No compression = not lifelike?


#1

Theres an interesting statement by the famous mastering engineer Steve Hoffman.

Within the digital vs. vinyl discussion here we came across limitations of vinyl a few times, one of them being the need of compression with very dynamic recordings.

Interesting now that a mastering engineer like Hoffman states the following on compression/limiting:

““Why do we need this at all?” You ask me this all the time. Too much dynamic range is very unlifelike. In the concert hall, the sound bounces around and compresses nicely before it reaches your seat. Try listening to an orchestra OUTSIDE. Sounds like dead crap, right? You need the concert hall just like recordings need compression.”

and later: “Too much dynamic range is unnatural sounding, just sounds wrong. The vocal is too loud, too soft, this or that, it’s hard to get a good balance. Mixing is very difficult. Compression helps make it sound natural (as funky hard as that is to believe)”

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/i-was-asked-why-do-recordings-need-compression-limiting-during-recording-mastering.631903/


#2

It depends on what we mean by “sounds wrong.”

A pop recording without compression sounds like a demo, no matter how well recorded. We expect rock to be compressed, we expect close-mic’d vocals to be compressed (as well as vocal announcers on radio and TV), bass guitar, drums, etc. - all need compression to sound as we prefer (an uncompressed pop vocal or news announcer sounds particularly odd). And, as he points out, every time we listen to vinyl we are listening to compression - and we like it.

On the other hand, a chamber orchestra does not need compression to sound great, although we may use a bit of limiting to get the odd outlyer to sit in the recording and to allow the entire level to be raised.


#3

Independently of the statements on many vinyl remasterings which seem to have used no compression because not needed and independently of my experience, that with some highly dynamic classical recordings I see the advantage of digital playback, Steve Hoffmans inputs on effects especially connected with vinyl mastering (like compression or limiting) and his comparisons of lacquer, SACD, tape with the masters (see below) makes me understand why in practice some advantages of vinyl playback seem to have more weight than theoretical and practical limitations.

For those interested, here a few more quotes from Steve Hoffman:

"

I don’t use compression or limiting in mastering digital. In vinyl cutting there is usually a high freq. limiter going or else the cutter head would burn out on some stuff… You cannot hear it working and in most cases it improves the sound of the vinyl.

Kevin Gray and I cut THEME FROM “SHAFT” from the original stereo tape at 45 RPM and we did it both ways, with the high freq. limiter on and with it off. In a blind home test we both preferred the version with the high freq. limiter.

Whoopycat said: ↑
Steve, in your opinion/experience is there an ideal DR amount for different types of music? Or is it all specific to each recording?

SH: Around 20 db max.

First, let me say that I love records, compact discs and SACDs; I have a bunch of all three formats. Nothing that I discovered below changed that one bit.

I did these comparisons a few years ago. Since I spilled the beans to an interviewer on mic last year I continually get quoted and misquoted about this subject. I’ll try to set the “record” straight in this thread. Please note I’m typing on a whacked out computer not my own with a tiny monitor and no spell check… There could be a (gasp) typo or two…

A few years ago, mainly out of curiosity (and nothing else) I got the chance at AcousTech Mastering to compare an actual master tape to the playback of a record lacquer and digital playback. Also did the same test using DSD (SACD) playback as well later on in the day. The results were interesting. The below is just my opinion. Note that we cut the record at 45 because the lathe was set for that speed. A similar test we did using the 33 1/3 speed yielded the same result.

FIRST COMPARISON: MASTER TAPE with ACETATE LACQUER AT 45 RPM with DIGITAL PACIFIC MICROSONICS CAPTURE.

We had the master tape of the Riverside stereo LP Bill Evans Trio/WALTZ FOR DEBBY at AcousTech and decided to do this little comparison. Since the actual master needs a bunch of “mastering” to make it sound the best, I set the title track up as if it was going to be mastered (which in a sense it was, being cut on to an acetate record).

We cut a lacquer ref of the tune with mastering moves while dumping to the digital computer at the same time with the same moves.

