digital vs vinyl thoughts

i suspect i have been comparing apples and oranges. i just bought a project debut 111 with a shure m97x and after a month have been less than overwhelmed. when i go back to my emotiva cd/musical fidelity v-dac the performance just blows the table away. i have checked everything several times. i have concluded that due to using power cords and ics[all morrow audio] on my set up that each equals the price of the table i was expecting too much from an entry level table. the vinyl reproduction is not distorted, seems to be tracking ok, is set up with good isolation, and after a month of use...broke in. but the fact that the project has a hard wired ac cord and less than stellar phono wires and a inexpensive cartridge must be the reason. the rest of the system is emotiva usp-1 pre and xpa-2 power with mmgs. any ideas? thanks john
You are correct: "but the fact that the project has a hard wired ac cord and less than stellar phono wires and a inexpensive cartridge must be the reason."

Quality costs $$$ as you have found out.

I recommend the Clearaudio Concept or Performance tables with Maestro or Virtuoso Wood cartridge.
i agree tom. i just thought there would be a bit o magic. it is still fun to have a turntable. a system just looks better with one. after i get the money i will take your advice and then enjoy how great a vinyl source sounds . thanks john
Post removed 
Liz is correct, " trying to compare is not productive ", or meaningful. Both have there virtues. Despite what many try to ram down your throat, one is not clearly better than the other in every way. Some prefer vinyl some prefer digital, lets leave it at that.
The difference is $$$$$$$$$. I have LP's stacked to the ceiling, I'm a dinosaur; all dinosaurs have LP's stacked to the ceiling. Evidently other dinosaurs want young people to get into this very expensive, extremely complex "Dinosaur game".

When comparing ultra high end digital with vinyl, I can not hear one iota of difference, if they both have top software. When I compared the best LP with the best CD, any difference was "illusionary" in regard to the music. When you know you're listening to a top "Koetsu", and everything that goes with it, that makes you hear things.

