Mobile Fidelity’s Digital Vinyl Debacle: Are your records really analog?

TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
Umm Doc, WTH man! ;) I still buy Vinyl. All though not much very little at least not like I did in the 70's and 80's.

Most recent was Jimi Hendrix, led Zeppelin. The Zeppelin album supposedly remastered by Jimmy Page himself, in Germany I believe I may stand corrected though.

Here's my thoughts on source. Master tape is very expensive. Keeping that in a isolated sealed vault to keep it from degrading.

CD quality is the undisputed source of material choice critical of listening. Try buying the 1st press off of the Master press see how that'll cost you.

I have some CD disc that are also old but drop one and watch it's shattered like broken glass. Drop a old 70's final LP yes it can break chances are won't shatter into pieces.

And no I did not read the article yet, that's Gene posted up on the home page. I'm out. Doc, didn't You stated once here on AH that Vinyl when done up right can be exquisitely delicious sound quality. Now off to read that very fine very well thought out article interest, Leave my vinyl alone!!
Yes, Vinyl can and does sound very good. I was stating that from a historical perspective. You have to go to a lot of trouble to make vinyl sound very good, and take great care of your discs. Sure I have LPs and equipment that you would have a hard time telling it was not a CD playing.

The point is that CD is much more convenient, and it is nonsense that LPs sound better than CD. I have turntables, as I have a legacy collection and very occasionally I will purchase a must have LP. That is risky though, as there is no assurance that it has been well looked after.

I can not see much point of getting into turntables if you don't have a legacy collection. I suppose some are curious and want to see what it is all about.

By the way, I have never had a CD shatter. That is an event that would be new to me.

The other issue is that my LP equipment is of historic interest and so there is a "museum" aspect to the LP and tape equipment, and also some of the early digital pieces. This all becomes more significant with the passage of time. We never must forget where all this pursuit of accurate sound came form and how it developed.

What I have to show here is a significant collection of land mark pieces that advanced the pursuit of high fidelity reproduction.
 
CreoleDC

CreoleDC

Junior Audioholic
Yes, Vinyl can and does sound very good. I was stating that from a historical perspective. You have to go to a lot of trouble to make vinyl sound very good, and take great care of your discs. Sure I have LPs and equipment that you would have a hard time telling it was not a CD playing.

The point is that CD is much more convenient, and it is nonsense that LPs sound better than CD. I have turntables, as I have a legacy collection and very occasionally I will purchase a must have LP. That is risky though, as there is no assurance that it has been well looked after.

I can not see much point of getting into turntables if you don't have a legacy collection. I suppose some are curious and want to see what it is all about.

By the way, I have never had a CD shatter. That is an event that would be new to me.

The other issue is that my LP equipment is of historic interest and so there is a "museum" aspect to the LP and tape equipment, and also some of the early digital pieces. This all becomes more significant with the passage of time. We never must forget where all this pursuit of accurate sound came form and how it developed.

What I have to show here is a significant collection of land mark pieces that advanced the pursuit of high fidelity reproduction.
I should have stated, leave a music cd in a hot car, even in a protective case. Have a many crumble. Do the same with Vinyl same can happen.

I get all of this , is mostly why I haven't read the article yet. They got caught, wasn't there something about Vinyl being released in a multi-channel format? There is a couple of vinyl threads
floating around.

Edit: there are typos in my above post/s. I use a cheap smartphone. so pardon the grammar.
 
