Thursday, December 08, 2011

Superlux HD-668 B - A review

EDIT 15.04.2014: A few months ago the Superlux HD-668B broke apart. I was cleaning it and apparently I applied too much force with the result that one of the earcups deattached itself from the headband. Replacement parts? They don´t exist. And I wouldn´t want to repair it. Why? Read on. Please note, that I updated this article slightly. It was too long (still is), badly written and contained wrong informations. I´ve therefore erased or replaced some parts with shorter and more realistic sentences. Also read my reviews about the Sennheiser Momentum, Skullcandy Aviator and the Sennheiser HD-558.


Today I´d like to introduce you to a headphone. You might ask "Why do we even need a headphone?" which is a valid question, dear constant reader. So light a cigarette, prepare a cup of coffee and let me explain before I´ll start with my review.

HRTF (head related transfer function) & frequency response

Ready? Well, here it goes: headphones present the most unrealistic sound you can experience. Loudspeakers play the music from in front of you, mimicking a true stage presence while headphones project sound from either side of your head directly into your ears. With loudspeakers therefore you will experience something like a more or less realistic soundstage. Reason: we have only two ears but we can perceive music in three dimensions nonetheless (distance, above or below, front or rear and left/right sides). This process is called HRTF (Head-related Transfer Function) and it is made possible because our brain, our inner ear and outer ear work together to make interferences about the location. Our outer ear is very important, as is the room where our loudspeakers are standing, our shoulders etc. The mixture of direct sound & sound reflections creates the noise we perceive as holographic sound - or music - from our loudspeakers. When these circumstances are perfectly aligned, the music will "de-attach" itself from the loudspeakers, we literally are surrounded by it, we can even pinpoint certain instruments or persons inside this artificial sound cloud. This is also known as the "sweet spot". Yes, this can happen with stereophonic music, you won´t even need surround for it. While this sounds wonderful the typical everyday situation or setup looks a bit different instead: badly designed loudspeakers, the left loudspeaker stands in the corner of the room while the right one stands free, etc.... just one of these things can be enough to destroy the illusion of holographic sound.

Headphones are different. A headphone consists of two loudspeakers; one sitting directly on your left ear, the other one on your right ear. As you can imagine this excludes sound that is approaching our ears through the room, passing our shoulders etc. These two loudspeakers project sound directly into our earlobes which creates a perfect "sweet spot" since all possible imperfections coming from playback via loudspeakers are removed. This sounds good, doesn´t it? But wait: Our ear needs the particular situation of loudspeakers standing in front of us, it needs the sound reflections to be able to reference a location. If this situation is removed we get the - headphone typical - "sound in our head", the sweet spot is too perfect. Furthermore, through bodily felt bass frequencies from loudspeakers we literally feel music - with headphones this is confined to our head only, it removes the bodily sensations. And the most important point is that music is engineered by mixing engineers to be used on loudspeakers only, very few are mixing via headphones. So only music played back via loudspeakers represents true stereo sound. With headphones you get two mono channels instead. Some headphone amplifiers aim to circumvent this "sound in your head" effect by using a so called "Crossfeed-Filter" (there are some very handy components for foobar2000 and many other media players available).

I´d like to tell you about a little french study from the '80s that headphone manufacturers are seldomly mentioning: this particular study concludes that using a well constructed headphone and a good, digital equalizer you can mimic the sound of other headphones. The contestants of this study couldn´t differentiate between the original headphone and the one that recreated this sound on another headphone with the help of an equalizer. Example: I own a Sennheiser HD-600, 15 years ago the best product Sennheiser had to offer. It became instantly famous for its very spacious, balanced, refined and detailed sound. A few years later Sennheiser created a follow-up model, the Sennheiser HD-650. The newer model tried to combine the treats of my HD-600 with a warmer sound signature and it was of course more expensive. But just two days ago I recreated the sound of the HD-650 with my HD-600, I did it very easily with a digital equalizer and I only glanced at the differences of their various frequency responses - look below. The sound of a headphone basically comes down to this: how it is constructed (open, semi-open or closed), supra aural (on your ear) vs. circumaural (around your ear), electrical resistance and frequency response. When one knows this, one can easily construct different models which sound alike. There are some more things important to headphone construction of course, but this would crash this already very long article.

