It depends on what you prefer - both can produce excellent sound.
210 responses Add your response
I don't believe digital is yet better than high-quality analog. In fact, I would argue that vinyl has higher resolution.
Having said that, my Exemplar 2900 digital unit is extremely musical and provides joy every day.
Digital has come a long way, but the two formats, while attempting the recreation of the same event, are not likely to ever sound the same in my opinion.
Music is an analog waveform; a stylus in a groove moving a magnet or coil is an analog mechanism.
Analog is much more work than digital. To do it seriously, you have to be prepared to do the outlay not just for hardware and software but also for cleaning (which need not be expensive) and the time for cleaning, whether you're purchasing new or used records.
Is it worth it? My turntable had very little use for close to a 10 year period. In the past year I've gone back to analog almost completely, listening very occasionally to CD's in the house and mainly in the car. I've bought a ton of records (probably 500-600 in the past 10 months) for next to nothing, many of which I've recycled or traded for other music on vinyl that I really want. I like the sound of vinyl. Just sounds more like music to me. In fact, I'm about to cue up an expensive album I just bought, a Speaker's Corner reissue of Oliver Nelson's Blues and the Abstract Truth. Just spun Gene Ammons "Boss Tenor" a while ago and there is nothing like great jazz on vinyl.
But, as I said, it's a lot of work.
But, re analogue waveforms and analogue wiggles in groves...music isn't plastic, music doesn't go round at 33 and a third etc. The argument for analogue from analogy isn't convincing. It's not hard (it's certainly not a logical impossibility) to think of a totally digital system that is better than anything we have heard yet. And who's to say that 100 years from now the best music reproduction system won't be some technology that we don't even know about now?
everything said is accurate. Analog is more work. both can be very satisfying. In my mind great analog is far more convincing of acousitic space and the textures of that space. the best digital creates a different sense of space, somtimes more grand, but still dryer and less colorful than the best analog.
I think part of your post has more to do with the double edge sword of increasing resolution. I have found that climbing the resolution ladder on the digital side of the fence is far more unpredictable and potentially fatiguing than the same efforts in analog. High res digital really demands that you have your system in good order, especially the current generation of hyper detailed digitial sources.
In my opinion a high quality(doesn't mean super expensive) properly setup turntable will outperform any cd and any cd playback system.
I was floored when I heard my first record on a high quality system about a year ago. I am not kidding when I say that there is an openess, transparency, dynamic expression, and musicality that cannot be touched by CD. Analog just sounds right.
If you don't believe me do what I did. Take your cd player to a dealer that sells turntables and A/B them. Like me I suspect you will never go back.
Also, there are plenty of great re-issues out pressed on 180g/200g vinyl. These things are as quiet as digital.
Lastly, vinyl is more work but it is also a lot more fun.
Andrew, enjoy your DV-50S and let sleeping dogs lie.
Having owned your DV-50S, yes, analog is better, no question. However, it does take much more work to set up properly, and keep the LP's clean.
If you have any doubt's, drop by again, when I have time, and I'll be happy to demo my analog rig. :-)
My goal is to have both analog and digital rigs sound as close to each other as possible. I've done it. People say my LPs sound like CDs and the CDs like LPs. Although I have three times more albums than CDs the high cost of used LPs readily available on CD drove me in this direction.
I use a Dan Wright modded Parasound belt drive transport and a KAB modded Technics 1200. The CIA DAC and Monolithic Sound phonostage are from the same designer (Dusty Vawter), thus having similar sonic signatures. I rely on a modified Stanton Trackmaster DJ cartridge for bass slam, superior trackability/dynamics and fluid, edge free harmonic midrange. The belt drive's power supply was re-engineered to provide glare free transient response and three dimensional imaging usually wanting in most digital systems.
Both formats have strengths and weaknesses. As the inherent weaknesses of each format are properly addressed analog and digital get closer to the same destination...music.
With psychic power and primal intensity,
Tastes change. I went from a Krell setup that as I used all digital with to a tube setup that I only play analog on. I do not believe there is a right way to enjoy music. What is right for one is wrong for others.
