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It is no hidden secret that a well set-up record player trumps nearly every other affordable audio set-up in fidelity and sound (with the possible exception of the growing super-audio CD). I personally cannot think of an audience that should be more concerned with the character of sound than a classical audience.

So, why is that we toil such over a particular pianist's tone, over the sound of different piano brands (worries that, in my eyes, are highly commendable), but care next to nothing how we listen to our music? In my enduring exploration of sound, I have become and LP devout. I will never forget my revelating experience: The rumor of LP superiority had been going around in 'hip' circles for quite some time. Like all things that are trendy for trendy's sake, I avoided it like the plague. Then I experienced it. I had been listening to the newest Earth album like crazy lately, and even picked up the tape to see how it would sound. My brother happened to have the LP, so I finally decided to see what this was all about - I got my nice Bose that I modified with a sub, and put it side by side with my brother's record player. I listened to the first track on CD. Then I listened to the first track on LP. It was like a dirty window had been opened, and a new world of sound possibilities had been discovered. I was convinced. So I started collecting. I got a Glenn Gould LP,,, the last three Beethoven Sonatas in nearly perfect condition. Rarely does the way a piano is recorded and projected impact me that way (granted Gould had some strange things to say about the sonatas! laugh )


Are there any classical labels or artists who are trying to revive this lost art? It seems no LPs are coming out of mainstream companies anymore. Are classical audiences truely as concerned about fidelity as they let on? How important is quality of sound in the music you personally listen to? I'm very curious to know what the fine folks at piano world think!

Last edited by L'echange; 04/15/09 04:11 PM.

"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim
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Strangely, there was an item on BBC London TV News only today which reported that a record factory in Hayes (must be the EMI factory) has never stopped pressing vinyl records; it seems that collectors of Pop recordings still demand them. I occasionally see new pressings of classic recordings in record stores which sell for a small fortune. I believe these are limited collectors editions and I've been told they are manufactured in the Far East.

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Vinyl will never replace shellac!


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Shellac? DIY or die man! laugh



"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

Jim
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There may be virtues in the vinyl medium that the (sometimes) more clinical-sounding CDs do not currently emulate. However, I was a convert to the CD when it first came out in the early 80's, and have been listening to nothing but ever since.

The biggest drawback that I can see to vinyl is the fragility of the medium. However careful one is to keep vinyl clean, to use a high-grade stylus - frequently replaced - with a minimum tracking weight, the fact remains that by the very nature of friction - a stylus riding in the vinyl groove - at the first playing the vinyl begins to wear and it continues to do so with each subsequent playing. How many playings can vinyl withstand before the deterioration impacts the listener's pleasure?

As with vinyl, the quality of CDs varies; some are "warmer," some are more clinical in tone than others. However, the dirty window analogy that L'echange mentioned is exactly what happened with me, but in reverse. One of my first CDs was that of Dvorak's Ninth Symphony and, comparing it on the same system with the LP, I felt a veil had been lifted and much more detail and more separation of instruments was apparent on the CD than on the vinyl version. Was that "better" sound? I guess it's a matter of taste.

Because of the convenience of the CD over that of vinyl, I eventually disposed of my vinyl and have, over the years, built up my CD collection to about 1700 CDs. With a system of high-end components with emphasis on high-quality speakers, I believe that I am enjoying the full potential of the medium without the worry that plagued me when I collected vinyl: the quick deterioration of the vinyl and the nagging fear of enjoyment being seriously compromised by an accidental scratch. Whether what I hear from my CDs equals that of pristine vinyl I can't say, but at today's prices for the few vinyl discs that are available and the searching for quality components on which to play them, I'll stick with CDs.

This all may be moot as the classical music CD industry has fallen on hard times; we eventually may be purchasing recordings via the Internet where one hopes that digital downloading will preserve the sonic integrity of the original recording. There, of course, as with all sound reproduction, sound quality is dependent first upon what engineers do in the recording studios and, secondly, what equipment we choose to play these recordings on.

Perhaps the next generation of portable music will provide the sonic Utopia that we are all listening for.

Regards,


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There are companies that specialize in pressing new vinyl recordings and a fair number of the releases are classical. I think that more often than not they are reissues of famous old recordings, rather than new productions. There's definitely a market, but I suspect it is pretty small. The equipment for playing vinyl continues to be manufactured, and there is a steady stream of new models of turntables, cartridges, etc., being introduced. Much of it is aimed at audiophiles who can afford expensive toys, but I guess there must be enough of them to support this niche industry.

I still enjoy listening to my old vinyl once in a while, and yes, I think it sounds more musical than most digital. But have been informed by vinylphobes that I am simply enjoying the coloration added by the process and equipment, rather than really hearing the superior music presentation that I think I am hearing. Whatever, I still like it.

