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Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music

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Posted on August 7, 2023 at 10:00:19
magiccarpetride
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Here is a graphical representation of the difference between analog and sampled digital sound reproduction. Obviously, only Direct Stream Digital (DSD) can match (and maybe even surpass?) analog.

But yeah, we've all felt for a long time that there is something about vinyl reproduction that just cannot be delivered via sampled digital, even when going for the high resolution sampling. It is clearly audible that vinyl offers snappier, more direct, more dynamic sound reproduction.

If some people cannot hear that, at least this picture tells the story...

 

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RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 7, 2023 at 11:24:30
John Elison
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I wonder if the impulse labeled 'DSD' is from a standard DSD64 recording or from a higher resolution DSD recording. Personally, I prefer DSD256 and DSD512. I've been using DSD128 to copy vinyl LPs, and it seems to sound identical to the LPs played on my turntable.

Anyway, DSD has been my digital format of choice for the past several years. It sounds just as good or even better than vinyl to me.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

Weird, posted on August 7, 2023 at 12:52:03
Goober58
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How do you sample an impulse with analog? I'm pretty sure if you try to record an impulse to vinyl and play it back on an all analog system it's not going to look like the impulse in your image (say you sample the speaker output with a higher rez DSD recorder).

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 7, 2023 at 14:08:34
flood2
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The analogue impulse response shown is an idealised "perfect" response with an infinite slew rate and no influence of analogue signal path components/filtering. Your analogue equipment is almost certainly not going to reveal the same shape. High sample rate digital coding will beat the analogue version all day long. Your test signals also show a linear phase response (FIR filter) which gives equal pre and post-ringing due to the feedforward and feedback used in the filter. A minimum phase response (IIR filter) will only give post ringing which is equivalent to an analogue filter.
If you wanted to prove a point, you would show the output from a test disc or test tape playing the same test signal. Hint, the impulse response on the replay stylus will look NOTHING like what is in your graphic and you will quickly change your tune in favour of the high resolution digital.

After a square wave has been traced and passed through your phono pre-amp, the impulse starts to look more like a skewed, rounded off triangle.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 7, 2023 at 14:10:59
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Those are all response to an infinite bandwidth impulse. Now repeat the exercise with an impulse bandlimited to 20kHz and see how they look.

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 7, 2023 at 14:35:47
magiccarpetride
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I have yet to hear a digital playback (perhaps DSD is an exception) that could come close to the snappiness that a good turntable delivers. I've listened to a number of ultra high end digital systems, and while they are quite resolving and clean, something is definitely missing. You realize what's missing after you listen to the same recording on a good turntable -- speed is not quite there with digital, and also the dynamics are flabby compared to good turntable playback.

In theory digital should offer superior dynamics, but in practice for some reason the promised dynamics are just not there. Very weird.

At least that's how I hear it.

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 7, 2023 at 16:33:26
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My expectation is that if you bandlimited the impulse the response of all the systems shown would look very similar.

I agree vinyl sounds very good, I listen to it almost exclusively. I think it more likely that the preference is due to artifacts added by vinyl mastering and playback that are missing from digital masters. If you needle drop vinyl it will still sound like vinyl.

 

where did you get this?, posted on August 7, 2023 at 18:31:14
Analog Scott
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It looks completely made up

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 8, 2023 at 00:03:31
flood2
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Enjoy whatever medium you want to listen to music, but don't bother trying to rehash the same "vinyl has better dynamics" trope - you'll realise how cringey it is if you were to study digital signal processing and electronic engineering.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 8, 2023 at 05:26:17
John Elison
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> After a square wave has been traced and passed through your phono pre-amp, the impulse starts to look more like a skewed, rounded off triangle.

The square waves on test records are intended to be played without RIAA equalization. At least, I've never seen a test record with RIAA equalized square waves. Here are some screen shots of square waves from one of my test records.


.
.

.
.

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 8, 2023 at 07:10:14
magiccarpetride
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I'm not listening with my eyes. I'm listening with my ears. And my ears are telling me that vinyl delivers more dynamics than digital format.

No intellectual debate can convince me to unhear what I clearly hear.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 8, 2023 at 09:44:20
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John, your plots are for a 1kHz square wave so the system is capturing 1kHz and has enough bandwidth to capture the first 9 harmonics or so (assuming a 20kHz bandwidth) so they look like square waves. In the original post, the test signal is equivalent to a 166kHz square wave so it will look radically different if cut to vinyl and played back, as suggested by flood2.

