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Vinyl Gets Its Groove Back

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-goes-around-comes-ariynd dept.

Media 751

theodp writes "Time reports that vinyl records are suddenly cool again. Vinyl has a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs or MP3s; records feature large album covers with imaginative graphics, pullout photos, and liner notes. 'Bad sound on an iPod has had an impact on a lot of people going back to vinyl,' says 15-year-old David MacRunnel, who owns more than 1,000 records."

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Oy vey (5, Funny)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022364)

You know your format is doomed if you consider a 15 year old your "expert" to quote.

"Suddenly"? (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022366)

We've only been hearing this since about the day after the first CD player came out.

Re:"Suddenly"? (2, Interesting)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022546)

I too wonder about "suddenly". Where I am Vinyl has been really big again since about 2000. Hell I'd say Vinyl is dieing down again. It was incredibly trendy for a couple years, everyone had a collection, but now it seems only to be music snobs.

I don't know if they actually sound better, but I personally just love the physical action of putting on a record.

Re:"Suddenly"? (3, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022760)

I don't know if they actually sound better, but I personally just love the physical action of putting on a record.

They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge, a good preamp and amp, and good speakers that are capable of resolving the differences between digital and analog audio. The problem is, you're talking about $20,000 worth of high-end audio equipment there.

And that's not taking into account wear and tear. Vinyl degrades with each use; there is no getting around it. You're putting two physical parts in contact and moving them against each other; over time, your records will sound worse and there is nothing you can do about it.

People who make blanket statements about vinyl sounding better just haven't taken real-world considerations into account. In the real world and under most conditions, a 128kbps mp3 played on an iPod is probably going to sound better than a well-worn vinyl record of the same recording.

Re:"Suddenly"? (3, Insightful)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022804)

They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge, a good preamp and amp, and good speakers that are capable of resolving the differences between digital and analog audio.

Oh, and that's assuming the LP wasn't digitally mastered. If it was, then the point is moot - the vinyl can't capture anything that wasn't in the digital master.

There is a zero-wear player (5, Informative)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022876)

Vinyl degrades with each use; there is no getting around it.

Actually, you CAN get around it if you're willing to shell out $10k+ :

http://www.elpj.com/ [elpj.com]

Re:"Suddenly"? (2, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022768)

People have been trying to sell me on "they sound better" forever. It's bull. A CD can accurately store (slightly) more dynamic range than our ears are capable of hearing. Anyone that claims vinyl sounds better actually prefers the slightly distorted sound that they tend to produce. Some people actually think that Vinyl can reproduce sound that we can't hear, yet we can "feel" and that's why it's better. Crazyness.

I prefer accurate reproduction. Which, actually, is why I believe CD's may be the last good medium for delivering music. I might sound like a snob by saying it, but I won't ever pay for lossy compressed music, ever. Not when CD's with no compression and much higher fidelity had already been available for two decades. Sound quality is supposed to advance, not the other way around.

Vinyl is cool, and has it's place, but better than a CD? Naa.

Re:"Suddenly"? (1)

trentblase (717954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022872)

I always wondered why nobody has made a "vinyl filter" designed to make cds sound like vinyl. I mean, you should be able to digitally "warm up" the sound and add pops and clicks, right? I haven't been able to find such a filter and don't know enough about the differences to make one myself. But my father would absolutely love it, and he could make use of the advantages of digital music (portability, etc) while retaining the same characteristic sound he likes.

Re:"Suddenly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022704)

Yeah more like, 15 year old kid wants to make a name for himself by buying a ridiculous amount of vinyl. And tries to spin it like it's making a comeback. Um, I remember vinyl. You can keep the hissing, crackling, and ambient white noise that comes with it. Nearly the same thing with tapes minus the crackling. The thing you enjoy is the nostalgia for your youth. With the exception of low bitrate MP3's, you aren't getting better sound. And there's always cd quality if you want to raise the compression issue.

Re:"Suddenly"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022794)

What's next, the wax cylinder becoming cool again? Pretty soon sheet music will be cool, then it'll suddenly be really cool to sit on the porch with Andy Griffith playing guitar, and you're Opie learning music orally.

Not surprising... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022370)

... That a guy who owns 1000 records justified his stupendous outlay by making blanket statements that compressed digital audio sounds bad.

And then the audiophile jargon of "nuanced" etc etc... What a load of crap.

Re:Not surprising... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022400)

Give him a break. Its hard to admit that an iPod shuffle with the standard earbud headphones sounds better than thousands of dollars of record-playing equipment, fancy speakers and all.

Re:Not surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022420)

If you are not 15, you may not reply to (or be included in) this article, it's summary, or it's comments page.

imageogram: verify

Re:Not surprising... (1)

philwx (789834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022746)

"It's" is a contraction for "it is."

Re:Not surprising... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022856)

"It's" is a contraction for "it is."

It's?

