The VinylDisc from Optimal Media Production is a cute idea. Why not put record grooves on the flip side of a CD? With the interesting resurgence of analog, this novelty disk may give more users the impetus to give the old turntable a try.

Optimal Media Production’s vinyl/CD hybrid, which is just like a normal CD except that on the top, it has vinyl grooves etched in. Place a VinylDisc on your turntable, drop the needle at the start of the track, and you’ll hear up to 3.5 minutes of music at 33 RPM.

As for the overall sound quality, I just finished giving the vinyl side of a Sonic Kollectiv VinylDisc compilation a spin, and it sounded decent — not as good as 180 gram, but certainly good enough to warrant consideration from bands and labels looking to offer something new to their customers: a CD that everyone can play, with a secret bonus track in the grooves on top for those who have record players.

Beyond the debates on analog vs. digital sound quality (I for one believe a properly deployed turntable in a decent system sounds fantastic), maybe the recent resurgence of analog music is due to the fact that there’s no DRM involved?

  1. ethanol says:

    I love vinyl because it produces a warmer sound. Compare Pink Floyd’s Meddle on CD and vinyl… To my ears vinyl wins hands down.

  2. The Monster's Lawyer says:

    Austin Powers tried this in one of the movies.

  3. jess.hurchist says:

    Are the record companies promoting analog because the digital model isn’t working? Expect heavy promotion of how much better analo sounds than digital.

  4. Smartalix says:


    It isn’t in their interest to promote analog in the long run, as there is no way to control copying. No DRM, no residual profit.

  5. Chuck Colson says:

    maybe the recent resurgence of analog music is due to the fact that there’s no DRM involved

    Yeah, getting around the onerous DRM on CDs must be priority one here.

  6. Pat says:

    1- unfortunately over the last decade, Dynamic range compression has slowly sucked the life (warmth, whatever) out of music. With digital music it is possible to further compress the dynamic range of music than it was with analog (particularly with the mechanical nature of vinal). This creates an artificial loudness, but really destroys a significant part of what makes music, music. So, its impossible to actually compare two versions of the same album (particularly one by such a popular band) to compare the mediums of recording.

    This reminds me of elementary school concert band where my teacher would constantly yell at us that mp does not mean Mighty Powerful! Loud != Good

  7. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    If you have time to sit and compare vinyl to CDs then I suggest you need to go see the band live or get a more fulfilling hobby, 😉

  8. jlm says:

    Just a possible attempt at slowing the conversion to all download. artists are starting to realize they can simply sell their music online without giving 99% of the money to the recording company. Recording companies are going to get desperate trying to drive people back to buying CDs so they are actually needed. I actually havent bought a CD in about 8 years, and know quite a few others like me

  9. BubbaRay says:

    The test results from the link provided for analog vs. digital in the article don’t reflect real world recording techniques. Most of the time recordings are remixed for transcription to CD, thus it’s usually easy to tell the difference between the CD and the vinyl recording.

    If we had 128KBps (not Kbps) per channel transcription and playback, I’ll bet it would be difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between analog and digital.

    Back in the old days when we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to school, a friend of mine and I modded a VHS recorder to make broadband analog recordings from vinyl, and the results were superb, better than 15 ips reel to reel. Incredible wow/flutter, freq. response, dynamic range, S/N ratio.

    To think I bought an iPod with a bunch of compressed mp3s. I guess it’s better than nothing. At least it’s portable.

  10. Billabong says:

    Oh goodie now I can have scratchs on both sides of my CD’s.

  11. dandylion13 says:

    “It isn’t in their interest to promote analog in the long run, as there is no way to control copying. No DRM, no residual profit.”

    Actually, the smartest thing the music industry could do would be to promote analog, and a new analog format, as the wave of the future.

    Pure analog, on a good valve system sounds vastly better than digital. You cannot capture analog quality by recording it digitally – the sound simply looses it’s depth. If the recording industry promotes a new, high quality analog format and convinces consumers that it’s much better than digital, they’ll have a format with built-in DRM. Why? Because you can make a digital copy, but it won’t be “Analog(TM)”. And so, sheep that we are, we will all rush out to re-purchase our entire music collections for our new valve based pure analog systems on some new unbreakable micro analog format that we’ll convince ourselves is vastly superior in tonal depth and clarity to CDs… and probably will be. Yes, we’ll have lots of digital copies, but an analog collection of high quality music that we’ll collect and cherish.

    At the moment, the pendulum has swung to lo-fi, over compression… but it’s going to swing back to hi-fi sooner or later, and someone’s going to make a lot of money when it does.