That's a slight exaggeration, when you listen to a top "Koetsu" and everything that goes with it, you will hear music reserved for the angels; but can you afford it.
i agree. as a enthusiast i just had to buy a table so i can scour the flea markets for 25 cent records and have more audio gear. i sold my luxman pd444 with a grace 707 and a signet phono cart 30 years ago amd should have remembered it would take more than a 400 dollar[in 2012 dollars] turntable to get to "elevated" performance levels. if i lived in a city with a dealer i would probably be returning/exchanging the project but it's a one way street here in the ozarks. audio gear comes in by ups and never leaves.....just shuffled to another system in another room.
Well I'm going to have to disagree and say that (to me) vinyl just sounds more real, you are there. I just can't seem to get "involved" with CD sound like I can with vinyl. I do have more $$$$ in my analog system than the OP though. That could be the reason. But my Ayon CD1 is no slouch either. To each his own I guess.
Regretably, others have pointed out to "experience vinyl" you have to spend a minimum threshold to begin to know what the exciement is all about. Entry-level turntables aren't going to get you there. Even with a "modest" turntable (and cartridge) you'll still need a quality phono-preamp. It took me a tube preamp and $300 range phono preamp before my modest resurrected B&O turntable caught my attention. (I hit vinyl nirvana after a VPI turntable and mono block tube amps!) An alternative: One major change over the last 25 years has been the improvements in DACs for CDs. I started several years ago with a used Cal Audio Lab tube DAC for $150 and moved along until I plateaued at the PS Audio DAC III which gives me about 85-90% of my analog/vinyl experience. Depending on how many CDs you have, this might be a less expensive option to hear better sound. The dirty secret that's emerging here is decent vinyl playback requires an investment before you can enjoy $1 record bargain finds at Good Will and Garage Sales. Happy listening.
I will put it in a subtle way. CD sucks, so does computer. No involvement period, weak dynamics, recessed midrange, harsh and stupid highs, even bass is not right. Analog is always better. One day it might change and it might not. There are no substitutes for real things, in audio or anywhere else.
inna i respect your opinion but analogue isn;t always better [at least to me]. i have heard some awesome music reproduction with digital sources. i have some family members who are lifelong professional musicians and they think my system is the coolest thing they have ever listened to in a home setting. they bring cds of their music performances over here to listen to. i don't think they are blowing smoke either even tho i think my system is only lower end high value[budget] audiophile stuff. how would you explain that? jazz musicians at that.
The great thing about this "hobby" is that subjects like this always come back for discussion. That is a good thing. As I have stated many times, when comparing equipment, one should compare apples to apples. I encourage that price point comparisons are always the way to go. Do your homework on equipment, then afterwards determine your price point, then and only then start comparing equipment within that price point. For Analog (vinyl vs digital), lets just say that I have many LPs that are poorly recorded and sound terrible no matter how expensive the TT/Arm/Cartridge, etc is. However, the same can be said for CD recordings. In the early years, the advantage of CDs over vinyl was that it was simply easier to use. No elaborate cleaning involved, no pops, scratches, etc. But the early CDs were compressed to death and the recording quality (not the music), was crap. It even got to the point where CDs were showing how they were recorded, AAD, DDD, etc. just to convince people of their quality. I have many, many early CDs that I simply can't listen to. The music is wonderful, but they are so poorly recorded that it hurts my ears. A good friend of mine brought over her favorite music on CD to listen to and her favorite music sounded terrible. She now can hear the difference between bad CDs and good recorded CDs. All that said, I have a really nice CD/DAC setup that is absolutely wonderful. I also have a really nice TT/ARM/Cartridge/Phono Stage setup that still routinely sounds better (wider soundstage, more open, etc.) that the CD system. That is not to say that the CD system isn't great. it is. But as an Engineer also, you can't tell me that sampling an analog signal into pieces doesn't lose information. it does. Copying CD to CD you don't lose information because it copies bit for bit. But recording an analog signal to digital, no matter the sample rate, you are going to lose information. Everyone has their preferences. Vinyl was never perfect also remember. RIAA has inherent flaws also. However, I'll take both until something new comes along that is better, which I can afford. Last night after the Superbowl at my house, we turned on the system to listen. I played songs from Eva Cassidy Songbird CD and also had it on vinyl and played the same song on vinly. While listening to the CD, everyone absolutely loved the sound and was really into the music and her wonderful voice. When I switched (one push of a button on my pre-amp's remote control), to vinyl, everyone in the room heard differences to the point that each and every one loved the vinyl better. But, don't forget, before we switched, they loved the CD also. It was just that the vinyl was more open, more depth, etc. It was fun. My digital rig, cost when new, probably about the same as my analog rig. well, close. But, I'll take both right now. But in conclusion, to tell you the truth, the best sound I have heard came from a reel-to-reel setup.

Evidently there are people here who are in desperate need of a new "digital" rig.
You can spend all the money you want, but the two formats will still sound somewhat different if you're capable of hearing those differences.

I listen to both formats and have invested in both. I found that I had to spend more money on my analog front end to surpass, in my mind, my older Theta CD Transport/DAC. For some, this may be diminishing returns, or some just like the sound of digital more.

I have to be honest with everyone and admit, that the Theta gear caused me set aside my older SOTA Star Sapphire TT. However, I never really invested in a real high-end cartridge, so maybe that was a limiting factor.

Today, the tables have turned as I invested in an analog front-end that really allows me to hear the "difference" that somewhat eluded me for a number of years. However, I don't think it's so much about sound quality as it is about sound pleasure. I am more relaxed, less bored, and happier listening to my TT. The reasons for this don't matter to me. If I can quantify anything, is that my analog front sounds like it is delivering more information than my digital front. So, cymbals sound more like cymbals and I can sense the air between the instruments. Okay, more natural.
Marantz new digital, is less digital than old Theta; which was top of the line a few years ago.

I can only hear the difference in the "software".

I listen to CD's and LP's off the playlist of the computer. I can hear differences between the qualities of CD's and the quality of LP's, but I can't hear any consistant difference between the two.

I never have and maybe I never will hear the most expensive analog rig; it's for sure I'll never buy it.