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I have a large vinyl collection (I bought my first LP in 1958!) and, although I've thinned it down and replaced a lot of it with cd I can't bear to get rid of the bulk of it.
In many ways, without even going into the question of the sound, I find vinyl a more attractive medium. Boxed opera sets usually came with an attractively produced booklet containing extensive notes and libretti which I can still read without resorting to my spectacles. And I must confess that I've even been tempted to buy a recording because of the lovely artwork on the LP cover! Philips Classical favourites series, in particular, often had beautiful colour photographs which adorned the issues.
Also there are many fine performances recorded in the days of LP which have never been re-issued on CD. I'm thinking of pianists such as Friedrich Wuhrer, Bela Siki, Cor de Groot, Jakob Gimpel and Alexander Uninsky who recorded largely in mono and don't have quite the "star-attraction" value to their names to interest cd companies who specialise in re-issues.

I'm pleased that equipment for playing vinyl is still being manufactured. I'm more worried that my large cassette collection will soon be obsolete. My minidisc recordings certainly are now.

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Vinyl is still alive, strange as it sounds, thanks to dance music and hip hop. Top Djs still work with vinyl, and this is what has kept most manufacturers in the business.

Personally, i like vinyl, but it is not better tna cd in terms of fidelity. Vinyl does have a colour that you may or may not like, to me, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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For those of us who have been around since BF "invented" electricity, there's another aspect to be considered in the CD/vinyl discussions.

At approximately the same time as CDs began to hit the commercial market, such components as amplifiers and pre-amps had already moved from vacuum tubes to the much more compact and cooler-running, longer-life transistors. Some of the "warmth" that many attributed to vinyl was also lost in this stage of the technological forward march. Some of those steps have been replaced in high-end amps and pre-amps with the combination of a new generation of vacuum tubes along with transistor technology.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Wood-demon
I'm more worried that my large cassette collection will soon be obsolete.

Not so much 'obsolete', but deterioration should be your worry. If these cassettes are important to you, i.e. sentimental value or unavailable on CD, then I would digitize them. It's not difficult to do (I did a bunch for my mother) and you need not spend money on expensive software. There's plenty of user-friendly freeware which will do the job nicely.

Just a thought...


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Originally Posted by argerichfan
Originally Posted by Wood-demon
I'm more worried that my large cassette collection will soon be obsolete.

Not so much 'obsolete', but deterioration should be your worry. If these cassettes are important to you, i.e. sentimental value or unavailable on CD, then I would digitize them. It's not difficult to do (I did a bunch for my mother) and you need not spend money on expensive software. There's plenty of user-friendly freeware which will do the job nicely.

Just a thought...


I've got some cassettes both pre-recorded and those which were originally blank which were among the first I bought well over thirty years ago and which still play perfectly well. I have found that it's the pre-recorded ones bought more recently which have suffered deterioration which leads me to suppose that, as the market for them increased, standards of manufacture became much more sloppy. Many of these I have been able to replace with cd versions of the same recordings.
Much more valuable to me, as you suggested in your post, are recordings I've made off the radio and also some personal ones. Most of these still seem to play well.
I've thought about digitizing them and in the past and will certainly look into the possibility while I still have a cassette deck capable of playing the originals.
Thanks for the suggestion.


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Checkout:

http://www.linnrecords.com/

You can download "StudioMaster" editions at 24bit/88.8 KHz or greater quality (this far exceeds CD (16bit/44.1KHz) and is similar to SACD. CD is dead and will soon go the same way as the audio cassette. DVD & Blueray or similar is the future....

You can burn these files to either DVD-Audio (which may require a compatible player) or Audio-DVD (which will play on any old DVD player) for playback in your Audio/HiFi systems. (DVD audio specifications are higher than CD).You need broadband & good bandwidth for the downloads! They also cost more £18-£20 for an album. ARTUR PIZARRO has made a number of recordings in recent years for them and targetting these higher quality file types.

These files are either available in two formats: FLAC ('Free Lossless Audio Codec' and may require a software player) or WMA (plays in MS Windows Media player and everything else). They are high quality and large! You can download test files from the Linn site to see if they work for you. I just burnt several of these to DVD-R using "Audio DVD creator" trial ware and it sounds very good!

In addition to Linnrecords if you Google "FLAC" you'll find a range of sites where you can download audiophile quality classical recordings. Another big one is

http://www.passionato.com/

Personally I never liked CDs I saw them as an upgrade/replacement for Cassettes but have held on to all my vinyl LPs and upgraded my turnatables during this period. I think the CD sample and bit rates made sence 25 years ago but not any longer. Its a bit like ordering a T-Bone steak and being given 12oz of minced/ground beef - just aint the same!

Best wishes

Elwyn






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Originally Posted by izaldu
Vinyl is still alive, strange as it sounds, thanks to dance music and hip hop. Top Djs still work with vinyl, and this is what has kept most manufacturers in the business.



I would make a distinction between manufacturers of the actual recordings and manufacturers of playback equipment. Hip hop, DJs, sampling, etc. have kept some manufacturers of the recordings in business, but the manufacturing of playback equipment has long included an audiophile market that wasn't affected by the arrival of DJs. For example, I think you probably would not see many turntables in clubs made by the likes of SME , Clearaudio , VPI , or even Pro-Ject , just to name a few. (BTW, I am not connected with those online stores I linked, other than as a customer, nor to the equipment manufacturers.)


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