The age old question for those who work in the media industry or have a keen interest in audio media – is vinyl better than CD? Arguing between Compact Discs aka CDs to vinyl or other gramophone related records is the audio equivalent to films reels and digital film. Both formats fulfil their respective use as both as audio content storage and playback albeit from differing periods of history.
One format, the CD only needs a machine capable of digital encoding and playback whilst the other needs a record player with a working needle. Presently, an overwhelming majority of professionals and studios utilise the CD format – why would they? CDs are the industry standard to commercialising songs, works, records and other entertainment content – second only to a complete digital format.
But a minor and niche segment of people still enjoy the analogue format that is vinyl. For any keen music enthusiast, appreciative artists and studios, vinyl brings a popularity and appeal through nostalgia. From a technical standpoint, both formats differ significantly and we breakdown some of the key areas that make for an ideal format.
1. Does Vinyl have better sound quality than a CD
Yes and no. Vinyl technically may contain higher quality musical information compared to digital audio that has gone through multiple conversions and processing. Typically, when audio is recorded via digital, it may have to go through a process conversion through formatting, uploading and transfer before saved into a CD. If someone takes a copy of digital audio from a streaming service and saves it on a CD – there’s certainly an extent to where the sound quality is lost during the download.
But the majority of the time audio digital files are saved directly after recording and at that point, vinyl can’t compete. Unfortunately, vinyl itself has inherent features that may distort quality such as the iconic, warm hums and pops – a by-product of the playback process.
2. Does Vinyl last longer than CD
Another grey area where technically yes Vinyl are more durable than CDs simply because of the material they are made of. Vinyl is made of PVC which is a form of plastic whilst CD is also made of plastic, it’s a compressed thin layer of plastic and metal.
The homogeneous design of the Vinyl makes it more durable however the major downside is that it is susceptible to wear and tear. Playing through a vinyl requires a physical needle dig into the groove of the record – eventually over extensive uses the vinyl will be worn to the point it can no longer play or at least play to its original quality.
Is Vinyl easier to play?
Let’s not kid ourselves – vinyl requires a working record player and needle whilst CD can be played on most digital devices today. In term s of accessibility, record players are by far harder to come by. Since the introduction of the cassette tape, phonograph use declined sharply and so did its manufacturing.
In summary, there are CDs are better for sound quality and is more accessible to the everyday consumer than vinyl – despite being a more fragile format. Even with these cons, vinyl records are still being used today either through the avid appreciators and nostalgia lovers.
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