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Vinyl Gets Its Groove Back 751

theodp writes "Time reports that vinyl records are suddenly cool again. Vinyl has a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs or MP3s; records feature large album covers with imaginative graphics, pullout photos, and liner notes. 'Bad sound on an iPod has had an impact on a lot of people going back to vinyl,' says 15-year-old David MacRunnel, who owns more than 1,000 records."
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Vinyl Gets Its Groove Back

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  • Oy vey (Score:5, Funny)

    by i_liek_turtles ( 1110703 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:26AM (#22022364)
    You know your format is doomed if you consider a 15 year old your "expert" to quote.
    • Re:Oy vey (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:27AM (#22023370) Journal
      I agree. I'm sick of all this recent BS about how bad MP3 is. I downloaded severals albums in FLAC the other day to do an experiment. (I'm in Canada, and downloading is legal currently due to the levies we pay, so NYAH!) I did an experiment and encoded it into 245vbr MP3 and listened to both to compare. On most of it, I wound up losing track of which was FLAC and which was MP3. (This is on pretty decent headphones.) ONLY difference I noted was on one track there was 70's style guitar (Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, "Calypso Breakdown" if you're interested) and the MP3 DID lose the very VERY high end frequency on the guitar. Not enough to even really consider it was such a minimal difference. Certainly didn't detract from the song.

      Plus one big advantage with MP3 over even CD... YOU CAN'T SCRATCH AN MP3. I mean I love vinyl, I always will, I have tons of it in storage, but I'm also a realist. One mishap and you're precious vinyl is fucked for ever. Whenever I hear Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", even after 25+ years, I STILL expect it to skip during the final chorus because my version got scratched there shortly after purchase. And, of course, MP3 won't break, warp in the heat etc... Vinyl may sound good, but it's a retarded format due to it's volatility.

      I've also got CD's that won't play properly due to a scratch being at just the wrong angle etc...

      Though I do find it funny that in the late 80's there was all that crap about the ink they use on CD's eating through the CD and rendering unplayable within seven years. Even made the mainstream media. Turned out to be utter garbage, surprise surprise. I've got CD's that are 20 years old and still play just fine.

      • Re:Oy vey (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @10:49AM (#22024848) Homepage
        I'm also sick over the ramant BS over how records sound better than CD. Jeebus these people are stupid.

        Let's see, to get the BEST sound out of a record, it needs to be NEW and pressed right, then you need a new and high end cartridge on your high end turntable that has lots of mass so that you dont get speed fluxuations. Direct drive with at least 8 pounds of rotating mass is best. now you need the tonearm weight set as light as possible without letting it launch, but not damaging the record.

        So finally after spending 3-4 grand to play that record you had better be very still, oh isolate that turntable and not turn it up loud as the vibrations get back INTO the music.

        Only raving lunatics think the old albums are better. Cripes I have no intereste in even unboxing that SME turntable from the 80's with it's $1000.00 309 tonearm. Properly mastered CD's on a $99.00 CD player kick the CRAP out of albums except for the very first play.

        The problem is there has not been a properly mastered CD released for nearly a decade so most of you dont have a clue as to what a good one sounds like.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gladish ( 982899 )
          Don't forget... Music lovers listen to music. Audiophiles listen to stereos. (Sorry can't site origin) They're always going to claim whatever is most expensive and least mainstream is the best.
        • Re:Oy vey (Score:5, Interesting)

          by chance2105 ( 678081 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:33PM (#22026738)

          The problem is there has not been a properly mastered CD released for nearly a decade so most of you dont have a clue as to what a good one sounds like.
          Thank you.

          This point needs to be driven home. For people looking for high quality qudio, you only need to rewind back to when CDs were released - they were considered an audiophile's medium.

          Has it really been ten years since a well-mastered CD was released? I know otherwise. However, my parents came to me shopping for new audio gear. I suggested they bring 20 CDs they knew well to a sit-down listening of what new loudspeakers were available, hoping that one of them would be a "good" recording. Their recordings include a lot of easy listening, jazz, and otherwise off-the-beaten-path music, so I had hope.

          Not one of them weren't compressed and limited to the very extreme. Afterwards, looking through their collection of about 200 CDs, there were exactly *two* that respected good mastering - The Soundtrack to the Lion King, and Enya "The Memory of Trees". Two. From the 90's.

          Even re-released recordings of *oldies* on CD (my parents being their 70's) were compressed to completely numbing levels.

          Anyone thinking they can go to a record store and buy a high-quality product of anything "hip" or "popular" on CD are sorely mistaken.

          It's a damn shame.

    • Re:Oy vey (Score:5, Funny)

      by mrbooze ( 49713 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:12PM (#22026540)
      Here's my theory about audiophiles obsessed with vinyl. They're like guys who think that if they store a woman properly and only have sex with her very carefully, she won't lose her virginity.

      Me, I like my music like I like my women: sturdy, affordable, and able to hold up to repetitive playing.

  • "Suddenly"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:26AM (#22022366)
    We've only been hearing this since about the day after the first CD player came out.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I too wonder about "suddenly". Where I am Vinyl has been really big again since about 2000. Hell I'd say Vinyl is dieing down again. It was incredibly trendy for a couple years, everyone had a collection, but now it seems only to be music snobs.

