Howard Popeck wonders if his vinyl records are filters?

You might be surprised by the fact that many new vinyl releases today actually are recorded, mixed and mastered digitally before being transferred to vinyl. Are you? Perhaps not; in which case, no matter. It probably won’t negatively influence what follows here.

Many studios today are digital based and it’s easier for musicians to record digitally and then master the results onto both CD and vinyl if they care about sound quality enough to release on vinyl. There are endless debates in the musician fraternity as well as the audiophile one as to whether vinyl releases axiomatically sound better than the digital versions. I'm not going to add my thoughts to that debate.

Some argue, and I agree with their argument that the restrictions placed on mastering for vinyl coupled with the format and playback process contribute greatly to the sound of vinyl irrespective of how it was first recorded. Still with me? Good; so moving on …

My view is that the vinyl sound so many love is analogous to that valve sound similarly loved by many. Nothing particularly earth-shattering there you might think and, superficially, you’re correct. So now let’s examine the stated ethos of most audio makers. You know – ‘always true to the music’, ‘closest to the original sound’,’ just like the master tape’ and so on. Seems familiar does it?

PS Audio’s design motto has always been “to do no harm – to make as small a sonic footprint as humanely possible when designing our equipment.”  Not only do I like the sentiment but I admire the way it’s expressed.

Apparently this is why PSA intellectually reject products like added tube buffer stages between products to get “the sound”. However they recognise that implementing them can, “in many cases, improve the musicality of the system – just as releasing a digital recording on vinyl can”.

Obviously then a conflict and quite possibly one that might never satisfactorily be resolved. I still love music reproduced via both my turntable and my CD player. Inconveniently from time to time I do wonder with vinyl recordings made from the early 1980s onwards if they were digitally recorded and now heard by me on vinyl whereas merely by examine the date of the original recording you can generally tell if it’s an original analogue recording. However coming full circle i.e. back to my original question, and against the background memories (mostly highly pleasurable) of valve equipment I've owned I’m increasingly convinced that many of my records are indeed devices filtering the original recordings and you know what, I really don’t care – other than for curiosity reasons!.

In conclusion I'll leave the final words to PSA; “Do no harm OR make it sound more like music?” Quite so.

Thank you for your attention.