What is the sampling rate of vinyl

Truths About Analog vs. Digital - Vinyl vs. CD

Experts report on the topic of analog vs. digital

Which is better: the vinyl record or the CD, analog or digital? Generations of music lovers are arguing about this topic, but also the self-proclaimed experts. At this point I would like to let some real experts in their field have their say: sound engineers or sound engineers, people who deal with the subject on a daily basis. Here are a few truths about record technology and how it actually came about.

 

About records, CDs and the recordings

First of all, a brief note that the question asked at the beginning cannot actually be answered in this way. On the one hand, it has to be structured from a technical point of view and, on the other hand, it makes no sense to seriously compare two fundamentally different systems. Nevertheless, there are approaches from many music lovers to compare the final results as a sound carrier.
That there are a lot of stumbling blocks, most of which are completely unaware, I would like to come back to at the end. But first I will let the experts have their say, who know much more about the subject matter than we consumers do. And in doing so, astonishing aspects come to light that primarily illuminate the development of a record recording - right at the very beginning!

 

Sound engineer Andreas Spreer, Tacet Music

“The analog vs. digital discussion has been with me for many years, since 1982 to be precise. That's when the CD was introduced. There was probably no sound engineer at the time who wasn't relieved that the CD came. Because in almost all technical matters, digital recording - assuming reasonable scanning accuracy - is clearly better.

Let's take the signal-to-noise ratio: With the LP you can count yourself lucky to reach 50 dB, with the CD: 80 dB. Or the wow and flutter: With the LP, it is enough that the center hole is a little too big (but still within the norm!), And you can hear a clear egg. With the CD: neither measurable nor audible. Or let's take the channel separation: with the LP maybe 30 dB, with the CD 80 dB. And so on. The exception may be the frequency response, the CD cuts off hard at 20 kHz, the LP comes out "soft" and transmits perhaps up to 30 or 40 kHz, but much quieter.

The fact that many listeners and meanwhile many sound professionals from musicians to sound engineers / technicians / masters turn to the LP again has aesthetic and fundamental, also philosophical reasons. And there are many good ones. Digital is e.g. B. much more manipulable. Up to 100 cuts were found on an analog recording, mostly fewer, rarely more. 500 cuts are not uncommon on the CD. Pitch correction, speed change, sound manipulation, post-processing of individual tracks, synthetic spaces or even natural, but artificially added spaces, etc. etc.

It is also digitally interchangeable. An LP is unique, because of the supposedly harmful technical weaknesses such as cracking, eggs and noise. But what does technical weakness actually mean in something like art? Isn't that rather an advantage that everything is not so smooth and reproducible and that you have to fight hard for a good result? Often the "clinical, sterile" sound of the CD is criticized. It is not the weakness of the CD, but that of the LP. Except that this incorruptibility also means lifelessness.

Digital also means zack - track 17 and zack - track 9, while the LP first means taking the record in hand (haptic!), Admire the cover / maybe run your fingers over it, carefully remove the record (the music is vulnerable and precious!) , the ceremony of hanging up, taking your time and listening. On the other hand digital: on the side, in the car, emotionless and loveless.

Still, I find it difficult to say that one is better than the other. Like many others, I am at home in both worlds. Digital can be intoxicating and addicting (if it's done well), analog too, just completely different. As far as my label TACET is concerned, we are pursuing a two-pronged approach: producing with fervor and devotion to suit the listeners of the LP. And just as fascinated and enthusiastic, working in a completely different way suitable for digital sound carriers. "

 

Sound engineer Dominique Klatte, Jazz On Vinyl

“Every step in the production process of a CD / LP is important!

The consumer is king and that's why a lot has happened in music production.
In my opinion, not only in favor of better audio quality.

Let's start recording:

Nowadays production is cost-optimized in every respect. This is reflected in a tight and stringent production method that would not be bad per se, but can still come at the expense of audio quality.

The process of overdub (also multi-track) technology gives us the opportunity to implement very complex structures of the music and to create artificial soundscapes. At first it doesn't matter whether it is analog or digital. Time and again I experience that musicians are not well prepared and that this situation leads to delays and increases in production costs. The pressure on everyone often causes the sound engineer to accept major compromises in the workflow that later turn out to be disadvantageous in the production chain.

Everything that was not completely saved at the beginning of the recording can often only be repaired with great effort. If the musician "works", the first place is the room, which has to fit the sound body and the microphone, the moment at which sound waves are converted into electricity. Most studios / recording rooms have a neutral (in the best case) not too dry Acoustics: In any case, this is a good prerequisite for giving the signal a clean, artificial reverberation space.

When the sound engineer also has the optimal microphone at hand, a lot of important things have already happened. The choice of microphones in particular is decisive for the quality of the signal. I think that there are hardly any really bad microphones left today, even with a cheap Far East replica, interesting, usable signals can be captured. When you know how the sound will behave in the mix.
The next point is the signal via the microphone preamp (or line in, e.g. a keyboard) into the mixer. Here the question arises, do I edit the signal when it is recorded or do I save this step for later? This decision / planning is again very important, as many audio tracks can arise during a production that have to be edited afterwards. In the past, only the large recording studios were able to do this in analog technology, as they had the many necessary equipment (outboard) such as several compressors, limiters or reverb devices.

Today in the digital age all of this is no longer a problem, which has also led to the "Dinosaur Studios" fighting for survival. "In The Box" we have (mostly limited only by computing power) the possibility of each channel with several plug-ins s to provide the necessary processing to the signal.

Here we are once again at a point where everything can go wrong.

