Why would someone like LP?

Discussion in 'High End Audio' started by Helen Schmidt, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    I've been lurking here recently. There was a post by a self-described
    "newbie" on CD vs. vinyl, which actually leads to a very important
    point. I repeat the post here:

    My simple question is that the analog vs digital signal comparison does
    make sense to me and analog technically should have much better dynamic
    range, then why is it when I listen to a turntable, it sounds the
    opposite? Especially the highs always seem cut off where as I throw in
    CD and the extreme high/low range sound much fuller. It's funny because
    know the whole argument is that vinyl is supposed to sound fuller. Is
    because I have to listen to vinyl on some $10k turntable? I've only
    listened on some high-end Technics and Stanton tables.

    Also the fact that there's pops and clicks on vinyl from dust is
    annoying to me even when you clean it ever 2 seconds.

    The question is basically, why would someone want to listen to vinyl,
    with its obvious flaws?

    The quick answer: because these listeners are relating the external
    stimuli to a broader range of internal percepts.

    Traditionally, science has investigated only the external
    manifestations of response to stimuli, because only the external can be
    observed in an objective way. Internal percepts (the personal
    "experience of what happens") have remained off-limits to hard science.
    But philosophers and Zen monks have always been able to investigate
    internal percepts. Musicians and all creative artists are carrying out
    their own investigations, in a way.

    What is obvious to those who care to introspect is that "listening is
    not listening." The crucial question is, "What are you listening for?"
    It is also obvious to those who care to introspect that different
    people draw on a different set of potential concepts; that is, concepts
    stored in memory that can be "activated" by stimuli. New listeners to
    music generally relate music to potential concepts that they have
    already developed from non-musical experience with sound: "loud,"
    "soft," "fast," "slow". The "beat" may seem a musical concept, but it
    is closely related to the heartbeat and other phenomena of nature, so
    that potential concept of "beat" is sitting in unconscious memory
    waiting to be activated even in the non-musician.

    On the other hand, very experienced listeners of music, and even more
    so musicians, have more highly developed abstractions as potential
    concepts. An experienced listener hears aspect of form and subtle
    nuances of expression: this is an entirely different set of potential
    concepts from the beginner. Again, it is obvious from introspection
    that as experience develops, the earlier potential concepts diminish in
    importance and are replaced by more abstract potential concepts.

    In other words, the surface noise of an LP corresponds to a relatively
    juvenile potential concept, which is immediately derived from normal,
    non-musical experience. The beginner will weight this concept highly,
    and since it is normally a non-musical experience, it will interfere
    quite a lot with listening. In the experienced listener, the weight of
    this concept has diminished greatly and is superceded by the abstract
    concepts of musical expression and form. In simple terms, what this
    boils down to is that the experienced listener "hears through" the
    noise into the music.

    This kinds of experience seems impossible to the beginner; they simply
    haven't developed the necessary potential concepts yet, just as a child
    wouldn't normally have the ability to comprehend something abstract
    like subtle competition in a political debate.

    I've noticed that the "objectivists" here are extremely naive,
    philosophically. They don't understand and don't even acknowledge the
    knowledge to be gained about perception through introspection. In fact,
    I predict they will respond to this post by demeaning the whole idea
    and claiming the superiority of "objective evidence." This
    misunderstands so many things, the main thing being that life is not
    "objective evidence versus introspection;" the two can and must be
    integrated. I will postpone this discussion for now, but later I can
    explain how the conclusions of so-called "objective" experiments
    collapse over the shaky foundation of introspective naivety.

    Helen Schmidt, Jun 29, 2005
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  2. Helen Schmidt

    Buster Mudd Guest

    FWIW, I've been a professional musician for over 30 years, and a
    professional audio engineer for nearly 28. I have indeed learned to
    "hear through" the clicks, pops, & other surface noise artifacts of
    vinyl playback in order to appreciate aspects of form and subtle
    nuances of musical expression.

    But I choose not to. Those same aspects of form and subtle nuances of
    musical expression are just as accurately conveyed in a good digital
    recording of the performance, and a well-mastered compact disc happily
    yields all that information without the additional surface noise that I
    would otherwise have to "hear through". Why bother adding an obstacle
    to enjoyment, even if it's an obstacle which through time & experience
    I've learned to ignore?
    Buster Mudd, Jun 29, 2005
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  3. I don't believe that is the whole argument at all. Generally the
    argument is that the LPs sound more natural and less fatiguing.