This analog, digital thing seems like some kind of "mass hypnosis" thing that has overcome the "Gon" in favor of vinyl. I didn't say "analog", I said "vinyl".
How can anyone expect to resolve this issue, given the plethora of variables involved? ie: vinyls obtained at garage sales vs "audiophile" quality pressings, MM vs MC vs MI vs strain gauge cartridges, the quality or lack thereof of cabling/systems/speakers/phono stages/aural accuity/digital playback system, with what accuracy the analog system(cartridge VTF, VTA, Rake Angle, azimuth, arm/cart compatiblity, arm geometry)was assembled, etc. The analog system(RTR or TT) is much more hands-on than the CD. The biggest reason it ALMOST replaced vinyl, in the marketplace(ease of use). The vast majority of humanity is VERY LAZY. Well- that and gullible. "Perfect Sound Forever?"(yeah, right!) Then too; Kenny brought up another point in saying, "OK, more natural." I prefer analog because I listen to live music two or three times a week. I would just venture a guess, that most that prefer digital are comparing format with format(with all the aforementioned variables), rather than playback vs live. TO EACH HIS OWN! If YOU are happy; that's ALL that matters! BTW: My CD player is a BAT VK-D5, with six early 60's, Siemens CCa's in the analog output section and Kimber KS-1130 interconnects. No slouch, and excellent sound(for digital).
I don't think there will ever be a resolution of this issue. we just move on with new formats and hope they get it right. But, they won't. Their job is to separate us from our money. New format means that you have to get your same recordings again in the new format. Analog vinyl to tape to CD (always easier to use). Video (VCR, Beta, VCR, LD, DVD), always easier to use. My only real issue with this subject is that I have found for most younger people, they have grown up getting use to sound reproduction that is absolutely terrible and thinking it is correct. Cymbols don't sound like real cymbols, etc. but they never have heard a real french horn, violin, bass, etc. They hear, highly compressed, poorly formatted/recorded digital music played back on some inexpensive mp3 setup, and they see no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a good system because their music is okay to them. I remember when my Daughter was young and I took her to a concert a long time ago to hear a really great female vocal singer perform. I didn't need to say anything afterwards. My Daughter finally heard real singing from a person that didn't do vocal calisthenics to mask the fact that they can't really hold a note. She was amazed and became a admirer of that singer to this day. So, no disrespect to anyone here, but every now and then I really want to hear the music as correctly as I possibly can. Hence, my analog rig. I've played classical vioin, sax, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, etc. I've played in orchestras, bands, etc. I know what a real drum, sax, violin, cymbol, etc. sound like. Some fancy magazine always states that their reference is live unamplified music. I don't agree with that at all. My reference is knowing what the music is supposed to sound like in the first place. But this is really hard to achieve. If you weren't in the recording room, you have no idea what they were trying to accomplish. But, for me in my living room, if a violin is playing, it better sound like a real violin, or a stand up bass, etc. is there a sound stage? Where are the performers on the stage? can I "see" them?, how deep is it? If I close my eyes and I can tell I'm listening to speakers, something is wrong. We aren't there yet. Digital to me means that I don't have to keep getting up to turn the album over, or clean the disc or the stylus. (easier to use digital playback than vinyl). My music server through my DAC doesn't sound nearly as good as my single disc CD transport through my DAC, so I still have to get up to change discs. Oh well. Music server listening for when I just want to sit and hear music. CD playback for when I really want to hear it. Analog playback for when I want to disappear into the song. We will have this discussion when the next latest and greatest music reproduction format comes out. I just hope I'm around and healthy enough to hear and experience it. Life is good.

I wanted to add that I personally feel that both formats are essential for the playback of music. What good is any equipment without music to play on it?

I expanded my listening to audio files, not for convenience, but because I could not find certain music on LP or on CD. Or, it was only available on CD, or only available on LP. I would hate to give up music just because I'm a die-hard this or that.
I am able to enjoy both by not having to decide which is better. Just liking the music that I hear...
I'm not trying to get you to throw more money into something that you just may not be into, but...

Are your albums clean? There's no substitute for a good steam and vacuum cleaning to my ears. Vacuum cleaners don't have to be expensive (relatively speaking) - my KAB USA vacuum cleaner was about $170 and truly elevated my vinyl sound quality. Combined with my $25 or so hand held steamer, it's gone up another level.

Second thing - have you considered the Pro-Ject Speed Box? It doesn't just change speeds, it's a great sonic upgrade. There's no tradeoffs with it sonically; it's an across the board upgrade. It easily made my 1Xpression sound better than the next deck up the line. It's about $130 or so nowadays.

