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Vinyl vs Blu Ray (or CD/DVD/insert HQ digital media)

Discussion in 'The RedBanned Bar & Grill' started by Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. Hey folks,

    What's your preference on vinyl vs other formats for music? I really like vinyl for certain recordings, given the "warmer" characteristics and dynamic range more inherent to the mastering process than the nature of the media, but when it comes to classical or film scores -- any opinions? Jazz is a must on vinyl if possible, but I'm unsure for classical works.

    With those more experienced, do you find vinyl tends to sound more like a real performance, or higher-quality digital? I considered the LOTR Complete Recordings on vinyl, but I ended up with the CD version of the Fellowship due to the BluRay surround available, as well as the fact that 5 double sided vinyls is a bit much.
    John Eldridge and Aaron Venture like this.
  2. Don't like vinyl. Probably because I didn't grow up in the age of vinyl. I was tempted to see what all the fuss is about when people around me were making it (about sound quality, not collector-item value), but it's an inferior medium in almost every way.

    Yes, you can print a song with a bigger frequency range there. I don't think this helps, though.

    Other features of vinyl:
    • Gets damaged through use
    • Inconsistent sound depending on the needle position
    • Harmonic distortion (up to something like 1%, maybe even more)
    • Terrible L/R separation
    • Terrible dynamic range: ~70dB vs ~125 for 24-bit WAV - this is actually insane, especially for noise, and there's still people playing vinyl in clubs (?!?!?)
    • Pops and crackles
    • Fluttering and wow
    None of which I necessarily want in my music. I prefer listening to music the way the mix engineer envisioned it :D

    I get collecting vinyls. Art on some sleeves is really cool, and it has a bigger "wow" factor because of the size, compared to a small CD booklet. A wall of vinyl looks cooler than a wall of CD cases. So I guess that's how most vinyls end up today; on a wall, not a turntable. If I had a buckton of money, I would probably get all my favorite music on vinyl, and fill a wall with them. But since I don't, it's not very high on my priority list :)
    John Eldridge and Tino Danielzik like this.
  3. I am with Aaron, I always prefer a good old CD. There is some music that is fun listening to on vinyl, like music from the 50s - 70s (including some soundtrack). The early John Carpenter soundtracks like „Escape From New York“ or „The Fog“ are a nice listenening experience on vinyl. But if I want the best audio quality I definitely go for CD. But all of it depends on your personal taste and preferences.

    Regarding „The Lord Of The Rings“, I have both the CD/Blu-Ray Box-Set and the vinyl one. The vinyl is a really awesome collectible item. I never buy other movies related stuff like all these character figures or spaceship models, but this one was a must have at least for me. So yeah, if you just wanna listen to the music I would say get the CD-Box, if you want a really awesome collectible item get the vinyl too. The advantage of the CD-Box (next to the audio quality) is you can import all the stuff into your iTunes library (or whatever software you use) and have a high quality digital version on your PC. Personally, I wouldn‘t buy JUST the vinyl, always in combination with the CD-Box, but I can see just buying the CDs, because there is no real need for the vinyl.
  4. I admit I haven't listened to vinyl for 20 years so time colors my perception, but I think the value of vinyl to me was the effect that mass had on my overall listening experience more than the audio quality. Using a technology that does not eliminate all effort encourages an environment that has:
    • Intention: Physical media requires more intention in selecting and playing. Vinyl adds mass to the equation which usually means it is tied to a particular space.
    • Immersion: Liner notes, big cover pictures, dedicated space all add to immersion.
    • Inertia: Track and album surfing is non-trivial effort, so I was more likely to give pieces and albums a full linear listening.
    Most streaming experiences have almost none of that by default and by design. But I can add those attributes back in manually.
    • Intention: Create and use a space just for listening. Curate some playlists.
    • Immersion: Create your own liner notes equivalents.
    • Inertia: Leave the remote control across the room.
    The flip side of course is that I listen to way more variety with streaming than I ever did or could with any physical media. So I'm happy for it to be my primary experience and then purchase CDs when I want better quality.

    As for your original question about preferences of the audio quality itself... CD quality exceeds the quality of my playback equipment. My playback equipment exceeds the quality of my room acoustics. My room acoustics exceed the quality of my ears. As I am already the weakest link in a chain that gets really expensive to optimize further, I don't worry much about needing anything beyond CD quality.
  5. Great stuff, John. Never really thought of it that way. Some great food for thought there.
    John Eldridge likes this.
  6. Haha, spoken like a true audio engineer. Bang on for my other engineer friends' opinions.

    Can you print a bigger frequency range on vinyl than on 24/48 Blu Ray?

