18 Jan

Vinyl Vs CD. Analog Vs Digital

Great post over a The Lonely Note, talking about the difference between vinyl records and CD’s. It’s a three part article, so I’ll split it up too.

Introduction

Perhaps the only argument that has persisted on longer than the vinyl vs. CD debate is that one about the chicken and the egg. Both camps have loyal supporters. And both camps have strong evidence supporting their preferred medium. Yet neither format has attracted a substantial majority of audiophiles exclusively.

A few months ago Wired published an article about vinyl and its contribution to the “impending” death of the CD. Allegedly pressing houses are at capacity and vinyl sales are up, while CD sales have steadily declined since the dawn of the millennium. Of course, many CD sales have been displaced by MP3 purchases at online retailers such as iTunes, meaning that digital music resides no longer on silicon discs but on servers and hard drives instead. However, even with those MP3 sales accounted for, vinyl’s rise as the medium of choice for some music buyers is impressive.

Having been born the year after the compact disc was invented, I have personally witnessed the swift extinction of turntables from the lay person’s living room. By the time I was entering junior high, mere ownership of a record player was symbolic of the luddite and his unwillingness to accept the bright future the CD promised us. After all, vinyl records were bulky, difficult to transport, and began to crackle when dusty or scratched. CDs, on the other hand, were small, sleek, durable, and were easily portable for play in car stereos or discmans. CD burners were affordable and put the power of track selection in the hands of the consumer, while I never personally knew anybody who had a $10,000 vinyl cutter just sitting in her bedroom.

Yet, as vinyl vacated the collective imagination of the everday music listener, the medium prevailed in the niche circles of DJs and analog fanboys. DJs often preferred vinyl for its scratching capabilities and for the fact that analog offers a wider range of frequency for listeners than does the CD. Analog purists argued that vinyl provided a warmer, fuller sound, and that CDs sounded sanitized and mechanical. Because digital could only take “snapshots” of the sound, they said, CDs were incapable of presenting a true reproduction of the studio recording. The groove of the analog record, they furthered, is the only medium able to provide true sonic replication because the indentation in the vinyl is a physical manifestation of the actual sound waves and vibrations created by the original instruments.

As I weighed the audible possibilities of vinyl in a music culture rife with silicon, I decided to examine the format differences for myself. Did vinyl provide a richer, warmer sound? Or was CD superior in that it furnished a much more precise tone?

You can find the rest of the article on the physical differences between analog records and digital CD’s here, and the actual test of the sound quality difference between vinyl records and CD’s here.

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2 Responses to “Vinyl Vs CD. Analog Vs Digital”

  1. Vinyl Records and LP's Versus CD's. What Sound Better, Vinyl or CD? - Classic Albums, Vinyl Records, and Music - The Classic Vinyl Record Says:

    […] is the second part of this article by The Lonely Note. Here is the first post on the difference between vinyl records and CD’s in case you missed it. Portability This is probably the one category where the two camps of format […]

  2. The Sound Difference Between Vinyl and CD's. Does Vinyl Sound Better? - Classic Albums, Vinyl Records, and Music - The Classic Vinyl Record Says:

    […] by The Lonely Note on the difference between vinyl and CD’s. The first post dealt with the technology difference between CD’s and records. The second dealt with mostly the physical differences between LP’s and CD’s. The third […]

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