analog vs. digital better ? or just different

ive recently been able to bring my analog set up to the level [at least dollar wise] to my digital rig. ill leave brand names out of it but my cd player's worth about 3000.00 and my table cartridge and preamp, about the same.ive listened carefully and love the way the turntable sounds, perhaps not the best there is, but certainly a taste. then i put in a cd, awsome sound very detailed. both seem to depend on the recording, my newer and remastered cd's , very impressive. on the album side age doesnt seem to matter much, some just sound much better than others. so i guess my question is, am i in the thick of it, or just at the edge analog wise, because i woudnt say my turntable sounds better, just different. your opinion?
"am i in the thick of it, or just at the edge analog wise, because i woudnt say my turntable sounds better, just different. your opinion?" Writes Jrw40

From your assessment of your system's sound, I'd have to say that you're just knocking at the door, analogue wise.

Interestingly, great analogue sound does not depend on how much money you invest in it. It depends more on the exactitude of the set-up and the synergy of all the components in the analogue chain. It is much easier to get maximum performance from a plug-and-play CD player than it is to get the isolation, suspension tuning, arm/cartridge match, alignment, VTA, and VTF exactly right in a turntable-based system.

Plus, if you've never lived with a stunning sounding analogue system, then you have no yardstick or frame of reference to know what is possible and then subsequently aspire to it...
just get the music that you really like, now that you have the choice of either format. one box doesn't HAVE to sound better than the other. one guy i know was selling used vinyl for $3-$5 a record. the sleeves weren't all perfect, but i picked up some awesome pieces. cd's for the last 5-10 years have just gotten better and better. so just have fun. if you become terminally disatified with "adequate" record players, and you're well off, you can get a $10k+ turntable and have even more fun. my preference is to match the latest and best engineered redbook cd's to the lastest and best cd players, which to my ears just seem to get better and better.
Gentleman, draw your swords!
Why not just talk Abortion or Politics, hell lets throw in a Gun debate for good measure!
Just kidding but these threads can get heated, it may have been so played out it doesnt generate the same energy as in past but pull a search, grab a beer and ebjoy the read..............err I mean rants :)
I've gone down the road of digital, listening to various digital rigs over the years and working on my own. I even went so far as to A/B digital clocks to quantify if I *could* hear a difference between 2 different digital clocks. At the time I had a Zanden 5000 mk3 for a dac and a 47 Labs Flatfish transport.

In the August issue of TAS (it's a dedicated digital audio issue) there is a review of the Benchmark DAC/pre, and the reviewer made the comment that most issues around digital audio have been resolved, and with current chipsets out today, digital audio actually sounds good now. I would have to agree, the lower end players/dacs do sound quite good.

But getting back to this thread, it does not take much in terms of $$$ to surpass a digital setup. I am just now getting into analog in a significant way. And from what I've learned so far, Plato and French_fries both have valid points above.

My system was expanding too much, I had too many 'boxes' of gear that was taking over my room, so I made a choice. For me, digital is quite boring, I like to tweak and I find vinyl playback to be far more enjoyable due to the physical nature of the media. I'm discovering that vinyl playback is a true art, especially when it comes to cartridges. Vinyl playback does not require big $$$ for good sound, in fact that is not the heritage of vinyl playback.

Sure you can spend a fortune on a complete vinyl playback system if you have the $$$, like most things in life. But you have to be very careful on where you put your $$$, there are products out there that really do not justify their asking prices (not all high end is like this, but a lot of it is).