/O RLY

Re:Not surprising... (4, Insightful)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022426)

Certainly, some very well-made pressings can sound outstanding, even better than digital in a few cases. But the poorer signal-to-noise ratio, essentially unavoidable surface wear, and the distortion introduced by the medium, on balance, make digital a better choice when the highest quality audio is needed. One thing records do have going for them is that they tend to be mastered, counterintuitively, with a wider dynamic range than contemporary CDs. Of course, this is a product of human decisions, not the media, and the optimal solution to this is simply to abandon the current practice of excessive compression and limiting on CDs, as they offer a greater potential for dynamic range than records.

Re:Not surprising... (4, Interesting)

Niten (201835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022666)

One thing records do have going for them is that they tend to be mastered, counterintuitively, with a wider dynamic range than contemporary CDs. Of course, this is a product of human decisions, not the media

That's it exactly. A hot CD doesn't do justice to bands like Arcade Fire, so I'm willing to go out of my way to get the vinyl versions of certain albums even if it means I now have to worry about things like dust and needle wear. I'd prefer that the studios just digitally master these things correctly in the first place, but that's not going to happen as long as the engineers feel compelled to make their songs sound the "loudest" on the radio; and that won't stop until we can agree on a way to normalize the volume levels of CDs and other digital media.

There's a great YouTube video on this subject: "The Loudness War" [youtube.com]

Re:Not surprising... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022698)

Certainly, some very well-made pressings can sound outstanding

As long as you only play them in a class-three clean room, and you don't play them more than once (groove wear), etc.

Vinyl records are a brilliant technology for their time, but that time has passed.

-jcr

Re:Not surprising... (2, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022730)

That's why I get all my recordings on wax cylinders!

Re:Not surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022432)

To be fair, you can get 1000 vinyl records for around $200 without even trying too hard.

Re:Not surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022452)

Probably not the ones you want

Re:Not surprising... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022446)

What's even more amusing is that almost all vinyls pressed today are mastered off the final digital master.

Most music is recorded digitally and then mastered digitally. The vinyl records pressed use a digital master. Now the digital master used is almost certainly of higher quality than version pressed onto a CD, but still - records are still an analog copy (of the original analog master) of a digital master.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022780)

Hmm, I don't know about "almost all." I'd say "all."

1000? (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022874)

That's an expensive collection at 16.

I was thinking that my collection of 112 or so was a pretty heavy investment. It stood at just over a hundred when I was 19.

But, no, CDs are nice in that they don't have hiss.

They aren't so nice in that they drop out completely right in the range that young ears can still pick up timbre and definition. It's not -3db or -6db, it's a sharp cut. Absolute, unrecoverable compression to the square and then nothing.

On the other hand, true high fidelity sound systems are addicting in ways that CDs are not. I can still remember sitting in the music store at eighteen, listening to Katy Lied. (And they say Fagan and Becker were unhappy with the recording quality on that album.) CDs, I can listen to and work at the same time.

I can see it now (1)

vlad30 (44644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022378)

The guy walking down the street with his portable vinyl player from sony "The VinMan' Boombox style on his shoulders

Re:I can see it now (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022412)

I had that same idea a few months ago and made a drawing [ukimagehost.com] about it.

Re:I can see it now (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022458)

Don't go to the link unless you want to see a dead body thats been torn in half.

Re:I can see it now (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022646)

Don't go to the link unless you want to see a dead body thats been torn in half.
I got it from Digg [digg.com] .

Re:I can see it now (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022502)

that is awsome!!!!


please tell me you did that!

echo....echo....echo (4, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022386)

Didn't we just read some equally idiotic bullshit on slashdot about vinyl making a huge comeback because of it's many superiorities. Okay here's something to consider. Digital music sounds the same every time you play it. You hit the seek button and the next track plays. It outputs at speaker level. It doesn't degrade on your hard drive and the file can't melt in the sunlight. I know of one band that releases their songs on vinyl and since my dad's a DJ about ten thousand that don't. What a stupid story. You could even call it anti-geek since we're all into...oh you know, technology and stuff. I haven't heard a hurray for punchcards post recently. If you're going to retro-updgrade to something ancient that doesn't sound like crap, go with WAV

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022418)

> You could even call it anti-geek since we're all into...oh you know, technology and stuff

You want the geek spin on vinyl, here's my best shot: when you store an audio waveform on vinyl, you're actually cutting a physical, scaled down replica of the original waveform into your storage medium. You're _never_ going to get a more precise representation of the original analog waveform than a freshly-cut record.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

AthenianGadfly (798721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022510)

You want the geek spin on vinyl, here's my best shot: when you store an audio waveform on vinyl, you're actually cutting a physical, scaled down replica of the original waveform into your storage medium. You're _never_ going to get a more precise representation of the original analog waveform than a freshly-cut record.

That's not true. With an appropriate sampling rate and bit depth, a digital sound file can describe the original wave form to greater precision than the margin of error due to the manufacturing process of cutting or stamping the record, let alone the playback process. If nothing else, remember that the "resolution" of a record's groove is limited at an atomic level (although I'm sure records cannot be practically manufactured with nearly that level of tolerance).

