• Digital Vinyl: An Introduction



    Editor's Note: This is the first article in CA's new "Digital Vinyl" series. The upcoming topics include dynamic range, loudness wars, high resolution digital, disadvantages of vinyl and myths, clocks and sample rates, mechanical reflections in vinyl and reconstruction of the digital signal in real time, among others. This series will focus on both digital and analog audio, in addition each article will include terrific audio samples from Igor's project. What follows is an introduction of the series' author. I think you'll find both Igor and the series refreshing. - CC

    First of all I want to thank Chris, that he decided to open a new regular column on the subject, which can cause a lot of controversy and debate. Vinyl, LP - these are concepts that cause many of us, fans of digital audio, to usually smile, and often contemptuously. According to my observations, many members of CA have prejudices against these categories, and these prejudices have the right to exist. I initially want to assure all of you that we are talking here not about vinyl, but only about digital sound, and even more about computer digital sound.

    Now a little about myself. My name is Igor and I am from Ukraine. My official introduction to CA (I am referring to registration as a member of the forum, as I have many years of browsing it without registration) began very interesting. It began with a ban. Not just a ban, a lifetime ban. Again I want to thank Chris that he, despite all the seeming obviousness of this incident, hasn't shown prejudice, and patiently handled this conflict. This is one of the many good traits of Chris, which all of us on the forum have respect and love.

    My acquaintance with music began when I was 5 years old and my parents enrolled me into music school to learn the violin. Then there was piano and percussion. Thus all my childhood and adolescence was integrally associated with music. After graduating from the conservatory I began my professional career in a pop-rock band. As I practiced music composition and arrangement, I spent much time in multiple studios and "just knew the kitchen." I am writing all of this just to make it clear that I am familiar with the music not only as a listener, but as a creator, as we say - "on both sides of the barricades."

    This digital vinyl project is the result of my disappointment and dissatisfaction with digital sound. This disappointment stretches back to the late 80s, when I was careless enough to switch from analog to a digital setup – the so called “revolution of the future." While having very modest entry level audio system at the time (turntable with built-in phono-preamp for about $300, integral tube-amplifier and speakers – all together for about $1,500) I had incredible satisfaction listening to good LP Records, each time getting a huge release of endorphins in my brain.

    Later, due to certain circumstances, I did not listen to music for a few years (professionally engaged in the band's rehearsals, concerts, studio recordings) and even sold my TT with the whole collection of my LPs.

    I returned to listening to the music already as a victim of digital progress with a costly CD Player.

    You know, we all have favorite albums that sound best on our systems, so we often listen to these albums. The first thing I did – I bought these albums in the best (Collector edition – special edition) quality available published on CDs. And then I tried listening to them for the first time – in the same room, with the same amplifier and speakers that I used to with my vinyl collection. We have some memory of sound, some expectations for what should happen. I was simply shocked, the impression was that someone sucked all the juice, all the life out of these records. I then went to all of my friends to try their setup with these records. The result was the same everywhere. I was very disappointed. Practicality and progress won, but the beauty and all the magic of the sound disappeared as well as emotion and pleasure of listening to it.

    It was the first disappointment, and sadly, not the last. For the last almost 30 years, I have repeatedly made attempts at digitizing Vinyl, trying to at least draw near the magic of Vinyl in the digital domain. I used various TT system (including very expensive ones), a variety of professional equipment and software, but the result was always inadequate.

    There was a clear boundary, a barrier that separated the two worlds – analog (LP) and digital, always in favor of the first one.

    A few years ago a completely new concept of digitizing Vinyl appeared, proposed by Dr. Rob Robinson (Channel D) who implemented it in his revolutionary software – Pure Vinyl. This concept and the latest technology in professional digital audio equipment (now available to me) brought vinyl digitization to a radically different level. Almost two years of endless recording, testing, comparing and selection of components (devices and cables) gave a stunning result which exceeded all of my expectations.


    Dr. Rob Robinson noted that Pure Vinyl is:

    "Linking analog LP playback with the precision of high-resolution digital music reproduction"

    and

    "Single point of integration for analog and digitally sourced music."