      I don't know if they actually sound better, but I personally just love the physical action of putting on a record.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by badasscat ( 563442 )
        I don't know if they actually sound better, but I personally just love the physical action of putting on a record.

        They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge, a good preamp and amp, and good speakers that are capable of resolving the differences between digital and analog audio. The problem is, you're talking about $20,000 worth of high-end audio equipment there.

        And that's not taking into account wear and tear. Vinyl degrades with each use; there is no getting around it. You'
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mfnickster ( 182520 )

          They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge, a good preamp and amp, and good speakers that are capable of resolving the differences between digital and analog audio.

          Oh, and that's assuming the LP wasn't digitally mastered. If it was, then the point is moot - the vinyl can't capture anything that wasn't in the digital master.

          • Re:"Suddenly"? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by eggnoglatte ( 1047660 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:06AM (#22023290)
            Yes, but CAN contain (most of) everythign that was in the uncompressed, finely quantized digital master but didn't make it into the MP3 or the dynamic range compressed CD release.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Yetihehe ( 971185 )
              Have you ever listened to ipod on a GOOD speakerphones? If you have standard iphone phones, you can't even start whining about how bad mp3 sounds, because difference between thosa and better speakerphones for about 50$ is much higher than between mp3 and cd.
            • Re:"Suddenly"? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:39AM (#22023668)

              Yes, but CAN contain (most of) everythign that was in the uncompressed, finely quantized digital master but didn't make it into the MP3 or the dynamic range compressed CD release.

              That is the real problem. See also [].
              If a CD is released without dynamic compression, it will sound fine.

              Several years ago, the german HiFi magazine Stereoplay made an experiment to determine if the digitizing as such makes an audible difference. They took a high quality analog recording and played it two different ways:
              1) Directly from turntable to amplifier and from there to loudspeaker, no digital equipment involved.
              2) Somewhere in between, the signal went into an A/D converter and from there into a D/A converter. The other components were the same as in 1).
              In a blind test (cannot remember if it was double blind) the test audience could not determine a difference. The equipment was quite high-quality BTW, they definitely used one of the $20.000 or more rigs that are often quoted as being necessary for hearing the differences.

              Also, Vinyl is not immune against someone compressing the digital master before the recording is transferred to vinyl. Expect such stupidity to happen shortly ;-)
          • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:28AM (#22023376)
            Vinyl? Give me a freakin' break. Vinyl is for pussies. REAL audiophiles use wax cylinders. And we only use organic beeswax, gathered from our own honeybee colonies, which feed exclusively on a diet of Brazilian orchid nectar. Anything else and you're just an amateur.

            Some people will say it costs too much, but I disagree. Sure, building the audio system of my dreams cost $750,000, not to mention my job, my house, and my marriage. But my system makes Britney Spears sound like fucking Beethoven!

        • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:41AM (#22022876) Journal
          Vinyl degrades with each use; there is no getting around it.

          Actually, you CAN get around it if you're willing to shell out $10k+ :

        • Re:"Suddenly"? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @04:00AM (#22022974) Homepage
          If there really was a need for better audio, we'd have Blu-Rays filled with 192KHz/24bit/8ch LPCM that vinyl could not possibly begin to compete with. The audiophiles that think vinyl really is better is on crack, but I guess that's redundant once I said audiophile. I think most people like vinyl because it sounds like vinyl with distortion, hiss, cracks and pops, it's what gives it personality and charm.

          Digital is utterly neutral, cold and perfect every time. I'm not sure exactly why, but people seem to prefer live musicians over a CD at any form of gathering even though it'll almost certainly be less perfect than the CD. I'm not talking about concerts which are a social event in itself but all sorts of celebrations and parties that would be just the same without the band. I think it's something of the same, they don't want a perfect rendering of the music, they want a personal one. There's something to a record that you know every nook and scratch on. You just can't that kind of attachment to a CD.
        • Re:"Suddenly"? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @04:44AM (#22023176)
          They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge, a good preamp and amp, and good speakers that are capable of resolving the differences between digital and analog audio.

          The ones I laugh at are the ones who get a USB turntable because they don't like digital sound and want the analog experiance.

          They get better sound simply because most vinyl isn't in the loudness war to kill the dynamic range. A CD with about 96 DB of dynamic range should sould better than the about 65 DB dynamic range of a turntable. Unfortunately the advantage of the CD format is often engineered out to sound louder.

          The irony is a USB analog turntable outputs a digital signal on the USB cable. Often the sample rate is the same as a CD. Even more often they are sold to the clueless without even listing the sample rate or bits. Quick, can you tell me if this is an 8 bit, 16 bit, 24 bit, sample size at 16K, 44.1, 48, 96, 128 Ksamples/sec?
          They advertise it on a geek website without posting the important specs.. Guys, what's the wow & flutter and rumble levels?

          For me, I'm sticking to my 1980's moving coil linear track turntable with a good reciever plugged into a quality mixer (to set levels) which is then fed into a pro USB a/d converter. I capture at 96KHZ 24bit and downconvert to CD quality to burn CD's. It works for me.

          Here is another USB turntable with no specs listed.
          and another;

          Here is one that is reviewed and the A/D stats are known..
          The sound quality was as good as can be expected from old, scratchy records. The built-in audio card records 16-bit at 44.1khz
          Wow, no better than CD quality...