Re:echo....echo....echo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022584)

You don't know that, you can't possibly know that. Stop talking out your ass.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

FasterthanaWatch (778779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022630)

I see the Luddite movement has continued beyond the weaving machine issue...

Re:echo....echo....echo (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022822)

Yup. 24-bit precision gives you almost 17 million values. Assuming a total groove width of 2 mil (50 microns), the maximum excursion is physically bounded at about half that or you'll end up with the cutter over in the next groove... maybe a little more, but not much. So 50 microns of width divided by 17 million gives ups about 3 × 10^-12 meters, or about 0.03 angstroms....

Now, to put that in perspective... The estimates I've seen for the diameter of a hydrogen atom are about 1 * 10^-10 meters, give or take. That would make the resolution of a 24-bit digital signal equivalent to an analog cutter whose resolution is just about a 30th the width of a hydrogen atom... well beyond what the laws of physics allow.

A typical particle of PVC, as best I could ascertain from a quick web search, would be 100,000 times as large. This puts vinyl at about 10-11 bits of resolution, practically speaking. Don't get me wrong, I think vinyl sounds better than CDs in many cases, but that's because of awful digital mastering practices---overcompressing the signal, audio engineers who can't hear above 12kHz doing the mix, overhyped highs and lows to compensate for craptastic sound systems, etc. It's not because vinyl is inherently better; it's because audio production from the vinyl area was inherently better. Don't get me started on the Disneyana AutoTune-until-your-ears-bleed style of recording we're getting out of the industry today. When it comes to an audio delivery format, there's a certain degree of "garbage in, garbage out" at work.....

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022570)

I gotta admit that is pretty cool, but quality-wise it doesn't say much to me. If you pull out the tape from a VHS cassette you can see the movie frame by frame physically which you can't do with a DVD. But the DVD holds more data at higher quality and takes up less space.

I think things where records and VHS tapes might beat newer formats is in price and compatibility (ie if you already have a VCR and not a DVD player). And in the case of records, also the "look at me, I am cool because I have a record player" factor.

I'd love a CD player that could simulate the record scratching sounds though, I guess that's another thing records have.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

FasterthanaWatch (778779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022604)

If you pull out the tape from a VHS cassette you can see the movie frame by frame physically which you can't do with a DVD.
You do realize that VHS is a magnetic storage technology, right?

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022798)

Haha I was gonna post the same thing lol

Re:echo....echo....echo (2, Informative)

dezert_fox (740322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022668)

Not true. Many people like to make this claim, but analog records have physical limitations as to the frequency content they can record. There is a noise level which limits the accuracy of recordings done on records, just as there is an associated noise power from continuous->discrete conversion in the A/D process. You can create digital recording which retain more of the originally produced sound than an analog record possibly can with increased sampling rates and low noise electronics.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022816)

If you use analog mixers, analog recording studios, and analog duplication processes, that MIGHT come close to being true. Unfortunately for you, there's actual REAL limitations on the human ear, the vinyl medium itself.. And that everyone uses digital equipment now. Your vinyl copies are analog representations of digital data.

Re:echo....echo....echo (2, Funny)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022454)

Hurray for punchcards?! When you were my age, we had to make our own paper if we wanted punchcards! With our teeth! In the snow! And we liked it!

But punched cards are best (5, Funny)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022516)

>I haven't heard a hurray for punchcards post recently.

Newer technologies just don't give programs the same nuanced performance and octagonal algorithms as punched cards. The clean edges of a punched bit totally rule over the bits on magnetic media that require a dedicated computer just to recover them from the noise. All that extra work to reconstruct a bit makes them tired, and fatiguing to debug.

Face it: programs run off hard disks just have grainy memory usage and an indistinct sound stage.

But punched cards are a distraction from the real issue, which is that only a vacuum tube computer can do justice to the best algorithms.

Re:But punched cards are best (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022708)

[..] from the real issue, which is that only a vacuum tube computer can do justice to the best algorithms.
Oh come on! Nothing beats the crispness of an actual relay slamming home! Sure there were bugs, but they had to be real previously-live ones that you could stick in a logbook afterwards!

Man, you did that scarily well. (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022718)

There are probably some people out there who would buy $100,000 Hollerith keypunches.

-jcr

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022544)

Heh. There's no talking sense into people who'll pay $500 for a cable. Give it up.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022772)

No, no, these diamond-laced cables give my Britney recordings that extra "pop" that makes you really want to get up and dance. I swear.

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022732)

No, you've probably not heard a lot of hurrahs for punch cards, but you've probably heard that CDs and DVDs have a shelf-life of 5 years due to UV damage, chemical decomposition, easily-scratched surfaces, etc, whereas high-end mag tape is usually good for a decade or two, and core can be good for a century or so. If you want archival-quality media, the optical formats don't hold a candle to formats designed with archiving in mind.

