Are you recording your vinyl?

The vinyl vs. digital debates go on ad nauseum. These debates almost always concern the question of commercial recordings on digital media vs. vinyl.

Another aspect of the question narrows the topic to only what digital recording & playback (as opposed to mastering, etc.) is capable of: that is, the context of recording one's vinyl digitally and playing it back.

My question for those who are doing this is: Is the quality of the digital reproduction indistinguishable or close enough that you keep your vinyl setup only for archiving? And, either way, what analog and digital equipment are you using?

I know of one regular member here that uses a Korg to make DSD recordings who says that they are in fact indistinguishable from the vinyl playback. Another prolific poster here & elsewhere (with very expensive equipment) claims that not even 2x DSD recording can fully capture the vinyl experience.

My own experience is confined to using a Masterlink recorder to make recordings of my vinyl setup at 24/96 a couple years ago, and playing them back on my Audio Note DAC which was capable of only 18/48 playback. Those recordings were very good (free from all the common "digititus" and thus better than a great many professional RBCD recordings) but it was relatively easy to tell them from the "real thing" (at least once I knew what to listen for).

What are your experiences?
I had the same experence with the Masterlink; not really impressed by the quality of the recordings.
I've been doing this for a very short time but i am pleased with the outcome so far. I'll try to be brief.

Rega p5 ttpsu into Vac Sigma 160i phono stage, pre-amp outs to Korg MR2000S 5.6mhz DSD recording. I then transfer the files from the Korg to my Mac Mini and playback through my Playback Designs MPD-3.

Excellent vinyl sounds every bit as exquisite when played back digitally...good to average vinyl is a toss up as it just sounds different from the digital cd version. For the most part when comparing a redbook cd compared to the same tracks recorded from vinyl the vinyl version's digital playback is preferred by me and others who i can wrangle into giving a sh%!.

I'm sure my vinyl setup is probably not as strong as it should be for true archiving but it is very pleasing to me. In the future, i will look for the 45rpm version of a recording first ala the Blue Note reissues...then i'll buy new music digitally in at least 24/96 if no good vinyl version exists.

Its worth the effort in my opinion.
I use the Zoom H2 to make digital copies of my vinyl so I can play favorite vinyl on other systems I have in the house. Recently I had a friend over and played for him a recent digital copy of an lp. I did not tell him what he was listening to. About halfway thru he said "if I didn't know better I would have thought we were listening to vinyl". Enough said. The Zoom is a fantastic device and for only $170it is easily within reach to anybody
I seem to have better luck than Paulfolbrecht and Stanwal with the Masterlink. I record to 24/96 and burn 24/96 discs. Transferred to a DAC delivery system, I've watched a roomful of eyes pop. It is too bad that you can't deliver the files directly from the Masterlink's hard drive, but so be it.
Ive been archiving with an asus xonar sound card at 24/96. I find it to be nearly indistinguishable from the vinyl on most albums. I am slowly putting together a server which I think will be my main source eventually, the vinyls always there when I want to play it.
I have recorded my vinyl, and my TT is in moth balls. Since I re-engineered a vinyl computer interface in order to have one good enough, I can't comment on that; but the playback is as good as it gets. The computer is not the limiting factor, the interface is the limiting factor. No matter how good your analog rig is, the computer will give you back what you gave it.
Thanks for the replies. Birdies, I'm sure I would have been more impressed with the Masterlink if I could have played back its files at 24/96 instead of 18/48 but even as it was I was very impressed. I said I could tell it from the vinyl but that's doesn't mean it wasn't close - it was really close.

So we have this (frustrating?) situation where we can make better digital than we can buy - but to do so we have to buy records and have a lot of $ invested in a vinyl system. Boy, the recording/consumer audio industry has really screwed us, haven't they? But we knew that.

[Some will say these needledrops aren't 'better' than commercial digital recordings, they just have the distortions endemic to vinyl that some people happen to like. I think that's only a small part of the story. Really good analog and really good digital sounds almost the same. The problem is that there's so little excellent, commercial hi-rez digital in some genres, like 40s-60s jazz.]
What are you using as output protocol from your Mac Mini to your MPD-3?
T Bone, if by protocol, you mean interface, I use a USB cable to connect directly to the Playback Designs MPD-3.
Thanks Ghasley,
I am somewhat surprised that USB can carry DSD. I assume there is a memory buffer of some sort in the MPD-3.
Recording vinyl defeats the whole purpose of it in the first place. If I can't listen to the vinyl version because I don't have the time or am in the car, I don't want to play it in a more portable, but less listenable format. What's the point?

Yes I use an iPod on airplanes, but I listen to content I have on CDs.
Some people don't listen to vinyl, they listen to music.
Stevecham, recording vinyl would have purpose if the playback is as good as the original (or tolerably close) - as some say it is.

