Digital versus Vinyl - Grinnell College Review

Thinking about the appeal of Vinyl myself, but; currently have a digital only rig. I found this to be a very informative overview of the differences between Digital (CD's/Streaming) and Vinyl Record playback. Also inclined to give credibility to the subject knowing it was authored students with no apparent bias.

A well written article even for a non-student, but still just the basics.

I wish he mentioned that the quality of the digital playback chain is of major importance in reproducing optimal sound. It sounds like any CD player or download device is going to have superior SQ.
He only mentions to play back good sounding vinyl, one must have a good TT.
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I am happy knowing NO ONE cares about a article written from Grinnell College?? Also, I think you can find a lot of threads about this subject on this site. It is a very old topic, why are you even bringing up this six month old article anyway? O.... and college students wrote it...they know everything?? Right. 


Matt M

A very trite treatment of one of the most complex debates in audio. I think there is a post here that goes on for thousands of posts over many years.
I have not found a cd player yet that sounds exactly like a reference vinyl rig, however I would humbly say my current Vitus SCD-025Mk2 comes close..enough not to miss vinyl anyway.
Hi melbguy1,

Im a proud owner of virus gear as well, running mp transport and dac into sm102. I also have by vynil setup and I would say vynil all the way. 

Im guessing your based in Melb? Happy to share some of my feedback if you're keen to catch up locally. 
Hi Phaminator,

Yes I am from Melbourne. I know of your system & admire what you’ve achieved. Yes, i’d accept ultimately a vinyl rig is capable of better sound. Though I don’t have the space for a vinyl setup, or for storing vinyl in my apartment situation. I also prefer the convenience of cd’s. I have found the main thing holding back a player like the SCD-025Mk2 is digital media.

I recently played two reference cds recorded in XRCD24 and DXD & was amazed at the rich, open & natural sound. Gary Koh also told me how good the Crystal discs sound in their demo’s. So I think that medium still has a lot of potential if one takes the time to source well mastered and recorded discs.

Drop me a line if you’d like to catch up!
Analog is relaxing, and digital isn't.  Why do you listen to music?  Digital makes you say, "Wow, that sounds unbelievable"(an intellectual response), while analog makes you want to listen to more.
Somewhat tired debate that will go on indefinitely. Really about the convenience of digital vs purity of vinyl. Both have merits.

I get tired of these debates as well, but for different reasons; mostly because of low enders who (to be frank) don't have the money to put a great cd player in there system, fully optimized to enable them to hear what great digital can do...
I don't think streaming, cds, and cd players merit assessing relative to vinyl. Now is the time for DSD or even quad native DSD and down loads. I do have many ripped cds on my hard drive and playing them with upsampling that allows moving the filter well above human hearing, greatly improves the realism of these recordings.

I really don't understand why many would give up realism so they can have music 24/7.

melbguy1, I agree but it is also true of vinyl playback. I still have more invested in vinyl than in digital.

I'd  read something from Grinnell , as good a liberal arts college as any in the US with very talented faculty and student body .

I have a midrange SACD player, an Esoteric K-05, and I find myself putting on a cd to listen to while I do something else and then being drawn to my listening chair and listening for a couple of hours regularly.

If someone believes that all vinyl systems sound better than digital or that all digital systems sound better than vinyl, they are badly mistaken. 

Some people prefer vinyl and that's great.  Enjoy yourself.  But understand that unless you're at the state of the art, there are a lot of digital systems out there that sound better than your vinyl system and vice versa.

As far as convenience goes, there's no question that digital is much less work.  But that's not the only reason that people listen to it.  Digital can sound great.  And many vinyl people talk about liking vinyl because of the smell of the vinyl, the tweaking, the album artwork, etc.  Things that have nothing to do with sound.

So why can't we just say that both formats can sound great or not so great and not have to say that our preference is the best?

Well said Tomcy6. when these debates come up, yes there is a tendency for vinylphiles to kind of stand on a soap box and proclaim black and white that vinyl is superior to digital. But what is often missed, beside considering how high end and musical sounding the digital equipment is, are system synergy & the recording medium itself.

You can have a very good vinyl deck, with a very average cartridge, phono stage and/or cables, with average to poor system synergy. Compare that to a well sorted and balanced system with a high end cd player playing discs like XRCD24's, DXD or SHM Platinum and I bet more than one eyebrow would be raised.

There can be great sounding analogue systems & great sounding analogue-like digital systems with proper attention to the system, player/deck and recording medium.

I have an upper midfi universal player from years ago that sounds plenty good enough for me. I don't feel compelled to upgrade to a pricey, esoteric, "boutique" product that offers marginal improvement. That being said, higher end products are generally more reliable. All in all, I am content knowing that roughly 1% have a better player, and I'm OK with that!