For the vinyl fans

NB! 27 streams of a song has the carbon footprint of buying the single.

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NB! Billy Eilish is going this route for her forthcoming album, guaranteed to sell a lot more copies. She is going the whole hog with recyclable wrapping etc.

I really like vinyl - it’s a great alternative to laminates, which I despise. Laminate is wholly unsuitable as a flooring solution, you might as well use old cardboard boxes.

Here’s the ‘track record’ of how we listened to music.
What I can’t understand is the revival of vinyl records. I have no gripe with the technical aspect of the LP record which brought high quality recorded music into our lives for the first time.
I think it’s a bit like the valve vs transistor amplifier argument. That is more convincing however: valve amplifier’s distortion when they are overdriven isn’t that annoying compared to transistor amplifiers.

The “vinyl is better” chorus started up years ago. Really with the advent of the CD. CDs offer far better dynamic range than vinyl but this was abused.

This article
https://georgegraham.com/compress.html
explains the abuse (from some Ps OV) of compression and the increased range of CDs.

I remember distinctly buying the CD version (I no longer had a turntable by this time) of an album by Them Crooked Vultures. I was genuinely interested in this CD, but I could not enjoy it. I remember popping it into the car player on the way to work. Half way there I’d had enough. My ears felt tired. What the heck was this?

Well it turns out to be a notable case of over compression and excessive loudness. The vinyl version of that album apparently sounds way better because the physical constraints of the medium mean that it can’t have been so heavily compressed in the interests of being loud (why ever that was so necessary). One consequence of this compression is that the natural variations in volume, the louds and the softs, the bits that give your ear some rest, had largely been ironed out of the CD release, and your ears literally did not get a break.

(an interesting reverse of this is the Led Zeppelin “remasters” that were released in the 90s. The band had never been happy with the sound of their albums because they always had to turn some things down when it came time to cut the masters for the vinyl pressing - notably John Bonham’s drums. Jimmy Page took advantage of the CD’s increased head room to have many of their recordings remastered to match what he had heard in the studio and in his head, and now you could hear Bonham in all his thundering glory. If you like that sort of thing.)

The chorus got amplified when the i-pod and then i-tunes were launched. Now you had people listening with rubbishy little ear buds, on phones or similar devices that didn’t have decent DACs. So, again, vinyl was better than that new rubbish, and young music fans also heard this message and started investing in turntables and buying high-quality pressings.

The reality is that if you get high-resolution MP3s (or whatever the analogous i-Tunes format is), put them through a decent DAC (as found on most modern smart phones and bluetooth receivers) and play them through the same equipment, they sound very good indeed,

Also you can do some funky customising things with Vinyl. Like see throughs in different colours. Some band in the USA released a limited edition of which the special feature was that the vinyl had been laced with their own urine. Go figure. But you can’t do that with mp3s.

What I do miss - and it’s all I miss - is the liner notes, Good liner notes are very enjoyable for me. Who played bass on that track and so on. I like that stuff. But it’s usually available on line.

I have bought one vinyl disc in the last 20 years. It was a compilation of new performances by various artists, some of whom I would call myself a fan of, some of whom I was interested in, and the people who put this together vowed that it would ONLY ever be available on vinyl. Though tellingly they also included a thumbdrive with everything in MP3. There was one track on there that I HAD to have.

Anyway, I bought it for myself for Christmas and promptly offloaded the unplayed vinyl at a local shop.

About 18 months later it popped up on i-Tunes.

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I agree with this article. The Compact Disk was a joint venture of Sony and Philips. It was the start of digital audio. They went to great trouble to make a standard that would last well into the future so all aspects of sound reproduction were comprehensively addressed.
Dynamic range was unbelievable getting rid of all mechanical or amplifier induced noise, hum etc.
But no sooner had they developed this standard clever techs were developing digital audio with reduced bandwidth (MP3) because ‘no one could tell the difference’. These were the days of digital players that had limited data storage so this was the incentive.
Sound (music) appreciation is subjective and people have made up their own minds of what sounds great but the cynic in me isn’t convinced by their arguments.
I don’t know if Donald Trump thinks that vinyl records will make the US great again but I wouldn’t be surprised if he does…

Some of it is really just down to your own ears as well. I mean, I probably told this story multiple times now, but as an amateur musician, I’m acutely sensitive to notes being off pitch. I also have a friend who is for all intents and purposes tone deaf. He can only hear a difference between two notes if they are more than a half tone apart (a half tone is between any white note on the piano and the black note next to it).

