The Rise and Fall and Rise of Vinyl

Which of the following statements is false? 1. The sun rises in the east. 2. The hands of a clock go clockwise. 3. New technology is always better than old technology. This last statement, of course, isn’t quite as gospel as the others. Sometimes old technology has advantages that cause it to linger longer than we’d expect, or in rare cases, even make a comeback.

Let’s consider print versus pixels. Conventional wisdom states that printed books and magazines will be obsoleted by digital media, probably within a few decades. Except that’s not what’s happening. From 2008 to 2010, e-book sales rose almost 1,300 percent. Printed books went on the endangered species list. Borders bookstore declared bankruptcy. It was widely predicted that sales of e-books would surpass printed books sometime in 2015. Instead, e-book sales from major book publishers fell 10 percent in the first five months of 2015. It appears, at least for now, that e-book sales have plateaued at about 20 percent. Amazingly, the number of independent brick-and-mortar bookstores, selling printed books, has increased.

This is partly explained by the steep rise in the price of e-books. Thanks to price gouging, a printed book is now sometimes cheaper than an electronic one. Also, e-book subscription services, particularly Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, skew sales figures. And, these sales figures do not accurately reflect the millions of people reading self-published e-books; in that category, sales are up strongly. But, in any case, Gutenberg’s baby is alive and well.

Now let’s consider music. Conventional wisdom is quite clear on this. Sooner or later, physical media will cease to exist, and all delivery will be by streaming or download. Smart money has already bet heavily on this. For example, Apple paid $3 billion to buy Beats, largely because it wanted to strengthen its foothold in music streaming. It’s a done deal. Or is it?

Vinyl is hopelessly, romantically sensual.

Is there a parallel between books and music? Would consumers ever seriously begin buying physical music media again? Printed books offer readers a direct, hands-on experience that electronic text cannot provide. A printed book offers a welcome time-out from the ubiquitous screens in our lives.

With that in mind, is it conceivable that consumers want to turn back the clock on music technology? If so, how far? If we’re searching for music delivery that is charmingly antediluvian, we have to go further back than any digital media, back all the way to analog media. That is, to vinyl. Essentially, vinyl is to recorded music as a printed book is to text. They are both suitably primitive, yet familiar to us, and provide the perfect antidote to technology.

Vinyl sales have been rising for years; in the first half of 2015, sales were up 52 percent by value and now account for 30 percent of the value of physical media. Independent bookstores are making a comeback; could record shops possibly do the same? It all seems so improbable. Compared to obviously technically superior files, vinyl is bulky and fragile, prone to defects and degrades with use. Vinyl is everything that modern consumers shouldn’t want. But they do want vinyl. Why? Because compared to all other music delivery methods, vinyl is so hopelessly, romantically sensual.

Conventional wisdom isn’t always correct, or at least isn’t always on schedule. Sales of physical music media are declining. But the renaissance of vinyl informs us that more and more people are looking for a more satisfying way to listen to music.

The vinyl comeback, in my opinion, has become significant. Totally counterintuitive. But after dealing with technology all day, is there anything better than putting on a record and curling up with a good book? A printed book, of course.

dommyluc's picture

I can't wait for those wax cylinders to make a big comeback, too. That recording of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford doing a rap version of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" is the absolute SHIZZLE!
Geez, I lived through the vinyl era, so I really wish people would stop romanticizing it. Lousy pressings on recycled vinyl that looked like used asphalt scraped off the highway, 2nd or 3rd generation master tapes, surface noise, clicks, pops, lousy dynamic range, lousy S/N ratio. But yes, let's all go back to the wonderful world of vinyl (and most of us teenagers and young adults couldn't afford $2500 turntables and $900 tonearms. Hell, I could barely afford the premium prices of the MFSL limited edition pressings that were available). Hey, and to hell with 7.1 channel surround or 11.2 channel Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, too - how could they possibly compare with the absolute purity of MONO?! And while we're at it, let's bring back 240-line VHS, too. 4K video? Bah, humbug!

MatthewWeflen's picture

I get the feeling you don't like vinyl.

dommyluc's picture

I loved vinyl, when it was about the best (couldn't afford a reel-to-reel deck and pre-recorded tapes when I was younger) and about the only quality way to listen to music. Cassettes were really intended for dictation, and 8-Track was an abomination from Hell.
But I also loved my bell-bottom jeans - in 1971.

Michael Fremer's picture

While Ken keeps up with the digits he thinks vinyl playback is stuck in the 70s. Very smart people have been updating it ever since. Ken obviously isn't interested in that. He's happier to be dismissive. Analog playback is not "primitive". Ken's tribal thinking is.

thehun's picture

Vinyl's renaissance has nothing to do with tech, it's a fad a long lasting one indeed, but it will pass.

Michael Fremer's picture

Nor is it a fad. Why are you so pissed off about it? It's not about you. Go about your digital business. You really are among the vinyl clueless who feels a need to lash out at something you really don't understand.

thehun's picture

LOL Talking about pissed and clueless, easy there pops you might blow an o ring.Try a different power cable, it might make you feel better. :D

Michael Fremer's picture

You are very primitive. Now sit back and take it. If you don't think power cords make a difference you are primitive and arrogant and clueless. Now have a nice day!

thehun's picture

I rest my case. LOL

thehun's picture

meant Primitive?

Michael Fremer's picture

You haven't made a case. I went to law school. Trust me, you have not made a case for which you are entitled to rest LOL etc.

thehun's picture

That was my point I don't have to make one you do it just fine for everyone to see.

Michael Fremer's picture

About your "thoughts"...

thehun's picture

So then why are you keep replying to me?

GG Allin's picture

A fad, by definition, is a short-lived trend. Vinyl has been on an upswing with massive year-over-year increases for 10 years already. I now have two healthy record stores in my neighborhood. THere is something much deeper here than anything that would be called a "fad."

thehun's picture

Should have used that like above, but no matter some pettifoggers will emerge nonetheless. Yes vinyl sale is up, but it is still a nieche compared to it's former glory, the same way your neighbourhood record stores are.Yes I agree there is more to vinyl's resurgence than just pure fad, but they will never be "deeper" than subjective "reasonings".

Michael Fremer's picture

Very bitter. I wonder why? Maybe because you are on your umpteenth A/V receiver upgrade and now have speakers in your ceilings and floors to better enjoy explosions and hear drums behind you where they never are in real life?

Michael Fremer's picture

And haven't a current clue.

Deus02's picture

This article is rather timely in that over the last few days I happened to watch a bunch of youtube videos in which quite surprisingly, the esoteric and very, very expensive is still alive and well in the two channel audio vinyl world. Tens of thousands of dollars is still being spent on equipment and speakers whose brand that I, personally, have never heard of along with every so-called room improvement gadget that ever existed. Add to that the enormous sums spent on snake oil cables and wiring which they insist improve the sound. In these videos, it is almost like a religious experience with these people and the owners are so wrapped up in their equipment and telling everyone what they have, I am not really sure that they spend that much time actually listening to the sound and the question sure has to be asked WHY?

