The Demise of disc format

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ar surround

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Some of you guys seem really bitter about vinyl. What happened to induce such hatred?

Doug
I wouldn't call it hatred, but I do take umbrage at the claims of superiority even to high-resolution digital media. I've heard some digital rips from 180 gram vinyl that sound marvelous; so in the digital world, it's somewhere in the mastering / authoring chain where things go awry, not in the media itself.
 

jimfisheye

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Some of you guys seem really bitter about vinyl. What happened to induce such hatred?

Doug
Spend $5k - $10k on a table/cartridge/preamp
Spend decent time on alignment and system calibration.
Discover about 85% of album pressings/masterings aren't remotely worthy.
Get into surround. Discover just how bad those matrix formats really were.

Not so much hatred. Just disappointment.

On the flip side...
People aren't just talking about nothing with the old matrix formats. Some of the decodes I've heard in more recent times were an eyebrow raising improvement and offer a hint that a few people at least were able to kind of work with this and get results. Still, when you get an opportunity to hear the discrete master it wipes the floor with the best matrix decode.
 

jimfisheye

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In truth, the LP format itself really cannot be compared to even 16/44.1 digital. There is no argument to be made here. Yes, there are a lot of bad CD releases, but that's purely the mastering stage (louder! LOUDER!) not the format's fault.
This can't be repeated enough!

A lot of people have been gaslit by botched mastering.
 

jimfisheye

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Why?

That's why.
The audiophile and general public have been lied to over and over in the simple interest of money. They revived a wholly inferior dead market because the systems fragile nature makes everything you breath on change its sound and you can tweak for audible changes indefinitely. Then there's the fact of the mechanical nature of things like needles wearing out and the constant worry over is something going wrong. Spend Spend Spend
Look thru Stereophile, TAS, and all the advertiser supported websites, a good 75+% of the ads are either vinyl or cable related. The whole market that was supposed to be about High Fidelity has turned it's back on accuracy and measurements, for a smoke and mirrors system that requires only some guru to say, "I heard it, so it is so".
Bottom line, NO vinyl isn't on the same planet, let along ballpark, as digital when it comes to offering the ability to reproduce the sound the microphones heard on your system. That's what High Fidelity is all about, or at least is meant to be.
I find being ripped off and taken for a fool very distasteful.
I think the gross dishonesty and botched mastering is responsible for a lot of weirdness. I think the vinyl "resurgence" is more nostalgia for their parent's malfunctioning turntables and damaged vinyl though. The kids aren't looking for something that sounds better than the CDs they're used to. (Sorry, I mean the mp3 copies.) They want to hear their mp3s with vinyl damage artifacts. (The mp3s that they listen to with Bose ear buds on their phones.)
 

MidiMagic

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I prefer analog and matrix because the music stays together.

All of the discrete mixes I have heard (even in the theater) have reminded me of the early ping-pong stereo. Most of the CD-4 mixes sounded to me like all of the sounds were at the speakers, with very little sound in between. The process was discrete. I heard sounds in each speaker, but the sounds in each speaker didn't sound like they belonged with the sounds in the other speakers,

Many of the CD-4 mixes I heard were like the SQ five - sounds from each speaker and from center front. And one time I was listening to race cars going around an oval behind the actors in a movie about race driving. With the discrete theater sound, I heard the cars jump from speaker to speaker as they circled the track. When I play the same movie at home in Dolby Surround, the car sounds go around the track realistically.

The problem with discrete is that the ears find the speakers instead of finding where the sound really belongs. Soundtracks can be carefully mixed so that the listener hears the sound move smoothly from speaker to speaker. But this cannot be done without special techniques. Panpotting from one speaker to another does not work for sound images to the sides.

The ideal system for me is one where the speaker locations are not obvious to the ears..
 

jimfisheye

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Sounds like you're an ambisonic fan. :)

A pure ambisonic style soundscape (stereo or surround) field recording or mix is a fine thing. You really need a dialed in system though! You're imaging EVERYTHING with your speaker array with no "cheating" as it were. These recordings can only be reproduced properly on a reference level system.

