Why Vinyl Sounds Better Than CD

By , January 9, 2010 6:00 am

Some people will never even have the joy of listening to a vinyl record in their life and will only ever know the digital equivalents. What is the difference between vinyl, CD, DVD and mp3 recordings anyway?
It basically comes down the analog versus digital signals. Analog, be definition, is a continuous variable. This means that changes in frequency are produced by a smooth wave, accurately sounding out every tiny change. This is shown by the top picture in the graph below.

analog vs digital

In order to encode a similar signal onto digital media such as a CD or DVD, there needs to be an analog to digital conversion. It does not matter how good the conversion is, there is ALWAYS a loss that occurs during this process. Even though technology gets better and better and these losses are continually reduced, it is effectively impossible (at least in the current day and age), to reproduce an analog signal exactly with digital data. The second graph in the graph above illustrates a typical digital signal. Improved technology effective allows the horizontal gaps in the signal to become shorter, as each change means more data which needs to be processed. At faster speeds and higher storage levels, these horizontal gaps are reduced. However, the signal will still not be quite the same.

Given that the human ear works at a higher resolution then our current technology, a trained ear can easily hear the difference between an analog and even a high resolution digital signal. This is exactly the reason why so many people prefer vinyl records to their digital equivalents. And we haven’t even got to the point of software level encoding. MP3’s and the like incur yet another layer of losses which further reduces the quality in audio. Listen to a vinyl record after an equivalent mp3 and if you can’t tell the difference, there might be something wrong with you! Just kidding, but there is a very clear difference. There are certain audio formats such as FLAC, which are higher resolution digital encodings, but this is when compared with a CD track. In other words, it is still digital, and still does not replicate the sound in the same way as a live performance or a vinyl record.

Now you know why a vinyl record is that much better then any digital equivalent from a scientific front. We didn’t even mention their inherited greatness just for being a vintage item, but you already knew that. We hope we help you to find some awesome vinyl records for sale to add to your collection.

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One Response to “Why Vinyl Sounds Better Than CD”

  1. Joe says:

    I have heard CDs, LPs and SACD’s. If you have a good setup, like $4-5k and have chosen quality parts, then it is possible to hear differences. LPs don’t have the dynamic range of cds, but the music has a warmer, more natural tone. It sounds like real instruments. There is something about the expressiveness of sound that gets lost in CDs. Now, taking a good SACD and a signal processor (Basically a computer), the sound is much closer to LPs AND has superior dynamic range, very loud to very soft. So my belief is digital can sound almost like LPs but not without higher quality components, better recording, and a larger sampling size. There is no reason why Bru-ray disks cannot be made with a high sampling rate, and recording much of the higher frequencies that we don’t hear 20k but do somehow process nonetheless. The goal should be to capture as much information as possible, not just what we predict we hear via software. Eventually, even portable players won’t be worried about storage space.

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