Digital CDs
Audio Storage Sound Recording

Do vinyl records sound better than CDs?

Many questions about cd and vinyl records can be answered, but you might be very disappointed by the fact that you are looking for evidence that one sounds better than the other.

However, it is a good starting point to look at vinyl records vs CDs.

Vinyl can be simpler since it has an identical signal in the whole chain. Basically, all recording material is stored on a disc, since it is the only fully lossless audio format, and the translation depends on the turntable and other components.

Digital CDs do not use a continuous analogue wave, they only take images at different points along the wave and translate the shape in zeros and zones. To complete the missing information between these snapshots, you need a Digital to Analog (DAC) converter to link dot to dot to create an analogue wave that is played back by the speakers.

audiophile hi-fi

How your settings affect the listening to vinyl records versus CDs

Budget and good devices certainly impact how both your CDs and the vinyl sound, but maybe it is even more important for them.

Set a swap to start correctly – set the right tracking weight, ensure its level, has the right cartridge – and it’s important to have proper support. You may not have to spend thousands on a Hi-Fi shelf, but suspended floors in particular emphasize the speakers’ footfall and vibration and have more effect on performance than a CD player.

Whether vinyl or CD sounds better will have to do with your setup, your personal tastes and your source remain constant but both space and demand remain in this era of ever improved streaming services and high-speed downloads. CDs are clearly much stronger than vinyl discs and can replicate low-frequency square waves, which are significant indicators for the medium’s ability to detect transients.

The audiophile hi-fi press loves championship vinyl over CDs and analogue equipment, but there is obviously a link between the two, as Newell has made clear. The use of analogue components in the recording chain is directly related to the character of the captured sounds, while vinyl is a ‘analog’ replay alternative to digital CD.

It also seems that the limitations of long lasting vinyl records play an insufficient role both in the duration and sequencing of their musical material. And the essential audio aspect of any replay medium is how accurate and reliable it is.