I use a VPI Aries, JMW arm, and ClearAudio Gamma MC cartridge, which is more expensive than my digital gear and sounds quite good. Before that I was using a Townshend Audio Mk-III Rock with a Transfiguration cartridge. My digital is the Bel Canto DAC-1, connected to a Parasound C/BD-2000 belt-drive transport with a Harmonic Technology digital cable. My feeling is that unless everything is perfectly set-up and tuned in on the analog side, the digital sounds a bit better. With meticulously dialed-in analog I think the TT sounds a little better. The latest digital gear is giving analog strong competition in my opinion. However, my CD transport still won't play LPs--and I have quite a few records. :)
No real need for debate, analog is music, digital is convienient. I listen and enjoy analog, I use digital for background listening. Digital has improved a great deal, but is still light years behind analog for pure musical enjoyment.
My digital setup (Forsell Mk IV transport/dCS Purcell upsampler/Audio Logic 2400/Marantz DV18 for 24/96 discs)is almost twice as expensive as my analog setup (Basis Ovation/Graham 2.0tc/Benz Ruby 2/Walker Precision Motor Drive). The digital does some things better than the analog in terms of ultimate resolution and bass (although I've noticed those differences shrinking with the crop of vinyl reissues from Classic and Testament) and is something I can listen to both for extended periods without fatigue and, of more importance, in the same session as analog, although I still prefer the vinyl for its warmth and continuousness. I recently purchased a Sony SACD player, currently being modified by Audio Logic to give it their tubed analog stage and a separate analog power supply. That, and 24/96 digital, are the first digital products I've owned that seem to get close to the openness and ease of analog, although I've yet to do a detailed comparison between SACD and my turntable. I'll still never stop listening to and collecting vinyl, and my preference in long term listening for pleasure lies there, but I think that now you can get digital setups that will at least hold a candle to a good turntable, probably for a lot less than I've spent.
If enough Audiogon posters actually agreed that a particular digital rig would compete with analog, I would like to find a way to get one to audition. Interestingly, people that own analog (turntables), Seem to argue much less about the differences between models. Most agree that while quality differences do exist (usually price dependant) Basis, VPI, Walker, etc. all make great music, especially when coupled with equal quality tone arms. Obviously phono cartridge and the set up procedures play an equal role, but with each of these combinations of choices, the essential sound that analog delivers, remains the same kind of magic. Digital media seems to have not yet reached that level of repeatability and perfection. It is also obvious that there is no "one" particular model or combination that will sway enough people to agree on a particular digital models superiority. Again, I am disappointed that there is not a simple answer for this. For me, the only choice is to enjoy the musical excellence of my analog, while waiting to see if there will ever be a "magic" digital rig. One where it is the overwhelming and obvious choice for getting the music right.
Jeffiostarca, I couldnt agree with you more..digital is convenient, and as always I concur with Albertporter. As I rarely buy "audiophile grade recordings, I own several recordings both on vinyl and cd, many many times the cd's disappoint me, aside from some surface noise never am I unhappy with the vinyl version.
Well, there is no shortage of bad sounding and even amusical digital gear to be sure, but by the same token, there is some really great sounding digital starting to appear and the gap has closed substantially. Sometimes I play records and get surprised when the CD version actually sounds better than the LP. "Lightyears" difference--that's just nonsense--don't look in the laser boys...sounds are closer than they appear. :)
My CD50 is just as pleasing to me as my vinyl rig, and they are at similar retail price points. My vinyl rig is a VPI HW19 junior, AQ PT-8 arm, Benz Lo4 cartridge, Phonomena phono stage.....................Good CD's do remind me very much of analog, thru the CD50. It might not be "equal" to the vinyl, but my definition of "hold a candle" would be more generous than yours, perhaps. You might even say it fires a laser, a musical laser that extracts all the musical colors in the rainbow, from a mere 570 nm of reflected infrared...and extremely low jitter, and dual differential DACs, and an output stage that runs in full class A, and can drive any power amplifier anywhere DIRECTLY....and sounds like music...and ALMOST like my analog rig.
Good post Carl-- glad to see someone weigh in on the digital side as well as analog. I really like my Levinson digital front end (M37 transport, M360S DAC) too, but have limited experience with (good) analog. I do have a good vinyl junkie friend and have listened to his HQ system, but his room (vaulted ceiling), speakers (MG 3.6s), and music tastes are so much different than mine that I find it almost impossible to compare them. I don't particularly like his system-- even with "my" music, but of course he loves it-- as I do my own system with dynamic speakers. From what "good" analog I have heard, I feel that I am giving up little or no musicality by using HQ digital only. I do not like the various low level noises associated with vinyl, but also admit that I haven't spent the time, money, and effort necessary to achieve best possible analog sound. My VJ friend tells me that you have to "listen past" the various noises. But I really like the stone quiet of CDS. Cheers. Craig.
Vinyl can be very quiet, but the worn ones will never be quiet. But the music that's in that "quiet" is much more real with vinyl, than the CD format allows. I couldn't agree more, Craig, on how difficult it is to appreciate someone else's system, UNLESS THEY ALLOW YOU TO SET IT UP THE WAY YOU WANT (I'm implying that from what you said). I mean, I went to a dealer whose system was much more expensive than mine, but it was in an untreated room with the speakers on one wall, and the listening couch nearly to the opposite wall. Of course I didn't have the heart to tell him that his entire "reference room" was a total waste of mine, or anyone's, time...so I guess he is still demoing it that way. There was absolutely zero imaging specificity, and just a basic "honking" room echo (besides bass boominess). I have no patience for those who spend time listening in untreated rooms....Frankly, I feel that if I had those 3.6's of your friend's in my larger room, even with my semi-modest vinyl rig, you would be more troubled about what you are missing out on (with vinyl), Craig. But as you say, you have made your choice, and it's easier to live with "CD only", if you don't compare it to vinyl. That's why I enjoy both. I only have a few hundred LP's (most of which are the expensive reissues), and around 800 CD's, so I don't have a big collection of either one, yet. However, I have no problem listening to my favorites, often, so it doesn' seem like I'm lacking enough titles.
I also have a Parasound cbt2000 transport with a Harmonic Tech digital cable, AA DTI Pro, Music Metre Fidelus, Bel Canto Dac 1 and Harmonic Tech Truth link i/c. My analog rig is an Oracle Delphi Mk II, Syrinx Arm, and Sumiko Blue Point cartridge. I have owned several Koetsu Blacks and Rosewood, Dyavector Rubies, Grados, etc. over the years. I have also owned Kenwood Kd500, Systemdek, Rega and Sonograph tables. Which is better? My turntable is for sale. I haven't listed it yet will do so in the next few weeks. I have roughly $3000 invested in the above mentioned digital rig. You would have to spend much more on an analog setup to better it and you would still have to contend with the fact that very few analog records are still being produced. I believe there are digital front ends which are even better than what I have.
Correction, there are digital front ends which are much better than what I have, such as Theta Gen V, DCS, Levinson, etc.