The Vinyl Thread

since i can now easily rip all my vinyl i tend to buy it by the buttload. my 7" addiction got a bit out of hand

I did some web work for the local indie record store recently and I’m getting paid partially in trade. Last time I was in I picked up the Starfucker LP, new Thermals, new Blitzen Trapper, new mirah, new Lake, the Marked Men LP “On the Outside” and the Duke and the Duchess.

I wouldn’t trust my ears to hear it (subjecting them as I did to me getting my Pete Townshend on throughout my gigging days), but my understanding of vinyl vs. CD as a delivery medium is that it comes down to frequency response.

(Disclaimer: it’s been a long time since I was in school for this stuff - apologies if I accidentally futz some of this.)

A digital recording format can deliver a top frequency of one half the sampling rate without aliasing. (I may have that slightly fudged - do some reading on the Nyquist Frequency if you want to know more.) CDs have a sampling rate of 44.1 KHz - 44,100 16-bit samples per second of audio. Therefore, the maximum frequency they can reproduce is 22.05 Khz, or slightly beyond the generally accepted upper threshold of normal human hearing (which spans 20 Hz to 20 KHz).

I’ll mention here that octaves double in frequency. Therefore, there is one octave of information between 20 Hz and 40 Hz. There is also one octave of information between 10 KHz and 20 KHz. As we get into those upper reaches and beyond, we get into stuff that you can’t hear.

This next part will sound like voodoo. Just because something isn’t heard doesn’t mean it isn’t perceived. For instance, if you walked into a room with a huge woofer putting out 10-15 Hz at a really high amplitude, you’d know something was up. If I’m remembering my frequencies correctly, this is where stuff like the mythical “brown note” (11 Hz, which allegedly makes one void their bowels involuntarily) lives. I’ve also heard a fun story about people who kept seeing things and thought their house was haunted, only to find that there was a big standing wave in the room a 18 Hz, which is a frequency that will allegedly affect the surface of the human eye. In other words, the room made their eyes shake.

So why does this matter? I’ve heard it theorized that there are ultrasonic frequencies (ie those frequencies above 20 KHz) which we cannot hear, but do affect the way we perceive a certain instrument. These frequencies might exist in string instruments (an orchestra is a great example), or in the highest frequencies of cymbals, etc.

Therefore, there is information which can be captured on vinyl, which does not need aggressive filtering to avoid aliasing, that cannot be captured on a 44.1 KHz-based system. So these ultrasonic instruments may sound more pleasing, more faithfully captured, or more realistic with these higher frequencies preserved. (I’ve heard reports of 24-26 KHz being measured off vinyl.)

The other big component is that we get our directional cues from high frequency information. Therefore, the more high frequency you can capture (such as with CD, or a 24/96 recording/playback system), the better and more clearly defined your soundfield is.

From a recording standpoint, those factors may be big contributors as to why we like the “sound” of vinyl.

For me, I wish I could call audiophile, but I’ve got a few select pieces of vinyl (that I mainly wanted to hang on the wall), and for the most part I’m good with my CDs. After all, a well-done CD still sounds pretty damned great!

Madkevin, I’m having such a hard time completing my Husker Du CD collection (because I’m stupid and don’t just hit up Amazon or what have you - I once hopped in the car and drove two cities over because the HMV there had a copy of Zen Arcade). Don’t tell me I have to start searching for the freaking vinyl now to get the real experience. :)

Also, if you’re a Burma fan - ever hear Catherine Wheel’s cover of That’s When I Reach For My Revolver? It’s delicious.

Nearly all of my music is on vinyl LP (don’t ask me why; it just seemed like a fun thing to do), and I can’t say there’s a truly significant audio quality advantage to it. Some of the scratchier used records would help argue the opposite. On the other hand, it still sounds really cool. It’s simply subjectively superior spinning round on the turntable with all those analog imperfections.

I guess it really comes down to this: I dislike digital defects; the analog alternatives accentuate their pertinent preservation problems, but temporarily take ten times the cool-factor to my marvelous music. Moreover, moderately mediocre preservation powers preclude nothing in the sense of digitally archiving all acquired analog discs.

Abandoning assonance and alliteration for a while… While the utility and accuracy of digital music is probably more important in the long run, pulling out the 12" discs all the time is a lot of fun, and it sounds so very good if you take care of your record collection. Snap, crackle, POP! hissss…

Though to be honest, on my copy of the recently reissued release of Boston, I can’t hear a thing between tracks when it’s cranked up to 11. There are two slight snaps on the B side, but that’s it. Contrasting that, the A side on my copy of Boston - Walk On is practically unplayable, with many skips & pops. Fortunately, the first story is much more common.