I do get a kick out of people who talk about the "work" involved in analog. In my opinion if you consider it work, analog is not for you. For me the steps I take to play vinyl are an important part of the whole experience. It is actually part of what I love about analog. There is no magic in handling a cd. The whole idea of album art was destroyed by the cd.
In closing, the individual has to decide which medium is better for them. For me there is no comparison.
Digital vs analog is something of a religious debate in audio. In my opinion both have strengths and weaknesses, and, unless you already have a sizeable collection of LPs it is not worthwhile to purchase an analog setup (turntable, phono pre-amp) ... spend the money on CDs or a better CD player instead. (I have a CD player and a turntable, but I also have a sizeable collection of LPs).
I went from digital-only to analog-only about 4 years ago. It started off when I bought a relatively inexpensive analog rig to see what the hubbub was about. As time progressed I found myself listening more and more to vinyl up to the stage where I just never put the CD on anymore.
I cannot really explain what it is about vinyl and to be honest, I probably wouldnt be able tell the difference in a blind test. What I can say is that over the past three or so years I am spending more time listening than I ever have, so there must be something to it.
As far as vinyl (and tubes) being more 'laid back', I respectfully think you are quite wrong. My analog/tube rig has been described as 'startling' by more than a few digital/transistor owners.
And yes, I would recommend you try out the scoutmaster. You may just find you like it more than you imagined you would.
It's really a philosophical difference. I describe the differences below without making a case for either one (I hope!)
In analog, the soundwaves are literally captured in the groove "verbatim" so to speak. And they need only be gotten back into the air to hear them again. A process, I may point out, which doesn't necessarily even require electricity to implement (talk about organic!) The only real problem with analog (as with all things organic) is that the storage medium (the groove) and the stored information (the wiggles) are inseparable -- damage to the medium means damage to the information stored there.
Digital storage is completely inorganic. The information that is stored is not sound but rather a coded "blueprint" for creating or REcreating sound through electronic means (there are no hand-crank DACs!) The sonic information in its "coded" form bears no resemblance whatsoever to the entity (sound) that it represents -- in other words, you couldn't look at a list of ones and zeros and say, "Gee, that looks like some kind of wave form!" And therefore, the resulting de-coded sound is "virtual", and not "real", in the sense that it doesn't come from any tangible object that looks the same as (analogous to) the sound wave.
From the foregoing, it should be obvious that a principal feature of digital is that one can create "code" from scratch, process it, and hear it as "sound". Sort of like making a "test tube" baby. (I'm not talking about sampling or making actual sound, and then processing it -- as with the early synthesizers.) This possibility may not qualify as "music making" for some, because it isn't a "direct" way of producing sound with the human body (singing being the most direct) but therein lies the philosphical difference I mentioned at the beginning.
What kind of response was that? I do care what people think. Thats what a forum is about. It's about learning through other people's experiences and opinions. If you dont want to give your insight on Audio equipment and help guys like me that want to learn more about this hobby, thats your preference, but dont bring negativity into it either.
Musicaudio, in defense of Mike Lavigne, I really don't think there's anything negative about urging people to "have fun" ;--) Nor did I get the idea he was suggesting we not care what others think, only that he didn't anymore.
I believe your interest in learning more is genuine, but the most you will ever get from these forums are reports. Or maybe even reports of REPORTS! These are indeed valuable if they give you a direction to pursue, or and area you could investigate, but in the last analysis, actual learning can only result from your own first hand experiences and experiments (and BTW, there are no "bad" experiences, we learn something from all of them.)
Up until a month ago I was a firm believer that analog vinyl was vastly superior to Redbook digital, but that was before I encountered HyperAnalog. HypeA is actually a digital format and it takes vinyl playback beyond the proverbial next level to the next level raised to the power of 3. HypeA is still in its prototype stage, but I expect it to be picked up by one of the major manufacturers by the end of the decade.