I'm not saying it is or can be - in my experience it's not - my experience is limited.
My experience has been that recording vinyl to cd results in a better sounding experience that the commericial CD in most cases. I havent bought a CD this century, but I record my vinyl onto it, then to my Ipod in Apple lossless format. just sounds better to me, and anyone else who has listened in the car and asked where I got a certain album because it sounds different than what they have.
I'm still experimenting but a good vinyl album, recorded in 5.6mhz 1 bit (double the sample rate of SACD's) and then played back either in native 5.6mhz DSD or even downsampled to 24/384 or 24/192 is spooky good. I can say in my experience that the 5 or 6 vinyl albums i have recorded where i also own the redbook CD it easily surpasses the redbook. In fact, the double DSD playback is so close to the vinyl that I believe it would be hard for most people to discern the difference. Now i know there are those out there who will insist that their $200,000 vinyl setup sounds better.....they are probably right. For most of us, i believe this is a terrific solution and the sound quality on par with better vinyl setups. YMMV
Ghasley, please list your equipment, if you wouldn't mind.

Certainly the quality of one's vinyl playback chain has a large bearing on whether or not digital recording (even at 2x DSD or 24/192 PCM) can fully capture it. I don't doubt, say, MikeL, who I believe has stated that 2x DSD doesn't fully capture his vinyl playback. But, no, most of us don't have rigs like that. So it becomes a practical matter to some extent.
Paul, certainly I agree and the usual disclaimers apply, including, I reserve the right to do something stupid, swap in or out a perfectly excellent component with one that screws up all synergy! LOL!

As of this date:
Vinyl: Rega P5, Exact 2 Cartridge, TTPSU
(Okki Nokki record cleaner prior to recording)
Integrated: VAC Sigma 160i with phono(Shunyata BM PC)
DAC: Playback Designs MPD-3(Shunyata Taipan PC)
Digital Recorder: Korg MR2000S(Cardas GR PC)
Computer: 2010 Mac Mini, 4TB firewire HD, 4mb RAM, Pure Music
Speakers: Wilson Audio Duettes (in could affect the sound!)
Speaker cables: Cardas Clear light
Interconnects: Cardas Clear light
Power: Running Springs Jaco with 20a Running Springs Mongoose
Ghasley, sorry, you already had listed most of your stuff.

How does playback via the Korg sound via the Playback?? That DAC is one of the very best in the world, of course. I am really curious as to how the Korg sounds compared to it.

I take it you convert the files to PCM (24/192?) for playback through the DAC? So you would be comparing not only the Korg to the Playback but also DSD to PCM.
Paul, excellent question as you can probably tell, i've been tinkering and experimenting.

This may be a bit long but it is important if you are considering a path such as this to understand what i have may see a better way through my trial and error.

I clean the record throughly along with the stylus, record the album in 2 times DSD to the Korg. The files are then moved from the hard drive of the Korg to my computer. I then use the Korg Audiogate software to strip the tracks into whatever format I choose. I've been experimenting with different resolutions and I may have led you to believe that I was converting the double DSD to 24/192 for playback. I did do that (along with 16/44, 24/48, 24/96, 24/192) with some tracks to compare sound quality. To me they all sounded better that my redbook versions of the same recording, each surpassing the prior. The double DSD files played back through the Playback Desingns is simply amazing when compared to any of the PCM files.

As far as playing from the Korg directly to the Playback Designs, the only way I can see that would be possible would be to take the digital out from the Korg and directly connect via spdif rca to the input on the MPD-3. i have not tried that and probably won't as the Korg has no remote, the file access and track selection capabilities are not as user friendly as my MAC. Playing back directly from the Korg utilizing its analog output section is pretty decent. If i were setting up a second system, the Korg and a computer would be the centerpiece but the 80 gig hard drive on the Korg is a limiting factor and no streaming is possible. You would have to move files between the two. I've explained this to the numerous people who have emailed as I kindof think of the Korg as a modern day reel to reel deck.

In a nutshell, record your vinyl in double DSD on a Korg, play it back via USB on a Playback Designs MPD-3 at double DSD and i believe most people (especially those without a position to defend) will be unable to discern the difference between the vinyl and the double DSD at 5.6 mhz.

I am also acutely aware that there are many who will be certain that what i have just explained is not possible. Listen, i have no vested interest or stake in any part of this process....I'm just a hobbyist looking for the best fidelity and, believe me, I am not a fan of the care required to play back vinyl but my digital versions of my vinyl sound SOOO much better than my redbook versions of the same disk than it boggles the mind. This may be a statement on the lack of care by the music industry when releasing cd's but nevertheless. Some may even say that the higher sample rates are the determining factor but i tried to eliminate that by taking the base redbook cd version and upconverting to each of the sample rates i was utilizing from my DSD recordings. It is also important to note that the Playback Designs takes EVERY input, regardless of its original sample rate and upconverts to double DSD at 5.6 mhz so my redbook stuff sounds excellent in its own right.

I hope this helps explain where I'm at and that I am simply describing my experiences....I'm no expert and don't intend to imply that I am. Warm regards.....GH