Frequency response differences Sennheiser HD-650 & HD-600


So a few months ago in a discussion over at hydrogenaudio I stumbled upon the description of a headphone, the Superlux HD-668 B. Never heard of it? Well, I´d wonder if you actually did. Superlux is a taiwanese manufacturer for OEM products and some time ago they decided to produce some things under their own name. One of these things are headphones. The particular model I´d like to write about is a headphone that is aimed for use in studio environments. Very suspiciously it looks like a classic model from AKG: the K-240, a headphone that was used for a long time and very often at recording studios. It gets even better: the frequency response of the Superlux HD-668 B aims to reproduce the sound of a particular, much more expensive headphone from German manufacturer Beyerdynamic: the DT990 which itself is a classic amongst headphones. In general headphones from Beyerdynamic are famous for their distinct sound signature: analytic, brilliant, dynamic, tremendous bass & a bit cold. Very different from my Sennheiser which is exemplary of the Sennheiser sound: laid back, detailed, with good clarity and extremely balanced (critics used to crisper sounding headphones often speak of the "Sennheiser veil"). While I´m very happy with my Sennheisers I always wanted to own an example of the typical Beyerdynamic sound but couldn´t afford to because of the steep price - until now when I finally was able to do so. Because believe it or not: while the Beyerdynamic DT990 costs 299,- Euros the Superlux HD-668 B costs only 30,- Euros.

Actual frequency response differences as measured by HeadRoom. Apart from missing deep bass remarkably similar.

I couldn´t believe this price myself so I did a lot of reading before I decided to purchase it. Every review I´ve read pointed out how great this headphone sounds, the sound was praised as Beyerdynamic like, several persons even commented that it actually sounds a tad better than the Beyerdynamic headphone. Please remember that we are talking about comparisons where one headphone costs 10 % of the price of the other one! Ever the doubter, I thought "Nah, they are talking bullshit, this can´t be". Out of curiousness I ordered one to find out myself... 30,- Euros doesn´t hurt that much, don´t you think? The Superlux HD-668 B came in a nice box made out of cardboard. Inside the box I found two headphone cables, one 3 meter long, the other one 1 meter long. The short one is for portable use, the long one for home use. You can even combine them to form a four meter long cable. The Superlux weighs 222 g and bears two self adjusting headband pads. I also found an adaptor from 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm stereo jack (every adaptor is gold plated). The plastic material looked sturdy - not beautiful but precisely manufactured as you can see on the pictures. The ear cushions were relatively thick and made out of pleather. Superlux even managed to include a manual in German language! All in all, this company offers much material for very little money.


Well, how does it sound? Erm... it sounds gorgeous, simply gorgeous. For a certain kind of people. It presents music as promised: very different to my Sennheiser yet fairly decent and with another sound signature. Let me elaborate: remember that I wrote about HRTF up above? So my constant reader, you´ll remember that we have the most natural sound only with loudspeakers but not with headphones. But here´s a twist because the clever diva that I am didn´t mention that there is an exception: binaural recordings. The principle is easy - you place a dummy head at the place where you want to record sounds, you form some earlobes mimicking the ones we humans posess and inside those earlobes you place two tiny microphones. Due to the form of the earlobes, the sound will hit the microphones the same way as the "real" sound would hit our ear if we were there ourselves. Result: the information how the room sounds will be recorded - in theory playing such a recording back via headphones will produce exactly the same stage impression as present during the recording - the sound will literally play "outside our head" - behind us, above us, in front of us. But only well constructed headphones reproduce the effect convincingly; if they distort the sound or if their housing creates resonances the effect is destroyed.

