Analog newbee looking for advice

So after contemplating buying a universal player, I've decided that there aren't enough titles to justify the cost of a high-end player. As an alternative, I've decided to give vinyl a try. It seems there is a consensus that vinyl sounds better than redbook, so here's my question: How much do I have to spend to get an analog setup that will sound "better" than my redbook setup?

My CDP is Resolution Audio CD55 and I'll be buying an Opus 21 soon (inevitably).

It's my opinion that the production quality of the recording is a bigger factor than the format/media so let's assume we're comparing the same recording on CD/vinyl.

I am actually satisfied with the sound of my best sounding CDs with my current setup, but those great sounding CDs are few and far between...

Please be kind with your responses, I'm too lazy to search the forum for similar questions/answers.

Thanks in advance!
No question that vinyl is a format capable of excellence but it's also lot of work, requiring serious commitment before it pays off.

You commented in the post above:
I'm too lazy to search the forums

Are you sure your a candidate for a format that's more work and more money ?

Besides, you already have a great CD player with the Resolution Audio CD55, for which there are tens of thousands of CD's available.

As for quality, assuming you get better sound from an LP, does duplicating your existing library really make sense ?

Don't get me wrong, I am an LP guy all the way, but it's like a five speed manual transmission for city driving..........not for everyone.
If you can get a VPI MK3 with a decent arm this should give you a solid performance without investing to much money into an Analog rig.I bought mine with a Morch Arm for a little over 1k,But you have so much to choose from if you want to get your feet wet.
Great response by Albert.

Vinyl can beat the world's best digital, substantially, but not without considerable and ongoing efforts. If you're not prepared to commit to a long learning curve plus daily work and fussing that will never end, the results may disappoint or frustrate. Doing vinyl well can either be a chore or a calling. Only those smitten by the latter spirit are likely to stay with it.

Despite having over 800 CD/SACD/DVD-A titles, our well-regarded universal player spends far more time playing movies than music. We listen to music on vinyl 2-4 hours/day, but I just can't recommend it to everyone. Cleaning records and adjusting even the most reliable of high quality rigs is a good deal of ongoing work. Make sure you're prepared for that (by doing alot of searching and reading!) before you commit yourself or any serious funds.


P.S. to Albert
I drive a six-speed every day. Even in city traffic I never tire of it. Does that say anything about my tolerance for nuttiness?
What a man Doug :^).
There are decent virtual plug-and-play units that will give you good sound. Some of the Rega units come to mind. If you buy something new from a good store (of which there are very few) they can assist in picking a product and setting it up.

If you are on your own, this can be a time consuming and frustrating endevor.

Ultimately one does not need a state of the art vinyl setup to exceed the sound quality of a SOTA digital setup.

Check into the Rega or VPI units that come with their own arm. Rega sells good cartridges also which will not require as much dedication to install and set up as a system of seperates.
I agree with the comments of the posters although I think some are far too negative. The many rituals that pertain to playing LPs become enjoyable after a while.

What you do need to consider in a good phono stage. As somebody that ‘roll-my-own’ when it comes to amplification, I have ample opportunity experiment with a number of different amps, pre and phono’s (since I build them myself!). I have come to realize that a good phono stage is really key I getting good results from analogue.

So budget for the phono when considering a TT/arm/cart.

Hey Dburdick!

As a fellow Resolution Audio afficionado, (I own the Resolution Audio Opus 21, btw), and a fairly recent returnee to the land of vinyl, (about 3 years ago now), I can offer you my opinions.

First, the Opus 21 is a great cdp. (Although, it is not quite the equal of the very best cdp's, notably the Audio Aero Capitole II, it comes quite close. But then again it costs about one-third the cost of the Capitole II, so for a bang for the buck aspect, it is almost unbeatable. However, the sound from vinyl is better still.

Second, it is not cheap to get better than Opus 21 cd sound, IMHO. I would guess it will take somewhere in the $2,000-3,000 range. Also, as AlbertPorter says, get something that is relatively plug and play. (This will eliminate most of the fiddling that DoudDeacon is referring to, so you can sit back and enjoy the music.)
I would recommend buying a "lightly" used turntable and arm, and something easy to setup, like a Rega P3, or better yet, something like a VPI scout, or a Basis 1400 (I started with the Basis myself. I recommend used, because if you don't like the hassles of vinyl, and let's face it-some don't, you can get out for almost no money lost.) I do recommend getting a new cartridge though, to avoid the possible problem of buying a damaged cartridge, and having to install it yourself. Plus, by buying a new cartridge, you can take the table, (and arm, if not already mounted to the TT), to your local dealer and have him mount the cartridge for you, thus avoiding the biggest hassle and pitfalls of setting up a proper analog system. (Again, this is what I did, and it made my life so much easier.)