    Also, the mastering process is something I find to be vastly different (often) with vinyl than with CD, engineers seeming to ironically utilize a broader dynamic range with vinyl, and the loudness war playing a large role in CD production. As a result I tend to gravitate towards vinyl masters even in digital format, but this is hugely genre-dependent and mix-dependent.

    Well said. The bolded points are precisely what I argue gives music value and attention that most people don't give to music anymore -- an emphasis on quality of experience (not just the medium). Even if you can mimic this with streaming, it still isn't the same as holding the artwork and liner notes in a large format. Streaming is fantastic for finding music and exploring it, but I always buy what I like in a physical format as you mention. I detest digital downloads precisely because there is nothing tactile involved, and I think the evidence is rather clear that this seems to devalue music in many ways for people (that and illegal downloading/free streaming -- there's no longer purchasing required, which is a rather important aspect of value in a lot of cases). I do find myself getting lazy and streaming things I already own, but I really do notice myself listening to full records less, and appreciating music less overall. This effect seems to be somewhat less with streaming films, but I still tend to buy films I find especially worthwhile. Ritual is a surprisingly sacred part of experience.

    As much as it seems silly, while I don't have a space for a vinyl setup, I'll often listen to a CD while reading/looking at the vinyl's album art and lyrics (if I have a copy of both). The tactile aspect of this make a massive difference in immersion, and while I've always loved music, the encouragement to listen to music in this dedicated manner and really give one's whole attention to music without distraction changed my life quite dramatically -- this road lead me to where I am now (on this forum, eager to gain enough skill to call myself a "composer" without feeling like a fraud).

    So good points re: quality. I definitely don't have the room for it either (although I really want to listen to this in surround). My interest is quite honestly probably much more in line with what Tino mentioned -- collectability. I want the vinyl because it's beautiful and big, and again the tactile and unique experiential and important, but when it comes down to it in this case, finances do play a significant role and this experience isn't absent with the CD/BluRay version (good point Tino re: buying only the vinyl). And I do think the appeal of vinyl, generally, is somewhat genre-dependent, at least for me. For old progressive rock, metal, jazz, etc records where the band mostly played in one room, there aren't a ridiculous amount of layers, and the record is really meant to be listened to in one sitting, start to finish, vinyl is perfect (especially when the liner notes and artwork is important). There's something less appealing in flipping and changing 5 vinyls for one film of LOTR, and I'm not sure I can sit and purely pay attention in a pleasurable-listening way for 3-4 hours at a time.
    John Eldridge likes this.
  7. Give it time, I fear eventually we'll all end up with complete resignation and occasionally reminiscing how everything "used to be better".

    I can relate. Was always wondering where people here draw the line for when one can call oneself a "composer".

    For maximum hipster-bonus I think floppy disk is the way to go. You can fit around 3:40 min at 56kbps on one, but you better pick a genre where everything sounds like played through a broken radio even on the CD releases :D.
  8. I would agree, however, every time I actually sit down and take an undistracted, focused listen I can't help but wonder if a time will come in the future (like after the industrial revolution) where parents will tell their children about the generations that were tech obsessed and addicted to mobile devices. It's night and day how much more I tend to focus on and care about the music.
    Right? I don't want to have to qualify it with "good" or not. I figure when someone else calls me one, then I'll really know.

    I love the idea of being nostalgic for painfully inferior mediums. It's like going back to the very first digital camera.
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  9. MP3/Flac/Ogg most of the time.
  10. Reminds me of this:


    I've heard a writer/critic/gamedeveloper say you can call yourself X when you are getting paid to do it. But it seems to be the consensus that getting paid as a composer has no correlation with skill, and also I've only twice been paid for composing music, since this is my hobby. But a hobbyist composer surely must be a thing too?
    I'm not sure I'd leave it up to what others call you either (maybe other composers, but certainly not anyone).
    Maybe it's when you have the ability to knock out something on the spot that passes as at least ok-but-not-great music, no matter if you feel in any way inspired or not? Master the craft part to a degree that leads to reproducible/predictable results, instead of lucking into something cool every now and then? By that indicator I'm not there yet.
  11. Haha yeah I've seen that. We really take for granted the convenience with which we can now record, but there's something to be said for committing to ideas with analogue recording. Mike talks about that in one or two of his videos. That said, tape was certainly a happier medium over what's in the video.

    I think it depends on what you're after. I think whether or not you get paid to do something is irrelevant to skill, as you mention. It's a bit blurry as to where that line precisely is, but it seems to be a blend of respect from peers, objective ability and to some degree subjective consensus. I'm personally more concerned about the consensus of people I look up to and whether or not I judge my music by my own taste to be good.

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