Analog vs Digital Confusion

Thinking about adding Analog to my system, specifically a Turntable, budget is about 5K but I'm having some second thoughts and I'm hoping someone can help, specifically, how can the record sound better? Scenario; an album is released in both CD and Record, the recording is DDD mixed, mastered, etc in the digital domain. It seems to me that to make the master record the process would involve taking the digital recoding and adding an additional D/A process to cut the record? So, bottom line, how can the record sound better than the CD played on compitent CDP?
Well I think you will find on digitally recorded music you won't hear that great a difference. Part of what makes a record is the sample rate. If you think of a wave then play connect the Dot with 44,100 dots per sec of wave then you have a rough picture of how a player checks to see what the wave is suppose to look like. Where as the record is the wave. With that being said you are getting into a whole mess of cleaning and buying the same vinyl multiple times trying to find a good clean copy. I enjoy records but for the effort they take to keep the noise out of my music I truly am happier with an SACD that plays the exact same everytime I push play. And as you pointed out if its being created digitally you might as well read it digitally. I am sure some vinyl guys can share even more with you. Enjoy the music
It may be helpful to divide the vinyl universe into two rough camps: the
dyed-in-the-wool all analog brigade, which is one of the reasons so many of
the pricey 'audiophile' reissues are of old records. This also includes the
fact that many of those records in original pressings are hard to find,
extremely expensive and rarely in mint condition. When
remastered using digital, you'll get an array of complaints about the sonics-
witness the controversy over the new Beatles set on vinyl. (But even
remasters that remain purely analog are often disappointing compared to
the originals for a variety of reasons). And, as you are no doubt aware,
there is a huge market for
old records, whether just standard issue pop, or collectible gems in all
genres because these predate the digital era.
At the same time, there's lot's of new music that has been mastered
digitally that sounds pretty good on vinyl. I don't make direct comparisons
to CDs because I don't have any digital playback in my main system, it is
vinyl only. But I'm happy to listen to new music, and buy a modest amount.
Some sounds terrific.
I would assume that entering into vinyl, you'd have an opportunity to
experience all sorts of vinyl: old records, reissues/remasters and new
music that is likely to have been recorded/mastered digitally.
I suppose there is one other argument: that 'limitations' of vinyl mask some
of the inherent nastiness of digital. But I don't think there's much validity to
that argument these days. First, digital has come a long way since its
introduction, both in terms of the gear and the know-how to use it in
recording and mastering. Second, a first rate vinyl set-up doesn't really
have to suffer many limitations in its ability to deliver very transparent, lively
So, what i think you wind up with is the ability to playback some real jewels
from a by gone era and be amazed at the amount of sonic information in
those grooves; to try some of the better remasters of old records that you
wouldn't likely be able to find or want to buy at collector prices, and you can
still listen to many, not all of the latest releases on vinyl, when released in a
medium that may not be 'better' than digital but is still pretty
Postscript: even before the advent of digital, there were still horrible
recordings, and over a good vinyl rig, you'll hear the good, the bad, and the
A good case in point would be the LP & CD of Eric Clapton Unplugged, a digital DDD recording. I have qued up both and compared the two with the flip of a switch, The LP sounds better when (as does most music)
played on the Well Tempered Reference with a Van Den Hul Colibri MC Cartridge than the CD on the Levinson 390S CD Player. I believe the D/A converter used to produce the LP is far better than we are ever likely to own.
Also consider the Turntable/LP route is a Rose with Big Thorns,Huge expense of phono cartridges,LP cleaning ect.
LP's are not a media of convenience, you would be better off to use the $ to upgrade to the best CD player unless you are Weathy or an LP Audio-nut like me.(Even so I play CD's 98% of the time, those Mega-buck needles only last 1000 to 3000 hours). $$$ OUCH!
PS: I think the Bandwidth Highs & Lows on LP's are wider.
However with a really top hi-end system, it's possible to get so close you won't miss LP's.
Rgp; I've been playing LPs for more than 40 years and have a CDP and a tube buffer that makes for some very listenable CD playback. I could be content listening to only digital music. But I continue to listen to vinyl mainly because I enjoy the "ritual" of setting up a turntable, installing and aligning a cartridge, cleaning records, and then carefully setting the stylus in the groove to listen to treasured LPs.

