Which offers the best sound quality for listening to music?

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Digital downloads are generally better overall quality when at high specs. But I use the term “quality” loosely in saying that. My preferred listening is from vinyl, but I can’t say it is better quality when vinyls are so often made from digital master sources.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Until there is a better method of sound reproduction that supersedes vinyl it will be vinyl. CD and DVD is very good that there are no scratches in sound, but a good vinyl can do so much better on a good phonograph.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Vinyl but it also needs the right equipment and the records. Digital is just so much more convenient and 100% mobile.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Impossible to vote for this. For the Vinyl and CD options its how good the source equipment is (and in the case of Vinyl, the condition of said medium) - and for digital downloads, well its impossible to have an opinion unless you know the bitrate. Still can't get my head round why people actually BUY albums on Apple at 320kps for the same money as a CD, which they could then just burn themselves. It's just plain stupid.

I agree with zichi - Vinyl in perfect condition and being played on a Linn LP12 through deserving amplification is probably the most natural reproduction, but well beyond the reach of most.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

BASF, AGFA, Maxell, TDK and those great Cr02 cassettes. Those were the days, my friend.

Loved vinyl, something very satisfying sliding the record out of the inner sleeve, out of the cover sleeve, out of the Golden Discs protective sleeve and onto the turntable.

Space, or lack of, dictates the switch to CD. I love how Japan respects not just vinyl and CDs but also the lowly cassette. Although some of the collectors prices can be steep.

Digital is fine, just not for me. Although will put some CDs onto the phone library or laptop but it just doesn't beat the physical medium, in my opinion, natch.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Space - and/or preservation of it has led me into burning my CD's on a dedicated music server as FLAC Files over the last year. The results are actually as good as the CD, IF the software and hardware are up to the job. I do miss the physical for sure but I am actually rediscovering a lot of music this way right now. Its a long process ripping 2500-3000 CD's but I'm getting there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lots of variables here. I'd love to hear someone with high end decks and cartridges make a case for records based on wavy Jamaican-pressed vinyl.

Some tech is going forward, speakers (for all sources) and DACs (for downloads vs. CDs) for certain, so it all depends. The sleeves and physical process of listening to vinyl are timeless however.

For me personally, its all about listening to the music, not the sound. Some of my happiest times are tunes in the car with a load of road noise.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The best sound of music is the one played live. Nothing beats that even when the quality isn't 100% or because of the venue. Listening to an orchestra in a concert hall is amazing. Or even standing as far back as possible and listening to Motorhead.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Spot on zichi and kohakuebisu...but that is not answering the question posed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lemmy "Sound quality is in the ears of the beholder"

4 ( +5 / -1 )

None of the above. 8 track is da bomb baby. Especially on the JVC 1280 sound system with Daiwa 14" speakers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Technically, it’s of course the digital sound, btw. also available now for old vinyls and tapes, refurbished and remastered to the possible maximum. You sincere audiophiles out there will be astonished what is possible nowadays with your beloved original vinyls or magnetic tapes. Give it a try for a completely new experience or rediscovery. But in general it’s of course more a question of personal preferences. As for me, I like any kind of good music, even old French chansons that were of course on none of the above media, so it is a great luck to have them remastered available again. And a friend is even harder, always insisting in switching to AM car radio, that has most of the time not even gramophone quality. lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A UD cassette.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Normally, I would say digital has the best listening quality. However, I would think that part of that listening quality also comes from that timeless matching of needle to vinyl, producing a classic approach to music listening and enjoyment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

FLAC is lossless, therefore superior to MP3 which is a dumbed down version to reduce the file size. A CD is naturally superior to an MP3 file for this reason. The format of the "digital download" is critical in answering the question of which is better. vs Vinyl is simply personal preference, which seems highly correlated to the listener's age.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you’re going to mash a lot tracks on your 256MB or higher MP3 player, the music has to be compressed to accommodate all that digital Data.

When you compress all that Data you will lose some of the highs, but whether you can hear that or not depends on you hearing ability and how sensitive you are to certain instruments and the subtle notes that are played.

The original recordings or masters of an album are of a very high quality. These are used for the mixing process so that as much detail as possible can be found as needed. It’s the same when you use your latest smartphone over a DSLR camera with a full frame sensor that takes 4K photos, the DSLR will always win. 

Vinyl is a lossless format. When the music is pressed in its raw form from the mastered recordings every note that was intended to be heard can be heard and the reason why vinyl sounds better than digital. Vinyl has an overall warmer sound, it also depends on what kind of record player you are using. Higher end record players often have weights around them to give a more distinct and rich sound distribution and that also means you will hear any imperfections on the vinyl including dust and smudges. Now music is subjective and we don’t all hear things the same, some people might hear or are more sensitive to each inflection and embellishment of how the note is played, others are not able to hear it. It just depends on your hearing the subtleties.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For Car, it was CD but not enough music

So now it's Sony Walkman.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I agree that it's impossible to vote on this. I've known too many people who listen more to their equipment than they do to the music. If pushed, I'd say 50-50 between vinyl and CD, but there's so much more to the listening experience than whatever's happening technically on whatever format you're listening to.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CD doesn't cover higher frequencies (above 20mhz) while compressed mp3 files don't guarantee sound quality. People prefer a matter of convenience.

Attending a live music performance is the best for me. I've been missing it for a while.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cannot vote. Where is the live circle to check off?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

i have vynil,cds and also casette tapes at home but yes its kind of nostalgia...spotify is best so far,sorry

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Matej: Spotify has a Maximum bitrate of 320kbps, so with respect you must be using some very poor equipment to listen to your CD's on. Not that I am anti-Spotify, I use it myself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've not had one for twenty years, but I once had a "ningen doc" health exam that included hearing and it said I had low sensitivity to very high frequencies. The first thing the doc asked me was "do you listen to music on headphones at loud volume?", to which the answer was a resounding yes. At that age, it was mostly house and techno. The same thing can happen to people who go to clubs, or gigs and festivals.

This leads to the irony that there will be correlation between love of music, especially loud forms of music, and an inability to hear all of it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I always thought 8- track was the best

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Vinyl is so much lower in quality than digital recordings it's not funny. The fact remains that vinyl cannot faithfully reproduce low frequencies due to physical limitations of the needle skipping the track, that the recording is compressed to stop this from happening.. The same physical limitations limit the dynamic range of vinyl. Digital recordings have no such limitations. Also, apart from the vinyl medium being flawed, as soon as you get one scratch on vinyl, you're stuck with it.


CD doesn't cover higher frequencies (above 20mhz) while compressed mp3 files don't guarantee sound quality. People prefer a matter of convenience.

20mhz? Nobody in the world can hear frequencies that high!! Maybe you meant 20kHz? Even then, nobody can hear higher than that either, so it's a moot point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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