    I totally agree with him, and just want to note: In tandem with quality equipment Pure Vinyl is not just a bridge that connects the two worlds of audio – it’s a real highway!

    I purposefully did not touch on many important technical aspects connected with the project in this introductory article, in order not to discourage forum members from listening to demo samples, but we're sure to discuss them in the following articles on this project.

    As the first topic for discussion I see "Time domain of the sound signal or what is more important for listening to music - static or dynamic (in a sense of time) characteristics of the sound signal?". Because undistorted, "virgin" time domain is the main reason why extreme audiophiles love vinyl. This is also one of the reasons why we like MQA so much.

    And now I, along with Chris invite all of you to listen to short demos, and share your experience and observations!


    Thank you,
    Igor





    Sound Samples



    Asphalt Canyon Blues (Kenny Burrell and Grover Washington, Jr. - Togethering (1985, USA) Blue Note (BT 851061.88))
    Official DR Value: DR12, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 7.88dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (91MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (46MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (23MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (14MB)




    Peter Gunn Theme (The Blues Brothers (O.S.T. Recording) (1980, UK)) Atlantic (K 50715)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 7.72dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (90MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (45MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (22MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (13MB)




    Friday (J.J. Cale - 5 (1979, WG) Shelter Records ‎(200 389))
    Official DR Value: DR14, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 7.02dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (111MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (56MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (28MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (17MB)




    Pure Delight (Larry Carlton - Alone - But Never Alone (1986, USA)) MCA Records (MCA-5689)
    Official DR Value: DR14, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 5.91dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (97MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (48MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (24MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (15MB)




    The Nearness Of You (Arnett Cobb - The Wild Man From Texas (1976, FRA)) Black And Blue (33.099)
    Official DR Value: DR13, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 6.09dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (76MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (38MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (19MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (12MB)




    Marcella's Dream (The Crusaders - Images (1978, USA) Blue Thumb Records (BA-6030)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 4.16dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (105MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (53MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (26MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (16MB)





    Nearly (Ron Carter - Patrao (1981, USA)) Milestone Records (M-9099)
    Official DR Value: DR11, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 4.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (104MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (52MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (26MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (16MB)




    Blues For Pat (Pat Metheny (1984, USA)) ECM Records (1-25006)
    Official DR Value: DR12, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 3.37dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (82MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (41MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (20MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (13MB)




    Owner Of A Lonely Heart (Yes - 90125 (1983, WG) ATCO Records (790125-1)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (86MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (43MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (21MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (13MB)




    No Drugs (Birth Control - Knock! Knock!! Who's There (1973, WG) Metronome 2001 (200.132)
    Official DR Value: DR12, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 5.33dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (92MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (46MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (23MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (14MB)




    Alone Together (Chet Baker - Chet (1959, 1983 RE, USA) Riverside Records (RLP-1135)
    Official DR Value: DR13, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (92MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (46MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (23MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (14MB)




    Dreams (Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977, USA)) Warner Bros. Records (BSK 3010)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (112MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (56MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (28MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (17MB)




    Natural Science (Rush - Permanent Waves (1980, WG)) Mercury (9111 065)
    Official DR Value: DR13, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (58MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (29MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (14MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (8MB)




    I Was Only Joking (Rod Stewart - Greatest Hits (1979, WG)) Warner Bros. Records (WB 56 744)
    Official DR Value: DR14, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (111MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (55MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (28MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (17MB)




    Never Before (Deep Purple - Machine Head (1972, RE 1980, WG)) Purple Records (1C 062-93 261)
    Official DR Value: DR12, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (100MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (50MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (25MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (15MB)




    Autumn Leaves (Pat Boone - Stardust (1958, UK, mono)) London Records (HA-D.2127)
    Official DR Value: DR11, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (116MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (58MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (29MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (18MB)




    Hush-A-Bye (Jewish Folk Tune) (Kenny Drew Trio - The Lullaby (1982, JAP) Baystate (RJL-8029)
    Official DR Value: DR14, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (101MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (51MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (25MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (16MB)




