“My favorite records sound the worst” - the aesthetics of analog music

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Giacomo Belbo, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979 Thread Starter

    Thoroughly enjoyable piece on the virtues and aesthetics of analog sound from the Paris review. Written by a musician, overview of his book exploring the medium. Worth a read if only for the John Cage story.

    “My favorite records sound the worst, because I’ve played them the most. Each time a needle runs around an LP, it digs a little deeper into the grooves and leaves its trace in the form of surface noise. The information on an LP degrades as it is played—as if your eyes blurred this text, just a bit, each time they ran across it.”

    Read the whole piece here from the Paris Review: Surface Noise
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  2. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    So there is a difference between wanting to listen to music vs listening to vinyl. Vinyl is a more tactile experience. Music is of secondary consideration.

    When one hears music it's always in analog regardless if it's from a CD or a needle digging into a piece of vinyl. I don't associate aesthetics with the act of listening to music because the aesthetics is in the music itself, not the delivery medium. Just my opinion.
     
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  3. VinylSoul

    VinylSoul Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lake Erie
    It's analogous to the wind shield on your vehicle every time the wipers traverse it you lose a little transparency. Every rotation of the tire lost rubber. Every revolution of the engine wear occurs. Every heartbeat and every breath........ Vinyl is still a great medium for the masses. I never worry about wearing out my collection anymore, it's going to outlive me that's for certain.
     
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  4. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Regardless of "wear", that is probably not even measurable, vinyl (from my experience,) has a more enjoyable tone. Probably due to the altered phase from the cart and tone arm.
    It's a "physical thing" - think about the great sounds that come from a violin (for example,) the bow over the string, Just like the needle in the groove. More "natural", more analog.
    Ya, and violin bows wear out too. Jeez...
     
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  5. Ponzio

    Ponzio Well-Known Member

    Location:
    19462
    This "argument", vinyl vs. digital, feels like Groundhog Day all over again on various audiophile forums. Can't we agree to disagree?
     
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  6. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    I'm interested in this altered phase effect from the electromechanical nature of the cart and tone arm. It suggests that the change to the sound is right at the source that makes it to the speakers.

    So with that understanding can you find a YouTube video that shows someone playing a vinyl record and capturing the altered phase effect and post the link here. I've been A/B'ing a lot of vinyl versions of albums compared to the CD version and most of them sound identical whether they were captured from the line out amp signal or from a video camera mic.
     
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  7. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    This is not an agree or disagree subject. It's an I hear something or I don't hear something. If one can hear it, it's recordable. YouTube videos prove this over 1000 times.
     
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  8. 5-String

    5-String μηδὲν ἄγαν

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    My favorite records sound the best, because, although I have played them to death, I really take good care of them, I clean them regularly, after I play them I put them back into their nice inner sleeves, and I am careful not to scratch them.
    As a matter of fact, they sound much better now than the day I bought them, cause I got better turntables to play them now than what I had 20 something years ago.:)
     
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  9. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I have many of the same albums on both cd and vinyl, I'm not obsessive enough to be doing "A/B" comparisons, I do however know which sounds better (to my ears,) and it usually comes down to the vinyl sounding more natural, with a better tone
    (the piano sounds like a real piano, not a toy piano. The acoustic instruments breathe, the drums don't sound like hitting cardboard boxes, get it?) There are cds that are much better than the vinyl, and that mostly has to do with good mastering
    of well recorded music (imo).
     
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  10. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    :righton:
     
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  11. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Here's an example I think might demonstrate this altered phase effect. It's on Maynard Ferguson's "Awright, Awright" vinyl...



    vs CD... Awright, Awright

    Is this close to this tone you hear?
     
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  12. CCrider92

    CCrider92 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cape Cod, MA
    I jumped on the CD bandwagon in the latter part of the 1980's after having a history of records since the mid 1950's. Juggling a family, kids, a home, and endless paper correcting as a teacher CD's were just an easier medium for me. I barely touched a turntable until I retired in 2003. One day while I was at the computer I had a sudden desire to listen to something and realized I only had it on vinyl. I fired up the table, and as I was working I kept looking up at the speakers. The sound really got my attention. I much enjoyed what I was hearing. I'd not had that feeling in quite some time. The difference was that I was listening and hearing things the way I had for most of my life, and it was on records.
     