          Some of these turntables get poor marks for their conversion to digital quality.
          "The TTUSB10 as a Turntable
          After my disappointing experience with the TTUSB10 USB turntable's recorded sound quality, I plugged it into the phono input in my stereo, hoping for some sweeter sounds. This time around, the TTUSB10 did not let me down: smooth, rich audio came through the speakers and my test headphones without a trace of the harsh digital noise that plagued my test recordings. It would be a bit of a waste of money just to buy it as a standard turntable, but if nothing else, the TTUSB10 makes for an excellent unit for playing your vinyl music collection on your stereo system."
        • Lets see... where to start.

          1/ 16bit digital audio has about twice the dynamic range (numerically) of vinyl records. In fact 16bit digital audio has more dynamic range than the best professional analogue tape recorders - even when those tape recorders use good noise reduction techniques.

          2/ 16bit digital audio has more than twice the channel separation (numerically) of vinyl records. In fact it has complete channel separation.

          3/ 16bit digital audio does not require dynamic compression in order to fully captur
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pla ( 258480 )
          They can sound better if you have a good turntable with a good cartridge

          Not to disagree with someone on the same side of this issue, but... No, they most certainly cannot sound better. Regardless of quality, a mechanical stylus has something that a CD's laser does not: inertia in its plane of movement/measurement. That alone limits both the dynamic range and frequency response of vinyl (or any mechanically-sampled waveform) to well under what a CD offers (and not even in the same ballpark as DVD-A).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cbreaker ( 561297 )
        People have been trying to sell me on "they sound better" forever. It's bull. A CD can accurately store (slightly) more dynamic range than our ears are capable of hearing. Anyone that claims vinyl sounds better actually prefers the slightly distorted sound that they tend to produce. Some people actually think that Vinyl can reproduce sound that we can't hear, yet we can "feel" and that's why it's better. Crazyness.

        I prefer accurate reproduction. Which, actually, is why I believe CD's may be the
      • by rve ( 4436 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:01AM (#22023274)
        The "warmer, more nuanced sound" can be reproduced with your own CD player. Just use an equalizer and turn the top- and bottom frequencies way down, as the LP never managed to reproduce those properly. You can also slowly crumple up some paper for that added soft cracking sound in the background.

        The LP was just never a very good reproduction of the sound in the studio.

        But ok, some people prefer the sound the way it is distorted by reproduction via LP/record player, a matter of taste.
  • Not surprising... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:27AM (#22022370)
    ... That a guy who owns 1000 records justified his stupendous outlay by making blanket statements that compressed digital audio sounds bad.

    And then the audiophile jargon of "nuanced" etc etc... What a load of crap.
    • by croddy ( 659025 ) * on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:36AM (#22022426)
      Certainly, some very well-made pressings can sound outstanding, even better than digital in a few cases. But the poorer signal-to-noise ratio, essentially unavoidable surface wear, and the distortion introduced by the medium, on balance, make digital a better choice when the highest quality audio is needed. One thing records do have going for them is that they tend to be mastered, counterintuitively, with a wider dynamic range than contemporary CDs. Of course, this is a product of human decisions, not the media, and the optimal solution to this is simply to abandon the current practice of excessive compression and limiting on CDs, as they offer a greater potential for dynamic range than records.
      • Re:Not surprising... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Niten ( 201835 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:04AM (#22022666)

        One thing records do have going for them is that they tend to be mastered, counterintuitively, with a wider dynamic range than contemporary CDs. Of course, this is a product of human decisions, not the media

        That's it exactly. A hot CD doesn't do justice to bands like Arcade Fire, so I'm willing to go out of my way to get the vinyl versions of certain albums even if it means I now have to worry about things like dust and needle wear. I'd prefer that the studios just digitally master these things correctly in the first place, but that's not going to happen as long as the engineers feel compelled to make their songs sound the "loudest" on the radio; and that won't stop until we can agree on a way to normalize the volume levels of CDs and other digital media.

        There's a great YouTube video on this subject: "The Loudness War" []

      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        Certainly, some very well-made pressings can sound outstanding

        As long as you only play them in a class-three clean room, and you don't play them more than once (groove wear), etc.

        Vinyl records are a brilliant technology for their time, but that time has passed.


      • Re:Not surprising... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:53AM (#22022938)

        Anybody remember the Telarc digital recording of the 1812 Overture released on Vinyl? They used real cannons and the cannon shots were so loud, they had to dramatically increase the groove pitch in that area of the record to accommodate the waveform. It would have crossed over six grooves or so if they hadn't.

        That record was literally a stereo killer. I saw phono cartridges lose the diamond tip or jump out of the groove when it hit that spot. Power amp fuses blew. Speakers were damaged etc. The only way I could capture it to tape was to play the record at 16 RPM, record the tape at 15 IPS and play it at 7.5 IPS (yes, there was a slight pitch shift but so what).

    • Re:Not surprising... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:39AM (#22022446)
      What's even more amusing is that almost all vinyls pressed today are mastered off the final digital master.