Then, after a break, we sync’d up all three, first matching levels. Simultaneous playback of all three commenced and as Kevin switched, I listened. (We took turns switching and listening). First thing I noticed:

The MASTER TAPE and the RECORD sounded the practically the same. We honestly couldn’t tell one from the other during playback. This was of course playing back the tape on the master recorder with the mastering “moves” turned on. The acetate record was played back flat on the AcousTech lathe with the SAE arm and Shure V15 through the Neumann playback preamp (as seen in so many pictures posted here of AcousTech).

The flat digital playback of my mastering sounded different. NOT BAD, just different. The decay on the piano was different, the plucks of Scott’s bass were different, the reverb trail was noticeably truncated due to a loss of resolution. Non unpleasant, just not like the actual master tape. This is slightly frustrating to me because it confirmed the fact that when mastering in digital one has to compensate for the change (which I do with my usual “tricks”). The record however, gave back exactly what we put in to it. Exactly.

Please note that an actual record for sale would have gone through the manufacturing process and the lacquer would have been processed to a MASTER, MOTHER, STAMPER and VINYL with increased surface noise, etc. but the sound of the music remains intact for the most part. A remarkable thing since records have been basically made the same way for over 100 years.

SECOND COMPARISON: MASTER TAPE with ACETATE LACQUER AT 45 RPM with DSD MASTER (SACD MASTER).

So, using the same master tape of WALTZ FOR DEBBY, we compared the before mentioned acetate that we cut on the AcousTech lathe (manufactured in 1967 and modded by Kevin Gray) with a DSD playback of the same tape with the same mastering and levels.

Result? The DSD/SACD version sounded even MORE different than the compact disc digital playback compared to the analog master. More not-like the sound of the actual master tape. The resolution was fine and we could hear the notes decay, etc. just like analog but the TONALITY was a bit off. It was not telling the truth when compared to the master tape or the acetate record.

THIRD COMPARISON: MASTER TAPE with ACETATE RECORD with OPEN REEL TAPE COPY AT 15 ips:

We made a dub of the tune WALTZ FOR DEBBY to an Ampex ATR-100 at 15 ips non-Dolby, +3 level and played it back with the actual master tape and the acetate record. Both of us thought the open reel tape copy sounded inferior to the acetate record when compared to the master tape; weaker transients, a more “blurred” sound that would never be noticeable unless played back with the actual master tape to compare it to.

So, what does this mean to you? Probably nothing. What did it mean to me? I found it interesting. The CD playback had more accurate tonality than the DSD/SACD playback. The DSD playback had more front to back resolution than the CD playback. The tape copy sounded slightly lackluster. The acetate record playback beat them all in terms of resolution, tonal accuracy and everything else when compared directly with the analog master in playback. This is not wonderful news in a certain sense; vinyl playback is sometimes a pain in the butt and knowing that CD’s are not capturing everything in perfect resolution drives me bonkers.

Regarding the lowly phonograph record:

We know that records have their problems (could be noisy, warped, bad cutting, etc.) as well but for the most part they will be a damn miraculous representation of the actual master recording for not much money.

Your comments are welcome.

Please remember, the above is just my OPINION but I found it interesting. I love my compact discs but I realize they are not the last word in resolution; they are damn fine though and when listening for pleasure I play CDs and records, with CDs getting the most play. My Sony and Living Stereo SACDs are never far away from me either. If you disagree with me, that’s cool. It’s all fun, or should be.

Sorry again for some awkward English in this; my proofing time was limited (but not compressed).

As some of you know, Kevin Gray and I have been working on a bunch of wonderful Nat “King” Cole Capitol Records’ reissues for Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions over the past 1/2 year. We are doing three-channel surround SACD’s direct from three-track tapes with a two-channel and CD layer plus some extra-special 45 RPM 180 gram vinyl. So you will be able to hear Nat coming out of your center channel (on the three-channel SACD layer) and nicely balanced on your CD and SACD two channel layers and then on the uniquely mixed vinyl versions. Get an SACD player.

