arguments against starting a vinyl collection?


I have a pretty elaborate setup for cd playback. I use the emmlabs cdsd transport and emmlabs dcc2se dac with the dartzeel amplifier and the wonderful evolution acoustic mm2 speakers with powered woofers.

I own roughly 2600 cds and about 175 sacds.

The vinyl crowd still swears of course that great digital playback cannot equal vinyl so have been somewhat tempted to dip my toes into analog and get a turntable and phono preamp. Here is what is holding me back!

Please note that I would not get vinyl to find obscure vinyl only vintage or otherwise recordings.

It would be mostly targeted at recordings that sound better on vinyl than cd.

Here is the arguments against:

1. hard to find a turntable and phono preamp that is class A and thus as good as my emmlabs cd equipment without spending serious bucks?

2. Even if I could find a reasonably priced class A turntable, the best sound requires more skill than a newbie like I would have? In other words, the better turntables are harder to setup and use?

3. A lot of heavy weight albums are double albums so you need to switch sides three times?

4. You need to clean the vinyl before every listen?

5. If you listen 15 times to a particular vinyl album you will likely begin to hear some deteoriation?

6. Even with a good setup, you will probably still hear pops and hiss on many vinyl albums even some well mastered ones?

7. I will not hear for modern recordings a big difference between vinyl and cds given that my emmlabs equipment is so good and I cannot afford a $10,000 phono preamp and a $25,000 turntable/cartridge....


Yup...based on your list, you should stay away from LPs.

PS, based on the rest of your system and size of your music collection, in my opinion #7 on your list is baloney.

1. no
2. perhaps
3. that can be taxing
4. depends on how anal you are
5. no
6. pops have nothing to do with mastering, I hear tape hiss on number of CD's I have.
7. wrong

As Tvad pointed out it seems like you have answered your own question...vinyl is more involved
I agree with Tvad. In your own mind, you've already stacked the deck against LPs.
I guess I should have added what turntable/preamp phone combo rivals the emmlabs digital source class A?



are you in los angeles? me too. what is in your system?

One set of responses to your questions would be:

1. No, you shouldn't need to spend anywhere near the cost of your EMM gear to equal or better that sound with a vinyl rig.

2. Maybe.

3. It doesn't matter if the music and the recording quality is fantastic.

4. Yes, but so what.

5. Shouldn't happen if you take proper care with a proper rig.

6. Should be minimal, at worst.

7. You shouldn't need to spend anywhere near that amount on a vinyl rig to equal or better your digital front end.

Personally, I wrestled with this for several years and finally decided that 1) I'll never know what I think without trying it myself, and 2) that the real decision-driver is the quality and availability of releases you want. I have no real interest in shopping garage sales hoping to find some real finds, but there is a LOT of really great versions of new vinyl coming out. It's somewhere between kind of pricey and very pricey, but if it's really exceptional it will be both stuff I really want to listen to and substantially better than I can hear it from a digital source.

Six months into it, I may decide that it's not worth it for many of the reasons you list above, but if the reasoning I'm using to try it out holds up, then it will be worth it and will mitigate many of your concerns.
I did not mean to sound like I am trying to stack the deck against LP just to throw out the things that are potentially holding me back (largely the initial upfront investment for a high quality setup). I don't think there is much point to getting a basic vinyl setup version my elaborate cd one. It would have to be a great vinyl setup. How much would it that cost where the turntable that sounds great, on the easier side of turntables to use for a newbie, would compete qualitatively with the emmlabs, and that goes for the phono preamp too!
I agree with Tvad. In your own mind, you've already stacked the deck against LPs.
Birdies (Answers)

are you in los angeles? me too. what is in your system?

Karmapolice (Reviews | Threads | Answers)

If your system is Melisse, then mine is Wienerschnitzel.
If you hold those perceptions you stated as absolute truths than maybe vinyl is not for you. I have completely switched 100% to vinyl and I have no regrets. If a person goes at it with the same gusto as you went after building your digital playback, IMHO a person will be most satisfied if not amazed at what they have been missing.
even with all your reasonings
good though they may be
listening to vinyl is like lays potato chips
you can't listen to just one album

funny comment there although my wife prefers pinks....


p.s. I once traded a pair of tickets to see roger waters box seats for a dinner at melisse and some cash. The dinner was real nice!
I reiterate that I put question marks at the end of the things that were holding me back because of their possibility not as exclamations that this is what I believe to be true!