 

RE: where did you get this?, posted on August 8, 2023 at 09:53:24
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The PCM impulse responses look valid - the time between the sinc pulse nulls is inversely proportional to the sampling rate so the sinc looks squeezed together as sample rate increases. I think the total area under the pulses should be constant, which is why the central lobe increases in amplitude as it gets narrower. I have never considered the impulse response of DSD but, I suppose, it will be like PCM sampled at 2MHz so the sinc is even narrower.
Of course, these pictures don't tell anything about dynamic range, only about time resolution.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 8, 2023 at 12:36:13
John Elison
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You're talking about something else. Anthony was talking about playing a test record with square waves through an RIAA equalizer, eg. a phono stage. Square waves on test records are not equalized and therefore are designed to be played back directly without RIAA playback equalization. When you play a square wave from a test record through a phono stage, it looks exactly like Anthony described.

A square wave on a test record is produced from a triangular shaped groove. Since phono cartridges are velocity sensitive electromagnetic generators, a triangular groove produces a square wave electrical output from the cartridge just like the ones pictured below. If you play the same test record through a phono stage, the square wave looks more triangular with curved or rounded sides. In order to get the oscilloscope pictures I posted, I used a phono stage without RIAA equalization.

Thanks!
John Elison


 

I forgot the most important point, posted on August 8, 2023 at 16:30:01
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that picture shows you about sampling and reconstruction by feeding in a signal with a very wide bandwidth - well beyond the Nyquist limit.
The same thing applies to the analog channel - if we take analog as to mean vinyl then that input signal is way beyond anything the can be cut and played back. The output response of the vinyl system to that input pulse would nothing like that input pulse - just as the PCM sampled responses don't. They are all 'illegal' cases. But, if you put in an impulse that was low pass filtered to 20kHz my money would be on the output of them all to look identical.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 8, 2023 at 19:01:17
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Hi John, I think Anthony and I are talking about the same thing - that the test stimulus in the original post had far too high a bandwidth for any system to capture. Your square waves are 'only' 1kHz so you can capture the first 19 harmonics that make it look like a square wave. The OP test signal is more than a 100x higher in frequency so a vinyl channel could not even capture the fundamental and that test signal will look anything but square if you tried to cut and reproduce it.
I think RIAA is a red-herring - if you record a signal without pre-emphasis and then play it back without pre-emphasis it will match so you'd have square wave in - triangular groove - square wave out. But if you did pre-emphasise the square wave before cutting and then play it back with RIAA you will still get a square wave out. I don't know what shape the groove will be but it will have a lot of HF content so tracking could be compromised (perhaps that is why you say test disc square waves are not pre-emphasized).

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 9, 2023 at 00:10:54
John Elison
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> I have yet to hear a digital playback (perhaps DSD is an exception) that could come close to the snappiness that a good turntable delivers.

Well, I have yet to hear a vinyl playback system that comes close to the snappiness of my digital system.

> In theory digital should offer superior dynamics, but in practice for some reason the promised dynamics are just not there. Very weird.

I guess you need to figure out the reason for your problem with digital. My digital system has greater dynamics than any vinyl system I've heard. Moreover, my digital system is not at all expensive compared to my vinyl front-end. My FiiO digital audio player cost $1,800 whereas my vinyl front-end, which includes the phono stage, cost in excess of $18,000.

In other words, my vinyl front-end cost 10-times more than my digital front-end, and yet, I prefer the sound of digital to the sound of vinyl. I especially like the higher resolution DSD formats like DSD128, DSD256, and DSD512. My digital front-end will play these DSD formats directly from a USB flash drive.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

" I have yet to hear a vinyl playback system that comes close to the snappiness of my digital system", posted on August 9, 2023 at 07:39:23
Story
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is this comparison when playing a vinyl disc to something downloaded or played from a file you have?

Or is it a digital file made from a vinyl disc?

It would be nice if you included the sources used when you say stuff like this



 

I recall anti-digital comments from folks who could hear the space between the digital samples!, posted on August 9, 2023 at 09:28:33
Goober58
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With an analog waveform laid over the sampled waveform as evidence of the difference between the sound of digital v. analog.

 

RE: " I have yet to hear a vinyl playback system that comes close to the snappiness of my digital system", posted on August 9, 2023 at 09:52:40
John Elison
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Well, to be honest, I probably exagerated a little bit when I said that my vinyl system doesn't even come close to the snappiness of my digital system. I have one of the best sounding vinyl systems available, and it definitely comes pretty close to the snappiness of digital. However, high resolution DSD is noticeably better sounding to my ears.

