An honest appraisal of vinyl v. digital – romance v. reality?

OLC question mark

The thread starts as follows: I have been very impressed with all of the clips posted on this thread, and I believe I am a much more astute listener than I was a couple of weeks ago. Furthermore, I believe we have seen a brilliant demonstration of what the vinyl sound is and how to make a digital file sound like an analog file. Impressive.

However, I have a nagging doubt, based partly on experience and based partly on technology. First, because I have not listened to my records in over 10 years, what I am about to say next is certainly suspect, but I don’t remember my records sounding this bad (Clip 30). Second, by virtue of having the clips available on the internet, all source material has been digitized. To flip the experiment around, suppose blank vinyl discs and cutting lathes were as readily available as CDs, computers, and the internet so Alan could cut the original vinyl sound and the original CD sound onto a bunch of records and send them to us for each to play. Would we hear a difference? Maybe not because the vinyl could not capture everything the CD had. But if we did, that would be the vinyl sound, wouldn’t it? Does a live performance captured and played back on a completely analog system sound more alive than a digital version? If so, how do we measure 'aliveness"? Putting the vinyl recording into a digital format allows us to hear the surface noise, the rumble, and the different frequency response compared to CD. What would we hear if we put the CD onto vinyl? The fact this may be nearly impossible to do shouldn’t stop us from speculating what might happen.

To me, the essence of the vinyl/CD debate is really this: does vinyl capture something digital doesn’t? The analog purists can claim whatever it is cannot be measured which is why trying to measure the limitations of vinyl and compare those limitations with digital is pointless. I disagree. I think we just haven’t be able to figure out what it is that makes it sound different. What clip 30 really shows is that Alan was able to make a digital file sound just like a digitized vinyl source. To really compare the two formats, I think we need to ...

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