Saturday, March 15, 2008

Vinyl better than CD? Absolute tripe!

As someone who started with vinyl records (LPs) back in the 1970s and graduated through cassettes to CDs, I get fed up with so-called audiophiles who say that vinyl recordings sound better than the same pieces on CD. They're simply talking rubbish.

In favour of their argument, they suggest that the 44kHz sampling rate of digital music means that the 'full' analog waveforms of music aren't stored when on CD. They'd be right, but unless we're talking about piano music and the listener is a 20 year old afficianado with perfect hearing the difference is completely inaudible.

Certainly for 99.999% of people, and especially those who like listening to music a lot (and fairly loud), hearing won't be perfect. Even more so as we all get older.

In favour of CD 44kHz sampled music, there are many factors, including:

  • These days, most CDs are either recorded digitally in the first place, or digitally remastered, which means ZERO hiss, ZERO wobble/wow, PERFECT graphic equalisation, ZERO crackles, and so on
  • By existing, essentially, in the digital domain, it's trivial to store/backup/convert a CD of music, for safe keeping or for transfer to another device or medium with NO degradation whatsoever
  • CDs don't degrade the more you play them. Unlike vinyl records. When buying an old LP, I was very aware that I only really had 40 or 50 chances to listen to the music at its best, even with a new needle, as the grooves would be too worn to play properly after that. In contrast, CDs can be played an almost infinite numbers of times with the music sounding as great at the end as at the beginning
  • Obvious, but CDs are many times more robust and more portable, as are the bits of equipment that play them

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