The Analog Embrace: How Some Experiences Are Surviving the Digital Age

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,339   +8,536
I still have a turn table and to this day notice the wider range from LP's over digital. Digital is very good but it tends to suppress the range just enough to notice so I use both.

I love the idea of Polaroid making a comeback and while there is a very slim change of it, I wish the new company would go back to producing the positive/negative film that yielded a great B&W print plus the negative at the same time. Extremely valuable for those of us that still use a 4x5 and 8x10 view camera ...... sigh, those were the days!
 

RF Match

Posts: 15   +22
Modern digital audio vastly exceeds an analog LP in both dynamic range and frequency range. We've come a long way from the days of 16-bit 44khz CD audio.
Technically, CD's and some digital audio are vastly superior especially if you have the audio equipment to handle them.
Judgmentally, LP's can be more satisfying even with subpar sound quality.
 

OortCloud

Posts: 826   +820
It's either clinging to the past or the current infatuation with everything retro.
Not surprising given the times we now live in and the lunatics ruining running the show.
Deranged megalomaniacs like Putin, Bezos, Trump, Xi Jinping and Mohammed bin Salman are enough to make anybody want to bury their head in the sand.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 818   +749
Judgmentally, LP's can be more satisfying even with subpar sound quality.
While that may be true, it is also true that digital can be more satisfying than an LP, even with subpar sound quality.

If you add enough distortion to digital audio, you can have pleasing sound quality that is equal or better than the LP's massive distortion

LP's are low fidelity and are easily surpassed by professional audio engineers (like me)

Sure, Incompetent engineers, like those used by Alice Cooper and the Rolling Stones cannot produce a competent product, but some of us can

If you could eliminate all the distortions created by LP's, they "could" sound like a competently produced digital product as long as the engineer was competent

The point is, you cannot eliminate the distortion of LP's, but you can introduce enough distortion into a fine digital product to make it sound as bad as an LP if you know what you are doing

With digital, you can have your cake and eat it too
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
While that may be true, it is also true that digital can be more satisfying than an LP, even with subpar sound quality.

If you add enough distortion to digital audio, you can have pleasing sound quality that is equal or better than the LP's massive distortion

LP's are low fidelity and are easily surpassed by professional audio engineers (like me)

Sure, Incompetent engineers, like those used by Alice Cooper and the Rolling Stones cannot produce a competent product, but some of us can

If you could eliminate all the distortions created by LP's, they "could" sound like a competently produced digital product as long as the engineer was competent

The point is, you cannot eliminate the distortion of LP's, but you can introduce enough distortion into a fine digital product to make it sound as bad as an LP if you know what you are doing

With digital, you can have your cake and eat it too
I'm inclined to agree with you to some extent, but I noticed that vinyl sounds better on my 4311's and Maranatz 3800 than it does on my klipshe RF-7 II's with my Crown DCI 600. However, digital audio sounds better on the RF-7's than it does on my 4311's. I think this might be a case of the vintage audio was engineered to work with vinyl where as modern equipment is engineered to make the most of digital audio.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 818   +749
I'm inclined to agree with you to some extent, but I noticed that vinyl sounds better on my 4311's and Maranatz 3800 than it does on my klipshe RF-7 II's with my Crown DCI 600. However, digital audio sounds better on the RF-7's than it does on my 4311's. I think this might be a case of the vintage audio was engineered to work with vinyl where as modern equipment is engineered to make the most of digital audio.
I agree,
Adding additional distortion products that complement vinyl's distortion can sound subjectively better than products that do not distort in a complimentary fashion
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
I agree,
Adding additional distortion products that complement vinyl's distortion can sound subjectively better than products that do not distort in a complimentary fashion
I don't like the term distortion but I do like a flat clear sound. I mean I guess you are introducing distortion into the system, but considering much of the older music I listen to was produced on the 4311's, isn't what I'm hearing on them what the artists were trying to produce? It is technically distortion but is distortion the right term if they used it to create the sound they were looking for?
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
If I told you I was introducing a new music medium that had only 30 decibels of stereo separation, a clearly audible noise floor that is only 60 decibels down on a good day, a dynamic range even less than 60 decibels, a frequency response of only about 40 Hertz to 15 KHz on a good day, and that this new medium would introduce second, third, and fourth order harmonic distortion, would you buy it? Then why do people still think vinyl albums and turntables are so great???
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
If I told you I was introducing a new music medium that had only 30 decibels of stereo separation, a clearly audible noise floor that is only 60 decibels down on a good day, a dynamic range even less than 60 decibels, a frequency response of only about 40 Hertz to 15 KHz on a good day, and that this new medium would introduce second, third, and fourth order harmonic distortion, would you buy it? Then why do people still think vinyl albums and turntables are so great???
I think there are 2 answers to that question. 1) when vinyl was king artists made their music to sound best on records
2) when you pay lots of money for something you are biased to think it is better.

