QUIET VINYL, Most modern music is mastered for digital release, be it through streaming, download or CD. As such, people attempt to make the music sound as “loud” as possible by using compression and limiting when mastering. This is known as “brickwall” limiting.
Look at that picture. See how the sound is almost in “blocks” see how it is mostly flat at the top and bottom?
This is fine for digital. As long as it doesn’t go over 0db in volume and clips, it will be fine…but it isn’t for vinyl.
Vinyl is a groove that a needle bounces around inside. Music like this will make the needle bounce all over the place, as the grooves cut will be very wide, and this affects distortion and quality.
Also, very low (sub 20hz) and very high (17kHz and above) frequencies will also have this effect, as will lots of sibilance (sharp “S” sounds, usually on vocals) When we master for vinyl, we ask the artists to give us non limited, non compressed versions of their music. We then master them individually so that they will sound their best when cut to vinyl. This means that they often sound a bit different to the digital version, but still sound superb.
We then run them through a vinyl simulator, so that we can check before a metal master plate is made for the vinyl to be pressed from.
Here is what the same song looks like AFTER we have mastered it for vinyl:
It’s quieter, but more importantly it’s no longer got the straight edges. Non of the frequencies have been “squashed” in to place by limiters. It can breathe.
Sure, it’s quieter…but the fix for that is simply to turn up the volume on your amplifier. Once we’re happy, we then get it pressed on to 180g, heavyweight, vinyl.
Not everyone does this. You get a thin vinyl that distorts at high and low frequencies…it was pressed directly from a digital master by people who only cared about getting your money, or didn’t really know what they were doing.