I received an email from my friend Alan Kanter that was published in LA Weekly about the relative merits of Vinyl LPs and digital recordings…specifically CD standard stuff. The article was written by Chris Kornelis and published on Tuesday January 27, 2015. Here’s a link to the lengthy article. It may be long but it is well worth the read.
It’s especially relevant because Michael Fremer ranted without mercy about an article by Mario Aguilar over at Gizmodo and a response that he wanted published. Michael Fremer, for those of you who aren’t familiar with his passion and his writing, is a reviewer for Stereophile and a staunch vinylophile. You can read his rant yourself here but basically he lashes into Mario because he criticizes the Pono device and Neil Young for selling snake oil. I read the article and have actually been in touch with Mario (he wrote to me after my comments and article on the same topic) and I agree with a lot of what he said…however, he based his negative assessment on totally incorrect reasoning. It’s on thing to deliver a critical review but it’s another to do so on erroneous information and dubious facts. But I’ve already posted about that. Today is about the silliness of Michael’s retort.
The article in the LA Weekly contains a lot of quotes from intelligent, working professional audio engineers…including Grammy winners, educators, and inventors. The essential message is pretty much the same line that I’ve been saying for years. Michael and all of his vinylophile friends…and recognize that there are a lot of them…need to understand the facts about their vaulted format. It is an absolute fact that a PCM digital recording, even at CD specifications, can outperform a vinyl LP in every aspect of sound, accuracy of reproduction, dynamic range, and stereo imaging.
Michael referenced my recordings and the comparison of high-resolution files vs. CD down conversions. He bragged about being able to pick the high-resolution file 75% of the time. These were recordings that have extended frequency response, not mastering, and lots of dynamic range. Mr. Fremer wrote the follow about an epiphany moment in the Meridian demo room at CES.
“We were played Bob Dylan singing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” transferred using this technology directly front the analog master tape and FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER I heard a digital file that challenged the resolution and spaciousness of an LP (which has a frequency response from 16 Hz well into the 40 kHz range). Here’s a link to the lengthy article.
[NOTE: Vinyl LP masters are usually cut from second or third generation analog tape…it’s a very rare vinyl LP that delivers appropriate levels at 16 Hz up to 40 kHz]