Back to analog ..was it a mistake???

Like alot in the 1980s I went totally digital.Took my 300+ album collection and boxed them up never thinking I would venture back.My current digital system is about everything I always wanted.Black background,nice sound stage,fast,clean,detailed yet very musical.The speakers disappear and instument seperation is there and in the correct locations.Vocals are superb on all types of music IMO..
From strong suggestions from my bro I decided to try the analog approach again even though the analog systems Ive heard recently never came close to my setup.I bought a mid 1980s Linn lp12 and did some upgrades to it..Mose/Hercules2,new Akito2 arm,belt,oil,Denon DL160,cables..had it setup correctly.Bought a new Musical Surroundings Phono.Spent days cleaning records.What I have in sound is nothing short of a big dissapointment for the time and money spent.Forgetting the snap,crackle, pop which is very hard to get around the sound stage is nowhere to be found.The speakers no longer disappear,its like taking 10 steps backwards..Yea, I know the Linn isnt the beat all table as well as the phono but something is amiss here.Ive tried a few adjustments and things seem to become a little better but when I do the digital it becomes clear my analog attempt sucks.Am I expecting too much from my new investment back to analog???Is all this analog talk just talk from guys who never had a great digital system??Any positive imput or suggestions is appreciated..Thanks in advance
Buy a couple of new LPs to see if they don't change your mind. You may have screwed up all your old LPs back in the day. If a new 180g pressing of a great, classic recording doesn't float your boat, then you screwed up. It's good that you bought much of the equipment used so that you can jettison it without too big a loss.
I never got rid of my LP's. The early sound of digital was ok, but not good enough for me to dump vinyl. Present day digital is great (not to mention that most of the music available is on CD or download). But I'm not going to rebuy all my music in CD format just to get rid of the vinyl and its issues.
But, (knock on wood) if my house burned down and all my vinyl was lost I wouldn't attempt to replace it. I'd just get CD or downloads.
Vinyl is benefiting from the same nostalgia effect as steam trains or antique cars.
I put my analog system on the back burner for many years while I focused on dialing in digital and coincidentially accumulating a huge collection of music not available on vinyl. I was pretty happy and I finally put the analog system away.

The the day for Goodwill donations approached and I was looking at all of that stuff and my cherished, but not often used collection of LP's, and couldn't make up my mind. One of the items I had to give away was a Denon 61F TT that I was given by my now deceased father in law. I had never set it up - it just sat in a box NOS! After all it was just a Denon with a cheapo Shure cartridge. :-)

Well I was curious so before I gave it away I thought I'd set it up and see if it was as bad as I expected. I used an old Magus for a pre-amp and played a good LP with lots of sonic potential including dynamics and bass. The thing that amazed me was the dynamics in the bass. Very tight!!!! Whoa, that's new!!! After a while I recognized that I was also hearing far too much info from the grooves that I had never heard before. Not music but groove noise. It was unnatural and I knew I wouldn't listen much. I then put on my old cartridge from yesteryear (a Benz Glider). It sounded much better. In fact most of the surface noise went missing. I changed a few tubes and it sounded even better. Then I dragged out my old ARC Pre and tuned it with my cartridge, still using the cheapo Denon, and the sound is now quite good. In fact better than my system with my probably poorly set up old Oracle.

I enjoyed the vinyl set up greatly but not for the ultimate difference in the acoustics so much as the ability to listen to some of my favorite old recordings on occasion. So long as I don't think of how it sounds compared to my digital system I'm good. The tics pops and other extraneous noise was still there but if the music is important you can listen thru it. And if the music is not worth it because of this noise ditch the disc!

IMHO analog is a fussy system and takes a lot of time both in set up and use. You really have to enjoy the process and, I think more importantly, the music you possess to make it worth while. For someone coming new to audio I would never recommend vinyl unless it was as a means to buy a lot of music to expand their exposure to, knowledge of, and collections of music (especially classical music) on the cheap, music not available on CD's.