(So why doesn't anyone use them? Because archival formats suck for anything other than archiving. There are trade-offs for having extreme durability and stability - usually they're slow and they're bulky. It's much the same reason people don't usually use rock as a medium for writing these days. Sure, it's good for 10,000 years - a good hundred times better than archival ink and paper - but it's just not practical for temporary storage or quick retrieval. Now, if you were wanting to create a gigantic genealogical database, there's nothing better. And I'm sure that if there was fundamental knowledge that was at extremely high risk, people would be looking at damn-near permanent storage formats for that as well.)

Re:echo....echo....echo (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022854)

Wait, so those CD's I have from 1992 that still play fine, the ones I don't scratch because I actually take care of my shit, actually don't play fine? I must have imagined listening to some of my old music last weekend. Latent acid trip, perhaps? It must have been, because the shelf life is long past... And if you want to talk about recordable media, those CD-R's I burned in 1996 still work great too.

So, in summary. Optical media can last a lot longer than you claim if you 1) Don't leave them out in the sun 2) Don't rub sand paper on them and 3) Don't live in an imaginary world of CD's from 2003 being no good.
In addition to that, magnetic media can last a lot longer if you 1) Don't leave them out in the sun 2) Don't rub sand paper on them and 3) Don't leave them next to magnets.

I get your overall point but you can make your point without making obviously bullshit claims.

Sure, harder to rip... (2, Interesting)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022394)

The music industry, hoping to find another revenue source that doesn't easily lend itself to illegal downloads, has happily jumped on the bandwagon.

I am sure the fact that records wear out with repeated plays also contributed to their excitement over this trend. But hey, records are something I can't make at home. I would be more than happy to see the music industry shrink away to one that only manufactures records. At the moment they seem to manufacture mostly ill will.

Re:Sure, harder to rip... (1)

Alexx K (1167919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022440)

I am sure the fact that records wear out with repeated plays also contributed to their excitement over this trend.

If the player has digital output, you could copy the recording to a lossless format. Yeah, you could only copy in realtime, but the recording would last forever.

Re:Sure, harder to rip... (2, Informative)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022484)

Of course you could, theoretically, spin records at a faster speed and then pitch them down in software if you want -- but if you are going to transfer a record to digital, it is usually a better plan to record them at a slower speed and then pitch them up in software, as you'll have more samples available for each second of audio. Software like Audacity even includes processing presets for doing pitch manipulation among standard record speeds -- this is why the 33/45 turntable that Thinkgeek offers, for example, is marketed as being capable of transferring 78rpm records, even though it is not capable of playing them in real time.

Re:Sure, harder to rip... (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022826)

You can also use RCA->Phono cables and a $50 preamp as I do. In fact I just saw some video on CNN.com about it today and then I come here and see this. Kinda funny lol, they must be making a comeback or something. Someone also just asked me the best way to rip vinyl the other day and they were actually from a generation that used records. I use records (but definitely not exclusively) but I'm also 18 :P

Show me the science (1)

essence (812715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022396)

Some 15 year old with a bunch of records telling me they sounds better than digital playback does not convince me.
Does vinyl have a bigger possible range of frequencies? And if so can the human ear tell the difference?

Re:Show me the science (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022520)

Technically, yes, it does, since the grooves in a vinyl record are actually the analog waveforms of the sound... but as far as the ear being able to tell, no, since (lossless) audio is sampled at a rate of 44.1MHz, meaning frequencies up to 22.05MHz exist in the file, but it's known that humans can only hear up to 20MHz or so anyway.

Re:Show me the science (1)

burni (930725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022710)

I can hear 22.1 Mhz well now I get it why I start barking at every car using
it's parkassistsystem ;)

well it's khz
MHz -> KHz

most humans reach their limit at 16 khz, nearly every not-ipoded u30 can hear the piping sound
from the horizontal deflection transformer of a CRT-TV

mod parent doooooown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022722)

Megahertz? Uh? Sound is registered in kHz, not MHz. Also, given a sufficient bitrate, you can store digital data at a higher precision than a vinyl album would ever be able to provide. So, in conclusion, you're wrong, and the person that moderated you is wrong.

Re:Show me the science (1)

whimmel (189969) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022740)

KHz

Whatever (1)

VerdantHue (1154045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022406)

I'm having a hard time coming up with a synonym for "whatever."

Re:Whatever (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022844)

Try this one:

"Meh" (for better effect, include the shrugging of shoulders)

Done :)

This is true... to an extent (4, Insightful)

AthenianGadfly (798721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022416)

The problem with claims like this is that they're not falsifiable in any meaningful way. Of course it can be argued that vinyl is "warmer" and more "nuanced" - all depending on your definition of "warm" and "nuanced". What is true is that when accurate reproduction of the source sound is the goal, digital is used nearly exclusively.

This is entirely separate, of course, from the issue of the quality of compressed sound files, such as those most commonly found on iPods. Depending on the algorithm and the amount of the compression used, it can certainly have a dramatic influence on the sound quality - in some cases making it clearly lower quality than records.

Re:This is true... to an extent (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022580)

My definition of "warmer" and "nuanced" is "distorted", with the former implying that there's a low-pass filter in there somewhere (for arbitrary values of "low").