When I say I like digital better than vinyl, I'm referring to the digital albums I purchase and download from websites such as PS Audio, Native DSD and others. With regard to my own digital copies of vinyl, I usually don't hear any difference between the vinyl record and the digital copy. I say 'usually' because sometimes the digital copy sounds a little better to me if the vinyl has substantial bass. This is because I always record using headphones with my speakers turned off so as not to record any acoustic feedback, which often causes the bass to reverberate and linger. This reverberation hardly ever sounds bad, in fact, it often enhances the bass, which is preferred by vinyl enthusiasts. However, I've gotten used to the sound of digital and I now prefer the sound of tight, clean bass more than the reverberated, lingering bass of vinyl.

My latest two purchases were from PS Audio and they sound exceptional -- noticeably better than vinyl. I tend to purchase digital albums in the digital formats in which they were originally recorded. These latest two purchases from PS Audio were Decades by Erik Deutsch and The Art of HiFi, Volume II by Soundstage. I bought the first one in DSD64 and I bought the second in DSD256. These were the digital formats in which each was originally recorded.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

Plangent, posted on August 10, 2023 at 10:15:57
Bill Way
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"Obviously, only Direct Stream Digital (DSD) can match (and maybe even surpass?) analog."

Not obvious at all; actually, wrong.

DSD has some compelling qualities, but seems to always have a layer of honey over everything that I find distracting.

I have no idea what your squiggles are supposed to represent, but can say with no doubt that the best reproduction available on the planet is Plangent processed recordings. Prior to Plangent, the best was half-track tape, which I enjoyed for years at home and as part of my studio job. When Steve Addabbo decided to get rid of his multitrack, he saved one job for me he knew I'd love: transferring the original multitracks of Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and the New York Dolls to digital. Ah, the smell of two-inch!

The biggest problem with Plangent is finding them. prostudiomasters.com has some of the great Mercury issues, including the legendary Saint-SaŽns 3rd with Paray/Detroit, remastered with Plangent by Tom Fine. hdtracks has Plangent-processed Springsteen albums remastered brilliantly by Bob Ludwig.

As Plangent uses the tape bias waveform to clock a digital session, Plangent recordings are hybrid, with analog tape as source, and delivered in digital form. They are worth finding and listening to.

WW


"Put on your high heeled sneakers. Baby, we''re goin'' out tonight.

 

RE: " I have yet to hear a vinyl playback system that comes close to the snappiness of my digital system", posted on August 10, 2023 at 14:18:06
magiccarpetride
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I'm comparing vinyl playback to the CD/FLAC playback. For example, I'm playing the original vinyl pressing and then comparing it to the officially released CD or hi-rez FLAC, containing the same material. I'm not comparing needle drop material.

For example, Getz/Gilberto "Girl from Ipanema". Sounds way more direct, immediate, vivid, and lively on my turntable than it sounds on my CD player or on my digital streamer (even when streaming 24bit/96kHz FLAC containing the same song).

On the vinyl, Getz's saxophone energetically leaps from the soundstage and feels as if Stan is playing right in front of me. On the CD, his saxophone is nice, pleasant sounding, but sounds as if he's playing behind an invisible glass pane. He is squished and pushed to that pane, and I don't hear the 'air' between his sax and other instruments.

 

RE: Plangent, posted on August 10, 2023 at 15:45:06
Analog Scott
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If only the audiophile reissue labels would use it. Plangent process represents the state of the art it analog tape transfer sound quality. IMO it should be used exclusively in transferring analog tape to any commercial medium.

 

Where do you have those Blue Heavens?, posted on August 10, 2023 at 22:53:32
Goober58
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Had some of those once. Organic but mostly dull - I was really surprised how much better PBJ sounded. Kind of the opposite of the Red Dawns I never bought. I get it though it depends on what it's connecting together.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 11, 2023 at 03:11:34
shellhead
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The OP image means nothing.

"Analog" is not equivalent to "vinyl".

If you tried to cut a 3 microsecond impulse to vinyl (which, as already pointed out, would be equivalent to a 166KHz square wave if made continuous/AC), then the signal would be pretty much undetectable on playback.

Firstly because none, or hardly any of the signal would actually make it onto the medium. Secondly, because the high level of noise and distortion inherent to vinyl would thoroughly mask whatever did and additionally, your playback equipment would be physically and electrically incapable of recovering it.

If you think your vinyl source sounds "snappier" in comparison to even commodity-grade digital, what you're responding to is distortion.

