Digital LP’s

Has anyone noticed that LP’s made from digital sources don’t sound as good as actual CDs.  The seem to lack spaciousness and detail.


Which is why I will not buy any vinyl with a "D" in the recording chain. It's AAA or nothing. Unless I get fooled somehow and it has happened a few times.

Virtually all vinyl is now mastered from digital. My best sounding vinyl are these. It’s all about the bit rate of the mastering. If it’s redbook (16/44) it will sound no better than CD, which IMO is not very good.   Most albums are now mastered at much higher rates than that,

I happen to have a lot of them, bought in the early 80’s before the advent of CDs.  Ironically, they were touted as an improvement!


Most modern recordings are made digitally, these days. They're just made at much higher resolutions and bitrates than what comes out on CD (16/44) and various other download formats.

Usually, the digital masters will use a resolution of at least 24-bit/96 kHz, sometimes going as high as 32-bit/192 kHz. At these resolutions the music will sound just as good (if not better) than a pure analogue source.  

To me, vinyl always sound better than CD and I think this is at least partially why.

@ossicle2brain  " At these resolutions the music will sound just as good (if not better) than a pure analogue source."

I agree with what you say about the quality of today's digital recordings.  They are very good.  Pretty much all of the vinyl I own comes from the 50's, 60's, 70's, all analog chain.  

My question remains, why put these new digitally recorded pieces on a slab of vinyl?  I look forward to your thoughts.





Over the past few years of improvements in digital recording, I have been recording both analog- and digital-sourced LPs to DSD128 and become less of an analog purist.. I almost always prefer a vinyl-to-hi-res digital recording over a pure digital stream. If a digital recording intermediated by vinyl sounds better than a pure digital stream, is this not proof that however euphonic, vinyl is an affectation?

Of course RTR playback from an analog source is a different question,           .  

@abnerjack Because it’s essentially the only way to get high resolution recordings into the house. The closest high rez digital gets is from places like Qobuz which streams some music at 24/196, and SACD and DVD audio which I believe is roughly the same bit rate, but this music is limited and from my comparisons to the vinyl it still falls a little short in sound quality.

Plus people like vinyl and nearly all recording is being done digitally now.


Vinyl typically has a more dynamic range than its digital counterpart so I will buy it just for that even if there is a D in the chain. AAA is nice but pretty rare.

Digital recording to vinyl has been around longer than you might think.

I think differences that people perceive are more related to a specific master or mix and that digital in the chain is transparent. Analog to analog is like a photocopy of a photocopy with a similar result.



It's just a ripoff by the record companies as folks will pay double the CD price for an LP. When the Beatles set came out my friends and I compared and couldn't really hear any difference. Since then any of the new remasters I've wanted I've only purchased on CD.

I've read on this forum a few times of people who after having spent tens of thousands on both their digital and analog rigs assert that they now sound the same.

Not being able to discern the difference between an apple and an orange seems to be a bit of a tragedy.

It makes me wonder if they would notice any difference after changing their cartridge out for another cartridge type. 

Interesting question . 

I have replaced a few of my John Prine albums released as early as 1991 " The Missing Years "on CD and finally in 2013 on vinyl and I feel that the vinyl sounds better , this is also true for later albums he released , " In Spite of Ourselves " and "Fair & Square " .

The same goes for Rickie Lee Jones " Traffic From Paradise " and " It's Like This "




Vinyl actually has less dynamic range than a 16 bit CD. But for pop and rock music dynamic range is pretty irrelevant as most recordings are compressed into a very narrow dynamic range window. Perceived differences between vinyl and CD are very dependent on mastering and on the relative quality of the playback systems used to make the comparison.

My friend from Music Direct he prefers cd on classical the rest on vynil.I think if I remember classical can be more  manipulated digitally  dynamically speaking..


Luckily, the majority of my vinyl collection was purchased in the 60s and 70s, prior to the 1982 digital CD invention. However I do agree that a new vinyl made from a 24/96 source is likely to sound very good. I base this observation on listening to the same record both on 16/44 on my CD transport and 24/96 on my streamer, and the streamer version always sounds a little better. But when I play a 16/44 record on both, I hear basically no difference.



That's quite the generalization; in many cases that would be true, but like with almost anything else, I've no doubt that many exceptions can be found. 

Fortunately, I'm not interested in much music recorded during the digital era.  I also try to avoid reissues with intermediate digital steps, but sometimes that's the best you can do.

@yoyoyaya is correct that CDs technically have a higher dynamic range than vinyl—however mastering on CD tends to be extremely compressed, whereas good vinyl mastering engineers make their records dynamic, often more so than their CD counterparts. IMO it is all about the mastering. You can have a record mastered from digital that sounds terrible or stunning depending on how it was mastered. Same for AAA. 

@yoyoyaya "Vinyl actually has less dynamic range than a 16 bit CD." - Yes, mathematically perhaps, but that seldom makes it past the mastering board." I prefer LP over a typical CD or flac file...

Also, +1 "But for pop and rock music dynamic range is pretty irrelevant as most recordings are compressed into a very narrow dynamic range window."

