who is interested into a discussion about audio qualities which are obtainable from different storage principles. First the analog vinyl disk, the digital disk or its equivalent of streamed data (on red book standard), the various compression algorithms versus pure naturally performed music, shows clearly the individual limitations and merits of each technology.
As I did describe at the end of my last article, I came once to a point with my own set up where I clearly could evaluate the analogue recordings as main factor of limitation. I began to understand that my record collection of vintage jazz first released vinyl was not able to give me a minimal stage of uniformed performance standard, even when some sort of cutback will be accepted as restriction. Comparing vintage vinyl with modern (past 2000) digitally produced recordings leads to a clear conclusion, – vinyl is clearly characterized with loads of "tasty extras". I would like to find out what makes the analog response so difficult to be on par with current digital produced and stored music.
With vinyl the soundstage widely differs in terms of general dynamics, tonality, space and phasing accuracy, even when the record formally recollects the international production standards of RIAA reglementation. To my personal believe every little part and component in the recording chain, as well within the mastering process and finally in the individual play back system, – each components adds a little individual fingerprint into the analog signal. At the end the finally archived sound differs widely in several parameters like phasing, dynamics, resolution, resonances and as well with its generally captured tonality.
I did try to describe in the last article that I wanted to correct the audible results with variable equalizing parameters in playback, similar to the well known curves from different manufacturers in the age of non standardized mono recordings. I did try as well to optimize the incorporated equalizing filter by different technical filter principles, closer tolerances and as well with different made parts to match different audible effects. Beside conventional RC-fiters as active or passive designs, I did try inductive variants with coils in order to get rid of the hardly beloved limiting capacitors. I did try almost any type of capacitor, like silver mica, polypro, pio, styrene, etc. As like always the oil paper caps did sound best with the poorest measured performances and by far wides tolerances, which need sensitive matching accordingly. To make a short cut to the end of my evaluations, all these different components and designs just add another finger print to the almost rich collection of sound textures within analog recordings.
I would go as far to state, that this "sort of richness" is the matter of fact for the believe that analog reproduced audio is sounding better (richer) than digital reproduced recordings.
In our audio systems the effects of individual components caries to add on each some informations to the final signal. Let us just look to the very front end, the cartridge. Everybody of us has made the experience that every cartridge will sound different in the same record player-arm combination. Even if the cartridge and the arm are perfectly suited to each other with a highly adjusted compliance and weight combination, every "arm itself will sound different" and as well every internal wirement will do so. Use three different step up transformers, you will have three different sound images and it will cary on with every following component in the chain with tremendous effects. Analog sound is a summery of some "pure signal" and loads of different fingerprints left from every component involved to the signal till speakers transduce it into individual aural waves.
Yes, analog sound is rich, may be overloaded rich, sometimes perfectly shaped, but mostly with a individual clear audible sound shape, but never neutral or uncolored. To bring it to a point, from my collection of 1000 first releases not even two records do sound perfectly identical (or some sort of neutral) when compared closely.
Yes, analog reproduced audio material is rich, richer than digital recorded, mixed and mastered program material. But does this mean that richer is automatically any better?
To my opinion it is always a good help to listen to naturally performed music. Performed without any electrical amplification and sound transducing units, just plain acoustical instrumentation. If you do so, you will realize how modest and unaffected such a performance happens and how easy natural performed music is at the ear. The most audio and hifi systems add a lot more attention gathering effects to the signal, mostly as a sign of its inherent limitations. So electrically generated loudness keeps up to compensate these limiting issues and typically show up at the same time with overexposed hardening effects and correlative phase shiftings.
In 2007 I did still believe into the superiority of analogue processed music. I did start to make recordings from my vintage vinyl. My attempts were carried from the believe that the original first released vinyl recordings do carry so much more information (richness!) in their analogue groove and in addition that a digital recording made with the support of a almost perfect record player like the Platine Verdier with 12'' tonearm and SPU cartridge, will outperform any commercial transcripted cd release of the same original recording. And indeed it came out to proceed recordings from vinyl which have captured "the richer and more attentive sound" known from the LP, now for me available as lossless format or burnt down to CD-R. "What a step" to form a own reality into the trueness of believing! Audio as religion...
Read on soon, Volker
Reference to the shown miniature speakers was a japanese web page, I was unable to decipher a name of its author, I am sorry for that. I hope the shared attention will be welcome.
Jan Vermeer, The girl with the pearl ear ring, 1665
Van Gogh, Twelve sunflowers in a vase, 1888
Van Gogh, Autoportrait with fur hat and bandaged ear, 1889