FWIW. Only you can make the call on whether it is worth it or not to pursue analog further.
What CDP are you comparing it to? Is the Linn sited on a good platform? It might be worth gambling a few hundred more on a top NOS MM cartridge(e.g Ortofon M60FL or M60E from Willian Thakker). This should handily beat the Denon and find the soul in your LPs.
If your speakers disappear with digital but not with phono, then something is probably not right with your phono setup (not uncommon).

Is your cleaning method working? How d you clean the records?

How did you pick the equipment you did? Was there a plan to make sure they work well together or was the decision process more random, based solely on reviews or such? Have you verified everything is set up correctly and in good working order?

Also, what is the rest of your system (amp. pre-amp, digital source, etc.?)

Sorry for all the questions, but these are so many things that can go wrong with vinyl playback that it is worth considering everything when something is not performing to expectations.

BTW what are your expectations regarding vinyl? Records can be hit or miss from record to record, more so than with CDs these days I have found. You ned to manage your expectations. Some records should sound very good and satisfy most, but many will never satisfy a most highly discriminative listener.

FWIW< I use a Linn Axis + DL103R and the phono pre-amp built into my ARC sp16 and the sound is very similar to my digital as a whole, more or less. Everything is listenable and clean sounding at a minimum to excellent in most ways when things are clicking with particular decent to good recordings, digital or analog.
I've had a similar experience. Great CD sound and disappointing LP sound. But that has changed dramatically in the past few weeks thanks to suggestions from A'Gon members, a local dealer and much tweaking of VTA, VTF, a lot more time for cartridge break-in, and some simple table isolation devices from Herbies Audio my modest Rega LP rig now significantly outperforms my Bryston BCD1.
One surprising finding was the disk I was using to judge LP playback quality - Dire Straits' Pricate Investigations brand new double album on 180G vinyl ($50)was significantly lower qualty than some $3 used vinyl from a local record store. I'm pretty burned on new vinyl.
As someone astutely pointed out, analog systems are fussy - even the supposedly plug-and-play systems.
It takes a lot of experience and know-how to get really top notch sound from records. It can take a long time (and lot of money) to find the way on your own. If you are serious but perhaps not infinitely patient, I recommend you find a professional knowledgeable with your stuff that you can trust and work with them to get things sounding right. With a 300+ album collection, assuming that is in decent condition to start with and you are serious about rediscovering and posibly even extending it, it is probably worth it to do what is needed to get the playback working right.
snap,crackle, pop which is very hard to get around

my opinion is if you are not raised on vinyl. It is very hard to brush aside the above.
I threw away my LPs also in the early days of CD. About ten years ago i had an opportunity to buy a pile of LPs. I have to say the two formats are different.I personally have a better sounding phono setup than digital, but the digital convenience balances the LP playbeck.
I prefer having multiple sources over one perfect source. (THAT makes me a 'fallen' audiophile. Good enough IS good enough.)
Anyway, if LP is not for you.. SCREW IT. Just because the herd is again chasing 50 year old techology, doesn't mean you have to. (personally IMO you should start investigating PC music servers as a new creative outlet)
I would just put away the TT and LPs. Do not discard or sell them. And in ten years maybe you'll want to play with them again. If not.. then sell them.
PS your gonna get tons of LP lovers trying to tell you "Just get one more thing and you'll love LP... SCREW IT!! that is not true. If it isn't for you, then it just is not.)
Damn, once again I find myself agreeing with Elizabeth! If you're happy with your digital setup, enjoy it. I threw away all my Lp's years ago and have never looked back. Her third paragraph says it quite creatively!
Huge amounts of time, trouble and expense were required to get my analogue rig to equal, then exceed, the performance of the digital one. That's what it took to get me interested in listening at home again, after going digital in the 80's, but realizing years later that the life had been sucked out of the music. But for only 300 records, would it make sense for you to sink $10K into an analogue front end (that's about the point at which analogue begins to exceed digital, in my experience, but that would still be a modest system by the standards of many here on Audiogon) ?
I want to try vinyl again as well and have been all over the map on what to buy ; vpi, clearaudio, rega . I have about 200 albums in the basement and access to a used vinyl shop . I think I am going to go cheap and keep my expectations low and just sit back and enjoy the music.