But sure, lossy compression also implies distortion of some kind, so it's a question of which has less.

The other compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022664)

There's compression as in "making file size smaller" and there's compression as in "dabbling with the dynamics" of a piece of recorded sound. The latter might be the reason why new titles on cd sound like crap. You just can't make a mix like that and press it on vinyl; the needle would jump out of the groove.

Due to the technical limitations of the medium, vinyl records have been spared from the overcompression craze that makes most recent mainstream music sound so lifeless and irritating. So, while technically inferior, they definitely sound better to my ears than their digital counterparts.

Bad sound on an iPod [Earbuds] (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022430)

Of course iPods will produce inferior sound when you're using the standard earbuds, they suck. Does anyone not understand this? Get some real headphones, or decent speakers and then compare lossless FLAC to vinyl with a range of different music--and make sure it's a blind test, nostalgia is more powerful than you think in swaying your perception.

All of which is less interesting than how a 15yo acquired such a large collection of music. I don't know anyone with that many records or CDs. I have over 1000 albums but it's all digital so it hardly counts as a tangible collection.

(cue 10 responses by umpteen thousand vinyl collection owners)

This article is a bit late (5, Interesting)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022438)

I've been involved with club and event promotions in Melbourne for about 6 years.

When I first started out, all the DJ's across Trance/House would only DJ with Vinyl and CD's were unheard of. In the past 12-18 months though that's all changed. Vinyl sales are down as DJ's and enthusiasts are all moving to CD's. CDJ's are now excellent quality and offer much more dynamic mixing abilities with better effects, beat matching and looping and sampling.
At the same time, tracks being produced are instantly available on MP3 which allows DJ's to purchase fresh hits the day the producer is happy with it, other then having to wait for tracks to be pressed to vinyl.

I believe this trend has followed Europe where they have been progressively been moving away from Vinyl in the past 2-3 years.

Vinyl is still excellent, I still love to collect it, but technology has finally caught up in the club scene where MP3 and digital music now offers much much more advantage to the DJ, especially in price. Buying 5-6 new records per week to play in clubs is expensive, when you can buy the same tracks for 3-4 dollars each online and burn them to CD.

Re:This article is a bit late (1)

lsolano (398432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022644)

As a bedroom dj, absolutely agree.

I have a decent sound system and all those still saying that vinyl sounds better than CDs... oh well.

Re:This article is a bit late (2, Interesting)

rHBa (976986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022762)

Actually, in the UK anyway, a lot of DJs prefer to use one of the vinyl midi controllers (such as Serato or the new Native Instruments hardware with Traktor) because it offers more hands-on control than CDJs, offers all the features of a professional DJ mixer regardless of the facilities available at the venue and also saves the cost/effort of burning MP3s to disk.

Another popular alternative (used by a lot of 'big names' such as Coldcut, Pete Tong, Sasha, Richie Hawtin, Daft Punk etc) is mixing straight from your laptop using Ableton Live, this is more like bringing your recording studio to the nightclub and doing a live remix.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022476)

In related news, 8 millimeter film with its scratches and character is said to be replacing high definition video. Owners of more than 1000 of the films say they look warmer, and they're not just talking about those cells melted by the projector.

Does anyone in this day and age really buy this nonsense? When you listen to records, you aren't listening to the band playing, you're listening to them playing plus a lot of noise introduced by the technology. You might just mistake that for how a band should sound, but trust me...that's not what music sounds like live. Thats not even what the master mix sounds like on tape, or on the hard disk these days. You are listening to the machine, not the band, if you think records sound better.

Please... (2, Insightful)

His Shadow (689816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022492)

Could we bring back the 8track as well? The anticipation of waiting to find out which song was going to get chopped by the track change was a real charmer.


It also never occurred to me that pops and clicks were really part of a "nuanced" sound, and not the inevitable failure of an archaic mechanical playback process.

LP graphics are cool but (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022496)

Call me silly but in the age of HDTV & DVD does it not make sense to incorporate all this data one had on 12 inch a have it displayable? Even a 15 inch monitor would be adequate, and hell with an rss feed you can pop in that disc and not only get your album graphics but updated information as to when tours are going to happen, when the next album is coming out, and even other projects.

12 inch was a nice format, but space savings is more important to me than raw information.

What about the recording/editing/post processing? (1)

HouseOfMisterE (659953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022512)

If the source audio is recorded and processed digitally, would this negate the "warm nuance" of pressed vinyl?

Re:What about the recording/editing/post processin (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022738)

That depends on where you press it.

Large artwork... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022524)

Hell, I'd rather more vinyl albums be sold like Cheech & Chongs Big Bamboo album - with foot-long rolling papers included!!!

One Cannot Identify With An Infinite Supply (5, Insightful)

Effugas (2378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022530)

If someone has a thousand albums on MP3, whatever. It doesn't say anything about them. They spent a night raiding P2P. Big deal.

If someone has a thousand albums on Vinyl, it's a different story. You think something of him. Maybe good, maybe bad, but you can expect him to rather deeply identify himself by his music. Each record was individually chosen, to the exclusion of others. Time was invested, thought was expressed, identity is reflected.