Some of the old school mix tricks deliver.
Kick and bass instruments centered in a pair of speakers to couple the two speakers together to deliver the bass with more power. Some primary mix elements isolated in a speaker and their reflections isolated on other speakers to matter of fact deliver this even on a system with fully improper speaker placement and no imaging going on at all.

Maybe in a future when speaker systems become trivial and the cheapest stuff is just matter of fact accurate this could change? These mix techniques have stuck around for a reason!

Having some 'meat n' potatoes' mix elements to anchor things and then some imaged elements (for those of us more evolved to enjoy) is a good hybrid approach.
 

LuvMyQuad

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I mentioned before that the ONLY release I have come across in my collection where the LP is not a big improvement over the CD counterpart is Mr. Mister "Welcome to the real world" early CD pressing and early LP European pressing. As for all of the rest of the albums which I have on both formats the LP just wipes the floor with the CD version sound quality wise.
Wow. I'll bet that goes against the experience of most here.

I haven't tried comparisons between CD and vinyl in quite a few years (since the late 80's I'll bet). But when I did, I would say it was generally a toss up regarding which sounded better, once you disregarded the obvious record noise component.

I have tried many times to listen for differences between Vinyl and HR digital. Lots of times I have no preference and the vinyl always looses due to the noise and convenience component. Most often I chalked up the differences I did hear to the different mastering... sometimes for the better, sometimes not. I can remember lots of times when the difference I heard was either negligible or non-existent.
 

Sal1950

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The ideal system for me is one where the speaker locations are not obvious to the ears..
In multich I've found a big part of the problem is the myth that the rear speakers (or all speakers) needn't be super closely matched. Would anyone expect a 2 ch system to have good imaging if they had different speakers for the L & R? If you really want to get the best surround reproduction from the genius engineers such as Wilson or Parson's, all base speakers should be identical if at all possible. Anything else will produce sub-optimal results.
 

MagnumX

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I prefer analog and matrix because the music stays together.

All of the discrete mixes I have heard (even in the theater) have reminded me of the early ping-pong stereo. Most of the CD-4 mixes sounded to me like all of the sounds were at the speakers, with very little sound in between. The process was discrete. I heard sounds in each speaker, but the sounds in each speaker didn't sound like they belonged with the sounds in the other speakers,

Many of the CD-4 mixes I heard were like the SQ five - sounds from each speaker and from center front. And one time I was listening to race cars going around an oval behind the actors in a movie about race driving. With the discrete theater sound, I heard the cars jump from speaker to speaker as they circled the track. When I play the same movie at home in Dolby Surround, the car sounds go around the track realistically.

The problem with discrete is that the ears find the speakers instead of finding where the sound really belongs. Soundtracks can be carefully mixed so that the listener hears the sound move smoothly from speaker to speaker. But this cannot be done without special techniques. Panpotting from one speaker to another does not work for sound images to the sides.

The ideal system for me is one where the speaker locations are not obvious to the ears..
How obvious speaker locations are in discrete depends on the mixing engineer not purposely highlighting speaker locations (e.g. "Snap to" function in Atmos) and how well your speakers match each other in the room and can phantom image in-between well. I use 17 PSB speakers with matched drivers here. Booka Shade's Dear Future Self in Dolby Atmos does not ping-pong. Sound comes from everywhere in my room (save the floor). The same is true of Yello's Point (well it does do some symmetry effects you might compare to ping-pong, but the speakers aren't highlighted, just areas of the room and ceiling with other sounds that smoothly move across the ceiling and objects that move in a circle around the room at various height levels, etc.

Those are just two examples. I don't recall ping-pong effects on most surround albums, really. There are some, of course. It's done on purpose. Poor imagination, but a lot of the more blended/matrix stuff is hard to tell where an instrument is coming from at all. Having the cello stretched between the front left and and rear of a 24' long room is weird sounding, to the say the least. Some would say having it pin-point but flying around the room would be even weirder so it probably depends on the material what should be done. More electronic sounding albums don't sound strange with synth sounds flying around, for example.