But not the Superlux, the Superlux made everything perfect. While I noticed a slight "plastic-y" sound, the stage impression was wonderful. You don´t own any binaural recordings? Well, try some multichannel material and decode it with Dolby Headphone - same principle. So the Superlux passed my first listening test convingly. Though there still was the issue with that plasticky sound and I wanted to find out if that was true with normal recordings also - so I turned to some SACD recordings I made some time ago. The first thing I noticed that the Superlux sounded very crisp. At the same time, I was surprised that the bass was fairly strong (especially upper bass). Apart from the bass it sounded very forward at the presence area, it was almost unflattering to listen to the music because it sounded so harsh and sterile, even on recordings where I knew for certain that they wouldn´t sound that way. In short, I feared that it would sound like that all the time which would have been an awful disappointment after I expected it to sound well from all the positive reviews I´ve read. But I had a slight suspicion: new headphones are not played in, their drivers may need some time to "loosen up", much the same as new loudspeakers. So I played a burn-in signal of mine for several hours. Quite unnerving... but worth it. Because afterwards the plasticky sound was almost gone, violins got more silky, the sound was less "in your face" and less brittle. It simply got more balanced.

Still, compared to my Sennheiser the Superlux sounded as if it wasn´t able to differentiate as much, it sounded less refined and much more "hissy". The Superlux presented music detailed and way too crisp - you could hear every error in the recording in an unflattering way. My Sennheiser manages the same feat - without sounding piercing or brittle. Also, without binaural recordings I had the feeling that the soundstage appeared to be flatter compared to my Sennheiser. An additional problem was that they began to hurt my head after wearing them for only a few minutes, the pleather ear cushions caused my skin to sweat immediately.


But hooray, for every malady there is a solution. The easiest one involved bending the headband so that it would fit my head better - gone was the painful pressure. Another solution involved playing my burn-in signal again and for longer periods, I found that this "loosened" up the sound even further, made it less constricted. To improve the soundstage I placed rolled-up paper tissue between housing and ear cushions so that my ear lobes would fit behind the ear cushions and I would be able to move the headphone more to the front of my head and a bit down (try this with your own headphone - you may be surprised how much the soundstage improves). But the best thing I did was to purchase different ear cushions. Since this headphone looks like an AKG K-240 several people figured that their ear pads would also fit on the Superlux headphones. As it turns out those people were right: I spent another 17,- Euros for AKG ear cushions made out of soft velour to replace the pleather ear pads from Superlux. And I don´t know why, but after that the sound changed considerably: it became more balanced, the soundstage got deeper and the problem with differentiation disappeared. Now the headphone sits easy on the head, is very comfortable and sounds wonderful.

EDIT 15.04.2014: Gosh, what a bad review this is! The Superlux might be more pleasant this way but it still is a headphone with recessed mids, almost no deep bass and piercing treble. The treble is the most unpleasant thing about the HD-668B because it´s harsh, hard, brittle and extremely piercing.

 The Superlux with the AKG earpads.


Impedance Superlux HD-668B vs. Sennheiser HD-600

As you can see my Sennheiser has a very high impedance of roughly 600 Ohms at bass frequencies while it stays relatively flat at the rest with 300 Ohms. When you plug it into an amplifier that has an output impedance of, say, 600 Ohms this will result in a sound with way too much bass. To say it simple: if the output impedance of the headphone amp would be just one Ohm then the amplifier would have more "control" over the headphone and the amplification of the bass area wouldn´t happen. As a general rule it is safe to say that a headphone needs an impedance eight times that of the amp´s output.