To the small percentage who still spend their money on vinyl along with these outrageously expensive systems, it sure beats me.

Michael Fremer's picture

Because you don't understand. You don't understand because you haven't experienced it or don't care to but trust me, the people who do really do spend a great deal of time listening. And you would be very surprised to find out exactly who are "these people". They are not fools or dupes.

Deus02's picture

It seems with your tirade of articles, YOU are the one that has the problem, here. As far as not understanding because I haven't experienced it, just for the record, now at 70 years old, I spent over 25 years in the music business as a musician and later on as a producer so although, unlike yourself and the examples of readers that you quote, I actually MADE the music in recordings, not just listened.

Whether or not vinyl is better or not is totally irrelevant to me, I am not a great fan of any of the current brand of music anyway so my current listening experiences vary considerably on my "piddly" $30,000 system.

Frankly, just from your responses, it just verifies why I don't read publications such as Stereophile and the audiophile snobbery that oozes out of it, of course, you, being the "poster child" for all of it.

Michael Fremer's picture

I have been fighting for decades for what I believe is truth in sound. It's funny you see nothing insulting or petulant or outrageous about calling a very alive and improving technology "primitive" but when I defend it you offer me a self righteous response. I'm glad you actually made the music. I actually supervised the soundtrack to an Academy Award winning soundtrack so bully for both of us.

loudogp250's picture

This is my first post. I don't understand all the hate towards vinyl. I love most digital formats. HD audio files are awesome but when I have a stressful day at work nothing relaxes me like coming home and placing a record on my turntable. I am in my 30's and the vinyl experience has added new life to my love of music.

Michael Fremer's picture

People who don't understand something feel threatened and so they react with hate and bitterness. I too have thousands of CDs and high resolution files and surround sound etc. but like you I find that nothing in the digital domain reduces stress compared to good vinyl playback. I talk to young people all the time who feel as you do. Once they hear it they are there. The more some push back derisively as in the posts here the more the vinyl people push back. That this "fad" keeps growing drives these folks crazy. As it grows, their rhetoric grows more inflamed. Mine heads in the other direction. When I heard hoe awful CDs sounded at the beginning I was inflamed. Not now.

Michael Fremer's picture

Ken embraced CDs when they were introduced and the sound was abominable. I'll cut him some slack and say he was mesmerized by the tech. He obviously still is. However calling vinyl playback "primitive" is both ridiculous and insulting. The individual who designed my pick up arm has Masters Degrees in mechanical engineering and material science. He is hardly "primitive" nor is vinyl playback in the 21st century. Ken stopped paying attention to probably 30 years ago so I understand why he's clueless about the state of this highly sophisticated mechanical science. The fact is vinyl still sounds more musical and more like real music than any digital format. That is what fuels the revival. I know. I talk to the young people way into what is 100% guaranteed not to be a fad. Among my 104,000 plus Analogplanet readers are astronauts, microchip designers and others well invested in modern scientific endeavors and they agree with me that vinyl sounds better. I'll put any of my 40 year old records played hundreds of times against any digital version and the record will sound way better. I do this all the time or skeptics and win every not most of the time. The sarcasm, defensiveness and bitterness in Ken's piece and especially in the snarky (shmucky actually) comments under Ken's post can be found under most such stories. Maybe these people aren't so much enjoying their brave new digital world? Otherwise what accounts for their tone. The reason people don't anymore sit down and pay undivided attention to recorded music much anymore becomes obvious the first time a youn person sits down and listens to a record properly played back. But if you love your digital I'm good with that. Why are so many of you so bitter and angry by what brings us so much listening pleasure?

thehun's picture

The only truly pissed off person here is you, and you've been like that for a long time. Just read your own tirade here and other threads as well, it's all too clear.shmuky?LOL How ironic.
If vinyl relieves your stress as you claim,it's clearly not working.

Michael Fremer's picture

Yes vinyl does relieve my stress but so does responding to snarky posts that obviously bother me more than you so you respond to what I posted but give a pass to people posting things far more offensive than what I posted. As for your personal attack on me as opposed to what I posted, that's expected. The 100,00 plus unique visitors at have a different opinion of me and of what I write. You will orobably not excuse me for defending myself against your attack but excuse me for defending myself and defending the so called "primitive" technology.

thehun's picture

You're the one came here charging like a crazed bull, you called people right off the bat all sorts of names, if you're so sure about the superiority of your beloved vinyl you would let dissenting opinions fly, and not acting like a hurt child whose toy just been taken away. I know lots of people who loves vinyl sound yet choose to be civilized about it, why can't you?

Michael Fremer's picture

My comments were in reaction to sarcastic turd slinging so it's pretty funny that you ignore that. I have no problem with "dissenting opinions". I do have a problem with charges that vinyl is "primitive" (it's not) and I have bigger problems with snotty sarcasm, which is what was posted here before I got involved. Why should I be "civilized" responded to what was posted before I posted anything?

thehun's picture

Your initial posts were way below primitive or snotty sarcasm as anyone can see that, except you. I can assure you that you only hurting your case and those who happens to like vinyl as well. If I was one of them I would be rather embarrassed that you appointed yourself to be this foamy, foul mouth spokesperson of vinyl aficionados.Good luck with that!

Michael Fremer's picture

I could care less that you would be "rather embarrassed" by what I wrote. I assure you I'm not the least bit embarrassed by any of it, nor would be many or any of the 100,000+ unique visitors monthly who visit

I've been fighting this battle for 30 years and apparently despite my "foamy and foul mouth" I've been quite effective at it—no luck involved.

The tone and substance of many of the comments under Ken's piece were as I described them. Ken's characterization of vinyl playback as "primitive" was inflammatory and insulting.

I'm not sure from where you drew the conclusion that I'd appointed myself to be the "spokesperson of vinyl aficionados". I have made no such "self-appointment". That is your fantasy—one that I'm sure helped you whip up an extra dollop of self-righteousness.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Ken, young people are embracing vinyl for sure...for several reasons. Firstly, they weren't alive when vinyl was big so it's a novelty. Secondly, vinyl does sound better to them than crappy MP3's of poor quality played through a lousey iPhone DAC. Thirdly, vinyl is Marantz 6300 sitting on my walnut credenza looks bad ass.

That said, there is a reason why vinyl was replaced and it hasn't changed. Records scratch easily, take up a huge amount of space, and are not portable. Then there's the fact that a hi-res audio file played through a high end DAC sounds better, period.