I like my CD player very much (Ayre), but my analogue source is more revealing.  Ex. I own Josh, by Josh Sklair on both LP(analogue) and CD (20-bit), simultaneously recorded.  When home, I prefer listening to the LP because of the slightly better tone and dynamics.

I also own dozens of the old Windham Hill LPs and CDs.  The early ones were AAA. Turning, Turning Back by Alex deGrassi (1978, Stan Richter, 1/2 speed? mastered), and it has the attributes we seek in great recordings.  Not convinced? Listen to December by George Winston (1982, uncompressed close-miked piano) on both LP and CD, there is a palatable loss when moving from the LP to the digital release.

Moreover, any LP/CD comparison will be profoundly influenced by the transducer in each path (LP = cartridge / CD = A/D converter): The better the transducer, the better the sound.

Finally - @ossicle2brain   "My question remains, why put these new digitally recorded pieces on a slab of vinyl?". 

That's easy to answer - to play in my car (I do not own a vintage Rolls Royce with a record player in the back seat ;-).  Yes, I can stream, but road noise, brings the fidelity down to the common sound-Q denominator. 

Getting back to the OPs statement/question.

I recall when Abraxas was released by MoFi on a 'One-Step' pressing.  I believe the original cost was $100.  Shortly after it sold out, USED copies were selling for $350.  A friend was offered $600 for his copy.  By contrast, most LPs loose value after they are opened and played.

As we know, MoFi was later harshly criticized in the hi-fi community for using a D in the chain (there was even a lawsuit brought against MoFi ).  Up to that point, many analogue fans proclaimed it one of, if not THE, BEST LP that they have ever heard.

Funny how our biases can be so retrospective. 

I think that MoFi taught us all a hard lesson: When properly employed, a D step to reduce noise can actually enhance a recording.  

I enjoy my AAA LPs (thousands), but I am keeping an open D perspective.

I think one of the main reasons that some audiophiles prefer a vinyl version of a digital recording is that their cartridge has a non-flat frequency response that they like the sound of. Phono cartridges have been used for decades to tune the sound of a system. Some are bumped up in the mid bass, others have a hot high end response. That was always part of the fun of vinyl. CD players on the other hand have ruler flat frequency responses.

My experience is different than @rvpiano . I have many titles on CD and vinyl and I don't find that the vinyl version sounds inherently worse. In fact they often sound remarkably similar. When I got a Hana SL cartridge my vinyl rig began sounding much like the CD. If a CD lacks spaciousness and detail compared too the vinyl version I would suggest that the reason is that the cartridge has a tilted up response in the high frequencies which is responsible for the difference in sound.

I am unaware of any examples of a digitally recorded album being less compressed for the vinyl version than the CD version. If anyone has examples of this I would be interested in knowing what they are. 

There's still loads to unpick in this interesting discussion.

The vinyl production process is different to that for CD because on top of the choices made by the mastering engineer, the cutting engineer has to make a set of additional choices over and above those made by the mastering engineer as and between bandwidth, dynamic range and running time. So most of the time, the sound of what goes on to the final analogue reproduction medium can never be the same as what goes onto the digital.

By the way, I have very high resolution CD/SACD, Vinyl and Streaming front ends and I'm not biased towards any one of those. However, if I am going to purchase a digital recording, I'll do so on a digital medium rather than having that recording put through an additional step in being transcribed to vinyl.

I have a BMG record club LP of Pat Metheny's Still Life (Talking) from 1987 and the CD version.  The digital record, mastered by the great Bob Ludwig, has sounded better in some respects when I've compared it to the CD.  It's been a while since I did the comparison, but IIRC the bass ostinato on "Last Train Home" was more articulate on the LP than the CD, which surprised me.  I'll be getting a new cartridge soon, and I'm using a different DAC now, so I may repeat the comparison.

With analog-recorded albums, I have some where the CD sounds better and some where the LP sounds better.  It probably does come down to the mastering of each, as others above had said. I think Todd Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star was one which sounded a little better on CD, not surprising given how each LP side is about 30' long.  Granted, that is a rather poor-sounding recording to begin with, but I love the music anyway.

Today's recordings are all high-res digital masters. Releasing them on vinyl format isn't meant to improve the sound quality at all. From the artist's and label's standpoint, vinyl releases (limited or standard) is to make a higher profit margin per unit sold. The sound quality of vinyl, even today's vinyl won't be as good as the high-rez digital recording because vinyl has medium format limitations. This is why recent vinyl remasters and even new releases will have a compressed dynamic range to fit the format or the producer's remastering goals.

CDs don't suffer from the same dynamic compression issues that vinyl does because the format can hold more information.  A caveat to this is when you have a double vinyl release that has 2 or 3 songs, max per side of vinyl. In this case, they're allowing the vinyl the opportunity to show its potential as a music format.

I also think one has to be aware when buying either vinyl or CDs, of the time period in which the original recording was released. Pre-CD ear, many albums sound better on vinyl, post CD-era when vinyl releases were going away, the original CD release will sound better than a post-CD era vinyl re-master. 