EDIT 15.04.2014: This rule doesn´t apply to the HD-668B however; it´s easily driven by almost any headphone output without too much frequency distortion caused by impedance mismatch problems. Also, I´ve erased some parts of this article. I wrote for hours and hours about how the Superlux profits from being amped by our Lenovo SL-510 yet sounded like crap when amped by the E-MU 0202 USB and my ASUS Xonar Essence ST. It was all wrong: the Superlux doesn´t react to impedance mismatches. The piercing treble and recessed mids is its natural sound signature. Using it with the Lenovo simply created a random synergy effect; the headphone output of the SL-510 sounds very, very muffled. Of course, that´s benefitial for the piercing treble of the Superlux. But plug it into the electrically perfectly behaving FiiO E06 or the FiiO E07K, extract the 'true' sound of the Superlux... and you´ll run away screaming. The sound of the Superlux HD-668B is teeth-rattling and headache inducing.

Conclusion, edited 15.04.2014

Concluding my review I´d like to say that the Superlux sounds well enough right out of the box, it will easily beat almost any headphone that costs the same and it´ll even be a challenge for headphones from the 100-150 Euro price range. The only question you have to ask yourself is: Will you like that sound? Not everyone wants highly detailed and precise renderings of music. From what I´ve read, many people prefer this forward, in-your-face sound. Also, the Superlux is easier to drive then for example my Sennheiser with the exception of impedance mismatched sources. It doesn´t need that much power and will sound decent with most portable devices. The best and most realistic sound however you´ll be having with a dedicated headphone amplifier that exihibts a very low output impedance. BTW, this is the case for many headphones, the Superlux is just ONE example. The best improvement though can be achieved with an additional purchase of 17,- Euros - you can turn it into an extremely good headphone with the AKG velour ear cushions, some additional burn-in and paper tissue. If there is one thing I´d want to critisize about this wonderful headphone it´s this: the crispness can be a bit ennerving the longer you listen to it. Furthermore, the Superlux isn´t the most realistic sounding headphone on the market since it presents music with increased amount of freshness, directness and recessed mids. BUT: some headphones tend to sound shrill when music gets louder or more dynamic - but not the Superlux, even with its hightened crispness it always stays in control, it´ll never get brittle or constricted. Maybe I´m criticizing the typical Beyerdynamic sound here, I´m also certain that I have grown accustomed to my Sennheiser over the years. But come on... 47,- Euros? I´m comparing it with a Sennheiser HD-600 which costs 400,- Euros for Christs sake! The Superlux does some things different, some things not that good and others better. So does the Sennheiser. All in all, you´ll get a good headphone for just 30,- Euros. For additional 17,- Euros (and the aforementionend tweaks) you can turn this good headphone into a headphone that is able to rival many of the best headphones available. Isn´t that something? EDIT: after a few months listening with my new Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB in combination with the Superlux I can confirm that they sound very well together. Although there aren´t the synergy effects I talked about (which have to be avoided in any case if you want the true sound of the headphone) I have the feeling that the Superlux sounds as its best with the Sound Blaster - and this sound is marvellous!

I cannot recommend it anymore. Did you buy it because of my recommendation? If so, I´m very, very sorry. Don´t get me wrong: the Superlux HD-668B is not a bad headphone. Considering its price, it sounds well. If you can accept almost no deep bass, recessed mids and the über-piercing treble. Just like the Beyerdynamic DT990 it is a higly 'sounded' headphone, featuring a signature appealing to people not minding imbalanced sound. Headphone sound is diffificult... for one person this sound is bliss, for another person it´s Hell. For me it´s the latter. Add to that the not-so-good reliability of the Superlux. When I was cleaning it, it broke apart. Replacement parts are not available, I´d have to search for a used model. Or I could simply buy a new one. But I will not, it´s just not my cup of tea.

Last update: 15.04.2014

Why Vinyl sucks!

Hi, my sweet little Schweinehunde!