Thirdly - Acrylic platter. Combined with the Speed Box, it's like a different and far better deck. I think it's about $100.

But for about $250 or so between the acrylic platter and Speedbox, you may be better taking that money and selling the Debut and buying a better deck IMO.

But again, don't force yourself to try to like vinyl. You may convince yourself for a little while, but in the long run you'll come to your senses and kick yourself in the rear end if it's truly not for you. The best way to know is to hear some better decks. Hopefully you've got a dealer or two locally that has one or two set up on the floor. With dealers closing everyday and turntables being a niche within a niche, it's not easy to find one though.
thanks for the great opinions. yes kbarkamian i have read about the acryllic platter and the speed box upgrades. and i,m sure a great phono cart match would help. your advice about the changing horses decision is exactly right. then maybe just keep improving my cd/computer audio with more/better thingees with the dollars. but to stay tru to my goal of the most bang etc with a budget system i think i have to decide to focus on one choice or the other. i.ll probably just use the pro-ject for fun now and stick with digital because i suspect a couple of thousand bucks to get the right table performance. great responses and thank you everyone. i still like to look over and see a ferrari red table sitting there and i can play a record whenever i want to and not care if it is perfect. good for my audio soul. john
I'm a music lover first and foremost so I enjoy listening to both digital and analog, the one I prefer is usually the one i'm listening to at the time. We all prefer something a little different, why can't some people see and respect that. Some seem to think that there preference is absolute. I don't know if people should even debate the subject unless they have both formats in there system and have spent equal time and money setting them up. I guess I fall into that camp, except my analog rig is several times more costly. Which is better, you judge, because for the life of me I can only say there different, I have not found one to be clearly superior.

Regards Tim
Since I listen to a "playlist" from the computer, I don't know or care half the time whether it's vinyl or CD. Some of the LP's are on the playlist because they sound better than the CD, but that in no way is always the case. There are those who would argue that I never listen to anything other than "digital" because it's coming from the computer; but since the computer delivers all the "nuances" from the LP, anyone can call it what they like, but it's all good to me.

The more I think about it the less I know why I'm even in this debate.
Orpheus10, this is a good question, about why we are debating when things are perfectly clear. I guess, to confuse them, why else?
This discussion is like MM vs MC, tube vs solid state, etc. But in this case, there is no "vs." I used to be rigidly opposed to CSs. And back in the day, things weren't so hot. They have improved immeasurably.

If this is about the music, you need both.
Of course, you need both, and I have to have both but would prefer to have one. Yeah, a lot of music is digital only.
This comment is almost on the same subject. I've been listening to nothing but LP's all afternoon, and the music on those noisy LP's takes me to another place. The music on my perfect CD's is not as good as the music on my noisy LP's.
I own both and have spent roughly the same amount on both. My DAC is considered to be "analog sounding" by many - the Rega DAC.

To my ears, vinyl has a certain coolness or swagger to it that digital doesn't have. That's not to say I prefer vinyl to digital. Both have their inherent pros and cons...

People misunderstand the "perfect sound forever" line IMO. I think it was more meant as no degradation in sound quality no matter how many times you listen to it. Cassettes and vinyl albums wear out, CDs don't. CDs don't need the cleaning regimen vinyl does. Digital is far less OCD than vinyl - isolation, cart alignment, tracking force, VTA, yadda yadda yadda.

Vinyl to me sounds more organic and cohesive; more real, more natural.

But that doesn't mean any vinyl album will sound more real than every CD. There's far more consistency in CDs than in vinyl.

The at I look at it, why decide when I can have both? I view digital as everyday listening (not that that's a knock by any means), and vinyl as a special occasion.

Bringing this back to the original post, just because I feel this way doesn't mean everyone or anyone else will or should feel this way. It's all about what makes you happy and what makes you connect to the music. It's your music, system, time, and energy. I really dig what I've got and wouldn't let it go. You should feel the same way, no matter what you decide.
Good points Kbark. But where you have tried to make your digital setup sound more like analog, I've just tried to have the best digital sound I could muster.
That being said, since both my sources have slowly and painstakingly moved up to the higher end it's amazing how similar they actually sound.