In a nutshell HypeA starts with a vinyl record which is then "photographed" using a side scan, thermal activated, deep tissue with Aloe penetrating electron microscope (this is the same instrument physicists use to look at the bottoms of top quarks). The image is then analyzed by proprietary software and this is what make HypeA so special. The software synthesizes a virtual stylus that rides through the digitized record image and generates a virtual cartridge output. The software also performs the RIAA equalization and click and noise removal. The required computing horsepower is enormous, a typical recording takes 96 hours with file sizes greater than 69 petabytes, but the results are well worth it. Since the virtual stylus is not bound by physical constraints it can instantaneously response to the undulations of the groove walls. Playback distortion is completely eliminated. It sounds better than all known digital or analog formats and is virtually indistinguishable from real.
The HyperAnalog process came out of research originating in the Soviet Union that was later developed in Khazakstan with the assistance of Pakistan's AQ Khan and the North Koreans. It came to the U.S. via the brilliant mathematician/religious philosopher Sascha Moo Butane Stern. Always an enigma, Stern is best known here as the guitar tech/bus driver for Tim McGraw. Hopefully Stern will recover from his country music related mental illness and get back to bringing the HyperAnalog process to market.
Musicaudio; point taken. if i could remove the "who the hell cares' sentence i would. it's not 'like me' to post in that way.
i have posted likely a few hundred posts just here on the 'goN regarding this subject. if you are interested just search my answers and you can read what i have thought about this subject. my opinion is well known.
i hope you get the constructive feedback you seek.
The answer is yes and no. Some vinyl is better than the same recording on CD and visa-versa. Much of the early vinyl was poorly translated to CD and the only really good format available in on vinyl. For many, myself included, vinyl is a ritualistic tie to the past and creates a zen like state in the user. That, and there is an organic rightness to vinyl that conveys the spirit of the music, its soul if you will, that comes through even when the recording/sound is not the best.
Part of the vinyl experience is searching and finding gems from the past for mear pennies.
Vinyl does take work i.e setup, cleaning, etc. If you have little or no time or just hate the mechanics involved, pass.
If you would enjoy a format that takes time and care, vinyl seems to take your full attention thus shutting off the world and mind clutter if only for 22 minutes a side.
No. They are just different formats. One is NOT superior to the other and you need both if you have any real interest in music.
Both formats have serious plus' and minus'. Which set you happen to prefer will more likely be the one that fits your personality best.
I happen to have a hard time overlooking all of the warts in vinyl play back (sonic's) and the fussiness involved, and love the simplicity of digital, BUT I have found it more difficult to set up a system that does justice to digital. You just need to tune your system to take advantage of the best that both have to offer, which is not and easy task by any means. IMHO, YMMV, etc etc etc.
I love the vinyl sound. In my opinion we hear in analog and vinyl never leaves that domain. I also love the convenience of CD's. I think it all comes down to how much you are willing to spend on either format in equipment to maximize playback quality. The only real pitfalls to vinyl is: no auto/remote playback. i.e. the ritual of cleaning and flipping over after 15-20 minuits can get old (for me), and the owrt is the fact that even new vinyl can have pops and clicks that are annoying. But once you listen through that I find that I can spend more time listening to vinyl than CD's with out ear fatigue. For some reason CD's just get to me after about 2 then I go do something else for a while. Probably just me.
Digital is about convenience, not musicality. LP is a compromise, too . . . more convenient than reel-to-reel tape, but still -- analog.
Human beings are analog. Human beings are not digital.
Digital is a broken stairstep; analog is a continuous curve.
Digital samples at a finite rate; analog, if you will, is infinite sampling.
I like my digital gear and sound; I love my analog gear and sound.
Ncarv, from the basic DNA level, I guess it could be argued that human being (and all living being) is basically digital - yet not binary - constructed from extremely long sequences of genetic code. I think time and spectrums (frequency, color) are continuous (i.e. analogue).
Audio-wise, I love digital and I am too lazy and too cheap to take care of LPs and its playback system and accessories without any advantage I can perceive.
