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ARSCLIST  March 2014

ARSCLIST March 2014

Subject:

Re: Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 06:44:57 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (166 lines)

This line of thinking has been debated since the arguments over digital "standards" erupted in the 
late 70s. I have mixed feelings about it.

1. for recordings from the "golden era", many of the microphones were incapable of receiving 
vibrations at 20kHz, much less higher, and properly transferring them into electrical voltages and 
currents. And, downstream from the microphones, input and output transformers acted essentiall as 
band-pass filters, unable to pass ultra-sonic frequencies. So what's up there at ultra-high 
frequencies on the LPs tends to be ringing, from components of the recording chain, from equalizing 
applied during recording, from RIAA encoding filters, from the cutterheads, from the mics 
themselves, etc. Also scrape-flutter from the tape machines of the day. And keep in mind that modern 
tonearms and cartridges still have to fight off resonating, especially the now popular hollow-metal 
tonearms found on the many turntables made in Eastern Europe. Bottom line, I'd like someone to prove 
that the energy up there is really harmonics of the musical content and not resonances, ringing, 
scrape-flutter, etc. The case is probably more compelling for late-analog-era recordings, because 
the frequency ranges of microphones and electronics improved greatly in the 70s and 80s, and it 
became design-fashionable to eliminate transformers from the signal chain.

2. that said, I can clearly hear problems with the very top end on many CDs. It's funny because the 
same things that tripped up early stereo LP cutting trip up CDS - sleigh bells, Chinese bells, 
triangles, splash cymbols played by the likes of Art Blakey. But I don't think it's the CD format as 
much as problems with early A-D encoding. As an example, the mid-90s transfer of "Persuasive 
Percussion" done by MCA for Varese Saraband's reissue, gets the Chinese Bells about as right as I 
bet they are on the tape (the tape may well now be burned up, so it may never be heard again). No LP 
cut I have of that record sounds as good, nor does the 1/4-track duped reel I have (which came off 
the first run of dupes, which were duped from a second-generation dub). So in that case, the CD got 
that high-frequency sound more right than previous media. On the other hand, the new HDTracks 
reissues of Blue Note Art Blakey albums finally get the cymbol crashes right, which had only been 
done on LP previously (and not coveted original-issue Blue Note LPs). So I'm not ready to fully 
abandon Nyquist, but I do agree that most CDs I've heard had their troubles in the high top end. 
What I need more science to figure out is, whether that's a basic flaw with the Nyquist theory or a 
flaw with most A-D encoding (and, more recently, trans-coding) in the CD era.

3. keep in mind that an all-DSD SACD has a lot of ultrasonic energy, the 1-bit quantization noise. 
It's "pushed up to ultrasonic frequencies," but ironically, some super-duper high-end systems can 
reproduce it. In that case it would matter to music reproduction because it's using system energy 
and tweeter heat/energy/excursion to blast out "bat frequencies," sapping overall reserves. Whether 
this matters probably depends on the system -- does the SACD player fully filter this out before 
sending an analog signal down the chain and, if not, are the frequencies within the range to effect 
the circuits of the amplification equipment. PCM does not have this issue (which is probably a 
phantom menace for most people with most hardware), and 96/24 and 192/24 PCM, when well-implemented, 
have low-pass filtering designed to be so gradual as not to ring. Over-sampling is also used with CD 
playback to avoid sharp-cutoff ringing. I don't have a horse in the current "debate" about DSD vs. 
PCM, except that I don't plan to invest in any new equipment to play download formats I can't 
already play. I do own a couple hundred SACDs and enjoy listening to them as much as any other 
format in the library, but my listening is determined by what content catches my fancy at any time, 
not what medium it's on.

-- Tom Fine


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 3:11 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"


> For some reason this didn't go to the list.  Here it is.  Sorry, David--not
> aimed only at you.
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: John Haley <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 3:07 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"
> To: DAVID BURNHAM <[log in to unmask]>
>
>
> LPs do have more upper frequency content than standard CD's,  When you copy
> a good LP to a .WAV file at 96/24 and look at it in a wav editor on the
> computer in spectral view that shows frequency content, you can see that
> there is plenty of audio content above the cut-off point for standard CD's,
> which is 22 kHz.  The cut-off point for a 96/24 .WAV file is 48kHz, which
> is a little more than an octave above 22 kHz (the cycles per second double
> per octave).
>
> It always helps to remember that cycles-per-second (Hertz) is nothing more
> than a way of expressing musical pitches.  The top C on a piano
> keyboard is 4186.01
> Hz (cycles per second), meaning that the sound wave for that note pulses a
> complete sound wave cycle four thousand one hundred and eighty-six times each
> second (never mind the extra hundredth for now).  Double that twice for two
> more octaves above the piano keyboard, and you are at 16.744 kHz.  22 kHz
> is almost to the F above that C.  This is where human hearing tops out, not
> quite two and a half octaves above the piano keyboard.  LPs can hold audio
> content for at least an octave above that (not being precise--and whether
> your equipment can reproduce it is a different issue).
>
> What is up there is mostly overtones that we can't hear (tho dogs can), yet
> there is no doubt that SACD's and other "hi-def" audio media sound better
> than standard CD's.  Defining that difference is not so easy, but it is
> nevertheless quite tangible and easy to hear.  For example, when I copy a
> really good sounding LP to a 96/24 .WAV file, the copy really, really
> sounds like the LP, whereas a standard CD copy (Redbook), is almost there,
> but just ... not quite.  (And copying to .mp3 or other lossy format, no
> comparison--that's really closing a window on the music).
>
> Now if you happen to be a dog ...
>
> Best,
> John Haley
>
>
>
> On Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 12:51 AM, DAVID BURNHAM <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Perhaps, but I think what he is actually saying is that according to the
>> Nyquist formula, the CD mathematically contains all of the frequencies that
>> an LP does.  The LP should actually have superior high frequency harmonic
>> content because these harmonics are at a low level and thus are only being
>> rendered by very few bits on a CD.  This is one of the reasons that SACDs
>> sound so superior to CDs.
>>
>> db
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:08:02 AM, Clark Johnsen <
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> Yeah that was a good one.
>> >
>> >To give the guy credit, what he must have been thinking was,
>> >informationally-mathematically. But that undermines his thinking by
>> >conceding that LPs have it all, too.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 11:21 PM, Ellis Burman <[log in to unmask]
>> >wrote:
>> >
>> >> Love this quote: "According to science, a CD and a vinyl record being
>> >> pulled from the same original material are mathematically identical"
>> >>
>> >> An analog disc is mathematically identical to a digital disc?  Please do
>> >> tell!
>> >>
>> >> Ellis
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> On Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM, Clark Johnsen <[log in to unmask]
>> >> >wrote:
>> >>
>> >> > But you can't take it with you!
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >> >
>> >>
>> http://gizmodo.com/why-vinyl-is-the-only-worthwhile-way-to-own-music-1527750499
>> >> >
>> >> > Nothing particularly new here, but well written.
>> >> >
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> --
>> >> Ellis
>> >> [log in to unmask]
>> >> 818-846-5525
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>>
>
> 

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