  12. Larry says:

    Ain’t gonna happen. Who has a turntable anymore and would I go out and buy one to play 3 minutes of music? And for all those who saw Wired Science last night you learned that even the “golden ears” can’t reliably tell the difference between analog and digital.

  13. Pat says:

    24 bit 192khz (as opposed to 16bit 44.1khz for cd’s) is pretty much the resolution and bit depth where no ear and sound system combination will ever be sensitive enough to know the difference. Anything recorded today will be recorded digitally at that quality or lower. Its also likely that live music you hear runs through a digital sound board using those or lower specs.

    Most effects processors use those or lower specs. Basically with every large live act the sound has made the conversion from analog to digital once, if not many times before it hits your ears, and the amplifiers are hardly audiophile grade tube systems. Digital recording technologies are at a point where its impossible to tell the difference.

    The problem is consumer devices have not changed beyond moving to compressed (not dynamic range compression as in my earlier rant) music and have yet to actually take hold of the higher quality recordings that would theoretically be available (i’m not complaining, most of the stuff I listen to is jazz, and older jazz at that which is laden with all sorts of recording and storage anomolies).

    Personally I’d rather have a copy of the 24 bit recording, but in the mean time while 128 kbps MP3’s leave much missing. 192 kbps is almost indistinguishable from cd on any system let alone one I am at the price I can afford.

  14. Awake says:


  15. Awake says:

    Pop! Pop!
    Click! Click!

    (me playing and analog recording)

  16. hhopper says:

    That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of. It’s like a horse drawn Lamborghini.

  17. Steve says:

    #8. I’m one of the individuals you described. I’ve significantly reduced the number of CDs I buy due to the cost of CDs, DRM, and the preference for buying uncompressed music on CD versus downloads. I used to buy one or two new discs a month. Now I buy a very occasional (less than one or two every quarter) low-cost new CD (ones not on a major label) or a used CD.

    At this point, I doubt there is anything the record industry can do to get me to buy music at the level I used to buy it. Due to the factors I mentioned at the beginning, and the fact that there are many other competing entertainment outlets besides music and I already have plenty of music, there is simply little they can do that would make me want to buy more music, and they have given me a number of reasons not to.

  18. flyingelvis says:

    8 track rules!!!

  19. Mr. Fusion says:

    #16, Hopper,

    Hey, good idea. It would be a hit with the Amish playboys.

  20. Smartalix says:


    There may not be today, but there are ways to do it. You can use the subcode space and build DRM chips into all new players, for example. The point is that analog audio (and to a lesser extent, video) are difficult to tamper with and track usage of.

    Of course it’s a gimmick. I used it to pose my question about vinyl. The Urban Outfitters in my area stock USB turntables, who’s buying them? Follow the links. Gimmick aside, the growth in vinyl use is more than a bunch of Nelson Pass fans or DJs playing their old records.


    See response to #14 above. Of course it’s stupid, it’s a promotional gimmick. But what about groups like Radiohead that not only released their music as a download, but also in CD and vinyl. is their use of analog a gimmick too?

  21. DeeJ says:

    Some very large portion of people who decry the sound of 16 bit 44.1khz digital vs. analog have never heard high resolution digital, like SACD or DVD Audio. If you have, you can compare with analog and find the biggest problem with CD is the limitations put on it way back when 16 digit chips were state of the art and compromises were made. There was plenty of argument about the sound even then.
    I’m hanging on to my carefully tended vinyl from dozen[s] of years ago – no doubt someone’s working hard on digital processors to reduce dynamic range on vinyl masters while retaining playing time (last time around, RCA called it Microgroove). Todays producers are largely ignorant of good sound – no wonder no one wants to pay lots for the crap they try to sell.
    I have a relatively cheap SACD player from Sony, DVD Audio via SoundBlaster Audigy 2, decent ‘classic’ (not megabuck) analog and hundreds of LPs, reel to reel, and CDs. Each CAN sound good. The best sound I hear comes from the SACD, but with a megabuck turntable maybe *that* would sound better – if I could ignore the surface noise and wow that afflicts even the most well made vinyl.

  22. comrade aleksey says:

    I remember when I got very first CD in my hands (circa 1983-4, it was early for Soviet Union hehe) and my first words to my buddy (owner of the CD) were “why they didn’t use the top of it to etch grooves so it could play like a normal ‘single’ why waste this space”… because until that moment I was under impression CDs had two sides like old longplays had 😉
    Well, quarter century later someone else got same idea 🙂

  23. Steve Savage says:

    Has anybody tried to BUY a record needle lately?

    They’re about as rare as buggy whips, trolley bells, and fat whitewall tires.


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