And that, of course, is what not just Vinyl, but the entire shared music experience is really about. Music is more than bits. Music is more than waves of air lapping or pounding at one's eardrums. Music is, or at least can be, about identity. That a fifteen year old kid is desperately trying to assert his should surprise absolutely nobody here.

Re:One Cannot Identify With An Infinite Supply (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022690)

If someone has a thousand albums on Vinyl, it's a different story. You think something of him. Maybe good, maybe bad, but you can expect him to rather deeply identify himself by his music. Each record was individually chosen, to the exclusion of others. Time was invested, thought was expressed, identity is reflected.

I think someone needs a more efficient method of expressing their identity, especially if their using a material good to do so.

Re:One Cannot Identify With An Infinite Supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022748)

If you download discographies of every artist you can think of, you'll end up with a crap collection. Anyone worth his salt will pick and choose what they want. If you can't put your mp3 collection on shuffle without skipping every second track, you have a crap collection and might as well be listening to the radio.

Digital music collections show as much personal identity as any physical format collection.

For sound quality... (3, Funny)

Chysn (898420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022538)

...there's no beating half-inch reel-to-reel. Vinyl, pfft.

Vinyl is an awful medium (2, Insightful)

Mopatop (690958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022542)

I don't want to go in to it now, but there is a massive laundry list of problems with vinyl. A bit of research brings up bizarre phenomena such as pre-echo and warbling, and it has severe problems with fidelity and stereo separation. Your record sounds worse the further towards the inside that the needle travels!

My personal vendetta against vinyl stems from crackle. I have lots of MP3s which have been ripped from vinyl, and you can always tell because crackling (dust on the track) is very difficult to eliminate in a practical manner. I have a high quality audio system so I can hear the crackle very clearly. The first time I noticed it I thought my speakers had developed a severe fault before I realised it was a vinyl rip.

High-end audio is not about the perfect source, but I'm afraid vinyl just falls too far short.

Nuanced? (0, Troll)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022556)

...or that it has more than 0.1 dB of dynamic range? Vinyl can't have the amplitude smashed like digital.

from an engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022562)

(mind you, he's not commenting about the destruction of mp3 compression, he's talking about uncompressed digital audio, and how it can't reproduce what we had with analog)

quote 1:

The instant you digitize a signal, you destroy the phase-angle relationship between the high frequencies and the lows. That's why you can't make a decent chorus with a digital delay unit. Phase-angle distortion has been with us since the day 3M introduced their incredibly expensive, 15kHz digital-recording deck. I still remember the famous quote from their marketing department: "There is an introduction of phase-angle distortion, but the human ear can't hear it." I find that so hysterical because the human ear can hear things we can't measure yet. And the ear does use phase-angle information to determine the location sounds originate from, and the space within which you're standing when you hear those sounds. Simply put, that's what tells you, "Oh, that sound came from over there." The end result is that digitized music destroys the spatial characteristics of the music, and the first thing I noticed about it--other than the horrifying distortion of 16-bit digitized reproduction--is that the sound spectrum is really flat.

quote 2:

You know what? It doesn't really matter. I mean, 16-bit audio absolutely destroys the waveform, especially in the high end. A lot of things that I thought were fine on vinyl or cassette tape parts that had a lot of brightness and sibilance in them sounded horrible on 16-bit CD. I literally could not listen to those albums on CD all these years. I saw this as a huge opportunity. I dropped everything, I shut down a 10-day vacation I had just started around my birthday [March 10] and went to work. We just literally went through those things second by second or, I should say, millisecond by millisecond and did all the things you can do now with automated EQ and other signal-processing techniques. Since it was going to be in the digital format anyway, there was nothing to lose.

quote 3:

I work only in an analog studio, so I hear music at its very best. I mean, there's nothing like the sound of an analog multitrack recording playing back. You'll never hear it sound so good again because it actually is the real thing. It's the real music by the real musicians, the phase hasn't been all screwed up by the A/D conversion, and the high end isn't all messed up trying to fit a 16-kHz tone into three pieces of a 44-Hz sampling rate. In an analog studio, you're hearing pristine, real-world sound, the way it would sound if it was coming through the mikes, and you were listening to them in headphones right there in your room. 24-bit digital sounds pretty good to me. But as soon as you make the conversion to 16-bit, it sounds like crap. [laughs] I have a hard time listening to CDs after working on an analog original because of what they do to the depth perception. The phase-angle errors caused by the A/D conversion really bother me. They bothered me the very first time I heard digital next to an analog original. I was always amazed that people didn't perceive that something that once sounded like it was located way beyond their speakers now sounded like it was on a flat plane...

I've listened to a lot of tape, vinyl, a lot of CDs, and a lot of 320,256,128 & 64 kb/s mp3s....

good 1/4 inch tape on good equipment through full headphones is unreal, it only goes down from there....

