In yesterday's postI suggested that hearing greater dynamic range in a vinyl record, than one does on a CD, is an illusion. While technically accurate it isn't true to our experiences. And it is how we experience reproduced music that really matters. Here's what is accurate. The technical dynamic range between the two mediums is pretty different: 65 to 70dB on vinyl, nearly 100dB on CD and much more on DSD and higher bit rate digital. But it is the apparent dynamic range that we are interested in. There's no doubt many of us have enjoyed huge dynamics in music on vinyl. And on some recordings where we have copies on both mediums, vinyl can even sound more dynamic than the CD version. Why would that be? The simple answer is our brain's ability to re-reference scale according to environment. Everything is relative. We size up a particular situation or environment and then try and place it in scale, in context with everything else. It's why you can adjust to being in a huge room and then, if placed into a smaller room quickly, adjust to its size in fairly rapid order. You get "used" to working in a small space, for example, even a space you might initially have considered oppressively small in the beginning. When we listen in a live environment, we adjust to that space and dynamics then become relative to that space, to that performance. The same is true for mediums we listen to. Vinyl is technically restricted dynamically. But it doesn't sound that way because when mastered properly, the relative differences in dynamics can be startling. So don't take this as a criticism of vinyl or an endorsement for digital. It is simply an observation that helps us further our understanding of the recorded and reproduced arts.
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