Bravo to my fellow vinyl collectors! May we continue to have much silly fun in our archaic ways.

Jesus, don’t get me started on how fucking much the entire SST catalog needs a fucking remaster. But that would involve Greg Ginn spending money or something, so I guess that’s out.

Seriously, if I won the lottery or something the first things I would do is give Bob Mould a shit-ton of money to remaster the Husker catalog. The CDs sound goddamn terrible next to the vinyl. Well, Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse: Songs And Stories don’t sound too bad, but New Day Rising and Zen Arcade are just sapped of their strength. It’s enough to make an old hardcore fan weep.

So, yeah, for the full experience, vinyl is a must for anything from the SST years. A minor exception can be made for the Everything Falls Apart collection, which you’ll note was a Rhino release, though, so if you see that snap it up.

Also, if you’re a Burma fan - ever hear Catherine Wheel’s cover of That’s When I Reach For My Revolver? It’s delicious.

I am sadly unfamiliar with The Catherine Wheel’s discography, aside from “Black Metallic”, obviously. Which is stupid, because I love me my shoegaze. Thanks for the link!

I keep some vinyl around. Recently ditched my old LP/8-track/cassette all-in-one for an Ion Portable, which sounds great and lets me convert stuff to MP3 or whatever.

Mostly, I’m interested in the format as a means of trying a new, old band or album. I’m not going to pay $0.99 for a downloadable track from some defunct 70s outfit when I can buy their entire discography for $0.99 per album. If I like what I hear, more often than not I’ll pick up the CDs, as well.

Or I’ll pick up an album that was subsequently reissued on CD, and then dropped from production, resulting in a $40-60.00 minimum price for the CD, or $5.00 for the LP. Most recently that was the case with Lee Michaels’ self-titled album, from back in the 1960s.

Or I’ll pick up a cheap, battered disc with full, glorious, intact gatefold art, just so I can fully appreciate the visual element the liner note booklet doesn’t really convey.

Go out and buy Adam and Eve. If you don’t love it, I’ll drive to KW and personally reimburse you for it.

It’s just that flippin’ good.

There’s a great quote floating around somewhere that the Mission of Burma cats have actually hailed the CW version as the definitive take, but I couldn’t find a source in time to post the link. :)

I’m not an audio guy, but I’ve been doing the same thing with Audacity and my old cassettes. I thought it would be a waste of time, given how crappy a medium tape is, but I’m amazed how good the resulting mp3s sound. The noise removal feature works wonders.

it really does.

some stuff that i bought used for a dollar isn’t worth ripping but i have a ton of punk and hardcore 7" that didn’t make it to another medium which sound great now

Today’s woot is one of those Ion USB turntables, new, for $50.

Interesting. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while now, but have done zero research. Is the Ion one halfway decent?

I still have my steel wheels for casual listening, but I’m hoping this would help for vinyl ripping.

word of caution: a friend on a message board said that this was a horrible turntable even for just ripping records.

I have no experience of it — I rip records with a Music Hall MMF5, and I’d much rather use a good sound card than a USB connection.

But I figured for $50 someone with no turntable might find it worth his while.

I grew up in a household that frequently played vinyl; It’s a part of my DNA. I love sifting through record shops, and finding gems such as a Blue Note record that is in great condition.

I got my first turn table for xmas and I adore it. The whole ritual of taking a record out and checking out the sleeve art while sitting back and listening is fantastic. The sound is even so much nicer; everything sounds so much fuller.

I’m also finding a love of mail order. It’s so fun to get a new record in the mail!

That ion isn’t so great… but it is servicable. You can spend about 100 bucks to get a much nicer one actually. I bought an old used kenwood for about 120, came with a year warranty, pretty good deal. (Got it from a local specialty mom and pop record shop)

I have been getting into records again. Writing on my laptop in the living room on the couch, right next to my record player.

Anyone else into records like me.

I love records. I recently just put on “Sounds of Silence” and have played side 2 like 4 times straight… god I love that record. And it sounds really good coming through my setup. MMmmm… love that analog.

Better to listen to vinyl than to upholster your car with it.

i am kind of in the middle of a project to sort all my music by genre.

previously it was just haphazardly in album vs singles/eps categories.

but now i run into is this punk, hardcore, or postpunk type dilemmas

truly life for white people is hard