The Wisdom of 15-Year-Olds (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022566)

'Bad sound on an iPod has had an impact on a lot of people going back to vinyl,'

That's crap. How about rewording it to be a bit more truthful (and accurate): 'Highly-compressed, far less than CD quality sound, on an iPod has had an impact on some people looking for alternatives, including vinyl,'

This kid may have 1000 records, but that pales compared to 100,000,000 iPod sales and still growing.

Besides, portable music is the Big Thing. How are you going to play that vinyl on your portable music player? In fact, it's hard to even find a great turntable at an affordable price any longer. It's not like the old days when a couple hundred bucks could buy a great Dual 1237. Mine still sits next to my computer -- and isn't for sale!

Re:The Wisdom of 15-Year-Olds (1)

lsolano (398432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022674)

That's crap. How about rewording it to be a bit more truthful (and accurate): 'Highly-compressed, far less than CD quality sound, on an iPod has had an impact on some people looking for alternatives, including vinyl,'


Agree.
320k is a very good alternative. Of course, they don't want their ipods to be full that soon...

No, it's not (2, Insightful)

cstec (521534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022568)

Vinyl has a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs or MP3s
Yeah, as long as you're calling reproduction error "warmer" and noise and other junk not in the recording "nuances."

MP3 is a lossy format so between those two, who knows, but the 'audiophiles' that claim vinyl is superior make me wretch. And yes, I still have plenty of vinyl because there was a time that was all we had.

Vinyls... (1)

pcsourcepoint (1218402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022582)

Vinyls are bit of a history - but some good history in terms of the artwork for some of the albums. I still have hundreds, but slowly selling them online in NZ...

Pro Audio Kettle^WPower Cords (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022586)

Hmm, I have some $5000 power cords I can sell him, guaranteed to improve the sound of his records. It will provide a distinct improvement in the warmth of deep bass, combined with a crisp treble. Our phone lines are open right now for orders. Just call 911-5324 and get an instant discount...

Tubes (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022600)

Yeah, and I can get a CD player with actual tubes in it to warm up the sound -- and the room itself. They even put them in the front behind a screen so that you can see that they're working.

Truth is, people have been arguing about what reproduces the best sound since recorded sound started, and they're not likely to stop now. It's a lot like wine -- enjoy what you like.

Gotta love vinyl.... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022602)

Mainly because lots of demos that you will NEVER FIND ELSEWHERE were released only in vinyl, and are increasing in collector's value (For example, I have the dual-vinyl demo of Alice in Chains Sap/Jar of Flies, with one side of one record holding purely a vinyl-scratched impression of the AIC logo.) Last time one of my vinyls was appraised, I was holding a four-hundred dollar album. I'll not get into the ultra-thick Edison vinyls that I have, that's another beast altogether.

Re:Gotta love vinyl.... (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022756)

Super thick Edison "vinyls"? I'm pretty sure they are made from shellac, not vinyl. Mainly because I used to hit the used record shops and antique stores in New Orleans for the broken ones they had. You break them up further, put the pieces in a lidded glass jar with some lacquer thinner, wait about a week and strain it and you have one helluva good black lacquer for wood working.

cool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022610)

Vinyl "warmer" sound is due purely to decreased bandwidth and dynamics, plus untrained sound engineers who can't adapt to a new medium that doesn't hide the smallest mistake and snake oil buyers (audiophiles) who now say vinyl is better, then tomorrow will shell $3000/meter for a loudspeaker cable.

There were artists who recorded at least one step of their material in digital since the early 80s (anyone remembers the Betamax+AD/DA converter cards used at that time for mastering?), and the same stuff once put on vinyl makes those audiophiles scream "ooooh, see? ...Analog is better!". That's digital material, people! What you hear as warmer is digital stuff that passes through the natural filter+dynamics processor+noise adder called vinyl.

Decades ago people said AM radio sound was warmer and synthesizers could never become serious instruments too. Luckily nobody listened to those people and research continued.

Make You A Bet (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022624)

I'll make you a bet. That all those wonderful, warm, modern vinyl records all come from digital master tapes. The days of direct-to-disc recording are long gone.

Distortion (1)

Chris Oz (684680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022634)

Typical crappy article about Vinyl. 15 yr old "They sound better" than my 32kbps wmas or the other guy "they are warmer" mp3 sound "tinny". Well yeah, but vinyl isn't a better medium. All you need to know is that low bit rate compressed files are crap, the loudness war is killing music and if you really want you can just add a bit of third harmonic distortion if you want that "nuanced warmer" sound. For those that don't remember when CD first came out you could buy very expensive little inline boxes that made the sound "warmer" and some CD player had valve front ends for the same reason. I suspect you can still get them, just look up $10,000 speaker cables retailers and I am sure they will be happy to sell a sound cleaning box. Having said that I still like LPs from a physical perspective. A fold out album cover beats a 10x10cm book in an CD case and handling vinyl disc had a nice romance about it all. However, i don't miss worn records, the hissing or snap crackle and pops. I also love the portability of digital music. You can't run with a record paper and tapes just suck.

