Have we learn't anything?

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Certainly the question of why vinyl is so appealing to some, unappealing to others, has gotten a clearer answer than ever before, at least in my head.

We understand that some of vinyl's magic can be explained by its generation of an artificial three dimensional sound bed from which the music is anchored in. The sound bed, consisting of surface noise and record ticks and pops, stand apart from the music because the needle sees them as separate–surface noise and music embedded in the record grooves ARE separate. To make matters even more interesting, vertical displacement of the needle often puts channel-to-channel stereo surface noise out of phase, which further adds to the illusion of dimensionality, from which the music can be anchored in. Further, and this is one part I find fascinating, every vinyl disc has a unique noise signature depending on numerous factors: how it was cut, the type of plastic it was made from, how clean it is, the condition of the surface. In other words, this satisfying bed of noise we seem to treasure is never the same, making each album a customized experience, and each cartridge more or less spatially interesting depending on how it tracks the surface.

We also understand vinyl's stereo separation is nearly gone as the frequencies go up - so that upper harmonics, and high frequency spatial cues are somewhat mono as they tend to be in a live environment; a great example of poor performance enhancing the live feel of music. In digital, channels are separated exactly as they were recorded, which may not be what we want if we're hoping to duplicate vinyl's allure. A masterful recording engineer might add realism with an ambience microphone to take the place of vinyl's limited channel separation in the upper registers.

And yet another mystery has been solved too. It is now clear why a digital copy of a needle drop is nearly indistinguishable from the actual playback through an analog setup. It's likely because of the artificially induced three dimensional noise bed which is captured in the digital recording.

Further, we can also deduce this is may be part of the same reason an original digital recording sounds "better" when captured on vinyl, vs. playback through a DAC.

There are more pieces to this fascinating puzzle falling into place, and we'll report on them as we move forward.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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