So for me, I've found that vinyl playback offers more variety and challenges vs digital. In the end, I do my critical listening on my big rig with vinyl. Digital audio is more convenience for when I want background music.
the only reason i even responded to this redundant subject is that i have the "same problem"- my turntable sounds great (a vpi aries) and my cd player sounds great, too (EMM lab).
i have some terrific records (some are ancient but they sound very authentic), and i have some wonderful cd's (a good example is trevor pinnock playing baroque Handel and Vivaldi on Archiv). do i have to/want to tout one over the other?
uh, NO. those of you with a Walker turntable or an SME-30 are very fortunate indeed. i wouldn't mind an Amazon Reference or similar turntable with a triplanar arm (or??) but i have no burning desire to get one, since Mr.Weisfeld did a good job with what i already have. put a gun to my head or water-board me and i will go ahead and upgrade, but otherwise, i'm "happy". is this an unpardonable sin? will i burn in hell along with all of the people who still listen to Fisher Receivers and AR-3a speakers? maybe, maybe not...
whether you like a particular album on cd or vinyl better is very subjective!

Generally, the cds that I have never particularly enjoyed listening to before I got a tt are the albums that tend to really benefit in analog.

Other times, there are cds that sound good but suprisingly the analog sound richer and more real.

Some times, the analog sounds dull or the bass is not tight enough and so the cd is better.

If you are not finding analog to be better to you than it could be you just don't like the sound, could be your tt, could be your cartridge, could be your tt setup, could be your phono preamp, could be your other equipment!

There are so many variables.....I would not give up on vinyl but try to tweak it and think of it as a compliment to your digital collection and not a pitched battle for supremacy!
I say just mention the brand names. I guarantee that none of them will care (or even see this post). That way we might be able to learn a little something about your post which is, in my opinion, what this forum is all about.
my question was raised mostly because ill read a guy like mike fremmer who will say his listening to a 500.00 analog set-up blows away just about anything digital out there. and im shure thats mostly bias talking , i just dont find it to be the case. like most who have answered i enjoy both, and like the tinkering aspect of the turntable. from what i can gather it seems digital has improved to the point of preference for one or the other, rather than the outright superiority of vinyl. ill continue to follow both, and see what the future brings. thanks for the time
Jrw40, my Stereophile subscription ended and I was happy about it. I think what pushed me over the edge with Stereophile was the recent issue where they spent pages and pages defending M.F. and his invitation to the million dollar contest of speaker cable comparison. I do not recall the details to the 'big event' but it turned out to be a publicity fiasco for Fremer. From what I gather, it is not his first.

When I saw the amount of page space taken up in that issue on that specific fiasco it sure felt like Stereophile jumped the shark. That issue went through my hands in under 5 minutes and straight into the recycle bin. From that point on, Stereophile lost all credibility in my book.

What was even funnier, was my subscription expired, and they kept on sending me 3 more issues stating that this was my last issue and I should re-subscribe.
Digital and analog have inherent advantages and disadvantages. Digital has no problems with feedback, tracking error, VTF, VTA, inner groove distortion, etc. Actually, analog doesn't have those problems if we're talking about analog tape. :)

Anyway, it's easy for digital to achieve low noise, high dynamic range, etc. But analog has advantages in musical flow, subtlety, microdynamics, etc.

What it really comes down to is resolution. In a way, everything is analog and everything is digital. A digital source is run through a D/A converter to create analog signals that translate into analog motion of the speakers. But analog is also digital in that the sound waves are made up of air molecules, and the playback resolution is limited by the oxide molecules distribution on the tape and the vinyl molecules of the LPs. Still, this is very *fine* resolution.

Even light waves are "digital" in that that light waves are composed of photons.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that when it comes to resolution, analog can resolve to the molecular level. 16/44.1KHz doesn't even come close to that. But DSD at 5.6MHz probably does. Digital isn't inherently bad; it depends on how granular it is. There is a threshold somewhere (I don't know what it is), where fast enough digital sampling will sound and feel identical to analog recording and playback.

That said, I still listen to analog for music playback almost exclusively. Even when I listened to an SACD sampled at 2.7 MHz on a 5K Linn player, it sounded bleached and threadbare compared to the LP version (bought at a used record store) played through the same signal chain and speakers.
Johnnyb53 I agree with you completely. It has been a lot of fun getting my Technics set up. Every significant modification/upgrade reveals more resolution and texture. Something that remains fixed in a digital recording.