Do you have a turntable? If you are on the fence about getting one, I would do it if you love Nat. These records are going to be just killer and that is not just hot wind from a mastering engineer. The unique thing about these albums that will be on vinyl is the fact that the mixes will be unique, having been done by mastering the three-channel tapes DIRECTLY to the lacquer without any second-step “master” mixes to tape being done ahead of time.

In other words, the mixes that were cut into the acetate lacquers for pressing into records are unique, differing from our SACD/CD versions by the very nature of the mastering process. And yes, if we have to do recuts, THOSE sides will be slightly different mixes as well. This is an opportunity to get about as close to the voice of Nat Cole as humanly possible on this earth.

The strength of the LP is that it is analog, and can sound wonderful without little effort. The SACD on the other hand sounds wonderful as well, with a bunch of circuits working overtime to try and RECREATE the analog sound.

Both are totally bitchin’ to me, but if you are asking if they will match if played back at the same time in your system, the answer is: They should. But too many playback variables might get in the way.

"


#4

We already engaged in the vinyl v. digital discussion. LP’s perforce sound different from digital reproduction. As I explained:

(My original post is here.)

"A tremendous amount of post-mixing processing/mastering is done to cut an LP which is unnecessary for digital playback. LPs sound very different than their counterpart digital version for good practical reasons.
For example, the dynamic range of an LP is limited. As a result, the engineer adjusts grove pitch (spacing between the cut spirals) to compensate as louder passages create greater excursions. As the medium is physical, there are constant trade-offs as to whether you want to allow the loudest passages to be fully represented or the softest, keeping in mind S/N and cartridge tracking limitations. As another example, there is a trade-off between stereo image and low frequency information. That is, while the engineer can adjust the groove pitch for loud or soft passages, the maximum and minimum depth of the groove are fixed and constant. Allowing too much low frequency information while trying to capture a wide stereo spread results in deep peaks and valleys in the groove and the stylus will bounce out of the groove. But turning down the low frequency information collapses the stereo image (too much out-of-phase low frequency information similarly lifts the stylus from the groove, in-phase low frequency information results in wide lateral excursions which is addressed by increasing groove pitch.)

As a result of these issues, and many more, the LP mastering engineer makes many trade-offs in bass response, stereo imaging, dynamic range, etc. when mastering for LP. And the cutting engineer does so as well. The cutting engineer must balance signal processing v. available recording time v. groove pitch. For example, the music is typically dynamically compressed. Often the low bass is rolled-off and a mid-bass peak is added around 200Hz to compensate for the physical limitations of LP.

And there are more quirks. For example, the frequency response of an LP decreases as the stylus moves toward the center of the LP; the stylus moves faster across the outer grooves than the center. To make things worse, tracking distortion increases as well. Thus, the engineer is continually tweaking the high frequency response during cutting, increasing it while the groove moves in, but not too much as to cause tracking issues.

Mixing is often different for LPs as well. To allow for greatest dynamics and frequency response you want to keep as much information identical between the channels as possible. This is because with vinyl, L-R and L+R information is separated off, and you want as little unneeded information on the L-R channel as possible. This is because the L-R signal (up and down in the groove) possesses less dynamic range than the L+R signal. This limits what overall dynamic range can be captured, as well as how much low frequency information can be reproduced to the left and right in the stereo image.

Thus, low bass is mixed to the center. Otherwise, there will be a significant difference between channels and a lot of bass content in the L-R channel. The resulting groove would be both very shallow and very deep. The stylus will thus drift out/bounce out of the groove at the shallow points and wander off. Low bass in the middle is easier to capture on LP. This results in a strong L+R signal which is captured in left/right excursions. All the engineer needs to do is vary the groove pitch to allow for more space between the grooves.

For this same reason, phase differences are difficult to capture well on LP. For example, recordings made with spaced omni microphones are not captured as well on LP as on digital. Phase differences are cut to LP as L-R, up/down which has less dynamic range than the L+R, left/right.

Summary: There is no such thing as an identically mastered LP and digital counterpart. LPs are far from flat. Many love this sound. Imperfect sound for a limited time.