Too late for me... (1)

fizzbin (110016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022680)

I knew I never should have thrown out my 70s LPs.

Except of course for The Knack :-)

Watch your bassbins (1)

TheRealZeus (1172755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022684)

One of the reasons vinyl is preferred among many of my DJ friends is the bass gets a lot lower than CDs. Of course record labels could take advantage of the FLAC features by allowing a wider range of frequencies and skipping the CD phaze, but it's not happening anytime soon, and the veteran DJs will stick to vinyl, and a bunch of slashdotters who need to make a faux-clever joke about a medium they never use being inferior, will do what they do. Such is the ways of human error, everyone a little too lazy to do research, take advantage of current technology and offer it to sale to a group of consumers that would have to care enough about audio quality.

A quick primer on Vinyl distortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22022686)

The process of creating and playing back a record introduces much distortion to the original recording. Distortion that is aesthetically pleasing to the ears, but distortion all the same.

Sound that is going to be placed onto a master disc for pressing vinyl goes through something called the RIAA curve, which equalizes the sound. The amplitude of the low frequencies are lowered and the higher frequencies raised. This has the benefit of reducing the size of the grooves, leading to more revolutions per disc, leading to longer playing times. The master is then cut with the processed audio. When the record is played back, the player processes the sound through an inverse RIAA curve. The audio is re-equalized so that the amplitudes of the low frequencies are raised, and the high frequencies lowered, so they resemble their original equalization. Distortions are are introduced at every stage in this process.

This is a very brief explanation, so it is naturally missing other important information. I'm also very tired, so who knows what I'm forgetting. So to get to the point. Just because vinyl is "analog" doesn't mean that it's more accurate that digital. Both have natural advantages and disadvantages.

Dupe? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022702)

I remember discussing this issue a few months ago on slashdot.

The bottom line is that while one can prove that digital is at least more consistent than vinyl, one cannot prove that one or the other "sounds better" because it is largely a matter of aesthetics. Distortion (from original) by itself does not make a sound "bad". After all, musicians and artists purposely distort sounds for effect. But measuring the "goodness" of that is largely outside of the scientific realm.
               

Vinyl is still a very decent format (1)

TheDefunctMunky (566913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022752)

A proper set up (not necessarily an expensive setup) can make vinyl sound very good and make wear on the actual media negligible. However, most people have only heard vinyl on very cheap equipment that was improperly set up, which is no way to judge the format. The problem is that even with very decent equipment, properly setting it up is difficult as there are many variables (tracking force, anti-skate, overhang, vertical tracking angle, etc.). Some may argue that this difficulty is even more of a reason to go with CDs or some other digital format exclusively. These are the same type of people who argue that Linux is too difficult and that everyone should use Windows, as it is obviously superior. My personal reason for having a turntable is that a lot of excellent music is simply not available on any other format. The same also goes for vinyl: a lot of excellent music is not available on vinyl, which is why it is stupid to restrict yourself to only one format for any reason.

Not this crap again (2, Informative)

L4m3rthanyou (1015323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022776)

That "warm" sound is distortion. Some listeners may like it, but from a quality/reproduction standpoint it is most definitely a bad thing. If record companies really are selling vinyl again, they're probably just trying to make a quick buck on nostalgic idiots who are actually dumb enough to buy vinyl records in 2008. Even the record companies realize that online distribution is the next big thing.

Most of the problems with CDs and digital audio can be blamed on poor compression and the loudness war. I'm really sick of hearing the same old rants from vinyl fanboys... why is this even worthy of Slashdot's front page?

Oh, and technically speaking, vinyl has a finite bitrate. Once you get down to the molecular level, that is... so I'll have no more of this "vinyl has infinite quality" nonsense.

CDs? (1)

pkdgoer (1218412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022862)

I'm happy with my CDs. No room for defects in sound (unless you're careless with them), and 100% uncompressed digital audio. And now that Time said it's cool, look out for all major retail to start selling vinyl.

The Vinyl 'user Interface' Is What's Special (4, Informative)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22022870)

For me vinyl was always cool, but regardless of the arguments abount sound quality there's one feature that vinyl posesses for DJ's that's frequently overlooked - the user interface - the way you can control the music by dragging the record on the turntable, the way you can seek to the right point in the record just by dropping the needle in the right place - the way you can see the beats, the builds and the breakdowns on the media just by looking at the way the light reflects from the surface. That's why I still buy it, for performance purposes.

Now, there are many attempts to replicate the interface, either with the giant jog wheels on the CDJ's or vinyl control discs sending control signals to computers (Serato/MsPinky/Final Scratch) but while these bring advantages to the equation - mnamely being able to carry a larger selection in your record bag or laptop's disc - they still fall short of the pure vinyl experience in subtle ways.

Now I can listen to practically any track ever recorded, on demand and for free at sites like imeem.com [imeem.com] when I love music I want the physical artifact and a vinyl version always gets more love from me.

Oh and vinyl is robust, I have 10 year old CD's that are turning brown and won't play, but I have 50 year old vinyl that still works just fine.
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