In multich I've found a big part of the problem is the myth that the rear speakers (or all speakers) needn't be super closely matched. Would anyone expect a 2 ch system to have good imaging if they had different speakers for the L & R? If you really want to get the best surround reproduction from the genius engineers such as Wilson or Parson's, all base speakers should be identical if at all possible. Anything else will produce sub-optimal results.
I would say matching drivers (midrange and tweeter in particular) are more important than the speaker itself, having 4 different PSB models using identical driers or at least extremely similar ones (my rear bed and height speakers have updated versions but match each other despite being tower/bookshelf). Pink noise isn't "identical" in the room (rarely is even with matching speakers since the room has an effect also, but room correction helps), but with real material, I cannot hear any change around the room with callout voices or objects moving around the room.

If you cannot get matching models or drivers, the next best thing is probably matching brand with similar drivers. The worst is probably mixing different brands (save perhaps the subwoofer), although I'm sure there are some similar sounding speakers out there with neutral drivers, but it'd be a bit of a guessing game. The problem is many people already bought bed level speakers and when they go to Atmos they find their manufacturer doesn't really offer anything in-ceiling or on-ceiling without a lot of extra work to make it work rather than being designed for it so they buy a popular in-ceiling speaker set and then wonder why the layers stick out like a sore thumb. Some even like that because it's easier to hear overhead sounds when used.

I often have a hard time telling from mains from partial from heights because sometimes the base layer can image high on the front wall even without the heights engaged. I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark in Atmos last night and found it to be a piddly conservative mix that rarely uses the overhead speakers and even when I think it does, it may not because of that effect. Too many movies are disappointing because they're afraid to use the overhead speakers and sometimes even the surround speakers in a very noticeable manner (old school rule that surrounds should not be "distracting" that infuriates those of us that want actual "immersive" sound).
 
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atrocity

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Talk about a solution looking for a problem! Of my countless hundreds of LPs collected over decades I don't ever recall having one that was off centred (or had an undersized hole for that matter). I wonder if they actually sold any of those things (or even intended to - lots of this sort of stuff is just a statement piece of engineering capability for brand publicity and image building).
Either you have been very, very, very lucky or I have been very, very, very unlucky. A self-centering turntable would be a dream for me, given how many visibly and audibly eccentric records I have, going all the way back to the 78 era.

You'd think that would be the ONE thing they could easily get right, but no... And the problem usually isn't consistent on both sides of the record: One can be fine, the other wiggly.

A few years back I digitized dozens of my aunt's early 1960s 45s. I really appreciated the large holes, because I could pull out the adaptor and manually center the damned things myself when I needed to.

In decades past, I had Garrard changers with the swappable spindles and often spent several minutes per side manually centering screwed up pressings before committing them to tape. I really, really wish my Sony PS-X75 had a removable spindle.
 

Old Quad Guy

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I have a Japan version of SQ Miles Davis’ BB that is in mint condition. When I tried to play it, the hole is too small and records unplayable. I don’t know if this was a manufacturing issue or record player adapter thing.
 

Imbobman

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I have a Japan version of SQ Miles Davis’ BB that is in mint condition. When I tried to play it, the hole is too small and records unplayable. I don’t know if this was a manufacturing issue or record player adapter thing.
You know seriously, how does something like this happen? I've never encountered this myself...
but it seems to me to be a QC problem with the manufacturing of the vinyl:(
 
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ar surround

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In multich I've found a big part of the problem is the myth that the rear speakers (or all speakers) needn't be super closely matched. Would anyone expect a 2 ch system to have good imaging if they had different speakers for the L & R? If you really want to get the best surround reproduction from the genius engineers such as Wilson or Parson's, all base speakers should be identical if at all possible. Anything else will produce sub-optimal results.
A noble goal but difficult to achieve when the fronts are 53" tower behemoths. I don't know if I'd be willing to ditch the front towers for a set up with identical speakers all around. Disclosure: my surrounds are 43" tall 4-ways, so they're also considered behemoths my some (some=wife.)