This is also why playing back the LP version sounds different from digital. And why if you record the LP onto digital it will sound just like the LP; digital can capture vinyl, but vinyl cannot capture digital."


#5

Exactly, that’s what I meant, that was the discussion…no doubt that all this seems to be valid for vinyl production… just interesting that a mastering engineer like Hoffman, who probably was one of a few able to make practical comparisons as he described above, heard closest sound to master tape by the lacquer. And in the following post about Creedence Clearwater masterings for vinyl and SACD he stated:

"

The mastering process between the AP vinyl and SACD? Well, the “voicing” process is EXACTLY THE SAME. I mean that I used the same tonality for both the LP and the SACD.

The mastering PROCESS for the LP was a lot different, trying to get those songs on acetate without the needle bouncing right off of the groove. But that’s not what you meant, right?

The strength of the LP is that it is analog, and can sound wonderful without little effort. The SACD on the other hand sounds wonderful as well, with a bunch of circuits working overtime to try and RECREATE the analog sound.

Both are totally bitchin’ to me, but if you are asking if they will match if played back at the same time in your system, the answer is: They should. But too many playback variables might get in the way.

My SACD tests were indeed successful, and the finished disc sounded just like the real deal.

"

…and while I wouldn’t take his following statement too serious (as to my knowledge he is fitted with a DS DAC and PWD on loan from PS Audio and this possibly was in advance)…

"

razerx said:

It seems all that money I have spent chasing new remastered, SACD, hdcd releases, high end CD players and D/A converters were basically to make digital sound like vinyl but without the pop and scratches.

SH: Ain’t that the truth? The best digital imitates the “colorations” of good analog.

"

…it seems he at the end in direct practical comparisons (probably under most optimal conditions) doesn’t exactly find the general completely different sound of vinyl vs. digital that you conclude from the vinyl limitations you mentioned (and I assume he would confirm).

So I can only tell that for me his observations are one of very few practical comparisons assumed done under optimal conditions by a skilled, experienced and quite neutral professional person (at least less colored than probably both of us). Who else than he should better be able to tell about such listening comparisons.

Most other opinions are from people not owning or regularity using analog/digital equipment on a comparable level and not having access to an environment, providing comparison between equally mastered SACD/Vinyl sources and the according master tape.

So it’s not that important to me if he slightly prefers vinyl or digital playback, but that in his experience both can or should sound extremely close if produced and compared under such ideal conditions he had available as a mastering engineer.

But aside of this the main subject of this post (“analog compression/limitation if used properly improves sound or can improve sound”) was totally new to me.


#6

I’m totally lost as to what in your posts are quotes of others, reposting of Hoffman and his forum, your thoughts, etc., let alone the theme.

But, there is no question vinyl and digital sound different. There are a myriad of reasons. It also makes perfect sense that certain recordings, such as Waltz for Debby, with limited dynamic range and limited bass energy, will easily translate to vinyl and with good playback equipment will sound great. Dubstep, for example, will not similarly translate well; the vinyl cutting engineer will be forced to make many compromises, as he will when cutting The Rite of Spring (see my post above).

I can easily appreciate not knowing compression can often improve recorded sound. Like EQ and other tools, compression is a wonderful tool when used properly and judiciously. It also is the recorded sound we expect when listening to pop, rock, vocal jazz, etc. The Stones do not sound like the Stones without compression; the bass, drums, guitar and vocals are all individually compressed, and the mix is again compressed. Close mic’d Adele and Diana Krall vocals sound raw and bedroom demo-like without a lot of compression.

Fascinatingly, our brains process live sound differently than recorded. Normal speech possess tremendous dynamic range which sounds fine live, but really odd when recorded and played back. This is one of the reasons TV and radio announces are heavily compressed.

The comment about an orchestra playing outside is odd. An orchestra playing outside sounds great, but you need to be close enough to hear everything. An orchestra far away sounds lifeless, as does anything at a distance. This has nothing to do with compression. Sit close to the outdoor orchestra as you do in a concert hall and it sounds wonderful; 100 yards away, not so good.