Even deaf people with some level of hearing can enjoy sufficiently loud doof-doof music.

With all that said though, the audiophiles that can purportedly hear the difference between cables made from two materials? Sorry… nobody is that good :slight_smile:

(Half-tone deaf: Imagine listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise and not being able to hear half tones… that entire opening line is just going E-E-E-E-E…)

Edit 2: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee must be torture to someone who is tone deaf.

I think the “Walkman” is what resulted in CD quality being poor. The masses wanted portable music. The CDs were to be enjoyed both on your proper audiophile equipment, as well as cheap headphones while on the go. This likely called for compression. They probably weren’t going to release two versions of the CD.

Many years ago Rick Wakeman started getting suspicious about the mixing and mastering that was going on using very high quality studio equipment. He became concerned that the end result was master tapes full of detail that only sound engineers working in studios could hear. So he had some research done to find out what the most common brand of speaker in the UK was, and told the mixing and mastering engineers they had to use those.

This still made no difference for people listening on the average home radio, but by the time the signal got to them it had been heavily processed anyway. But, the theory went, the album would have better detail for people with an average but not hugely expensive sound system.

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I can absolutely imagine this. Recently I invested money in a good set of noise cancelling headphones. And there absolutely is bits of music I did not hear before… and I’m just using good old Spotify which certainly isn’t using ultra-high quality recordings.

I had no idea people like that existed, guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise given the different types of colourblind people.

A life without the tension created by halftones must be hard!

Sound of Music’s song changing to: Do-Re-Mi-Mi(or will it be Fa-Fa)-So-La-Do-Do(or Ti-Ti, but that would seem unlikely as surely they will be able to hear the difference between a seventh interval and an full octave)?

So many questions… Is it only in progression that they can’t hear the difference, or does it include when the two notes are played concurrently (in a chord)?

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I do think there is a setting in Spotify for “Audiophile” grade music. Some songs are available in a higher bitrate (but then Bluetooth likely wouldn’t be a good source anyways).

We have an okay B&W speaker (the foundation Wedge), and my wife has B&W headphones (the more recreational type, noise-cancellation etc.) but both of those sound distinctly better, and contains more detail, than our Q990B setup for the TV.

However, most people would probably prefer the Q990B’s sound, because it amplifies the bass, while they might find the B&W stuff to sound “flat”. It is a little bit like eating sweets vs. fine dining. If you don’t have a sophisticated palate, you will probably enjoy the sweets much more.

One day I too will get a real good setup. When I have time to listen to music again. One day when I’m older.

After all this talk I decided to listen to some Wagner, or as a colleague of mine put it years ago: Music to invade Poland by.

You’ve had a tip off already in this thread. Get a good, recent smart phone (I have a Samsung S21, which is a few years old now). These have good DACs and the latest audio-over-bluetooth codecs. Then get a good pair of bluetooth headphones (I have Sonys). You can get the phone on contract, and the headphones will cost a few grand but that’s cheaper than buying a whole system. The sound quality is very good indeed.

If you have a decent sound system, you can now get good quality bluetooth receivers that will provide an analog signal to RCA inputs.

I have my Samsung and my Sonys. This goes to another point that was made here - storage space. Phones now have ridiculous amounts of storage. Mine has 128 gigabytes. I have 100s of albums, ripped to high quality MP3 on that phone, and I add more each month. And this is now a high quality but also small and mobile system I can take anywhere with me. Yesterday I had to go to Centurion and took the train. I had high quality music all the way, and because the headset is noise cancelling I didn’t even have to turn it up very loud. And I kept the “player” in my shirt pocket. Smaller by far than the old-fashioned walkman and no need to change the tape or CD.