      Most music is recorded digitally and then mastered digitally. The vinyl records pressed use a digital master. Now the digital master used is almost certainly of higher quality than version pressed onto a CD, but still - records are still an analog copy (of the original analog master) of a digital master.
  • by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:30AM (#22022386)
    Didn't we just read some equally idiotic bullshit on slashdot about vinyl making a huge comeback because of it's many superiorities. Okay here's something to consider. Digital music sounds the same every time you play it. You hit the seek button and the next track plays. It outputs at speaker level. It doesn't degrade on your hard drive and the file can't melt in the sunlight. I know of one band that releases their songs on vinyl and since my dad's a DJ about ten thousand that don't. What a stupid story. You could even call it anti-geek since we're all into...oh you know, technology and stuff. I haven't heard a hurray for punchcards post recently. If you're going to retro-updgrade to something ancient that doesn't sound like crap, go with WAV
    • > You could even call it anti-geek since we're all into...oh you know, technology and stuff

      You want the geek spin on vinyl, here's my best shot: when you store an audio waveform on vinyl, you're actually cutting a physical, scaled down replica of the original waveform into your storage medium. You're _never_ going to get a more precise representation of the original analog waveform than a freshly-cut record.
      • You want the geek spin on vinyl, here's my best shot: when you store an audio waveform on vinyl, you're actually cutting a physical, scaled down replica of the original waveform into your storage medium. You're _never_ going to get a more precise representation of the original analog waveform than a freshly-cut record.

        That's not true. With an appropriate sampling rate and bit depth, a digital sound file can describe the original wave form to greater precision than the margin of error due to the manufact

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:29AM (#22022822) Homepage Journal

          Yup. 24-bit precision gives you almost 17 million values. Assuming a total groove width of 2 mil (50 microns), the maximum excursion is physically bounded at about half that or you'll end up with the cutter over in the next groove... maybe a little more, but not much. So 50 microns of width divided by 17 million gives ups about 3 × 10^-12 meters, or about 0.03 angstroms....

          Now, to put that in perspective... The estimates I've seen for the diameter of a hydrogen atom are about 1 * 10^-10 meters, give or take. That would make the resolution of a 24-bit digital signal equivalent to an analog cutter whose resolution is just about a 30th the width of a hydrogen atom... well beyond what the laws of physics allow.

          A typical particle of PVC, as best I could ascertain from a quick web search, would be 100,000 times as large. This puts vinyl at about 10-11 bits of resolution, practically speaking. Don't get me wrong, I think vinyl sounds better than CDs in many cases, but that's because of awful digital mastering practices---overcompressing the signal, audio engineers who can't hear above 12kHz doing the mix, overhyped highs and lows to compensate for craptastic sound systems, etc. It's not because vinyl is inherently better; it's because audio production from the vinyl area was inherently better. Don't get me started on the Disneyana AutoTune-until-your-ears-bleed style of recording we're getting out of the industry today. When it comes to an audio delivery format, there's a certain degree of "garbage in, garbage out" at work.....

          • by poptones ( 653660 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:43AM (#22023684) Journal
            Because low frequency sounds have much more "energy" than high frequency sounds, the sound on an LP is equalized before encoding onto the record. This equalization is done according to a standard curve so all playback equipment handles it roughly the same, and the equalization boosts the high frequency sounds by 20db while REDUCING low frequency sounds by 20db, with a crossover point at roughly 1khz. The exact constants are 314uS and 3140uS, or about 100hz and 10khz, above and below which the equalization is "shelved," or flat.

            If this equalization were not present, it would be almost impossible for the LP record to exist, as the grooves on a record would have to be so far apart. It would also be very, very hard to get playback equipment to reliably track such a record.

            Now, records are not just "cut" in a dumb fashion. Since the 70s at least, mastering equipment has been smart enough to move the cutter head across the record at variable pitch. In this way, passages that had a lot of bass content (and thus produced wide excursion of the stylus) could be recorded at a wider pitch than "average" tracks. In fact, it is this equipment which allowed those "extra long play" records of the late 70s to come into existence. Radio Shack sold a few of these featuring such artists as Arthur Feidler and the Boston Pops, and Earth, Wind and Fire, and these albums could play a half hour or more on each side. This was done by careful equalization and record level settings combined with variable pitch cutting of the master disk.

            So far as excursion goes, no, it aint limited at all to anything like 2 mils. If you can find an old copy of Telarc's recording of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and look closely at the record, you will see places where the groove pitch is about fifty times that! This was considered one of the benchmark tests of the day as many cartridges and tonearms could not play it without skipping. In fact, if you simply read some old equipment reviews of the 70s and 80s you will often find this recording to be one of the standard reviewers tests.

            But what you completely missed is electrical noise. See, a standard phono cartridge has an impedance of 600 ohms. A 600 Ohm source impedance, at room temperature, has a fairly well defined noise floor. That is, barring any other source of noise, the simple thermal noise of the transducer itself can never go below a certain level. Given a "0db" standard for most phono cartridges of roughly 4.5mV, the noise floor can never me more than 76db below zero. This was, in fact, the source of some amount of fraudulent advertising during the "numbers race" of the 70s and 80s, when many manufacturers would claim phono s/n rations of upward of 100db. While one can most certainly make a preamp that can prodice this low noise output with a SHORTED input, connecting an actual transducer to the input throws that right to the wind. As a result the FTC mandated phono S/N be specified with a standard input impedance of 600 Ohms.

