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That's right

To understand how it didn't (or doesn't) deliver, you have to understand the history.

In 1987 RCA/BMG declared the LP obsolete and asserted that they would no longer produce vinyl.

The CD had been declared 'perfect sound forever' several years earlier by such players as Marantz.

During the years that followed, the record industry in the US actively attempted to shut down vinyl production (despite at the time many people putting the various labels on notice that the new product was not sounding right).

So 1992 was the year of least vinyl production. But the demand never dropped off. Some LP titles pressed in the early and mid 90s command crazy high prices on ebay owing to their rarity and desirability to this day.

At any rate, this was an example of the industry attempting to influence the market, rather than the other way 'round. Because the demand never faltered, LP sales were on the rise all through the 90s and succeeding decades, to the point that one of the top selling bands of a few years ago (Arcade Fire) could be found on LP almost anywhere. They were on an independent label!

Now had the early assertions of the record and audio industry not in fact existed, things could be seen as different. But the fact is those assertions are well-known, and despite the industry trying to stamp out the LP (as in get rid of it, not make more :)...), it survived because it was doing something that made it worth keeping. As a manufacturer I often hear of audiophiles that regret having sold their LP collection early on. I know a few that bought them back at tremendous expense!

That all points to the CD not making good on the promise and as time has gone by, we've seen digital improve, belying the obviously ridiculous 'perfect sound' assertion.

But the thing is, despite much higher scan rates, word lengths, MQA and the like, the simple fact is the LP is still very much alive when it was supposed to be supplanted. Jack White just opened a new pressing plant using a new pressing machine, something that no-one thought possible even 10 years ago.

As I have pointed out in other posts, the issue has to do with how the ear/brain system perceives sound. In that regard, two factors are in play; the first being that the ear converts distortion into tonality (in the case of digital, this is the source of the brightness or crispness for which it is known) and the other is that the ear uses higher ordered harmonics to gauge sound pressure, which causes it to be more sensitive than the best test equipment in detecting certain forms of distortion.

That is why we see perfectly flat frequency response on the bench, but for some reason its bright. Its not a frequency response error, its distortion, but in trace amounts that are hard to measure and easy to hear.

Until the digital industry wakes up to that fact, the LP will continue to thrive.


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