    Midnight Sugar (Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio - Midnight Sugar (1974, JAP)) Three Blind Mice (TBM-23)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (103MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (52MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (26MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (16MB)





    Blue Marine (Masaru Imada - Blue Marine (1982, JAP)) Trio Records (PAP-25026)
    Official DR Value: DR15, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (92MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (46MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (23MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (14MB)





    Make Trip (Isao Suzuki, Masahiko Togashi, Hideo Ichikawa, Akira Shiomoto - Approach (1986, JAP)) Art Union (KEN-1005)
    Official DR Value: DR16, Gain Output Levels (Pure Vinyl) – 0.00dB, Edit “Click Repair” – yes

    192 kHz / 24 bit (105MB) | 96 kHz / 24 bit (52MB) | 48 kHz / 24 bit (26MB) | 44.1 kHz / 16 bit (16MB)




    Comments 56 Comments
    1. straycat's Avatar
      straycat -
      Finally we have something for vinyl people trying to digitize their collections in the best possible way. I'm into getting optimal conditions to digitize vinyl records so that the rip is the truest to the original and I think this is broad subject. Thank you for launching it. It woukd be interesting to hear how you approach the process what tools you use to get the final result.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
      Finally we have something for vinyl people trying to digitize their collections in the best possible way. I'm into getting optimal conditions to digitize vinyl records so that the rip is the truest to the original and I think this is broad subject. Thank you for launching it. It woukd be interesting to hear how you approach the process what tools you use to get the final result.
      Hi Straycat - I think Igor will be touching on all these subjects and more.

      In the mean time, here are two articles explaining vinyl to digital conversion.


      Windows users:

      Computer Audiophile - Guide to Converting Analog Vinyl To Digital Files Using Windows




      Mac users:

      Computer Audiophile - Guide to Converting Analog Vinyl to Digital Files Using Macintosh
    1. bigbob's Avatar
      bigbob -
      What about us Linux users? I use Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS, and Audacious 3.8.2 with the ALSA plug-in for bit-perfect digital reproduction.
    1. rogerdn's Avatar
      rogerdn -
      Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
      Finally we have something for vinyl people trying to digitize their collections in the best possible way. I'm into getting optimal conditions to digitize vinyl records so that the rip is the truest to the original and I think this is broad subject. Thank you for launching it. It woukd be interesting to hear how you approach the process what tools you use to get the final result.
      I would be too.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigbob View Post
      What about us Linux users? I use Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS, and Audacious 3.8.2 with the ALSA plug-in for bit-perfect digital reproduction.
      Are you interested in converting vinyl to digital?
    1. bigbob's Avatar
      bigbob -
      Actually Chris, I am a pure ComputerAudiophile on the Cheap. I lost my record collection years ago, when I loaned it to a friend to rip them, it was only a small peach crate half full, and I don't intend to re-buy vinyl or a proper transcription turntable (Linn Sondek LP-12) and cartridge.

      I downloaded the 24/192 samples which are AIFF, and although the iFi nano iDSD LE started to decode the first track, it just started making loud screeching noise. Must be a Mac thing. I love open source.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigbob View Post
      Actually Chris, I am a pure ComputerAudiophile on the Cheap. I lost my record collection years ago, when I loaned it to a friend to rip them, it was only a small peach crate half full, and I don't intend to re-buy vinyl or a proper transcription turntable (Linn Sondek LP-12) and cartridge.

      I downloaded the 24/192 samples which are AIFF, and although the iFi nano iDSD LE started to decode the first track, it just started making loud screeching noise. Must be a Mac thing. I love open source.
      Hmmm. I'm on a mac and haven't had issues. Let me check it out again.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Just downloaded a 192 track and it sounds great. No loud noises.
    1. blaven's Avatar
      blaven -
      Just listened to the sample of "dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. I compared the sample you provided to an SACD Japanese import rip (possibly SHM-SACD but I can't recall and can't find the disc right now)

      There seems to be, at least to me, a lot more detail in the SACD rip. Especially percussion at the start that I could barely hear on the vinyl rip. Just more air around everything on the SACD version--, more open feel, clearer images no, and much, much more detail. Not to use the overused term, but it just seems like a "Veil" is lifted going from the vinyl rip to the SACD rip.

