Hi Andrew:

This part is interesting ...
As for the clicks and pops on vinyl pressings, not only have I just espied
Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman sputtering sibilance and high treble in
the square wave zone of my scope (the 20, 10, 6 ┬Ás, and higher settings of
the Tek), the clicks and pops were also visible up there.  So, in your
digital audio capture, like mine, there was steep filtering and smoothing
before hand-back.  This is not bad-sounding down in fundamental land, but it
makes for a crappy sounding impulse.  I find vinyl clicks in the digital
domain horrifying.  Whereas on the tt, through all analog, it's easier to
tune out.  I wonder if there isn't more to it than just the expectation that
CDs are supposed to sound clean and surface noise-free.

Could you post some examples of the digital transfers you get where the vinyl crackles are 
"horrifying." Is this after DSP processing? Do you mean vinyl "popcorn" crackle? I'm asking because 
I find that sounds the same and is equally annoying whether monitoring the record playing or hearing 
the 88.2/24-bit playback. Not easier to tune out one way or another. However, dubbing an LP to tape, 
especially a cassette with Dolby B engaged, there is a masking effect on the crackle (and the bright 
and sharp aspects of the music), I assume from "smear" of low-level impulses somewhere in the Dolby 
or in the electro-magnetics (slow speed, narrow tracks, EQ curves, all the compromises of tape 
motion, etc). There is much less masking of crackle when dubbing to reel, pretty much none at 15IPS.

What's _really_ annoying to my ears is the artifact resulting from over-agressive DSP applied to 
crackle. It's worse than the crackle, and it's one of those really "un-natural" digital sounds that 
jumps right out as annoying. Same goes for over-aggressive DSP surface noise "mitigation," where the 
surface noise goes silent except when it's behind musical content. Don't the hacks who produce this 
stuff understand that a sound is more noticeable if it's turned on and off and irregular intervals? 
This was a common sin of 78 reissues for a while, but the wisdom seems to be to back off on DSP 
these days among better transfer and mastering engineers.

One can use a technology he dismisses as sub-standard, after all.  Isn't
that what psychoacoustics is all about? (:

That quote above I totally agree with. I used a Walkman for years (although never with mass-duped 
garbage tapes, always with my own dubs from LPs). Now I use an iPod filled with 256kbps MP3. Both 
sound fine in a car and on cheaper headphones and earbuds. Neither format sounds any good on real 
speakers or good headphones.

-- Tom Fine