 

RE: Plangent, posted on August 11, 2023 at 05:18:28
Bill Way
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I get the feeling it's growing, and the premium labels are certainly aware of it. What I don't know is the cost of the hardware and software, which, I suspect, might be substantial. Think happy thoughts.

WW
"Put on your high heeled sneakers. Baby, we''re goin'' out tonight.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 11, 2023 at 08:46:00
magiccarpetride
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"If you think your vinyl source sounds "snappier" in comparison to even commodity-grade digital, what you're responding to is distortion."

Whatever. I trust my ears, and as a musician I can recognize if the sound reproduction approaches the way real instruments sound. And in all my experiences, I've never heard any digitally reproduced music, no matter how advanced the system may be, sound nearly as realistic as the reproduction from a well configured turntable.

Call it 'distortion' all day long if you will, it still does not taint the fact that it sounds more realistic than a less 'distorted' digitally rendered sound.

Try listening with your ears for a moment, forget about what your eyes and your intellect are telling you.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 13, 2023 at 03:57:27
jbcortes
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With the same logic, using one's ears, one could say that cracks and pops and worse, wow, flutter and inner groove distortion have nothing to do with reality, making digital far more realistic than analogue.

There are great and bad recordings on both mediums and both can be equally great, or equally bad.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 14, 2023 at 08:47:58
magiccarpetride
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The absence of surface noise makes digital sound reproduction eerily unreal. If you ever attend live music performance, you will hear a lot of surface noise, ambient noise that is not related to the sound of music. That's reality.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 14, 2023 at 12:45:04
jbcortes
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Well then, imagine listening to a recording of a live performance of a classical concert: the lack of noise of the digital medium will allow you to hear the original noise of the venue. An LP will add its own layer of noise, and its weaker S/N ratio will hide some of the original information. So again, digital reproduction is more realistic.

Just to be clear, I love both. I don't think one is intrisequely superior to the other. LPs have colorations that sound pleasant to the ear and make it SEEM more realistic, but digital IS actually more realistic. Both can be great.

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 16, 2023 at 18:50:35
flood2
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Perhaps you could define what you mean by "dynamics"?
My understanding of the term "dynamics" is related to the mastering choices and the amount of compression used which will affect the variations in loudness within a recording.
This has nothing to do with the transient response of the system for which the impulse function is used as a stimulus.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 16, 2023 at 19:32:02
flood2
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Hi John,

Thank you for posting the square wave responses from your V15VxMR - I remember them from when you first published them.

I have the same test disc and am fully aware that the square wave is intended to be played without EQ. However, it is not really important to consider the use of EQ or not here because I think the OP's intention was to somehow demonstrate that his vinyl rig was able to reproduce an infinite slew rate. What his graphic shows is the theoretical impulse function and then digital reproductions. What is missing is the equivalent output response from his cartridge. The physics of a resilient medium displacing a (finite) mass within a damped mechanical system tells us that it is impossible to have an infinite acceleration even before we consider the electrical sub-system of the coils and phono stage.
My point was that the square wave rising edge will not be at an infinite slew rate and will be subject to the several other parameters relating to cantilever stiffness and effective tip mass. These will define the tip resonance frequency and other bending modes which will be revealed in the output response of the test tone.
IIRC the tip resonance of the TypeVxMR is around 35kHz. When loaded at the recommended capacitance, the rising edge is rolled off in the manner I described (obviously it will be more like a triangle after EQ, but I assumed that most casual users wouldn't have the capability of recording and measuring the raw cartridge output as we do).
The effect of the limited bandwidth is still seen as the load resistance is increased - the ringing we now see should be at the tip resonance frequency and we still see exactly the same basic roll off on the rising edge despite the increased ringing amplitude.

The bottom line is that I believe the OP likely misunderstands the difference between transient response and the loudness range of the music which is purely the result of mastering choices.

I analysed the Kevin Gray (Tone Poet) cut of Blue Train and compared it to the CD edition of the same release and found the loudness range and frequency response to be identical which confirmed that the same master had been used and that a flat transfer had likely been used.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Every picture tells a story - but not the one you think., posted on August 17, 2023 at 07:56:47
magiccarpetride
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> Perhaps you could define what you mean by "dynamics"?

My layperson's use of the word "dynamics" is strictly subjective -- that feeling when you are listening to the playback and get startled by the sudden increase in volume and presence. It's basically all about the speed.