    IMO high-end Technics and Stanton tables is an oxymoron. Those tables
    just aint high-end. I would not say that 10k is a natural turning point
    but better performance does cost money. You ae not hearing anywhee near
    the best LP playback has to offer with those tables in the formula.

    If the vinyl is truly clean and o have pops and clicks that are that
    intrusive you are likely dealing with damaged vinyl and/or serious

    Because of it's advantages. Trust me, if there were none I wouldn't
    bother. Back in the eighties when CDs first came out I was one of the
    first to jump on the band wagon. It was CDs that actually got me
    interested in audio. Imagine that. My first CD player, a 14 bit job
    from Yamaha pretty much killed my Yamaha rack system turntable with
    it's freebee P-mount cartridge. During my ventures into auditioning
    better equipment to go with this wonderful new technology I went ahead
    and bought a 75 dollar Ortofon P-mount catridge to replace the give
    away one that came with the Yamaha rack job. Well this minor upgrade
    made the rack job quite competetive with the CD player. I didn't like
    this at all. Next step was to replace that 14 bit player (a poor choice
    but Steeo Review said it wouldn't make a difference) with a 16 bit
    Yamaha player. Well CDs were once again king. In my adventures through
    high end audio shops I came across one vendor that swore LPs were
    vastly superior to CDs. I laughed I scoffed and even ridiculed the
    idea. But I agreed to take the pepsi challenge using my CDs, my CD
    player and, gasp, my old LPs and his TT on his system (one that I
    eventually bought more or less). I remember telling the guy there aint
    no way dragging a rock over a piece of plastic is going to outperform
    digital. No way. Well, I was served up several helpings of crow and a
    side of humble pie. It was a most disturbing revelation. It literlly
    left me numb. My belief system had been completely turned up side down.
    I thought sources would not be an issue in my quest for better sound.
    It made no sense that such a crude method of playback would be so much
    more realistic. The thought of the added expense made the whole thing
    even more disturbing. But I could not unhear what I had just heard. I
    didn't like that reality but I accepted it. Eventually I came to like
    the idea that I could actually do even better than I had with CDs.

    Scott Wheeler
    Theporkygeorge, Jun 29, 2005
  4. Helen Schmidt

    jjnunes Guest

    A more to the point answer without writing 5 more paragraphs would be that
    there is music on LP that folks want to listen to that will never be re-
    released on any other medium. Some of them are horrible recordings in
    terrible condition that one puts up with just for the music and/or the
    performance or just sheer historical value. I can't speak for others,
    but that's what I do.

    Actually, there's introspective naivety from both 'camps.' I know a
    number of folks who don't have a CD player because they are convinced
    of the subjective sonic superiority of LP and invest a considerable
    amount of money in equipment to play it. They are missing out on a
    lot of quality new music and performances. And I'm not referring to
    the Top 40.
    jjnunes, Jun 29, 2005
  5. Well, that's *one* quick answer, but not IMHO *the* quick answer.
    Not true. The science of psychoacoustics most certainly investigates
    "the personal experience of what happens". That's why we now have
    advanced compression algorithms such as MP3 and AAC - they were
    developed by the application of hard science to subjective
    And so are numerous scientists, in a well-controlled and rigourous
    Quite so - and the even more experienced listener discovers that with
    more advanced media such as CD, such 'hearing through' is not
    required, making for a more relaxed appreciation of the true
    subtleties of the performance........

    Not all of us who prefer other media to vinyl are inexperienced
    listeners, indeed many of us heaved mighty sighs of relief when a
    superior medium appeared in 1982. at last, we could closely approach
    the sound quality of the master tape, after all these years of
    suffering the grating of rocks dragged through plastic canyons!
    Have you, indeed? :)

    Have you also noticed the extreme naivety of the 'subjectivists' who
    refuse to acknowledge well-known problems with sighted evaluation, to
    quote but one example?
    One can of course obtain plenty of objective evidence regarding the
    introspective experiences of test subjects. As noted above, this is
    how perceptual coding was developed. You seem to have a very naive
    view of how science works, philosophically.
    Quite so - see above.
    Yeah, riiiiight............. :)

    Perhaps you should build a better foundation for your own knowledge of
    how some very basic audio concepts have been developed by hard
    sciencists using data gathered in subjective tests, before presuming
    that others are more naive than yourself.
    Stewart Pinkerton, Jun 29, 2005
  6. <snip>

    The idea that 'audiophiles', who are defined by their gear fetishism, are
    always 'listening' the way you describe, in a sort of Zen trance trance of
    'not listening' , rather than listening 'analytically' for how stuff
    *sounds*, is laughable. It suggest you aren;t at all familiar with
    audiophile culture.