and a third thing to consider, people just believe it sounds better because it's cool. And to some extent it is cool playing with older equipment as a hobby. I know I like playing with my records and older audio equipment. Dark side of the moon sounds different on vinyl in my 4311's than it does digitally on my RF-2's. However, I LIKE the sound of that specific album better on vinyl. However, modern music sounds far better digitally on modern hardware. As someone who has spent more money on audio equipment than many people spend on their cars, I can notice the difference and I can also recognize a difference between objectivity and opinion. It is objective that Dark Side of the Moon sounds different on those different formats, it is my opinion that it sounds better on vinyl.
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
I think there are 2 answers to that question. 1) when vinyl was king artists made their music to sound best on records
2) when you pay lots of money for something you are biased to think it is better.

and a third thing to consider, people just believe it sounds better because it's cool. And to some extent it is cool playing with older equipment as a hobby. I know I like playing with my records and older audio equipment. Dark side of the moon sounds different on vinyl in my 4311's than it does digitally on my RF-2's. However, I LIKE the sound of that specific album better on vinyl. However, modern music sounds far better digitally on modern hardware. As someone who has spent more money on audio equipment than many people spend on their cars, I can notice the difference and I can also recognize a difference between objectivity and opinion. It is objective that Dark Side of the Moon sounds different on those different formats, it is my opinion that it sounds better on vinyl.
I get your point. Playing with old audio equipment can be fun, and I also understand that sometimes a different sound is also fun, whether it is technically "better" or not. I used to own a Counterpoint tube/MOSFET amplifier, and it sounded amazing. However, if you want to hear "Dark Side of the Moon" as the technicians at the mixing console heard it, you'd want to hear it via the most accurate reproduction method possible, and that would be digital. Moving it from the studio to vinyl adds noise and harmonic distortion, and limits the dynamic range, stereo separation, and frequency response. You're not hearing it as it sounded in the studio, and that is actually how Pink Floyd intended you to hear it.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 818   +749
I don't like the term distortion but I do like a flat clear sound. I mean I guess you are introducing distortion into the system, but considering much of the older music I listen to was produced on the 4311's, isn't what I'm hearing on them what the artists were trying to produce? It is technically distortion but is distortion the right term if they used it to create the sound they were looking for?
What the artist intended is often the source of the problems

Mick Jagger loves the EQ on his vocal track, Keith has his own EQ as well
Watts had a proper EQ for his drums, but when you mix the 3 together for a stereo mix and burned to disk, it cannot be easily fixed on a home audio system

If you EQ for a flat response trained on a pink noise source, most Rolling Stones tracks sound horrible, but are "good enough" if you leave them alone

A great mix sounds BETTER as you approach a flat response

Many Bob Marley tracks sound best when they are corrected to between 70 and 80% of flat

Most of the better Fleetwood Mac Mixes sound nearly identical to 100% flat as they are, and retraining them to a pink noise source is barely noticable

"Most" Rolling Stones mixes sound Horrible as you approach flat because the individual tracks were so different from each other from an EQ perspective when initially mixed

Alice Cooper Albums were mixed quite well despite the mediums massive distortion
His first CD's however were compressed, poorly EQ'd and nearly mono
A proper remix was needed for a CD pressing but it never came
Is that what the artist intended?
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
I get your point. Playing with old audio equipment can be fun, and I also understand that sometimes a different sound is also fun, whether it is technically "better" or not. I used to own a Counterpoint tube/MOSFET amplifier, and it sounded amazing. However, if you want to hear "Dark Side of the Moon" as the technicians at the mixing console heard it, you'd want to hear it via the most accurate reproduction method possible, and that would be digital. Moving it from the studio to vinyl adds noise and harmonic distortion, and limits the dynamic range, stereo separation, and frequency response. You're not hearing it as it sounded in the studio, and that is actually how Pink Floyd intended you to hear it.
It was produced on JBL 4311's, so what format I think sounds betters is irrelevant, I still got to hear it as close to what the producers wanted us to hear as possible. ;)


What the artist intended is often the source of the problems

Mick Jagger loves the EQ on his vocal track, Keith has his own EQ as well
Watts had a proper EQ for his drums, but when you mix the 3 together for a stereo mix and burned to disk, it cannot be easily fixed on a home audio system

