Vinyls vs CD

vinyl

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the “CD vs Vinyl” debate is the longest running and most heated debate in the history of DJ’ing! After the countless arguments I’ve read and participated in, one thing remains clear to me: there is no true winner, and there probably never will be. Not as long as CD and Vinyl co-exist in this world. How should you decide which format is best for you? Is it merely a matter of personal preference, or do you think it would be wise to find out all the facts first, and then make an informed decision? Read on as we delve into the in’s and out’s of both formats, and offer you a fresh look at what each one has to offer you…

There are several things that need to be considered when deciding upon a format. This does not at all imply that you should choose and stick to one format, but let’s see how they measure up against each other in the various departments:15

Portability

I’ve just taken a box of records, and a box of CD’s – and hopped onto my scale to weigh them. This is what I found: 1 x Pro Box containing 80 records weighs in at 20kg. This is the minimum amount of records I’ll take to a gig, and the same holds true for your average vinyl DJ. A CaseLogic CD box containing 60 CD’s weighs in at 6.8kg. If I’m playing a set of CD’s, this is what I will take with to the gig. 20kg vs 6.8kg. Quite a vast difference. CD DJ’s also have the option of abandoning their CD covers and keeping all their CD’s in a plastic sleeve DJ box. This makes it even lighter and allows them to carry more music to gigs. “But does the weight of the format really matter?”, I hear you asking. Well, that depends on you.

A very good friend of mine has injured his wrist in the past lugging around his record box to gigs. Most of the big name DJ’s won’t be seen carrying their own record boxes – there will be someone carrying it for them. I suppose it depends on how strong your arms are…or how many groupies you have!

Sound Quality

Hands up how many people know how a CD is burnt and how the CD player reads that burnt CD? When the CD is ‘burnt’ the CD-Writer’s laser beam is focused through the clear body of the CD onto the dye layer. When the beam is on, it melts a small hole into the thin layer of dye. The laser cycles on & off rapidly ( think binary 1’s & 0’s) burning a spiral track of melted & un-melted dye which represents the digitally encoded data. This can then be played back with a CD player, which consists of a read-only laser that doesn’t heat or melt the dye layer.

How about a record player? A record or vinyl is similar to a CD in that it is also a spiral track. The vinyl is placed on the record player and the needle in the groove. At the end of the needle, a stylus picks up vibrations as the record revolves and these mechanical vibrations are converted into corresponding electrical signals by a device called a transducer. So what does this mean to the sound quality of CD vs Vinyl? Well, it’s the distinction between digital and analogue. Vinyl uses a wider range of frequencies than CD does. Although the first counter argument to that statement would be to remind you that the human ear cannot hear the extra frequencies that vinyl uses, some suggest that perhaps it’s not necessarily something you can hear, but rather something you can feel. One common conviction that has come out of the thousands of “CD vs Vinyl” debates is that vinyl has a warmer, fuller sound while CD has a digital, mechanical sound. With the advent of DVD-Audio and SACD (Sony’s new format), this is changing. DVD -Audio uses 24bit recording and a sampling rate of 96khz while CD’s use 16bit/44khz to store sound information. With these new formats we can far more accurately represent an analogue sound signal and capture the “warmth” I’m referring to.

The CD players that are coming out today are incredible at emulating the vinyl experience. The Pioneer CDJ-1000 is a perfect example. DJ Roger Sanchez was scratching up a storm at the CDJ-1000 launch party, and afterwards, in an interview with the press, he laid down a challenge. His challenge was for anyone to stand with their back turned and be able to tell the difference between the CDJ and a real turntable while he scratched. That’s a serious statement, it means …

Turntablism

Turntablism

Turntablism is the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables and an audio mixer. The term was created in 1994 by DJ Supreme to describe the difference between a DJ who just plays records and one who actually performs, by touching and moving the records to manipulate sound. The word was never meant to be the actual title of the art form. It was regularly stated as an example while explaining the need for a new word to describe a newly emerging and totally unique instrumental art form. The intention was for the original creators of the art form to confer and decide on a title. While the idea of the need for a new word spread, some DJs just began to use the example word “turntablist” before the originators had a chance to proclaim an actual title.

DJ Babu has defined a turntablist as “One who has the ability to improvise on a phonograph turntable. One who uses the turntable in the spirit of a musical instrument;” while the Battlesounds documentary film suggests a definition of:”A musician, a hip-hop disc jockey who in a live/spontaneous situation can manipulate or restructure an existing phonograph recording (in combination with an audio mixer) to produce or express a new composition that is unrecognisable from its original ingredients.”

Hip-hop Turntablist DJs use turntable techniques like beat mixing/matching, scratching, and beat juggling. Turntablism is generally focused more on turntable technique and less on mixing. Some turntablists seek to have themselves recognised as legitimate musicians capable of interacting and improvising with other performers.

In the 1990s, turntablism achieved new levels of attention. Dedicated DJs had gradually refined the practice, and it expanded on its own, apart from the MCs who had largely neglected DJing as rap developed.

New DJs, turntablists and crews owe a distinct debt to old-school DJs like Kool DJ Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Afrika Bambaataa and other DJs of the golden age of hip-hop, who originally developed many of the concepts and techniques that evolved into modern turntablism.

Within the realm of hip hop, notable modern turntablists are the cinematic DJ Shadow, who influenced Diplo and RJD2, among others, and the experimental DJ Spooky, whose Optometry albums showed that the turntablist can perfectly fit within a jazz setting. Mix Master Mike was a founding member of the influential turntablist group Invisibl Skratch Piklz and currently DJs for the Beastie Boys. Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark are also known as virtuosi of the turntables.…