            None of which _really_ means anything. Zero db on a phonograph is not a hard limit (as shown by the Telarc recording) and that noise floor does not mean no information can exist below -76db. But likewise, Digital recordings are not so "hard limited" either. Noise shaping allows much greater than 96db s/n floor across the midrange where it is most needed at the expense of higher frequency noise floor where it is less likely to be audible.

            Basically, the difference between these two - outside the distortions implicitly mandated by the RIAA EQ curve and the electronics needed to accommodate it - comes down to mastering. Which adds new meaning to the phrase "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..." When, in a few years, these kids buying vinyl have grown into twenty somethings with plenty of disposable income and are once again lured into replacing their "old vinyl collection" with new digitally mastered SACD recordings that are cut from the _analog_ masters (that sound good) rather than the CD masters where the signal was digitally comp
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Because low frequency sounds have much more "energy" than high frequency sounds, the sound on an LP is equalized before encoding onto the record.

              That would be interesting if it were true. But the opposite is true: a low frequency wave of a given amplitude delivers less energy than a high frequency wave of the same amplitude. In fact, energy flux is directly proportional to frequency. In the electromagnetic world, that's why an x-ray or gamma-ray will cause more mayhem in your body than a radio wave of th

      • I gotta admit that is pretty cool, but quality-wise it doesn't say much to me. If you pull out the tape from a VHS cassette you can see the movie frame by frame physically which you can't do with a DVD. But the DVD holds more data at higher quality and takes up less space.

        I think things where records and VHS tapes might beat newer formats is in price and compatibility (ie if you already have a VCR and not a DVD player). And in the case of records, also the "look at me, I am cool because I have a record pl
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dezert_fox ( 740322 )
        Not true. Many people like to make this claim, but analog records have physical limitations as to the frequency content they can record. There is a noise level which limits the accuracy of recordings done on records, just as there is an associated noise power from continuous->discrete conversion in the A/D process. You can create digital recording which retain more of the originally produced sound than an analog record possibly can with increased sampling rates and low noise electronics.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Hurray for punchcards?! When you were my age, we had to make our own paper if we wanted punchcards! With our teeth! In the snow! And we liked it!
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:44AM (#22022516) Homepage Journal
      >I haven't heard a hurray for punchcards post recently.

      Newer technologies just don't give programs the same nuanced performance and octagonal algorithms as punched cards. The clean edges of a punched bit totally rule over the bits on magnetic media that require a dedicated computer just to recover them from the noise. All that extra work to reconstruct a bit makes them tired, and fatiguing to debug.

      Face it: programs run off hard disks just have grainy memory usage and an indistinct sound stage.

      But punched cards are a distraction from the real issue, which is that only a vacuum tube computer can do justice to the best algorithms.
      • There are probably some people out there who would buy $100,000 Hollerith keypunches.

      • True in a way (Score:4, Interesting)

        by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @08:57AM (#22024204) Homepage Journal
        I know it's a joke, but you really are onto something. Back in the day, you would punch out your program on cards and send it off to the computing facility to run in the overnight batch. You'd think a lot more about getting the program right first time. If there was a bug, the best possible result was that you would submit the corrected program for the next overnight batch, and you would lose a day; but since computer time was severely limited, you might not be allowed a slot in the next batch, and you'd lose even more days waiting until you were allowed another slot.

        These days, people are far too eager to jump into the debugger, or to just try running something to see if it works. This culture leads to a lot of obscure, since the program isn't designed to be correct, and examined critically in an attempt to say with reasonable confidence that it really is correct but is simply run by the developer. The whole "works for me" syndrome.
    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      Heh. There's no talking sense into people who'll pay $500 for a cable. Give it up.
      • by Skreems ( 598317 )
        No, no, these diamond-laced cables give my Britney recordings that extra "pop" that makes you really want to get up and dance. I swear.
    • by jd ( 1658 )
      No, you've probably not heard a lot of hurrahs for punch cards, but you've probably heard that CDs and DVDs have a shelf-life of 5 years due to UV damage, chemical decomposition, easily-scratched surfaces, etc, whereas high-end mag tape is usually good for a decade or two, and core can be good for a century or so. If you want archival-quality media, the optical formats don't hold a candle to formats designed with archiving in mind.

      (So why doesn't anyone use them? Because archival formats suck for anything

  • by croddy ( 659025 ) * on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:32AM (#22022394)

    The music industry, hoping to find another revenue source that doesn't easily lend itself to illegal downloads, has happily jumped on the bandwagon.

    I am sure the fact that records wear out with repeated plays also contributed to their excitement over this trend. But hey, records are something I can't make at home. I would be more than happy to see the music industry shrink away to one that only manufactures records. At the moment they seem to manufacture mostly ill will.

  • Some 15 year old with a bunch of records telling me they sounds better than digital playback does not convince me.
    Does vinyl have a bigger possible range of frequencies? And if so can the human ear tell the difference?

  • by AthenianGadfly ( 798721 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:35AM (#22022416)

    The problem with claims like this is that they're not falsifiable in any meaningful way. Of course it can be argued that vinyl is "warmer" and more "nuanced" - all depending on your definition of "warm" and "nuanced". What is true is that when accurate reproduction of the source sound is the goal, digital is used nearly exclusively.

