ATTENTION AUDIOPHILES! That loud enough for ya?

In terms of pure sound reproduction quality, which is better: CDs or vinyl?

A loaded question if I ever saw one.

Once upon a time, the purists would say that vinyl was better, because it was analogue technology, thus there were no “losses” from the digital to analogue conversion process. However, this argument is now spurious because almost all recordings released to the market place are now mastered digitally, if not recorded in the digital domain as well.

As far as pure sound reproduction goes, when CD’s were first released to consumers, a huge debate arose from audiophiles known in the trade as “golden-ears” (people who claim to hear audio phenomena that instruments cannot measure). These people roundly condemned CD’s as harsh, full of quantisation errors (which arise from the D/A conversion process), and that CD’s did not equal the reproduction quality that was available from vinyl LP’s. The fact that they were comparing $500 CD players with $5000 turntables was carefully omitted from their argument.

Real world users know that CD’s ushered in true hi-fi reproduction capability in very ordinary equipment, in a format that did not require friction between the recording medium and the reproduction means (eg stylus or tape head). This means that CD’s can be played repeatedly without cumulative damge occurring to the medium.

In a nutshell, CD’s are the cheapest way we know to achieve affordable hi-fi for the average person.

And now, with DVD-audio and “Super-Audio CD” players ( ) hitting the market, we’re about to go throught the whole damn thing again.

Higher sample rates and more bits ber sample mean better sound, apparnetly. But really, how good is good? In the car (where I listen to most of my music) or at work (with the volume lowish so as not to irritate the others in my area), 128kbps MP3 is plenty good.

Aiwa (?) has a new car stereo coming out soon that plays standard CD’s as well as CD-ROMS full of MP3’s. I think I’ll get one. 10 hours of music on one platter.

DVous Means: I wonder if any of those “Golden Ears” people were ever subjected to a double-blind test of their ability to distinguish between a good CD player and a good turntable.

Timothy Campbell: I doubt it! These are the sort of people who would have you believe that they need esoteric cables to interconnect all their components, AND to provide power from the wall socket. They believe that ordinary power cales are simply not good enough and will negatively influence the final output. Somehow they forget that the rest of their house, their street, their town, in fact all the way back to the Electricity Company is wired with standard cable, with all of the impurities that are supposed to be taboo for true sound reproduction.

Need I go on?

I don’t claim to know anything about audio equipment, but my father is an audio nut who is adamant that tube systems are infinitely superior to digital ones. All I can say is, I can barely distinguish between my sony cd boombox and his tube stereo system with triode amp and cornwall speakers. This really is tangent to the question, because while my dad loves his old vinyl collection, and devotes himself to analog equipment, he bought himself a good cd player rather than replace an old turntable. He may say that digital is cold and mechanical, but he still thinks it’s good enough to play on his treasures sound system.