Musicaudio, if you want a taste of analogue from the digital realm, get a Zanden DAC.
"Digital is a broken stairstep; analog is a continuous curve.
Digital samples at a finite rate; analog, if you will, is infinite sampling."
Posts like these serve only to highlight that the poster knows nothing about the theory and implementation of sampling of signals, quantization noise, digital signal processing ... the list goes on. This is the reason why it's almost impossible to have a straightforward discussion of digital vs analog on a hifi board.
Another thing: analog cannot be said as infinite sampling, there is no sampling in the analog process, it is more like carbon-copying.
I submit human being being basically digital, our resolution to perceive is also limited, at some point, the discrete sampling of digital becomes indistinguishable to analogue. The technology available to produce and reproduce redbook CD IMHO has made this discussion down to personal preferences.
Sean, it seems to me that Ncarv knows the theory very well. Everything he said is true! Proponants of digital have been fighting against these basic design flaws for over 25 years. They are getting a handle on the design flaws and digital sounds much better today than it ever did, but it's hard to ignore the OBVIOUS FLAWS of the format!
But, we certainly don't want to resort to facts while we perpetuate this tired debate!
Nrchy, you are wrong. Digital is only a broken stairstep if you ignore low pass and in particular sin(x)/x filters. Analog no more has infinite sampling or quantization than digital does, as it too is limited by its medium, which imposes a limitation on bandwidth, dynamic range, and signal to noise ratio. Only in bandwidth is analog even theoretically superior to digital.
This article is an interesting examination of how the size of the vinyl molecules means that LPs are actually quantized in a similar way to digital audio.
I own both high end analog and digital front ends as I find strength in both formats.
I'm not a technical person by education. That being said, I don't give a rat's a** about sin(x)/x filters, molecules, valences, ions, bandwidths, upsampling, downsampling, oversampling, undersampling, quantization, broken stairsteps, broken barricades, broken fences, etc. :-)
What matters to me is the sound. I agree with Mike in the sense that I don't care what anybody else thinks. My gear is assembled to please my ears. So buy and listen to what best satisfies your own needs. Both formats can sound superb and we'll never agree on this issue. Trust your own ears and get a few laughs from threads like this.
Ok here is all I know I have a very modest vinyl system and a somewhat more expensive digital system. I enjoy them both. Telling the difference between the two is a toss-up for me. I honestly feel that to achieve what vinyl is truley cappible of I would have to atleast tripple my cash outlay. Since my vinyl collection is small (150 or so albums) I can't justify this. Also it is the convience of digital that keeps me headed in that direction.
I probably should be concentrating more on getting dates for your sister.Back to 6th grade study hall, I see.
...buy and listen to what best satisfies your own needs. Both formats can sound superb and we'll never agree on this issue. Trust your own ears and get a few laughs from threads like this.
Audiofeil's statement should be the plaquard for this question in perpetuity.
In our audio groups is a fellow with a monster Goldmund table running into Lamm phone and preamp, VTL Siegfried driving Kharma Midi Exqusites and Kharma sub.
Despite many great things this system does it left me cold emotionally.
First time I really enjoyed that system was when a friend brought over his AA Capital MKII player. Suddenly my feet was tapping and I thought this is the way a system of this caliber should sound.
Still remember the very surprised look on the face the owner of that system had.
He immediately ordered the AA.
Vinyl wins here. I have no ceedees that sound better than vinyl. I have some that sound as good. It has been this way since I stepped up to a good turntable. When I first got back into vinyl, I had a Dual TT. There were ceedees that sounded better then, but there were some titles on vinyl that blew the ceedee away. This is what got me back into vinyl. I moved on to an MMF-7 and since then have never heard a ceedee outperform its vinyl counterpart. I now have a ScoutMaster which is a very good table.
