Hit Me with Your Best Shot: An Experiment for SCIENCE!

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2011-11-05) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

Hit Me with Your Best Shot: An Experiment for SCIENCE!

An experimental analysis of the song “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, digitized from a 45 RPM vinyl single.

This experiment was entered into to find if sampling the vinyl disc at a higher rate (by slowing down the input to a digitizer at the same sample rate) and then resampling would result in a “cleaner” auditory experience, in much the same way that oversampling an image on a scanner and then down-sampling to the required size often results in a cleaner image.

The green line represents the song as recorded at 44.1KHz playing at 45 RPM from my Technics SL-BD20 turntable with a brand new cartridge and needle.

The magenta line represents the same setup, but with the turntable playing at 33 1/3 RPM. The resulting 44,100 Hz sample recording was then sped up to 59,535Hz to match the original 45 RPM speed and then resampled back to 44.1KHz.

To my ear, I was hard pressed to hear any difference between the two, except possibly a slight difference in the tone of the “pops” picked up by the stylus due to damaged or dirty vinyl. The difference in the roll-off on the high end could potentially be due to the RIAA EQ curve built into the turntable not operating at the correct frequencies. The other general slight shift in frequencies, I would attribute to either a mistake in my resampling calculations, or a discrepancy in my turntable’s stability at different speeds (quite likely).

I’m well aware that I’m likely coming to bad conclusions due to poor experiment design, lack of understanding of all factors involved, and poorly-functioning equipment, but still it had to be done. For SCIENCE!

Regardless of the experiment’s inadequacies, the results do not seem to support the original hypothesis. The upshot being, I couldn’t tell enough of a difference between the two digitizing methods to go through all of this rigamarole when digitizing my collection of 45s.