#7

Hoffman’s quotes are between the " "

Correct, the comparison with an orchestra playing outside was more lead by emotion I guess.

It’s my experience that not only recordings like “Waltz for Debby” with quite lowbdynamic range, but generally most non classical and most classical below a full orchestra size seem to have limited enough dynamics anyway that music can be caught without audible compromises. And that advantages of vinyl overcome disadvantages in most cases.

It would be interesting to know if Hoffmans own observations are limited to recordings of limited dynamic range. From his following answers to some of the well known vinyl theories I guess not (but this discussion should be better done by two of the same background and experience, I’m just a listener):

SteveM said: ↑
Vinyl has a lower resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio than CD. In fact in most ways from an audiophile technical standpoint CD’s trump vinyl in every single way, they’re amazing little discs. The longer listening time for long classical pieces is just the icing on the cake. If I listened to classical music exclusively I would not even own a single turntable! Turntables add all sorts of coloration and “noise / distortions” to the mix. Bless the little digital blighters, they are so much better.

SH Steve Hoffman:

What a load of ********.

Oops, I better be Forum Friendly:

I disagree with this load of ********.

Nope.

How about:

I strongly disagree.

That work?

Steve Hoffman, Mar 5, 2015
#198

Robin L said: ↑
The issue isn’t so much the genre, it’s the usual considerations brought on by inherent dynamic limitations. Solo guitar does very well by LP playback, vocals with limited dynamic range, like most jazz recordings, do very well. It seems as though the louder the sound and the thicker the texture, the greater the level of coloration the vinyl chain introduces. In the case of rock that can be thought of as a feature, in the case of Mahler, it cannot.

SH Steve Hoffman:
With all due respect, I think that’s a load of poo.

Steve Hoffman, Jul 16, 2010
#11


#8

And as I stated earlier, I’m really repeatedly surprised myself how close Vinyl and DSD can sound on equally good sources (by all their existing difference of personal preference). I would have expected much bigger differences due to the facts (well I really guess all or most of them are facts) like you described previously.

And I was even more surprised, a lacquer sounded more like the master in Hoffman’s comparisons than SACD (even if it was limited to recordings of less than max. dynamic level), as this is what theory seems to tell us is impossible.

And I still learn from his and other mastering engineers like Barry Diamond’s statements in his forum, that (if I understood correctly)…

…most recordings generally use limiting/compression for good reason

…many, maybe a majority of audiophile vinyl cuts don’t use add compression

…totally different mastering necessities between for i.e. SACD and vinyl and obvious mechanical etc. limitations of vinyl can anyway lead to very similar results when listening to the final products

I thought all mastering and recording engineers are pure digital minded for more or less good reason.


#9

Do you prefer the sound of Mapleshade recordings over others of similar musical material?


#10

I don’t know this label, sorry!

But I have no certain preference of a label sound. I like good recordings of all labels.

Sound should be clear and tight for me as long as it’s naturally sounding. Maybe I typically like the most digital-like analog sound or the most analog-like digital sound;-)


#11

Mapleshade has an extensive website with many sample files, including a complete track off of each album - easy to download and play. He offers primarily jazz.

I ask as he uses no compression, EQ, mixing, etc. What you get is what was captured on analog tape and converted to digital.

I am curious as to what you think of the sound.


#12

Thanks much for the hint, interesting read on their website, I will download something and try when I’m back from holiday.

To be honest, so far, analog sourced or mastered digital files haven’t been the important factor in my perception compared to completely digital. I probably have more great sounding fully digital stuff than somehow analog treated digital files (of which I also have many). To me it seems recording quality is most important, then mastering quality and both can strongly vary even from the same label. A very good example is the audiophile Esoteric label series. Very different recording quality of their old analog recorded stuff. Most below today’s standard, but i.e. Solti’s Ring cycle and a few others sound gorgeous. Similar but little more consistent with Pentatone and 2xHD. Have to compare the Esoteric/Ring to my Superanalogue vinyl pressings of the same recordings at the next opportunity.

But Mapleshade really looks interesting from what they describe.

