RE: Forward into the 19th Century

Subject: RE: Forward into the 19th Century
From: Eldad Tsabary (
Date: Thu Oct 21 2004 - 16:57:26 EDT

Jason smalridge wrote:

"I think that technology doesn't have to change to be better. Some past

technologies were actually better then newer "advancements". Correct
me if I am wrong but doesn't the vinyl records produce better sound
quality then electric tapes and CD (when I say quality I mean frequency

Well. Not really - they do not produce better frequency response - on
the contrary, vinyl has a thinner frequency response and a much less
flat (accurate) one - meaning it does not respond equally to all
frequencies - unlike digital processing. Not only vinyl has a fairly
lousy frequency response it also has a much lousier dynamic range.

Even more disturbing, is the fact that vinyl's frequency response and
dynamic range which are already lousy to begin with deteriorate the
further we move into the inside of the vinyl as a result of the shorter
spins and the angle of the needle - in the past there were experiments
with vinyl records manufactured to begin on the inside part and play
outwards to get better quality towards the end of the side - especially
designed for symphonic music which normally develops on a longer scale
then pop music songs.

In fact, CDs were invented with classical music in mind because of vinyl
being such a lousy format for it - normally too short to include an
entire symphony on one record and even then it is on two sides (not
continuous). Also, the dynamic range of the symphony orchestra is huge
- probably up to approx 110dB, while the normal LP could handle about

With digital recording the dynamic range is solely limited by the number
of bits per word (16 bits CD allows about 98dB - a serious improvement
from vinyl) and frequency response is solely dependent on sampling rate
- roughly half of the sampling rate minus compensations for aliasing
filters slope etc...) - audio CDs are pretty good up to 20,000Hz

However, back to the original subject....

Does this mean quality? Frequency response and dynamic range? They are
part of it for sure but they do not define quality. Quality is a much
bigger concept and has to do with what we want as well. Do we want this
clinical accuracy of the digital sound? Apparently not.
So those of us who prefer vinyl on cds (or at least sometimes)... What
is it we want? What do we find as having better quality in them?
Apparently - to your question Jason, vinyl does not have better
specifications than cds - but it is still more desirable for other

What would they be? I'd love to hear some ideas....

 A few that I can think of:

1) It has a lousy sound quality and we love it: the fact that its
frequency response is not flat - it emphasizes certain frequencies which
gives its sound an identifiable character which we grew to love.
2) Again, it has a lousy quality and we love it: its limited dynamic
range inevitably requires compression which limits an accurate
reproduction of the music but perhaps gives it more punch and maybe some
clipping distortion which we also got used to and learned to identify as
a certain character.
3) It's mechanics is much more understandable to us - it is very direct:
we hold the needle in our own hand and lay it carefully on the LP and
sound begins to play.

In short - it has character so we can love it. Digital media does not
have an identifiable character - except for being accurate and mechanic
- it is easy to appreciate it but not necessarily to love it.


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Jason Smalridge
Sent: October 21, 2004 11:49 AM
Subject: Re: Forward into the 19th Century

I agree.
I look around my room here and see a midi keyboard that plugs into my
computer so that I can have access to "analog" synths. A digital
camera that works with the same principles as my old analog one(except
for an LCD screen of course). A guitar amp that is a reissue of a tube
amp (When I bought it, they were emphasizing the fact that it actually
had tubes in it. It was actually more expensive then the only
transistor amps).

I think that technology doesn't have to change to be better. Some past
technologies were actually better then newer "advancements". Correct
me if I am wrong but doesn't the vinyl records produce better sound
quality then electric tapes and CD (when I say quality I mean frequency
Either way, I know that my phone doesn't have a "normal" ring, only
stupid songs, and I keep it on vibrate all the time. I think the
novelty of technology tends to wear off fast and then we realize, "hey,
what we had before was actually a lot better. Let's go back a step."

On 21-Oct-04, at 11:32 AM, wrote:

> I've noticed three times in the past week now, phones (usually
> expensive
> flashy digital ones) which have a ring which mimics the old style
> analog bell sound, except of course produced digitally, which makes it

> sound
> dull and processed.  This morning I was talking to a receptionist here

> at
> Concordia and her phone rang with the analog style ring.  After she
> was off
> i asked her about it, and she said it was one of the custom settings
> she can
> choose on the phone.  I asked her if she liked it better, and she said

> she
> still hates the sound of phones ringing (as most receptionists
> probably do),
> but it was the best option available.  I find it very interesting that

> we've
> gotten to the point where we use our new technology to re-create
> out-dated
> technology, and just as interesting that given the choice people seem
> to
> prefer sensations which connect back to the old technology.  I thought

> back
> to the section in Shafer's "Tuning Of The World" where he foretold
> that one
> day people would be able to choose custom rings which could play songs

> and
> such, which has obviously come to pass.  I wonder though if he ever
> imagined
> that we'd get to the point where given the choice people would simply
> select
> the type of ring which already existed then.
>   Any thoughts or comments?
>     and ever...
>       - chris galanis

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