      Asphalt canyon and Blues for Pat sounded awesome, but don't have anything to A-B with.

      Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart: I compared the vinyl rip to a 24/96 download from HD tracks. It was very difficult to tell the difference


      Still need to listen to the rest

      On the things that I went A-B on, to be really consistent, you would need to control for other variables-match levels, and also make sure it is the same mastering of the file/album. I tried my best to match output levels. But all these controls make the process also very sterile and scientific, and sometimes it's much more fun to just listen and give impressions.

      I should say that I have a real rooting interest in finding a digitized vinyl option for my rig as I have invested heavily in digital and really don't want to pay to get a vinyl rig as well, but I do believe there are advantages to vinyl. I would be thrilled to have a ripped vinyl option that worked well.
    1. blaven's Avatar
      blaven -
      Nearly Ron Carter also sounds amazing... wow
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      Well, why not record direct to another analog medium in tape? Similar dynamic range and it's fun to watch the reels spin round. Good digital means a heavy investment in a good A/D, although for the money the TASCAM DA-3000 is good value especially recording in DSD. Then there's the playback digital chain to consider... Tape appeals quite strongly in this case.
    1. straycat's Avatar
      straycat -
      Speaking of good A/D I wonder if you could tell me if it makes sense to upgrade from TC Twin Impact to something like Lynx HiLo or RME ADI 2 Pro. I shortlisted these two after reviewing the subject. But the question is would there be a difference soundwise after the upgrade or Twin Impact is good enough and difference if minimal if any? It is a good piece of equipment but I need to know if it makes a difference when it comes to digitising vinyl records. If so which one out of these two (HiLo or Add 2 Pro) would be the one to pick? I am talking about the sound quality here and not about the cost/economic sense of these things.
    1. agladstone's Avatar
      agladstone -
      I have downloaded and have listened to all of the tracks. They sound fantastic to me (*note - The 24/192 FLAC and DSD versions of Yes 90125 that I have to compare sounds similar, but the others on the playlist truly capture that Vinyl Warmth).
      I am assuming that these are all just the first minuet or so of each song and not a technical error I had when downloading??
    1. MikeJazz's Avatar
      MikeJazz -
      Togethering is great! Thanks for bring this to my attention. What a group!
      Comparisons are as expected: vinyl is meatier and more substantial on the bass. Cymbals attack lack a bit in definition...(vs CD on tidal).
    1. blaven's Avatar
      blaven -
      Serious question- is there a service or anyone out there willing to rip vinyl for a price? It would seem legal.

      Specifically- I would like to buy some Sigur Ros and Radiohead on vinyl, and then pay someone to rip that if they do it well. I have heard both on vinyl and they sound awesome compared to CD.