    Steven Sullivan, Jun 29, 2005
  7. Helen Schmidt

    jeffc Guest

    Technically, digital is crude compared to vinyl, because vinyl is analog
    which is pure. The analogy the approximation of an integral (area under a
    curve) by using intervals, vs. actual calculus, which simply gets it right
    from the start. I say "technically" because it is, or will be, possible to
    get the approximation so good that you can't tell the difference. Unless
    the iPod crowd makes it financially unfeasible to do so in the market.
    jeffc, Jun 30, 2005
  8. Hi Scott,

    I agree that LP is more lifelike. One of the areas where LP is more
    lifelike is its ability to convey music in the changing signal. With
    LP, I experience more vividly the musical percepts that correspond to
    dynamic features of the signal (change over time). When the music is
    suddenly quiet, I not only hear that it is quiet, but I experience a
    sense that something compelling has happened. The music is tender,
    spiritual, dramatic.. that is, it resonates with broader parts of my
    experience as a human.

    It triggers the brain systems that respond to anything tender in the
    world, anything spiritual, anything dramatic. With CD, when the music
    gets quiet, I mostly notice that the sound got quiet, but miss these
    other aspects to the experience.

    Of course a very interesting question is "Why does vinyl sound like
    this to me?" The difficulty in answering this is that we have
    difficulty describing the brain reactions that correspond to musical
    percepts. And we have no ability to measure these reactions.

    The objectivist has a very simple "out" that lets him skip over these
    difficult questions and make an unjustified claim to "understanding"
    what is going on. Simply: "Vinyl has euphonic distortions." The
    objectivist hears some listeners describe the experience of vinyl--in
    my case, specific aspects of musical listening that correspond more
    closely to live listening-- but he collapses that all into the idea
    that "vinyl sounds good." Then, not understanding how or why it sounds
    good, he says the distortion must sound good. Of course, you can say
    that about anything you don't understand--if I claim that I like
    product X, and the objectivist doesn't understand why, he can always
    claim that I must like X becuase of its shortcomings.

    Helen Schmidt, Jun 30, 2005
  9. This is a common, but completely wrong, argument. There is nothing
    'pure' about vinyl, as it is a very *poor* analogue of the master tape
    signal, whereas CD provides a very *good* analogue of that signal.
    That the *intervening* stages in a CD-based system use digital
    technology, does not affect the relative purity of the *analogue*
    signals which come out of the DAC and the cartridge.

    BTW, your analogy is also wrong, although a common misconception, as
    digital is *not* the equivalent of an 'area under the curve by
    histogram' approximation. The reconstruction filter ensures that the
    output is a smooth curve, following the original bandwidth-limited
    input signal *exactly*, not approximately.
    Stewart Pinkerton, Jun 30, 2005
  10. On 30 Jun 2005 03:19:19 GMT, "Helen Schmidt"

    Correct, it does, and there is many decades of research material
    available which will tell you exactly what these euphonic distortions
    Utter rubbish. The reality is that these various eupohonic distortions
    can be separately added to an otherwise clean signal, and listeners
    will report a preference for the distorted sound in each case. There
    is no lack of understanding here.
    OTOH, if the 'objectivist' *does* in fact clearly understand why you
    might prefer vinyl, it's intereresting that *you* refuse to accept
    these well-known reasons, instead claiming that some mysterious
    'higher perception' is at work.

    The basic test is to listen to a CD-R transcribed from vinyl on a
    high-quality rig. You'll find that this retains all the 'magic' of
    vinyl sound, thereby pretty much proving that what you prefer is
    indeed the *added* artifacts of vinyl, not anything which is
    mysteriously 'lost' by CD.
    Stewart Pinkerton, Jun 30, 2005
  11. Helen Schmidt

    chung Guest

    With all due respect, you simply do not understand digital audio. Or
    vinyl, for that matter. Your attempt to justify a preference simply
    exposes a severe lack of knowledge of the technical aspects of audio. It
    does not help the vinylists' position at all, and in fact hurt it.

