Vinyl or Digital?

I’m not writing this to put down CD’s/Mp3’s or Vinyl…just wanted to know your opinion. There is room for both in today’s world. When we are on the go so much…the answer is easy…digital. When I take a walk every day I have my iPhone with my music and audiobooks. When I’m at home…I’m starting to more and more listen to vinyl.

I had a huge collection of albums and singles when I was younger. Unfortunately, many were lost during my early twenties moves from apartment to apartment. In the late nineties, I started to work in the IT field, so I drifted to CD/ digital for convenience if anything.

Slowly in the 2000s, I started to pull out the albums I still had and bought a turntable. Yes, I heard some scratches but some were immaculate. I noticed a difference right away and I then realized what warmth I had been missing with CD’s/mp3’s. I’ve heard some people say Digital serves the music. Vinyl serves the romantics…I don’t really agree with that. Yes, digital is clear…so clear you can hear things that weren’t meant to be heard…some sounds (tambourine, handclaps etc…) were meant to be lower in the mix to be felt more than heard.

One song that I noticed a lot of difference was “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. The vinyl single when played, jumps out at you. When I heard it on CD it was flat and sterile. It’s hard to describe it in words but there was a sharpness and a rawness that was missing on the CD.

Earlier CD’s were heavily compressed…they have come a long way but it’s still a difference. The below video is quite long but he does mention that the record companies are making CDs more about high-end quality now than “loudness.”

I know MP3’s are not the ideal format for quality. Flac is one of the best formats I have found.

I am not an Audiophile nor do I play one on TV…I can listen to either format but I do know what vinyl lovers are talking about…what about you?

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

38 thoughts on “Vinyl or Digital?”

  1. Bet this post of yours will spur on some passionate replies! Like you, I started with vinyl (obviously, I began buying music in the 70s), then largely moved on to CDs by the mid to late-’80s. Also like you, alas, I lost almost all of my collection of both in 2009– story for another day, so since what I’ve replaced has been almost exclusively CD. Never got much into pre-recorded cassettes, found the sound quality and durability to be terrible.
    Now, under the proper circumstances, I’d say CDs are best. I may have said once before one of the things tthat got me to buy a CD player early on in the technology was having a friend play Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits on CD, just after I heard it on LP. The difference was staggering, and that’s not even a very great album to use for a test, since it’s rather acoustic, no great amount of instrumentation for most part.
    But, like you suggest, a good cD needs good engineers. I’ve also had some which are horrible quality (or ones released first on vinyl) and new ones compressed far too much. Even the same album can vary from pressing to pressing or remaster to remaster. Long and short of it (I know, too late for “short”) I think CD CAN deliver better quality, better range… but needs the right hands in the studio mixing it and mastering it,or it can be rather poor.

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    1. The portability of digital makes it attractive. Vinyl has a sound that I cannot put my finger on.
      It does depend on the mix like you said. In the 80s Beatle CDs there were tambourines and other things sticking out like a sore thumb that you should not be hearing.

      Also…recording in analog or digital makes a difference. In the older days those songs were made, mixed, and sequenced for albums.

      I did buy used cassette tapes in the 80s…again for the car. I am enjoying listening to vinyl again…not to mention the art work and everything that comes with it.

      Both have their ups and downs and it boils down to a personal preference. The best sound I’ve heard in digital is Building A Mystery but Sarah M.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. definitely the artwork possible with the 12″ format allowed for great works of art that CDs never matched… and mp3s don’t even bother to try to

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  2. I agree with you –digital when vinyl is not possible or practical, but keep the vinyl going. I’ve never been without a turntable. I currently have one in the living room and one in the bedroom. Not only the LPs and 45s I’ve collected through my life, but I also still have several 78s from my parents, that I have fond childhood memories of. The turntable in my bedroom can play those.

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    1. Many of my memories growing up was listening to all of those songs on vinyl and studying the artwork. I have a long commute and I walk everyday so I do listen to digital then but I’m really loving the albums I have now.

      I had a few 78s that I ended up with when I was a kid. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. So, I experienced digital music like this: My husband is an audiophile. He had an amazing stereo when I met him and because we had a shared interest in music, his stereo became even more amazing. He had a turntable and a high-grade stylus.

    Then CD’s came out and the sound was fantastic, unlike anything we’d ever heard before. At the same time there was a huge studio revelation going on in music. The sound was pumped up!

    Listen to The Cars Heartbeat City in CD. People say “it’s not that great of an album.” Not true. It’s a great album meant to be heard in CD format.

    Now we’re back to a warmer sound preference–which is great, by the way. It always has been. It’s just different. The pumped up sound will come back around again too, Lord willing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m enjoying the vinyl right now but it also depends on what I’m listening to. Like everything else…with CDs it also depends on how it’s mix and mastered. Because of our lives now…and the fact that I cannot hang out in my room all day…digital music is a must because it’s portable.

      That was the “loudness” wars right? Now you have me wanting to hear some Cars.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it was. Up until, I’d say about ’85, it was standard studio practice to be conservative about “head room”. Everybody was concerned about distortion. Then they “discovered” that had a lot of room that wasn’t being used and they went crazy with it. But some producers used head room really well. Mutt Lang used it well. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis used it really well. Rupert Hine too. At the same time, hip hop and R&B were exploding, music that emphasized production as lead instrument rather than an accompaniment.

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      2. I think Hip hop and R&B worked well with the CD format. The older stuff not as well to me. You heard things that weren’t meant to be heard. You could hear the squeak of Ringo’s foot pedal…yet they also compressed it so much…some of the stuff was flat. The new stuff though like you said thrived off of production so it went well with it. It was made for CD and not vinyl.