If you EQ for a flat response trained on a pink noise source, most Rolling Stones tracks sound horrible, but are "good enough" if you leave them alone

A great mix sounds BETTER as you approach a flat response

Many Bob Marley tracks sound best when they are corrected to between 70 and 80% of flat

Most of the better Fleetwood Mac Mixes sound nearly identical to 100% flat

"Most" Rolling Stones mixes sound Horrible as you approach flat because the individual tracks were so different from each other from an EQ perspective when initially mixed

Alice Cooper Albums were mixed quite well despite the mediums massive distortion
His first CD's however were compressed and nearly mono
A proper remix was needed for a CD pressing but it never came
Is that what the artist intended?
When I talk about flat sound I'm talking about the frequency response of the entire system. My 4311's are fairly flat but definitely have the 'west coast' sound character. They are incredibly clear but they have a certain sound profile that gives them character that I absolutely love. The RF-7's are also very clear but lack a certain character. If you're an audio engineer I'm sure you understand when I say certain systems have character or personality. The format+the amp+speakers combined create an audio profile. The RF-7s sound like trash when connected to the Maranatz 3800 but my 4311's still sound good when connected to the DCi 600. Not as good as the RF-7's, but the 4311's+DCI 600 is certainly more than acceptable.

I think the main difference is that the RF-7s don't have much bass. The maranatz applifier doesn't do well at lower frequencies but the 4311's are bass sensitive so they compensate for it. When I connect the 4311's to the DCi 600 they become overwhelmingly bassy but that amp pairs perfectly with the RF-7s
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
It was produced on JBL 4311's, so what format I think sounds betters is irrelevant, I still got to hear it as close to what the producers wanted us to hear as possible. ;)



When I talk about flat sound I'm talking about the frequency response of the entire system. My 4311's are fairly flat but definitely have the 'west coast' sound character. They are incredibly clear but they have a certain sound profile that gives them character that I absolutely love. The RF-7's are also very clear but lack a certain character. If you're an audio engineer I'm sure you understand when I say certain systems have character or personality. The format+the amp+speakers combined create an audio profile. The RF-7s sound like trash when connected to the Maranatz 3800 but my 4311's still sound good when connected to the DCi 600. Not as good as the RF-7's, but the 4311's+DCI 600 is certainly more than acceptable.

I think the main difference is that the RF-7s don't have much bass. The maranatz applifier doesn't do well at lower frequencies but the 4311's are bass sensitive so they compensate for it. When I connect the 4311's to the DCi 600 they become overwhelmingly bassy but that amp pairs perfectly with the RF-7s
Older designs especially do have unique tonal and harmonic signatures. Most modern preamps and amps are perfectly flat - wires with gain - but that isn't necessarily true of older equipment. Speakers are a different matter. No two sound anything alike, and there is simply no such thing as a perfectly flat speaker. I have a pair of B&W 820s and a pair of Klipsch Fortes. They sound nothing alike.
 

trieste1s

Posts: 83   +112
TechSpot Elite
Modern digital audio vastly exceeds an analog LP in both dynamic range and frequency range. We've come a long way from the days of 16-bit 44khz CD audio.
Even 16-bit 44.1 kHz audio is superior to LP tech. Especially with noise-shaped dither, and assuming the mastering is done to the same level of quality on both.
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
Even 16-bit 44.1 kHz audio is superior to LP tech. Especially with noise-shaped dither, and assuming the mastering is done to the same level of quality on both.
Anything above 16/44.1 is just a placebo. That's been scientifically proven in double-blind A/B tests repeatedly. More bits just lowers an already undetectable noise floor, and more samples just further shapes a wave that is already so perfect you can't see the difference on a high end oscilloscope, much less hear it.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
Anything above 16/44.1 is just a placebo. That's been scientifically proven in double-blind A/B tests repeatedly. More bits just lowers an already undetectable noise floor, and more samples just further shapes a wave that is already so perfect you can't see the difference on a high end oscilloscope, much less hear it.
On recorded audio I definitely agree with you, but when I'm gaming there is a significant difference in the "sound stage" between 16 and 24. My 4311's sound 3D when gaming on 24 bit but are almost mono when set to 16. Maybe that's just the DAC in my computer? I don't notice anything going from 44 to 192 but I do notice a different between 16 bit and 24bit.
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
On recorded audio I definitely agree with you, but when I'm gaming there is a significant difference in the "sound stage" between 16 and 24. My 4311's sound 3D when gaming on 24 bit but are almost mono when set to 16. Maybe that's just the DAC in my computer? I don't notice anything going from 44 to 192 but I do notice a different between 16 bit and 24bit.
That could be the DAC chip and/or amplifier circuitry on your motherboard. It's not uncommon for those circuits on motherboards to be made up of chips that cost a dollar or two. On my PC, I have an external Topping DAC that feeds a pair of KRK studio monitors, and a Topping headphones amplifier.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
Even 16-bit 44.1 kHz audio is superior to LP tech. Especially with noise-shaped dither, and assuming the mastering is done to the same level of quality on both.
I would agree, but I've read 40 years of counter-arguments from LP audiophiles. My only point was that none of those arguments even begin to hold water when you're talking about 24-bit/48khz or higher digital audio.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
That could be the DAC chip and/or amplifier circuitry on your motherboard. It's not uncommon for those circuits on motherboards to be made up of chips that cost a dollar or two. On my PC, I have an external Topping DAC that feeds a pair of KRK studio monitors, and a Topping headphones amplifier.
Sound quality is high enough at 24/48 that I can't hear a difference between an audio signal leaving my PC or my dedicated CD player when playing music. I think it's more of the game rendering the sound at that level that makes the difference, not necessarily the DAC. Part of me wants to say that 16/44 sounds muffled coming from my PC, but again, that could just be my DAC.