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J

jeffca

Junior Audioholic
Let's face facts:
  • Any vinyl album produced today is coming from a digital source. A Blu-ray or CD will sound truer to the original than any vinyl pressing ever can.
  • Over 20 years ago, I took all of my prized 12" singles and recorded them to a half track Teac X-2000 mastering reel to reel. That recording sounded very close to the original. A few years later when I re-recorded those same tracks to digital using my studio rig, the playback was exactly the same as the original. It was astonishing how the result was a perfect copy.
  • I've only owned one MoFi vinyl disc. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1998... about 14 plays of the disc, Eleanor Rigby got a gigantic pop during that track. It was over and done. I played the track a few more times with the same result. Even the best vinyl, which MoFi is, is flawed. It wears out.
  • I've had an idiot tell me that vinyl doesn't wear out. The diamond stylus that plays vinyl wears out.
  • I've had a guy once tell me that his old CD's had clouded over and were unplayable so he switched to vinyl. I then checked a bunch of my CD's from the 80's... they were all perfect.
  • Vinyl has always been a seriously flawed medium for music and will remain so. If you love vinyl, you are not into high fidelity. You have lost your way.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
Let's face facts:
  • Any vinyl album produced today is coming from a digital source. A Blu-ray or CD will sound truer to the original than any vinyl pressing ever can.
  • Over 20 years ago, I took all of my prized 12" singles and recorded them to a half track Teac X-2000 mastering reel to reel. That recording sounded very close to the original. A few years later when I re-recorded those same tracks to digital using my studio rig, the playback was exactly the same as the original. It was astonishing how the result was a perfect copy.
  • I've only owned one MoFi vinyl disc. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1998... about 14 plays of the disc, Eleanor Rigby got a gigantic pop during that track. It was over and done. I played the track a few more times with the same result. Even the best vinyl, which MoFi is, is flawed. It wears out.
  • I've had an idiot tell me that vinyl doesn't wear out. The diamond stylus that plays vinyl wears out.
  • I've had a guy once tell me that his old CD's had clouded over and were unplayable so he switched to vinyl. I then checked a bunch of my CD's from the 80's... they were all perfect.
  • Vinyl has always been a seriously flawed medium for music and will remain so. If you love vinyl, you are not into high fidelity. You have lost your way.
How can you improve on the sound of the vinyl you copied? That's impossible. It's the same with a 24-Bit/96 kHz DVD-Audio disc and the CD that came out of the same master recording. The sound may be different because of increased dynamic range but the SQ cannot be improved, except for background noise reduction if any. There can't be any posterior improvement of the original source recording.
 
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A

AudioTippler

Audiophyte
How can you improve on the sound of the vinyl you copied? That's impossible.
That's not what he said. He said vinyl-to-tape sounded "very close to the original" and vinyl-to-digital sounded "exactly the same as the original" (not better).
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
That's not what he said. He said vinyl-to-tape sounded "very close to the original" and vinyl-to-digital sounded "exactly the same as the original" (not better).
And then the tape thing will depend on a whole lot of variables over times/different gear. Digital is by far our best long term storage method.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
And then the tape thing will depend on a whole lot of variables over times/different gear. Digital is by far our best long term storage method.
That all depends on how good the backup is. Digital storage has proved itself to be quite volatile on occasions.

Vinyl has actually been shown to be a very durable storage medium. I think this is largely because it is mechanical.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
That all depends on how good the backup is. Digital storage has proved itself to be quite volatile on occasions.

Vinyl has actually been shown to be a very durable storage medium. I think this is largely because it is mechanical.
Assuming good digital backup practices, still beats hell out of vinyl.
 

lc6

Junior Audioholic
Assuming good digital backup practices, still beats hell out of vinyl.
Exactly. You can make FLAC copies of CDs with .cue files (which allow perfect restoral if a physical medium is lost or damaged) or needle drops of vinyl, and store them on, say, Google Drive prepaid annually. You can probably get an even lower cost on AWS S3 Glacier. At the highest level of lossless compression, I see an average CD taking up just below 300 MB, so plenty would fit.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
We recently covered the breaking news that Mobile Fidelity wasn't being truthful about their analog mastering process for recording to vinyl. Did we miss something in the story? Editorial writer Jerry Del Colliano explains what we skipped in our original expose and how these 3 issues affect the future of analog.

 
RGuasto

RGuasto

Audiophyte
I always expected that a digital "master" was made from the original analog master. I don't listen to vinyl so I guess I'm not really " offended" and this was not a surprise for me.
 
Big-Q

Big-Q

Audioholic Intern
I support many different mediums in my listening. I love them all for different reasons. I still buy vinyl, but CDs are my main choice because I want to own the physical form and also so I can rip them to use to stream. FLAC for ROON and MP3s for the iPod (no point in having higher res for out-and-about).

While MoFi should have been up front on what they were doing, I never bought into the vinyl is better or analog is better than digital. I just listened and decided what sounded best on my systems. I love my MoFi records.
 
