CDs versus Vinyl?

(This is a reply I did to a post on an online webforum that was arguing that vinyl still sounds better than CD.) I agree with you on that one, owning both vinyl and CD REM. But I think it’s a question of mastering…

The people who mastered the REM vinyl cuts were probably experienced cutters who knew how to make vinyl sound sweet. My vinyl of New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ also sounds loads better than the CD version. But if I make a CDR of the vinyl, it sounds lovely. Too often when companies have re-released something on CD, they’ve just bunged the original stereo master onto CD!

The best example I can think of is the CD version of Kraftwerk’s ‘Computerworld’ which hasn’t even been goddamn normalised. If I’m DJing, I have to watch out for any tracks off it and zoom the volume right up 🙁 Also, if you listen to very early CDs, they’re often terrible transfers, probably done from 16bit originals, rather than 24bit masters -> 16bit with proper dithering.

So the loss is in the transfer from the original analogue multitrack or two-track master. The CD just captures this with terrible clarity. Another factor is that early DAT machines had no fucking dithering at all. If I listen to DAT masters of my stuff from around ’89, you can hear noise creep in at the end of reverb tails where there’s just not enough resolution. Yecch! I’ve had to manually re-fade all these bastards when I’ve re-mastered that material.

CD can sound as warm and involving as vinyl, providing as much effort is put into the source recording and mastering as vinyl gets. Sadly, the tightfisted fucks at record companies don’t give a shit.

Now they’re re-issuing the same old stereo stuff on SACD and DVD, sometimes getting ‘surround’ by playing the old tapes through stereo monitors and recording the result in 5.1.

love and kisses,