The approach of recording the signal as unprocessed as possible is very important and correct for me. But then keeping an overview in the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, editor's note) is an art in itself and makes it extremely difficult to see the whole thing. Special order is required here and clean, understandable storage, as well as absolute reproducibility, a challenge for the sound maker.

If the mixture is well completed at this point, the question of mastering comes up.

For many a Bohemian village. Not so in the USA, where mastering was part of the production process right from the start and was factored in. If you have been busy with a project for weeks or months, a certain operational blindness tends to creep in, which can hide any errors in production.

There are two main directions in the mastering process. One is to fix the master because something went wrong in production and needs to be straightened out. The second is to round off a successful master's sound and prepare it for the desired specifications such as MFIT from Apple or MP3. These data-reduced, lossy audio formats also require a very good sounding base material. Not to mention when the customer wants a loud signal to assert themselves against other music tracks, e.g. on the radio. The development of the Loudness War began in the 70s - fortunately today the focus is more and more on good sound quality.
During mastering, I often get the instruction from my customers not to get the last dB for the RMS level (average volume). A welcome development in popular music. But even in serious music, a certain loudness is necessary and desired. Let's think of a vinyl production in which the relationship between the noise of the record and the loudness of the music, paired with beautiful natural dynamics, plays an important role.

When it comes to mastering, contact and exchange with customers is also very important, which is why I am not a fan of online mastering. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies here that promise sonic enlightenment cheaply and quickly and make life difficult for us experienced mastering sound engineers.
Mastering is a very fine intervention in the audio material, which can still change the character of a piece, which of course can only happen if the customer so wishes. With particularly (in mastering) high-quality devices that should also be as sound-neutral as possible in order not to mix any unwanted artifacts into the signal. These special requirements and their consistent implementation are very expensive and require experienced staff.

Mostly EQ, compressor and limiter as well as devices that work with psychoacoustic means, such as with overtones and harmonics, are used. They also try to achieve a certain analogue warmth through tubes and overwriting on tape machines. As with all work steps, the starting material is of course decisive. If you had the perfect mix in front of you, there is no need to go to the mastering studio. Fortunately, this is not the case.

Finally, on this topic, which is very complex in detail, one must of course not forget the premastering. The setting of in-out fades and pauses not only has to be technically perfect. This work step is also in the context of the music and is largely responsible for the listening experience. "

 

Sound engineer Guy Sternberg, LowSwing Studio

Translation from English:

Frequency spectrum CD vs. vinyl record

"The frequency spectrum of the CD is 20Hz-22kHz on digital devices, the high frequency is determined by the sampling rate (x1 / 2 of the sampling rate, CD sampling rate is 44.1kHz).
The vinyl frequency response is very variable and is determined by many factors. In theory, it can go below 20Hz and up to 50kHz, but depending on the source material, it is usually limited to around 20Hz-20kHz +/- 3dB. It should be noted that bass on vinyl must be summed to mono below about 100Hz so that it is less "true" to the source. "

Dynamic range CD vs. vinyl record

"Digital audio like CD has 6db dynamic range for each bit, so a normal 16bit CD has 96db dynamic range, which says a typical commercial music CD these days as very low dynamic range due to over-compression and" loudness war "on vinyl because of the Useful-to-signal ratio, the variable dynamic range of which is somewhere between 60-80db. "

What is more important for the end product: recording or mastering or ...?

"I think the recording is absolutely important, more important than the mastering - on a good album a responsible mastering engineer has to do next to nothing.
It's easy to distort an album if it's badly mastered, but you can't master it to make it sound amazing if it's badly recorded ... "

What are the technical advantages of digital and analog recording?

"On the technical side alone, it seems that the digital format is far better: no noise, very high dynamic range (especially with 24-bit recordings) and a large usable frequency range (at high sampling rates such as 96khz). But actually (at least in my world) Analog formats, especially the combination of tape and vinyl, have a more musical, livelier sound. "

 

Stumbling blocks when comparing CD / LP

Even if this topic can fill long books and not everything can be illuminated in detail at this point, the above articles show highly interesting perspectives. I would therefore like to thank Andreas Spreer, Dominique Klatte and Guy Sternberg very much for taking the time to address the topic for us.

Now I would like to briefly point out the stumbling blocks in the CD-LP comparison that I mentioned above. There are still many more, but from my point of view the following are significant enough:

1. There is no exactly the same mastering material for LP and CD, this is different due to the system. Therefore, it is already difficult to recognize system advantages here.

2. How do you want to judge whether the sound quality of CD player and record player are on exactly the same level? The price tag? Probably not.

3. Even with two completely identical turntable configurations (turntable, tonearm, cartridge and all components as good as new, i.e. especially the stylus not worn!) You will need a lot of effort and expertise to achieve exactly the same adjustment of the cartridge. How else can you make a clean comparison with a CD?

4. Are the volume levels of the two devices precisely leveled, for example with a sound level meter?

5. Which connection cables are used from the amplifier to the playback device? As many of the hi-fi freaks know, there can be very significant differences. And how should one be able to draw conclusions about the sound quality of the media used?

 

I know all of this has fueled decades of controversial discussion. The above statements are first of all thought-provoking and technical information. They should help one or the other music lover to understand the topic better. But only one thing is certain and unequivocally certain at this point: there is no real truth - which is better: CD or LP. Everyone has the answer ready for themselves, namely the one he / she chooses emotionally. The joy of enjoying a record or a CD can be enjoyed regardless of the system. And many remain dogmatic anyway: they use both - depending on their mood.