Michael, my system is listed in the threads if you do a search. I'm too lazy to list it again here. It's pretty good, but the investment is a fraction of yours.

I have a KAB Technics SL1210 MK II turntable with a Benz Micro Ace cartridge. My Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk III preamp has a built-in phono section.
My last setup for digital was also a emmlabs dcc2 (not SE) fed FLAC files from a linux server. This was my apogee setup as I worked my way up the digital upgrade path for redbook only. What I found was some vinyl rigs I'd heard were as good or better to my ears over my digi setup. The digi sound was very good indeed but it didn't often enough grab me in the guts like hearing good vinyl did.

And I agree with Kthomas in that the vinyl rigs I was listening to had far less expense than my emmlabs setup. It was then I decided, predisposed to vinyl if you will, to stop chasing digital upgrades. Started building a vinyl setup and buying used & new LPs. I still keep digital because some new music never makes it to LP so it's a neccessary evil but I downsized the dcc2 to an electro ecd1.

I find vinyl far more satisfying in that the sound signature can be tweaked without wholesale changes, well if you don't consider carts and phonopre's wholesale changes. With digital, it was swapping out a DAC and that's that.

Some items on your list are intrinsic to vinyl so when viewed through a digi-based prism it's no wonder they come across sounding as arguments against LPs. But go have a listen to a good vinyl rig before being convinced that it's an arcane medium and not worth the hassle (relative to digi). Then you'll know.
We seem to be having a lot of these vinyl vs cd threads lately. I don't think Vinyl is overwhemingly "superior" to cd. You do not have to spend $$$10K to get a good phono unit (but it wouldn't hurt!) or that much on table and cart...I'll bet for $8K total for table, cart & phono pre you can have something very satisfying. Also I find also once you really clean an Lp the first time, you don't have to clean it again or at least for a while. With properly cleaned records, stylus and properly set up cartridge parameters, vinyl does not deteriate that quickly.

I saw that you like porcupine tree lighthouse sun.....I just listened to it tonite and oh my god it was so yummy......great mastering to in my humble opinion....

by the way for other out there, I personally don't believe that any one medium is intrinsically better than another. If I was starting from scratch now, I would probably go with vinyl even. At some point, I will probably add vinyl but my speaker has one more upgrade that may make it even better and been itching to try the audio research ref 3 preamp so it just might be awhile till I get to the phono/turntable addition....I do think $7-8K is probably necessary to get comparable vinyl nirvana (table and preamp) to fairly compare with my digital bliss.

One reason for not *starting* a vinyl collection at this point is that it is quite possible that high rez digital downloads that would provide superior sound quality to the best digital and vinyl available today may be available in the not too distant future. I don't have any inside information on this but it seems to be the way things are heading.

If you save the money and time you would spend on getting started in high quality analog you will be able to upgrade your hardware and software when quality digital downloads become widely available. Some high rez digital (24/176.4) is already available.

Another reason is that there is no guarantee that you would find vinyl superior to digital.
I do think $7-8K is probably necessary to get comparable vinyl nirvana (table and preamp) to fairly compare with my digital bliss.

Karmapolice (Reviews | Threads | Answers)

Well, I disagree, but I'm fairly certain it'd be very difficult to move you off your predisposed biases.

It appears you are assigning a dollar figure to the analog rig based on some ratio you have devised based on the cost of your investment in your digital gear, and perhaps your speakers and amps.

In my experience hearing EMM Labs gear in my system, it was surpassed by a digital playback component costing less than half.

I don't intend this as an affront to your taste, preferences or judgment, but rather an illustration of how everyone's taste is different, and how cost does not necessarily correlate to personal preference.

I think assigning a dollar figure to analog playback without hearing the available options is doing your bank account a disservice.

Also, vinyl sounds inherently different than digital. If your goal is to equal the sound of your digital gear with a vinyl rig, then you are attempting a futile endeavor, IMO. You may possibly find a vinyl rig for half your budget that provides as much pleasure, or more, than your digital playback system.

