CDs vs Vinyl – Dynamic Range

I always believed that the dynamic range available on the CD was superior to that of vinyl. But, I never really took into account the fact that it would also depend on the compression during the mastering – that they would make different cuts for the different mediums.

I have no idea why the artists (and producers, etc) would not want to take advantage of the ~98 dB dynamic range available on the CD, compared to the 50-60 dB range of vinyl. Perhaps it’s that vinyl listeners these days are typically more discerning of the sound quality and playback fidelity of the music versus the more ubiquitous CD/MP3 listener. And the fact that vinyl isn’t quite portable and you’re not likely to listen to it on the subway using cheap headphones with a ton of background noise leaking in.

The Dynamic Range Database has a list of tested albums. I have no idea how accurate it is (I can’t find documentation on it and I’m guessing that it’s all been crowdsourced so there’s probably some sort of error factor in there), but you can download the program/addon to check the dynamic range of any song that you have on your computer.

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