Today I´d like to talk about the myths surrounding vinyl records. I will state and explain them - I also will show you that most of them are plain wrong. Let me explain why I want to write about this: because I´ve read many times now that vinyl sounds better while I know that this is simply not true. Some years ago I was a victim of that belief also but after I thought a while about it and after I listened to some scores on vinyl I became aware of the fact that most music sounds awful on vinyl. You´ll have scratches, pops, crackles and noise that destroy the performance of an orchestra that is recorded onto the vinyl surface. Still, people go on and rage over the quality of vinyl, mentioning its infinite frequency response & resolution, that it sounds "warmer" and more lifelike. Therefore I will explain to you why these assumptions are simply false.

At first a few facts about vinyl and its workings. I won´t explain directly how they work, this would be too much for this article. You may know that you have a needle, a stylus, a tonearm and a turntable to play vinyl. When you look at the vinyl record you can see that there are many, many fine lines on it. These lines are the groove. If you look closer you can see that this groove is not a straight line but looks more like a really curvy street. Some curves are steeper, some curves are not so steep. These curves are "read"by the needle. How? Well, the needle "drives" inside these curvy streets like a train drives on a track and they let the needle vibrate from slow to fast movements (don´t look at the vibration, it´s too tiny to be noticed). These vibrations are translated directly into electricity and there you have your sound. Don´t lecture me on the completeness of this description, I know that it´s incomplete.

I just wanted to give a short impression because now it gets interesting. In theory the process of reading a vinyl like this should work fine. In practice however it doesn´t. Just imagine that you are the needle and that dust resides inside the curvy street you are driving on. The tip of the needle is very small so when you are the needle this tiny dust becomes as huge as a house that was built directly onto your street directly in your pathway. Although you are very small, you are very powerful and so you just "smash" through that house on your street, crashing it. Obviously you made a lot of noise and for certain it will vibrate the hell out of you. On your loudspeakers this sounds like a "click".
Now imagine that your record was stored improperly and that it is visibly dirty. From your needle point of view there now is not only a house but a whole bunch of them including some major skyscrapers. If you crash through them it will produce a "pop" and if the skyscraper becomes a mountain you as the needle just have to jump aside onto another street. Result: the needle literally jumps from one groove to another. Even worse: your street hasn´t been cleaned a long time and now has become very dirty, debris lies on it and you as the needle has to step or crash over or through it. That produces noise and crackling. Tired yet?

Because there is more. Imagine further that your turntable isn´t leveled out or that the dragging for the tonearm is misconfigured. You as the needle would experience it that way: you are driving through the curvy streets and you are constantly forced to the left or the right side - but you want to stay exactly in the middle of the street. It is like having a flat tire, you´d have to work against this in order to be up and running. You would be tired very soon if you attempted to do just that. Furthermore, you as the needle are growing older like everyone else. But you don´t get wrinkles or something like that, no. Your needle tip that once was pristinely sharp now gets flatter and flatter over time until it is so wide & flat that you constantly reach both sides of the street where you are driving. In short, you now are a bulldozer driving on the street, destroying the very concrete you´re driving on (-> the grooves). And because we all love little pictures very much, here is a link to some pictures by Chris Supranovitz - these show exactly what I just described.

While this little story isn´t exactly a precise technical description it should give you an impression of the stress a needle goes through during its life. Now you can also imagine that a vinyl record grows older and older each time you play it. If you handle your records with the same loving care as your turntable this aging process is of course slower - still, your record gets older and you can´t do anything about it. In turn, CD or SACD never gets older when played back because your needle is a relatively powerless laser beam which reads the surface of the CD/SACD without touching it. A turntable also has wow and flutter while a CD/SACD does not. Well, these two advantages of the CD are as old as the CD itself and no one talks about them anymore because they have been replaced by more in-depth arguments or - in some cases - subjective asessssments.


