music, opinion and technology

cream city

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I’m playing Big Vili’s Cream City mix to and from work this week – an 80 minute salute to “crate diggers” everywhere, those who live for the thrill of finding that rare chunk of cool vinyl in the record store basement. I didn’t know the thing was that long when I downloaded it, because it’s a lower quality MP3 encoding, but still very listenable on headphones.

A CD vs Vinyl debate is simmering on at the moment, and I’m making the possible mistake of getting involved, or at least trying coax people out of their polarised opinions. I like the idea of vinyl, but both CDs and Vinyl have different things that can go wrong during their creation. I would _love_ to hear a recording made on a top-class analogue multitrack, mixed to 2-track at 30ips, mastered through an Avalon direct to virgin* vinyl, played back on a top class turntable. But that’s not practical, on my budget.

I have some CDs I can barely listen to, like Rush’s “Vapor Trails”, despite the excellent music on them – I think that album’s sonic shortcomings have been covered here before. Then there are excellent ones, and there are positive technical developments that make a real difference. Do I have to start on about Super Bit Mapping and other dithering algorithms, brickwall filters, etc?

All I’m trying to say is: the Vinyl vs CD debate is part of a wider analogue vs. digital debate which has been done to death already. Personally, I don’t think ordinary CDs are representative of what digital recording is capable of if done carefully. I’d rather have my music on a medium that precisely replcates what it sounded like in the studio; I can always feed it though a tube preamp if I want to warm it up, but once any fidelity is lost, you can’t get it back again, even if the sound becomes warmer in the process.

* trivia: this is where Virgin Records got their name, according to Richard Branson: they tried to make their records high quality by using only new vinyl, not recycled.


Written by brian t

October 28, 2004 at 11:08 pm

Posted in music, technology

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