Madonna. I liked only Dire Straights at that time.

It looks as if we are similar ages.

Dire Straits only had 4 songs when they played (as the Cafe Racers I think) supporting London’s usual suspects at the end of 1977 near a well-known cricket ground. I was far too young to drive but a mate’s big brother was allowed to take the family car as long as he took his little brother (and hence me) and promised that no one would drink anything. I worry about conflating memories over that long, but iirc one of the songs they had was Sultans of Swing.

I got less inspired by the material as they headed down the same stadium route as U2 and others, and most of my friends headed toward the expanding punk scene, but the first album is brilliant -great material and great playing.

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In 1977 I was 7. I begun to listen to music lately, at 19 years old. The first lp I bought and played was Booker T ,green onions, on something like that turntable:

I discovered that music, Temptations, Edwin Star, War……and also the Doors, Hendrix and the Who , by a friend of mine. He had a vintage Vespa scooter and even was going each year at the Isle of Wight festival.
Then another friend went at home with Billy Cobham and Stanley Clarke.
A new world begun for me.


Green Onions is a very good place to start!

The first LP I bought was Ziggy Stardust. My parents had a Music Centre with autoplay for records.


Just a few observations:

Of course that is a challenge, other than surface noise, because if you don’t know the music you’d have no way of knowing if any ‘character’ has been added by the recording or replay process. And some music has added vinyl surface noise effects so complicating further!

Of course that can be the case when comparing vinyl and digital, but where I referred to sound characteristics, I meant that there are certain limitations of vinyl resulting from the process, notably surface noise from the stylus contact with the moving groove wall, evident when playing a silent or very quiet passage, noise due to dust or wear/damage), more limited dynamic range than CD or higher digital resolutions (though of course only relevant where the music has a wide dynamic range), pre and post-echo on loud passages, and the effect of reducing groove speed as the album plays. These are inherent matters which limit vinyl’s fidelity to the original signal.

I am unaware of any inherent limitations to fidelity with digital, though of course it must be done well, from mastering to reconstruction, and the latter was a limitation with early CD, while the former if done badly can certainly have negative effect, as witness the “loudness wars” deliberately compressing dynamic range.

Actually none of these, I just recognise that they have a preference for the vinyl sound, even though I don’t, feeling that digital done well is more natural sounding.

I don’t, as I share your ignorance! My response simply challenged the implication of your statement about competent design, because different DACs do sound different so some must be more competently designed than others, assuming the aim is fidelity to the original recording. (If the manufacturer’s aim is something different then of course they might be totally competent).

Anyway, that more or less exhausts my knowledge of vinyl vs digital - hope it adds something to your exploration of the subject.

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I do find all this digital v vinyl a bit subjective it’s almost like 2 fleas fighting over who owns the dog. I just like music, the rest is light a 24 hour flight to the UK it’s just a means to an end.

My introduction to music was through my eldest brother’s record collection. Starting with early Beatles while I may have listened to other stuff it was their music that hooked me. The 70s went ballistic when I first really heard Bowie, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd and a raft of Aussie pub bands that played hard and loud. I enjoy most genres but have an unhealthy love of good singer/songwriter pop, it so unrated.


Hi @Pete_the_painter

Part 1 - dead right imho. I get more enjoyment from recordings that don’t deaden the sound, exaggerate the bass, make treble shrill so you can’t turn it up, lose stereo separation and so on. That means avoiding terrible versions and getting good ones where I easily can.

Some here argue that every CD offers ‘perfect sound every time’ like the 1980s advertisements said, so what version of an album to use is a pointless question - just make sure you don’t listen to records or tapes. There are some equally dogmatic about vinyl always winning. The rest of us are willing to get down to cases - if I am finally replacing the vinyl Ziggy Stardust I bought in early 1977, what version on what format will grip me most?

Part 2 - yes again, it’s all about content. I’d rather listen to Transformer or Ziggy on a 1980s car radio than listen to (say) Taylor Swift’s latest or some KPop on £100K of Naim boxes feeding big Wilson speakers.

Part 3 - do you count The Cruel Sea as a pub band? I do, but then I tend to view Dr Feelgood as about the best pub band ever. When I got the hifi set up in Tassie, The Cruel Sea followed AC/DC as first played, and loud enough to be heard by my friendly neighbours (whose house I can’t see from mine).

Part 4 - which good singer/ songwriters? Are you thinking more of Joni Mitchell or Gilbert O’Sullivan (or Ms. Swift)?


It will be Kylie for him :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::joy:

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Cruel Sea were just a great band full stop. Their Honeymoon is Over album is a regular at my place.

Singer songwriters can be anyone as it’s good pop at least. I love XTC but not a fan of The Smiths, I also included singer songwriters in bands as well.


XTC were a fine band. The Smiths suffer in retrospect because of Morrissey, but Johnny Marr is and was excellent - hear his playing with Bert Jansch - and I am a big fan of How Soon Is Now?

If you like XTC beyond the singles, do you also like The The?


I believe that it’s a myth she was named after the Kylie brand of incontinence products, though I think both hail from Australia, despite what nurses told me when Neighbours was big down under but new-ish here.