I never could stand the ticks and pops of analogue and the constant maintenance associated with it . My highly modded scd-1 is superb, dead quiet with a huge deep soundstage.

Thanks, Chuck
I've always had a turntable in my system, just inexpensive ones until now. I don't own a record cleaning machine. I just use a brush to take the dust off. Many of my records are over 35 years old and have been neither pampered or abused. I have very few ticks and pops, and for the most part they don't interfere with my enjoyment of the music.

The soundstage and dimensionality on decent recordings exceed even my best digital ones. Sounds float free from the confines of the speakers. I now have incredible bass. I didn't think it was possible via LP to achieve that level of impact. I purchased a quality setup here on A-Gon for a price I was pleased with. The cartidge was purchased from my local dealer. I bought the Fremer dvd, the alignment tools, digital vtf scale, and learned as much as I could. It still takes some fiddling, trial and error adjustments to get the right sound. I use the Musical Surroundings Phonomena which works just fine for me.

I've heard Linn tables before and I never did hear a system fronted by one sound bad. I think you need to revisit your setup. I've read about some of the Linn specific tuning, like the springs, dressing of the leads, and all the updates that are available which makes the setup more complicated. Keep trying if you like those records.

First of all, if you are expecting LPs to be as dead quiet as digital, it is not going to happen. Digital is what I call "look ma, no hands" technology. Anyone can buy a CD player and plug it up and get whatever goodness you enjoy out of CDs. LP systems take far more work than CD based systems in order to extract their maximum potential. If you are not willing to put the time and energy into it, give up. If your records sound like a rice krispy symphony, than they were not taken care of properly either in past use or storage. CDs don't have more depth, width, or height soundstage-wise than LPs. Something is amiss in your setup. Whether you care to get to the bottom of it is something you need to decide.
Dear Missioncoonery: +++++ " even though the analog systems Ive heard recently never came close to my setup. " ++++++

well seems to me that you and your ears are already " equalized " to digital: nothing wrong with that.

Your statement could means to me that you own a good audio system ( do you buy/own the Avalon speakers you talk in past posts?. ) that was build around digital source.

If all that is true and especially that you own a good audio system and that you want to enjoy again LP's seems to me that you need to give a better opportunity to LP's, IMHO you decide to spend almost the less to comeback so the result was/is according what you decided about. Of course that I can be wrong, you are the boss here.

In the other side and even with that analog rig things can't be so bad, obviously in your system are.

+++++ " new Akito2 arm,belt,oil,Denon DL160,cables..had it setup correctly. " +++++

in the last 30 years somethings already change or improve and one of them is the critical importance match between cartridge and tonearm where any one aspire to find the right synergy. Akito is not one of my favorities ( maybe the Grace that coming with the LP12 is a lot better if in good operation condition. ) as either the 160 cartridge that is not a good LOMC cartridge and that is not a good MM/MI cartridge either.
IMHO if you want a good analog source then go for better choice: a LOMC or a MM/MI, not a " hybrid ".

There are at least four set up factors that like you say must be correctly: overhang and cartridge offset angle, VTA/SRA, VTF and Azymuth. Could be important that you make a check up again.

In the other hand is convenient that you can hear during the cartridge set up and during the cartridge fine tunning time ( after cartridge settle down. ) to LP's that you know very well with out digital source comparisons, you will have time latter to made comparisons.
Better if you have an audio friend that could help about in case that you don't have any " reference quality sound " with LP's.

All my comments are in good shape and trying/figuring how to help you.

If I was you and after what I posted if things goes the same then my first move will be the Dgarretson advise: try a new cartridge with the MM/MI Ortofon vintage NOS analog source alternative for " cents ", this cartridge is really good and I can't see a critical problem with your Akito/LP-12:

Certainly is very difficult to know ( at distance and with out hearing it. ) what is happen in your analog rig performance so take my advise with a" grain of salt ".

Regards and enjoy the music,
All things considered, I prefer digital to analog.
A couple of things: There is great digital and there is great analog. I recently heard the new PS Audio Perfectwave and I was amazed. Incredible musical presentation. I have to admit, there is something that analog does that has me hooked. To me, it just sounds like music. What you are saying about analog not having a great soundstage, well if this is the case, something is amiss in your system. If you like digital, which it sounds like you do, give the perfectwave a listen. It will sound better than almost every CD player you have ever heard, I kid you not. It may be the direction for the future of audio and it is very encouraging to say the least.
As asked before, what equipment are you using for digital play back? Are you listening to a DCS digital system against your analog system? Are the 2 setups in the same range of quality?
It sounds like digital is your bag. Stick with it.

For me, a poorly set up turntable still sounds much better. A well set up turntable leaves no reasonable comparison. To my ears.

I wish digital sounded better to me, because CD's are so much more convenient.
Do what's needed to enjoy your music.

Everything else is window dressing.
Best choice you could make.
You might try some different cartridges before giving up. I'd guess the Denon was undermatched for the table and arm, but one can't really judge this on price alone. I've certainly found the choice of cartridge has meant to difference between heaven and hell.

Well recorded and pressed Lps should give a very pleasingly solid and deep soundstage. I'd say that this is the hallmark of good analog playback, though there are plenty of people that are indifferent to it and care more about things like "PRaT".

Judicious choices of table, arm, cart and pre-amp can reduce surface noise to a level where it doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of the music, at least for me. You can't rescue abused records or bad pressings, though.
Not if you got big bucks and a lot of time.
All anolog but NO SNAP, CRACLE OR POP'S! I do not know why I keep reading and replying to these types of post. you are correct. you found us out. vinyl is just a big gimmick. so move on and let us dumb fools have our fantasy belief that our vinyl sounds great. I mean you have the latest great setup, because vinyl has not advanced since the 80's. you cleaned you old beat up recods by hand. it should sound great. airgo/Therefore vinyl must be a falossi. So please leave us to our delusios. stick with the far supierior 1's and 0's. Next you will burst my bubble and tell me the Jonas brothers are the new Beatles.

No one wants to point a finger at that Scottish sacred cow, huh?

If you are enjoying music through digital then stay with digital. You don't need psycho-therapy to convince yourself. Make your ears happy.

It's funny you should mention this. Yesterday I listened to my CD player and couldn't listen to it for long. Digital music sounds harsh (to me anyway)I went back to my vinyl...
Vinyl to me is pleasurable ritual. Playing vinyl forces you to get up every 25 minutes or so to change sides. I still have 800 or so albums from the old days and upgrading the table, cartridge and arm made a big difference on the noise front. Finding mint vinyl for $1 is fun, but most new music I listen to is digital. Direct sound comparisons between CDs and vinyl usually show vinyl to be superior. However, the convenience and sound of ripped files through a laptop and DAC is hard to beat. 700 albums at your fingertip.

I like new music too much to listen only to vinyl, but it is nice to have as an alternative. Great hobby, huh?
Funny, the OP has not made one single comment, as far as I can see, in response to any of the many many sensible and sympathetic replies he got to his original post. I think he was trolling, and we took the bait. Like Hiho, I never saw the magic in the Linn turntable (the "Scottish sacred cow"; I love it.), but others did and still do, and I respect that. But the Linn does need careful set-up to work well. That's all I've got to offer. There are a dozen or more other obvious possibilities for why his vinyl playback does not satisfy him, if indeed he owns the equipment mentioned and has listened to it.
Dear Lewm: This person not even say thank you for your time you take to post.

What seems to me and to conform with the thread title: maybe was and is a mistake to be here.

Take a look to other/lattest thread of this person with no single answer by him:

Anyway, another learning day.

regards and enjoy the music,
I still like Angus. :-)
Me Too ......... Especially with a good Cab .......
I did the same thing, ditching my vinyl rig for a series of digital upgrades. I thought I had a pretty hot setup with a RAKK DAC (transformer coupled outputs)...

then my friend brought over a Rega P2 table which he uses for needledrops. We hooked it up to a tubed phono preamp and started playing some records. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much at all, but I was blown away. More detail, more naturalness and I started to enjoy music more too.

When listening to digital, I found myself skipping ahead to my favorite songs. With vinyl, I enjoy the entire side.

In the end, I sold off my digital rig and have gone with vinyl - VPI table and Threshold phono preamp. I still have an old Sony SACD player in my rack, but it rarely gets used.
And some of the tables are simply beautiful to look at and watch while they perform unlike a box that just sits there... I certainly understand the allure and attraction to vinyl .......... And even though I am trying to go on the cheap I really want a vpi scout or scoutmaster ...

Sorry I didnt get back with any updated info or additional thoughts until now..I work and im not on this site 24/7.Didnt know it was required to post.
I had my table set up correctly and Ive checked it a couple times myself with the tools I have at hand.The new Akito2 arm was recommended to my by a Linn dealer and I was told its better than the older Ittok.The Denon was also suggested by the dealer as a good choice for that arm in the price range I could afford(it does sound better than the MM I had on it ).The phono was set according to a phone call to the company and Ive tried a couple different settings.The albums I have are not all goobered,and yes I did clean them by hand but used the Aivs(think thats right) system which was recommeded to me.Ive tried a couple different sets of cables, MIT and Cardas from the phono to my Jadis preamp..The Linn sets on a wall mount atop a 4" Mapleshade platform.Ive tried it without the maple with no sonic difference..Long to short ,Ive done and spent what I can afford to do,my budget isnt 10 grand for a TT setup and even if I had it I wouldnt spend that..My thoughts are after listening again last night.It sound OK but again to the digital side there is no comparison.Maybe my expectations were just set too high and I was expecting it to blow away my digital setup which isnt happening .Yep its fun to hear the music I cherished back in the days of youth and somewhat fun to tinker,maybe thats the allure.I can deal with that but I was really wanting more for the time and investment made..make any sense???

Get rid of the analog set up while you still can and recuperate your investment. Don't worry, there are plenty of Linn cultists out there who will happily buy your set up. Let them have fun with the circle jerk. And use that money for something else, buy more CDs, sell all your records, or get another turntable - preferably something with more testicles.

You like what you like that is all that matters ...........
There's an element of truth and fear that I think almost all of us recognize in Missioncoonery's OP-that's why it has drawn the attention. As others have said already, getting a vinyl rig to the point that it consistenly sounds better than current high quality CDs played through a current era $2K CDP (or arguably even an $800 CDP) is no easy task. Why d'ya think the majority of reviewers at S'Phile don't have vinyl rigs in their systems? Clearly John Atkinson, Wes Phillips, Kal Rubinson, et al, they just scoff at the idea of vinyl. You have to be an optimist. You have to be a zealot. You have to like the routine, the active engagement (in a hobby dominated by fancy remote controls!), the adherence to detail. I only occasionally have heard great soundstaging with vinyl in my system. Great bass, yes, great dynamics yes, beatiful voice yes, but soundstage depth and width and height are rare qualities. But then again, my new VPI 30th Anniversay Classic just arrived at my office in two separate boxes as shipped by VPI, the platter in a separate 22lb (!!) box and my heart is skipping and I am more optimistic than ever before. You have to consider the entire picture-the fun of hunting for great vinyl, the admiration of the engineering that goes into a table, the Protestant work ethic of working to get that vinyl ready to set the needle down, it's the whole picture that must be considered. And one must also consider that though the average current era CD may sound better than the vinyl record, CDs almost never sound perfect or even much beyond a B+/A-.
Dear Missioncoonery: Good that comeback.

All what you say is ok but you have to make changes in that analog rig.

A dealer recomendation on a cartridge means almost nothing: that's what he sale and not what you need.

Don't diminish that Ortofon vintage NOS cartridge only because the 160 beats the MM you own.
IMHO the M20E Super is so good that you need to spend at least 3K-4K on other cartridge to beat it.

IMHO too, first step to achieve good quality performance depend on the analog source quality performance that in this case that analog source is the cartridge.

Your call.

Regards and enjoy the music,
I am not defending either side of the coin here... However there is one guarantee, I have an analog setup including table, HUGE isolation block out of solid maple, perfect custom Phono amp matched with cartridge sporting the Sound-smith ruby contact line stylus and it would put a smile on your face vs. anything you could muster in identical recordings on a vinyl or cd as long as you could have comparable recordings on each.

HOWEVER, this is SO dependent on the original recordings you are trying to play, some are Dogs, some are just bad pressings of Great albums that 1 out of 5 are just bad, the other 4 are great same label, same series, same year etc...

This takes a lot to get down to the bottom line best, I went thru 3 different versions of several "Vinyl" recordings to match and or beat a very good Red book remaster on CD for example and this to many is just not worth it.

It is much more hit and miss than digital these days, however if you hit not miss there is no other equal to a perfect vinyl playback in general vs. CD.

A lot of patience, work, and simply understanding of what issues cause what lack of sound you are getting are keys to this game. Some recordings just can't be saved or perfected, but another copy of the same thing all of a sudden sounds perfect.

And types of music becomes even more difficult to pinpoint, for example the Beatles, Zeppelin, and even most good Pink floyd Cd's sound like a joke once heard on an excellent copy of vinyl. Another couple of great sets I just grabbed that NO CD even on a 15 k Wadia sounded as good are almost all the Police albums, and Peter gabriel on Vinyl are just way beyond.

Again its hit and miss, not a direct answer to your issue. Again many times this does not come all the way down to gear and setup, but just some times people have to realize you can't fit a round peg thru a square hole.

If you just want to throw something on, not think too much, be happy than this is not the game for you. For audiophiles in general this is not the game, this is for the real deep tweaking, money spending, gotta find the end all be all drive tweaking audiophiles for sure.
I would try a few more carts before you give up.

I recently bought a used 89 non circus LP12 from a dealer with a new Hercules 2 power supply, Rega RB300 arm, and Rega Elys 2 cart. Also bought a Rega Fono as I was starting from scatch.

With this combo I was not very impressed.

About 5 years ago I bought my first turntable. A VPI Scout with a Benz Ace HO. Also bought a $300 Gram Slee phono pre. This combo was not bad sounding but was not much if any better than my digital setup. I figured I would have to spend alot more to get better results. I sold it a year later to upgrade something else.

Back to the LP12. I was not happy with the sound so I decided to upgrade the phono stage first. I picked up a used Plinius M14 for a good price on this site. This was a huge upgade and more like what I was looking for. I returned the Rega Fono to the dealer.

Next upgrade was the cart. My dealer let me use the Elys 2 while I waited for a Rega Exact 2 to show up. Once the Exact was mounted and a few hours put on it I was fairly happy with the sound but still not beating my digital setup in alot of areas like soundstage and bass. It was quite musical though.

Then I rewired the rega arm with the Cardas incognito kit and installed a Michell technoweight. This extended the highs and lows and evened out the frequency responce a bit. A more refined sound.

The output of the Rega Exact is very high about 7 mv. and the the lowest setting on the Plinius M14 is 56 db of gain switchable to 60 db. I had to use the bottom of my preamps volume dail which I did not like. So on to my next cart.

I did not want to spend more than about $1000 but wanted to get the best I could find.

Made an offer on a retipped van den Hul Frog for $950. Next day the seller said I was second in line and would get back to me. I figured it was gone so I made another offer on a van den Hul retipped Colibri for $1300. Ten minutes later both offers were accepted. I guess that will teach me to be more patient. Oh well I get the chance to try them out and sell the one that does not synergize with my system.

I read online that the van den Hul stylus are sensitive to vta so I ordered a vta adjuster from Pete Riggle. This makes adjusting vta a snap. For the price its a no brainer over the Rega shims.

The Frog showed up first. At .65 mv output this solved my volume problem. The bass is now on par with or slightly better than my digital rig. Much more transparent than the Rega carts. Soundstage nice depth and width. Much better focus now on par with digital but the highs are more natural. This is with only about 30 hours on it.

One week later my Colibri arrives from the Netherlands. This is the xgp model with .25 mv output. I only have about 8 hours on it but it sounds fantastic. Even more transparent and lifelike.

I think your denon cart has a spherical stylus. You might want to try one with a eliptical or fine line for lower noise from ticks and pops.


I agree with undertow, vinyl is hit and miss even with a great set up, so you just have to be patient. Maybe the discs that you were listening to were dogs? I have no doubt that a properly setup analog system can beat a comparably priced digital one in terms of soundstage, imaging, bass etc. So if good sound is worth it to you, I would keep trying... maybe try another cart, look at your setup again, try some LPs that are proven to sound great. I did and I haven't turned on my CDP in years. However, if the inconvenience is not worth it to you, get a great DAC and rip a few thousand tunes onto your HD and don't look back. Oh, btw, you might want to fix the space key on your keyboard.
There's no shame in pulling the plug on the analog experiment if you don't want to fuss with it further (although doing so will ultimately reap benefits).

Be happy with your digital front end and its ease of use.
Dear Fsonicsmith,
I was interested to read your comment above. In my system and to my ears, one respect in which every and any vinyl set-up I've tried beats the crap out of CD is in soundstaging. Depth, width, and height of the image is ALWAYS superior with vinyl compared with CD, even when other aspects of the presentation are wanting and even when the LP itself is in bad shape. In fact, I judge my CDP based on improvements I can make in Its ability to image, using vinyl as a standard. I found that strategies that reduce jitter tend to help a lot in that regard.
"Depth, width, and height of the image is ALWAYS superior with vinyl compared with CD"

Not the case at all with my system. I guess I must be doing something right.

just like some speakers are more efficient and easy to drive than others, not all are equally easy to get to do soundstage and imaging well.

But if you start with speakers that do those things well, and have them set up well to enable them to do it (including decent amplification), the source format pretty much is a non issue.

That is the case in my system with the OHMs and largely the case even my monitors, though perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent than with the omni and highly coherent OHMs. Almost everything I play has huge soundstage and accurate imaging, including FM and even home recorded cassettes. Even mono lps and CDs have a clean and natural sounding multidimensional aspec to them, though the soundstage is then restricted mostly to within the two speakers, though still with execellent depth, at least on decent recordings.

Each format has its limitations even when done to the max, but soundstage and imaging need not be one of them IMHO and experience.
Mapman, Your comment, to me at least, reinforces the difference that we all may have in how we define 'image' or 'soundstage'.

We have discussed this before and I think we agree, that it is possible to have great soundstaging including the impression of depth which can be given by electrostats, omni's, panels, etc, yet be really unable to maximize the aspect of specificity.

For me one of the reasons I can find CD superior to vinyl is that vinyl has a groove noise that prevents you from having a totally black background. It is, IMHO, this black background that facilitates specificity, and can enhance all other aspects of soundstage as well. But, if specificity is not (as) important to you it is easy to overlook it absence.

Now if I had a vinyl system as well considered and used with the audio system that Fsonicsmith has put together I can appreciate his findings, but I do wonder if he has exerted the same effort in maximizing the potential of a total audio system based on advanced digital playback.

It would be fun someday to hear two separate systems in the same room, one max'ed out for digital and one for analog. Then the real argument of 'superiority' could begin. :-)
I am a huge fan of analog and I have a really good digital setup as well. I like the digital, but not as much as my analog. Having said that, though, I have spent a lot of time and money getting my analog setup to sound as good as it does.

I have no doubt you should be able to get an analog setup to meet or exceed your digital, but how much would you have to spend in terms of time and money is hard to know.

I am not familiar with your particular setup, so I do not know what the potential for it is, or if you would need to replace some or all of it.

It also seems to me that maybe you prefer the sound of digital. Since you are so happy with the sound of your digital rig, it may not be worth your efforts.

Not sure I am clear what you refer to as specificity? Is that essentially imaging accuracy, ie being able to identify specific location of instruments and such within a focused soundstage? I believe all formats are capable of doing that well as well, at least to my satisfaction, which requires that I be able to identify location of specific instruments or recording tracks relative to each other as I please during listening, at least to the extent possible which is largely determined by the recording quality and technique, which varies widely from recording to recording, but similarly regardless of source format.

Different source types (vinyl, FM, cassette tape) may be subject to different types and levels of background noise in general that may mask some details, but the cues needed for the stereo soundstage/imaging trick are still there under noraml conditions unless things get abnornally out of hand noise-wise.

CD may have noise/distortion in the time dimension as a result of jitter as well with similar detrimental effects, although this kind of distortion/noise may not be as easy to identify by ear as other types associated with other formats. I believe jitter can negatively impact the cues needed to simulate a 3-d soundstage optimally with digital recordings much as other noise types might mask these cues in other formats. However, under normal good conditions, these cues are present in all formats and some speaker setups will be able to reproduce them better than others.
mapman, First a correction - I meant Lewm, not Fsonicsmith.

I appoligize for my assumption we agreed on something that we apparently do not.

For me specificity is hearing a signal unrestricted by system resolution, either from speaker design, sustem set up, or noise originating from the source or associated hardware or software. Whether its tube hiss, groove noise, phono noise floor, what-ever. It is noise, it can be audible and it contributes to the overall sound and resolution of the information in the source software.

In a perfect world resolution would be absolute and noise would be non-existant. But it is not so this is all a matter of degrees. When I listen to vinyl what I notice is groove noise, recording noise floor from recording system equipment, as well as all of the surface noise. This noise, when extant, is probably most noticible, if at all, by a loss of sharpness in image outlines on the sonic stage. Obviously this 'sharpness' can never exceed your equipments ability or your set up to maximize it.

That is one of the major distinguishing features between cones in boxes and electrostats, panels, and omni's. The design of the latter speakers contemplates an expansion of the sound thru utilization of room surfaces and thereby enhancing the sense of sound stage (where the former speakers (boxes/cones) do not and often, unless carefully set up, can present a closed in or smaller soundstage.) This obviously comes at a sonic cost, a lack of specificity, for example the original Maggies sounded great so long as you only listened to orchestral stuff, but never a solo vocalist or a solo instrument which filled the entire stage. There have been a lot of attempts to modify these types of speakers by inclusion ribbons, electrical delays, etc, to correct or compensate for the design but nothing is IMHO as successful in gaining the greatest resolution as those cone/box speakers which are designed to produce that effect.

I hope that sharpens up for you my meaning of specificity. :-)

Your description makes sense.

Not sure I agree that solo instruments necessarily occupy the entire soundstage in all cases you identified though.

It is not the case with omnis I have heard, which are OHM and MBL. Have you actually heard these properly set up?

There is a greater sense of room ambience perhaps with properly set up omnis, but soloists are located just fine, in fact the mbls are the best I have ever heard at doing exactly that in that they have the deepest soundstage I have heard yet the best specificity.

OHMs I have heard do it almost as well, however I have never heard a soundstage with OHMs as deep as with mbl. I attribute that mostly to differences in room size during audition and the fact that mbl is true omni and OHM Walsh only pseudo omni ( sound in wall facing directions is attenuated with sound damping material located inside the can to allow closer placement to walls). Old OHM Fs and Es were true omni, but I have never heard those.
I did a long edit of my post but too late sadly and I'm too lazy to do it over again. :-)

But for what it is worth, consider when evaluating user definitions of soundstage, that some folks prefer nearfield (for the sake of discussion) a 6' triangle arrangement, some mid field say a 10 to 12 foot triangle, some far field 15 to 20ft triangle (a HUGE room!) and some want to hear their music as they party and walk about the room. Ask each of them what kind of 'soundfield' they prefer and why. They just might give you the same answer, but consider if the experience they describe with the reality of if the equipment and room set up is possible of delivering it. I raised this issue not so much to raise issues of speaker design so much as to illustrate that one persons perfect soundstage, height/width/depth, may not be optimum for another. That was all. I had a kneejerk response to the use of the work ALWAYS.