"CDs Versus LPs, Which is Better?" 1994 CBS Radio Network Show Unearthed!

Way back in 1994 (that's 22 years ago for those of you who forget how quickly time flies by) I was a guest on Gil Gross's radio talk show on the now defunct CBS Radio Network. Gil's show was mostly about politics but he made some room for other topics and on July, 29th, 1994 he had me in the studio for an hour-long show called "CDs vs. LPs: which is better?". Can you guess where I came down here?

I just found a cassette of the show, which includes callers, both listeners and guests, one of whom was Ken Pohlmann, director of the Music Engineering Technology program at The University of Miami and a Sound&Vision contributor.

. Let's go to the audiotape!:

Radio Show

Chemguy's picture

Thank you for representing the fold so nicely all those years ago. My goodness, it's quite amazing that we're still having the same conversation(s) in 2016. If you would have said this show was from yesterday, I don't think that would have fazed me. Except for the cassette tape being mentioned...that was too funny.

And your "ridiculous" $20,000 turntable!...your words! Boy, that Caliburn you've got now! How hyper-ridiculous is that!

concerto12's picture

Michael, based on a recommendation you wrote in TAS many years ago, I was lucky enough back then to find a pristine original Immediate UK pressing of that same record you show in the photo. Very rare, and it is one of my favorites!

MrRom92's picture

Blast from the past. Funny how 20 years later we're rehashing a lot of the same stuff, but also astonishing how forward-thinking a lot of the discussion was re: the resolution of digital video and audio. I was 2 years old when this aired, guess I wouldn't have been able to participate or even understand much of what was being said. But I'm glad to hear it now, better late than never.

Michael Fremer's picture
Wow. I was pushing 50! (mentally 2)
cdvinyl's picture

Do MIG's really sound better?

cdvinyl's picture

What TT would I need to buy today that would be comparable to the 1994 TT you reviewed back in your teenage years?

Michael Fremer's picture
Cobion's picture

Thanks for sharing that, very entertaining indeed. Funny thing about that whole time, I was 28 and enjoyed CD's because I didn't have a good system to listen to. I had my car stereo, compact stereo, CD walkman, etc....convenience sounded good back then.
There's an old saying in the stereo business, "the stereo that sounds the best, Is the one you listen to the most" Usually a car stereo back then for me. I put a great amount of money into beefing up the system in my car. Now car stereos aren't as easy to upgrade with them being integrated with Navigation and backup cameras, etc.
Now my money and time is spent in my home office listening to vinyl LP's on a decent system.

Lazer's picture

I pressed the play button and saw how long this old radio show was and thought to myself, "I'll give it 10 minutes." I listened to the whole damn thing. Even the Garleek commercials....do they still sell that stuff? All I gotta say is that it's 22 years later and I just received my Santana one step "Abraxas" album and it totally crushes any cd you will ever hear.

Wimbo's picture

I compared a Rega Planar 2 and the latest Multi bit Marantz player(CD65,I think it was) to a customer using the track 'True" by Spandau Ballet. When the sax solo came in, on the LP it sounded like a Sax. On the CD, It sounded like a keyboard. Customer bought the Rega. Later on in life I compared one of K D Langs big hits to a customer who bought his own CD and MP3 file in to the store.
He bought the CD player. Thankfully, they are now trying to improve Digital Playback.

sophiedrx's picture

..Just tryin' to get the best sounding source for her favorite music you know ;o)

Oh, and since i'm a woman, i'm gonna clean some of my latest purchases with my vinyl cleaning machine while listening to this show!

..That was just in case Gil Gross was reading this ^^


gena3750's picture

Terrific show and a terrific performance on your part, Michael. I had a friend over to the house the other day and played a couple of the Stones mono albums from the box set which I recently purchased. He hadn't listened to an LP in years and was blown away by the sound quality of the records. And I can assure you I do not have one of Michael's $20,000 turntables. My Audio-Technica AT-LP-120, my Denon receiver and Polk speakers were enough to convince him that maybe he ought to get back into vinyl as well. Suffice to say that this "flower-child" of the 60's is reveling in this incredible rebirth of vinyl. Thanks Michael for continuing to carry the torch of hot wax....and hot sex!!