FWIW, my cdp is a Theta Miles. It is a good player which I enjoy. The differences in vinyl (analog) and digital are subtle in my system. There is a sense of smoothness in the vinyl that the digital lacks. This is not a glaring thing though. I discovered it when I put the vinyl down for a week and played ceedees only. They sounded good and anyone would have been happy with their performance. However when I put a record on after a week of no vinyl, it took about 20 seconds to realize the difference. The word smooth came to mind. That was with the MMF-7. I haven't tried a/b ing the ScoutMaster. No need to IMO
Highend equipment's ability to expose faulty or "not as talented" musicianship is the primary reason why I spend the bucks for the equipment in the first place.
I'm referring to the minute "human" element in a performance. Variations in delivery, such as a voice slightly cracking.. held notes drifting off-key.. retarded or rushed tempo's.. these qualities are often responsible for more emotional content then the composition itself.
Granted, these qualities are usually undesirable in classical music. But in that case, good equipment helps expose more of the conductor's interpretation (via tempo, dynamics, etc) as well as the dimensional, vibrant and colorful (why is "color" a bad word to audiophiles?) presention of a well orchestrated composition.
Vinyl to my ears delivers all of the above.
Dear Musicaudio: +++++ " I dont own a single record, but I have been curious why so many have kept the LP's alive for so long after the digital revolution ..."+++++
Many people, like me, already own hundreds/thousands of LP's when start the CD technology and we already own our analog system. There are a lot of music that we can't get in other way but LP, it will never a realese in CD's.
These between others ( about quality sound reproduction ) are some of the reasons why still alive the LP.
I don't think that your question: +++++ " Is Digital actually better than Analog? " +++++, could have a precise answer because both mediums are totally different and you can't compare apples with bananas or a car with an airplane: it does not have sens.
Today, both mediums have its own advantages and disadvantages and both can live together in an audio system and we can use it often depending our CD or LP priorities.
95% of the recorded music comes through CD technology and this fact tell us that it does not matters about CD vs LP if we want that music then we have to buy CD and we have to have a decent CDP, no question about.
Now, you don't own a single LP: stay where you are try to make upgrades on your digital audio system ( btw, in your audio system ) and buy every single CD you like. The today 24/192 ( upsampling ) technology makes that we all can enjoy the music through CDP. Of course that if you have the money/time/patience to buy the software and analog hardware then is your call.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Thanks to everyone and their responses on this forum. It's interesting to see where sound reproduction has evolved too. I stopped by an Audio Store today in NYC and listened to a Vinyl set-up. I am not sure if the salesman knew what he was doing but listening to it, it brought back memories of why digital was such a huge hit in the 80's. You could hear the pops, the hissing, and even a skip. The thing is I am not sure if we are heading in the right direction either. The Esoteric, you can make out every detail with ease but I really feel that such a detailed machine takes away from the enjoyment in music. At that level, it is no longer about music enjoyment. It is about analysis. So in summary, I think I will actually end up trying to get a later model CD player such as a Sim Audio Eclipse or a Sony SCD-1. Once again thanks to all.
"The Esoteric, you can make out every detail with ease but I really feel that such a detailed machine takes away from the enjoyment in music."
If you listen in two channel only, you are not getting the best digital has too offer. Infact you're getting the nasty end of the stick.
For years I have been listening in trifield and now PLII two channel is purgatory. ie. Digital is too good for two speakers, and no amount of EQing and sound shaping with tubes and cables will overcome that.
You want to love the music and be swept away by detail and emotional involvement, its scientifically proven adding rear channels is the best way to do it. :)....and ten years from now you will actually believe what I just said.
You want to love the music and be swept away by detail and emotional involvement, its scientifically proven adding rear channels is the best way to do it. :)....and ten years from now you will actually believe what I just said.
Ten years from now?
Ever heard of quadraphonic?
Ever heard of the evil of rear speakers in car audio?
its scientifically proven adding rear channels is the best way to do it.
Really? By whom?
I have listened to many an opera, recitals and live jazz/rock performances. Never had anybody walk off stage to sing/play an instrument behind me.
Seen Stars Wars and that had sound emanating from all over the theatre. Very impressive if you actually want Star Wars. Me, Id rather have Stravinsky.