This is not the first time we’ll talk about the best source of listening to music… CD or Vinyl? You’ll find a lot of people telling you a real reason why they prefer such format rather than the other. Right now we’re going to keep the score for concluding what is the best format once and for all.
Just one thing. I won’t talk about what format posses the best audio quality. I think that that is subjective of every person.
Dynamic Range: the winner here is no brainer… CDs have a dynamic range of 96 dB… when vinyl can’t go higher than 65 dB. The point obviously goes to the CD. Although it is also true that during the 2000 dynamic range of digital releases were screwed because the volume was cranked all the way up, I made a video about such a subject, but that is another thing. In the end, CDs can reproduce sound with more dynamic range, and that’s the final truth
Loudness War: the CD has more dynamic range, that is a fact. But what is also true is that the volume of a digital format can be turned up infinitely. That makes the audio to be more compressed, and that makes music sound harsh, it practically kills the aspect that benefits CDs the most, which is having a higher dynamic range. You can turn up the volume of vinyl, but if you do so the groove would need to be bigger, limiting the minutes of music per vinyl side, that would mean having more vinyl discs per album, that would mean costing more money to produce an album, so that would mean that record companies would not do so. There’s a bunch of videos online of people discussing this subject, I would drop some of them on the description just in case you guys are interested in this subject. Poing goes to vinyl.
Cost: This is also a no brainer, if a vinyl costs 25-30 euros, the CD would cost at most 15 euros. The point goes to the CD.
Availability: This is a tough one. I would say that nowadays CDs are less popular than 10 years ago. You now see that bands in concerts only sell the vinyl version of their albums, I think that they simply sell better for some reason. And bands are also releasing material exclusively on vinyl for the physical format. The point goes to Vinyl.
Packaging: you can be a digital fan and prefer a lot of things about a CD. But you’ll never say such thing like the artwork looks better on this plastic case than on that gorgeous big LP… no, you’ll not. The point here goes to the Vinyl.
Fragility: Oh yea, you can drop a CD, you can hand it to your kid, he can roll it over the floor and then put it on the record player as nothing happened. Vinyl is way more fragile than CDs. Point goes to the CD here… but!
Recovery: When a CD is scratched there is nothing you can do about it, it will loop during the playback. On the other hand, if there is a scratch or a dot on your vinyl, you can rub it out with an eraser. I’ve done it and the loop disappears. It works! It’s not perfect of course, you’ll hear a pop, but the loop will be gone. The point goes to the Vinyl here.
On the Go: You buy a CD from your record store, you go home, rip your new record and you can have it in multiple audio formats in minutes, easy and very fast. Although these days difficult to find a computer with a CD-ROOM. You can have an external unit or whatever, but I bet that just a few of you that are watching have one. Am I right? Archiving vinyl is not so simple. You have two, four or more sides, you’ll have to separate the songs manually, the record and stylus need to be very clean, It’s obvious that the process would take a lot longer than with the digital record… You get the point, and the pint goes to the CD here. And by the way, I don’t tend to archive my vinyl, I think the best way to listen to vinyl is in your place, sited in front of your loudspeakers. I use music that has been ripped from digital sources on the go. It’s weird for me to hear pops and feeling the needle when I’m not seeing it. But that is just me!
Skipping songs. I think that if a band releases an album, which consists, let’s say, in 12 songs. It would be nice if the audience would listen to the whole thing. I think that one bad thing that CDs made was that any song was accessible (and obviously things got worse when streaming services arrived, and I say worse in this regard). One band release 3 singles for the album, then somebody buys the CD of it, they play the singles and that’s it. And don’t tell me that this is not true because it is. The point goes to the vinyl, with the analog format is more likable that the listener would hear the whole album. You could still place the needle in a particular song, but we know that this is not something most people would do.
What song is playing? This might happened most likely if you’re listening to prog music. For example, when I play some Opeth’s record I don’t know if I’m listening to the same song or not. You know that the songs in progressive music have tons of transitions, and if I’m not familiar with all the songs of an album I wouldn’t know what track I’m listening to. It might be confusing. This happens also with an album that has tons of tracks. Let’s say that one has 6 tracks for one side. When you’re hearing a song you might confuse yourself by not knowing if you are hearing track number 4 or track number 5. Whit CDs there’s a screen that tells you the track’s number, so the point goes to this format.
Attention. This one is similar to the skipping song case. It takes more effort to play a vinyl record. You have to place it on the turntable, clean it, clean the stylus (if you take care of your records, which I assume you do). This only does you pay more attention to the music that is going out of your speakers. If you want to hear a vinyl that means that you’re aware of doing what it takes to do so. What takes more effort is what we tend to appreciate more. If you play a vinyl it’s more likable that you sit and hear the whole thing. When it comes to listening to a CD, that’s not so probable to happen. Point goes to vinyl.
Extra Media: back in when people used to buy records, some CDs had bonus material, most of the time was the video of the single, but there were some cases when the CD had some fun things such as a video game of the band. That gave the artist to have some room extra for giving something extra to the consumer. With vinyl, it’s only possible to place audio on it. Point goes to the CD here as well.
You got me, it was obviously my intention of making the score to be even. Yeah! I cheated, you can call The Var if you like! The thing is that it amuses me how many people are discussing this subject so intensely. The thing is that vinyl and CDs are just two different ways of storing music, and that’s it. They are both very good at doing so. They are just different and that’s the final statement. People would prefer one or the other. Stupp with that fuzz and just enjoy the music!