      It would seem that the quality of the ripping set up of vinyl has much more impact versus the mostly clerical task of ripping shiny discs.
    1. Pure Vinyl Club's Avatar
      Pure Vinyl Club -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigbob View Post
      I downloaded the 24/192 samples which are AIFF, and although the iFi nano iDSD LE started to decode the first track, it just started making loud screeching noise. Must be a Mac thing. I love open source.
      Hi bigbob. Sorry for my bad English - I use Google translation:-((
      I'm sorry that you could not listen to the demos, but it is not a problem of incompatibility of your DAC (iFi nano iDSD) format AIFF. It is not limited to Mac system, as I have no problem listening to the AIFF on the PC, on Foobar2000 or JRiver... or OPPO BDP-95, BDP-105D. In fact, it is the same open format (container), as WAV, just not as popular. Maybe I need to talk to Chris, that would change the format of the samples to the WAV to avoid inconvenience.
      How do you use a software player may have the opportunity to remedy this situation?
      Once again, sorry for the inconvenience.
    1. straycat's Avatar
      straycat -
      Listened to Yes sample. It seems that the speed is a bit slower than on my TT.
    1. Richard Dale's Avatar
      Richard Dale -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pure Vinyl Club View Post
      Hi bigbob. Sorry for my bad English - I use Google translation:-((
      I'm sorry that you could not listen to the demos, but it is not a problem of incompatibility of your DAC (iFi nano iDSD) format AIFF. It is not limited to Mac system, as I have no problem listening to the AIFF on the PC, on Foobar2000 or JRiver... or OPPO BDP-95, BDP-105D. In fact, it is the same open format (container), as WAV, just not as popular. Maybe I need to talk to Chris, that would change the format of the samples to the WAV to avoid inconvenience.
      How do you use a software player may have the opportunity to remedy this situation?
      Once again, sorry for the inconvenience.
      Maybe I'm missing something but I can't find anywhere in the article what vinyl replay equipment you are using to make the rips. What turntable, pickup arm, cartridge, phono pre-amp etc are you using?
    1. Pure Vinyl Club's Avatar
      Pure Vinyl Club -
      Quote Originally Posted by blaven View Post
      Just listened to the sample of "dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. I compared the sample you provided to an SACD Japanese import rip (possibly SHM-SACD but I can't recall and can't find the disc right now)

      There seems to be, at least to me, a lot more detail in the SACD rip. Especially percussion at the start that I could barely hear on the vinyl rip. Just more air around everything on the SACD version--, more open feel, clearer images no, and much, much more detail. Not to use the overused term, but it just seems like a "Veil" is lifted going from the vinyl rip to the SACD rip.

      Asphalt canyon and Blues for Pat sounded awesome, but don't have anything to A-B with.

      Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart: I compared the vinyl rip to a 24/96 download from HD tracks. It was very difficult to tell the difference


      Still need to listen to the rest

      On the things that I went A-B on, to be really consistent, you would need to control for other variables-match levels, and also make sure it is the same mastering of the file/album. I tried my best to match output levels. But all these controls make the process also very sterile and scientific, and sometimes it's much more fun to just listen and give impressions.

      I should say that I have a real rooting interest in finding a digitized vinyl option for my rig as I have invested heavily in digital and really don't want to pay to get a vinyl rig as well, but I do believe there are advantages to vinyl. I would be thrilled to have a ripped vinyl option that worked well.
      In the last paragraph of your post you have expressed the very essence of our project. Digital professional and audiophile equipment is now at such a high level that it is much better to invest in a good digital signal system and make every effort to achieve the best results when digitizing vinyl. With all due respect and love for vinyl, I have no desire to communicate again with all this impractical, even more problematic process for everyday listening. Not to mention even the fact that it is very expensive "pleasure".

      P.S. "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. This is not a very good sample for the demo, especially for comparison. I was a kind of hurry with it just because I really like Fleetwood Mac. Just keep in mind that the same album in different editions may sound different as night and day. Even two identical LPs, out of the same factory press can be very different in terms of sound. And this is the reason why the same album may cost from 1$ up to several thousands $. So I write the same album over and over again, even if it was already in my collection, searching for the best available quality for me.
    1. Pure Vinyl Club's Avatar
      Pure Vinyl Club -
      Quote Originally Posted by One and a half View Post
      Well, why not record direct to another analog medium in tape? Similar dynamic range and it's fun to watch the reels spin round. Good digital means a heavy investment in a good A/D, although for the money the TASCAM DA-3000 is good value especially recording in DSD. Then there's the playback digital chain to consider... Tape appeals quite strongly in this case.
      And we do. The second half of the project is a record on the best tape (on professional Studer). Many members Pure Vinyl Club prefer it this way, but this is not a topic of discussion here on the CA. I understand some prejudice against the vinyl ripper, I also have a little:-)) Soon I will give more technical information about the process and equipment, which are involved in the project and I hope that you will change your attitude to this. Please take the time to listen to it a few demos, maybe you will like it.
      P.S. TASCAM DA-3000. I do not think that is sufficient to quality digitizing vinyl. The equipment that we use cost over $ 50K, and this amount is growing all the time. Only MC cartridge $ 15K.