Scandals in the Vinyl World and the Search for the Perfect Sound

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by brianrost, Oct 6, 2022.

  1. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    From two articles printed in the Washington Post on August 5, 2022 and Sept 29, 2022.


    Yes folks, this is what the vinyl revival has brought us to...stereo systems with each component costing six figures (so the final system can easily run to over a million dollars) and individual albums selling for over $300.

    The core of both articles is that Mobile Fidelity Records, a label that's been making audiophile reissues since 1977 was outed for adding a single digital step in the path from original source tape to final pressing.

    What's fascinating to me is professional audio journalists who sit around all day listening to records trying to pick out what pressings are the best. Not just listening to reissues, but used records, too. Before CDs wounded the LP business, it was possibly to press a million copies of an LP in a day to be shipped to stores all over the world. That meant pressing in many different factories and there can be audible differences between an LP pressed in one factory vs. another. For popular LPs (think DSOTM) new stampers are needed over time and the original mastering engineer might not be involved (or by now, he's dead). That's why some people look for first pressings.

    Today the maximum capacity to press vinyl is only half (about 500,000 a day) then it was 45 years ago. And demand is so high that some labels have trouble getting even 5,000 pressed at a time.

    I don't have time for all this...I just want to listen to music.

    P.S. in related news, here's an $800 wireless turntable designed to work with Sonos speakers. Send that 100% analog LP digitally to your speakers :confused:

  2. Upfromthesky

    Upfromthesky Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2009
    Southern Maine
  3. WG Plum

    WG Plum

    Apr 9, 2021
    That article had me rolling. I love my records, and some definitely sound better than others (my half-speed mastered copy of Entroducing by DJ Shadow sounds phenomenal), but my ears just aren't good enough to cork sniff like that. I just like records because that's what I grew up with.
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  4. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Brings to mind a line from the Dude's dialogue with Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski that I can't quote verbatim here.
  5. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have no interest in replacing my huge collection of vinyl but I never collected pressings, I collected music.
    The only reason I never replaced the LPs was not wanting to spend the money when my turntable still worked fine.

    I bought that turntable for $130 in 1983. I wanted a better one but it wasn’t in the budget. I promised myself I’d get a “good” turntable when my Onkyo died. 39 years later it still hasn’t died. And, with a good cartridge, it actually sounds pretty good.
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  6. WG Plum

    WG Plum

    Apr 9, 2021
    Yep, I have an entry-level Music House turntable. It definitely needs a new cartridge, but it works fine. The only thing I wish it had was automatic return (I can hear the audiophiles cringing) like many old-school turntables had. Growing up, my dad had a record player where you could stack records and they'd drop once a side had played. You could listen to six sides in a row.
  7. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2006
    Central VA, USA
    I feel personally attacked :woot:

    Like there are no cork-sniffing bass players in here, searching for the perfect rosewood board or the best Valley People chip in their germanium fuzz to go with their 2x10 cab that was only good while they still made this one now-unobtanium Eminence driver, and oh gotta have a Tung Sol in the preamp and a 5% overwound Lindy Fralin in the bridge position ... but "I just like to play music." :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2022
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  8. I still use a Techniques SA5370, and a Yamaha YP-D4 Turntable, to play my vinyl collection. My parents bought that gear for me in the late 70s, and it still works perfectly, with no repairs, other than stylus/cartridge replacements/upgrades. (Currently a Nude Shibata on an AT cart.)

    I'll bet there isn't even $700 in that entire system, excluding speakers.

    Speakers, another story, Altec Lansing, Cerwin Vega, Polk Audio, Bose (901s), I have them all, and that can lead to big bucks.

    On topic though, yup, the staggering amounts spent to push out better/additional signal (much of which is beyond the limits of human hearing) is a bit silly.

    Hundreds for albums? yes even thousands, but I have scored sealed metal master disks, Ludwig engineered disks, first pressings, and very rare albums, mostly at thrift and Salvation Army stores, mostly for one or two dollars each.

    You do not need to spend new house money to have a great system and a equally great collection.
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  9. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Shakespeare had it right: much ado about nothing.

