On Mon, 24 Dec 2012, Thomas Vecchione wrote:
> Your McDonalds analogy would be a better analogy if applied to lossy
Actually I think the thing with analog is that while it's not sonically
accurate, the inaccuracies are often musical and pleasant (though that
may be more true to older people who are used to the sound of tubes and
tape than younger people who are used to MP3's and digital aliasing
artifacts). A lot of the warmth that people associate with an analog
signal is harmonics that were not even in the original signal to begin
with -- but few can argue that they sound good! That's the whole point
of tube compressors and preamps...not to sound accurate, but to sound
even better than accurate.
After a lifetime of listening to tape saturation and harmonics from tube
coloration, accuracy is so...boring.
> The Shannon-Nyquist theorem was absolutely the primary inspiration
The really nice part about that (especially for people like me who
actually have damaged their hearing in some frequency zones due to
unwise loud playing of the ride cymbal bell and such things as that) is
that fortunately, most of the frequencies that really make people groove
aren't up in the >10kHz range anyway. People really respond to bass and
mids, even upper midrange, but if you give people too much high treble,
unless it's really smooth, it can be described by so many fairly
negative adjectives: metallic, harsh, cold, tinny, abrasive, clangy.
Most people like warm recordings. Those near ultrasonic frequencies
usually just aren't that big a part of the music.
>> I also understand that vinyl is now increasingly (very slowly though)
Actually, the original poster is correct -- vinyl is the connoisseur's
prefered format...but for reasons that most of the people using it don't
One would be correct to point out that it's an inferior medium. Its
frequency response is poorer, it wears out every time you use it, the
stereo channel separation is awful, it's plagued with background hiss
and rumble, and it has limited dynamic range. But...
* Recording and mastering from multitrack tape to vinyl is a process
that is over eighty years old. There has been time for masters to learn
from masters, and for their masters to learn from other masters. It's
an art and a science in itself now. By the time the zenith of the
analog era came (late 70's to early 80's), there were recording
engineers who were positively wizards at making that format sound good.
Consequently, most of the LP's one might ever hear sound absolutely
marvelous in every way that musically counts, regardless of whatever
shortcomings the actual medium might have.
* Digital recording and mastering to CD on the other hand has been a
comedy of errors since the day it came out, even if for no reason that's
actually a fault of the actual media format. In the 80's, people were
using terrible analog/digital converters, often handled audio at 16-bit
depth from start to finish with no headroom for errors, and were
directed by the studio lords to hastily convert as much of the labels'
back catalog of albums to digital as fast as possible (which they
did...sloppily). Consequently, to this day, half the best albums of the
70's and 80's are best heard on vinyl, because the CD versions were done
with no love (or brains).
* In the 90's, analog/digital converters continued to be horrible, and
digital recording was still a learning experience even for the "pros."
Another trend I remember from that era was the practice of putting lots
of digital reverb on almost every track...probably a bad thing to do
during an era when digital reverbs were...not exactly the best I've ever
heard. Though that part in particular had nothing to do with CD's
themselves, that too probably contributed to making albums sound even
more grainy and metallic than they were already bound to do. Also, one
word: ADAT. Enough said there...
* Now, in the 2000's, we have the so-called "loudness wars," in which
every commercial production house seems mentally driven to make dynamic
range a thing of the past. Since the albums of this era are seldom put
out on vinyl, this guarantees that the follies of the 2000's will not
taint vinyl's good reputation for excellent production (even if the
reasons have nothing to do with vinyl).
What we have here is going on almost thirty years of a good format
almost never done well, and an older poor format almost always done
well. The listener only cares that s/he gets an album that sounds good.
Regardless of the fact that vinyl is an inferior format, are the
listeners really wrong to choose the format that gets them their music
in a way that sounds right? The fact that they're wrong about the
reasons doesn't take away from the fact that, in the end, a vinyl record
is far less likely to be a butchered up product than a CD.
Wow...that ended up being longer than I thought.
(And let's not even get into why people like analog synthesizers better.
That's a related but still different conversation...)
+ Brent A. Busby + "We've all heard that a million monkeys
+ Sr. UNIX Systems Admin + banging on a million typewriters will
+ University of Chicago + eventually reproduce the entire works of
+ James Franck Institute + Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet,
+ Materials Research Ctr + we know this is not true." -Robert Wilensky
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