Vinyl vs Digital

If guys haven’t seen this is worth a view.

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I don’t, for once, disagree with a word of it.


Did you spot the pickup in the counterweight?


I would disagree in some respects from his assertion that there is no functional difference between vinyl and digital (assuming by functional he means that they both produce the same sound) - you can get deeper and louder bass on digital than on vinyl, you don’t get print-through of bass from adjacent parts of the spiral, you can get much more dynamic range on digital. And no surface noise or pops and clicks created by the medium.


And yet for some reason digital doesn’t sound as good.


I think that is a matter of personal taste. For me, digital sounds far better than vinyl in so many ways. I suspect that it is partly to do with what one has become used to, but I really can’t explain (or understand) why some people prefer vinyl - though I do accept that some do.
Another thing that he didn’t mention is that the velocity of the vinyl under the stylus changes as the stylus tracks into the centre of the the record (or, in rare cases, tracks out to the edge). This has some fairly significant effects on the sound, which digital does not have. And, of course, there are the effects of wear on the record.

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For me, analog, vacuum tubes and horns sound best. But life is full of compromises…


Both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses and I enjoy listening to music via both.

As for the video, I was not that impressed, it seemed rather basic to me and the glaring mistake that @AndyR mentioned about the counterweight suggested to me that the person didn’t really understand vinyl playback. I was left thinking he had done some googling to prepare the video and then just chosen bits that supported his preconceived ideas.

To be fair, this is one of the better ‘explanations’. It has some holes, in that if you already know the technology you are left thinking ‘yes, but…’, however anything more ‘technically correct’ would need to be more, err… technical, and miss the (probable) target audience.

And the counterweight problem is more likely the graphic artist than the author. It should have been picked up, but hey - who’s perfect?

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Essentially I agree with you. I would add that there were several other omissions:

  • there is a difference in the frequency range and dynamic range between the inside and outside of a vinyl record. It is often significant and further exacerbated by the generation of vinyl i.e. just how recycled it is.

  • the loudness wars were slightly misrepresented in that they arose in part from the extra headroom provided by digital.

  • the concept of there being gaps in the sound wave is abject nonsense. Ditto the square sections. The gaps and straight lines exist solely in the graphics showing sample rate. There is no analogue sound wave which looks like that.

The commentary in the presentation included at least two self-defeating arguments.
In any case, it’s the playing of the medium which sounds different, this is as close to axiomatic as you will get.
The same holds true for digital v digital. If you refuse to believe this, then just buy cheap streamers, after all, they sound identical to good ones, don’t they.

I think hifi CD players first appeared around 1982/3. So digital has been in development since then. But if it is such an accurate and efficient method to store and reproduce music why is it that my analogue record player still sounds better. Okay my analogue source costs 4 to 5 times more but if digital reproduction is so superior after all these years a £1500 streamer is all you should need for perfect sound reproduction. But it appears this is not the case.

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I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that after (around) 40 years of development £1500 should be all you need to spend on a digital source for perfect sound reproduction when ‘analogue’ (as in record players) have been on the market for almost 150 years and are still being ‘tweaked’.

For what it’s worth I think on a good day, with a good recording, my record deck ‘beats’ my DAC/streaming setup; but I listen to ‘digital’ much, much more.


My vinyl setup, including phono stage, costs half as much as my streamer. …but plays the music much better.


‘Appears’ is the important thing here. You think it sounds better. Many would disagree.

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You may well prefer it - but it is not as close to the original sound. Vinyl has so many technical drawbacks, it cannot reproduce the original sound accurately. But its various idiosyncrasies and variations from the original do seem to appeal to some people. That’s fine, of course - but I think it would be a stretch to say that vinyl reproduction is better in any objective sense.


There is no objectivity in preferences;
By it’s were nature, digital cannot reproduce analogue (sound) with complete accuracy (but it can get extremely close);
These debates are pretty moot anyway…it’s about preferences.

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That’s right. This debate comes up regularly and the heading for the post sums it up nicely.

Vinyl vs Digital.

But this isn’t a football match and you can’t ever come up with a quantifiable result, it’s all about personal preference and that’s all that matters.

For many people it’s also Vinyl plus Digital of course.

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@Dunc , what is your experience now, after a few months with a top deck as SME 20/2 / Aura and top Dynavector, vs Rossini/ Clock/ Melco N10?

Many people, understandably, made their vinyl v CD decision not long after the introduction of CD. CDPs didn’t really start to catch up until the introduction of bitstream around 1990. I have often amused myself by asking those who claim vinyl is obviously superior when they last auditioned a digital solution and the number of pre 1990 answers remains surprisingly high.

Equally though demos of digital often taken a fit and forget “will this do?” approach which does a disservice to technology which is often comfortably the equal of analogue if not better. Dealers are as often lost with digital as punters.

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