Vinyl analog vs CD digital isn't a choice or debate, they are but two forms of potential music playback. The source material is irrelevant; both analog and digital sources can be excellent, or not. And both forms of playback can be rewarding but each have their benefits and drawbacks. I think of records and CDs in context with the following analogies...

dry flies - spinning lures
Nordic skis - Alpine skis
old 3-speed bicycle - modern racing bicycle
wood stove - electric heater
French press - Kuerig brewer

Clumsy analogies but if you're at all familiar with any of them you get the idea. Vinyl isn't just about the music, it's about playing the music. There's an element of tradition and, for some, nostalgia involved with vinyl. So if you think you might enjoy the "ritual" of setting up and maintaining a turntable, tonearm, and cartridge and cleaning and playing LPs then give it a try. But don't get into vinyl if you think you're going to experience a much better sound. I'm not convinced that vinyl is inherently much better if someone has a decent CDP (in comparison with a similarly decent turntable) and plays music from similarly good sources.

Rpg, you ask a key question about a subject that has been discussed to death and which will elicit a lot of different opinions. But, you really seem to be asking two different questions that should be asked in the context of two different scenarios; you only describe one possible scenario.

Question 1: How can analog in general sound better than digital? A lot of different opinions about this one, but IMO it can and usually does; IF IT IS AN ANALOG RECORDING. For the possible technical reasons for this, you can find a lot of information (laced with opinion) if you search in this site. But for me, and for many, a good analog recording played back on vinyl (or RR tape) represents the pinnacle of music play back. If you really appreciate the sound of live music, the difference will not be subtle.

Question 2: How can a recording that is recorded and mastered digitally sound better on LP vs CD? If played back, as you say, on a competent CD player it probably won't sound better. It will sound different, and might sound "better" on LP because possible and probable colorations of your particular analog set-up mask the possible and probable problems with the digital recording.

You will get a lot of different opinions about this. Some will encourage you to try vinyl and some will discourage you. Vinyl playback is far more than the physical ritual of spinning records. Eventhough the dividing lines continue to blur more and more, analog is a different experience from digital. Some listeners seem to be more sensitive to those differences than others, but I would encourage you to try it.
I think all these opinions are fair expressions of people's experience. One
of the concerns I always have when people ask me about entering into
vinyl is whether they will get a true picture of what a vinyl front end is
capable of on a modest budget. If the 5k has to include the cost of the
phono pre, that puts you into a budget of pretty modest turntable/arms,
when adding a decent cartridge. I raised a similar issue on another forum,
which is whether in this price range, you are really getting the true measure
of what vinyl is capable of. Buying used may help you up the ante, but as I
kept improving the vinyl front end and associated phono stage, the level of
musical 'rightness' kept improving. And it's not just about spending money,
it is also dependent on the sonic character of the phono pre as well as a
good tone arm and a turntable that doesn't have obvious colorations.
Listening to Digital is like having a shower with millions of little ice cubes instead of fresh water (vinyl)
So, bottom line, how can the record sound better than the CD played on compitent CDP?

You will get a lot of responses, but nothing in writing can answer that question. That's like trying to answer why a wine or scotch that is aged longer tastes better.

The only thing I would say is that I prefer vinyl, and the less digital processing the better. My best vinyl has no digital mastering, processing, recording, etc. It's ALL analog. As far as I know, you cannot play an ALL analog recording on a CDP.
I was trying to avoid the endless debate here over which is better in any absolute sense, and attempting to address the questions of a possible new entrant into vinyl as to what to expect. We could fight endlessly over the digital v analog debate, and I'm not sure that's productive. For what it's worth, I am vinyl only, but if I didn't have more than 40 years of records accumulated, and was on a budget, I'm not sure that vinyl is the right way in~ unless a substantial measure of top level vinyl performance can be achieved on a modest budget. That was the previous question I posed....
Rpg ... to my knowledge, there is a master produced for the cutting of vinyl and a separate master with different specs to make a cd or digital file.
Analog is better. You get a better variety of music during a listening session. The short play time of LPs forces you to change the record every 20 minutes or so. CD play time is too long.
If you listen exclusively to contemporary music recorded and processed digitally, which most of it is these days, then probably there is little benefit in investing in a turntable, and the records released concurrently with their CD counterpart likely will not sound better, everything else being equal.