Of course, lesser turntables/tonearms/cartridges lack in this respect. You can easily hear how sluggish and lethargic and flat footed they sound compared to high quality vinyl gear. And the more you finetune your turntable, the more startling those dynamics get. Almost to the point where it gets close to how live music sounds.

But I've never been in the situation where I was startled by the dynamics when listening to digital playback, regardless of how advanced and sophisticated the equipment was. Digital just does not seem to have that speed. It all sounds correct and proper, but to my ears, the directness of music is somehow not there.

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 17, 2023 at 12:29:15
John Elison
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Hi Anthony,

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thanks!

You talk about a parameter called 'the tip resonance' and I've always called it 'the cantilever bending resonance' or 'the cantilever flexing resonance'. I think we're referring to the same parameter. Is that your understanding, too? If not, can you provide a more detailed description of 'the tip resonance'?

Thanks!
John Elison

 

Bait and switch ..., posted on August 22, 2023 at 04:34:20
B.K.
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Bait and Switch.

You are the one who provided a picture using technical argument and data to show that "Analog" sounds better. So how did the thread become a discussion on what you 'feel' sounds more like musical instruments based on your musical knowledge?

It's a good illustration of Bait and Switch:
Make an assertion that does not lead to a particular conclusion, and then argue validity based on a different assertion.

A better heading for your post would have been "Perfect sound reproduction versus currently available digital formats."

I am a vinyl listener too; however, the 'analog' impulse response in the picture assumes an extremely wide reproduction bandwidth which is not available on any vinyl system.

As the follow-up poster highlighted: a 3uS impulse would be barely reproduced on any vinyl system due to the bandwidth limitations of:

a. The cutter head,
b. The turntable system playing back the record.

So your own post does not stand up to either: the 'listening with ears' test or the 'eyes and intellect' test.

B.K.

 

Good data but the pulse with is ~ 100x longer, posted on August 22, 2023 at 04:44:02
B.K.
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Hi John,

The original post compared a 3us impulse response for various systems, whereas your data is for a 250us square pulse.

I think that even Red Book CD would do much better on a 250uS square pulse than the original post suggests.

Best regards,


 

RE: Good data but the pulse with is ~ 100x longer, posted on August 22, 2023 at 06:49:03
John Elison
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I don't know why you think I was responding to the original post. I was responding to a comment by flood2 and I even included his comment in my post. He said the following:

> After a square wave has been traced and passed through your phono pre-amp, the impulse starts to look more like a skewed, rounded off triangle.

Now, I'll respond to your comment:

> I think that even Red Book CD would do much better on a 250uS square pulse than the original post suggests.

You might be right! I'm pretty sure that Red Book CD would do a better job than vinyl.

Unfortunately, I don't have any oscilloscope pictures of a 250-us square pulse from Red Book CD. I do have oscilloscope pictures of a 1-kHz square wave, which would be equivalent to a 500-us square pulse. In other words, the period of a 1-kHz square wave is 1-ms. Therefore, each pulse of the square wave would be 500-us.

Here's a 1-kHz square wave from my Kenwood signal generator directly to my Tektronix oscilloscope:



Here's a 1-kHz square wave from my Kenwood signal generator recorded at 16/44.1 PCM by my Alesis Masterlink digital recorder. I then burned a Red Book CD-R and played it on my Audio Alchemy CD player:



Here's a mathematical model of a square wave with no phase shift and truncated at the 21st harmonic in order to simulate a perfect 1-kHz square wave at 16/44.1 Red Book PCM:



I believe the picture below is a 100-Hz square wave from a Red Book test CD played on my Audio Alchemy CD player. It appears to be a screen shot from my computer using Sound Forge software. The symmetrical overshoot at the beginning and end of each half cycle indicates my CD player has zero high-frequency phase shift. However, the slanted top and bottom of the square wave indicates low-frequency phase shift resulting from capacitive coupling rather than DC coupling:



 

RE: Good data but the pulse with is ~ 100x longer, posted on August 22, 2023 at 10:02:46
B.K.
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Hi John,

Sorry, I misread the plots you took from your turntable, they are indeed 500uS square pulses not 250uS.

The Red Book CD simulated plots are also interesting, if you overlaid these simulations with the measurements from your turntable do you think it would show one as being technically superior to the other?

Best regards,

 

RE: Good data but the pulse with is ~ 100x longer, posted on August 23, 2023 at 08:41:42
John Elison
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I would say the square wave played on the CD player is technically superior. It is essentially a perfect square wave in the sense that it is mathematically perfect for a 1-kHz square wave that is truncated after its 21-kHz harmonic and displays virtually no high-frequency phase shift with only very slight low-frequency phase shift due to capacitive coupling.