I see why you'd think that I tried to make my digital setup sound more analog, but it's not true. I simply bought the best sounding (to me) DAC I could afford. Same as when I bought my turntable and cartridge. I hate it when people say digital piece 'sounds analog,' much in the say way I hate it when people say a solid state piece 'sounds tubelike.'

Truth is, when people talk about digital sound, they're either refering to a bad component or a recording that's either bad or was mastered in the days when engineers had no clue what they were doing when first stepping in to digital.

Good digital doesn't sound harsh, and good vinyl doesn't sound all warm and fuzzy.

I think we're both on the same page, so please don't take my post as an arguement. Absolutely no arguement intended.
I'm a younger guy into audio. I run both vinyl and digital.

They do sound different but once again it depends on the system. If you have a 1K CDP vs a 5K TT, 2K cart, 2K phono stage, well then it's not even.

Also there can be so many differences in digital. Are people running SACD? Is it just a CDP or is a blue ray, cdp, dvd, and SACD machine?

To me vinyl sound warmer overall compared to digital. Digital does have more of an edge but there are CDP that will make it sound more like vinyl and then again you can have a TT that sounds more like digital.

The only thing is the vinyl upkeep. The cleaning, etc and then all the choices of carts, phono stages, etc can just make you go nuts after awhile. I think thats also why some young people like to run CD's as its just easier to use.

However I know several people younger than me even (18-23) that like vinyl and they think it sounds more real and warmer to them on just an entry level table. They like the iPod etc but think vinyl has a better SQ. I always ask how they got into it and they said they just listened to it one day and thought it sounded better. There are still young people who like to listen, and its good, its the future of the hobby IMO.
Only had a TT for about 3 months now, so my experience is very limited. What seems to ring true often is music recorded before the advent of digital I seem to prefer on vinyl when listened to on both. Stuff released in the 90's can go either way depending on the mastering. New music 2000 and beyond I usually prefer the digital version when compared to the vinyl version. My gut instinct is that whatever the recording was optimized for has the edge. That being said now I have to keep both!
I don't think it's the vinyl, I think digital has improved. We have both noticed the same thing, but attribute different reasons for the bottom line.
Vinyl can be good, so can digital, but neither can hold a candle to Elcaset.
Rok2id, you would bring a format which nobody owned but you, into the mix.

I read about it but never heard it. For those of you who don't know what it "was", Elcaset looked like a huge cassette, and it was supposed to have the convenience of a cassette and the quality of a reel. Since they didn't last long, most people don't even remember them.

Hopefully Rok2id can fill us in on the details.
I'm recently retired after running a commercial media duplication and video editing studio for 22 years. I had access to the best commercial audio and video equipment as well as test equipment. Never really "got" the vinyl bug, even after buying a mid-level turntable and pre-amp at a cost of over $2K. Maybe the extra noise makes it "more real" for some people; but as a regular symphony goer, I NEVER hear any extra hiss or noise in a live performance. Also, nless a record was virtually unused, you could always hear some low level noise or hiss in the music; and that noise was visible on my Tektronix scope.
Sure you can remove most of that surface noise with software, but why bother when a CD of the same music has almost none of those artifacts. I am a confirmed CD and SACD listener; and will be that way for many years to come.
Back in the day, the mid-80s I think, I remember reading a report in an audio publication about a turntable that used a laser beam instead of a cartridge. It was conventinal in appearance, platter, tone arm, the usual setup, but it read vinyl LPs with a laser mounted in the tone arm. Does anyone remember this, or know what happened with that line of development? The company's name was BIC??? Seems like the next day CD players were on the shelves. I guess that killed it. Now, I would have stayed with LPs if this has come about, if for no other reason than the wonderful album Cover Art.

The problem with elcaset was that there were very few audiophiles that possesed the critical listening skills and hearing ability, required to appreciate it's superior sonics. I was one of the few. It set on the shelf, right next to my Betamax.

Thanks for your post. It's nice to have company.
These vinyl people are getting outta hand.
That laser that read LP's was eratic, I've got the review in it here somewhere.

When asked about the demise of the LP, Rudy Van Gelder said, "Good riddance".