I'm recording my records at 192kHz sampling rates, and yes it is good, but it doesn't quite capture the essence of what I hear when I listen to a record directly.
And I am in the opposite camp I have never heard analogue good enough to give up my modded Sony or to pursue analogue. So I am a digital only person and plan on staying there for the time being. Although being a mechanical engineer and one who appreciates mechanical art some tt's do aesthetically appeal to me. So some day I may take the plunge but not now. It is the noise issue with analogue that I can not stand. Snaps and pops are just not acceptable to me and are very much apart of analogue. But really it boils down to whatever turns you on and to the ears of the listener.

Jrw40: "ill leave brand names out of it"

Ummm, why? Any reason why you don't want to tell us what equipment you have? You have a giant pool of audio addicts here, who can give you all kinds of advice on your system (given more info.).

It's like asking "tubes, vs. SS" w/o discussing your system specifics.....
07-11-08: Czbbcl
It is the noise issue with analogue that I can not stand. Snaps and pops are just not acceptable to me and are very much apart of analogue.
And do coughs, sneezes, ventilation noise, shuffling chairs and squeaking seats make the sound of live music unacceptable to you? We usually learn to hear past those.

I hear past a few ticks and pops for the musical reward of warm analoggy goodness. And the more I know about vinyl playback, the more I can get surface noise and pops to disappear or recede.

When noise and compression overwhelm LP playback to make it unenjoyable, the issue is the playback chain, not the medium.

By the early '80s, there were plenty of studio analog tape recorders with dynamic range of 100 dB or more. The switch to digital was largely a production issue--it made it easier to turn music into a manufactured product and less of an artistic endeavor. Now you could shift pitch without changing speed, or change speed without shifting pitch. You could mix and remix with no generation deterioration (not taking jitter into consideration).

And look where that got us. Recorded music has lost its value. $12 CDs are considered too expensive. People want free downloads. Adjusted for inflation, I was paying $22 per LP when I was in jr. hi and high school.
french fries is correct....
steve audio, i left brand names out for the reason you might think, x brand rules vs. x brand sucks. but here we go . pro-ject perspective 2 with carbon fiber tonearm, benz micro mc cartridge. cairn nitro preamp with phono card cairn fog 3 with upsampling card, cairn ko2 amp with sonus cremona speakers. all in all a very satisfying system. though i am considering a cartridge change.
There is nothing wrong with you if your cd player sounds great to you. No matter what anyone says. And there is nothing wrong with you if you prefer vinyl.

I think that for some albums the vinyl version sounds better for others the cd sounds better. CDs and CD players are steadily improving and will continue to improve for many more years.

Reading Stereophile and TAS you would think that vinyl is taking over, but according to Nielsen SoundScan and the RIAA about 1 million new vinyl records were sold last year. That's about 0.2% of albums sold in 2007.

I think that the audiophile mags would be doing a greater service to our shared passion (listening to music) and their advertisers if they promoted the improvement of cd as hard as they push vinyl. There are a lot more people listening to cds than vinyl and our hobby is desperately in need of more people.

Then there are high-res downloads (24/192) coming very soon. Don't say they don't sound as good as vinyl until you hear them : )
To really make a clear distinction between digital and analogue you can't use your rig. There will be merits to each on your stuff. Obviously you know that you can spend tens of thousands on each. Judge by the extremes of performance, then scale down to fit your budget. That way you know what you are shooting for. This is good advice, and will save you frustration of not knowing what the end game is.
The best of both is about the same; however, I think that you need to spend more on digital to get it up to the analog hurdle, but once there, it's every bit as good.

Analog vs. digital is a lame (and old) argument.

They're different. Good and bad examples of each exist.

Leave it at that.

Yes they do. And good that you can listen past the snaps clicks and pops which are not apart of the natural surroundings. And I agree with audiofeil