Here's the square wave from my CD player:



Here is a truly mathematically perfect square wave truncated at the 21st harmonic, which would be equivalent to a 1-kHz square wave with its final harmonic at 21-kHz:


.
.
Here are all the square waves from a phono cartridge playing a test recored:


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.
.
Regardless of which square waves you feel are more technically superior, 16/44 CD digital is basically obsolete nowadays. We have higher resolution digital formats and most new albums are recorded in those higher resolution formats. Square waves reproduced by higher resolution digital formats would still be mathematically perfect with even higher harmonics yielding faster rise times with flatter tops and bottoms.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 24, 2023 at 14:35:59
flood2
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Hi John

Yes, the bending modes of the cantilever are part of what I am referring to, but the effective tip mass is the other part since the inertia of the mechanical sub-system of the cartridge will also influence the theoretical upper frequency response limit of the cartridge.
These days, none of the cartridge manufacturers tip their own styli (except for the low-end/budget bonded cantilevers). They will buy in pre-tipped cantilevers of a specified length with the specific stylus profile required - from looking at the purchase options from Ogura and Namiki, 6mm is the standard with 5mm (and other lengths) of the available material types (saphhire, ruby, boron, aluminium) possible on special order. This would suggest that the frequency response of the cartridge is largely down to the design choices of the cartridge designer which affects the mass of the armature (also affected by coil turns/mass of wire), design of the suspension and damping which would affect the inertia of the system.
Using AT as an example, if we look at the top models in each series with a "SLC" stylus on a boron cantilever, these are all supplied by Ogura and so in theory the cantilever and tip would be identical between all the models (within production variances for the amount of glue used, the length of the stylus shank and the mass of the support plate used for aligning and fixing the stylus to the boron rod). Just considering MC (to remove the electrical limit on bandwidth), for the most part we see that the armature and suspension design and coil inductance are all very similar giving a similar claimed frequency response for many of the models in the ART series and the OC9XSL EXCEPT for the ART1000 (with the coils) mounted on top of the stylus. This has a much lower quoted upper frequency response and this must be a reflection of the increased tip mass/inertia of the armature resulting from positioning the coils directly above the stylus.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Why vinyl sounds better than digitally sampled music, posted on August 25, 2023 at 06:02:25
John Elison
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Okay! Again, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment.

I wonder about the effective tip mass of the AT-ART1000. I've also observed that the upper frequency response limit was lower than ordinary LOMC cartridges, and I immediately attributed it to excessively high effective tip mass due to the position of the moving coils. However, a friend owns this cartridge and I've heard digital recordings from his vinyl system. They sound absolutely spectacular to me so I'm wondering how high the effective tip mass is on that cartridge and whether or not it makes a whole lot of difference. After all, the upper frequency response limit is 30-kHz, which is 20-kHz higher than the upper frequency limit of my ears at this point in my life.

Anyway, it would be interesting to know the effective tip mass of the AT-ART1000 given that it sounds spectacular to my old ears.

Thanks!
John Elison



 

what i hear..., posted on September 3, 2023 at 20:18:46
hifitommy
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in the face of many stating that LP has limited dynamic range, I hear a greater "jump factor" in the transient impact in most music. this effect doesn't seem to be present in the digital formats, at least those of RBCD origin.

i once compared the MOFI SACD of Ellington's Blues In Orbit to the Classic Records reissue of the same and although they were VERY close, the LP won out on my system which has been honed for decades and continued to be honed since the comparison.

i no longer have the sacd as it was a loaner during a roundabout we shared here at the Asylum.
...regards...tr

 

Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 5, 2023 at 15:13:46
JonM
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Great picture. I wonder about the mass of the coils stuck to the stylus end of the cantilever like that - as the stylus vibrates in the groove, those coils would be moving around (up/down/left/right), and I'd expect the momentum from those coils' motion and off-center mass would be torquing the cantilever one way or the other. (I think Peter Ledermann at Soundsmith once did a talk about the torque applied to the cantilever by the stylus - I'd think this would be much worse than just the stylus in the groove.)

When I think about what is actually involved in vinyl playback (looking at things at the scale of the stylus following a rapidly moving groove, sending a mechanical signal up the cantilever to the magnets/coils) and I think about all the things that could make the eventual electrical signal end up different from the input to the original cutting head, it astounds me vinyl works at all.