    This is entirely separate, of course, from the issue of the quality of compressed sound files, such as those most commonly found on iPods. Depending on the algorithm and the amount of the compression used, it can certainly have a dramatic influence on the sound quality - in some cases making it clearly lower quality than records.
    • by AJWM ( 19027 )
      My definition of "warmer" and "nuanced" is "distorted", with the former implying that there's a low-pass filter in there somewhere (for arbitrary values of "low").

      But sure, lossy compression also implies distortion of some kind, so it's a question of which has less.
  • Of course iPods will produce inferior sound when you're using the standard earbuds, they suck. Does anyone not understand this? Get some real headphones, or decent speakers and then compare lossless FLAC to vinyl with a range of different music--and make sure it's a blind test, nostalgia is more powerful than you think in swaying your perception.

    All of which is less interesting than how a 15yo acquired such a large collection of music. I don't know anyone with that many records or CDs. I have over 1000 albu
  • by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:38AM (#22022438)
    I've been involved with club and event promotions in Melbourne for about 6 years.

    When I first started out, all the DJ's across Trance/House would only DJ with Vinyl and CD's were unheard of. In the past 12-18 months though that's all changed. Vinyl sales are down as DJ's and enthusiasts are all moving to CD's. CDJ's are now excellent quality and offer much more dynamic mixing abilities with better effects, beat matching and looping and sampling.
    At the same time, tracks being produced are instantly available on MP3 which allows DJ's to purchase fresh hits the day the producer is happy with it, other then having to wait for tracks to be pressed to vinyl.

    I believe this trend has followed Europe where they have been progressively been moving away from Vinyl in the past 2-3 years.

    Vinyl is still excellent, I still love to collect it, but technology has finally caught up in the club scene where MP3 and digital music now offers much much more advantage to the DJ, especially in price. Buying 5-6 new records per week to play in clubs is expensive, when you can buy the same tracks for 3-4 dollars each online and burn them to CD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rHBa ( 976986 )
      Actually, in the UK anyway, a lot of DJs prefer to use one of the vinyl midi controllers (such as Serato or the new Native Instruments hardware with Traktor) because it offers more hands-on control than CDJs, offers all the features of a professional DJ mixer regardless of the facilities available at the venue and also saves the cost/effort of burning MP3s to disk.

      Another popular alternative (used by a lot of 'big names' such as Coldcut, Pete Tong, Sasha, Richie Hawtin, Daft Punk etc) is mixing straight fro
  • Please... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by His Shadow ( 689816 )
    Could we bring back the 8track as well? The anticipation of waiting to find out which song was going to get chopped by the track change was a real charmer.

    It also never occurred to me that pops and clicks were really part of a "nuanced" sound, and not the inevitable failure of an archaic mechanical playback process.

  • Call me silly but in the age of HDTV & DVD does it not make sense to incorporate all this data one had on 12 inch a have it displayable? Even a 15 inch monitor would be adequate, and hell with an rss feed you can pop in that disc and not only get your album graphics but updated information as to when tours are going to happen, when the next album is coming out, and even other projects.

    12 inch was a nice format, but space savings is more important to me than raw information.

  • Hell, I'd rather more vinyl albums be sold like Cheech & Chongs Big Bamboo album - with foot-long rolling papers included!!!
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) * on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:46AM (#22022530) Homepage
    If someone has a thousand albums on MP3, whatever. It doesn't say anything about them. They spent a night raiding P2P. Big deal.

    If someone has a thousand albums on Vinyl, it's a different story. You think something of him. Maybe good, maybe bad, but you can expect him to rather deeply identify himself by his music. Each record was individually chosen, to the exclusion of others. Time was invested, thought was expressed, identity is reflected.

    And that, of course, is what not just Vinyl, but the entire shared music experience is really about. Music is more than bits. Music is more than waves of air lapping or pounding at one's eardrums. Music is, or at least can be, about identity. That a fifteen year old kid is desperately trying to assert his should surprise absolutely nobody here.
    • If someone has a thousand albums on Vinyl, it's a different story. You think something of him. Maybe good, maybe bad, but you can expect him to rather deeply identify himself by his music. Each record was individually chosen, to the exclusion of others. Time was invested, thought was expressed, identity is reflected.

      I think someone needs a more efficient method of expressing their identity, especially if their using a material good to do so.

  • by Chysn ( 898420 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:47AM (#22022538)
    ...there's no beating half-inch reel-to-reel. Vinyl, pfft.
  • I don't want to go in to it now, but there is a massive laundry list of problems with vinyl. A bit of research brings up bizarre phenomena such as pre-echo and warbling, and it has severe problems with fidelity and stereo separation. Your record sounds worse the further towards the inside that the needle travels!

    My personal vendetta against vinyl stems from crackle. I have lots of MP3s which have been ripped from vinyl, and you can always tell because crackling (dust on the track) is very difficult to elimi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Pre-echo normally refers to a digital phenomenon of frequency domain transforms, not vinyl.

      Well, that and there's the old print-through on analog mag tape masters that could cause something similar, but that has nothing to do with vinyl and everything to do with bad mastering media.