J

jeffca

Junior Audioholic
My point was this: hi-res digital has several orders of resolution greater than vinyl can ever achieve. A physically based audio recording system is constrained by distortions, errors and noises that it makes.

For vinyl, at best, those problems are around 50-60dB below the peak output level of the medium. Also, the higher the level, the greater the distortion.

With magnetic tape, you have a dynamic range of about 90 to 100dB on the best decks, but, again, no pre-recorded content. Reel to reels are incredibly expensive as is their tape.

With hi-res digital, you have a system that has surpassed human hearing. I'm not saying that it means that lousy recordings still won't suck. In fact, hi-res with a good system can take treasured recordings and show them for the crap they are.

Personally, I'm into having a system that, for better or worse, let's me hear the studio master as it was mixed.

Not everybody wants that.
 
J

jeffca

Junior Audioholic
That all depends on how good the backup is. Digital storage has proved itself to be quite volatile on occasions.

Vinyl has actually been shown to be a very durable storage medium. I think this is largely because it is mechanical.
For anything I've recorded as an engineer, I have both local and remote back-ups. It won't get lost.

As to music I've ripped, if it corrupts, I rip it again to my drives. I've had to do that about 6 times in 2 decades.

Vinyl, if you never play it, is great medium fidelity storage. As you play it, it wears out. I can play a digital file 1,000 times with no difference in fidelity.

Bottom line: after owning & listening to vinyl for the first 30 years of my life, I've been done with it. It sucks from every angle. If you love it, that's your problem.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
For anything I've recorded as an engineer, I have both local and remote back-ups. It won't get lost.

As to music I've ripped, if it corrupts, I rip it again to my drives. I've had to do that about 6 times in 2 decades.

Vinyl, if you never play it, is great medium fidelity storage. As you play it, it wears out. I can play a digital file 1,000 times with no difference in fidelity.

Bottom line: after owning & listening to vinyl for the first 30 years of my life, I've been done with it. It sucks from every angle. If you love it, that's your problem.
Sucks from every angle is a bit strong! I agree that some obsessional personality traits are required for good results. However in a properly set up and cared for system including the discs, excellent results can be obtained.

I do still enjoy my legacy LP collection. Case in point, I pulled out one of my "chestnuts" the other day. It was an old LP of the Durufle Requiem, conducted by the composer, with his wife playing the organ part. A very historic performance on the Erato label that still sounds very good. For us geriatric set that started out well before the digital era, there are still good reasons to keep turntables in good order. For me that is four of them. In years to come individuals with an interest in antique and vintage collections, will likely still be interested in preservation, just like people collect old vehicles, tractors, clocks, and pretty much anything you can think of.

I was at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers reunion at Rollag on the Labor day weekend. I took the shuttle to watch the plowing demonstration. I watched a 120 year old, or so, steam tractor pull a 9 bottom plow and tear up the sod with deep tillage at a good clip. It would take a largish diesel tractor to compete with that.

Sure you have to feed the steamers coal, wood or straw, whatever they were designed for. They got though 2000 to 3000 gallons of water a day. Yes, a huge pain, but it got the job done. An Ox or horse would only pull one bottom and no deep till. So it is important that dedicated individuals preserve this heritage. Unless people can see them working they will not believe they were any use. It is the same with turntables.

It is my hope that this rig will be preserved after my half day out with the undertaker. This turntable and the preamp below is nearly sixty years old.



It is very complete. The newest item is the Decca H4E head with is 51 years old, the rest is almost 60 years old, including this 78 head.



When I demonstrate this people are totally astonished at the fidelity. It is incredibly good.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Audioholic Chief
On a more vinyl/analog general, but related note, I've wondered for a long time if a laserdisc style FM analog medium could be produced on small (say Mini-Disc sized and plastic cartridge protected) discs using Blu-ray UHD technology.

The difference would be, of course that the signal recorded on it would be analog not digital and that higher rates could be used with the more dense, potentially multi-layer discs to achieve sonic levels equivalent to or better yet surpassing conventional Red Book CD audio on a format that would not suffer from playback damage and yet because it's still actually analog, it would not be copyable by conventional means like BD-R writers and would have to be digitized to put it on a computer, defeating the entire prized "analog" nature of the product.