PS. You can buy reconditioned S21s for about 8K. LG tried to push their phones as the audiophile’s choice (32 bit DACs when this was rare), but they never got market share and LG are now right out of the smart phone game. You can probably get those even cheaper.

I don’t do streaming. Well… sometimes if I want to get a preview of a specific song. I buy downloadable albums from iTunes or Bandcamp. The whole idea here is that you download once onto your phone or PC or whatever and then play from there. So they’re only going to use up the bandwidth once (and uncapped FTH is so cheap these days) and so they don’t cut back on quality. Music obtained in this way is entirely satisfactory sound quality wise.

If you have Spotify premium, you can cache on the phone, so the bandwidth is not used every time you listen to it. But I totally agree, with Spotify (for me) it isn’t so much about keeping the music forever, it is more about having access to everything easily, finding new stuff every now and then, for an amount of money that is significantly less than the pesky DSTV subscription, and far more enjoyable.

I always listened to the radio since it’s their business to play what you like and what you may like. Now I can’t find a radio station that does that… :roll_eyes:

Some years ago a friend of mine ended up at a banquet at which Jeremy Mansfield was present. They got talking. My friend says “I love you on your show, but I can’t stand the music.”

Jeremy asks “how old are you?.. oh… and how much do you earn?.. I see… and are you working full time?” And then he says “Sorry, but you fall outside our station’s target demographic. So you are not going to hear the music you like. That simple.”

Stations, and even specific shows on a station have a target audience, and they feed that target audience what their research shows it likes. And if you don’t fall into that target audience, well, sorry.

This may also explain why they have guests talking about various things that actually have little expertise (I’m thinking about one who has a big social media presence and who is called upon to talk about the Constitution and the economy when he clearly knows little about either). The point is not to have a debate with somebody who actually knows what they are talking about, the point is to keep that target demographic engaged.

What should come to the rescue here is public radio. They should have a broader brief. Look at the BBC in the UK. They don’t please all the people all the time, but they do please most of the people some of the time.

I used to listen to Radio 2000 and SAFM a lot. When I was in a private office and could have a radio and tune it to whatever I liked. Bruce Millar had a wonderfully eclectic show. Michelle Constant was pretty good too.

But things started happening at SABC (and in other media). Richard Haslop used to have a late night music show that pushed the boundaries of electicism, and had a newspaper column about records you probably haven’t heard but that you should. The show and the column disappeared about the same time.

A little later there was a firing at SABC. They had a late night jazz show. “Jazz”, that’s a nice broad label right? Well, one night the host decided to get a bit too jazz and played some Charlie Parker (famously talented sax player, one of the pioneers of bebop, immortalised in Clint Eastwood’s movie “Bird”). This was not part of what some high muck-a-muck thought that show should be about, and the DJ was fired, and the survivors told that if anybody else got any ideas about “well this is jazz” then the same fate awaits them too.

So all the shows are very narrow now, targeted at a specific audience. “Classic FM” is still on the dial, but now plays mostly boring “classic” pop music from the 70s and 80s (they also used to have the BEST traffic reports for Jo’burg, but no more).

The USA is blessed with the NPR network. They make quite a lot of stuff available on line, and if you can spot a target demographic that fits everything they put out then well done you.

Depends on what sort of content you’re looking for. If it’s music then you’re almost bound to find something that you like on youtube or doing it’s own streams (or maybe even broadcasting in the old fashioned way). Chris Prior (once the star DJ on S̶A̶F̶M̶ Radio 5) now does a podcast. So there’s lots of musical content around.

Talking type content… hmmm… That’s harder. See if you can stream the BBC. They also have wonderful shows like “The Unbelievable Truth” where the contestants lie in a most amusing way about whatever their assigned topic is but must slip in three truths, and the other panelists have to spot the truths. Very funny.

There are two stations I like to listen to. Magic 828 AM is good, but of course only broadcast on AM and the radio in the car that gets used most has no AM anymore. You can stream however.

The other station I like is Radio 10, from the Netherlands. Used to get them on TuneIn, but then some record label decided to threaten them over content not licensed outside the UK… and they put up regional blocks on everything and spoiled everyone’s fun. Radio 10 does have their own app, but it sucks for use in the car.