It seems to me, as well as HW manufacturers have their own concepts which all can lead to great products, it’s similar with recording/mastering engineers. There seems to be not that many common rules as expected which one has to follow, but also different approaches leading to great sound, of which max. dynamic range, use of compression/limiting yes or no etc. is only one, as long as a certain limit is not undercut.

Regarding vinyl:

Although it was always a love/hate status for me due to limitations like mainly inner groove distortion, one channel strong level peak distortion and max. dynamic limitation with the rest mainly on the love-side, I really noticed the “craziness” of this concept nowadays from Kevin Gray’s description of how to make great vinyl cuts and Infos like yours.

That’s why it’s really hard for me to understand why I still prefer its sound in many (since the DS lesser and less obvious) cases and how comparisons like Hoffman had the chance to do, show very comparable results of vinyl vs. SACD (with a certain preference which is not so important here and maybe again personal taste).

At the end it’s a difficult discussion, because everyone has another definition and extent of vinyl inferiority or superiority, depending on the available rig and own preference.

But I’m quite convinced, if it was possible to produce vinyl’s most obvious strengths without its mechanical weaknesses with digital gear, most would favor this digital gear.

Finally, reading about mastering engineers wisdom, that measures like compression or limiting are needed or preferable in several cases, made clear to me again, that live and canned have different rules like digital/vinyl have different rules and that it’s probably not appropriate to expect a favorable final result can (only) be reached by following the theoretical rules of one of them only, it seems this sometimes doesn’t even work at all.


#13

Many prefer the sound of vinyl. It’s physical limitations, including a bit of natural compression, produce a sound many like, such as the relative increase of note decay and room sound.

We see similar preferences emerge when a new, cleaner, less jitter DS firmware comes out. Some prefer the “noisier” version, finding it more warm, with greater body.

A good part of our preferences are learned. We are accustomed to, and expect, certain types of sound. This is why raw, distantly mic’d recordings produced by labels such as Mapleshade are illustrative. They sound “real” but many do not like the unpolished, “unprofessional” sound they exhibit.

Sound reproduction is like photography and film/video. A picture is accurate as far as it goes, but does not look real. It is a two-dimensional representation with the focal length, etc. chosen by the photographer. An amateur snapshot appears raw in comparison to a professional shot of the same subject.


#14

I’m with you that I think much of the tonal vinyl aspects come from coloration/distortion artifacts and restricting mastering limitations, which otherwise also have slightly thickening, smearing effect compared to good digital. Digital mostly sounds somehow more “correct” and revealing. Vinyl here gets closer to digital, the better it gets and the more effort is put in resonance control and deduction anywhere in the vinyl playback components.

That’s where I think great digital really is superior, but it definitely still seems to lack something in this harmonic regard, present in real music and/or preferred for home listening by many, that is “simulated” by colorations/distortions in vinyl. I’m sure, the better digital gets, this is discovered some time and then proclaimed as the major achievement of the time. And if this is achieved together with the revealing purity of today’s digital, that’s really a big issue.

Maybe the audibly extended and cherished top end openness of vinyl playback is also a kind of distortion component.

And I’d be interested what’s the background for the increased decay, positively audible from vinyl…do you know?

So on the one hand, maybe all this is just a very welcome but artificial ambience produced by vinyl. On the other hand, if a component like the DS would already today represent the absolute truth, where would be future improvement?

If improvements in digital would continue with “just” exactly the benefits we are used to by the firmware updates, as great as they are (and I preferred them all), but I’m not sure if this direction alone will lead to what we really want. I don’t think the solution is to compensate with a load of tubes or similar somewhere else.

But I’m also open to the idea, that this kind of digital development will be exactly the desired result and that the harmonic flesh to the bones will come from different other future improvements somewhere else in the HiFi chain (assumed no compensating gear is used not only at the source)

And then there’s something I can’t connect with a limiting or artificial effect of vinyl, that’s it’s relaxed and great timing/pace.


#15
jazznut said And I'd be interested what's the background for the increased decay, positively audible from vinyl...do you know?
Any form of compression, naturally occurring or as an effect, brings up the relative level of lower level sounds.

