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Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery! (Read 9429 times)
Steve Deckert
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Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
10/08/10 at 04:33:10
 


Well, as usual it was another happy accident, but I discovered a proprietary process to get your favorite vinyl LP's onto disk, play back the recording on a good DAC and have it sound almost EXACTLY like your listening to a record!

I've been pondering it for years.  Recently after getting our ZDAC-1 and ZCD200 digital front ends to sound as good as possible on redbook CD's (16/44) I began exploring 24/96 downloads... like so many of us have.   While the selection of downloads is highly limited, it is growing monthly.  However, my favorite music is the classic rock I grew up with in the 60's and 70's when everything was analog.  In my lifetime I've yet to ever buy a Rock CD that sounded even close to right compared to the LP's.  And, when searching for 24/96 downloads you better be heavy into classical music because there is scarcely any rock to be found.

My craving for my favorite rock recordings in 24/96 pushed me to do the obvious - figure out a way to transfer my LP's to 24/96 recordings and have it sound like vinyl.  (yea right).

I've heard numerous attempts, both amateur and professional to transfer vinyl to CD and 100% of the end results sounded like CD's.

By understanding what makes an LP have it's incredible musicality - a result of years of listening and designing phono stages, I have accidently discovered an all tube system that captures the signature perfectly and was frankly shocked at the results.  Until this week I would have said it's fundamentally impossible to make a CD sound like an LP, good DAC or not.

Thank God I was wrong, because I have now been enjoying the impossible to not get lost in sound of LP's from my music server in 24/96.  First thing I did is get the hardest vinyl junkie I know who's ear is beyond reproach and sat him down for a listen.  I put a record on the turntable, cued it up, and pressed play on my ITOUCH remote to activate the DAC which was hooked up without of course telling him.  He sank back in the couch and smiled.

I informed him it was a nothing special cartridge so don't expect the world, but it's light years better than listening to CD's which he immediately agreed.  Then I took his beer away so he wouldn't hit me with it, and spilled the beans...  It worked, I had fooled him.

So I'm seriously considering test marketing this service at around $5.00 per song or $35 per album (one long track) or $45 per album (individual tracks) in 24/96.  I'd like to see if the completely DIFFERENT sound of these recordings has the same effect on everyone else as it does me.  Should I be right, I'll be leasing space somewhere to handle the traffic.

I'll try to figure out a way to put up some samples here soon.

The Zen Fest must have stimulated the audio gods because this is clearly another gift.  You can always tell the gifts because they always come as accidents.

Steve
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« Last Edit: 10/08/10 at 04:43:54 by Steve Deckert »  
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Juan Antonio
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #1 - 10/08/10 at 13:20:22
 
Hi Steve,

It seems you're into something really really big. Looking forward to listenning some samples. My opinion is that $5 per song/$45 per album is a bit excessive, taking into account that a normal record, "normally", can be found cheaper out there and at least you've got the physical disc plus artwork, cover, etc. Just my opinion.

I also guess you don't want to reveal us how the hell you get it. Grin  
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« Last Edit: 10/08/10 at 13:26:05 by Juan Antonio »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #2 - 10/08/10 at 14:54:25
 
We're comparing the price to other 24/96 digital downloads at 4.00 per song.  Which by the way are simply downloaded... zero work for the seller.

We have to receive your LP, unpack it, clean it, listen to it song by song while recording it, then burn the CD and send both back to you.    That's a lot for a mere dollar more per song.

At $35 per albumn (single long track) it is $5.00 cheaper than downloading a 24/96 CD, which is $40.00 on most high end sights.

Frankly this is just a starting point to test the market... and ourselves.  


Steve

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« Last Edit: 10/09/10 at 22:26:20 by Steve Deckert »  
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ZYGI
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #3 - 10/08/10 at 15:43:13
 
Steve,

SO....why do these accidents happen right after I leave and have to wait an extraordinary amount of time to hear what you are talking about. In this case a year until next Decfest.....The audio Gods aren't working in my favor here.

Another thought, and not sure if this would be legal or not...For a fee of course, could you burn a sample of an album you are talking about and send it out to some of those whom might want to give it a try?   Tongue
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #4 - 10/09/10 at 21:22:35
 
You won't have to wait any longer than it takes to download a couple samples...  