Kirby's picture

In the mid late 80s, I got caught up in the Cd craze. I was in my early 20s and was moving lots for work, so moving my 3-400 lps twice a year was a pain. So like many I started to replace my Lps for Cds. Lucky me I only got about 20 or so Cds in when I bought a copy of Bob Dylan's greatest hits vol 1. Man this sounds like shit I thought, played a Dylan Lp, sounded great, no comparison. At around the same time I wanted to buy the Cd of "Layla" Derick & The Dominos, but it was a double Cd and expensive, so I bought a scratched up used Lp to make sure I would like the music. Did so I got the Cd, low and behold the scratched up Lp blew away the Cd in sound quality, not even close. Today 4000 lps later I'll never look back...Or move again I hope.... Thanks Mikey

Hackmartian's picture

Great show...and the Johnny Cash GED ad was a great bonus

foxhall's picture

I enjoyed it.

In 1994, I was naive and thought records were completely dead and that turntable owners had relocated their gear to attics or storage lockers. My local record shop (Streetlight Records) has zero LPs in 1994. Now when I visit the store, the vast CD collection is like a dead zone with most customers shopping for LPs or Blu-ray discs.

Talk about a drastic change.

audiotom's picture

I never let go of my 70s-80s records which I kept pristine. But I stopped buying lps in the mid 1980s purchasing cds instead, until around 1998 where I got back into vinyl bigtime, well before the revival.

I would play my records once on a B&O 1700 taping to a Nakamichi 3 head deck, and play the tapes which sounded great. Had many offers to take my UK, Japanese, etc pressings off my hands for a pretty penny. Never did.

Ditched the Nak and cassettes in 2002

When I got back into it it was a Nottingham with a Blue Point Special. My audio store had to special order it as nobody did vinyl. The store which gave up vinyl ten years earlier is now back into it the last few years with a few Project tables.

I graduated to a Galibier Gavia, Durand Talea arm and ZYX Universe cartridge.
My end all table.

I have found most times an original is better than a remaster, there are exceptions, but I don't feel the need to have a reissue.

Strings will never sound right on cd
A drawn stringed instrument of that timber just sounds more strident when sampled via digital

Cds can not do the low level detail or have as much body around a note, vinyl is more engaging

Some albums you might short change if you never heard the vinyl

I love converting cd lovers

Great job Micheal and thanks for sharing

SeagoatLeo's picture

I have 7,000 CDs and a high end cd player ($6K). I also have 27,000 LPs and a high end analog front end ($22K). They both provide superlative sound with well recorded and mastered recordings. I don't prefer one over the other. Strings sound fabulous on CD, it depends on the CD of course. It took me 20 years until CDs reached this plateau equal to analog. Often, the CD is better sounding than the original LP because of superior mastering or no pressing issues. My friends are not prejudiced against either format with several well know remastering engineers and audio equipment/wire engineers.

oregonpapa's picture

Tonight will be Django Reinhardt night starting off with two 10" mint condition records recently found at the local used record store for ten bucks each. There will be no conversation about how "clean" they sound. Nope, there will be nothing but two vinyl heads enjoying the swinging music of Reinhardt's guitar, with the head nodding and toe tapping bought to us by superb vinyl records from years past.

audioresearch's picture

I found an old research publication from the MIT Research Lab for Electronics(circa 1970) when Dr. Amar Bose was on the research staff behind this publication which referenced the work of another professor, Dr. M.V. Cerrillo, also on the staff.

That work showed that the addition of certain types of noise and also certain types of distortion made music sound more pleasing to test listeners than did hi-fi linear reproduction.

Elsewhere, it is claimed that tube equipment distortion also contains more pleasing harmonics than does transistor equipment.

These facts are consistent with the well known practice of introducing intentional distortion in some guitar amplifiers.

So, this could very well account for why some people prefer vinyl and/or tubes even though they generally have more distortion than cd and transistor equipment.