But, as Frogman's post discussed even if indirectly, it's an entirely different thing if we're talking about music that was originally recorded using purely analog technology to be released on vinyl exclusively, which is essentially most of, if not all, classic jazz and classic rock. Digital technology might have made a huge progress, but I disagree with opinions that digital can sound as good as analog when it comes to the music originally destined for vinyl only. To me, sonic superiority of vinyl there is unmatched and every effort should be made to listen to it as it was meant to be - on a turntable.

The assumption is of course that the records are the original releases, not dubious reissues, which is an entirely different subject...
I believe that if you are talking about CD only, digital can never compare to analog. Just the process of mixing down to 44khz ruins it, even from the same master.
I have many albums that sound more natural than the same cd. Very rarely does the cd match or exceed the album's ability to replicate the sound of music in the room. As for DDD recordings on vinyl--usually, there is not much of a difference between the album and the cd, but sometimes the difference is big and usually but not always in favor of vinyl. Case in point--Clapton Unplugged, recorded DDD. The vinyl is far superior with a very quiet pressing at Pallas.
OTOH, gotta love the convenience and guaranteed lack of vinyl tics, pops, tracking issues, etc. of cd (or streaming). When I have the time--it's vinyl. If not I'm ok with cd.
Once again, Frogman has answered your question very well. Give analog a try!
There are plenty of music that are available only in digital formats and there are plenty of music that are available only on LPs. Also some of the original analogue recordings were very poorly transferred to CDs.
Whether you like new DDD recorded music on CD or LP (if available) is not that significant as there aren't too many of those available but with both setup rather than one or another, you will open your door to lots and lots more music if you don't already feel overwhelmed by what you have!
At least the frequency of this debate should be controlled :).
If you have $5k to blow give analog a try. If nothing else, it will increase your audiophile credibility.
If you do go analog please revisit this thread in a couple years and give us an honest assessment. BTW, I am another who grew up with vinyl. Although I still own a couple hundred lps, I listen exclusively to digital via Mac Mini or cdp.
Both, depending on the quality of your equipment and of the recordings - digital sounds great before it is down-sized to fit onto a CD. If you can get the hi-res digital files, they sound great. If the recording companies use the high res digitial files to create an analog vinyl record (LP), it will sound better than a cd since more information can be stored on an LP than on a CD. If the original performance was recorded in analog, processed in analog, and stored on an LP; a digital recording of that will never sound as good as the original analog. If you have a digital recording that is say 24-bit and it is recorded onto an LP, it will not sound as good as the 24/192 digital version.
I think that some people respond to vinyl and some don't see it. The only way is to try it yourself, but I don't think you need to spend a ton of money up front. When I decided to get back into vinyl, I purchased a Music Hall MMF-5 table for about $700 and a Music Hall Phono stage for about $125. I compared it to my $10K digital player and, despite the the 10/1 price ratio, I immediately recognized analog's virtues. I now have a significantly more expensive vinyl setup, and I feel the improvements are commensurate with the cost, but I still think that little Music Hall was good enough to hear what was going on. So I recommend you spend $1000 or so and find out if you like it. Worst case - you'll dump it for $500-$600 and chalk it up to experience. IMO.
Frogman, Learsfool, and others whose focus is classical music on vinyl: I would encourage you to try to find some of the unfortunately out of print classical CD's that were issued some years ago on the Wilson Audio label (yes, that Wilson). Especially those featuring piano music. You just might find yourselves in a state of amazement at how good the CD medium is capable of sounding, when the recording is engineered to exceptionally high standards.

Of course, the production of those recordings was not exactly run of the mill. From the liner notes which appear on some of them:
The recorded perspective of the piano in this recording is close, as though the 9' Hamburg Steinway in being played for you in your living room. Of course the actual recording was not made in a living room! Instead, the great room of Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch, with its incredibly low noise floor and fully adjustable acoustics, was used.... A pair of Sennheiser MKH-20 omni microphones were employed ... amplified by two superb pure class-A microphone preamps custom-built for Wilson Audio by John Curl. MIT cable carried the balanced line level signal to Wilson Audio's Ultramaster 30 ips analog recorder. Subsequent digital master tapes were made through the Pygmy A/D converter on a Panasonic SV-3700.
In addition to many of the CD's in that series, I have one on LP, featuring music for piano and clarinet. Does it sound better on my system than the CD's? I would have to say that it does, but only to a very very slight degree, with the differences being apparent mainly on very sharp transients. And while I certainly recognize that as Frogman indicated individual sensitivities vary widely, IMO/IME differences of that magnitude would be swamped by the deficiencies that are present in the vast majority of lesser recordings, regardless of format.

