Gadgets

Published on November 25th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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Why does vinyl sound so good? Let’s examine that.

Now that we’re officially into the holiday shopping season, some will be considering vinyl and turntables as presents. If weekly sales trends are any indication, 2018 will end with another big uptick in vinyl sales, making this the eleventh consecutive year of double-digit growth and the best year for vinyl since sometime in the 80s.

But why? Why are people continuing to adopt a music storage format with technological roots that date back to the late 80s? The LP has been with us since 1948. Stereo records haven’t changed much since 1958. So what’s the attraction?

Many vinyl fans will say “better sound” and “gear love.” Let’s go to CNET:

The sound is the thing, but I’d also concede “gear love” is part of the reason we love playing LPs. Turntables look and feel cool. Digital gear is less touchy-feely, and with smart speakers you can play all the music you want without ever touching them. Digital audio is more like an appliance — it just gets the job done without asking much from you. Maybe that’s part of the reason LP fanatics find digital soulless.

[…]

There’s magic in the sound of analog audio.

I can offer no better proof of that than to point out that some recording and mixing engineers transfer digital tracks to tape to add some analog “flavor” to their digital recordings. It never goes the other way around; no one converts their analog recordings to digital to add digital sound to their analog recordings! It’s worth adding that while analog recordings are mastered to digital for streaming and CD purposes, it’s not as an “effect.”

Keep reading.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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One Response to Why does vinyl sound so good? Let’s examine that.

  1. Mike in Burlington says:

    This notion has always sounded like audio snob bullshit to me. Tell me how an analog playback and recording of an event and a digital playback and recording of the same event (a song) played on the same output device can sound different ??

    If they want, they can make the digital sound sound EXACTLY like the analog, but why add in pops and hiss and all the other things that digital removes?

    Sinatra singing “Fly me to the Moon” from a brand new album from 1968 played on a $1000.00 turntable with a $500.00 cartridge may sound awesome, but how can it sound “better” than a digital remaster of the same song from the same album played on the same stereo??

    I can make digital sound like analog, but i can’t do the reverse…

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