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      3. Yes. My preference, if you get down to it, is very stripped down. Very raw, early rock. Rockabilly. Early 50s R&B. You don’t want to listen to Big Mama Thornton on CD. It’s too sterile.That is my passion in rock. But from there it goes to New Wave. I love New Wave. New Wave is built for the CD.

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      4. I think that is the key…what you are listening to. I used “I Want To Hold Your Hand”…how vibrant it is on a single compared to a flat sounding CD.
        Bailey wants the White Album for Christmas on Vinyl…I’m looking forward to that experience…again.
        Anything with a lot of synths does fit CD… I’m also a fan of Sarah Mclachlan…CD fits her really well also. It does depend on the type of music.

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  4. Given the choice vinyl without question but I have to be at home to listen to my records. A lot of my music listening occurs when I am walking or in the car etc…

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    1. That is me also. It’s all about where I’m at. Bailey wanted the vinyl White Album super edition for Christmas. I’m looking forward to hearing that.

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  5. It’s been years since I listened to anything on vinyl, so I don’t have the ability to listen to them side by side and be able to make a comparison. And, like you, I’m hardly what you’d call an audiophile. My digital copy of “A Hard Day’s Night” sounds to me like how I remember it sounding in 1964, when it was brand new, but the audio equipment I used to listen to it on (which was from the ’50’s) wasn’t all that good. So it’s six of one, a half dozen of the other to me. The digital copies of the music are far more convenient and portable, which is more important to me at this stage of the game.

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    1. It comes down to personal choice. Personally I like vinyl at home but when I’m commuting or on my daily walk I use digital…so I combine both.

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  6. Vinyl will always be home stuff with proper equipment. Having grown up with vinyl, it is the standard bearer.

    I had a cassette collection but, the tapes & tape players blurred the analog sound. It was an attempt to make the music portable as albums & 45s wouldn’t work in vehicles.

    CDs are clear, for sure. You get pristine music…if created that way. Some CDs have vinyl material “digitally remastered” which is soulless to me. Digital music still doesn’t have analog’s texture and depth. It never will.

    MP3s are the millennial version of cassettes. Most are tinny and you will never get the throaty base but, they are OK for shoving ear buds in your head. I blame them for destroying the album-oriented story telling. Folks just download one song, here & there without benefit of a musician’s body of work for an album. You totally miss the craftsman’s mood.

    I miss the days of buying an analog album, bringing it home, putting it on the turntable of a well built stereo cabinet and listening to everything, one right after the other and, then, flipping it over for the rest. The feel of the music, the heart of artists and the resonance of the speakers inside the wood…

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    1. Yea I used cassettes because of my car… and I bought them used. At home I always listened to albums.

      Yep digital ruined the album. People only get the hits which a lot of times wasn’t the best song.

      I use mp3s just to walk to or commute with.

      CDs can be very flat but it does depend on the mastering or mix… vinyl is full to me. The artwork I miss greatly. I would spend hours looking it over while listening.

      I’m looking forward to Baileys present of The White album on vinyl.

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  7. something touched on a little at points above is how you listen– these days I think most people listen on inferior devices (myself included most of time) so there’s not so much difference . Yes, I’ve heard phones that sound GOOD but not like an old ’70s Pioneer or Hitachi stereo with great speakers. Honestly, I myself probably had a better quality stereo at home when I was 12 years old than I do now.

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    1. ” I myself probably had a better quality stereo at home when I was 12 years old than I do now.”…. That is me in a lot of ways…I’m working on improving mine at home.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dave I was going to say that the quality of the sound depends on so many factors, from the production to the format to the equipment. I prefer vinyl but I have a crappy turntable and speakers right now. I’ve got a good turntable in the closet, minus my old 100watt speakers and it must need a new needle. Most of my music is in CD format and that is acceptable but not ideal.

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  8. I think most music lovers would prefer their favourite songs on vinyl if given the chance. As well as the warmth you mention getting a record was a celebration that connected you to the artist in a way that just doesn’t happen now. I’ve bought hi-res albums (192) before but didn’t see the value (perhaps my equipment wasn’t good enough). The Apple lossless format is decent and I’m happy enough for now. The convenience is hard to argue with. The only format that was unlistenable for me was the early mp3s,..around 2000. They’ve improved a lot since then

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    1. Thanks for your opinion. It was not what I expected. I really thought you would be in more favor of digital. We have never discussed this before and only talked about modern audio so you pleasantly surprised me. I’m not saying I hate digital… I do listen to .flac files and enjoy them also. Like you…being portable in this day and age is a must and it has to be digital on the go….there is something about a quality album that has a warmth that I like.

      Thanks for coming back here Jeremy.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It all depends on how it was mastered. If it’s mastered right CD’s sound great. The biggest problem these days is the mixes. Everything is mixed at peak volume and the music has no depth no dynamic range.

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    1. That is what you have to pick from…I was astonished with this post. I thought I would have a lot of digital only people…but more people like vinyl like I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Whatever format you choose is your choice. I choose CDs I started out with vinyl but there are more songs on CDs and CDs are less expensive.
    I remember seeing the prices of CDs inthe mid 80s and swore Id never convert but then I got a stereo with a CD player and when I could afford a CD I bought one.
    then came 2004 and my dad and I moved. I had to downsize. I sold off and gave away many good records and replace them with CDs. around 2014 I noticed new records were more expensive then CDs! Sadly many old records are out of print but I have replaced many albums with CDs. The glory of both formats is that you can read liner notes. You can’t do that with a download can you?

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    1. I agree that either format is better than downloads. I started with albums and then moved to CD’s and now…my 19 year old son is heavily into vinyl. I’m starting to go back to where I was before. We go to the second hand record stores now and look for different artists.
      The new records…yea they are stupid expensive.

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