Or, you may simply end up frustrated that you can't get LPs to sound as clean as CDs. They never will. It's part of the charm of LPs. However, they will sound superior to CDs in some ways...pops, ticks and all.

Off the soapbox now...
I've never heard the Emm Labs gear.

I added a turntable to my rig that had a 10K CD player. I bought the vinyl rig for 800 used including cartridge. I spent 1800 on a phono stage. That modest setup I thought was so much more musical and involving than the digital. I eventually upgraded to an even better analog setup. I don't think you have to think about spending mega bucks on your first go at it. At least you could get something and test the waters a bit without going to deep. This would allow you find out if you can tolerate the downside of vinyl and see if you can live with it. It's all an opinion, but I personally think I would find more musical enjoyment out of a 500 used analog setup than I would in a mega thousand dollar digital playback rig. That said if I was forced to only pick one it would be digital because I wouldn't be willing to miss out on all the great music that is available only on CD.

You'll never really know unless you try it.
You will not enjoy it at all.... you will spend way too much time looking for it, cleaning it and listening to it. Your lawn will grow tall, your pets will go unfed, you will stay up too late playing them, be tired the next day and loose you job, and then start selling your cd collection to buy food.
It is an addiction! But boy do I like it!

Cheers and go for it.
I would say buy a cheaper TT and phono stage then go hunting for vinyl. This will turn into an enjoyable hobby.
I am in the same boat as you and have decided not to pursue the vinyl thing. Most of all I like a quiet dark background and very good fast dynamic contrasts in my music. And my modded sony provides me with these characteristics in spades.

A friend of mine has a very nice vinyl set-up ($8000) and has tried to talk me into going down that road. I have listened to his plus a couple differenct higher end rigs at some specialty retailers and I have not been impressed. Maybe in my system it would be differenct but I did not hear what I was looking for to pursue it further; at least for now.

Admittedly some TT's are absolutely gorgeous and maybe someday down the road it might be fun to have to play with. But right now my life is too complicated and time too precious to have the hassles of dealing with a vinyl set-up.

Someone else had suggested $8,000 in the thread and i was tentatively agreeing with him.

I think emmlabs is great but maybe now there is something equally good or almost as good for less but that won't help me know.

Sure i could buy a real basic unit but it might be stacking the deck against vinyl......if i would try, i would probably get a well regarded unit like vpi scoutmaster with sds....4k and then good phono preamp and then interconnect cable cartridge and so probably close to 7k.
owning a turntable and a cd player offers one more choices for recorded music. beyond that, it all just opinions and preference and mo money to through at the hobby.
Sure i could buy a real basic unit but it might be stacking the deck against vinyl......if i would try, i would probably get a well regarded unit like vpi scoutmaster with sds....4k and then good phono preamp and then interconnect cable cartridge and so probably close to 7k.
Karmapolice (Reviews | Threads | Answers)

Another recent thread has discussed the Galibier Design Serac table outfitted with an Artisan tonearm and Dynavector 20X cart for $4700. Plenty of excellent phono preamps for under $2000 (JLTI-$1650, Graham Slee Era Gold MK V-$1000).

So, according to your target price level, perhaps $7k is about right.

One other thing about emmlabs and that while expensive the dac unit has a good preamp that has served me well saving me cost of buying a preamp and extra interconnect cable

I know i could always upgrade to a better turntable later but i believe in buying equipment you might keep longterm than upgrading every few years.....

Seems like a lot of people get a basic turntable and then upgrade within a year

leaning towards getting the final upgrade for my speaker unless vpi shows up used here in LA
One other hesitation to report is that i have heard a heavyweigth vinyl mastered version of my favorite album ok computer converted lossless to cd and did not hear any appreciable difference....

This could be related to this album or something gets loss of vinyl yumminess when not played on a turntable or difference is only subtle when have a great cd player unless mastering on cd is especially bad and mastering is really good on vinyl!
I was in a similar vinyl dilemma a few years ago. Indeed there is more care and feeding involved in a vinyl system. However, after deciding to take the plunge, I have found the rituals involved to be pleasurable. The payback for me has been a more organic and satisfying sound.