It's been years since I felt I needed a dedicated sound card. Last sound card I had was PCI on XP. I also have hearing loss from decades of listening to music too loud so that might be a major contributor. Last hearing test I took my hearing cuts off at 15.4khz
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 818   +749
It was produced on JBL 4311's, so what format I think sounds betters is irrelevant, I still got to hear it as close to what the producers wanted us to hear as possible. ;)



When I talk about flat sound I'm talking about the frequency response of the entire system. My 4311's are fairly flat but definitely have the 'west coast' sound character. They are incredibly clear but they have a certain sound profile that gives them character that I absolutely love. The RF-7's are also very clear but lack a certain character. If you're an audio engineer I'm sure you understand when I say certain systems have character or personality. The format+the amp+speakers combined create an audio profile. The RF-7s sound like trash when connected to the Maranatz 3800 but my 4311's still sound good when connected to the DCi 600. Not as good as the RF-7's, but the 4311's+DCI 600 is certainly more than acceptable.

I think the main difference is that the RF-7s don't have much bass. The maranatz applifier doesn't do well at lower frequencies but the 4311's are bass sensitive so they compensate for it. When I connect the 4311's to the DCi 600 they become overwhelmingly bassy but that amp pairs perfectly with the RF-7s
A flat playback system is an ideal goal, but is irrelevant when every song you play has a different EQ curve and many of them are clearly wrong

What good is a flat playback system when the song has too much bass, or Mick Jagger wants his vocal track HIS way?

Every mix you play and every track within the mix should be EQ'd for a flat response to sound it's best on a flat system

From THERE, you can EQ to taste and get your "West Coast" sound for ALL your music

Stereo width and imaging is the same problem
Every song is mixed to a different "width" so some are too narrow, some are perfect and some may be too wide on any given headphones

Width and spacial imaging changes with each specific amp you are using and whether or not it is fully balanced dual mono

If you correct every song you have to a specific width for the specific amp and headphones you have, then every single song will have a perfect width

THIS is the biggest error I've seen with headphone reviewers
Most of them think a specific pair of headphones has poor imaging when the real problem is the song and-or the amp they are using

Fix the songs and amps and suddenly every pair of headphones has proper imaging

DUH
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
Sound quality is high enough at 24/48 that I can't hear a difference between an audio signal leaving my PC or my dedicated CD player when playing music. I think it's more of the game rendering the sound at that level that makes the difference, not necessarily the DAC. Part of me wants to say that 16/44 sounds muffled coming from my PC, but again, that could just be my DAC.

It's been years since I felt I needed a dedicated sound card. Last sound card I had was PCI on XP. I also have hearing loss from decades of listening to music too loud so that might be a major contributor. Last hearing test I took my hearing cuts off at 15.4khz
If you want something better, I wouldn't go with a dedicated sound card. I'd go with an external DAC, which isolates the DAC from the electronically noisy environment inside any PC case. But, I have to agree: if you're hearing a difference between 16 and 24 bit decoding, it's got something to do with your motherboard. The only difference between 16 and 24 bit audio is the noise floor, which is way below the threshold on hearing at 16 bits, much less 24 bits. The only time 24 bits has an advantage in when overdubbing and mixing in a professional recording studio. The lower noise floor gives technicians more dynamic range when combining tracks, which invariably adds noise.