I´d like to talk about these subjective views on vinyl for the rest of my little essay. Here are the most prominent. Please not that I´ve taken the liberty and took them from since they have a site that solely concerns itself with these matters. They are as follows:

  1. Vinyl always sounds better than CD
  2. Vinyl requires a better-sounding master because it is physically incapable of reproducing the hypercompressed sound mastered to CD
  3. Proper vinyl playback is click-free
  4. Vinyl is better than CD because it reproduces higher frequencies than CD and avoids antialiasing filter issues at the frequencies CDs can reproduce
  5. Vinyl is better than digital because the analog signal on the vinyl tracks the analog signal exactly, while digital is quantized into steps
  6. Vinyl has greater or infinite resolution than CD because its dynamic range is higher than for CD at the most audible frequencies

1. Vinyl always sounds better than CD

I can imagine that people came up with this after comparing some vinyl LP to their CD counterpart. But one should always have in mind that vinyl is produced differently and that the playback is completely different to CD. Fact is, playing back a vinyl record produces errors all the time, furthermore it can be strongly influenced by things outside the needle or the turntable. For instance your preamplifier that is requried for LP playback could be misaligned - or your LP could be produced not according to the rules. Your turntable probably isn´t leveled out or the needle is old... there are limitless reasons why vinyl playback is far from perfect. With CD the possibility of these reasons is much more diminished. So, this will add distortions to your music which can make a dull sounding recording better. The "truth" however is on the CD: there the recording sounds as dull as the master produced for the CD and the LP. After decades and decades there still is no technical proof that vinyl sounds better.

2. Vinyl requires a better-sounding master because it is physically incapable of reproducing the hypercompressed sound mastered to CD

It would be nice if it would be that way but sadly it isn´t. I´ve already talked about the Loudness War here many people who love vinyl claim that the master for vinyl must be different because of its limited dynamic capabilities. But... no. Several comparisons on have found that many masters for present-day vinyl records are exactly the same as the ones used for their CD counterpart.

3. Proper vinyl playback is click-free

No, it isn´t. Your street is always a bit dusty. You may not hear it but it is.

4. Vinyl is better than CD because it reproduces higher frequencies than CD and avoids antialiasing filter issues at the frequencies CDs can reproduce

Wonderful argument. In theory it is true - in practive however it is not. As you may know the CD only samples with 44.1 kHz which allows a maximum frequency response up to 22.500 Hz. Further than that the unavoidable noise is suppressed by an antialiasing filter, most of the time done with brickwall filtering. Vinyl however doesn´t need this antialiasing filter and should be sonically superior. Yeah, well it should but it isn´t. In practice a correctly configured turntable with a new LP produces frequencies up to only 16.000 Hz - which is the same as most MP3 goes. HOWEVER: vinyl can reach frequencies up to 50.000 Hz - but only if your needle and your stylus are brandnew, your turntable is configured perfectly and your LP is new and washed with an LP washing machine. But even then, do you really know that your brandnew LP was coming from a high definition master? Don´t forget, most LPs are produced from digital masters. It could mean that your brandnew LP was produced from a 24/44.1 master which means it can only contain frequencies up to 22.500 Hz - the same as CD. Furthermore, when the groove of the LP wears out it will happen faster with high frequencies which in turn leads to a dull sounding LP very fast.

5. Vinyl is better than digital because the analog signal on the vinyl tracks the analog signal exactly, while digital is quantized into steps
 I fell for this argument myself while it should have been obvious to me that it´s a false argument. As you can see on the image on the right digital sound takes a sample of a certain bitdepth 44.100 times per second (for CD resolution) from the same analogue signal pictured on the left. You can imagine that this produces "gaps" in the original signal - as you can see in the picture: the formerly round wave has become edgy and looks like a bunch of stairs. Hell, it even is stored that way. But one who brings forth this argument simply forgets the reconstruction filter: it is supposed to produce a flawless analogue wave - and it does. After the digitally stored signal has passed the reconstruction filter / aliasing filter (both are (almost) the same - and the latter one is explained in depth by the Nyquist-Shannon-Theorem) it looks exactly like the image on the left side again. In reality the signal can be reconstructed that way with a precision of almost 99%. Sure, digital is not perfect and this reality only really works for louder levels - on smaller levels the resolution is not as good. But the resolution still is better than vinyl - just read the last subjective argument with the next image:

