[rollei_list] Re: OT: Vinyl and CD's

  • From: Thor Legvold <tlegvold@xxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 16:51:19 +0100

Hi David,

I've thought a lot about it :-)

I don't quite agree with you on everything.

On 5. mars. 2009, at 15.53, David Sadowski wrote:

If you think about it, there are plenty of things today that are made
to last, and made better than years ago.  Take autos for instance.

Not sure if that's the best example...

When I was a kid, the typical car would last maybe three years.  Any
car that had 100,000 miles on it was pretty well shot.  Nowadays, cars
last many years longer than that, and a car with 100,000 miles on it
can still be a good car.

When I was a kid, engines were rebuilt if the car was worth anything. Bodies resprayed. Most people bought new cars to keep up with the Jone's. 100k was about right. Today's cars in general employ thinner and lower grade steel, many moving over to aluminum for weight, and are designed to fold and crash in such as way as to absorb as much kinetic energy in the chassis and body itself, protecting the occupants. This is much better than before, when brute force, weight and thicker metal was the rule.

Also, on many older cars there was no rust proofing at all, or if there was it was as an afterthought.

Also today, most parts on cars are plastic, or sealed, meaning they get replaced as a unit instead of rebuilt (remember packing bearings with grease or rebuilding a carburettor?). This adds to the longevity, but not by virtue of better quality, rather by modularity.

So I'd say in many ways the design, especially with an eye for maintenence and safety, are much better than they were. Thinner steel = lighter weight, computer controlled injection = better mileage. Those are good things.

But are cars today built to last, or over engineered in any way? Or are they built as appliances, to be used, and then replaced when a 'cooler' model ocmes out?

I think the car culture in the USA pretty much requires you to 'keep up', regardless of what you drive. So cars end up being expendables, and why design something to last when it will be replaced in 3-5 years? People used to hold onto cars for much longer other places (like the UK).

Back to audio, each medium has advantages and disadvantages.  I grew
up with vinyl.

Me too.

In the early 1970s, the quality of vinyl became abysmal, as the record
companies made their records thinner and thinner, with a lower quality
of plastic.  Warpage and other manufacturing defects were a real

I would have said more towards the end of the 70's to early 80's. Vinyl quality usually varied with label, with the more serious labels offering better quality. K-Tel was never known for any reference releases....

The sound quality deteriorated towards the end of an LP side, compared
with the first track.  Towards the end of the side, the sound becomes
more distorted.  Sound quality was also affected by the playing time
on each side- there were some LPs that had up to 30 minutes on a side,
but the audio quality suffered.

This is basic physics, and any good lacquer cutter will work to minimize or eliminate these problems. The first is due to tracking error inherent in using a pivoted arm and trying to stay perpendicular to the groove direction at all points along the record. Distortion ends up being greatest towards the middle of the record. Good cutters left a wide 'land' there where the sound was worse. Cheap producers/ labels stuffed some records full of tracks, resulting in tighter groove pitch and smaller grooves, poorer sound, and one or two songs in the worst area of the disc. But I would't call it commonplace except on cheapo/bargain labels.

Interestingly enough, there were several competing systems before the LP that started the record in the centre and played out to the edge. The rational was to turn the inner groove distortion into an advantage, as (with much classical) the crecendo with most of the volume and action would end up at the ouside where tracking distortion is at a minimum and the speed of the record is maximum.

Also, a turntable requires proper setup, calibration and regular maintenence. A CD player is an appliance, you plug it in and press play. A TT you have to level, then mount the arm, mount the cartridge, adjust the VTA, overhand, azimuth, downforce (tracking weight), anti- skate (bias) and keep them within spec to get the most out of the medium. Many people never tooke the trouble. Convenience over quality.

Records wore out over time and had surface noise.  Much of what people
think of as the "warmth" of the sound was simply due to the way
records were EQ'd.

Records were usually EQ'd to preserve as much as possible of the master tape on the vinyl. They do wear out, pretty fast if your TT and cartridge aren't set up right. With proper setup, they should last a very very long time. The first to go are the highest freq's, which is where most people's hearing is pretty rolled off to begin with.

When CDs were introduced, they attempted to address many of these
problems.  But there were additional problems that were introduced
relating to the digital format.

Not least of which was a generation of sound engineers working with digital as if it werre analogue. No wonder it didn't sound good....

As I stated before, both formats can deliver stunning quality. The key is to understand the limitations and strengths of each and work within them.

However, ease of use and signal-to-noise ratio are not among them.  I
for one do not miss having to fumble around with the needle looking
for the beginning of a song.

Poor eyesight? ;-)

But it would be a mistake to assume that the CD format introduced in
the 1980s is today's audio standard.  It isn't.

It's dying a slow and drawn out death.

For some time now, DVD has set the standard for audio, and has the
potential to use a higher bitrate.

I don't know of anyone using DVD-A. DVD-V is getting a lot of momentum though. Blu-ray is just around the corner.

Neil Young is an audio purist, and was dissatisfied with the sound
quality of compact disc.  But even he has been won over by DVD audio,
and all his new releases are coming out in this higher quality format
as well.

One of my favourite artists. Audio purists, but no matter things like tempo, tuning, etc ;-). Still, I love his work. He releases on vinyl as well.

Vinyl never disappeared completely and has now become a niche market.
Many popular records are still being issued on vinyl, especially indie

In fact a rapidly growing niche market. Growing faster than CD is dying, apparently.

Finally, I think we would all have to admit that LP sleeves were a
much superior format for artwork, liner notes, and for rolling joints.

Absolutely! :-)


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