Personally, I enjoy both formats, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the quality of the particular recording.

Best regards,
-- Al
If you are interested in rather new music that is digitally mastered, you are better off sticking with digital. If you are interested in music from the best era...1950's-1970's where the music is mastered analog, then a turntable makes two cents.
Re the original post:

If you want the answer, this is it. I run an LP mastering operation so I have seen this first hand. When you are cutting an LP from a digital source, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that the digital source is the master tape or master file.

That file will thus play back with less bit loss; anyone who has issued a CD from a master tape knows that the area of the biggest degradation occurs between the master tape and the final duplicate CD. Yes, I know, its not supposed to happen that way but it most certainly does.

OTOH when you are cutting from the master file, these days its very common for the master file to be 24 bit and at a higher scan frequency. When you play the LP back, you can actually have less distortion than you can have on the CD playback. While it is true that an LP can and usually does have more THD, it is also true that it has far less IM distortion. Of the two, the ear really does not like IM!

Where does the IM distortion come from on a CD? It is a product of intermodulation (inharmonic) with the scan frequency. Its not a distortion listed when you see digital specs, but it should be, as it is the elephant in the room when it comes to problems in the digital recording/playback system. The ear treats this distortion as brightness BTW. That is why the CD can measure perfectly flat but sounds bright.

When the industry made the transition to digital, the fact that the ear behaves this way was not clearly understood. In fact if you are reading this you now have a leg up on a lot of audio engineers, as this phenom is still not well understood 30 years on. I think the industry does not like to talk about it....

Anyway, that is why the LP often sounds better than the CD even when they have the same master. Of course YMMV as setup in an analog reproducer is paramount!
Al, I can't disagree with any of your comments. I have heard the Wilson recordings and they are very fine. Interesting that you mention the piano recordings as standing out. Good digital recordings of the piano showcase the one area where, IMO, digital has a clear edge over analog; pitch stability. With the possible exception of the great direct drive TT's, I have not heard analog set-ups that have the rock solid pitch stability of digital. Timbre, texture, and dynamic nuance is a different story; IMO.

Atmasphere & AL...I haven't heard Wilson, but I have several DDD classical LPs such as Telarc who say there was no compression used in the making of this record. (And they have excellent sound). They are probably talking about the recording and mixing process, but what about during mastering for vinyl?
Lowrider, I have a great many of the Telarc LP's from the 1980's, and yes, many of them are excellent. A few suffer from excessively swimmy acoustics, but that is clearly attributable to the mic techniques that were used on those particular recordings.

Concerning mastering, the following appears in the album notes in many cases:
During the recording of the digital masters and the subsequent transfer to disc, the audio chain was entirely transformerless. Neither was the signal passed through any processing devices (i.e., compressors, limiters, equalizers, etc.) at any step during production of the finished product.
Another factor which I suspect contributed to their good sonics was that although that was obviously prior to the advent of hi res digital recording as we know it today, the Soundstream digital recorder they used provided a sample rate of 50 kHz, in contrast to the 44.1 kHz rate of the CD format. That difference is, at least potentially, more significant than it may seem based on the numbers. The Nyquist-Shannon Sampling Theorem defines the maximum signal frequency that can theoretically (but definitely not practically!) be perfectly recreated from samples taken at a given rate. Per that theory, 50 kHz can, under certain idealized and unattainable conditions, allow perfect recovery of signal frequencies up to 25 kHz, while the corresponding figure for redbook CD is 22.05 kHz. So the margin between those numbers (beyond which all signal frequencies must be filtered out before reaching the A/D converter, to prevent "aliasing") and the 20 kHz presumed upper limit of our hearing is nearly 2.5 times as great (25% vs. just over 10%) for the 50 kHz rate as for 44.1 kHz.