I'll be posting them here soon.

Steve Smiley
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #5 - 10/09/10 at 21:56:04
 
OK, I've come up with some samples, but first a bit more about them...

My goal was to capture the rich juicy sweet sound of classic rock from my youth before CD's ruined it.

The result is like time travel when you listen to it.   I want to hear the record with all it's imperfections and even a spot of dust or two.  I selected a table that was popular back then, a Thorens TD125 MKII so that I would get that subtle variation in speed (as well as the colorations from the table) because that is part of what we all grew up with.  The tone arm is reference grade and properly set up with the exception of having the VTA adjustment around 2% below grade to keep the stylus racked back.  This way the top end is smooth and anything but dry.

The cartridge is a MM Grado from about the middle of their line, again to capture the warmth we grew up with.  From this point forward I added it up today and I'm using $11,000 worth of all tube gear to get it into the AtoD converter with the correct dynamics and weight.

I've tested several formats and 24/96 is required for best results as well as several other things that I will list below:

The DAC is important.  The more oversampling the less these samples will sound like LP's.
Use the ZDAC-1 which is only 4 times oversampling and upsamples to 24/192.  It works extremely well.  Or use any Non-Oversampling DAC keeping in mind the better the DAC the better the results.

The AMP is important.  The more feedback, the less these samples will sound like the LP's.  Use tube amplifiers with little or no feedback.

If you're going to go to the trouble and expense to do this, it makes sense to get yourself set up for 24/96 playback.  The 16/44 (redbook CD) samples do not sound as good.


Since many who read this post will not have 24/96 playback ability, I am putting some samples on here in 16/44 in an AIFF format.  

I have two samples here.  The 1st is from the CD and the 2nd is from the LP using my process.  Compare the two back and forth and report back what you hear.



Miller CD sample http://www.decware.com/newsite/music/CDsample.aiff
Miller LP sample  http://www.decware.com/newsite/music/LPsample.aiff

-Steve





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« Last Edit: 10/10/10 at 18:22:51 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #6 - 10/09/10 at 22:12:35
 

Here are a few more short 16/44 samples from the LP.  No CD versions here for comparison, the first one above should have taken care of that.



http://www.decware.com/newsite/music/SteveMiller.aiff






http://www.decware.com/newsite/music/BozScaggs.aiff





And finally, when have you ever heard a Van Halen CD sound good?




http://www.decware.com/newsite/music/Van.aiff


It does now!


Enjoy,

Steve






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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #7 - 10/10/10 at 03:10:41
 
Quote:
Steve,

Saw your post and checked out the files, and was wondering if you've come up with some slick DSP sequence to pump up the sound like that?



Just a note about the proprietary process - as mentioned it is an all tube and transformer signal path between the cartridge and the ADC.  Once a bit for bit file is written to the hard drive which happens in real time as the record plays,  there is ZERO tampering with it.  Nowhere in the process is there any tone shaping, effects, Digital Signal Processing, compression, expansion or manipulation of any kind.  So what you're hearing is not a gimmick but the actual sound of an LP.

Steve
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« Last Edit: 10/10/10 at 03:12:49 by Steve Deckert »  
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Matchstikman
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #8 - 10/10/10 at 15:58:52
 
I have ears of tin and even I can hear the difference on my PC.  The CD version sounds flat and 2D and the LP version sound big and deep.  

So, Steve, the first thing we need to do is provide the LP we want converted, right?  And this album must be as pristine as possible to avoid things like crackle and the kind of sounds you get from wear and tear, correct?

I am looking at a stack of LPs that haven't been touched in years and I'm wondering if any of these make proper candidates.

I guess finding a good LP for a source will probably be the tough part.
 
Now, where do I find a copy of Sweet's Desolation Blvd that would be worthy of such a transfer...hmmmmmmm.
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Juan Antonio
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #9 - 10/10/10 at 16:37:56
 
Well, it's extremely easy to notice the difference. It's better all the way. Although the CD sample version sounds relatively good, the first thing you notice on the LP version is more air, deeper soundstage and richer and warmer sound, but with the limits of that recording and imperfections said and intended to be so. Because of that we know it's way further from a fair comparison to taste the full potential of your proprietary process. To make a reference example my guess is to compare actual reference recordings in their respective CD & vinyl version without any imperfections from the LP, top grade cartridge, turntable, etc to bring top quality sound.