With modern equipment, and record cleaning machines, the pops are rarely noticeable and when they happen, are not really objectionable.

Prior to vinyl, I had a Wadia 861 driving my CAT amps direct. Going to vinyl, I was obviously forced to purchase a pre-amp and bought a Supartek Chenin (with phono). I decided upon a Galibier turntable and Tri-Planar arm. This combination has been simply wonderful.

Fortunately, I had kept my LP from my youth, and have added several hundred primarily used albums to my collection. I find fun in hunting for used vinyl both locally and on the net.

Upon acquiring my vinyl rig, I found myself using it 95-99% of the time! With a $6K CDP essentially sitting idle, I decided to divest myself of it and move into the world of PC audio by purchasing a MacBook laptop and Wavelength Brick Silver DAD. I haven’t missed the Wadia, and now have the best of both worlds. I’ve gotten off the CD playback upgrade merry-go-round and if I choose, I can enhance my digital playback by simply acquirng a DAC. BTW, I believe that PC Audio is the future of digital playback. For me, it has been that good -- both sonically and from a spectacular convenience perspective!

You do have a significant investment in CD’s and it would be time consuming to rip them to a HD, but I’m getting ready to send my approximately 650 CD’s off for just that purpose. While over the years my son and I ripped most all of the tracks we liked from the collection into WAV files, they lack tagging info, and there are times I would like to play an entire CD or tracks other than what we ripped.

But I digress. Until I heard vinyl playback in my room/system, I wasn’t necessarily smitten with the sonics that I had heard at a local dealer.

I was fortunate enough to have my turntable manufacturer passing through my locale trucking a table from Colorado to N.Y. He brought a rack, the tt, placed it in my room and couldn’t energize the phono he brought. Believe it or not, I hauled one from storage a Phase Linear pre-amp from the 70’s fired it up and listened to a Galibier tt, Graham tonearm and Denon 103R. From the first few minutes of the first LP, I was sold, and the rest is history.

I have what I consider to be an heirloom turntable, and I love everything associated with vinyl playback. While superb quality recordings sound, well superb, one of the things I’ve found surprising, is Rock playback. I like most all rock material better on vinyl. It has immensely enhanced my critical listening repertoire.
I agree that i have to try vinyl at home to really give it a chance so now will wait till right oppty arises where quality used table is available locally that seller might assist setting up for a deal sweetener!
I don't think #5 is true, but #6 definitely IS true. I've been at this hobby for 45 years + (since I was about 16 and started building). I have nowehere near the total number of media you do if I added LP's and CD's and SACD's and DVD's together. I'd certainly give you permission to give vinyl a pass.

I'd also suggest that, if you wanted to give it a try either ask local audiogoners for an audition of their systems, or buy a used $2K turntable and a used $1K preamp and have a listen to a dozen albums new and used. You can then sell your media, TT and preamp here for at least 70% of what you paid for them so your total investment in seeing what it's all about would be less than a grand.

It would seem that you love music, so either way you won't lose.

IMHO, don't bother with Radiohead, Porcupine Tree and other such bands on vinyl. With all of the processing and digitization these bands use there is no point in recording it to vinyl. This is exactly why I keep both analog and digital sources.