      But yeah, vinyl has issues because of pops and crackles. Good reason to keep your area clean and never touch a record except on the edges. And try a heavier tonearm. :-)

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:50AM (#22022566)

    'Bad sound on an iPod has had an impact on a lot of people going back to vinyl,'

    That's crap. How about rewording it to be a bit more truthful (and accurate): 'Highly-compressed, far less than CD quality sound, on an iPod has had an impact on some people looking for alternatives, including vinyl,'

    This kid may have 1000 records, but that pales compared to 100,000,000 iPod sales and still growing.

    Besides, portable music is the Big Thing. How are you going to play that vinyl on your portable music player? In fact, it's hard to even find a great turntable at an affordable price any longer. It's not like the old days when a couple hundred bucks could buy a great Dual 1237. Mine still sits next to my computer -- and isn't for sale!

  • No, it's not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cstec ( 521534 )

    Vinyl has a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs or MP3s
    Yeah, as long as you're calling reproduction error "warmer" and noise and other junk not in the recording "nuances."

    MP3 is a lossy format so between those two, who knows, but the 'audiophiles' that claim vinyl is superior make me wretch. And yes, I still have plenty of vinyl because there was a time that was all we had.

  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:52AM (#22022586)
    Hmm, I have some $5000 power cords I can sell him, guaranteed to improve the sound of his records. It will provide a distinct improvement in the warmth of deep bass, combined with a crisp treble. Our phone lines are open right now for orders. Just call 911-5324 and get an instant discount...
  • Yeah, and I can get a CD player with actual tubes in it to warm up the sound -- and the room itself. They even put them in the front behind a screen so that you can see that they're working.

    Truth is, people have been arguing about what reproduces the best sound since recorded sound started, and they're not likely to stop now. It's a lot like wine -- enjoy what you like.

  • Mainly because lots of demos that you will NEVER FIND ELSEWHERE were released only in vinyl, and are increasing in collector's value (For example, I have the dual-vinyl demo of Alice in Chains Sap/Jar of Flies, with one side of one record holding purely a vinyl-scratched impression of the AIC logo.) Last time one of my vinyls was appraised, I was holding a four-hundred dollar album. I'll not get into the ultra-thick Edison vinyls that I have, that's another beast altogether.
  • I'll make you a bet. That all those wonderful, warm, modern vinyl records all come from digital master tapes. The days of direct-to-disc recording are long gone.
  • by szyzyg ( 7313 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:40AM (#22022870)
    For me vinyl was always cool, but regardless of the arguments abount sound quality there's one feature that vinyl posesses for DJ's that's frequently overlooked - the user interface - the way you can control the music by dragging the record on the turntable, the way you can seek to the right point in the record just by dropping the needle in the right place - the way you can see the beats, the builds and the breakdowns on the media just by looking at the way the light reflects from the surface. That's why I still buy it, for performance purposes.

    Now, there are many attempts to replicate the interface, either with the giant jog wheels on the CDJ's or vinyl control discs sending control signals to computers (Serato/MsPinky/Final Scratch) but while these bring advantages to the equation - mnamely being able to carry a larger selection in your record bag or laptop's disc - they still fall short of the pure vinyl experience in subtle ways.

    Now I can listen to practically any track ever recorded, on demand and for free at sites like [] when I love music I want the physical artifact and a vinyl version always gets more love from me.

    Oh and vinyl is robust, I have 10 year old CD's that are turning brown and won't play, but I have 50 year old vinyl that still works just fine.
  • Accuracy and Vinyl (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a whoabot ( 706122 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @04:46AM (#22023192)
    I own a few vinyls. There were a few that I can think of that sounded better to me on vinyl then in the cd form. I don't know why they sounded better, I just thought they did. My turntable doesn't keep pitch anymore, and I generally listen to mp3s now.

    I'll say one last thing. People put down vinyl because it's not as accurate as digital. But accuracy is impossible to achieve in the sense you're going for. When artists record and master music, they listen back to it in a variety of different ways, certain speakers and settings which you have no idea of. And even if you knew, that still doesn't mean you can accurately reproduce what the artist/producer/engineer intended because they are frequently working in "translation" where they are listening back with a certain sound system, but they are actually keeping in mind what it will sound like on other sound systems, with no one way being defined as the exact way it should sound; they weren't intending anyone actually to listen to the music with a pair of studio monitors, even though that's how they were listening to it. So what then could possibly be the "accurate" sound? It's best not to get bent all out of shape over these things I think. The nice thing about vinyl is that you can buy some good albums for cheap at used record stores, but I suppose it depends on what you like, but anyone with a general appreciation for music who isn't too particular can find some good music on vinyl for real cheap.
  • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:02AM (#22023528)
    I am an audiophile, but not a crazy one. I have a simple test for anyone's sound system. Try this out sometime.

    Put one some music, preferably recorded live. Something with a single instrument--like guitar, violin, or sax. Make sure its something without amplification. Play it at a volume that gives you the illusion that the instrument is in the room. On a decent system and a good recording this shouldn't be too hard.

    Now here is the test. Step into the adjacent room. Ask yourself if the illusion still exists. Does it sound like there is someone playing the guitar in the next room? Or does it sound like it's coming from a box?

