RE: Forward into the 19th Century

Subject: RE: Forward into the 19th Century
From: Jay Smalridge (
Date: Thu Oct 21 2004 - 17:27:04 EDT

ouch...I knew I should have kept my mouth shut...
On Thursday, October 21, 2004, at 02:00PM, Eldad Tsabary <> wrote:

>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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