Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Ed Selley, Jul 29, 2016.
Physical media or streaming audio – what are the options that are best for you?
Read the article.
As an avid vinyl user, I'd totally agree with your assertion - "Viewed dispassionately, there is no sane reason to choose vinyl as your principle format in 2016"
I love collecting and listening to records and I also love the fact that the current revival in it's fortunes have led to a lot of older albums being reissued and a very high proportion of new albums coming out on the format.
Despite this, what I'd never do is recommend it to anyone else! The money, space issues and general hassle involved can far outweigh the benefits of the format, which themselves are often overstated.
When CD came along, sound engineers often totally wasted the advantages of this new, potentially superior format by turning everything up to 11 and making horrible, loud masterings.
This is where records can really come into their own - take a listen to the 2012 remaster of Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on vinyl and then put on the original record or CD and the difference will be stunning. This is an extreme example, but there are thousands of recordings that sound far superior on vinyl.
There are also millions of other recordings that sound exactly the same or worse on vinyl. As you correctly point out, if the mastering is the same, a £400 DAC will easily outperform a £400 vinyl setup, and that is before you take into account surface noise, static, vinyl wear etc.
My vinyl setup cost many times what my DAC did, and soundly beats it on those good masterings, but where the mastering is the same, the only real difference is that the vinyl sounds warmer. This is for the simple reason that my Denon cartridge is quite warm, not because of anything to do with the format. Vinyl can actually sound as cold and clinical as you want it to with the right equipment.
I think it is great that we still have the choice of all of these formats in 2016. Vinyl is great if you have the money and space to dedicate to it, but a Chord Mojo feeding a modest system is brilliant for the money, and enables you to use streaming services if you don't want to build a collection. It is amazing just how good 320mbps Spotify MP3s can sound played through the right system.
Great article and the pros and cons of each format are spot-on.
For convenience and casual listening/background music, I'll usually use iTunes streamed via airplay.
But... if I just want to listen, I'll pull out the vinyl. It makes listening to music an event.
Dig out an album or a pile of singles, power up the deck and preamp, carefully remove the disc from its sleeve, give it a dusting, then play.
A lot of my vinyl is far from perfect condition, I started collecting at the age of 12 (ish) and DJing at 15, and I've dragged my collection all over the country.
But every scratch and flaw has a history.
I don't think I'd have felt the same about a CD collection.
I don't actually listen to music at home anymore but I still buy CDs as my car has a very hefty Bose system in it ( including sub ) and I prefer the sound over ITunes and the like.
Every now and again I think about getting a deck to play my ( extensive ) vinyl collection but considering that it consists of late 70s early 80s punk, new wave and indie I don't believe I would be able to hear any uptick in sound quality .
The flaw in the debate over Digital vs Analog (vinyl) is that it is founded on a false assumption.
The question is not - What do I want? - but rather - What ELSE do I want? One is not locked into one format.
I've been a vinyl guy for decades with little interest in CD. But since, especially in my small town, vinyl stores are few and far between, I started shifting my interest toward CDs, partly because they are much easier to ship. But, shifting toward CDs does not mean abandoning vinyl, which I still very much enjoy. My vinyl collection is also substantially larger than my CD collection.
If my circumstances were slightly different, I would most certainly have Streaming as an option, both Local and Internet Streaming. Tremendously convenient.
One of the most amazing aspects of Internet Streaming is that if I hear about a new artist, I can always check them out on-line and see if I like them before you commit any money. Also, most Streaming Services have a auto-play aspect. You select some music, and the service will use that as a model to stream more music. Also another good way to be exposed to artist you might never have otherwise stumbled across.
So, my point is, you don't have to choose one and only one. If you are a vinyl guy like me, adding CD, and later Streaming are not mutually exclusive. If you are a more modern person with a large CD collection, for convenience it might be nice to convert all you CD to music files and stream them over your network. That gives everyone in the house independent access to the music. And perhaps, as a CD Guy, you might take a nostalgic interest in Vinyl. It is all good.
That is the beauty of modern technology, you are not locked into one format. You can have as many or as few at you desire and can afford. Each has something to offer the listener.
Good article, very well balanced.
Yeah I agree with BlueWizard that it doesn't have to be an either or scenario.
I went almost entirely digital - even to the point of repurchasing albums I already had on Vinyl (stored in the loft at that stage).
I got a Sony boombox type thing which although seemingly crass -
sounds superb with specifically remastered for digital content - Beatles via iTunes for example and I stream Secret Agent radio to it via the Soma FM app.
But a couple of years back I cleaned off my old Sony all-in-one hifi with turntable and started buying vinyl.
and got the LPs out of the loft and got back into that too. There's no better or worse for me - the two formats sound different and one can sound 'nicer' than the other due to a number of mostly arbitrary attibutes.
I'm currently playing more vinyl than digital right now but that's partly
as I've just gone completionist on Steely Dan vinyl and also it's too easy to turn up the volume remotely on the boombox and the new neighbours have young kids
[Edited to upload own picture seeing as logo on one I found]
I can't think of a better reason to be listening to vinyl. Acquiring the Dan's whole back catalogue was one of the first things I done when I first got into vinyl. The original pressings, especially from the 70's are a joy.
I picked up a copy this weekend. I don’t have much vinyl yet but this one is by far the quietest, on start up and between tracks no hissing or crackles at all! sounds fantastic to me! I’l have to dig out the original CD copy that i have for a comparison, hopefully that is the un remastered version. and i’ll be able to actually hear the difference a re master can have.
Funnily enough they have printed the label on one of the lps the wrong way round. plays perfect on both sides just can’t see the tracks without having to turn it around. Does this happen often? would it bother you? I don’t think I can be bothered to return it just for that
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