This is one of the most stated arguments: that analogue correctly reproduces volume levels whereas digital does not and cannot. Digital always interprets the intesity of the level within the bitdepth restrictions. When a level doesn´t hit the exact, let´s say, -6 dB mark it will be appointed to the nearest available level. This is true - but this example still is bad. The more bit-depth you have the more precise this process gets. And this example here seems to be an example of a 4 bit recording (the Bit descriptions on the left are wrong). Therefore this diagram is unsuited for the purpose of describing analogue superiority because if we´d assume 4 bit of sampling depth we would have only 16 representable voltage levels! But the 16 Bits for the CD allows for an almost flawless representation of the original signal (over 65000 levels) and 24 Bits even allows over 16 million possible level representations.

6. Vinyl has greater or infinite resolution than CD because its dynamic range is higher than for CD at the most audible frequencies
You can´t imagine how often I´ve read this argument: "CD is limited in its resolution whereas vinyl has infite resolution because it isn´t confined to bits and samplerate". I assume this argument is stated so often because it sounds so easy. First, some facts. Vinyl has a dynamic range about 80 dB, the CD 96 dB. Under theoretically ideal conditions this could improve to 120 dB for vinyl. BUT: the 96 dB of the CD was the "old" measurment when the CD was new. In the years since 1982 some techniques were developed to improve 16/44.1 greatly. Today, the CD reaches around 150 dB when properly dithered in combination with oversampling. Furthermore, digital or CD does only introduce a miniscule amount of noise and distortion compared to vinyl during playback. The usable resolution of CD therefore always stays the same while it will be diminished with LP to a degree with every playback.
Why is that? Because vinyl is noisy - noise decreases the usable resolution. So in reality it´s this way: when translated to the language of digital vinyl mostly has a usable resolution of around 8-12 Bits which is far less than the 16 bit for CD. But when one compares the possible resolution one also has to consider the samplerate. As I´ve stated before, under normal conditions vinyl reaches 16.000 Hz. Combine that with the resolution and you´ll get the very commonplace 12 bit / 32 kHz samplerate. There goes your infinite resolution...
BTW, have you ever thought about the gaps between tracks on your LP? I guess not. How are they produced? They are produced by machines that work digitally. Starting with the late ´70s digital gap producers were introduced to LP cutting. These gap machines worked with 12 bit and 32 kHz samplerate (!) and they were used throughout the ´80s well into the early ´90s. The LP you are listening to therefore was probably produced from a master that reached only 16.000 Hz with a bitdepth of only 12 bit. Even if you´d try it wouldn´t get more resolution, it would not even come close to the CD. It is very likely that 70-80 % of the vinyl LPs still around today were produced with a resolution far less than that of the CD.


So, what do we have now? We have a medium that is a century old, that once was the dominating medium worldwide and now has the significance of a niche product. One could go as far and call vinyl truly dead. Only old-fashioned audiophiles that can´t get used to newer times still love the noise, the pops, the crackles, the distortions, the imperfections of this medium. Why are they doing this? Maybe it´s because the vinyl LP is so much similar to ourselves: flawed. Well, the CD is not perfect either, it has jitter and many other obstacles like brickwall filtering - but these are sonically not remotely as severe as the noise and the distortions vinyl inherits all the time. And for sure, the CD never will have the same haptic feeling the LP posesses: touching a huge medium inside a grand paper case. You literally can see how the LP works, it is turning and turning the needle to the middle. It looks like a warm fireplace during a cold winters night. But to me, that is the only advantage there is. The advantage of vinyl is not in its sound but in its haptic.
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