Michael Fremer's picture

Your analog front end updated or your set up improved.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Your DAC needs to be improved.

Michael Fremer's picture

I have reviewed three generations of DCS DACs. They are considered among the world's best. I have also had here MSB's best. These are about as good as digital gets and they are very, very good. Sorry, but records still sound better. I was sitting in a neighbor's hot tub last summer talking about all of this with non-audiophiles who couldn't believe I "still played records". They had no idea there's been an vinyl revival. So I invited them over. Everyone dried off and they came over. They were Stones fans. I compared The Rolling Stones SACDs on a DCS stack to original UK British DECCA pressings I've been playing since the 1960s. They'd never before heard a system like mine and the SACD playback floored them. I played them "Aftermath" which was engineered by the great Dave Hassinger at RCA's Hollywood facilities. Great recording. Then I played the LP. Levels matched, etc. I don't play any games. It took about two minutes when one guy blurted out: "I get it. The SACD sounds great but on the record, Mick Jagger was standing 'right there'. That happens not most of the time but every time I do a comparison for a skeptic.

thehun's picture


Bosshog7_2000's picture

Just because you say it is so, does not make it so. TRUE Hi Res audio sounds better then vinyl, when played through a quality DAC. You will never change my mind.

Michael Fremer's picture

Just defending what i know to be true. I have access to more TRUE hi-rez files than I can possibly listen to using very, very good DACs and the records still sound more life-like to me. These are two very different technologies that produce very different results. To each his own...

Michael Fremer's picture

Sorry about the typos above. Written on my phone. At airport on way to yet another vinyl event

lutry's picture

Volume growth has been happening for some years now - and is in fact accelerating. This is an indication that the majority of the people that "joined" vinyl is NOT "leaving". Also, records are not exactly cheap, neither are turntables - so one can suspect the the majority of the joiners will think twice before investing into this. By contrast a hipster's bear has definitely much lower sunk cost.

I listen mostly to digital - in the car, running, cooking - but when I want to disconnect, relax, or whatever, nothing beats vinyl (not even Rob Watt's Dave.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Mike Fremer you need to sit down and relax buddy....just because people have differing opinions to you does not make them 'uniformed idiots'.

I'm 43 years old so I grew up with records/tapes, then CD's, then crappy MP3's, and now hi-res audio. I own some vinyl and it is fine for what it is...namely a nostalgia format with a nice, warm sound. But I tell you what, hi-res audio tracks played through my Sony HAP-S1 DAC sound LIGHTYEARS better. If you think otherwise you are deaf, period.

matteos's picture

And you are wrong. I've compared redbook, HiRez and vinyl of several albums that I have. In every case vinyl trumps everything. Played through the same system. I've got a $300 DAC and a $300 MC cartridge. the cartridge is so far ahead it is not funny.

With newer recordings that have been recorded digitally there is way less of a gap. Often indistinguishable. But something recorded in analog that has never seen a digit. Night and Day, every album, every time I've compared it to the digital version.

But I really don't care what digital lovers like. Enjoy your music in whatever format you like. I personally love the few DVD-Audio's I have played through my surround system.

But to say digital is better... Yeah, that's a joke. As long as you have a half decent system and not some crappy Crosley and such.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Sorry, but arguments like 'I've got a $300 DAC' doesn't go far.

matteos's picture

That's not the argument. The argument is that my DAC cost the same amount of money as my moving coil cartridge. If you must know I have around $15k invested in my system. Including a Nelson Pass First Watt J20. A KEF R series surround setup including Dual subs and a rebuilt Lenco L70. Maybe I'd spend more money on a DAC.. but what would be the point since 90% if my listening is fine on vinyl. But thank you for your patronising comment. As if people with less income and less money invested can not have an opinion an audio playback. Should I not be allowed an opinion if I was listening to a pair of Andrew Jones pioneers?

Bosshog7_2000's picture

I'm not being your post, you were the one who brought up your $300 DAC. Based on the equipment you supposedly own I'm sure your vinyl does sound good, and probably is the reason digital doesn't. Invest in a better quality DAC that plays hi-res audio and then buy a REAL Hi-Res sudio track and tell me what you think.

There's nothing wrong with vinyl, I own vinyl too....but to say it's superior to Hi-Res audio is just outright garbage. Most people who claim vinyl sounds better either A) have a poor DAC or B) are listening to poor source files.

matteos's picture

Perhaps I need to spell it out? A mc cartridge turns analog playback into electrical signal. A dac turns digital into electrical signal.. they perform the sane functions. Just with different sources.. the equipment I supposedly own? What is the point of continuing this discussion? I own a great setup. First Watt j2. Denon pra 1000. Kef r500. Kef r200c. Kef r300. Dual Kefr400b lenco l70 with denon r103r.. my digital cubes from a $2k gaming computer with an Asus xonar. Do I've got good stuff.. and vinyl sounds better as long as it was recorded in analog.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Gee, thanks for 'spelling it out to me' the difference between an MC cartridge and a DAC. You still don't get it, so let me spell it out for you...not all DAC's are the same....some suck, some are good, some are stellar. All things being equal (using same amp, speakers, pre-amp) a TRUE Hi-Res file through a great DAC should sound better through your system.

matteos's picture

And by the very same measure, not all MC cartridges are the same. Honestly. Are you stupid? The vinyl versions I have played through an equivalent costing MC cartridge vs the high rez versions of the same album played through an equivalently costing DAC played through my system... The winner is the vinyl every time. I have maybe 10 albums where I have Hi Rez and Vinyl (And redboo) versions. I have these precisely for this purpose as I wanted to have the best sounding system I could possibly afford and that includes source material. Nobody is going to call a Denon 103r a bad cartridge. And nobody is going to call an Asus Xonar Essence STX a bad soundcard (Powered by a 1000Watt PSU). So all you are doing right now. Is irritating me. Why don't you go plug in your music and stop chiming in with your worthless opinions. You have never heard my system.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Call me stupid, I'm sure that helps with your frustration with your lack of comprehension. The fact your paid $300 for both your MC cartridge and your DAC doesn't change the fact your DAC is the weak link. Enjoy your records...hope you don't break any in anger after reading my post.

matteos's picture

You telling me to go back to school is rude and offensive. Your opinions are stupid, hence the reason I call you stupid. I'm not angry. I am merely making an observation about your idiocy. Feel free to not talk to me and waste my time.

Michael Fremer's picture

I have a very nice digital system and 4000+ CDs SACD and hi Rez files. I am not deaf. I do NOT like reading that vinyl playback is "primitive" because it is not and so I respond rather strongly for which I apologize to no one especially the sarcastic commenters who I happily attack because they are well deserving of it. One of the reasons vinyl has returned is that I am a fighter and apologize to no one for that.

Michael Fremer's picture

I have a very nice digital system and 4000+ CDs SACD and hi Rez files. I am not deaf. I do NOT like reading that vinyl playback is "primitive" because it is not and so I respond rather strongly for which I apologize to no one especially the sarcastic commenters who I happily attack because they are well deserving of it. One of the reasons vinyl has returned is that I am a fighter and apologize to no one for that.

Bosshog7_2000's picture

Vinyl sounds great...I agree with you there. If you have a decent system the sound is very warm and engaging. That said, the format is primitive, just like the other guy said. It's a very old (primitive) means of recording music and the very physical form of the format is primitive...a huge vinyl disc which is easily scratched and takes up a tonne of room. THIS is what we mean when we say primitive.

Michael Fremer's picture

Really? So The Sistine Chapel is "primitive"? Yes a record takes up more room than does a file. That it takes up space doesn't make it "primitive". In fact it makes it attractive in my opinion. However the "easily scratched" bit really doesn't hold up to scrutiny. In fact, a CD is more easily scratched and more easily rendered unplayable. As for files, better back them up on the cloud or they can be wiped out in a hard drive crash. My records some more than 40 years old still sound better than any digital format I've yet heard. Why don't you go to my Youtube channel and listen to some of the "old 'easily scratched' records" I've transcribed from vinyl and posted with no noise reduction or pop and click remover, because none are necessary.

Bigmule1972's picture

Well, I guess I got it all wrong having a separate mono table with mono cartridge and a separate stereo table with stereo cartridge.... And I thought it sounded good...

I listen to more digital music for convenience, but when I sit in my listening chair, I'm spinning vinyl. Thats what I like. I don't mind spending extra time or money on vinyl...its my hobby....!

Since when is a fad something that lasts as long as vinyl....??? Whitewall tires??? Butterfly collars??? Stone washed jeans??? Etc??? I will always be able to find a record store...

If you like digital better, than so be it....who cares?

Fremer is well studied, honest, and fair...and arguably one of the best voices in this industry and more importantly, another music lover.

You keep arguing, I stop listening...

CJLA's picture

I have a hard time believing this. Two things come to mind. Degradation & one universally excepted format that's easy to use.
I loved the romance associated with LP's. I loved to open them up... especially a double album. Getting a leaflet or poster inside was awesome. Kicking back and reading the lyrics on a 12"x 12" size piece of paper and looking at the cover art while playing the album is engrossing. But after a few spins and hearing the snap crackle pop, having to clean the record with solution and blow clean my needle got old fast. Eventually I got to the point where I would go down to Tower Records and buy an album AND a Fuji cassette tape, unpack the album pop in my CrO2 tape, set it to Dolby C press pause, then Record and Play, adjust my VU meters, drop the needle and record the album. I would then put the album away until my cassette wore out, and then I would redo the process all over again, just to make the album last as long as possible. So why did I (we) do this? To preserve the record, and to be able to play the music in our boom boxes at the beach, and in our Nakamichi's in the car right? Gotta preserve the record right? And don't want to be with out our music, so we needed the portability of a cassette for our car stereos and our walkmans right? So in the end I see vinyl growing, but I can't imagine it getting to 51% of the market share and becoming the dominant player. (BTW I'm not saying that those of you that are vinyl advocates are saying this.) What I am saying, or perhaps reminding everyone about, is the fact that most of us didn't want to deal with the needed upkeep of cleaning fluids, replacing cartridges, and degradation of the record, and we wanted the portability of the cassette... Well isn't that exactly how and why we arrived at digital music? Essentially sounds the same the first time as it does the hundredth time? And you can have it anywhere but even easier than a cassette? Stream it from your 4G, or give it to someone on a thumb drive, etc. Plus when you take up the space taken by LP's, I think most of us will choose digital, and perhaps only a handful will be willing to go down the analog vinyl road. Just one persons perspective.

Michael Fremer's picture

You are correct that vinyl will never again dominate the software market. Had that been Ken's point I wouldn't have commented. Burn neither will gourmet cooking dominate the food market. Fast food is easier. MP3 downloads are easier too! However I think you overplay the hassles with vinyl and underplay the pleasures. My records aren't riddled with pops and clicks as my YouTube channel rips demonstrate and I'm always happy to compare for skeptics their latest hi rez download with my 40 year old original pressing of an old title.

vqworks's picture

In the end, the format of choice is just that: a choice, just a preference.

But as someone who grew up experiencing nearly everything (open reel, cassette, vinyl, MD, HDCD, SACD, etc.) and reading all the major publications (Stereo Review, High Fidelity, Audio, Stereophile, TAS, Sound & Vision (of course), The Analog Planet, Audioholics, Positive Feedback, etc., I have to say that on paper digital formats blow analog formats out of the water. In reality, specs only partially reveal what we hear and if someone hears something that some else doesn't, there isn't necessarily a placebo involved.

Fact: If you ask most S&V readers which format is best, they'll refer to a digital one. If you ask most Analog Planet readers which one is best, it's going to be the vinyl format.

Fact: There is definitely usually a condescending attitude toward vinyl from Ken and most other proponents of digital formats. When was the last time digital formats were labeled "primitive" (not synonymous with "old") on a vinyl website? I can't remember even one occurrence. But if vinyl is mentioned on a digital-centric site, someone somewhere never fails in bringing up a sarcastic wax cylinder remark or the falsehood of ticks and pops.

This just underlines what little exposure some listeners have had to good vinyl equipment or the lack of being informed about any progress for vinyl hardware and software within the past 30+ years (The latest improvement in pressing plant technology deals with a refined plating and pressing technique of Direct Metal Mastering). The vinyl comeback certainly isn't due to some "romantic sensual" emotion.

There's good vinyl and bad vinyl. I've heard vinyl that subjectively dead quiet without the "ocean roar" background hiss and without any other surface noise. So long as your turntable is a decent unit (not necessarily even new), the tonearm is well-matched to the cartridge in terms of effective mass and compliance, and the cartridge itself is a good one (not necessarily expensive), I guarantee you'll hear tons of detail, transient attack, tight bass, great separation (imaging and depth) against a subjectively dead-quiet background even with the volume set to a very high level, all with flat frequency response. All this and it can sound better (or, if you prefer) more appealing than your digital format of choice.

If you don't like it, then fine but tons of people do; it doesn't always involve some intangible emotion or the appeal of a nostalgic format. It can still often be about the sound quality.

thehun's picture

""""Fact: There is definitely usually a condescending attitude toward vinyl from Ken and most other proponents of digital formats. When was the last time digital formats were labeled "primitive" (not synonymous with "old") on a vinyl website? I can't remember even one occurrence. But if vinyl is mentioned on a digital-centric site, someone somewhere never fails in bringing up a sarcastic wax cylinder remark or the falsehood of ticks and pops."""""
Needle in the groove, how would you characterize that, in this technical age? [Of course you not gonna find the label "primitive" for digital on any website, simply because it would be incorrect.] The same would go for internal combustion engines at 100+years after their invention and even though they are actually mainstream, and it will be for a couple of decades, but they are hardly a technological marvel at this point or for a long time now. Yes they are primitive. It's not a sarcastic point it's reality and fact.[ so is pops and clicks] If one want to live in the past and in denial that's one's choice of course.

vqworks's picture

You either didn't read my entire post or decided to cherry pick just the portion for the sake of an argument.

On the surface, your brief response sounds convincing enough. I've heard ticks & pops before and, yes, the "needle in the groove" label can persuade anyone who doesn't look at the current state of the vinyl format to believe it's primitive.

But let me make it obvious: There is great vinyl that is pressed quite often without any audible noise, including the "ticks & pops" you eagerly refer to. There's also quite a bit more than a needle in a groove involved when playing any vinyl. Is it really primitive when you realize that a proper setup involves optimum cartridge compliance, tip geometry, tip mass, tracking force, etc.? If you still think it's primitive, let's avoid the stylus altogether and think about the "ELP" laser turntable that the Library of Congress currently uses. This turntable does not use any stylus; all records are played using an optical laser system, which is NOT digital. Is the vinyl format old? Of course it is! There's no question but I'd hardly call it primitive.

I also have news for you regarding digital formats. Vinyl is not much more primitive than digital. Here's why: You may not be aware that the first D-A converter was built back in 1935 using tubes. It was an 8-bit converter. That's 12 years before the LP was introduced. The design for the first optical digital disc system was done back in the 60s but the hardware wasn't ready until the 1980 in Japan.

The combustion engine works well despite its age. So what?

Do you crave something new for the sake of its freshness? New doesn't always translate to better. The new relay switches that shift between "Drive", "Reverse", "Neutral", etc. in some new luxury SUVs are experiencing switch lagging issues. It's new but it's also less reliable.

There's a sizable and growing segment of consumers that genuinely like the vinyl format for its sound quality (It's currently recognized as a high resolution format and one of the reasons is its ability to reproduce musical overtones over 20kHz). I'm among those that like it. I also like digital formats enough to have those too. In other words, I'm non-partisan.

You don't like vinyl. I get it. But don't impose your preference on other people (I'm not just referring to your reply to my message). I realize Sound & Vision is also a digital-leaning publication but it's nowhere near as impartial as its predecessor's days (remember Stereo Review?).

jagxjr15's picture

"[analog is]currently recognized as a high resolution format"

Well, I beg to differ with you on that. CD is much higher resolution than analog media. Just ask Mark Waldrep or Sean Olive, who actually have audio engineering credentials, if analog is 'high resolution.'
Olive recently congratulated Waldrep for stating, in his new book, Music and Audio Guide, that NO analog recording medium is high resolution. This myth is promulgated by the self-appointed 'experts' in 'high end' consumer audio magazines/cults, but it is not shared by actual experts in the field, that is, by AES members who generally have advanced degrees from accredited universities in electrical engineering and acoustics.

vqworks's picture

There's bound to be disagreement the point. In fact, it is comparable to medieval holy wars.

It is easy to reference professionals in the recording industry to justify any claim. You cited Waldrep. Of course, his opinion completely opposes the late Doug Sax who was also a giant in the recording industry. He regularly worked with 30 ips analog master tapes as well as digital and was mastering engineer at The Mastering Lab and Sheffield Lab. Was Doug an expert in the field? Of course, he was.

Mark Waldrep's biggest problem is making his blanket statement. Regardless of which point of reference you live by, there will always be exceptional material that will contradict your belief.

I once played a recording of a Dolby SR recording to a recording engineer (one who has recorded Eath, Wind & Fire, Cheap Trick, Michael Jackson, various jazz and classical artists, etc.) and he proudly proclaimed that he could tell that the recording was digital. I quickly revealed that it was an analog recording. His response? "Well, you know...." My internal monologue was, "Well you know...what?" But I kept silent to be respectable.

Notice that I haven't mentioned any writers from high end audio magazines. Which AES members stated that analog audio formats are not high resolution?

jagxjr15's picture

Doug Sax was a 'RECORDING engineer' not an AUDIO engineer with audio engineering credentials. Anybody can be a recording engineer and most of them are ignorant when it comes to physics and acoustics, including Doug Sax. Sax was a self-appointed expert with many friends in the commercial audio recording business and who could make pleasing recordings(for which he won Grammys), but he was not conversant with the science and he believed, and promulgated, many myths. Not so Waldrep and Olive, who are active AES members with deep backgrounds in the physics of audio. They won't win Grammys or become celebrities, but if you want to learn the facts about audio, as I do, they, and the many other real AUDIO engineers who understand the science, are the ones to seek out.

vqworks's picture

I will readily agree with you wholeheartedly that most recording engineers are ignorant in their knowledge of physics and acoustics. But that's as far as I can go. I can definitely distinguish between the typical recording engineer and audio engineer. I wasn't clear about making this distinction. I'll give you that.

But Doug Sax was not a typical recording engineer. Years ago there was a group discussion between audio engineer Mark Levinson and Doug Sax and others industry audio engineers in an interview covering the same topics we covered. Mark Levinson and Doug Sax contradicted Waldrep and Olive in there assessment of analog audio and high resolution audio compared to 16 bit, 44.1 kHz digital files. Admittedly, I doubt their conclusions were based on controlled A-B-X testing.

You might be skeptical about their assessment and that's perfectly fine. You might suspect that they were making their statements to promote upcoming products or become industry celebrities. But while Doug was a celebrity, he wasn't a run-of-the-mill recording engineer, either.

My point is that Doug had enough experience and access to high-quality source material so that he could make decent albeit subjective assessments of various recordings (both analog and digital).

I'm not saying that he can't be wrong on any of his conclusions, either. He definitely could. I found some of his statements hard to accept.

On the other hand, to rigidly have a single point of reference and not question it indefinitely stunts progress. I'll explain further in my response to one of your other replies that mentioned that Waldrep couldn't distinguish between high-resolution audio and the same recordings passed through 16 bit/44.1 kHz conversion.

Ultimately, I won't arrive at purely objective nor purely subjective conclusions in audio or video issues. If possible, I would try to correlate what I hear with what can be measured. But some things that we hear have yet to be measured in any way (this is another topic for another occasion).

jagxjr15's picture

The two that I mentioned (Waldrep and Olive) explicitly said that analog audio media are NOT high resolution. Olive praised Waldrep for emphasising that fact in his new book, Music and Audio Guide. In a private communication with me a few months ago, Waldrep admitted that he himself was unable to reliably hear any difference between his own high-res recordings and those same recordings passed through a 44.1/16 ADC/DAC process, in a double- blind test.

jagxjr15's picture

No, what I am saying is not debatable for audio engineers, who are conversant with the facts. Your problem is that you are unable to distinguish the bull mongers (Sax, Fleischmann, Fremer, Atkinson, et al), from the real credentialed AES experts (Olive, Waldrep, Toole, et al), so you give equal weight to the statements of both groups, which is a mistake.

