Saturday, July 22, 2006

ELPJ - Whatever...

A friend of mine sent me this link, as he was all excited that vinyl was going digital…  
http://www.elpj.com/

…After carefully reading that bullshit, I replied:

Alas, another bittersweet moment in vinyl history...

 For starters, the ELP appeals to the vinyl collector community -- it doesn't necessarily appeal to DJs.  It doesn't play colored vinyl at all.  You cannot manipulate the record the way a conventional turntable does, so forget about ever using it during a DJ set.  After extensive reading, the ONLY true advantage that the ELP has (in my opinion) is that the laser doesn't damage the vinyl...  That's it.  Let me also bring up a couple other key points:

1.  Laser = Digital.  Period.  Lasers do not transmit information -- they READ information.  Much akin to the CD, which is marketed as a DIGITAL medium.  The whole "analogue" sound is nothing more than a marketing ploy.  The sound quality -- while slightly improved, is still dependent upon many factors:  the age of the pressing, the thickness, the color, the coverall condition...

2.  Vinyl mastering is completely different than CD mastering!  You will NEVER be able to make a vinyl record that gives your more sound definition than a CD for THIS REASON alone!  Vinyl is a very limiting medium in itself!  The longer your side (of the record) is, the lower your overall vinyl volume will be.  Depending on your bass levels, the grooves can only be "so wide" on a record.  Thus, the more bass you have in your music (dance, hip hop, etc), the "shorter" your side has to be.  Otherwise, your quality will suffer greatly.  Do the research.  Find an old "classical" record, or one of those "long playing" spoken word albums.  Notice that you can fit nearly 22 minutes of music on one side.  And this is at 33.3 RPM.  The time is even less on a 45 RPM record – and we haven’t seen a 78 RPM record in decades, speaking of OBSOLETE!!!  For those of you who are old enough to remember, there USED to be records made at 16 RPM.  Hmmm…  Ever wonder why we don’t have these records anymore?  Now take one of the average 12-inch singles from today.  Each side is roughly 12 minutes or less per side -- sometimes even less.  People have one track per side for THIS REASON...  And anyone who knows how to master vinyl ALREADY KNOWS that the treble response can only be “so high” on a record – which is much lower than the treble response on a CD.  The record making process ADDS a certain amount of highs to the vinyl, just due to the machinery.  Too much treble, the cutting head (the needle used to make the grooves) gets too hot and explodes.  Furthermore, the closer you get to the center of the record, the more your highs have to be adjusted during mastering – again, it’s the limitation of the VINYL medium.  Why do you think the most bass-heavy tracks are usually FIRST on the record?  

3.  The ELP is sold with a de-clicker, which by the way is a DIGITAL machine.  Even if the ELP was truly analog, in order to fully rid yourself of the “clicks and pops,” you have to use their digital de-clicking machine.  

4.  A machine like this would force the entire vinyl record industry to change.  Someone would have to create a new way to master vinyl, to erase the limitations.  Colored records would be obsolete – and for those who can remember the odd shaped records, or the ones that play from the inside OUT – obsolete.  DJs would have to find a new way to actually manipulate and mix with these machines.  Forget about scratching and battle-style turntablism.  It ain’t happening with these machines…  

5.  Last but not least, the $15,000 price tag.  (Somebody’s been reading the Donald Trump MARKETING book, eh?)  For less than $1000, I can buy a USB turntable, copy the vinyl to my computer, buy a music editing program like SoundForge, a couple of those vinyl restoration (de-clicker, noise-reduction) plug-ins, and burn the music to a CD – which by the way, lasts up to 100 years with proper handling and care.  And at this price, I can even afford to make multiple backup copies of my discs – one for playing, one for storage, and one “just in case…”  

Don’t get me wrong.  The machine is cute.  It’s nice to know that it won’t further damage my vinyl with multiple plays – but again, my CDs won’t get damaged after multiple plays either.  I can buy a nice machine like the CDX or HDX, that lets me manipulate my music just like a vinyl 12-inch – they even come with the 12-inch turntable platter.    By the way, if you REALLY want to be impressed with the evolution of vinyl, try checking out the Numark HYBRID turnbables.  
http://www.numark.com/productoverviews/X2_overview.pdf  …now THAT’S something to get excited about!!!

Always,
Aaron-Carl

3 comments:

Augustus. said...

What about stuff like Surato Scratch? I saw a friend of mine rock the house with 2 Technics 1 Surato and a laptop. I'd love to have a set up like that.

Aaron-Carl said...

I actually like those setups too... Serato, I haven't seen in action -- but Final Scratch 2 -- now that's the shit... They basically do the same thing, but yes... I want a setup like that as well.

Anonymous said...

"1. Laser = Digital. Period."

Wrong. Period. The ELP uses a photodiode that outputs an analog waveform which varies with the amount of light that is reflected off of the vinyl groove. This is just like laser bounce microphone surveillance systems where you can listen to what is in a room by bouncing a laser off of the window.

This is not at all the same thing as digitally encoded pits and land reflections from a CD surface where there are basically only two signal values received.