    Most setups fail this test. They will sound "boxy" somehow. My setup passes this test with flying colors. It wasn't that expensive put together. I don't have tube amps (distortion), turntable (more distortion), nor $5000 cables (useless). What I do have is a faithful reproduction of sound that was recorded. When listening to CD's, most distortions I notice these days are poor mixing, poor miking, poor eq, dynamic compression, and other terrible things done during production. And my speakers faithfully reproduces these without "warming" them or "soothing" them or something.

    Oh, and vinyls sound like crap on my system.
  • by blitz487 ( 606553 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:38AM (#22023664)
    I once, on successive nights, heard a violin solo at the opera house, with no electronic assistance. The next night, I went to a Yanni concert which had a violin solo that had a mike attached to the violin, and was blasted over the speakers. There was a world of difference in the sound. Yanni had the best equipment, but speakers simply cannot duplicate the sound of a real instrument. It's a far larger gulf than 16 to 24 bits, or vinyl to CD. Try listening to a piano live sometime, or harp, or violin, or trumpet, or guitar, etc. It's not even close to the best stereo equipment.
  • Yeah, once (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @08:09AM (#22024024)
    It's surprising how quickly the quality of a piece of plastic degrades when you drag a sharp diamond over it. Or perhaps it isn't, in hindsight.

    The only thing that's making vinyl sound good to 15-year-old kids is that modern producers are by and large shite button-monkeys who compress the fuck out of everything so it'll sound good when ripped to mp3 and/or played through tiny earphones or club sound systems.

    The sort of engineers and producers who would care enought to produce a vinyl LP these days would probably also make damn good CDs.


  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @08:37AM (#22024118)
    "Warmer" an "Nuanced" and other such words that have absolutely NO quantitative value re used regularly by the snakeoil salesmen called Audiophiles.

    There is absolutely NO way that vinyl sounds "better" than CDs. What ever argument you want to put forward, to human beings with our method of processing sounds, A CD with the same source of audio data will reproduce that audio data more faithfully than vinyl. Period, end of discussion. It is up to the audiophiles to disprove this statement.

    The nonsense words like "nuanced" and "warmer" and so on are merely way audiophiles with seemingly no real background in engineering, or like fundamentalist christians, somehow fail to shine the lite of reason on their beliefs, are merely ways of describing the distortion that vinyl mechanics adds into the audio.

    Now, "sound" and "music" are different and I will grant that there are a lot of things that make recordings sound "pleasing" that are not the quantifiable, but somehow I don't think it is the job of the audio delivery system to inject its own crap into the system.

    Also, Audiophiles have an impossible and contradictory view on audio. They'll argue that $7000 speaker cables are worth the money ( while also arguing that vinyl is better because it is "warmer" i.e. distorted.

    Audiophiles are idiots and they are nothing more stupid people with too much money to spend on stuff that is he electrical/audio equivalent of placebos. In psycho-acoustic terms, if you think it sounds better, then it sounds better. If you are gonna pay $7000 for a cable set and $1000 on your turntable, you have a vested interest in the sound of your system sounding better, so it will. (to you)

    Maybe I shouldn't argue with Audiophiles, maybe I should sell them "oxygen free" copper cables at $250 a foot.
  • by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <> on Sunday January 13, 2008 @08:40AM (#22024124)
    You need to listen to recent music pressed on vinyl vs old vinyl. Then also compare old vinyl albums with the version on CD.

    Why? an old album will have been recorded on tape and used classic analog amplifiers, maybe even some valve kit here and there. The modern album is very likely to have been mostly digitally processed.

    Simply listening to a modern album and then going back to something recorded in the 70s does not prove that CD or MP3 is less vibrant, it just proves the difference in recording technology. Listening to the same classic album on CD will determine if the format is colouring the sound.
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:12PM (#22026538)
    The trick to getting seriously good audio has nothing to do with audio reproduction equipment. All music is subjective; it's an emotional experience.

        Stop paying $10000 for a 'sound system' and wanking endlessly on Slashdot about specs and which recording sounds better. Get yourself a $100 electric guitar and a simple but good headphone amp. A $1 LM386 audio amp IC and a couple of resistors/capacitors from a trashed stereo works fine.

        Download some tab files of your favorite songs (the ones that you were going to use to judge the quality of your $10000 stereo system) and some MIDI files of the same songs (if you can find them still on the web).

        Learn to play them on your guitar.

        It takes a little time, sure. But the results are often feel better than endlessly listening to the same recording on a $10000 system (even with Monster cables).

        And I assure you that you will be hearing parts and intricacies of the music that you didn't notice before learning to play the songs yourself on your own instrument. Even if you're listening on a $5 garage sale cassette Walkman.

        Music is subjective. It is what you make it to be. 20-year-old Eddie Cochran, John Lennon, Eddie Van Halen, or Carlos Santana didn't need $10000 sound systems to make incredible music. Neither do you.
  • Not this crap again. (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @04:31PM (#22027702)
    No, vinyl records are not better, they are just different. I grew up on the crux of the changeover from records to CDs. I've heard it all. I work in audio professionally. There is an entire spectrum of audio quality regardless of the format. If there is any issue at all it's that people are getting used to and are willing to forgive crappy compression on audio. Properly recorded digital still has warmth, depth, and has a far more "nuanced" sound because it isn't buried under a freaking mechanical noise floor. This resurgence is just another trend that will fade as quick as it started.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein