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When LPs Roamed The Earth:
August 1, 2001 12:06 AM   Subscribe

When LPs Roamed The Earth: classic album covers for records you have almost certainly never heard of.
posted by pascal (21 comments total)

 
It doesn't work on Netscape under Linux. Bah!
posted by salmacis at 12:34 AM on August 1, 2001


this site is fantastic. especially the paean to polka, 'hear how to skin dive' and 'drugs is a family affair'...you just can't get records like that on CD...
posted by onyermarx at 3:46 AM on August 1, 2001


We;ve also lost that warm sound that the LP's gave us -- great for Sinatra and good ol Johnny Cash records. We've gained the tinny CD sound: good for Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks.
posted by brucec at 5:20 AM on August 1, 2001


> We;ve also lost that warm sound that the LP's gave us

If someone recorded an LP to a CD (to get the LP hiss, pops, and crackles right), do you think you would hear the difference between the LP playing on a normal stereo and the LP-to-CD transfer playing on the same stereo?
posted by pracowity at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2001


It's not the hiss, pops, and crackles that make LPs sound the way they do... it's the full, rich bass end that just doesn't come out of a CD. So to answer pracowity, yes.
posted by transient at 6:50 AM on August 1, 2001


> So to answer pracowity, yes.

But have you ever tried it?
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2001


I make CDs from LPs to listen to on my subway ride (the LP discmans skip too much), and they do sound different to me. But if it doesn't matter to you, then it doesn't...
posted by transient at 7:44 AM on August 1, 2001


> But if it doesn't matter to you, then it doesn't...

I never said that it doesn't matter. (Or, in response to your earlier comment, that the incidental rock-on-plastic grinding noises of LPs are the only difference between them and CDs.)

Apparently you're in the lucky position to be able to test and prove your theory. You could, if you were so inclined, have a friend play a record through your stereo, and then have the friend play a CD transfer of the same record through the same stereo, same settings. If you were to stay away so you couldn't see or hear the needle drop and pick up, it could be interesting.
posted by pracowity at 8:05 AM on August 1, 2001


Here's some more.
posted by timothompson at 8:09 AM on August 1, 2001


I would doubt the average mutt could detect it, but there is a difference between the sound quality of CDs versus LPs. CDs deliver sound digitally, as a series of discrete bits - bip bip bip bip. Since the bits are discrete, there are small but detectable (to machines, not typically to humans) deadspaces in between each little chunk of sound. Off an LP, the sound is a continuous string - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm instead of bip bip bip - with no dead space. Now, this doesn't necessarily indicate "goodness" or "badness" in the sound quality, but many people, myself included, find the sound generated by LPs to be "richer" or "fuller," which is probably indicative of the effect of continuous tone as opposed to series' of discrete bits.

Otoh, a CD is damn near indestructible, eminently reproducable (as Napster so elegantly showed us), and the sound is pretty good, all things considered :)
posted by UncleFes at 8:10 AM on August 1, 2001


there are small but detectable (to machines, not typically to humans) deadspaces in between each little chunk of sound.

Not really. If you were looking at the sound wave produced by a CD, even at high magnification, you would see no "deadspaces."

You've gotta remember, those "bip bip bips" hapen forty-four thousand times per second. If each "bip" was actually audible it would produce a sound well above the range of human hearing. I mean, at least twice as high as most people can hear.

A CD can reproduce a high-amplitude 20Hz (lowest audible frequency) signal far better than an LP can. In fact, when mastering LPs the sound is compressed so that those low frequencies don't get too loud and cause the needle to skip over into the next groove! Lots of other atrocities are committed to music as it is mastered to LP, including a steep equalization curve (which is "undone" by the phono preamp on your stereo), which inevitably causes phase errors and other distortion.

It's OK to like the sound of LP, but for accuracy, the CD wins hand-down.
posted by kindall at 9:06 AM on August 1, 2001


It's OK to like the sound of LP, but for accuracy, the CD wins hand-down.

Well, that depends on how much care goes into remastering the CD. There were plenty of rotten apples in the first wave of transfers, particularly classical and jazz recordings, and many of the more obscure LPs haven't been remastered. (And beyond that, there are even more LPs that were never transferred to CD at all.)
posted by holgate at 9:34 AM on August 1, 2001


RCA Victor has come up with some re-releases of classical masterworks in their so-called 24/96 technique, which takes original analog sources and samples it at 24 bits (instead of the usual 16), and that shows in the final CD, despite the unavoidable 16-bit downsampling in order to ensure compatibility with standard CD players. Even me - a longtime vinyl junkie - have been impressed.

Still, few things give me more pleasure than the whole ritual of cleaning up and "put the needle on the record", and just get carried over by analog bliss. And no bit-sampling technique can challenge that.
posted by betobeto at 9:46 AM on August 1, 2001


...records you have almost certainly never heard of.


Ha! Heard of em? I even OWN a couple of these!

I don't own a turntable though, I just bought em for the wacky covers/concepts!
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:27 AM on August 1, 2001


CD's are not indestructible. They will fail long before the vinyl will. We can play the very first records today and get more information out of the groove than the original players were capable of delivering. A physical archive is stable, a warped record will play, digital information is completely destroyed in a similar example. I have a few CDs, they are useful, and neat, but superior is entirely subjective.
posted by thirteen at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2001


With my affinity for oldies, you'd think I'd have a ton of LPs, but no. Before my time. :-) When I first became a fan of the music I love, I figured the CDs would sound like the original LPs, all pops and such. Of course, I then learned that the best ones are taken from the original masters and not simple transfers of LPs. While I do appreciate the sound you get out of a good LP, there is something to be said for hearing "Pet Sounds" in glorious full stereo from a defect-free CD...
posted by Spirit_VW at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2001


well, i collect LPs myself... and while i do buy some older music that is on LP, a lot of what i do buy on LP is actually recent. i don't think LPs will ever come back into the mainstream, but...

spirit:

well, not all CDs are free from defect. the CD itself may largely be a defect-free medium, but as has been mentioned, problems may occur during the mastering. (i can think of one infamous master problem with a song -- on new order's album, Substance, the song bizarre love triangle has an artifact near the very beginning of it.) furthermore, pet sounds was likely recorded on an analog master tape, which is likely to have some defects itself (albeit small ones, since it would definitely be of fairly high quality).
posted by moz at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2001


I think this gets closer to the truth:

> Still, few things give me more pleasure than the whole
> ritual of cleaning up and "put the needle on the record",
> and just get carried over by analog bliss.

There's more to LPs than the sound. Record owners feel like connoisseurs, proud defenders of a dwindling faith. They enjoy collecting, displaying, and discussing records. They like the look and feel and smell of the cardboard and vinyl and cleaning fluids and brushes. Many like nothing better than to join in debates like this one, which give them the chance to testify. Even if someone proved to them that CDs sound better than records, they would remain faithful to vinyl.

Me? I gave away my records years ago.
posted by pracowity at 11:32 PM on August 1, 2001


There were plenty of rotten apples in the first wave of transfers

Yeah, Atlantic was really bad at this. You know what I was saying about the equalization curves and compression needed for mastering to vinyl? Well, Atlantic's early CDs were made from tapes that had been EQ'd and compressed for LP mastering. Not from the original masters. Not only did this mean they had a restricted dynamic range and wacky equalization, it also meant they had an extra generation of tape noise. They sucked, no doubt about it. Many progressive rock fans ended up buying all their Genesis and Yes twice, too, which, speaking personally, was especially annoying.
posted by kindall at 2:01 AM on August 2, 2001


We;ve also lost that warm sound that the LP's gave us -- great for Sinatra and good ol Johnny Cash records

And new Johnny Cash records, since his latest (and best) was also released on vinyl.
posted by fidelity at 1:14 AM on August 3, 2001


Yikes.
posted by pracowity at 7:07 AM on August 3, 2001


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