Difference between revisions of "Playback and Recording (Vinyl)"

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(HydrogenAudio FAQs)
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* How to remove sibilance? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=40346&hl= thread])
* How to remove sibilance? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=40346&hl= thread])
* How should mono LPs be recorded? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=39008&hl= thread])
* How should mono LPs be recorded? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=39008&hl= thread])
* What are some examples of good and bad vinyl rips? (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37328&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37303&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37444&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=35340&hl= thread])
* What are some examples of good and bad vinyl rips? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37328&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37303&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37444&hl= thread] [http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=35340&hl= thread])
* Can/should LPs be ripped faster than real time, ie at 45rpm or 78rpm? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37097&hl= thread]) No.
* Can/should LPs be ripped faster than real time, ie at 45rpm or 78rpm? ([http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=37097&hl= thread]) No.

Revision as of 22:12, 19 April 2006

Why vinyl?

Why invest in an obsolete, 50+ year old music medium?

  • Used vinyl is often extremely inexpensive - 50 cents to two dollars a disc is somewhat common. Vinyl is a very cheap way to expand your collection in older artists that you cannot justify spending $15/CD on listening to.
  • Some album art is better suited to the larger scale of LP covers and sleeves.
  • The mastering of an original LP release is often considered superior to a CD remaster of the same release. This can be for any number of reasons, including:
    • Increased use of compression and limiting on the CD release, reducing dynamics
    • The master tapes have often degraded in the time between the LP and CD releases
    • The equalization and even mixing of some CD releases is radically different than on the LP releases. For instance, many Zappa LPs have had entire drum tracks replaced for the CD release.
  • Properly maintained vinyl is of a surprisingly good quality and is often not objectionable.

Why not vinyl?

There are several disadvantages.

  • Vinyl is particularly finicky to maintain and easy to damage.
  • Surface noise, while often inaudible, will always be present, even on a brand new LP.
  • The quality of a record often cannot be determined until you play it, increasing the risk of the purchase. Even brand new, sealed LPs can have significant pressing and warping problems.
  • Not portable.
  • Investing in a reasonable vinyl system is hundreds to thousands of dollars more expensive than investing in a reasonable CD/computer system. Financially, any benefits of the cheaper media must be compared against the amortized cost of the equipment needed to play and maintain it.
  • Records are large and heavy. Transporting them correctly is logistically difficult.
  • Many record stores have a considerable markup on used LPs and it may be hard to find records for cheaper than $10 in some stores. This makes it much harder to completely justify vinyl on a financial basis.
  • Some vinyl has a very high collector's value which makes it nearly impossible to locate for prices cheaper than CD.


Note that a lot of this info is currently US centric.

The "market rate" for LPs depends primarily on the collector's value. Mass-produced and unpopular LPs will not cost more than a dollar. Original pressing Beatles LPs are usually over several hundred dollars. Jazz records tend to be very expensive. Classical records tend to be quite inexpensive. Rock, blues and electronica lie somewhere in the middle.

Depending on how clued the store is to the by-the-book market prices of vinyl, prices can range anywhere from 50 cents on up. Record stores tend to have the highest prices and charity stores the lowest, but there are always exceptions.

  • Many cities have local record stores that specialize in certain genres. Check your yellow pages and local music listings for ads.
  • Half Price Books (US) tends to have extremely good vinyl selections. Vinyl is not transferred between stores, so the quantity/quality varies widely even by the neighborhood.
  • Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other charity stores often have good deals on vinyl.
  • The Austin Record Convention http://www.austinrecords.com/ has a very, very large quantity of LPs. Biannual. Similar conventions exist in many other large cities.


Turntables vary widely in price, construction and age. Audiophiles will categorize the subjective qualities of a turntable on the following metrics:



The plinth is the base of the turntable, on which the platter (and usually the motor) rests. The basic function is to isolate the components mechanically from the base of the turntable and from each other.