Never the less, I have to have something to play my records on, and the "Vinyliters" say records are best.
i heard it at ces over 8 years ago.

i then heard another turntable, arm and cartirdige combo, which i preferred.

the "laser" turntable cost 5 figures.
Just because a person works in the industry doesn't necessarily mean he can be any authority when it comes to sound quality. In fact, more orten than not it is the opposite. Good vinyl on well set-up table is very quiet. I don't want to hear this garbage anymore on this forum. No person with good hearing will prefer digital as it is today. Case closed.
"I don't want to hear this garbage anymore on this forum. No person with good hearing will prefer digital as it is today. Case closed."

Bill 2.0: Do we have the right of appeal?

I recently paid $35. for a noisy record that I played on a 1 box unit I had in the early 60's. The music evoked the same emotions now as it did back then. My point is "The music trumps everything".

I'm glad to have, and I enjoy listening to music on my "audiophile" rig. I'm also glad that I quit listening to music in the manner in which it took to get this level of audio, but the music on this noisy LP would sound good on any rig.
"No person with good hearing will prefer digital as it is today. Case closed"

I do. Case closed.
Yes. And one person's bias and narrow minded opinion means nothing. If he would list his analog and digital components maybe we could see why he has this problem with digital. My guess is he won't.
Inna, hate to disappoint you, but it doesn't work like that. One of the few things that will be dismissed so easily, is just that kind or arrogance.
Entry level always infers less than ideal.

Digital vs vinyl thoughts?

Two different means to an end.

Other than that, at this point, meh!
There are several issues represented here and that is confusing the issues and arguments. Digital vs vinyl. good hearing vs bad or faulty hearing. Etc. lets clear up some things first before really getting into the "is digital or vinyl actuall better than the other" argument.

1. As an Electrical Engineer specializing in analog/digital design, I can tell you absolutely there is no way a digital signal is as accurate as an analog signal. The digital medium acutally takes samples from the signal and then converts that digitized signal back into an analog wave form. in and of itself, the "sampling" will specifically mean that some of the signal is lost, because it was no sampled. Now if the signal sampled is a simple sine wave, then you can extrapolate ahead and "guess" what the next piece will be with about 100% accuracy. However, with an analog musical signal, there is no way you will be 100% accurate in your extrapolations and some data will be lost. This is not to say that you can't sample the signal at such a high rate of speed that you will not be close. As a matter of fact, the higher the sample rate, the better. The problem with this is that the recording equipment may sample at such a high rate of speed, say for example 44kHz or 92kHz, but the digital to analog converter or your specific CD players itself may not be at a matched sample rate and again, you lose signal. In any case, you are still losing some data. For analog, all of the signal is there. To me, it really comes down to convienience of operation and also how much one wants to spend on digital or analog equipment to meet their goal of sound reproduction and accuracy in their homes.

I do recommend that people go and have a detailed hearing test performed to determine what their hearing is now. You will be suprised what you will find out. Second, it really comes to preferences, but if you really want to see (hear) if there are differences. Go to a really good high end store or a person's home with stupidly expensive great high end analog and digital playback equipment and get the albums and digital recording and A/B them. One more thing, and this is really important. It also depends on how the recording was done in the first place. Music that was digitally recorded and then converted to analog from the digital master to an album has the inherent flaws of digital recordings. i.e. it was sampled and reconstituted. A recording session that was recorded with analog recording equipment and then placed onto an album vs the same recording session recorded with analog equipment but then made into a cd, well that would be an interesting listening session. either way, enjoy the music please. When it sounds and feels to me as if something is wrong or missing, and I'm getting listening fatigue or shifting, then well, something is not right. Also, I do have vinyl that was poorly recorded also and sounds terrible. So, it can go either way. My CD/DAC system is wonderful and sounds pretty darn good and I can listen without fatigue, unless the recording is bad. However, my analog playback system sounds much more open, airy, detailed, etc. but, vinyl listening means that I have to clean the disc, and get up every few minutes to turn over the album. So, there are drawbacks for both playback mediums.

Go to a store that has both in high end equipment and listen for yourself.

just enjoy
Minor1, I won't disagree with the specifics of your argument, but I believe you might have unfairly left out the fact that analog information is regularly obscured and/or distorted when it is superimposed with the typical mechanical noise artifacts that exists with analog.