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 8, 2023 at 09:09:10
John Elison
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> I'd expect the momentum from those coils' motion and off-center mass would be torquing the cantilever one way or the other.

Even though I don't know the mass of those coils above the stylus, I suspect they have significantly lower mass than coils placed on the other end of the cantilever due to their lower number of turns of wire. Therefore, with regard to cantilever torque, it's probably less with lower mass coils on top of the stylus compared to higher mass coils on the other end of the cantilever. At any rate, I find it hard to believe it would be any greater.

It certainly would be nice to know the effective tip mass of the AT-ART1000 compared to the AT-ART9XA, which is probably the other most comparable cartridge. Those two cartridges have the same rated output voltage of 0.2-mV, although the ART9XA has 2.5-times more coil inductance, which isn't very much. I've never heard the ART9XA, but if I didn't want to spend $5,000 for the ART1000, my next choice would be the ART9XA for $1,500.

There are two newer Audio Technica cartridges, the ART2022 (costing $9,000) and the ART20 (costing $2,900), but these are not comparable. They have much higher rated outputs of 0.55-mV and their coil inductance is 25-times greater than the ART1000. Still, it would be nice to know the effective tip mass of all these cartridges.

One thing I can tell you is that I've heard high-resolution 24/96 digital recordings of the AT-ART1000 compared to both the AT-ART7 and the Denon DL-S1 from the same VPI HRX turntable with gimbal bearing FatBoy tonearm and EAR phono stage, and I believe the AT-ART1000 sounds noticeably better than the other two cartridges. In fact, I can't really think of a cartridge I like better than the AT-ART1000.

The Denon DL-S1 came with a frequency response graph showing it to be flat to well past 50-kHz. The JVC TRS-1005 test record stopped at 50-kHz, but you can see the frequency response would have kept going for a while. Unfortunately, the other cartridges came with frequency response curves that stopped at 20-kHz.



> [When] I think about all the things that could make the eventual electrical signal end up different from the input to the original cutting head, it astounds me vinyl works at all.

I know exactly what you mean and that's why I think a cartridge with the coils mounted right above the stylus would be more accurate than one with the coils mounted on the other end. This is because the cantilever is not perfectly stiff and rigid; therefore, it bends and flexes as the stylus traces the groove. As a result, the coils on the other end of the cantilever don't follow the movement of the stylus perfectly. I believe coils mounted directly on top of the stylus would adhere to groove undulations more accurately than coils mounted on the other end. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I know one thing for sure, I really like the sound of the AT-ART1000.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 9, 2023 at 04:05:49
JonM
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Interesting thought - lower mass because fewer turns, and I imagine fewer turns are needed because coils attached to the stylus will move more (farther peak-peak) and have higher peak velocities than coils closer to the cantilever's pivot point (so fewer turns are needed to generate the same output voltage). Since momentum = mass * velocity, you may be right (that the torque on the cantilever is equivalent) if all the relationships are linear.

I guess the difference is the distance from the cantilever pivot - if the torque is the same, it will result in more twisting when the distance from the pivot is greater. So if that's right, putting the coils above the stylus will cause more twisting of the cantilever than putting the coils closer to the cantilever's pivot point.

This is probably a theoretical discussion. I'd think a stiff cantilever would minimize the twisting. And your point, that putting the coils above the stylus should generate a more accurate signal, "feels" right. From your own experience, the results speak for themselves.

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 9, 2023 at 09:26:24
John Elison
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> I'd think a stiff cantilever would minimize the twisting.

I'm not sure that twisting is necessarily that much of a problem. When the coils are in their normal position at the pivot end of the cantilever, bending and flexing of the cantilever can actually cause significant phase shift as well as non-linear frequency response. Moreover, at a specific high frequency, the coils actually start moving in the opposite direction from their normal movement relative to stylus movement. This not only causes phase reversal, but it also causes a high-frequency resonance. The more flexible the cantilever, the lower this resonance frequency occurs and the sooner phase shift begins.

Ideally, you want linear phase response as well as linear frequency response up through 20-kHz, but if the bending mode of the cantilever occurs at 25-kHz, phase shift begins as low as 1 or 2-kHz with complete reversal (180-degrees) at 25-kHz. In order to maintain linear phase up through 20-kHz, Dynavector used to employ very short, stiff, cantilevers made from Ruby and Diamond. I owned their original Dynavector Ruby cartridge with a 2.5-mm long, square cantilever. It had its cantilever bending resonance at 40-kHz. When they switched to diamond, the bending resonance moved even higher. I believe their shortest cantilever was a 1.3-mm long diamond with a bending resonance of 100-kHz. However, the shortness of the cantilever created other types of distortion. They finally settled on a 1.7-mm long diamond with its bending resonance at 80-kHz. I believe they still produce this cartridge.