And if you can hear 15.4 KHz, count your blessings. I'm sixty years old. My hearing starts tapering off at 8 KHz, and is completely gone a little above 10 KHz. That's mostly age, although speakers with 18" woofers, driven by 600 watt amplifiers in my younger years had to have some effect. :)
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,816   +6,009
A flat playback system is an ideal goal, but is irrelevant when every song you play has a different EQ curve and many of them are clearly wrong

What good is a flat playback system when the song has too much bass, or Mick Jagger wants his vocal track HIS way?

Every mix you play and every track within the mix should be EQ'd for a flat response to sound it's best on a flat system

From THERE, you can EQ to taste and get your "West Coast" sound for ALL your music

Stereo width and imaging is the same problem
Every song is mixed to a different "width" so some are too narrow, some are perfect and some may be too wide on any given headphones

Width and spacial imaging changes with each specific amp you are using and whether or not it is fully balanced dual mono

If you correct every song you have to a specific width for the specific amp and headphones you have, then every single song will have a perfect width

THIS is the biggest error I've seen with headphone reviewers
Most of them think a specific pair of headphones has poor imaging when the real problem is the song and-or the amp they are using

Fix the songs and amps and suddenly every pair of headphones has proper imaging

DUH
So, I'm curious, what is YOUR preferred audio setup?
If you want something better, I wouldn't go with a dedicated sound card. I'd go with an external DAC, which isolates the DAC from the electronically noisy environment inside any PC case. But, I have to agree: if you're hearing a difference between 16 and 24 bit decoding, it's got something to do with your motherboard. The only difference between 16 and 24 bit audio is the noise floor, which is way below the threshold on hearing at 16 bits, much less 24 bits. The only time 24 bits has an advantage in when overdubbing and mixing in a professional recording studio. The lower noise floor gives technicians more dynamic range when combining tracks, which invariably adds noise.

And if you can hear 15.4 KHz, count your blessings. I'm sixty years old. My hearing starts tapering off at 8 KHz, and is completely gone a little above 10 KHz. That's mostly age, although speakers with 18" woofers, driven by 600 watt amplifiers in my younger years had to have some effect. :)
I did car audio and still do, to some extent. I had a car with 4, 15" subwoofers running on 12,000 watts. Yes, I absolutely was one of those people and no, I'm not sorry for rattling your windows at 2am from a block away.

But my family has always been into hifi. I have an extensive collection of vintage speakers and amps, but my 4311's and my maranatz 3800 are the pride and joy of my collection.

I did upgrade to a more modern system and it's by all means fantastic, but I just dont enjoy using it as much as my older equipment. Maybe I'm dumb, maybe I'm wrong, but I just enjoy my 4311's so much more than my RF7's. They're a beauty, a joy and a gift for life. That's probably entirely subjective, but isn't the import thing that we enjoy the money we spent?

The RF7s are definitely my goto for ~2000s+ audio, but I use my 4311s for older music, movies and gaming. They have a more 3D sound than the RF7s. Reason I got the rack mounted DCi 600 with the RF7s is that I thought it would pair better with my hometheater, I was wrong. They are very directional. I do love the sound of the horn but it is far more directional than reviews would have you believe
 

mgilbert

Posts: 102   +232
So, I'm curious, what is YOUR preferred audio setup?

I did car audio and still do, to some extent. I had a car with 4, 15" subwoofers running on 12,000 watts. Yes, I absolutely was one of those people and no, I'm not sorry for rattling your windows at 2am from a block away.

But my family has always been into hifi. I have an extensive collection of vintage speakers and amps, but my 4311's and my maranatz 3800 are the pride and joy of my collection.

I did upgrade to a more modern system and it's by all means fantastic, but I just dont enjoy using it as much as my older equipment. Maybe I'm dumb, maybe I'm wrong, but I just enjoy my 4311's so much more than my RF7's. They're a beauty, a joy and a gift for life. That's probably entirely subjective, but isn't the import thing that we enjoy the money we spent?

The RF7s are definitely my goto for ~2000s+ audio, but I use my 4311s for older music, movies and gaming. They have a more 3D sound than the RF7s. Reason I got the rack mounted DCi 600 with the RF7s is that I thought it would pair better with my hometheater, I was wrong. They are very directional. I do love the sound of the horn but it is far more directional than reviews would have you believe
You are neither dumb nor wrong. You have a hobby and you enjoy it - nothing wrong with that, and no one should ever try to tell you otherwise! However, I have to question the sanity of installing four 15" woofers and 12,000 watts of amplification in anything smaller than a stadium! :joy: That could take out teeth, much less eardrums!!!