Many people believe that creationism is on equal footing with evolution, but that doesn't make it so.

If you think everything is a matter of opinion, I sure don't want to drive over a bridge you design/build based on your 'opinions'.


vqworks's picture

Some of the writers of this publication contend that analog audio can be high resolution (I know, I know...most of them may not be audio engineers or AES members). For most of the highest quality analog sources (like analog master tapes recorded at 30ips or even 15ips) this is based on their ability to reproduce extreme high treble over 20 kHz. If you count the use of noise reduction like Dolby SR or dbx Type I, then the analog sources can reproduce dynamic range over 100 dB, which is well over the theoretical 96 dB of 16 bit digital audio. Now, the aforementioned may not be officially recognized as high resolution at AES but can you hear the difference between that kind of analog source and digital audio. Subjectively, you won't hear noise nor distortion on such analog sources but just because analog may not be officially acknowledged as high resolution is irrelevant.

Since Waldrep is an AES member and he admitted to you that he couldn't distinguish the difference between his own high-res recordings and those passed through a 16 bit/44.1 kHz conversion, does that actually mean that nobody can (or shouldn't or doesn't have a right to)? The irony is that the AES concluded 3 years ago that some people can hear the difference. The official AES page regarding this finding is here:

Were you aware of this or do you prefer to just use Waldrep's book and private communication with you as the preferred reference? You should really answer this question (it's not rhetorical).

Hopefully, Waldrep didn't state in his book that high resolution audio and CD audio is indistinguishable. That contradicts the findings of AES. Also, the late David E. Blackmer (lifetime member of IEEE and fellow at AES) and the late Leonard Feldman (fellow at IEEE for ..."his contributions to semiconductor-dielectric interfaces for MOS technologies") contradict Waldrep in their conclusions of high-resolution digital audio vs. CD audio.

Notice now that I'm not naming any recording engineers. Len Feldman David Blackmer were audio engineers. Both of them have also made statements regarding the value of frequencies past 20 kHZ. Here are Blackmer's comments:

Why did I mention all this. Obviously, one of the points is that audio engineers can a do disagree which is why I mentioned in a previously reply that Howard Roberson and Edward Foster (two other audio engineers) disagreed. The late Julian Hirsch (obviously another audio engineer) personally stated that you can even question his own statements and not accept it as gospel.

This brings us to another important point. Anyone has a right to question anyone's assessment. This is how scientist eventually concluded that the earth is round, it revolves around the sun, and Pluto is not a true planet but a "dwarf planet". Conclusions can and do change over time, as it has even at AES.

Being rigid in thinking restricts or halts progress in learning.

jagxjr15's picture

No, what I am saying is neither not debatable for audio engineers, who are conversant with the facts. Your problem is that you are unable to distinguish the bull mongers (Sax, Fleischmann, Fremer, Atkinson, et al), from the real credentialed AES experts (Olive, Waldrep, Toole, et al), so you give equal weight to the statements of both groups, which is a mistake.

Many people believe that creationism is on equal footing with evolution, but that doesn't make it so.

If you think everything is a matter of opinion, I sure don't want to drive over a bridge you design/build based on your 'opinions'.

jagxjr15's picture

Here are just a few of the readily audible noise and distortion problems brought to you by the vinyl LP:

LP surface noise, LP warping, lateral tonearm geometry distortion (of pivoting tonearms), the effects of tonearm resonance, turntable cogging and speed variation, turntable motor vibration, environmental vibration transmitted to the tonearm/phono cartridge, the effects of wear and age on the LP and phono cartridge, the effects of imprecise leveling of the turntable, acoustic feedback from the speakers to the phono system, the susceptibility of analog signal paths to noise and distortion from external electrical fields, compromised channel separation, the noise, distortion, and errors introduced by imperfect analog RIAA equalization and its incompatibility with other LP equalization standards...

These all too audible LP playback problems are completely eliminated by the CD and other digital media.
Remind me again how much better LP is than CD.

vqworks's picture

There's no denying that you can always find audible noise and distortion with LPs. But there are many examples of LPs without ANY of the audible issues that you mentioned.

But let's address your laundry list.

Surface noise is inaudible for well-pressed LPs, especially if you care for them properly. Microscopic warps are never an audible issue for most tonearms and cartridges. Gross warps are an issue caused by bad storage (user fault rather than an inherent format issue), tonearm (tonearm-cartridge) resonance is only an audible issue when an high-compliance cartridge is installed in a higher-than-ideal mass tonearm (leading to artificial stylus deflections from warps) or if a low-compliance cartridge is installed on a low effective mass tonearm (resulting in exaggerated audible deep bass response). The last point is obviously a user fault; not the format's fault. Motor cogging is a design flaw rather than a format flaw (don't mingle the two). Cogging is preventable with servo motors that have star-shaped rotors that make motor rotation smooth. Motor vibration is another non-issue in a well-designed turntable. Whatever vibration that exists in a decent turntable produces inaudibly low rumble because....the level is too low to detect and the frequencies are below the audible frequency range. External vibrations can easily be prevented from reaching the cartridge and tonearm either through the use of a sturdy stand, Sorbethane/rubber feet (less than $25 on Amazon), a turntable with an effective suspension system or high mass design, etc. It takes a lot of repeated plays to wear down an LP and cartridge so for me this isn't a problem. On the flipside, there is such a thing as CD rot (check out S&V's own Mark Fleischmann detail his personal experience with it here: Not leveling the turntable...whose fault is that??? Acoustic feedback from the speakers is completely preventable if you keep a decently-designed turntable away from the speakers. It has already been long established by reviewers in Stereo Review (Sound & Vision's predecessor) that channel separation greater than 20 dB is sufficient for a good stereo image while cartridges routinely well surpass that figure. You hear noise and distortion from the RIAA equalization??? Really??? The RIAA equalization was established long ago and other equalization circuits are pre-1948! Why would there be a compatibility issue, especially when the vast majority of music was re-issued using RIAA?

With the aforementioned laundry list of issues that are either preventable or easily remedied, your reply is amounts to no more than an anti-analog rant. When was the last time you heard any good (doesn't necessarily mean expensive) LP. Digital is your religion. Good for you!