At first I thought the vinyl would be provided by you and then sold to everyone.  Instead, sending the vinyl and then returning back is a cost that maybe it's not worth it. Specially outside USA. Of course that depends on one's point of view.

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« Last Edit: 10/10/10 at 17:15:15 by Juan Antonio »  
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #10 - 10/10/10 at 17:22:24
 
It would seem that the Boston links are favoring Steve Miller ....thought maybe they were reversed, but the Boston sound links are the same, so not able to compare that album.  Guess there are extra opportunities to hear the steve miller band samples though...lol  

The Boz Scaggs sample seemed to be the best of the bunch...but that is simply related to the source quality of the LP recording.  I am using the Beyerdynamics DT 770 headphones with my laptop as the source for playback, not my audio system.

There is an obvious definition increase to depth and detail by the LP conversion standard, not only in lower frequencies, but in the seperation of the recorded material. What stands out the most is the amount of spacial properties that normally are missing from the digital compromise...that is what became immediately apparent to me.  This is nothing beyond what I am used to....without direct sample comparison on the system as I know, compared to my vinyl rig, it is non conclusive as to that direct correlation of course. I would not expect this to be on the same level as listening direct from my teres turntable using high quality LP's, but that is not the point.

The objective is bringing the digital standard up a few notches toward the LP counterpart.  With that in mind, it IS absolutely conclusive from this limited test set parameters that indeed, the improvement is much closer than previous situations concerning digital recordings.  It is enough to warrant the trouble of making the transfers from my obvious perspective.

I would only at this time measure that increase of fidelity toward standard run of the mill discs though.  I have a large selection of remastered digital recordings that although still digital in form....would not show this drastic level of improvement.  By keeping the focus on what it is....as shown here, this characterization shows worthwhile promise.  Just remember, no matter what we do....we can't turn sand into diamonds no matter how much pixie dust we sprinkle onto it....your ears will convince you of the outcome....interesting to say the least.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #11 - 10/10/10 at 18:05:24
 
Quote:
It would seem that the Boston links are favoring Steve Miller ....thought maybe they were reversed, but the Boston sound links are the same, so not able to compare that album.  Guess there are extra opportunities to hear the steve miller band samples though...lol


When I wrote: "Frankly this is just a starting point to test the market... and ourselves.  "
it's becoming obvious that hardest part to get right is going to be ... ourselves.

Steve  :-[

OK, I fixed it.  I removed the Boston LP and renamed the two samples.

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« Last Edit: 10/10/10 at 18:46:04 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #12 - 10/10/10 at 18:45:08
 
Regarding the LP quality, obviously the better condition the better the results, however, none of the samples I posted came from pristine records, in fact far from it.  

If the music is breathing I could care less if there are a few occasional pops and dust.  However if there is a scratch that shows up in more than one revolution, I skip the song.  My point is that slightly warn isn't a deal breaker and adds somewhat to the novelty.

This process is time consuming.  I find that myself, I just take the songs from each album that I really like vs. archiving the entire album.  Reason... I don't listen to them on the record so I probably won't listen to them on the archive.  So far I have done about a dozen of my classic rock albums, just a couple songs from each.  It ends up being about an hour compilation of some of the best sounding music ever...  and that seems to justify the time spent.

If I take it to the next step (accepting albums from customers) I'll have instructions that will include:

Sometimes we will reject your submission because of the quality of the LP.  

If we have to do a deep clean on your LP there will be an additional fee of $5.00

We'll create a form where you can write the name of the LP and what tracks you want from side A and side B.  

There will be a checkbox releasing us of any liability regarding possible damage to the LP and an option for insuring the LP (and CD or DVD that accompanies it) during return shipping.

Steve



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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #13 - 10/11/10 at 07:08:27
 
Hi Steve,

Any chance you could post a few 24/96 samples for those of us that have 24/96 playback capability?

This sounds very promising!
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Vinyl vs. CD - Huge discovery!
Reply #14 - 10/11/10 at 15:35:39
 
Hi MoNelly,

Welcome to the forums!  I'll see what I can do about adding a 24/96 sample soon.

-Steve
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