    I'll keep my 80s Technics turntable feeding my 90s Sony receiver which has a proper turntable input. I still have a lot of vinyl which has been sitting in a cabinet for 30+ years....while I have been playing CDs.

    My speakers on that system are sensible but well-performing Paradigm Titans with a sub added. I bought them all on Ebay or in pawn shops. Same for the speakers in all three of the surround systems I have.

    IMHO this kind of detail people pursue gets deeply into psycho-acoustics. Your obsession is not my obsession.
  10. WG Plum

    WG Plum

    Apr 9, 2021
    I've been using the same Denon shelf-system for 30+years (also has a proper turntable input with grounding screw).
  11. chazolson

    chazolson Guest

    Jan 8, 2013
    This reminds me of my college orchestra rehearsing with Krystof Penderecki on a piece with quarter steps - the interval between C and D is chopped into four quarter steps, instead of C, C# and D.

    He’d stop the rehearsal and yell out “it’s out of tune, it’s nothing” at the French horns, who he had ramming their fists into the bell of their horns. No s**t it’s out of tune, pal, what did you expect?

    Anyhoo, my ear wasn’t good enough to hear quarter steps then, or pristine six-figure audio now.
  12. I'm happy that I kept my old albums but haven't bought any new ones since the 80s.

    Spending huge money on music doesn't compute for me. But if you have that much expendable income and that's what you're into... that's your business, not mine.

    I like to listen to music, not obsess over it.
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  13. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Audiophiles are frickin hilarious. I bought into it a bit in my teens, but if you've studied acoustics and digital fundamentals, you know they're worshipping a false idol.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I studied a bit of music technology in college
    and I find it hilarious what audiophiles will sink money into.
    some people listen with their eyes
    some with their wallet
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  15. Never mind the subject matter, it's all about the title. If the concept album ever comes back into fashion you might want to trademark AND copyright that.
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  16. Slade N

    Slade N Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    portland, or
    What is the old saying? A fool and his money are soon parted
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  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I’m not close to being able to afford a modern tube audiophile kit.

    A more reasonable goal, I’d love to get a Wrensilva console in my living room and spec out the turntable.

    I play records almost daily at home. I have a midline Uturn on walnut plinth, Ortofon blue and that’s about as good as my ears can follow.
    I preamp the turntable to a pair of Sonos 5. It’s a lot of headroom for the room which is 11X12’ but it works well for me. I am fascinated by some of the high end analog audio gear out there but it’s no different than any other passion, some of the returns are hard to measure.

    The reason I chose these speakers is the modern convenience of streaming. I’m not a cave man.
    My simple setup:
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2022
  18. TyBo


    Dec 12, 2014
    I totally understand "chasing tone" ... and over time I've had some satisfying results from doing so, instrument-wise. But for vinyl, I have memories of spending hours and hours listening to scratchy old blues records, or even my Dad's old Bessie Smith 78's (still have 'em!). So I have my own mental filter that kind of ignores the snap crackle pop of old vinyl, and hears an idealized version (though I can turn that off :) ). Don't feel the need of audiophile vinyl equipment.

    Christie Hynde talked about vinyl vs. CD years ago, her opinion being that sometimes one format sounds better, sometimes another. I tend to agree with that. It depends ...
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  19. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Agree. And to the point some of the gear is beautiful! No different than basses or guitars or cars. In any obsession there’s a point where form eclipses function.

    Audio is a great example because the appeal of vinyl today is a mix of nostalgia for middle aged folks and fascination with lower fidelity among the younger buyers. Like I have said many times, I like records more than CDs because they are less pure. They sound more like our environment, the ambient sound of planet earth is more intact. And that is the top dead center opposite of perfection.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2022
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  20. SteveC

    SteveC Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    If I had some extra money, a decent room, and time, I wouldn't mind having some vinyl. I got rid of all mine when CD's came out. Why wouldn't you, right? Perfect clarity. Portable. All the cool kids were getting them. As with everything, hindsight and all that.

    Listening habits have, of course, changed for most of us. Singles. On the go. Who has time to actually sit and listen to an entire album, or even one side. Hell, many artists don't even release full "albums" any more.
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