CD is a great format but it does have its share of issues. Here's one of them:

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-CD or anti-digital. Actually, I love it all. My system can play CD, DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD (and DSD files), vinyl using a external phono preamp that can run on batteries, analog open-reel, and high-end cassettes. To give every source its best chance to shine, I use revealing speakers and route all sources to a power amp using a passive preamp. All this allows me to enjoy my music. I'm not hung up on any format.

jagxjr15's picture

I have no religion. I follow the facts. You will not be able to understand the issues I raised by reading consumer audio magazines and internet chat-room posts. You need to read material with an engineering, rather than a marketing or entertainment, foundation.

The problems I mentioned with LP playback are unavoidable, no matter how carefully you set up your analog front-end. The analog LP is, compared with CD and other digital media, a crude, electro-mechanical system that is fundamentally high noise and high distortion.

If you wan't to learn about audio, I can recommend Mark Waldrep's new book Music and Audio and a good resource, also available for free online are back-issues of The Audio Critic from issue #10 on. Reading these carefully will help provide you with a sound background for understanding issues in audio. Unfortunately all of the consumer audio periodicals extant today are fashion magazines, not reliable guides on audio. Another reliable resource is the Boston Audio Society and their non-commercial organ, The Speaker.

Almost none of the 'journalists' that populate the mastheads of consumer audio periodicals are competent to advise people on audio purchases. The devolution of public standards that has given rise to the resurgence of the LP are the result of ignorance and gullibility of the audio consumers, who have, in turn, been let down by those who should know better, i.e., the editors of said consumer audio periodicals. It's sad and shameful.

Good luck!

vqworks's picture

Let's get something out of the way before I address your reply. At 2:58am you decided to go on a mission by bringing up a long laundry list of so-called weaknesses of the vinyl format and going on an anti-analog rant in not one but two replies to posts that were made over 3 years ago! You go onto promote an audio engineer/author's statements about the ills and faults of analog formats then mention the AES to validate your statements. I need to point this out because any objective reader of your reply could easily gather two things from your post: You might be trying to promote the book you mentioned and you can't stand seeing any positive comments about any analog format.

In your latest reply, you had to scream in caps your attempt to discredit my reply. Yet you didn't bother addressing each of my rebuttals to your laundry list of the vinyl format's attack. Obviously, you decided to just provide a general response for your latest reply to dodge my rebuttals because they are objective and valid. There's no argument as to whether vinyl format contains higher noise and distortion but given good pressings (which are not hard to find) you cannot hear them and this isn't taking into consideration mint DMM pressings beginning in '81 or dbx discs from the 70s and 80s (the latter suppressed distortion, rumble and noise to complete insignificance). If you were listening blindfolded, you'd probably say you were listening to a digital format just like the recording engineer I've dealt with when I played the Dolby SR analog recording (you avoided rebutting this in your reply). You go on to drop the Boston Audio Society as a way to argue your based on your assumption that I haven't read anything from that organization or AES.....really presumptuous. Not all consumer audio publications employ incompetent journalist (although I will accept that over half are not, especially in high-end magazines). In addition to AES and Boston Audio Society publications, I began reading the now defunct Audio Magazine when it was written like audio engineering journal until its demise 20 years ago. In fact, I've read work from the late Len Feldman, Julian Hirsch, Edward J. Foster (an AES member), Brad Meyer (also an AES member, of course), the late Howard Roberson, David Blackmer, the Audio Critic, etc. So I know fact from fiction.

Your assessment of the resurgence of the LP format is simplistic, debatable and, again, presumptuous. Part of the resurgence of vinyl (occurring for quite a few years now) is due to various factors (nostalgia, larger album art, and sound) but a regression of public standards is debatable.

I will state that I am disappointed with much of the current turntable offerings in the market because the majority of them are stripped down versions of 70s and 80s designs employing higher-than desirable effective tonearm mass.

In any case, Edward J. Foster once mentioned that engineers (not recording engineers) are bound to disagree on certain points.

Do people a favor and agree to disagree but don't assert your point and don't promote your book more than once! You begin to lose credibility that way. Your post is over 3 years late. Give yourself a rest.

jagxjr15's picture

It's not my book, it's Mark Waldrep's book and think you might learn a thing or two if you would take the trouble to read it.

I came upon your post when I was looking for Ken Pohlmann's byline, who is one S&V writer whom I do like (but whose judgement seems to flagged a bit lately - he sometimes now prefers convenience to sound quality).

I think you may be too far gone for anything I say to help you. You are very defensive. My post was not an attack on you. You say the issues I brought up are inaudible and I disagree. For instance, your belief that LP surface noise is inaudible because it doesn't bother you (or you can't hear it) carries no weight because the distortion and noise levels, even in a very carefully set up rig, are well above the threshold of audibility.

I would ask you politely if you have considered whether your stated beliefs would hold up in a properly controlled double-blind listening test?

Below are a few replies to posts directed at me by a readers , some of whom were not above using obscenity against me (at least you have not stooped to that level), which help me to explain my positions on consumer audio.


I don't preach. All I do is tell the simple truth. And I am not surprised or bothered by infantile tantrums posted by the believers in 'high-end' audio. Unlike the high-end shamans and pontiffs, I don't claim to have any special perceptual or reasoning ability; I am willing to submit anything I say to rigorous testing and to the scrutiny of the real experts, most of whom have engineering degrees in audio and physics.

Your statements, on the other hand, are sloppy and slobbish and so is your 'thinking'. Your posts typify the loose 'thinking' of the slob snob that keeps 'high-end' consumer audio alive. You are a prime example of the target market that is so skillfully cultivated and manipulated by the 'high end' audio manufacturers and their 'journalist' fellow travelers.

You "have been reading stereo magazines since the late 1970s" but have done precious little thinking in all of that time. It's a shame, and I wish I could help you.

And though you are probably too willfully ignorant to benefit from anything I could tell you, I will give it a shot anyway, and try to keep the discussion simple.

Let's compare consumer audio to consumer video. Are there any 'golden-eyed videophiles' with perceptions and beliefs that do not square with plain old ordinary physics and engineering? Does anybody claim to see a video defect or artifact that cannot be measured or explained using basic physics? Why is that so? Why is audio seemingly (according the snake-oil salesmen of the high-end) so stubbornly resistant to scientific and engineering progress, whereas, in every other field you care to name, science and engineering works so well to explain any empirical fact or observation and to advance the subject?

The crux of the problem is that, in audio, unlike video, we have to rely on memory to compare A with B. And that stubborn and indubitable fact is why stringent controls are needed in listening tests of audio equipment. Because, as anyone with experience in a court of law will tell you, eyewitness testimony (which also relies on memory) is notoriously unreliable.

So, without proper controls, we could argue endlessly and inconclusively for eons about the sound of A vs. the sound of B.