But then, I'm coming at this from what appears to be the opposite side. For example, if it were me, I'd be starting a thread asking why I should spend more than a few grand on a digital source.
I am currently right in the middle of rediscovering the joys of vinyl again after spending 20 years with digital. At this point, very early in the vinyl game, I feel as if I wasted 20 years and tons of money on digital.
Recently, I finally purchased a 'decent' phono preamp, my ears and brain have been filled with amazement as to how much more organic, live and real sounding vinyl is. Now we are comparing an $8,000 digital rig to a $3700 vinyl setup. I won't say every parameter of performance is improved, but the musicality of the vinyl vs. the analytical nature of my digital setup makes the choice a no brainer, I will take the musicality any day!
Small ticks and pops don't bother me (but then my early days were all vinyl so maybe I'm used to it), all the other chores to do with vinyl I've found to be rather enjoyable, more investment in the care of music get you more involved in that music (strange psychological phenomenon here).
Anyway, I'm through with digital in the short run, in the long run I will keep the digital setup I have or perhaps even upgrade, I have way too many obscure cds that will likely never come out on vinyl. I also have over 5,000 cds which will certainly keep me in cd. Having said that, I'm now in the process of culling and selling off cds to fund my vinyl collection.
I am also now in the process of planning about $3200 worth of upgrades to the vinyl rig, this was money formerly earmarked for a digital upgrade.
Perhaps the most difficult part of this 'conversion' has been the realization that 5,000 cds are now worth that much less to me, and I need to replace much of that music with vinyl, big bucks and major searching for replacements.
Large investments of time and money bring psychological commitment to digital and/or analog rigs we've put together, I know this commitment is what kept me away from analog for so long, its hard to tell yourself the path you've been on for so long is perhaps not the correct one for yourself.
This is not to say analog and digital can't live together, my long term goal is to maximize the strengths of both, enjoying both for what they are. Don't look at going into vinyl as a defeat for digital, rather see it as a win/win situation, most everything in life is not a zero sum game, enjoy both!
Dan_ed - I am going to be curious to see if your view on bands like Radiohead aren't worth pursuing on vinyl. Many people have commented how much better the recording is on the vinyl release than the CD. The Drive-by-Truckers just released five of their albums on vinyl and the band themselves talk about how much better it sounds on vinyl. You may well be right, and I currently can't evaluate for myself, but if that is a true statement, I'm going to be bummed.
I think Sns' last post accurately describes what a lot of people go through when they decide to try vinyl again. I can see a lot of what I went/am going through in there. I agree with his last paragraph.

The thing which people do not mention is that vinyl takes more "work". CDs are great in that one can buy a CD online, receive it a few days later, dig it out, stick it in the tray, and play. And one can pause if interrupted, easily go back to the beginning of a track and do it all by remote.

With vinyl, I find it a lot more of a DIY process. One reason I buy/play vinyl is to get in touch with all those records I can buy for half the price of the CD (or a lot less), and that takes digging around to find the records. Then one cleans them (once, well, replacing the sleeve, and you are good for lots of plays), and when playing them, the vinyl is a bit more awkward to deal with (sleeve and jacket), clamp/weight on, perhaps a light brushing, and then (assuming all the settings don't change per album or you switch to a mono cart), physically moving tonearm over and cueing down, then getting up at the end of the side, moving tonearm back, removing clamp, flipping side, maybe another brushing, then clamp back on, cueing it back up, and lowering tonearm back down.

Dealing with records is a lot more 'physical', but I bet there are any number of us who don't do things which require just a little bit if manual dexterity enough for our own good (not to mention not enough exercise). I personally find the pleasures I get from listening to interesting records I pick up to be worth the reward. Also, there are so many records out there where I remember the music well, want to hear it again, so spend a dollar on the record and a few minutes cleaning it when I get home, but I would not spend $15-20 and time online trying to find someone who had the CD.

Last but not least, if you decide to get into vinyl, and you buy used off Audiogon, and in 6 months you decide the "hassle" isn't for you, you can sell it all back and you will not be out much more than your time. If you do, I might start with a used cart of good enough quality to match the rest of your set-up. If eventually you find vinyl to your liking, then I might upgrade to the "right" or "better" cart later. You can get quite a lot of a lot of lower-priced cartridges, but in the same way that the step up from a Sony SCD-1 to an EMM set-up was surprising, the step-up in quality from a 'decent' cart to a 'great' cart is similarly revelatory.
Even though I have about 100 lps and have decided not to take the plunge into vinyl I can certainly appreciate the beauty and romance of it as well as the labor.

Some of the systems posted on this thread are absolutely beautiful and I applaud all of you who have found your sonic nirvana.

As with any other bands releases, there may well be some that are better in format than another. I have several Radiohead LPs and enjoy them very much. But I don't think I would suggest someone go vinyl for these releases alone. Then you have to consider what Porcupine Tree vinyl goes for, if you can find it. Sometimes it's just cheaper and easier to get the digital releases. Just my .02.
A properly setup $1500 TT combo (TT, preamp) will I won't say sound better than your EMM Labs but will give you a much more satisfying musical presentation/performance than any digital will. Listening to analog is an experience. IMO, digital at it's best is still music without any soul while analog at it's worst is music with a soul. That's the difference.