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  13. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Hard to compare how music sounds on computer speakers. What sounds more natural is just "what it is". A great example I found was on Bowie's "Let's Dance" album,
    For years, listening to the cd, I never realized there were wood blocks used for percussion in the song. On cd, it just sounded like "clicking". When I found a nice vinyl copy,
    I was really amazed that because the tone was such an improvement, that I could HEAR the wood block being hit. Not just a "clicking" noise like what I had been hearing
    on the cd. These qualities are subtle, but think about it, the artist chose wood blocks as percussion, but the cd did not really relay that instrument. The vinyl did.
     
  14. Id blame the mastering not the medium.
    I have the original lp and your mostly right.
    For 35 years most record companies destroyed the promise of 16/44.
    First using vinyl masters with Riaa curve on CD pressings, lazy and uneducated mixers, masterers, who were/ are corporate hacks and to me have no love for music or product, then updated masters that still clearly stunk, then low bitrate under 320 kb love affair for saving space, the Loudness wars and now apathy for collecting real software in jewel cases or digipacks.

    I could be wrong. The lp does sound great though. John M.
     
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  15. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Yes, a lot of different reasons for how stuff sounds. I'm glad I have both cd and vinyl. I have gotten to know which albums sound "better", and that's what I play. Simple as that.
     
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  16. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    Will we ever get bored with this subject?

    Having grown up with a record player in the bedroom I shared with my brother in the late 60s, it surprises me I don't feel the enjoyment of listening to lps the way so many here do. There is no tactile enjoyment for me at all. Pulling the record from it's sleeve, placing it on the mat, giving it a quick swipe, and finally lowering the needle give me zero joy. On the other hand, finding a ripped file and pressing play gives me no joy either.
    My copy of The White Album was worn out. I had to buy a 2nd copy of Sgt Pepper, and it took me a long time to not expect the skips my old copy had. I was an early adopter of CDs, but it wasn't until the late 90s that I finally had a player that let me fully relax with them. At this point, I don't feel I'm missing anything when I listen to ripped files; not musically, not emotionally, not aesthetically, and definitely no tactile deprivation. When the music starts, no matter the source, that's when I feel the joy.
     
  17. Ponzio

    Ponzio Well-Known Member

    Location:
    19462
    Find a copy of the 24-bit remastered 1999 CD [EMI TOCP-65318 (Japan)] of Let's Dance and you can hear all the wood blocks to your hearts content. :)

    That whole 1999 "The David Bowie Series", on EMI in Japan and re-released in 2014 on Parlophone in the EU, I feel are the best remaster(s) of any that have been released to date and much more dynamic than the LP's or CD's when they originally came out. Of course your mileage may vary.
    Let's Dance

    The David Bowie Series
     
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  18. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    I looked at your profile but couldn't find what interconnects you use. Before you start laughing (yeah I know), I was a non-believer until last week, and am still a non-believer as far as fancy boutique brands go. I actually threw out my boutique brand and got some simple Mogami studio quality cables instead (much cheaper as well!)...just checked with this recording and I hear those woodblocks being hit now pretty loud from the 'singles collection' cd version of 'Let's dance'.
    For what it's worth I'm in the vinyl camp! Just saying that obviously simple things such as ic's can have an influence on how your digital (and of course analog) sounds.
     
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  19. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    RIAA curve is not on the mastered tape to cut a record, it is applied at the mastering lathe's electronics rack. .
     
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  20. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I do think if the quality of material is better in the signal path it helps with clarity of sound. I have some Kimber cables, and they work fine.
     
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  21. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Great. The vinyl is certainly nice as well. Thanks for the info, if I'm looking for a better cd copy, now I know. I think "Let's Dance" is one of the first cds that I bought.
     
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  22. NaturalD

    NaturalD Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, Mass., USA
    My experience too. Albums I have owned for going on 40 years and played countless times still sound better than any subsequent CD or digital version I might have heard.
     
  23. seed_drill

    seed_drill Senior Member

    Location:
    Tryon, NC, USA
    Even my first album, that I used to play with a Certon turntable am/fm, with a coin taped to the headshell to keep it from skipping, still plays fine and would grade a VG+.
     
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  24. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    And - what is that "first album"? :agree:
     
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  25. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Any guesses as to how many revolutions (or plays) it takes to notice any sonic degradation or "surface noise" of an album that has been kept scrupulously clean and played on a properly set up quality record player?

    Or how many plays before the stylus completely cuts through a record as it "digs a little deeper into the grooves" each time? :p

    I have records I must have played hundreds and hundreds of times over the years, and they sound as fine as ever.
     

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