Then there are examples of my recent digital purchases of high-res recordings when I buy the CD. I've listened to both and they sound identical in soundstage, dynamic range and clarity.

My recent vinyl purchases tend towards completing an artist's catalog in my collection or original used 1st/2nd pressing vinyl. I don't prefer any particular format over the other because when I'm critically/purposefully listening to an album, I listen in the best format that I have. 

“Has anyone noticed that LP’s made from digital sources don’t sound as good as actual CDs.”

Not true entirely…MoFi fiasco proved that records made from digital files not only sounds great but also indistinguishable from records made from master tapes.

It’s not the format…it’s the original source and mastering technique that ultimately matters as to how a recording will sound in your space.

@rvpiano   Thanks for opening this thread.  I have had the same question for years.  I have not  knowingly bought a digitally recorded vinyl album since the 80's.  The question for me has always been, what is the point of putting this digital recording on vinyl?  At this point I think the answer, from a sound quality point of view, is there is no reason. 

The only possible reason I could ever come up with is that the physical act of the stylus dragging through the groove somehow creates some good distortion.  Kinda like a tube does.  Probably not. 



The sound quality of vinyl, even today’s vinyl won’t be as good as the high-rez digital recording because vinyl has medium format limitations.

It often doesn’t work that way in practice. It is very common for record companies to put a recording’s highest dynamic range version on LP. Check the dynamic range database - you might be surprised. It’s all part of the Loudness wars.

CDs don’t suffer from the same dynamic compression issues that vinyl does because the format can hold more information.

But that it might hold more information doesn’t ensure that the particular pressing will take advantage of that. Often it doesn’t.

And of course, HF on LP far exceeds what can be put on CD.

To answer the OP's initial question, no I have not noticed that.  What I have noticed is that format is secondary to mastering choices and other "care" taken with the recording itself.

Plus, digital recording goes back quite a few decades at this point.  There's lots of good music that never saw pure analog.  

There sure is a lot of infopinion and expectation bias in this thread...

I do agree that vinyl can sound different even when I have the same general master in digital and LP, and I attribute that to the playback chain, and I also agree that choice of vinyl playback hardware is in effect tuning the system.  

I have also purchased some vinyl in the hopes that the master isn't as brickwalled as the CD or other digital version, with moderate but not universal success.

Finally, I mostly buy LPs not because of sound preference but because I like an album enough to (1) reward the artist with a higher margin purchase and (2) have a more physical artifact to enjoy.  It's like making a martini when I put on an LP, and it also "forces" me to listen to at least a whole side if not a whole album.  Plus the colored vinyl looks cool while it's spinning. 

+1 jji666. I believe the mastering is the key. I enjoy vinyl because it is more intentional, with the selection and cleaning ritual, then sitting back with the album cover in hand and enjoying the graphics and information.

CDs are never high rez. They are constrained to 16/44 . LPs are usually mastered from 24/96 or higher, so at least have a chance at being true high rez.

Everyone seems to miss this point. It matters a lot.

Everyone seems to miss this point. It matters a lot.

I cannot speak for others, but I am not missing that point.  I just don't find it to be generally true that hi rez is inherently better sound.  What I have found to be true is that some hi rez releases have had more "care" and that is an improvement in sound. It's probably not so much the resolution as the idea to provide something that would sound good on a better system, which finds its way into the mastering.

However, I will also say that I feel that sometimes DSD has a bit of a different character.  That could also just be mastering.

+1 jji666. Part of the bad reputation of CD arises because a lot of the ADCs and DAC's in the early days of CD weren't capable of true 16 bit resolution. Since then there have been significant improvements in converter and filter design that have led to improved sound from CD.

A lot of so-called High Rez recordings don't have the frequency response or dynamic range to need 24/96 resolution in the first place. Some do and I enjoy them for that.  But to speak to your reference to "care", they are often more purist recordings where the quality of the engineering is probably a bigger determinant of their sound quality than whether they are 16/44 or 24/96.

For the life of me I don’t know why someone would want to listen to a digital file that has been converted to an analog wave form , embedded in a slab of petroleum, and then extracted with a glorified sewing needle slashing its way through the grooves of that slab.  Makes more sense to listen to digital files with digital playback equipment 

I buy plenty of audiophile analog that goes through no digital processing at all. Just see all the stuff they have at Acoustic Sounds, for starters. Lots of pure analog there.

Save your money.The older you get the worst your hearing will be.I have never needed a lp that cost over 69 bucks.Plus,I'm 72 now.I walk alot.When I'm done.i pick out a cd of who I want to hear and hear it start to finish without having to get up and flip and clean my lp.I have over 1500 LPS 4,000 cds.Of classic Rock.that is all I need.Let the younger people go out and buy  $100 records.I go to the thrift and buy $1.00 Cds and only buy none scratched one's only.And yes I can hear the difference between a good recorded cd or cheap aftermarket ones.





OP...No I haven't noticed that. Try some other records you will find some that sound better than the CD.

To answer RVP, no.

IMO the fact that vinyl is pure analogue regardless of whether it was mastered from a/d matters. No DAC in the chain.

But those glorified sewing needles can get expensive!