You might want to reconsider before taking the plunge into analog because it's a commitment. It looks like you're not ready.
My two cents worth...
Based on your vast collection of cd's and sacd's, if you REALLY listen to all your collection from a to z starting tomorrow, there's a good chance you'll be dead or at least so old as to barely hear ANYTHING long before you play your "new" medium!

My suggestion? Scrap your present digital set-up and get a new digital front end for about half of what you spent, then take the monies from your sale and invest in analog! Table, arm and cartridge of surprising quality can be had for this sum and you will have plenty left over for lp's!
a. your cd quality will still be 80 to 90% of your emm labs gear and
b. you will hear the truth and musicality that ONLY a MUSIC, not storage keyed medium can deliver...
The biggest arguement for staying away is that vinyl is just another 'thing' to get into, "it's so hip"... So, first off: do not get into vinyl unless: you can't stand living with your system since you heard a friends who has all analogue. Or: You just inherited 30,000 LPs.. all the best, all like new. Or: You don't care that it is just a fad, and that soon enough you will dump it, as hundred of thousands of others dumped LP playback (when CD first came out) because CD is just too damn easy, compared to the hassles of LP. And after selling all that crap you bought to play and use vinyl, you can then feel good that you have finally contributed to all the vinyl lovers backlog of used stuff on the market...
If you feel the need to ask, it is not for you.
(Personally I dumped LP for CD. went 20 years no LP. Then started buying ultra-cheap mountains of LPs 14,000 or so.
Then I had to MOVE! and dumped (right tossed out!)a LOT!
Now I have 6,000 and two cheap midfi TTs, two pre pres, and use both LP and CD whenever I feel like it.)
(My main concern with PLAYING all those LPs is cleaning them before use (at least the first time)
So Genesis168 for 1500 bucks what would you recommend? I have been kinda looking at Linn Lp12's when they come up for sale.


My family were crack session men in LA and I have been in live touring space for 30 plus years, including Radiohead. Here is my two cents:

There are three things that matter, the original recording sessions, the mastering and mixing, and the final format ("pressing" or CD).

Vinyl does a really good job of recreating the original dynamics of the recording session. When this is spot on, it is really a beautiful thing to hear. I grew up around my family's playing and know what they sound like from 50 years of memory and vinyl approximates this better than digital.

Mastering can introduce a whole set of problems when introduced as part of the mixdown. Tonalities can be adjusted, good or bad, dynamics compressed or expanded, and all aspects of frequencies can be sonically cropped, boosted or altered. Both vinyl and CDs can amplify any shortcomings here, so it is a toss-up of sorts. Also, the term master tape is grossly overused--there are usually multiple tapes out there for all sessions and your vinyl and CD was probably not made from the original master tape but a second or third generation as production was sourced from multiple production facilities. This is why Japanese, British and US pressings can sound radically different around the same artist.

CDs are a perfectly rendered version of the source tape. Garbage in/garbage out--some CDs can vary by tape source.

Vinyl can suffer from the pressing process--the quality and make of the vinyl pellet (there were 13 types of vinyl in its height--only four are still made today), the pressing time in the press, where it stands in the production run, and humidity and temperature of the plant. You could listen to 25 records and hear minute but significant differences in the vinyl. Only 10% sound perfectly correct but when they do, they will slay all other formats. (PS: it has taken me 30 years to collect pristine albums of my family's work).
Czbbcl, For starters, the Technics 12xx would be a good choice. You can get them as cheap as $399??? Do a search on the forums. It's a solid table FWIW. You can do a lot worse for a lot more $. Get an Audio Technica/Denon cartridge and a PS audio GCPH/EAR 834 phono and you have a solid vinyl playback system. This will take you a long way. I am in no way saying that this some multi kilobuck killer but it will show you what analog is capable of for so little $.

I am only recommending the Technics as an example because it is easy to setup, use, sound great and will not take the fun off spinning records.

If you decide analog is not for you, sell it and get your $ back. And if think analog for you, then you can lay down your life savings.
I think you should stick to digital. That way the rest of us who prefer vinyl won't have to compete with you in the used lp market.