Analog vs Digital on albums from the 60's and 90's

I love playing vinyl on my 70's classic rock albums.  But I'm curious about how much difference vinyl makes on older albums that may have not had the best recording techniques, or before artists demanded better recording studios and equipment. For 90's albums I wonder if vinyl makes a difference since much of it was recorded digitally.  


First, let me say it’s not a good idea to ask a question containing the phrase "vinyl vs digital." You didn’t do anything wrong, but those threads can get a little heated.☺

To answer your question, many people feel that 60s albums sound best on vinyl pressed in the 60s. These can be hard to find in good condition and can be expensive if in good condition or even not in good condition, though. Sometimes these albums are improved on by modern audiophile pressings, but these can be expensive and sound quality can be hit and miss.

I think that conversion into digital and digital processing, if applied properly, can improve the sound of 60s albums. Things like the Plangent process, demixing as used on The Beatles’ Revolver, and just getting a better transfer off the original master tapes, usually heard as an increase in clarity, can improve the sound of 60s Classic Rock albums.

These improvements are not that common, though. What usually happens is that dynamic range is squashed when remastering to digital, leaving the album much less listenable. Dynamic range compression is the curse of digital today, keeping it from achieving its potential for sound quality. Unfortunately, most record labels don’t consider audiophiles numerous enough to even consider when making mastering decisions. This is mainly for rock though. Jazz, classical and other formats do not suffer from compression as much.

When you talk about albums recorded digitally, how the album was mastered for the particular format makes the difference. In other words, it’s not the format, it’s the mastering.

+1 @tomcy6 . I'd add that besides the unfortunate addition of dynamic compression, there is a second common issue in such CDs. Often the treble seems to have been boosted in remasters, and this can make the material hard on the ears if you don't have a way of turning it down.


Old originals have more nuance and musicality, better depth and separation, and blacker backgrounds. Remastered recordings can sound tidier but tend to lose detail and may sound slightly veiled.

What vinyl or digital sounds like completely depends on your system.

What the recording sound like on an excellent system vary greatly. The late 1950’s and ‘60s have the most incredible recordings ever made. 1956 - 1963ish. If you have not heard some of them, reach back a bit further.


I am fortunate enough to own a system that produces outstanding analog and digital sound from vinyl and different digital formats. So I can enjoy both. Vinyl has the added variability of the pressing. So, as records are pressed the master (I may have the terminology incorrect) wears out, and another is substituted. So this is another variable placed in the analog stream, not present in the digital leg.

BTW, I have a vinyl library of excellent recording… many audiophile pressings.

One could write books on the recording quality over the time frame you bring up. Deutsch gramophone was one of the most respected recording companies and they went digital in the 80’s and early 90’s… omg, I have some vinyl that is hideous. I mean, absolutely unlistenable.. tinny… and trebly… just terrible.

Anyway, you bring up a great point… but I would be looking into the recording techniques of the time. That is where the big differences were. Today, if you can afford it, you can enjoy digital as good or better than analog.

Analog pressings from the 50's/60's/70's will always be more desirable and worth more than new reissuses cut from digital files. I am always on the hunt for original pressings!

"I love playing vinyl on my 70’s classic rock albums"

The album producer had a big part in the SQ of your Classic Rock album too.

Ted Templeman is an example someone responsible for great sounding LP’s in the 70’s

Ted Templeman - Wikipedia

A few examples

Montrose_-_-s-t-.jpg (301×300)

The_Doobie_Brothers_-_The_Captain_and_Me.jpg (300×300)

Van_Halen_album.jpg (300×300)

"But I’m curious about how much difference vinyl makes on older albums that may have not had the best recording techniques"

Play a period press of your favorites on a proper setup and your perspective may change?

As mentioned, some of the arguably BEST sounding LP’s are 50-60’s original pressings-you just have to hunt for those unmolested copies.

Just like a broken record, I’ve mentioned this LP many times being one of those recordings that may change your mind about how good an old record can sound

1955 mono recording-the real deal

JulieLondon_JulieIsHerName.jpg (300×300)

Likely, not a genre most of the younger generations would listen to, but if you’re interested in listening to musicans/vocals of "days gone by" this an example of greatness.