    Please read up on the fundamentals of digital audio, and in particular
    try to get a firmer grasp of the sampling theory. Highly recommended if
    you don't want to appear as technically clueless.
    chung, Jun 30, 2005
  12. Stewart has described why this argument is wrong in the first place.

    I would like to add that the absolute majority of LP:s are digital
    whatever recording techniques was used in the studio! There sits a
    digital delay line in nearly all mastering equipment on the planet,
    and this delay line is implemented by a digital design... The delay
    line is used to autmatically give way for loud passages on the master.
    When the LP-sleeve says "Absolute Pure Analogue", I would guess most
    of them are right, but only at the input of the mastering equipment.

    So, folks, vinyl lovers listen to digital all the time and likes it.

    Per Stromgren, Jun 30, 2005
  13. Helen Schmidt

    Russ Button Guest

    Hi Helen!

    There are a couple of reasons why I continue to listen to vinyl.

    The very first reason is that there's a wealth of fine recordings that
    are not available on CD. One of my favorite jazz recordings is titled
    "Supersax Plays Bird". Originally recorded in the early 1970's, it
    was first released on standard vinyl, later released as a half-speed
    master from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, and then there was a
    short CD release which has been out of print for many years and
    is very hard to find. Over at Amazon.com, there are 3 copies for
    sale at $75, $175, and $200. But vinyl copies are pretty readily
    available. It's an extraordinary recording if you love good jazz.

    I have a number of recordings on both vinyl and CD. Invariably
    the vinyl, even with the surface imprefections, clicks and pops,
    yadda yadda, has a timbre which just sounds more natural. My
    wife is a professional violinist and very much *NOT* an audiophile.
    She's something of a Luddite actually and cares not a bit for our
    concerns regarding audio engineering. She just listens to music,
    and she hears these differences quite readily.

    I have no way to know if these differences are artifacts of the
    medium or because the different recordings were mastered differently,
    and if so, how they were mastered differently.

    As an exercise, I recently digitized "Supersax Plays Bird" from
    my MFSL recording. I have a Xitel Inport, which is a cute little
    A to D converter, which feeds into a PC USB port. I can then
    burn a CD from it. When comparing the CD to the original
    vinyl, there does appear to be some added edginess. Is that
    an artifact of the Xitel Inport, or is it inherent to digitial?
    I don't know.

    My own vinyl rig is a Linn LP12 with a Rega RB300 arm and
    Rega Elys cartridge, which is most definitely not a $10,000
    combination. Were I to put it up for sale at Audiogon, it would
    probably go for between $700 to $1000. It's a good combination,
    but certainly not the absolute top drawer of the audio hi-end.

    Russ Button, Jun 30, 2005

  14. I doubt the absolute majority are digital.

    There sits a

    That would be interesting to investigate. It shouldn't be that hard
    since thee are only a few places that still cut laquers.

    I think a great deal of the world's LPs were made without such a device
    in the chain.

    But digital isn't the issue it is CDs v. LPs. Indeed I have some LPs
    made from digital recodings that I quite like. I like some, in fact
    many, better than the CD version. Go figure.
    Theporkygeorge, Jun 30, 2005
  15. Helen Schmidt

    Codifus Guest

    Here's the flaw: you're comparing your very nice analog setup to a just
    barely adequete PC setup. I just looked up the Xitel and found that it's
    claim to faim seems to be the elimination of groung loop hums. The key
    to making very good Audio CDs or any digital audio is;

    1. The quality of your soundcard
    2. If you make MP3s, the quality of your MP3 encoder.

    You have to pick and choose carefully just as you did when you purchsed
    that Linn deck. Good soundcard manufacturers that come to mind are Echo
    audio, Audiophile, and Lynx. If you want to make a good quality MP3, so
    far I have found that the LAME mp3 encoder is an excellent choice.

    Codifus, Jun 30, 2005
  16. In your wording above, "the listeners report a preference," you are
    showing your basic model. I find that objectivists miss the fact that
    there are actually several models that must be understood separately
    as well as together.

