09 Sep

Why Vinyl Records Sound Better

I read an article today that really annoyed me. I am always reading things about how CD’s and MP3’s are the greatest thing since fire, and that vinyl is dead and should stay dead. The following excerpts are an example:

“There will always be a very special place for vinyl albums. That place is called eBay.

There they rest in peace, alongside trashed DC comic books, used Pinto cars (read: moving coffins) and 500-pound Atari PONG systems.

But for the rest of the living, breathing and dare I say evolving world, the medium of choice is any of the latest supergadgets — may it be incredibly convenient iPods, laptops or BlackBerry phones…”

“…Vinyl lovers are thereby unavoidably left in the Stone Age…”

“…Many vinyl users argue that the biggest difference between the modern digital album and the outdated … er, “classic” … vinyl album is the feel. Vinyl “feels warmer” or has a special crackling sound to it. I don’t hear many people pining for the days of VHS’s poor picture quality or dial-up Internet’s molasses-like speed, but I suppose to each his own…”

“…In indie music, nothing screams shameless pretension quite like vinyl records…”

“…I ask that if you make modern music, get with the modern age. I understand Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is obsessed with the “complete album” experience, which I respect. But people who want that experience will do so without buying a $100 vinyl packet. I’ll keep my pay-what-you-want (in other words, free) digital copy and still listen to it completely and in copious amounts…”

“…Let’s face it, we may be currently looking at the end of compact discs. Eight-tracks and casette tapes are long gone. Vinyl is as dead as disco, and the music-loving community needs to respectfully move on…”

Those quotes were from Emorywheel.com where the writer obviously doesn’t like vinyl. He brings up the old argument about vinyl “feeling warmer” or having a “special crackling sound”. I’ve never heard anyone say they love the crackle on vinyl.

The reason these articles annoy me is that there is a big, definite reason why vinyl sounds better. Most people hear it, but don’t know what it is. Vinyl inherently has a lower dynamic range than CD’s or MP3’s. Which means that the volume can’t be too loud on vinyl records. Therefore the sound engineering and mixing that goes into vinyl records is much more precise and musical. In a CD every instrument is taken to the loudest point, then mixed together, then compressed to the loudest point overall possible. The difference in listening is that on vinyl the separation between the instruments is very easy to hear, but in CD’s ( and especially MP3’s) every instrument is as loud as every other instrument or voice.

To understand why this is bad for CD’s, check out what fans are saying about Metallica’s new album Death Magnetic.

Now there are exceptions, but not a lot. That is why record labels love CD’s, because they can increase the volume of the music, at the expense of the musicality.

That is why vinyl records are better than CD’s.

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3 Responses to “Why Vinyl Records Sound Better”

  1. Newms Says:

    Preach on, bro!

  2. Ben Says:

    Thanks for the support. I know there are people out there who think the same way.

  3. William Wolcott Says:

    That is only the beginning. LIsten to the violin on vinyl as opposed to CD. The difference is staggering. CD sound is bright, brassy… ‘trebly’.

    Vinyl is rich and contains the full spectrum of sound… low’s through high’s.

    Listen to great singers. Set your system up to play an MP3 or CD re-release back to back with the same track on an lp. Switch it back and forth between lp and CD. You will hear the obvious… unless you’re deaf. The richness, the fullness of sound on LP is light years ahead of CD’s. I don’t understand why everyone can’t hear it.

    A numb society we live in, I tell you. Numb…

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