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 9, 2023 at 10:37:10
Tre'
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Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

RE: Karat 17D3, posted on September 10, 2023 at 05:05:34
tketcham
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Hi, John,

I had a Dynavector 17D3 cartridge (1.7mm diamond cantilever) set up on my SME 309 and while I really enjoyed the sound of that cartridge, it wasn't the greatest pairing and was susceptible to tracking problems during high energy bass lines or female vocal sibilance. I was able to tame the resonances fairly well using a set of weighted mounting screws and used the cartridge until it had about 800 hours or so but did not replace it. Instead, I purchased an Audio-Technica ART9, which behaves itself much better on the 309. Still not an ideal match but I haven't noticed tracking problems or low frequency resonance distortions like I did with the Karat 17D3.




Tom

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 11, 2023 at 00:14:27
flood2
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Hi John, I don't doubt that the ART1000 is an excellent sounding cartridge - there is obviously far more to making a good sounding cartridge than is discernible from the specifications and we can only speculate on possible reasons.

When comparing the conventional models in the ART series to the ART1000 though, I am not convinced that the stiffness of the cantilever is anything to worry about with the ART series as Boron is one of the stiffest materials (next to diamond) and the parts supplied by Ogura are identical within production tolerances. If cantilever bending modes in the boron were a problem then the ART1000 would be every bit as affected as the other models as the suspension design is very similar.
In fact I would make the important distinction that the ART1000 has an additional vibration source in the (relatively large compared to the stylus) planar support for the coils. There will be vibration modes directly related to the mass of the coils and the dimensions of the support plane which are acting directly above the stylus so any vibration energy transferred from the record enters the planar support for the coils directly. As to whether the mass of the assembly is high enough for this to affect tracking, I couldn't say, but I would expect that there must be some flexure of the planar support which would directly affect the output.
I would buy the ART1000 more as a curiousity to study (as I did the ELP) as I am unconvinced that positioning the coils directly above the stylus (with a standard length cantilever) is any advantage, but I would certainly like to understand what contributes to the purported performance.

Having said all that though, it is clear that this can't be an important factor given the positive reviews!
I wonder if the additional mass atop the stylus is sufficient to damp any residual vibrational energy reflected back from the pivot position?
Any thoughts on this?
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 14, 2023 at 18:24:03
John Elison
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The fact that a cantilever is made of boron doesn't eliminate cantilever bending and flexing during vinyl playback. However, when you mount the coils directly above the stylus, this eliminates the possibility of the coils moving in a different direction from the stylus. Therefore, cantilever bending will not affect the phase of the electrical signal differing from stylus movement as will always happen when the coils are mounted on the pivotal end of the cantilever.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 15, 2023 at 02:59:58
flood2
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"when you mount the coils directly above the stylus, this eliminates the possibility of the coils moving in a different direction from the stylus."

I agree with your statement but surely that is assuming that the coils are mounted on an infinitely stiff and mass-less plane that is moving perfectly normal to the record surface?

What we have is a flat support plate of a finite mass that is angled forward (with respect to the record plane) and swinging in a small arc defined by the VTA. The centre of mass is above and forward of the stylus which means that the mounting point to the cantilever provides a point of flexure and there would be specific vibration modes related to the mass and dimensions of the support plate and the position of the coils. We already know that vibrations are transmitted into the vinyl from the stylus vibration reaction force (which we hear as needle talk) and these vibrations must therefore also be transmitted up to and within the support plate which would affect the coil position within the magnetic field which would not necessarily be in phase with the stylus movement.

Perhaps they have calculated an optimum diameter of the coils to make the plate stiffness inconsequential with sufficient mass to damp any vibrations within the audible range.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: Torque on the cantilever?, posted on September 15, 2023 at 08:11:30
John Elison
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Well, nothing is 'infinitely stiff and mass-less' and the angle of the coils is the same angle in which they'd be mounted on the pivotal end of the cantilever. However, mounting them directly on top of the stylus produces an electrical signal that's more accurate with lower distortion than would be otherwise possible with the coils mounted on the pivotal end of the cantilever. Of course, this all assumes that effective tip mass is still low enough to allow accurate groove tracing. Apparently, Audio Technica has developed a viable design in this regard.

Happy listening!
John Elison

 

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