Third, the biggest factor in going to vinyl is CLEANING the vinyl. This is a necessary requirement, and there really is no getting around it. Either be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning records by hand (not really fun), or bite the bullet and get a cheap used record cleaning machine like a Nitty Gritty, or a Record Doctor, to help you clean/vacuum the records. (If you can afford the VPI units, they are better built, and a little easier to use, as you clean the record on the platter, as opposed to cleaning it on a separate table and then vacuuming it dry.) I went with a used Nitty Gritty 1.0 myself, (Yeah, I'm cheap!) and have no regrets. It works just fine, despite being one of the cheaper RCMs available.

Fourth, don't forget that in addition to the turntable, tone arm, cartridge and cleaning supplies, that you will need a phono preamp. Don't cheap out here! Spend the bucks and get a decent phono preamp, (Yeah, used of course!) Something like an Ear or an ARC work just fine and you can really hear the difference between the cheaper preamps and the quality preamps. (I started with an ARC PH-3, and it worked fine. I eventually went solid state, as I discovered that I really don't like the sound of tube rushing, but that is my personal taste. Most people barely hear it, so I recommend going with a tubed phono preamp first, and then if you don't like it, go with something else. Besides, the good solid state phono preamps seem to cost more than the good tube phono preamps, IMHO anyway.)

Well, good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions!
I have to join in agreeing with Albert and Doug. Plug 'n play is an oxymoron in analog replay. You have to teach yourself and be really up for experimentation and tweaking. In fact that's part of the attraction.

There's a wealth of excellent knowledge available on this board and to be had from a few hours googling and it strikes me that if you are too lazy to do some searching then you haven't got the right mindset for getting the best from vinyl replay.

I would suggest that you check out the "high end turntable from home despot" thread here and pick up some decent classic of arm/cart geometry adjustment and get to appreciate the audible differences from adjusting VTF, SRA, azimuth and bias. And that's before you begin to adjust cartridge loading on your preamp.

In analog a $200 cart in a $400 arm, if set up well, can sound better than equipment costing 10 times more that's set up poorly. Set-up is key and you have to be self-sufficient in doing it yourself because, in most cases, there aren't many retailers who know vinyl set-up any more.

The Rega arms are a good starting point, any cartridge and phono stage will suffice to start. However you can achieve a lot in terms of teaching yourself about vinyl by buying an old direct drive table.

Only when you understand how to get a table sounding the best it can, should you go on to more expensive equipment.

If you are determined to buy a new plug and play rig then I would suggest that you check out the Avid range. They are unique in that the dealer can set up the arm and cart to survive shipment.

On balance though I'm tempted to recommend that you stay with digital and spend your analog budget on increasing your cd collection.
I guess the only other consideration is how much of the music you enjoy is readily available on vinyl. Unfortunatley, there is so much more available on CD. There is an ever increasing supply of new vinyl releases, but they are neither cheap or again, always what you may prefer to listen to.
Vinyl does have a magic "something?" that even the best digital misses. You relax around it.
Hey guys, thanks a lot for the advice. It sounds like there's no easy or cheap way into vinyl. Now I'm leaning toward Flyingred's recommendation and getting the Opus 21 and more CDs. I guess it can never be easy...
Dburdick, if you don't try, you will never know. As I mentioned before, the posters do have valid points BUT they are too negative. My experience is that to get anywhere in life is to take some level of risk; losers are ones that always take the safe route.

Enough philosophy already.

Fact is if you put together a well thought out used TT for around $750, no CD player on the planet regardless of price will give the same. Another poster made the comment that vinyl is expensive and there are not a lot of titles. Really? I pay an average of $3 for each my vinyls (I have about 2K LP's now) and I have titles that you'll never get on CD.

You can get a quality rig for low dollars if you just take your time. First, do some reading. Buy some used Stereophiles and The Absoulute Sounds. Read-up on this forum, Audio Asylum, Soundstage's Vinyl Column, and Take your time. Explore your options.

Start small. I have no problem recommending a Rega P2 or P3 as a start for most audiophiles. Don't misunderstand my thought, for there are many other tables out there. But for the ability to keep a world-class tonearm, the multitude of tweaks, and more; Rega is unpresedented. I started with a Thorens 180, but next moved to a Rega P2 and have a 250 arm on my VPI-Mk IV (thinking on if I'm going to move to a JMW-10 or just "Mongoose" the 250---any thoughts anyone?).

For a basic setup, you will want a table with an arm and a cartridge. Since you don't now what type of sound you like, take the new stock cartridge and go from there. You will have a lot of learning ahead as you relish in the customization that vinyl can give.

Also, goto a site like and blow a 100 or so on albums you don't have by musicians you have a stong affinity for. Get used to discovering new music as vinyl makes this possible on a daily basis.

Yes, vinyl does require you to work for the sound; but that's the fun of it all. You go on-line, find a tweak, execute it and get better sound. In some respects, you never see fully what your rig can do; but based on what you've seen thus far, it's so good you know it's the way to go.

I hope you find vinyl a good home for you. I can't get everything on vinyl, but I do a 50/50 split with my Cd player---each have thier own sonics.