Loudness of vinyl media

A question about the loudness of vinyl media. If I digitize a vinyl record using the Aux connection with 0dBTP, can I use this recording as a reference recording, does that make sense? Or is the loudness for vinyl a different pair of shoes? Maybe this is a stupid question. Say it when it is;)

What’s your aim?

Vinyl dynamic range is limited by the medium and the source material.

If you are looking to master something for a different medium, it’s probably totally inappropriate.

If you are looking to use it as a reference for mastering for vinyl, then it might be useful if the source material is similar. But vinyl has very specific mastering characteristics which are nearly impossible to generalise.

So, my gut feeling is: if you are trying to use this for mastering this is probably not the right approach.

If you are after a general reference track to support mixing, the there’s nothing wrong with a vinyl sourced track if you like the mix in that particular version.

Cheers,

Keith

To be fair, the music on a vinyl record from the 70’s or 80’s is probably way more dynamic than most digital audio released from the last 20 years or so; due to the producers, record labels and/or bands wanting to be louder than the next band and therefore compressing everything into the upper 4-5 bits of the 16 bit range.

Moreover, it applies to modern vinyl records too IMO. Now, when many music is released in digital and vinyl, a direct comparison often shows that vinyl sounds actually better (especially in terms of dynamics, but overall quality may be better too). Of course, mastering for vinyl has to be done in more “conservative” manner due to media limitations, but suspecting it is because the producers know that record buying “audiophile” customers are expecting more quality in general and vinyl doesn’t need to compete in loudness as well. Knowing all that, but also thinking about how lousy a medium vinyl is soundwise comparing to digital, it will never cease to surprise me.

But as @Majik said, using even good sounding record as reference for own mastering for vinyl isn’t the best way to go. Just sticking to general rules and recommendations of a given press plant should be enough. Let’s cutting engineer do the rest.

Hey Majik,
I had the idea of trying to create a similar sound and dynamics for the drums. For my current playalong stories.
The instrument and the player are identical. I am aware that there are other factors that determine the sound that I cannot influence, such as microphones and the recording room and ultimately the sound engineer who molded everything. Ultimately, I want to be able to send my musician colleagues a stereo drum track.

Hey peder,
I think this dynamic is fantastic! What triggered my idea was an old single by the Beatles “Twist & Shout” in the remastered version from 2009, in which the bass drum could suddenly be heard and really “thumped”. I didn’t have a record player in the 60s and listened to the emerging beat music on the radio, if at all, especially on the North Sea island of Sylt, “Radio Caroline”.

Hey songo,
very interesting. You shouldn’t ignore today’s possibilities, even if you’re producing for vinyl. But that would be beyond my capabilities anyway.

I would use a much lower input gain.

A Vinyl in prime condition with a new cartridge has a signal to noise ratio of about 60dB.

Most modern A/D converters work best (linear, no distortion) around -20… -10 dBFS. So I suggest to set the gain of the soundcard’s pre-amp/input so that peak of the Vinyl is around -10 dBFS.

Most modern playback systems (notably streaming services) require a much lower level anyway.

Note: depending on the record player, you cannot direcly connect it to a soundcard (search for RIAA preemphasis).

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Hey x42,
the line via which I can digitize Venyl consists of: C.E.C. Denky Turntable > Yamaha AX-490 Aux Output > RME Fireface UC USB Totalmix > Packard Bell Easy Note with Ardour. The level in Ardour was between -20 and -10 dBFS without any action on my part. Going directly from the turntable into the interface produced no sound. I will use your recommendation to search for RIAA Preemphasis and possibly learn a few things.

Edit:
Intuitively, I probably did the right thing by digitizing it this way. I also read this in a previous discussion from 2018 here in the forum. Thank you very much for your support.

You would need to use the phono input, not the aux input.

Since it says “Yamaha AX-490 Aux Output > RME Fireface UC” I think it’s safe to assume that the turntable was connected to the AX-490’s phono input.

Side note; going directly from the turntable into the RME should produce sound, if properly gained, but the audio would obviously need to be RIAA EQ:ed afterwards to increase the low end and decrease the high end.

Of course that seems correct now that you point it out. I need to slow down a little and stop skimming so quickly across the comments.

@Chris
Yes, that was a misleading description, sorry!

@Peder
I connected the turntable output directly to the Fire Face inputs but there was no sound, although the level control responded a little, but not much. I will try again directly and play with the gain control. Using the Yamaha Aux output to the Fire Face inputs, all I had to do was pull the faders in Total Mix to 0dB. The Fire Face recognized the rest.

Edit: Somewhere I read that the aux outputs deliver a fixed electrical value, no matter what is sent through them.

Going though the Yamaha is probably your best option anyway, sonically speaking

Phono cartridges are low level output, so you would need to use either the instrument or microphone input rather than line input, depending on how much gain was needed. For flat frequency response phono cartridges require a specific resistive and capacitive load, so it is unlikely that you would get optimum audio performance using the microphone input (input impedance is too low), and using the instrument input you would need to connect a loading resistor in parallel to get the correct load.
Much easier to use the phono input of the Yamaha amp.

Do you mean the record outputs? The “aux” connectors are on the input selector switch, which would seem to indicate that aux is an input, not an output.

The record outputs of an integrated amplifier are typically fixed output, which just means that they are unity gain, the level is not controlled by the volume control of the amplifier.

I would expect that your connection chain should actually look like this:
C.E.C. Denky Turntable > Yamaha AX-490 phono input > Yamaha AX-490 Rec Output > RME Fireface UC USB Totalmix > Packard Bell Easy Note with Ardour

The Yamaha has a rec out selector switch that I set to Aux- and a switch for the sound source that I set to Phono. It is possible that it also works with the rec out selector switch on tape 1 or tape 2, but I have not tried this.
I have always selected everything that is not a tape machine for recording via the aux option, e.g. the Tascam DR1 recorder, and it has worked well.
However, I will look at the input options in more detail than before and listen to and evaluate the differences in the recordings.

I recreated it, you are right about the chain: C.E.C. Denky Turntable > Yamaha AX-490 phono input > Yamaha AX-490 Rec Output > RME Fireface UC USB Totalmix > Packard Bell Easy Note with Ardor
I’m confused :upside_down_face:

This is the first time I’ve heard the sound of this vinyl through my studio monitors and the sound is of course different from what I heard through my hi-fi system. This confirms what you generally hear or read about the difference between hi-fi and studio monitoring. This recording doesn’t sound so great through my nearfield monitors. It seems that my idea of good drum sound, which I’ve cultivated for years, has gone and I have to approach everything completely differently.
Sorry for OT

Don’t give up if you really like the sound. Maybe quality is there. Try to apply some eq to match the characteristics of your HIFI speakers, play with compression, etc. In Ardour you have lot of possibilities to enhance the sound.

Had similar issue years ago, when tried to sample great drum sounds from obscure 80’s TV show recorded on VHS. It looked like mission impossible at first, but with surprisingly little amount of tweaking in Ardour it produced pretty decent samples which sounded really good in the mix. Still a bit on lo-fi side, but extremely usable, because that ineffable kind of quality survived. Used it many times since then. So maybe just try…

Actually, the Fireface’s preamps on input channels 1+2 should be enough. Not completely sure if the UC has the same preamps as the UCX but I think I’ve digitalized vinyl too when I had a UC.