-- Al
Al... Thank you for the info; I remember the Soundstream and the 3M. I'm not an EE, but worked in recording studios.
Todays digital vinyl quality is really hit or miss, but this new generation of record cutting is still in it's infancy.
One of the joys of vinyl for me is discovering, or rediscovering older records I own but either haven't listened to in decades or never knew I had. A few examples:
On my way to looking for something else, I found a very nice 6-eye of Take Five. I know it has been reissued recently, but this old Columbia record sounds amazing;
Blood, Sweat and Tears- standard issue Columbia from back in the day- amazing sonics and music.
I did break down and buy an OOP copy of 88 Basie St. on 45rpm. It is just a marvel.
I started acquiring records in the late 60's as a teen. Still have virtually all of them. I continued to buy in college, and law school and as I started working, though I had much less time to listen.
When CD entered and records were banished from the store shelves, I increased my record buying by a magnitude. Every town, city or country i visited involved buying records. And, working 6-7 days a week, I only had a chance to listen occasionally, to a limited number. After more than 40 years, I have accumulated a substantial collection- not all of it great, or super collectible (though some is). With a transition out of the fulltime practice of law after 32 years, I now have time to enjoy this collection, which continues to grow, selectively. (Of course, if someone offered a substantial collection to me today, I would buy it if it was priced appropriately). Not sure if this makes sense for someone just starting on vinyl, but there's still a ton out there, and if you are willing to take a chance, e-bay has a wealth of stuff- I'm not talking about the thousand dollar records, but the 8 and 10 dollar ones. With a good record cleaning machine, a willingness to take a chance and some research, you can probably have an even easier time of it today than I did, haunting dealers, searching through bins, and hauling records home on airplanes and in cabs. Granted, you have to trust a 'visual grade' and the seller's good faith, but you aren't going to be able to accomplish much more in a record store.
I have never had an issue with pitch stability when using a TT.

As for vinyl v CD then as has been mentioned previously I think it is a preference thing.

I came to CD quite late and still have a largish vinyl collection so it made sense to invest in my analogue set up. My original experience with CD had always found me migrating back to vinyl.

More recently I have been able to improve on CD replay and this sounds very good now. If I had been able to achieve this level of reproduction before then I might not have pursued the analogue path quite so commitedly.

Starting from scratch with vinyl is quite daunting these days, there seems to be quite a premium attached to both 2nd hand and new vinyl LPs. I do buy some new vinyl but the majority of modern releases that interest me are only on CD.

On the equipment side, besides the TT and arm, one also needs to buy a phono stage and cartridge. Although there is a much wider choice of analogue gear now, to achieve
the best sound still requires quite an outlay.

Having a good CD set up means I am not solely reliant on the AP golden oldie re-releases etc, I have a lot of the originals anyway. I can buy newly recorded classical, jazz and world music on CD at a reasonable cost and enjoy listening to it all

So although I would not be without my TT to play my existing collection of rock, be bop, classical etc, it is nice to have the CD for newly purchased music.

The best sounding vinyl still outshine CD IMO but often CD runs the analogue very close. Everything is depended on the quality of the recording at the end of the day
Well as usual, once again you present a very reasoned and compelling viewpoint.Both formats are capable of exceptional sound and both can sound very average.Much depends on the front end set up and of course quality of the particular components.Vinyl based systems are`nt by default always better than digital,it really depends on numerous factors.I`ve heard some analog record front ends sound disappointing and worse yet,uninvolving and flat.Some I`ve heard have been spectacular! But the same holds true for digital.There`re a lot of vinyl record pressings that just are`nt that good to begin with and no amount of analog system manipulation will change that fact(just as there`re poor CD examples).Both format can coexist and sound superb if the right choices are made.
Back to the original question-

If your total buget for an analog rig is $5k, meaning- turntable, tone arm, cartridge, phono stage and possibly a tone arm cable you may want to stick with a CDP if ultimate sound reproductive quality is your main objective.This is assuming your CDP is of reasonably high quality.

I listen almost exclusively to records, have a very well regarded and expensive CDP, and feel that you typically need to spend at LEAST three times the cost of your CDP for an analog rig that would best it. So, if you have a $5K CDP then you would need to invest $15K on all the above items to create an analog system which MAY better your digital. No guarantees it will, analog is a great deal more complicated than popping in a CD. It is, however, extremely rewarding when and if you get that turntable really singing.

Not trying to discourage a turntable purchase, just trying to address what you were asking for in your initial post.
"Personally, I enjoy both formats, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the quality of the particular recording."