...I would say matching drivers (midrange and tweeter in particular) are more important than the speaker itself, having 4 different PSB models using identical driers or at least extremely similar ones (my rear bed and height speakers have updated versions but match each other despite being tower/bookshelf). Pink noise isn't "identical" in the room (rarely is even with matching speakers since the room has an effect also, but room correction helps), but with real material, I cannot hear any change around the room with callout voices or objects moving around the room...
I've gone the matching driver route. The fronts and surrounds all have the same lower midrange, upper midrange and tweeter. But the fronts have dual 12" woofers and the surrounds have dual 10" woofers. There is still a difference in frequency response, but it is not that noticeable with music. It is more noticeable with pink noise, but like you said, the room has its own effect.
 

4-earredwonder

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What?!?? I was personally assured by Mr. Atkinson at Stereophile that LP simpy WIPES THE FLOOR of horrible stair-step digital, especially the LOWLY CD format from 1982 (invented in '79). Oh the simply horrible sounding brick-wall filters and stair-step digital that loses so much of that pure analog sound! But if you paint green markers around the edge, add an extremely heavy mat the players were never designed to play with and sprinkle Shakti stones around the room and use a $50k DAC, it can sound almost as good as the LP on a bad day!!! ;)
If we ALL had John Atkinson's Analogue set up, doubtful we'd ever listen to digital again save for SURROUND. As Editor of Stereophile for years, he was privy to the FINEST analogue equipment on the planet and that includes first pressings on 180~200g vinyl...NO ticks, pops nor swishes on those 'boutique' puppies!!!!

Do you really think he'd listen to a less than $1K turntable/tonearm/cartridge combo plugged directly into a receiver with its sub par phono stage???????

Hell, the RCA interconnects going from his turntable to his step up transformer probably cost more than THAT!

And doubtful he'd ever buy vinyl pressings off the shelf from the likes of Walmart and/or Best buy.

Being associated with Stereophile/The Absolute Sound over the years, the reviewers, I'm sure, have equipment that could bankroll a small country [LOL] especially when they lavish a 5 star review on the product at hand.

And I'm sure he and other reviewers have one of those fabulous record 'scrubbers' that lists for $4,500 which if one can afford it is the ultimate in vinyl cleaning machines....and a Stereophile RECOMMENDED component!!!!!!


And don't kid yourselves .... John is probably utilizing those pesky Shakti Stones for PAPER WEIGHTS!

And where have YOU been, MagnumX: Green pens are OUT .... BLACK INK PENS ARE IN ......AND THEY REALLY DO WORK ......
 
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MagnumX

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I've gone the matching driver route. The fronts and surrounds all have the same lower midrange, upper midrange and tweeter. But the fronts have dual 12" woofers and the surrounds have dual 10" woofers. There is still a difference in frequency response, but it is not that noticeable with music. It is more noticeable with pink noise, but like you said, the room has its own effect.
Theoretically, you'd use the subwoofer for below 80Hz so as long as the bookshelves extend to at least 60Hz, it shouldn't be that big an issue in that area.


If we ALL had John Atkinson's Analogue set up, doubtful we'd ever listen to digital again save for SURROUND. As Editor of Stereophile for years, he was privy to the FINEST analogue equipment on the planet and that includes first pressings on 180~200g vinyl...NO ticks, pops nor swishes on those 'boutique' puppies!!!!

Do you really think he'd listen to a less than $1K turntable/tonearm/cartridge combo plugged directly into a receiver with its sub par phono stage???????
Do I really care? He could have a $1 MILLION turntable setup and it STILL wouldn't hold a candle to CD because it's simply beyond the limits of the format's ultimate capability no matter the price. One should not confuse a bad CD for the CD format itself. The FACT I can make an exact copy of any LP I put on my turntable and one cannot tell it from the original playback should make it clear that it's not digital holding back CDs or SACDs or anything else digital, but the mixing and mastering engineers that make garbage product. Garbage In = Garbage Out.

