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Casual vinyl vs digital blind test
post Mar 30 2003, 22:56
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Today a friend visited me, so I seized the occasion to perform a hardware blind test. Computer blind test, like original vs MP3, I can do them alone with a program, but for real vinyl vs CD blind tests, I need someone to switch the source selector "in my back".

It was a "vinyl versus digital" test. A vinyl was playing back. The line out of the ampli was directed into the DAT deck, 48 kHz 16 bits. The ampli vinyl input (pure analog) was compared to the DAT input (digitized to 48 kHz 16 bits).

Preliminaries listening sessions : the digital sound seems more bright, shiny and detailed to me, the vinyl more smooth, silky and "noisy". The digital sound seems also "tiresome". No difference in frequencies or definition, just feelings.
The voice seemed to be more separated to the instruments on the digital version to her, though there is quite no difference between the two versions.

Then, in turn, the operator writes down on a paper a serial of sources, digital or analog, that are going to be played. The subject must then write on his own paper the source that he thinks he is listening to, for each session. Then the results are compared. After the test the roles are inverted, the operator becomes subject, and the subject operator.

Results :
Me :
6/10, but I guessed 3 of them recognizing the level difference, the real result is then 3/7.
Her :
5/8. After 5 trials she said she couldn't concentrate. We stopped for 2 minutes, then I played the references again, and she said the feeling was opposite now : the voice seemed more detached in the analog version, and that she had probably inverted all previous answers. Anyway, noting 0 for false and 1 for true, she got
0 0 0 1 1 -pause- 1 1 1 , so it's a failure whatever way we interpret the results.

Here's a sample of what we listened to, to illustrate the ability of digital to reproduce the "warm, fuzzy, fat, analog sound of vinyl".
sandra.mpc 516 kB, 22 seconds

Setup :
Technics SL-3100 turntable. Stanton Trackmaster EL cartridge, 5 grams tracking force, 3 grams of antiskate (it's the maximum on this turntable).
Arcam Diva A85 ampli, Sony DTC 55ES DAT, Dynaudio Gemini Speakers (not equalized, this time).
Between each trial, the operator switches the source selector (electronic commands) to a silent input, adjusts the volume to match the levels (digital volume display), then switch back the selector to the new source.

Records : Cocteau Twins - treasure (Virgin), track 1 & 3. Not convincing. So we used Sandra - 10/10 - Maria Magdalena for the blind tests.
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post Apr 17 2003, 11:56
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Comparing vinyl to digital sound is a very subjective process: it seems that we love the distorted sound from the vinyl (sounds more life-like to some people), also the mastering & the ADC process (CD) has a ton to say here. Most CD's are poorly done, opposed to most LP's (vinyl) which seem to have been more carefully taken care of.

Not to mention the dynamic compression process which seems to be 'a must' for any new release, even remastered ones: had a chance to listen to the 'Pink Floyd - 30th Anniversary Dark Side of the Moon' CD release - it purely has too much bass in it and it is a bit dynamically compressed - I prefer the old CD release in most cases, not the 'enhanced' or remastered ones (*poor piss studio monitors, and the enginneers have to think about the mainstream listener... blah)

Anyway, if you have a good stereo system (preferably flat (+-2dB) from 30 to 20kHz) you might enjoy more the vynil (more airy and life-like sounding), but I don't think it has anything to do with the capabilities of the formats.

Oh, for people thinking vynil sound beats digital: try Spyro Gyra - Got The Magic in the CD release. You'll be purely blown away.

*poor piss= no bass response under 60hZ.

quote from an Alesis monitor manual:

In the early days of recording*, most recording studios used **big monitor speakers almost exclusively. Unfortunately, they also required high powered amplifiers and expensive acoustictreatment (often poorly done) of the entire control room. Still, awell-constructed big monitoring system really was impressive to listen to, a fact not overlooked by the studio owners who wanted to impress the record company executives who paid for the big studio's time. These big systems had big level control knobs, and clients enjoyed "cranking-up" the volume.

***Fortunately, recording engineers and producers eventually learned that this was not the best way to accurately mix music because it wasn't the way people listened to their radios, cassettes and CD players (metal heads excepted). Also, big monitor systemsand the costs for the required control room acoustic treatments were going through the roof (no pun intended), particularly beyond the budget limits of smaller project and home studios which were growing in numbers. A new way of accurate monitoring was needed: near-field monitoring.

* golden age I might add... snif...
**cool rolleyes.gif
***grrr mad.gif

This post has been edited by lucpes: Apr 17 2003, 11:58
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Posts in this topic
- Pio2001   Casual vinyl vs digital blind test   Mar 30 2003, 22:56
- - lucpes   Comparing vinyl to digital sound is a very subjec...   Apr 17 2003, 11:56
- - budgie   I made very long and sometimes more than thorny wa...   Apr 17 2003, 12:16
- - jkauff   I don't think that's a fair comparison. Th...   Apr 18 2003, 00:42
- - fewtch   Not suggesting it means anything, but it's int...   Apr 18 2003, 08:01
- - Continuum   QUOTE (lucpes @ Posted on Apr 17 2003 - 12:56...   Apr 18 2003, 08:42
- - Garf   QUOTE (fewtch @ Apr 18 2003 - 09:01 AM)Not su...   Apr 18 2003, 11:42
- - Pio2001   Right, the digital was virtually a copy of the vin...   Apr 18 2003, 11:58
- - shazzan   I have heard this argument alot. Its true that vin...   Feb 26 2007, 12:39
|- - eofor   QUOTE (shazzan @ Feb 26 2007, 12:39) I ha...   Feb 26 2007, 13:26
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (shazzan @ Feb 26 2007, 11:39) viny...   Feb 26 2007, 13:29
- - AndyH-ha   Also the other way around: phonograph records can ...   Feb 26 2007, 15:03
|- - JeanLuc   QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 26 2007, 15:03...   Feb 26 2007, 17:02
- - fistandantilus   Speaking from a personal view i think nostalgia ha...   Feb 26 2007, 17:41
|- - eofor   QUOTE (fistandantilus @ Feb 26 2007, 17:4...   Feb 26 2007, 18:22
- - dvautier   I have looked at lots of technical comparisons bet...   Mar 4 2007, 20:41
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (dvautier @ Mar 4 2007, 14:41) I ha...   Mar 11 2007, 07:30
- - pepoluan   dvautier: I agree. You seem to hit it right on the...   Mar 5 2007, 09:03
- - boojum   I have a pretty high-end audio system and do not t...   Mar 11 2007, 06:50
- - ShowsOn   I think the difference is the mastering as well. S...   Mar 11 2007, 08:51
- - krabapple   QUOTE (ShowsOn @ Mar 11 2007, 03:51) I th...   Mar 11 2007, 22:15

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