#16

Makes sense, Im just not sure, why this then is also present in vinyl cuttings done with no add. compression compared to the SACD (like Hoffman/Grey’s 45 RPM Fantasy Jazz series remasterings)


#17

Because the physical process of cutting a master is a natural form of dynamic compression. Moreover, even if the master for the SACD and the LP is the same, the LP mastering engineer is forced by the limited dynamic range and modest ability to handle bass of an LP to makes many trade-offs in bass response, stereo imaging, dynamic range, etc., as does the cutting engineer when determining recording time v. groove pitch and more. Cutting an LP is an art form.

These differences are less when the dynamic range and bass content of the original material is limited.

A modern LP can also be cut a bit more aggressively as even inexpensive modern turntables are able to track louder bass and more dynamic passages than past equipment where the stylus would go skittering out of the grove. I doubt too many tape a penny on top of their cartridge anymore.


#18

If you like jazz, checkout Mapleshade’s Clifford Jordan releases, both that I have are really good.


#19
Elk said ...

These differences are less when the dynamic range and bass content of the original material is limited.

Maybe that's the point.

My feeling is, that within my preference of mainly jazz and classical, 80% of recordings fall into a category where these limitations don’t really play a role, either because the recordings don’t make use of the theoretical dynamic range of digital, because the relevant LP is not add. compressed or because slight differences in dynamic range are not obvious, but other aspects play a major role in comparison, like string or cymbal sound etc…

Anyway two questionable aspects remain for me:

  1. A not of this world speaker with extreme dynamics like the IRS V might show bigger differences regarding dynamics. I can hear them mainly when large drums are strongly hit within special classical recordings.

  2. For enough money, there are much better record players and phono amps than mine, but maybe not many if at all better DAC’s than the DS. Whatever comes out of such a comparison might change the whole perception again.

But technically speaking, from all the limitations, it’s a little wonder that such a concept from last century like vinyl mastering/reproduction still plays in the same league at all.

At the end as Hoffman also says, the main reason for having a record player is the huge number of recordings with clearly better masterings than available digitally, otherwise unavailable recordings and also quite some superior originals compared to later reissues.

If all masterings and recordings would be available digitally in the same quality and with a fittable setup in terms of tonality/room acoustics like the future PSA speaker or my current, I might be able to live with digital alone since the DS.

Thanks for your inputs!


#20
jazznut said

My feeling is, that within my preference of mainly jazz and classical, 80% of recordings fall into a category where these limitations don’t really play a role, either because the recordings don’t make use of the theoretical dynamic range of digital, because the relevant LP is not add. compressed or because slight differences in dynamic range are not obvious, but other aspects play a major role in comparison, like string or cymbal sound etc.


I do not know what the percentage might work out to be. If you listen to chamber music, you are pretty well set. If you like romantic and modern (circa 1900 forward, Stravinsky, et al.) dynamic range and bass content will be a big issue. With acoustic jazz, it depends on how the upright bass is recorded and mixed. Regardless, even big orchestral works can sound wonderful on vinyl!

“But technically speaking, from all the limitations, it’s a little wonder that such a concept from last century like vinyl mastering/reproduction still plays in the same league at all.”

 No kidding.  Analog tape and vinyl from the late '50's still kick but, along with the tube mics and other tube equipment which made them.  As I have said before, our recording technology is well ahead of playback.  I also suspect that the earlier technology captures that which emotionally resonates with us as music, either by physiology or by preference.  The warmth, fullness, etc. is exceedingly appealing. 

“If all masterings and recordings would be available digitally in the same quality and with a fittable setup in terms of tonality/room acoustics like the future PSA speaker or my current, I might be able to live with digital alone since the DS.”

 Agreed.  But I still like the sound of vinyl in any event and like the ritual of playing an LP. It meets other needs perhaps.  Vinyl also changes the relationship many have with music - they listen to a complete side, etc.  I do this anyway and never use playlists, but for many sitting and listening to 25 minutes of what ever is on a record is a different experience.  

I also like manual transmissions. :slight_smile: