CD's vs Vinyl - Finally hear the difference


About 2 years ago, I decided to get back into vinyl. I had some old albums I wanted to play, so I blew the dust off my 35 year old TT and fired that mutha up. It took me about 13 months to get my accousic vibration problem licked and to put together some decent analog euipment-some new, some used. Anyway, I started listening to ONLY vinyl. I was surprised how well my albums had been preserved and how well the new ones I purchased sounded. I had read the vinyl purist's comments about how much better records sounded than CD's, but I must admit-I was doubtful. I had put together a fairly good Digital system with a tubed Kora Hermes II DAC. Anyway, I had a friend over the other day and for the first time in almost a year, I put on a CD. I have to say-there is absolutely no comparison how much better vinyl sounds than CD's. CD's sound as though they were recorded in an anechoic chamber. There is no ambience, no warmth, no soul. The music is accurate, but it isn't alive. You simply have to hear it to understand. All the years I wasted listening to CD's! I guess they have their place if you're on the go in cars, boats etc, but if you are wanting to really listen to good quality recorded music, there is only one choice.
handymann
Too bad there are thousands of albums that just aren't released on vinyl, but are on cd.
But we're lucky that tens of thousands of used albums which are on vinyl, but not CD. Works both ways...
After 20 years of digital only, I got reacquainted with vinyl via a new turntable in 2007. Once I started spinning vinyl again, I didn't even play one CD for over 7 months. Four years later I've tweaked my turntable to drain out the noise and bring out the transparency and dynamics, and have tuned the rest of the system to bring out the best in analog playback. Every time I put on a record (which is often) I feel like I'm giving myself a special treat.
I agree vinyl is pretty amazing if done right, I have had the allot of world top red-book set-ups in my system over the years "cost no object" my interest being to have the ultimate.

In the end I was very satified and found my self at a end, set-up was valued @ approx $50K.

So I decided to get a table and dabble, my first table set-up was okay and peeked my interest enough to want to try a second one. Trying my second table really showed what was possible and what I was missing all this time and actually for much less $ than the red book set-up cost me.

At this point I really appreciated vinyl format by far.

Since I got my second table I decided to moved up to a table that I was originally interested in but due to the investment layout I wanted to play it safe and get my feet wet first.

So I had my second table and then the bigger brother arrived, all 3 tables were from the same manufacturer. I figured a direct comparison being the only way and actually had in place potential buyers in place.

Long story short I was fortuante and my choice has ended my journey, I'm very happy indeed and haven't played red book since.

As good as my RED-BOOK is no way does it even come close to my vinyl set-up so I decided best to sell and let someone else enjoy. I do have a great collection of red book cd's that I have no interest in getting rid of. I'll get something down the road, not sure what yet but I'm in no hurry.

I do find both formats offer their challenges, finding specific music recorded.

Vinyl is most defiantely more work but well worth it.

Enjoy!

" 07-31-11: Mofimadness
But we're lucky that tens of thousands of used albums which are on vinyl, but not CD. Works both ways...
Mofimadness"
+1 , thats the beauty of having a choice.
I prefer vynil and always have. Tried very hard and with great expence to make digital work for me. In the end it's great to have the ability to play either depending on which format is available or the choice if both are. Personaly vinyl just sounds "right" to me and digital has come a long way and can sound quite impressive .
An inability to properly set up a table , arm and cartridge IMHO jades more against vinyl for those that go digital only and dismiss vinyl as flawed. Both format's have their shortcomings but it really boils down to what's "right" to the user in his/her system.

Cheers
I have reel to reel player for my tapes from 50 and 60 ties, turntable for the late 60ties and 70 ties and CD player for the rest.....I have to confess....I am buying the Japanese remasters of the Blue Note, Riverside and Prestige on Cd's lately......they just beat my beaten-up records.......
Listening to CD's is like having a shower with millions of little ice cubes... :-)
Handyman...it sounds like you need a better CD player. There are levels of perfection in both vinyl and CD.
even though i'm as pro Vinyl as anyone, and know that mid and higher level vinyl playback has significant performance advantages over CD's, i think it's a mistake to say there is something 'wrong' with CD's. i think it's more that CD/Redbook/16/44 just does not have as much right as vinyl does and does not go as far into the musical truth.

the problem is that if a vinyl lover does not continue to give the digital side enough attention then improvements in digital playback can be unknown to them. with my Playback Designs MPS-5, redbook can sound quite analog. my previous experience was that redbook sounded 'digital'.....not anymore.

no; it's does not do the various things as well as good vinyl, but it does them competently.....and you don't feel 'soiled' when listening to redbook. the redbook does not have the same depth, detail and image density of vinyl. it does not quite get the tonality in the bass, it won't tell you as well what kind of skin is on the drum kit. you don't get the same growl in the cello or double bass. but it's not chopped liver, either.
Best way to enjoy digital; Don't listen to analog.
I amm very satisfied with my CD playback now. I have a LOT of LP and a LOT of CDs.
Both of the formats have great music I play all day long, every day.
With 6,000 LPs, and 3,000 CDs, I have a lot of listening pleasure piled up...
I do not bother with worrying which one 'sounds better' I just listen to the music.
I guess I am not a 'real' audiophile.
CD's are great- FOR BACKGROUND MUSIC!
For serious listening - Nothing can match vinyl.
I listen to music 8-10 hours a day.
While on my computer it's CD's in the background for 6-8 hours as I don't have to get up every 15 minutes & flip & clean the LP.
Then when I done with my work, the magic begins for 2-3 hours (Vinyl Rules!) until my wife calls me for dinner.
Then back to the man cave for another hour or so to listen to 2 more LP's.
I must admit that I am a tad biased - being a vinyl junkie for close to 50 years (pre CD, pre 8 track, pre cassette & digital tape).
BTW - I am also of the opition that many of my reel to reel tapes sound much better than CD & sometimes even vinyl.
That's my story & I'm sticking to it!
Paladin said;

"CD's are great- FOR BACKGROUND MUSIC!
For serious listening - Nothing can match vinyl."

I fully agree, anyone that disagrees with such just hasn't heard a proper vinyl set-up.
Best way to enjoy digital; Don't listen to analog.
Rodman99999

That about says it.
And it's what I do. Man I do enjoy my digital.
"(RBCD) does not do the various things as well as good vinyl, but it does them competently.....and you don't feel 'soiled' when listening to redbook"

I've arrived psychologically at a similar place as Mike L. on this point. The things that used to be bothersome about RBCD have been banished, and what's left is a small and forgiveable loss of detail. In addition, at a sufficiently high level of performance the few things that RBCD does better than vinyl-- silent background and channel separation-- stand out and complicate debate on the superiority of the two formats at current SOTA. These days RBCD is definitely better than "background music."
As usual another thread geating off topic, all one has to do is read the OP's main thread.

This is not another debate about formats but the OP's take and sharing such with us.

We all have opinions which are okay but some comments made above are just so funny and only demonstate lack of .....
lack of... ? Perhaps an inability to complete one's thought, or an incuriousity about SOTA digital?
Dgarretson, you appear to direct your posting towards me so I'll respond.

Lack of ....?

This thread is not a debate about RB vs Vinyl but the OP's take on his own experience, all one has to do is take the time and read.

There have been endless DEBATES on the topic which you can look up.

There are lots of threads in relation to as you call it SOTA digital also but under Digital.

You and a few other posters seem to take issue when a poster suggests Red-Book is background music to them, that's their opinion and you for what ever reason seem to like to dismiss such, yours might differ which is okay but it's your initial responce and how you come across that's in question so what's up with that?

Personally I have had digital all over the place from $2,500.00 to well over $60K in my set-up including the PlayBack, to me up against my vinyl set-up there just no comparison, it's back ground music.

Go to anyones home who has a "top notch" not just "good" vinyl set-up and even if they have Red-Book which they may start off with once you put vinyl on well it's game over and normally you just listen into the late evening.

I took a peak at your set-up, isn't it that way for you also?

Hope you got it this time.

Enjoy!

Nothing can match vinyl, period. Unfortunately, quite a bit of music was never released on vinyl. That is the only reason I have a CD player.
I kind of agree with Elizabeth... why do we need to turn everything into a contest and then dump on the "loser."

In my considerable experience with both CD and vinyl (and I started with vinyl many years ago and was sad when CD became the medium of choice) I have to say that they both have their pro's and con's.

The one you prefer will always depend on which one your system is optimized for. I've found it truly difficult to get both formats to sound their best in the same system at the same time and have been going back and forth with my preference for years.

As it is now I have two nice Michell turntables with very expensive, high-dollar MC cartridges and good phono preamps, but I spin a lot more CD's than I do LP's. And I believe it is because my systems are more optimized for CD playback, its convenience and user-friendliness.

Most comparisons one would make depend highly on the recording quality of the respective formats... In most cases, if you research it, you'll find you're not comparing apples to apples.
Plato, I feel sorry for you in away but it you won't be the last to feel the way you do and that's okay.

I have listened to allot of systems in the past and present and found most with vinyl either it's the associated pces or just don't have them set-up properly and I prefered my red-book set-up by far, what can I say they just didn't have it happening. As per my earlier post above the first table I got was okay but I still preferred my red-book as a whole but once I got my second table well that was a whole different story.

I went and heard a members set-up today who has 4 tables and Red-Book player and reading his numerous threads was really expecting to hear something special but in the end I was left scratching my head because it was far from being so, now I know. First of all the set-up was out of phase, once we got that sorted out listening I found the speakers were so far from being coherent was left wondering how one can make any comparisons etc.

Plato when you said "The one you prefer will always depend on which one your system is optimized for."

I don't agree with that statement, from my experience anyone preferring Red-Book just hasn't heard a proper vinyl set-up.

I agree with Syntax and Rodman.
What I also don't discount, is that there are certain people who hear the distortions in digital in a way that may not offend other people?
I'm not saying these people can hear 'better'......simply that their hearing receptacles may be wired slightly differently.
It is simply impossible for me to sit through more than an hour of serious listening to digital reproduction.......and I don't care how much money you throw at it :^)
Dev, the OP's statements about the unconditional superiority of vinyl invited controversy. Digital technology has marched foward with increasing over-lap in quality with analog front ends, particularly as experienced in the broad middle of the hobby. It's unfortunate that so many superlatives have historically been heaped on what was in reality slow, incremental progress in RBCD playback. This legacy obscures the point that in some implementations at least, the technology has recently been moving faster: reduced jitter affects, much less synthetic sounding, closer to the realism of vinyl, and above all, astonishingly far from presumed limitations.

One thing that gets tiresome is attempts by vinyl esthetes to defend the format with anecdotes about deficits in set-up skills that they identify everywhere but in their own systems. Such anecdotes actually prove the opposite point: that vinyl as experienced by all but the self-elected expert is compromised. Operating under such biases, the "expert" may comfortably discount the experience of everyone but himself as subjective.
You can't make valid generalized statements regarding format based on a single system case.

My stance these days is they both sound good and sound best when they both sound mostly the same.
" One thing that gets tiresome is attempts by vinyl esthetes to defend the format with anecdotes about deficits in set-up skills that they identify everywhere but in their own systems. Such anecdotes actually prove the opposite point: that vinyl as experienced by all but the self-elected expert is compromised. Operating under such biases, the "expert" may comfortably discount the experience of everyone but himself as subjective. "
Dgarretson (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

To answer back to this Dgarretson perhaps you should check the endless post's of new to vinyl user's as well as the moderately experienced and experienced users in regard to seeking help with vinyl playback who may very well be adept in the set up of their table and arm but seek information and help on perhaps integrating a new arm or cartridge changing those perameters yet again.
Your leap to self elected -experts is absurd. The mechanical basics of turntable set up cannot be overstated to the importance of getting the most out of what is as flawed a medium as digital is. Seeing those post's here seeking help with the basics or being informed that their problem is unbenounced to them just that, and the many here that give help that all but you appreciate is simply being helpfull when all you have brought is superfolous posturing.

I don't see the superiority beliefs that you impose with your inferior and derogetory remarks towards members willing to share knowledge and experience derived from their own long time envolvement. As a 4 decade vinyl user like many here we have gained knowledge but are not total experts. The expertise comes collectively as a whole from the community as the tables , arms and cartridges I have used are vastly different from what others have experience with. As long as I have been doing this I recently started using a graham arm and am learning new information from others more competant than I in unipiviot arms and their inherant differances and quirks.

Take out worn or malfunctioning parts in vinyl playback and it only leaves the basic premise of proper set up and if someone is not satisfied with playback it does not require a "self elected expert" to defer to the basic fundementals in set up being the cause. How many dealers can actually properly set up a table versus those that simply sell them? That's a fact and has been acknowledged here and on other sites. This leaves a huge lack of help and experience for a lot of user's who I am positive are thankfull for the knowledge here that I am as well. Look at how many times individuals you tag as "self-elected experts" even with the knowledge given to an OP will still go as far as giving the name of someone at the company the equipment the OP is using to contact for more detailed knowledge and information. Not something that someone would do in your scenario self claimed superior expertise.

Far more often than not issues and frustrations with unsatisfied sound in playback lead back to an improperly set up and/or miss matched arm and cartridge. Knowing this makes no one an expert but simply understanding of the basics that often don't get the attention needed. I can't think of a single table worth owning that does not require adjustment and re-adjustment after moderate use let alone changing an arm or cartridge. If your car is not performing and your not a mechanic you take it to one. What do you do if that option is unavailable or too distant to obtain, you learn the basics.

Your statement in regard to set up " they identify everywhere but in their own systems", perhaps a forward thinker would see having had them and have them to deal with we realise the importance of the set up as appossed to your assuption we don't encure them and others do. It's mechanical nature, geometries and adjustment make it a less than ideal user friendly format making basics so important to total satisfaction.

Now if someone was to post their opinion on the proper way to push play on a CD player or transport your comments above directed towards that scenario of "self-elected" expert I would have to agree with.

Cheers
" You can't make valid generalized statements regarding format based on a single system case.

My stance these days is they both sound good and sound best when they both sound mostly the same."
Mapman (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

+1
Its good to have choice of medium and better yet when the above is acheived. Good call Mapman.
I could spend another $10,000 and make a small improvement with my digital or spend another $10,000 and make a significant improvement with my analog. Problem is I don't have $10,000.
Has2be, I don't dispute the criticality of proper set-up or knowledge generously disseminated by some experts on the forums. My problem is with those who maintain that correct set-up is less commonly sighted than a unicorn. Vinyl can tend toward being one of those cabalistic corners of the hobby that for some becomes a shelter for elitist attitudes.
Dgarretson, I disagree with allot that you have posted in your past two threads above but don't want to debate "dismiss" as they are your opinions.

You should re-read your own postings because you come across as well a .... for what ever reason you like to dismiss others opinions feeling that what you think and/or write is correct, what a small place to be.

You never answered my question in relation to your own set-up.

So I'll ask this;

Do you prefer your own vinyl set-up over your Red-Book?

While I'm asking what do you feel the differences are in your own set-up when comparing both formats?
I am not convinced that one medium consistently out performs the other.
Personally I have had digital all over the place from $2,500.00 to well over $60K in my set-up including the PlayBack, to me up against my vinyl set-up there just no comparison, it's back ground music.

Dev

Wow! That's a lot to pay for background music.
" My problem is with those who maintain that correct set-up is less commonly sighted than a unicorn."

Thats funny even with its overtones of sarcasim and arrogance. Problem is neither can be seen, but one of them can be heard. You believe what you wish based on opinion which you are entitled to, I'll continue to believe based on the questions asked here, and on 2 other sites, the people I know and what they constantly hear as I do in requests for help, and the 2 dealers I know who people show up with a table they did not buy from them or the new catridge bought elsewhere they cannot set up properly yet are objectionable to pay for their service without purchasing anything from them.Perhaps one should consider just how many new to vinyl users there are. Much like when many of us were new users and did not know yet how to set up a rig.

"Vinyl can tend toward being one of those cabalistic corners of the hobby that for some becomes a shelter for elitist attitudes."

Perhaps with the altitude it took to think the above you should sell those elite looking rigs you own and buy a unicorn. The reality is any elitests opinions usually fly in the face of general concensus and fact.

So I guess I will have to take your word for it that everyone knows how to properly set up a table and those that can't are rarer than a no left nut three legged dog named Lucky living in a trailer park in Tapeka Kansas.

Cheers
Timrhu, it wasn't that way originaly. My Reference set-up in the end listed @ approx $50K and is absolutely AMAZING!

What took place was that on my journey keeping an open mind listening to many different rigs most with vinyl set-ups I heard just didn't do it for me and I preferred my Red-Book by far and then I happened upon a couple of individuals that changed all that peaking my interest enought that I started my new journey to see.

It's been interesting indeed, so much so that my Reference Red-Book in the end just sat really not being used, only when people would come over and they wanted to hear it so we started off listening. Besides eye candy appeal the pces the sound was as I wrote above amazing and I won't take anything away from it but ....

Once I put on my vinyl game over, myself being the host would personally expearience first hand the responce from anyone who listened.
In my set-up you didn't have to try and hear the differences, it's obvious.

My system for years was set-up around Red-Book and the only thing that changed was adding my vinyl.

In the end I decided to sell it all off, I'll get something down the road so I can play pces from my collection or for others who drop by but I'm in no hurry for now, so that's my reasoning for calling it background music.

Okay, I over-reacted to Dev's post. But what got me going is also evident in Dev's last post-- that to surpass your reference digital system required a "new journey" into analog with esoteric equipment or set-up skills. (You are still a bit mysterious on how those "few individuals" you met along your new journey "changed all that." Can you share specifics?)

Your experience suggests that the "debate" between digital and analog formats is only definitive at the extreme margin. This is a reasonable conclusion that makes hay of blanket assertions often found in LP vs. CD discussions.

I happen to agree with you, but from the different perspective of customizing components. During a long process there has been hopscotch between RBCD and vinyl, up to the point that, yes, vinyl is more revealing(which is not to suggest that RBCD at this level is objectionable or background music.) However in view of the mutability of things I hesitate to post a Q.E.D. to the journey.

Mapman is certainly onto something when he suggests that the points of convergence between analog and digital in a system are remarkable. I've passed through a few such points, and when there is further divergence, the divergence is smaller than before but more meaningful, since more of what was wrong on both paths has been purged through the evolutionary process.

The remaining differences between formats on my system are fairly small but meaningful. TT has more subtle texture and truth of timbre, and(with a superb linear tonearm) tracks uniformly across LP. CD delivers on its original promise: dead quiet blackground, wide channel separation, LF heft that surpasses TT on some recordings, neutral across FR without a trace of the anomalies and tracking issues that dog all but the best cartridges. The spatial ECM LP and CD jazz catalog offers interesting comparisons on these points. Denser more dynamic R&R and classical material sounds more delineated and less confused on LP. Yes, for the most "serious listening"(whatever that means) one turns to LP. BTW, experimentation in CDP with the ESS 9018 32-bit Sabre DAC chip suggests that in digital, if not in analog, the latest is the greatest.
Dgarretson wrote; "(You are still a bit mysterious on how those "few individuals" you met along your new journey "changed all that." Can you share specifics?)"

I gotta say with your writing skills I'm shocked you can't get it so here you go.

It's pretty simple; the other systems I heard just were not that good to my ears in general for what ever reasons, had nothing to do with associated costs.

When I referred to the "few individules" "changed all that" pretty simple; I visited these individules and liked what I was hearing and they also had vinyl so because of this I decided to dabble myself and see if what I could do and compare directly in my own set-up.

Cost wise, that's not how I personally make my comparisons, I just want to hear what ever the pce has to offer and go from there.

In general it's all subjective anyways, opinions will differ which is okay but when individules such as you write and dimiss others thought's and or opinion it's just wrong.

Dev, I want to be democratic and give/take as much as possible, knowing that vinyl involves more of a learning curve than most aspects of audio and everyone is moving along on that continuum. Thus generalizations about vinyl are really only interesting to the extent that one reveals something about oneself in context(as did the OP.) However there are a few on the forum who one way or another have formed an opinion that they are at the end not just of their own road but of all roads. One such *expert* elsewhere posted to the effect that of the many hundreds of set-ups he has encountered over the years, only a handful were not badly set up. If this is so IOW then w/r to LP uber alles, one may conclude either that vinyl as commonly experienced is a flawed medium indeed, or that it is so good as to forgive the worst mishandling.
As you can see, my system is fairly modest compared to the systems of the many posters on this thread. However, my system is incredibly capable of bringing my countless hours of musical enjoyment and I really love spending time in my listening room. I'm easy, and I enjoy both vinyl LP's and digital CD's equally. But, I must admit that I spend more "serious listening time" spinning albums on my turntable than I do listening to CD's. Not necessarily because of any winner in the "analog vs. digital" debate, but simply because there's just something "extra special" about music on vinyl.
If you like vinyl, buy a good TT. If you like CD, buy a GOOD cd player. Remember only sky is the limit.
I have heard a digital system that was so different from analog, that it was interesting on an intellectual level. I think it is possible to enjoy it just for that reason. I don't think it was as relaxing as vinyl. I would have to have this in my system(it's not commercially available, and I've tried twice to buy it.)long term to see if I could live with it. I have heard other digital systems sound good on certain songs.
In 2010, mister van den Hul (the well known Dutch cartridge designer), paid a visit to my place.
After having listened to some music, he stated: 'you have one of the few systems, where digital sounds as good as analogue'......
I prefer vinyl over CD however I feel at least part of that is personal bias and conditioning from 40+ yrs of vinyl listening. I did an interesting experiment. I ripped a few of my favorite cuts on vinyl in both 16/44.1 and 24/96. I level matched my system and compared them to each other and the vinyl. Im not sure that it "proves" anything but it was informative none the less. A difference could be heard between all three. They all sounded good.
"Yes, for the most "serious listening"(whatever that means) one turns to LP."

Dgarrettson I agree with you point by point but the thing that always amuses me is this "serious listening" advantage that vinyl has. I completely concur that it is without question more resolving and overall relaxing when all is right but the one thing that I have always had a problem with is the distortions on the recordings, the pressings that vary. Like digital it keeps one in the search for better sounding recordings. While I certainly love to listen to analog recordings I really dislike the fussing and the rituals associated with it. I'm over that but I certainly have a great deal of respect for those that push the SOTA forward in this medium. Isn't it ironic that "perfect sound forever" has pushed vinyl playback ahead to the improvements realized over the past 20-25 years? At the same time digital is also improving to the point that at least in my case I can listen to it without becoming disengaged or distracted, not always the case. We're all the beneficiaries of having both to pick and choose from and you have to love that.
There's the rub: Recording/pressing quality varys widely(whatever the format). Redbook has limitations, independent of that though. XRCD and HDCD both go a long way, to making Digital more listenable. Though many improvements have been made in the process of extracting music from the groove of a vinyl disc, in the past three decades; I can't seem to hear any, with regards to the pressings themselves(disappointing).
LP more air,stage,depth.
I have another take although some will be familiar with this.I cannot listen to stock store bought cd's ANYMORE!I firstly rip any cd I am going to play with EAC and play the CD-R.I will not even listen to the original cd.To me it is so obvious that standard mass produced redbook is uniformly below par that it actually beggars belief.Not one rip I have ever done has failed to sound better after being ripped with EAC.It is standard practice on good torrent sites to upload EAC ripped material for download.In recent times also,a guy called PBTHAL achieved a world-wide following transcribing mint LP's from an excellent turntable set-up,that people would send to him from all over.He would put these LP's online for free download.Same story,store bought cd's are crap.
A CDP has the disadvantage of requiring 4-6 hrs or more warm-up to sound its subtle best. A TT drive system reaches most of its potential in a half hour or so. So practically speaking, for a fair comparison between the formats the CDP should be left constantly powered up.
A CDP has the disadvantage of requiring 4-6 hrs or more warm-up to sound its subtle best. A TT drive system reaches most of its potential in a half hour or so. So practically speaking, for a fair comparison between the formats the CDP should be left constantly powered up.
Dgarretson

Now your just makin stuff up.
Really! I'd be interested to hear others' experiences on this.
I thought maybe you had some evidence. But if it is just your experience I'd say your making it up. Not arguing with you as I haven't had any inclination to measure this phenomenon. But your statement sounds pretty definitive.
I'm not alone in this-- the experience is shared by several acquaintences with top digital front ends. Give it a try overnight, you may like it.