That is, a really thoughtfully recorded, nicely mastered recording will transcend the delivery medium to a large degree, as long as that medium is at least solid and proven - like vinyl, like CD. To be honest, hearing a well-calibrated 1/4" or 1/2" stereo 2-track (plays only in one direction, using the whole width of the tape) deck, running at 15 or 30 ips, sounds sooo good, that I sometimes wish open reel was still a viable delivery format (even 7.5 ips 1/4" 4-track (plays on both sides of the tape, using 1/2 the width for each "side") stereo is pretty damn good.)
Sometimes, vinyl will lend its imperfections in a beautiful way to a record (maybe it's the extended (albeit rolled off) high-frequency response?) Remember, that to get sound off onto and off of vinyl isn't a 'purist' method like some people think. The RIAA encoding/decoding EQ curve is doing a lot of manipulations to the sound on both sides of the process, and like any analog EQ, it imparts phase shift around the filter corner frequencies.
CDs also are imperfect, but their frequency response is at least linear in/linear out. And then truncated severely at the top end (again, with the potential for phase shift at the corner frequency.) Old CD players suffered from, well, old D/A converters. And older A/D encoding suffered, yes, you guessed it, from older A/D converters. Early digital well and rightly earned its bad rap, as both sides of the conversion sucked. In recent years, decent conversion is everywhere - heck, a stock Soundblaster has better A/D and D/A than was likely available (at any price) at the advent of CDs. No wonder they got a bad rap compared to vinyl.
Now, though, 44.1/16 bit digital can be a spectacular delivery format. We now can take advantage of the full 16 bits (24 bit mixes dithered down to 16 uses all 16 in a way that early A/D converters simply couldn't.)
By the way, the audible difference between 48k and 44.1k is negligible at best. Sure, the theoretical high-frequency cutoff drops from 24kHz to 22.05kHz, but when one factors in the required filtering required to eliminate aliasing of frequencies above these points (called the "Nyquist" point or frequency) we end up rolling off a bit below them anyway. And seriously (don't kid yerselves, folks) most playback systems can barely muster linearity at those upper strata. And show of hands: who here can identify the difference between an 18kHz tone and a 20kHz tone? Who here still can hear 20kHz? Who ever could? Not many hands will go up, I promise.
Well mastered vinyl can be crisp and clear in the highs and lows every bit as much as CD. I've got some 45rpm 12" singles that just sound fan-tas-tic. Then again, I've got some that sound like poo. And the same goes for CD.
I guess the bottom line is, they're both spectacular delivery formats when used to their fullest potential. Vinyl is non-linear and suffers from surface noise, but has not much of a frequency response limitation (well, super lows aren't as possible as they are on CD...) CD is linear until it can't be, has no inherent noise, and can do crazy things with low end (and top end for that matter, levels that vinyl can't handle due to distortion characteristics during the cutting process...) CDs don't degrade with every play... Kinda a wash, really. At the end of the day, I prefer CD simply for its ability to be consistent. But I love my vinyl for the tactile and interactive experience it gives me.
@digby, my guess is that the CD in question was mastered, too, especially if it is a current release. "Modern volume standards" and all (don't even get me going on overuse of limiting in mastering these days...)
@headache: vinyl can go above 12kHz for sure, but the response is non-linear. In fact, it's capable of frequencies well above the theoretical "22.05kHz" limit of 44.1 CD audio. But even CDs aren't going to be linear up to/around 22k - the filtering I mentioned makes it unlikely (sure, there is phase-accurate digital filtering now, so it's possibly in theory, at least, to have a CD that contains information at 22k....)
@nulldevice: yeah, pretty much what you said, too.
@bittersweet: depends on the nature of the scratch in both vinyl and CD cases... on vinyl, a scratch that always causes a skip can sometimes be repaired *very carefully* with a strong magnifying lens and a sharp sewing needle. It will still make a pop, but it will play through. Or you'll destroy it further.
On CD, if the scratch is in the polycarbonate side, one can often buff it out enough that the laser can read through it. There are commercial products, but I find that buffing with diluted toothpaste and a cotton ball one can polish many scratches out. If it's a scratch in the aluminum substrate, you're generally out of luck, but I've heard of people using highly reflective silver paint on the problem spot... mixed results.
@ajkbeast666: not all electronic music is digital! My studio, as an example, is currently based on digital recorders, but interfaced analog to an analog console and analog outboard. Analog ouputs from the synths (both digital and analog hardware) and samplers/drum machines... Some effects are analog, some digital, but all with analog I/O. Often times I mix to analog tape. As another example, look at Jack Dangers' studio. Quite a bit o'analog going on there..!
And not to nitpick, but where did you come up with the 'vinyl is 48k, CD is 41k' thing? Yes, CD is 44.1k, but vinyl could be sourced from anything - 44.1k DAT or CD (!) or analog tape, or cassette (!) or 1-bit digital or...
Oh, more recent Neubauten is also done with samplers and softsynths as well as acoustic instruments. Just sayin'. I love it all regardless, and think some stuff sounds just pefect on CD, and some sounds amazing (I agree, the older stuff especially) on vinyl.
All (for now, perhaps...)