Most of he old stuff manufactured from the beginning of the 33 1/3 LP to somewhere in the late 1970s sounds much better on vinyl than on CD.
Very little vinyl of even a few years of age is still in decent shape. Even if, as I do, you take excellent care of it. I have lots of vinyl, the reason why isn't because of fidelity, but simply because many of the recordings I have are not available on CD, and may never be.
Regarding CD's vs. LPs, LP's in the typical user's playback situation suffer from numerous problems that CD's do not:
- Vulnerability to semi-permanent embedded particulate pops
- Vulnerability to permanent scratch injuries
- Vulnerability to HF "scrub-off" from repeated playing within a short timespan, and/or playing using a less-than-perfect playback mechanism
- Significant harmonic distortion from tracking error
- Interference (mixing) distortion from player irregularities and shortcomings (wow, flutter, rumble, hum, IM, crosstalk)
- LP's Require more storage space
- LP's cannot be played portably with any degree of safety for the recording
- LP's offer significantly less playback time
- LP's require significantly more physical care (sleeves, cleaning)
- LP's must be turned or flipped 1/2 way through the recordings
- LP's with damage can themselves damage the playback system
- LP's have vastly inferior stereo (and quad, etc.) separation
- LP's have significantly lower signal to noise ratios
- LP's have significantly lower dynamic range
- LP's carry no song data
- LP's track-to-track movement/selection is only supported by extremely expensive hardware
Now, after laying that out, I will grant you that a brand new, virgin vinyl LP, pressed from an analog master that itself was made using beginning to end wide bandwidth recording techniques, previously unplayed, played back through a system that has no warts of its own, particularly with regard to speakers, which add plenty of coloration no matter what else you have in a system, played for a very discerning (and atypical) listener who has hearing beyond 22 KHz, or one who is sensitive to the miniscule intermodulations produced by signals above 22 KHz in signals below 22 KHz (keeping in mind that the amount of valid program material above 22 KHz is just about zero)... you should get at least one good playback that in the realm of frequency only, is superior to a CD playback, and additionally, will not offer a lot of irritation due to the unplayed, virgin materials used.
However, after that first playing... which scrapes the very finest detail off the grooves, that exposure to dust which embeds your first pops and snaps, after that first slide into the sleeve which imbues the vinyl with a strong static charge which attracts yet more dust and cat hair and etc... that LP is going to be not so great after all. CD's will remain true to 22 KHz until the day they oxide out or fall victim to some nefarious, layer invading mold. I still have CD's from the 80's, they all work fine. My LP's, despite really excellent care, are not fine. Not any of them.
I'll stick to CD's.
Having said all that, let me also note that I have lots of classic stereo equipment, among which is considerable top of the line 70's-era Mac and Marantz gear. I'm perfectly willing to be a luddite when I am actually convinced there are benefits to be had from digging in my heels. But CD's vs. LPs... CD's are simply all-round better.
Just so you know where I'm coming from: I'm an EE, a musician (guitar, bass, percussion, trumpet, flute and keyboards) and a recording engineer/mastering engineer - those last two are roles where you craft the specifics of recordings, not design roles like an EE or ME engineer, for those readers who might be unfamiliar with the recording industry jargon. I'm 48; I grew up with LP's. Phooey on 'em. Phooey!
Anyone want to have a good dust-up over tubes vs. semiconductors, or the supposed merits of exotica like "oxygen free copper wiring"?
Not that any of this has anything at all to do with the price of CD's, or presumptive boycotts of the music companies. I just love music and all the audio hardware that lets me hear it after the fact.
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