So, here is my advice to you (and to anyone reading this who is similarly inclined): get your hands on an ABX box and test out empirically some of your beliefs. The hard truth that you discover may initially cause you a sleepless night or two, but you may be surprised at how liberating the truth can be. Following your ABX experience, you will have a choice: you can continue with your religion and reject, or somehow rationalize, with great difficulty, the facts; or you can, with a little thinking and reflection, reconsider and reject the mountains of hogwash the high-end 'authorities' are selling you and focus instead on what is really important: the sound and that which actually affects the sound. The high-end dullards will tell you that they believe only what they hear, but they are, to paraphrase George Santayana, much better at believing than they are at hearing.


Sorry if my comments irritated or upset you. Name calling will not decide any issues, and only makes you (the name-caller) appear petty and small. Is that who you are? Are you really that small? A multi-lingual man-of-the-world like you?

My comments were intended to be helpful, that's all.

I myself once believed in the myths that keep the market for 'high-end' audio products alive, but I eventually did some thinking and some experimenting and learned the truth.

The editors and reviewers of the high-end audio press are self-appointed experts, and their views and reviews have little or no value and are not respected by the real experts in the audio field.

The real experts in audio, the ones I respect, are University-trained electrical engineers and acoustic engineers, and they all hold the high-end audio business in very low regard. Stanley Lipshitz, Ethan Winer, Peter Aczel, Floyd Toole, Sean Olive, Mark Waldrep, David A. Rich, et al., have engineering credibility. Waldrep has recently published a very interesting book called Music and Audio Guide and I recommend it highly. Waldrep is one of the real pioneers in 'high res' audio, founded AIX to sell and promote high res audio, but lately he is having some second thoughts about whether it is audibly superior to Red Book CD. This is the supreme hallmark of intellectual maturity and depth: follow the evidence, no matter what, and revise your beliefs to fit the facts.

A failed would-be expert is somebody like John Atkinson. He once replaced his existing tube power amp with a transistor amp which had excelled in single- blind testing, but he disliked the sound. Instead of investigating to determine the real cause of the problem, he instead jumped to the incorrect conclusion that blind tests of audio components are invalid, and went back to a tube amp. Sloppy, stupid, wrong, and self-satisfied. This does nothing to advance the audio hobby, but he is revered as an 'expert' by similarly inclined readers. Sorry, but that isn't the behavior of a curious, intellectually mature adult, let alone an expert of any kind.

My comments will be posted to the forum and maybe, just maybe, a few people who read it will begin to question their assumptions and be interested in a rational, credible approach to audio as a hobby even if you, yourself, are not moved to do so. If so, I have accomplished my purpose, with or without your agreement.

Happy listening!

vqworks's picture

With the subject you posted and a statement of, "I think you may be too far gone for anything I say to help you." how are you not attacking??? You really can't make such statements then claim you were not attacking me. You're plainly contradicting yourself. You also misquoted me. Read my post again carefully and you'll see that I NEVER stated that the LP surface noise is inaudible because it didn't bother me. So could you be fabricating what I said for the sake of an argument? Just wondering, not attacking. You also didn't read everything I said about surface noise and picked just the part you wanted to address...again. Can you really hear the distortion and noise of a mint Mobile Fidelity, DMM, or dbx-encoded? I've heard occasional surface noise from DMM but I have Mobile Fidelity and some rare dbx-encoded LPs that would really challenge your claim about noise above the threshold of audibility. If you were subjected to a double-blind test how well do you honestly think you would score? And what exactly are your sources? I wouldn't even claim I would score well before I took the test but looking at your claim, you'd likely state again that you can readily hear it. But this really holds no merit because it's just a claim. Would my beliefs hold up in a double-blind test? Who is listening? Honestly, I'm curious to know myself. You'll likely respond that it has already been proven that that my beliefs won't hold up. Of course, an human being, including an audio engineer is bound to have personal bias. I would like to know if any audio engineer can detect the noise and distortion from a mint Mobile Fidelity LP or dbx disc on a properly set-up turntable. You don't agree with me and say I'm wrong. I'll accept that.

If I ever gave you the impression I was personally attacking you, I apologize. I would also never, ever use obscenities toward you nor anyone else under any circumstances. Anyone who resorts to that is allowing emotion to get in the way and loses credibility. But you really need to take a moment to engage in some self-reflection. I don't mean this in a condescending way. I'm simply making an honest observation.

If you personally have engineering credentials and are a member of AES or any other audio engineering organization, it might be a good idea to reveal it before you make any statements. On the other hand, if you repeatedly reference someone who is supposedly a member of one of these organizations (not an offense per se) while you tell a fellow blogger that he might learn something by reading your reference's work and you are not an audio engineer, the blogger (any blogger) will have a very difficult (if not, impossible) time accepting your statements. This is particularly so when you appear to be on a publication's website and you are discrediting its writers (or those of its sister publications) and appearing to be on a mission to assert your statements and you are personally not a member of an audio engineer organization.

I can't readily tell whether you or someone else made the comment regarding John Atkinson but if you wrote it, I completely agree with you regarding John Atkinson's choice to revert back to tube amplifier topology. But then again, calling him a "failed would-be expert" is quite harsh and plainly inappropriate. I'm not a fan of tubes and I'm inclined to say they color the sound, tend to slow transients, and contribute tons of distortion. I've heard some and I didn't like it (subjective, of course). But the bottom line is John preferred its sound despite the blind test results. He subjectively preferred it. That's just what happened. Is it a sin? Objectively and scientifically, yes!

Some products cater to a different crowd. Accept it. The field of audio can advance (and the sky won't fall) while a segment of the audiophile population (the high end crowd) can also enjoy what they want elsewhere. You can't change that and you shouldn't get bent out of shape. But more importantly, you really shouldn't take it upon yourself to act as a messiah to change anyone to become a clone of you or those whose words you agree with and insult their intelligence at the same time.

An old Nakamichi article once stated something to the effect that properly designed equipment tends to lead to better measurements and specifications BUT better measurements and specifications do not guarantee better sound. That statement would raise some eyebrows but I believe it. I believe that there are some things that cannot be measured in any standardized way yet and digital formats look great on paper and in some ways are clearly better than analog even subjectively. On the whole, I can rely on measurements but I won't be completely bound by them. It's best to correlate what you hear with what what's measured. But if you can't correlate it, then there is something else that is occurring.

I'm not a high-end cable freak, a tube fanatic, or a proponent of any type of format. I am happy to have equipment with good specifications. For the most part, the analog equipment I have doesn't even approach the quality of their digital counterparts in specifications. But it sounds good and, provided that my sources are in great condition, I personally can't hear their flaws unless I listen at higher-than-live volume (I usually don't) and go out of my way to listen for noise or surface noise. If you can readily hear these flaws even at casual listening volume and it bothers you, you can listen to a digital source like you obviously already do. I'm happy...and I won't force you to listen to my analog sources.