Al, that is very well said and I have recently adopted that philosophy.
Rpg, I have recently added vinyl, and can recommend it. It's heaps of fun, and I never cease being amazed that a squiggle in a piece of plastic can deliver so much information. In order to get great gear at a reasonable price get second hand. The only thing I would buy new is the cartridge, unless you know the person selling to you. For example-at present there is a Clearaudio Champion level II with Unify arm on this site for 2850, add a delos 1650, and that leaves you 2000 odd for a phono stage. May I recommend a SimAudio 5.3rs second hand should be just over 1000. The new 310 is just a cosmetic upgrade (new face plate) IMHO. I believe it is possible to get good and enjoyable, if not the "best", on your budget. I'm sure there are other great deals if you follow the smalls pages. It won't do away with your digital, but will almost certainly enhance your enjoyment of the hobby, and music. good luck.
Nice post, very thoughtful and sincere.
Thanks for the feedback, I now notice the typos!

I agree with what you have said about bettering CD, the pursuit of high quality analogue sound is quite a mission.

I think you are of a similar vintage to myself.
I concur with the buzz you get from discovering how good, "unplayed for decades," records sound.
You also mention getting hold of 2nd hand LPs which can also be hidden gems when cleaned. I have some great 2nd hand 70s Pablo albums which sound very fresh and dynamic.

I have recently been experimenting with using a 6 ltr ultrasonic tank prior to using my VPI RCM. It seems to work very well, Kraftwerk are currently vibrating the furniture in a way I don't remember almost 40 yrs ago played on a Garrard 401.
Frogman's comment
on pitch stability is a crucial point,ask any musician or singer with perfect pitch and they will tell you exact pitch is the foundation or heart of music.
Frogman your comment on turntables ,I agree
with analog play back a good direct drive over comes stylus drag more so then most, but not all belt / thread drives , yet another problem with analog play back components.

Early digital was horrible however digital pitch stability was a decisive factor even though to me play back is cold and uninviting even today.

One of many problems with analog play back is off centre spindle hole in the record, pitch is enormously effected especially stands out with piano where us that don't have perfect pitch readily pick up on it right away.

To hear that favorite vintage Lp with a off centered spindle hole centered corrected by a Nakamichi TX-1000 turntable is a real eye opener, thank you once again Gary if you read this.
Now if someone could re-engineer that 1980s product ,Centre-A-Disk I would have the patience to use it.
Thanks for the feedback, I now notice the typos!

I agree with what you have said about bettering CD, the pursuit of high quality analogue sound is quite a mission.

I think you are of a similar vintage to myself.
I concur with the buzz you get from discovering how good, "unplayed for decades," records sound.
You also mention getting hold of 2nd hand LPs which can also be hidden gems when cleaned. I have some great 2nd hand 70s Pablo albums which sound very fresh and dynamic.

