Why do vinyl records sound so much more detailed than CDs?



Alright, you know this already because it’s actually old news.

Let me change that.

Vinyl has risen from its grave over a decade ago, and has been growing wings and soaring up in the sky…preparing to leave for outer space to invade other planets. There, that’s more like it.

Just last year, vinyl sales beat CD sales, and we’re sure the trend will continue in the years to come.

It seems like it’s no biggie but if you really think about it, how can a jurassic music format—loaded with imperfections and a higher price tag —beat something that’s more portable, affordable, and possibly better-sounding such as the CD?!

Well, as someone who runs Unified Manufacturing LA, I’ll tell you that I was perplexed and in denial until three years ago when most of our orders were vinyl. We only sold around 3000 units of CDs that year. Everyone was just ordering vinyl even up to this day.

A lot of artists approach us and ask us if vinyl actually sounds better than CD…because what’s going on, right?

The answer is, of course, NOT REALLY.

Asking which sounds better is like asking which tastes better—it’s 100% subjective.

Then the next question we’re usually asked is…

Why do vinyl records sound so much more detailed than CDs?”

And to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t. Vinyl never has been and never will be more detailed than the CD. Not in a billion years. CD and anything digital will always be sharper, more detailed, more superior SPECS-WISE.

For example, the bass and trumpets are not cut, unlike with vinyl that some have to be adjusted to ensure the vinyl plays well.

You see, vinyl is delicate and vinyl manufacturing and vinyl mastering requires more care and attention—and that includes making sure the sound (including details) are adjusted so it will play well on players. Otherwise, there’s a chance the stylus would lift, there would be a warpy sound, etc.

I believe most people who ask this question aren’t actually asking for the tech detail of the music per se (because unless you’re an audiophile, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference), but what they really want to know is why there are “details” when listening to vinyl—basically, the warm crackle and pop as if you’re near a fireplace.

Some people hate that, but it’s actually one add-on to vinyl that I personally love.

That crackle and pop are due to many things—dirt, damage to the surface and grooves, impure vinyl, friction, and just good ole old age.


People who love vinyl don’t think about technical sound quality as the primary reason. Here are some reasons that make them prefer the vinyl over CD:

1. Vinyl sounds “live”.

If you have a vinyl that’s truly well reproduced (hey, contact us if you need vinyl record pressing in LA), the sound is more acoustic and live as if you’re in a real space. This is, of course, different from the “superior” CD where you feel you’re enveloped by the music—like you’re wearing headphones.

2. Vinyl is collectible.

CDs contain superior sound quality but it doesn’t look like a piece of art. Some vinyl, on the other hand, deserve a place in the museum. You can showcase them in your home and sell them for big bucks in the future.

3. Vinyl’s imperfections are its charm.

As mentioned, the crackle and pop can be soothing, the warps can be cute, the skips can be part of the awesome vinyl experience. Not everyone is into smooth and loud and sharp audio quality. Many of us actually love the imperfect features of vinyl. And here’s the thing, most vinyl mastering engineers and vinyl record pressing plants produce less flaws so instead of it being annoying, the flaws just become lovely add-ons.

Do vinyl records sound so much more detailed than CDs?


Does it matter?

Unless you’re an obsessive audiophile who’s very particular with slight variations in sound quality, not really.

There are many other things that vinyl can offer that the CD absolutely can’t. Aside from the ones mentioned above, vinyl can also make you connect with other vinyl-lovers. The vinyl culture groups are definitely alive and well. If you want to find people who want to bond and geek out on music and vinyl, go for vinyl!

And hey, we can get digital music without purchasing a CD anyways. We can download and stream music…which has almost exactly the same quality as the CD.

So the real question should be: Today that we can easily access digital music, which is worth buying—vinyl or CD?

I think you know the answer.

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