    At the simplest level, audio is about making something that sounds
    good, just as food is about making something that tastes good.

    However, there's something very different about audio, compared to
    food. Audio is about reproducing musical percepts. There's an
    "original" event, and we are trying to recreate that event. In an
    appropriately broad focus, we will see that the original event is the
    stimulation of musical percepts in the listener's mind. The goal of
    audio then is the re-stimulation of those percepts.

    An experiment which sets out to discover "what listeners prefer" is
    simply ignoring this higher level. Experiments which are founded on
    improper assumptions will not help us understand anything better.

    Helen Schmidt, Jun 30, 2005
  17. When the overwhelming pattern is that CD's have faults such as
    edginess (commercially produced CD's) and vinyl is free from these
    faults, the obvious conclusion is that the problem is inherent to

    Of course, since this can't be understood using our current set of
    measurements (of audio systems and brains), the objectivist who craves
    understanding must fall back on other explanations. The tricky thing
    is that many of these alternative explanations are valid in some
    situations. The explanations include:

    - vinyl has euphonic distortions

    - CD reveals the limitations of the system

    Of course, these can realistically describe some situations.

    There are distortions which, applied to music, make it
    sound "better." But if I'm not talking about "better," but about
    "truth-to-life", the objectivist answers in the same way.

    There are systems with limitations which higher quality source can
    reveal. But if those who favor analog do so consistently even in
    SOTA systems, the objectivist answers in the same way.

    As far as the explanation that "distortion sounds good" -- better
    turntables are in fact better mechanically--that is they produce
    *less* distortion. And those who favor analog find more truth-to-life
    in such systems.

    Helen Schmidt, Jun 30, 2005
  18. Helen Schmidt

    Russ Button Guest

    The Xitel Inport is not a soundcard. It is an outboard device that takes
    a line level feed and puts out a digital stream that you pick up from
    a USB port. It comes with controlling capture software you run on
    the PC. One of the problems with any soundcard is that the interior
    of a PC is full of RFI. Being that the Inport is an outboarded device,
    that eliminates that concern.

    I don't know how good it is for A to D conversion, or what chipset
    it uses, etc. But it seemed like a useful tool at a reasonable price,
    which is why I stated that I had no idea exactly what the source
    was for the artifacts I was hearing. Even so, it does a pretty good
    job and I do find the recordings made with it to be acceptable.
    I'm not an MP3 kind of guy for the most part. I've never been
    into portable stereo, even going back to the original walkman
    days. I like good sound in my car and when I have a car player
    that will do MP3 format, I'll probably get into it then.

    Russ Button, Jul 1, 2005
  19. Helen Schmidt

    nabob33 Guest

    Well, no, he's just reporting the results of a particular bit of
    You seem to know very little about what objectivists really think.
    Might I suggest that you take a little more time to read carefully,
    before you start spraying over-generalizations around?
    Well, that can be one goal. To call it "the simplest level" is to
    manufacture a very artificial (and, I suspect, a somewhat elitist)
    And that is another goal. One goal is not a priori better than the
    What improper assumption? Why is it improper to ask what listeners
    prefer? If you're in the business of pleasing your customers it's a
    damn proper assumption.

    Now, you might argue that, in *addition* to research on listener
    preferences, we might like to see some research on the effectiveness of
    audio systems at what you call "re-stimulation of...percepts." I'm not
    sure how much work has actually been done on that. It would not be easy
    work to do, at least if you want to get beyond simply asking listeners,
    "Which of these sounds more realistic?"

    But a first question you should ponder is, Is there much of a
    difference between the two questions? By and large, people who argue
    that vinyl sounds more realistic are also the ones who report that they
    prefer it. If that is generally the case, the research into preferences
    may not be missing so much after all.

    nabob33, Jul 1, 2005
  20. Helen Schmidt

    Jim Guest

    I think, Helen, that you hear what you want to hear. You hear what fits
    the self image you've chosen. And this week, for whatever reason, you've
    chosen to be a vinyl-o-phile. Possibly you believe that it marks you as a
    more discerning or sophisticated listener. On the other hand, it could
    mark you simply as someone who delights in stirring up this hornets nest of
    a newsgroup.

    -- js
    Jim, Jul 1, 2005
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