Would it sound better than digital is capable of sounding? Of course not! At best, it would be indistinguishable from digital, but that's not the point. People who believe "analog" is always superior would eat it up. It certainly could easily sound better than LPs and still retain the analog logo and it wouldn't wear out and it couldn't be easily copied without conversion (big plus for record industry).

Imagine the analog wet dream of 7.1 fully discrete analog recordings! What's that Pink Floyd song in suddenly reminded of?

Money!!!
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
On a more vinyl/analog general, but related note, I've wondered for a long time if a laserdisc style FM analog medium could be produced on small (say Mini-Disc sized and plastic cartridge protected) discs using Blu-ray UHD technology.

The difference would be, of course that the signal recorded on it would be analog not digital and that higher rates could be used with the more dense, potentially multi-layer discs to achieve sonic levels equivalent to or better yet surpassing conventional Red Book CD audio on a format that would not suffer from playback damage and yet because it's still actually analog, it would not be copyable by conventional means like BD-R writers and would have to be digitized to put it on a computer, defeating the entire prized "analog" nature of the product.

Would it sound better than digital is capable of sounding? Of course not! At best, it would be indistinguishable from digital, but that's not the point. People who believe "analog" is always superior would eat it up. It certainly could easily sound better than LPs and still retain the analog logo and it wouldn't wear out and it couldn't be easily copied without conversion (big plus for record industry).

Imagine the analog wet dream of 7.1 fully discrete analog recordings! What's that Pink Floyd song in suddenly reminded of?

Money!!!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaserDisc

I didn't know that laser discs used analogue frequency modulation to encode information. Interesting read on the wiki page. Technically it's still digital as the physical format is a series of pits and lands read by the laser.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Seriously, I have no life.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaserDisc

I didn't know that laser discs used analogue frequency modulation to encode information. Interesting read on the wiki page. Technically it's still digital as the physical format is a series of pits and lands read by the laser.
Yes, it was very similar to the VHS rotating head H--Fi system. The Philips system was laser read and a forerunner of the digital discs. The RCA video disc used a capacitance system, and the discs were loaded and unloaded into a protected container. The disc was ruined if touched by human hand. Strangely both systems worked.
 
Eppie

Eppie

Audioholic Samurai
Yes, it was very similar to the VHS rotating head H--Fi system. The Philips system was laser read and a forerunner of the digital discs. The RCA video disc used a capacitance system, and the discs were loaded and unloaded into a protected container. The disc was ruined if touched by human hand. Strangely both systems worked.
I only knew one guy that collected laser discs. We were both anime fans and he imported discs from Japan. I'm certain that he still has them and a working player as he has a substantial collection of imports. I went from VHS right to DVD.

Many probably don't realize how good the audio was on VHS (excluding the Doc ;)). Originally the audio was recorded as a stereo track along the edge of the tape, which was not any better than cassette as it used a separate recording head like cassette decks. With the advent of Hi-Fi VHS they started recording the audio along with the video using the rotating VHS head. It did not have as bad tape hiss issues as associated with cassettes. You could record a CD onto Hi-Fi VHS and it was indistinguishable. I used to make 6 hour mix tapes for parties and after 6 hours you could play the whole thing over again as who would remember what played 6 hours ago. :D Of course it suffered from the same linear problems as cassette with horribly long seek times and the need to rewind, and the tapes were susceptible to physical and magnetic damage like any other magnetic format. Sound quality was excellent, though, especially the units with dBx noise reduction.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Audioholic Chief
The pits on the laserdisc don't represent binary digits for the analog tracks, but FM modulation points so it's not anymore "digital" than FM radio is digital (not HD Radio) and denser data (blue laser) should theoretically produce higher quality analog signals.

Dolby Digital needed a RF modulator to retrieve a digital signal from a single analog track (imagine if the used all four tracks for AC-3 type encoding how many separate Dolby Digital channels they could have had on one laserdisc movie (I'm figuring at least 20.4 based on separate 5.1 carriers, probably more in reality).

If DVD movies had used a laserdisc sized disc. We could have had HD movie playback a whole lot sooner than blu-ray! In fact, they did in a way in Japan in the early 1990s where HD video was already a reality with the MUSE high definition laserdisc system! I think it was analog HD, however, but still there were HD movies you could buy there as early as 1991!!! That's almost 15 years before HD-DVD and blu-ray!
 

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