I have recently been experimenting with using a 6 ltr ultrasonic tank prior to using my VPI RCM. It seems to work very well, Kraftwerk are currently vibrating the furniture in a way I don't remember almost 40 yrs ago played on a Garrard 401.
I thank all of the responders to this post. I can see where analog has advantages over digital. The only concern I have is the "ritual" one goes through in preparing vinyl for playback and having to flip the record after the limited amount of playback time that can fit on the record = 45min? Anyway, I would to give it a go, but would ask for recommendations on budget components that can still bring out that analog magic. My system would require cables,a phono stage and of course the table itself. I would look at used unless this audience does not recommend it. Thanks!
Used is a good way to save money on just about everything. I would advise you to buy the cartridge new though.
Buying used can be a good choice even a low buck table to start, as long as its functioning properly. If the table looks well cared for and you verify that the phono cartridge is attached and aligned properly then you are off to a good start. Then you can bag a good starter phono preamp for around $100 and up. Get a good carbon fibre brush and maybe look at getting say the Spin Clean record washer for a good basic set up on album care and you will be on your way. From this you can budget and move on up to better used or new tables, cartridges and phono pre amps.
DcTom: if you are a young late 50's (or even early 60's) kinda guy, we are
roughly the same age. Love your table, too :) Yeah, so many albums, so
little time. But, now that I have the time, I'm really enjoying the process of
discovery. And, I love finding something 50 years old that sounds killer.
Musically, I'm still learning my way around the jazz world, other than the
obvious stuff. Classical, I kinda come and go, depending on mood- I went
through a 'big choral' period and a 'cello' period, what I should really do is
just sit down and listen to symphonies, but there's only so much of one type
of music or a single composer that I can take in a single session; I mix it up,
I'll go from some Sibelius to Led Zep to some old Verve or Pablo jazz
record. BTW, that 45 rpm version of 88 Basie St., which somebody had
recommended to me is just an unbelievably good record, musically and
sonically. And, the remaster of Sachmo doing St. James Infirmary is
wickedly entertaining. But, i've found gems on e-bay used for cheap that
have cleaned up great. Not doing ultrasonic cleaning yet, but that's to
come- I was waiting for the dust to settle on the Audio Desk.
For the OP, re TT recommendations, (and I'm shooting in the dark a little
here, so invite help), isn't there a very good VPI that retails for 6k with arm?
I'd buy something like that used, if you can. Believe me, you can hear a
difference in turntables and for the price of entry, you should start with
something very good.
Cartridge, I think you could get by with a high level Grado or Soundsmith
MM or iron; I know that in the under 3K category, the Lyras are supposed
to be very good (I owned some of the higher end Lyras at one point, but I
think the newer ones are little less analytical)- however that would blow
your budget. So, if I had to trade off, i'd buy the better table/arm and a good
not state of the art, but not cheapy cartridge.
Phono stage, real cheap somebody on another forum was touting a
Hagerman Bugle which is like 149 dollars among the uber cheapies. I have
no idea what that sounds like. I know some people liked the older EAR but i
think it has to be modded to get the most out of it; those aren't terribly
expensive, but my impression is that it is a little euphonic without tweaking.
I know the Sutherland battery stages were considered 'pretty good' but I
can't speak from first hand experience. I will tell you that a really good
phono stage makes a world of difference- I went from a very highly
regarded one that was by no means cheap to a different one recently, and
it was a night and day difference in system performance. And it isn't just a
question of throwing money at it- that's sort of the point: even a big ticket
one didn't do as well as another big ticket one in my system. So, I guess
where I come out is spend the money on the table/arm, used, buy a good
but not extravagant cartridge, which you will upgrade later, and let's hear
from others on good phono stages that can be found used. I know some
folks here like the Herron, the Zestos is too new to find cheaply. I also think
some folks liked the Fosgate, but i think that one, used, is still a little too
new to find at bargain basement prices. Not a lot of help, but a start....
Oh, and as Les_ Creative pointed out, you're gonna need a vinyl cleaning
machine sooner than later to listen to the records properly. Just buy a VPI
16.5 when you have an extra 600 bucks and don't worry about all the
better ones for now (but get some good fluids).
Rpg, please explain why you're even thinking of getting a vinyl setup.
Onhwy61 In the never ending pursuit of audio bliss, and from my personal observations vinyl is making a slow but steady comeback for that reason. Thanks for asking, I'm also entertaining the idea of valve amplification as well.
I am indeed the type of guy you suggest whart (61). We also share similar TTs and cartridges, I use an AirTight pc-3. The 4point is a wonderful sounding arm btw, I speced my own arm tower which saved me a lot of money.

I agree it is a real buzz to get great sound from a cleaned 2nd hand record which is 40 or 50 years old. I will check out 88 Basie st, I have a few 45 rpm discs, the best of which is Tina Brooks Back to the Tracks. The only downside, as with a lot of the original van gelder recordings, is the disappointing piano sound. Sax, drums bass all excellent but the piano can sound rather distant
I dont know why this should be as I have some great sounding classical piano discs (Richter, Brendel etc) from the late 50s and early 60s

You make some good points about phono stages. I tried all sorts of PSs some years ago when they were a bit thiner on the ground. Often well reviewed ones sounded quite ordinary, I used a BAT vkPH10se for some years with great success. There is no substitute for trying out new components at home with existing gear.
I have tried the Whest 30R DT and it is an excellent phono stage for the money in the UK.

I like the AirTight carts because they have a slightly higher output. The lower the output the harder the PS has to work and so the poorer the signal to noise ratio.
The newest Ortofon has an output of only 0.2mv. I dont know why manufacturers produce such low output carts.
It is worth bearing in mind that some phono stages will work more successfully with higher output carts.
I think a great question to be asked of the responders of this thread would be, how many analog users have modified (tweaked) their turntables? I really enjoy my table, but I admit to being confused by it's performance before the tweaks.
Posted 7:58 AM 1/2/2013