Analog Vs Digital vinyl

May 6, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

13 comments on “Analog Vs Digital vinyl”

    1. Just get down on your knees & watch it. Worked for me.
      Maybe it’s the morning bay leaves & coffee….
      People RAVE about bay leaves & coffee. I don’t think it’s such a much.

  1. So, if we cut the crab and buy serious analog discs that were recorded and mastered and so on, so on in a honost, but digital (!) way, why not buy the end product in the form of a cd?

    1. As always with these things, some say it’s crap and some not so much. I’ll declare up front that my preference is for all digital anyway. I’ve already been swayed by the dark side. 🙂 So, for me at least, the issue is moot. FWIW, I think the DSD proponents believe that the format is sufficiently accurate to accommodate all the information available from a recording session that used only analog processes and tools. Therefore, the proponents believe that a vinyl recording using a DSD master as a source will be indistinguishable from one produced using all-analog techniques.

      I can’t remember where I picked up this bit of historical insight, it may have been from one of Paul’s lunch chat videos with Gus Skinas, but, if memory serves, one of Sony’s original goals was to develop a digital format good enough to use as an archival and preservation medium for their catalog stored on slowly degrading magnetic (analog) media. Of course, I think they made a big mistake in trying to lock away the DSD layer in the SACD format.

      1. Good morning MikeK!
        About this time in 2013, I heard a news report on NPR.
        What the news report said, is SONY developed DSD in 1965.
        And it is as you said.
        That’s the reason why they put it together.
        But however, they waited 34 years to put it on a high rez media.
        But they had to develop that too as well.
        But what the problem was then and still is now, most people can’t afford it.
        But on the other hand, I agree with you on this one too.
        They should have made it just as assessable as the standard audio CD.
        But now, you have to jump throo a whole bunch of hoops in order to get to set down, and listen to DSD files.
        Why couldn’t that be just as easy to do as listening to mp3 PCM wave and others?
        That’s the question that my mind keeps coming back to.

  2. I agree with Paul on this one.
    I can’t take full advantage of it just yet, but I have heard the true sound of DSD before.
    I love the way it sounds!
    But PCM witch is the type of files found on any standard audio CD, leaves room for more things to be desired.
    DSD sounds more like an analog recording then PCM does.
    It would have been cool if SONY didn’t over price it in the first place.
    And then, and only then, perhaps it would have caught on to the whole world.
    But the problem it had, and it still has today, most people can’t afford it.
    If you take a good look at the history of DSD and SACD, you’ll see what I mean.

  3. Paul I agree with you that todays super fast digital to LP burning sucks compared to the original master tape or first LP pressings. You might be right that DSD can store an analog recording better than the original way of storing it and play it back true to the original analog source but I fail to see how it betters the sound of the original analog recording. The best it should be able to do is not alter that analog recording. On the other hand if new recordings are made on DSD they probably have the potential to sound better than analog that is if you can bypass the analog process all together in which you will still have people insist that analog recordings are better. Preserving an analog sound is one thing but trying to better it through a pure digital recording will have its doubters. Is it even possible to record purely digital? Is there a digital microphone? There still has to be an analog membrane in the microphone and it would have to have it’s own DAC built into it which would make no sense if its going to another DAC or digital processing stage.

  4. I read up on DSD, and it seemed like bitcoin mining explanations: completely dumbed down. 16 or 64 bits I can understand, but one bit cannot hold more than a on/off, 0/1 or yes/no. I am thinking the one bit of data is mixed with the bits of data around it to create a 64 bit data ‘clump’, or 8 bytes of data. From the explanations, all we are looking at is a higher sample rate, which is facilitated by newer, faster IC chips.

    When things get confusing, many people turn to religion, and audiophiles are religious.

    My story: I found a Sherwood amp outside my parents’ apartment in NYC 12 years ago. I brought it up to my backwoods cabin in Connecticut, along with pair of Yamaha Natural speakers, and played my favorite Modern Jazz Quartet recording, Patterns.

    I swear, It was like the MJQ was in the room (religion). Even my cat was impressed, and you know how good a cat’s hearing is. My Sherwood eventually went south, so I replaced it with a smaller Stromberg-Carlson. The SC is not as good, but makes the MJQ sound like they are still somewhere in the house.

    No transistor (either old school or IC) ever touched this recording/listening chain. Just pure electrons – I assume BILLIONS of them 🙂 .

    I will try to rephrase this so it donesn’t sound so crazy and submit it as a question. Cheers.

    1. Yeah John it’s a real head scratcher isn’t it? After thinking about it for some time, I finally had an ah-ha moment with how I think DSD works. I came up with the following analogy to help me visualize it. (I’m sure others will let us know if I’m not on the right track. 😉 )

      As a kid, did you ever try suspending a small smooth ball, a ping-pong ball for example, on top of a vertical jet of water from a hose? With the right pressure you can keep the ball at a constant height. Imagine adjusting the water pressure so you can raise and lower the ball’s height. So far so good? Now imagine what would happen if you left the water running at a constant pressure and could only turn the water on or off. Of course, turning off the water would cause the ball to fall but if you could quickly turn the water back on then the ball would only fall a fraction but remain suspended. Now imagine a series of on and off pulses that enables the ball to remain suspended at a constant height. Now imagine adjusting the time interval between the water pulses. By using different time intervals you can vary the height of the ball. A quick succession of pulses and the ball remains higher. A slower pulse rate and the ball remains lower. Finally, imagine varying the pulse rate over time such the ball traces a wave pattern like, for example, a sine wave.

      In this analogy, the height of ball represents a voltage level and a single water pulse represents a ‘1’ bit (no pulse is a ‘0’ bit). So the ‘density’ of pulses (bits) is proportional to the height of the ball (voltage level).

      So a pulse density modulated bit stream (DSD) can represent a ‘continuously’ variable voltage level (analog audio signal).

  5. From what I have read DSD is best sounding of all digital processes but to say that it sounds better than analogue is wishful thinking. DSD may be the best digital form but it too is far from perfect with it’s own shortcomings which are too glaring to equal analogue leave alone be better than it. Regards.

  6. This ongoing debate is silly. Each format is only as good as its production values and mastering or remastering. If you want how the original LP sounded like then buy a used copy or accept how the new vinyl release sounds based on those who mastered and EQ’s it. Vinyl can sound 100% different based on the type of turntable, arm, and cartridge used, and setup, so why worry if this sounds right, what is right? Only the master tape is right then after that you are at the mercy of the mixer and mastering and release be it vinyl, digital CD, or streaming and 99.5% of the buying public does not care, they only listen to the music as back ground music in the car, digital radio, and phones with their earbuds. I like the physical and collecting, I grew up with Vinyl, I like Vinyl but I am not going back to it, I own too many CD’s and the amount grows months from the USA and overseas, I have stuff on CD that will never be on Vinyl, and I am not about to rebuy, again the same LP’s I’ve owned or replace 1,300 CD with the vinyl counterpart, do the math on that cost. Vinyl costs 2-3 times a CD, so revenue is higher, but CD sales still outpace Vinyl in the US, and overseas even higher, Japan I read is 3-1 CD, with streaming and downloads killing both formats combined. Enjoy the music no matter the form, that is what this hobby should be about. But if you want the sound the way the artist intended that buy used LPs if not enjoy the “new” sound of the current releases.

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