Construction styles vary:

  • No isolation whatsoever (solid box). For very cheap turntables.
  • A box, often wooden, holding a metal plinth supported by springs. Usually found only on vintage turntables.
  • A plinth of multiple levels, each level isolated from the other by some rubber-like substance. In some form or another most audiophile turntables use this method.
  • Physical separation of the turntable components from each other, and individual isolation of each component from the ground. Certain very expensive turntables use this method.

There are few objective criteria for plinth design. Isolation issues can be resolved through the use of additional isolation placed underneath the turntable. Build quality is important and may be lacking, even for audiophile turntables.


The stick-shaped part of the turntable.

  • They hold the cartridge on top of the record, keeping it properly aligned, and carry the wires down to the plinth.
  • A counterweight is placed on the back to reduce the force of the needle on the record to very low levels, usually equivalent to an effective mass of roughly one gram.
  • A force, the anti-skate force, is applied to the tonearm, pulling it outwards from the center of the disk, to counteract forces during playback that pull it towards the center.
  • The tonearm must be lowered slowly onto the disk to prevent damage to the disk or the stylus. All quality turntables include a mechanism, usually hydraulic, to slowly lower the tonearm.

Key differences between tonearms include:

  • Mass
  • Counterweight
  • Build material
  • Shape (S-shaped or straight)
  • Linear tracking or angular tracking
  • Degrees of freedom on the mounting
  • Antiskate force mechanism

There are several objective differences between tonearms:

  • The mass of the tonearm affects the resonances of the playback system. The mass can sometimes be incompatible with the mass of the cartridge and the compliance of the stylus, leading to an excessively high or low resonant frequency that induces skipping or rumble, or can negatively affect low frequency performance.
  • Tracking errors, representing angular deviations between the stylus and the record groove, are present with every tonearm, and different designs use different approaches. Linear tracking arms, in theory, have zero tracking error. In practice they require a motor to move the tonearm, with some known error in correct positioning, as well as some vibration. S-shaped tonearms are shaped to reduce tracking error but (XXXX list issues).
  • XXX high frequency effects?
  • Counterweight markers are notoriously unreliable and a scale is often employed to get a correct measurement of the counterweight setting.



Belt Drive

Direct Drive

Idler Wheel Drive

Internal Wiring and Power



HydrogenAudio FAQs

From the forums.

  • What sample rate to record with? (thread thread) In general 44.1khz will work fine. There are not significant reasons to choose either 44.1khz or any higher sample rate. Many postprocessing tools for vinyl recordings only operate at 44.1khz. Additionally the dynamic range and distortion specifications for many sound cards are better at 44.1khz than at higher sample rates.
  • What bit depth to record with? (thread) Similar to the sample rate question above. In general 16 bits actually does work well. It's a common misconception that the quantization noise will significantly raise the noise floor of the recording; as long as the signal peak is -10dbFS or higher it is not an issue.
  • How low of a frequency can LPs produce? (thread) The common wisdom is that they don't have much below 60hz, but there is evidence that the signal extends as low as 20hz and possibly lower on some LPs. The L-R (vertical) signal must have a low bass signal for tracking reasons.
  • How much bandwidth is on an LP? (thread) This is a hard question, because the dynamic range has to be considered and it is frequency-dependent. It is almost certainly lower than CD, and certainly far lower if the theoretical bandwidth limits of the CD medium are considered, rather than the digital specifications.
  • What recording level should LPs be recorded at? (thread) As high as possible without clipping. -3db is usually safe and some sound cards may distort if driven past that. If you are recording on a sound card with a good noise floor (100db or greater) then you can go as low as -18db without ill effects.
  • How to remove sibilance? (thread)
  • How should mono LPs be recorded? (thread)
  • What are some examples of good and bad vinyl rips? (thread thread thread thread)
  • Can/should LPs be ripped faster than real time, ie at 45rpm or 78rpm? (thread) No.