Hell, the RCA interconnects going from his turntable to his step up transformer probably cost more than THAT!
And they make zero difference.

And don't kid yourselves .... John is probably utilizing those pesky Shakti Stones for PAPER WEIGHTS!
Sadly, that's about all they're good for.

And where have YOU been, MagnumX: Green pens are OUT .... BLACK INK PENS ARE IN ......AND THEY REALLY DO WORK ......
Are you saying that black pens matter? ;)
 

MidiMagic

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How obvious speaker locations are in discrete depends on the mixing engineer not purposely highlighting speaker locations (e.g. "Snap to" function in Atmos) and how well your speakers match each other in the room and can phantom image in-between well. I use 17 PSB speakers with matched drivers here. Booka Shade's Dear Future Self in Dolby Atmos does not ping-pong. Sound comes from everywhere in my room (save the floor). The same is true of Yello's Point (well it does do some symmetry effects you might compare to ping-pong, but the speakers aren't highlighted, just areas of the room and ceiling with other sounds that smoothly move across the ceiling and objects that move in a circle around the room at various height levels, etc.
I think the producers of these discrete recordings THINK they have smooth movement from speaker to speaker. The problem is that you have to turn your head to hear it. When I listened to discrete CD-4 or Q4 recordings in the showrooms, I heard all of the side sounds at the corner speakers when facing forward. If I turned my head to face left, then I heard the left-side images spread out where they belonged, but the front center was moved to an adjacent corner.

This does not happen in Dolby Surround, PL I, or PL II. I hear sounds that are panned between speakers or are moving where they belong (providing I am facing forward). And I have 4 matching speakers.

One time years ago I was watching "Monster Garage" in PL II while also emailing. I was looking at the computer monitor when I heard a loud sound that was not in the direction of one of the speakers. I thought something outside had hit the house. I even went outside to see if something had fallen on the house. Three hours later, the same show was on again and this time I was looking at the screen. That noise happened again, but this time I saw someone on the TV throw in anger a heavy metal piece he had made that didn't fit where he wanted it. The sound image was where it belonged, between the left speakers.
 

ar surround

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...The FACT I can make an exact copy of any LP I put on my turntable and one cannot tell it from the original playback should make it clear that it's not digital holding back CDs or SACDs or anything else digital, but the mixing and mastering engineers that make garbage product. Garbage In = Garbage Out.
Well put. However MagnumX, I challenge your statement highlighted in bold above. In the commodity commercial music business, you can sure that the end product is mixed and mastered by the accountants.
 

ar surround

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I think the producers of these discrete recordings THINK they have smooth movement from speaker to speaker. The problem is that you have to turn your head to hear it. When I listened to discrete CD-4 or Q4 recordings in the showrooms, I heard all of the side sounds at the corner speakers when facing forward. If I turned my head to face left, then I heard the left-side images spread out where they belonged, but the front center was moved to an adjacent corner.

This does not happen in Dolby Surround, PL I, or PL II. I hear sounds that are panned between speakers or are moving where they belong (providing I am facing forward). And I have 4 matching speakers.

One time years ago I was watching "Monster Garage" in PL II while also emailing. I was looking at the computer monitor when I heard a loud sound that was not in the direction of one of the speakers. I thought something outside had hit the house. I even went outside to see if something had fallen on the house. Three hours later, the same show was on again and this time I was looking at the screen. That noise happened again, but this time I saw someone on the TV throw in anger a heavy metal piece he had made that didn't fit where he wanted it. The sound image was where it belonged, between the left speakers.
At lot of interesting affects / results can be accomplished with phase differences. A thing I've done numerous times is downmixing a discrete quad to stereo. The result, at least from my processor, is a highly effective 180+ degree sound field with side imaging. (Possibly similar to what David Hafler was doing way back when.)

Another thing I noticed with phasing occurs while using the Surround Master to create faux quad. Facing straight ahead, many sounds seem pinned in say, the right front speaker; but when I turn my head I can hear that they are clearly in both the right front and the right rear speaker. Again, it's phase differences playing with our brains...very effectively.
 
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