Is Vinyl Worth It

Great cartoon in this week's New Yorker magazine. Has a caption: 'The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience'. Sounds familiar.
Oh do I wrestle with this one. When it comes to audio quality there is nothing (in my opinion) that beats vinyl. The problems is......well, all the problems with it. Turntables, cartridges, tonearms, adjustments, phono amps, cables, cleaning, more cleaning etc. etc. And then there's that that darn scratch appears. I love vinyl sound but since upgrading my system I have stayed clear of vinyl. The last straw was when I sent my stylus flying across the room trying to clean it. Given all of that, CD's aren't so bad! Just my two cents so please vinyl lovers don't crucify me.
If you have to ask!,,,:-)
Having set up my 2nd (as in 1, 2) table for mono this week-end, I agree and would not really advise a friend to get into this, but with over 1500 albums carefully culled and thinned out over the years to listen to (and still buying)and way over 5 figures in lp playback gear, it works for me.

Also have nice server, DAC and other digital gear and enjoy it also.
I feel the same about having chosen a real wife over a blow up doll. need to take your comedy show on the road :-)
We live in a world of hurt
Viridian, tough call, each has it's advantages and disadvantages. Like the analog/digital choice, it will come down to personal preferences.
I just was given by my cousin a near mint Yamaha PX3 Linear Tracking table ... first TT I have had since the early 90s ... now I need a phono stage and some LPs! After I get it all set-up I may have an opinion :)
Vinyl is king!!!
The inconvenience can be a benefit - forcing you to get off you rear end every so often :)
If you're the ultra-neurotic type who is going to agonize over every click and live in the constant state of uncertainty over whether your tt is not set up correctly, it's not worth it.
I never got used to CD's having only "one side". LP's were programmed as two separate sides, the songs and their relationship to the other songs on their one side being a complete experience unto itself. When older albums are put on CD with the two sides running together, sometimes what made each side work is destroyed. Of course, it's a different story with albums made since CD's took over. With them, I find many albums too damn long, with a lot of filler, just to make for a "CD length" album. But I'm old.
It depends on how much time, effort, passion and money your willing to put into vinyl? I was "vinyl absent" for over 15 years, during that time I came close(several times) to buying a near entry level table but knew it was a waste of time and money. Entry level tables have improved over the last 5 years but a good digital set up can equal or surpass them without the inconvenience. 2.5 years ago I ended up buying a 1 owner Rega P9/RB1000 and realize this is/was a great starting point for a serious deck that is clearly superior to all but the very best digital gear.
Like most things, only to some.

Top 10 Reasons it may be (in honor of David Letterman's retirement):

1) you already have a lot of records you want to listen to.
2) you want to get a lot of new music to listen to on a budget, ie used records in good condition for not much each wherever and whenever you find it.
3) many vinyl releases have unique good quality sound that can't be had elsewhere
4) you just like turntables and records for whatever reason
5) there are many older recordings still only available on records
6) you can touch and hold and read record covers without a magnifying glass, especially if you are older
7) You feel better buying expensive new records than CDs or other modern media sources.
8) you like to touch and feel and turn over records every 20 minutes or so
9) records breathe... oh no wait that's actually surface noise and hiss
10) theres nothing more satisfying than a perfectly and I mean perfectly aligned and configured phono cartridge.
Why not mentioning album covers?
I like the sound as an alternative/change of pace but I don't like the extra procedural "work" involved. So I don't listen to my LP's as often as CDs or tuner.
05-19-15: Viridian
I feel the same about having chosen a real wife over a blow up doll.
LOL! I had a good chuckle reading this one!! ;-)
it's been written/said before - anything with boobs or wheels is going to be a lot of fun but it will give you problems....
"LP's were programmed as two separate sides, the songs and their relationship to the other songs on their one side being a complete experience unto itself. "

+1 and well stated.
If you have to ask!

@Mapman's Top 10

@Mofimadness's +1

I've never questioned its worth. Music is life for me. Always has & will be. I'm thankful I have been this lucky enough to
have had it - up to this point - in my life. There are many things I have not been so lucky with....

- Don't obsess about your rig. Don't do it! Don't you do it! (Spend your money on more important things!! Like the best
vinyl pressings there is of your favorite music (this can take a lot of personal time, effort and yes money).
- But most important: Enjoy the music! All ways.
YES !!!!!!
What I'm beginning to dislike is having to clean more vinyl since many come pressed on two discs versus just one, plus there is less music recorded on each side. Dislike or not, I'm still going to purchase and enjoy. Bought a couple more lp's just today while out and about.
I remember a demonstration that Andy Singer conducted at the NY Stereophile show about 5 years ago with an outstanding system flanked by a DCS stack and a Basis turntable playing the same classical music selections on vinyl and cd. I believe he was attempting to demonstrate the outstanding qualities of the DCS stack. Instead it only demonstrated to me how far digital had to go. The tonality, decay of notes, timbre, dimensionality were far superior on vinyl. I know that cd and hi-res has come a long way in the last 5 or so years, but I am still waiting for the day when any digital format matches or surpasses vinyl. Could MQA be that step? Will it be close enough? As good or better than vinyl? Or just another hdcd-type improvement of degrees.
The vinyl experience is nothing ... NOTHING ... compared to what we open reel tape fanciers go through, willingly (sort of).
Anyone who wants to know how good a recording can sound at home has to audition a high quality open reel tape source played on a SOTA home setup, like a good MBL installation and compare that to 331/3 vinyl and CD. It will be an eye opener. Then an eye closer when you realize how few recordings are available and what a PITA an open reel tape device is.

The good news is digital is starting to challenge that old but PITA reference standard and will continue to close teh gap as time goes on.

Records ain't going anywhere uniquely new or better. Most new ones these days come from digital masters anyway so no real benefit there.
I remember Harold Youngblood who had a shop in Oklahoma City selling a number of top brands including Audio Research, Oracle, PS Audio among others. He set up analog rigs for decades before finally stating that "digital is good enough" to end the hassles of trying to get everything right on the analog side. A man who had access to the best of analog went digital on a personal level because he was just plain tired of messing around with the residual pops, clicks, and noise that can never be completely removed.

I believe his story resonates with many audiophiles who want to focus more on the music and leave the 'fussiness' of analog behind.
Heard some analog at AXPONA this year. Sounded good. But so did digital. Many vinyl demos had the typical pops in them and honestly, I did not like that. Also too much maintenance. Already have wife and 2 kids. So do not want to add one more maintenance. Rather enjoy my music and spend quality time with family.
Yes, if vinyl is your only hobby and to "live you passion".
Yes, it's a lot of fun. I think it sounds better, and I actually love the ritual. I even clean every record on a Nitty Gritty Mini Pro, it's almost an addiction.

I've never had a digital system, even very expensive ones, that I liked.
Absent a great vinyl source, you'll never understand that most of audiophile nervosa is dissatisfaction with digital.
Well put.every time I feel the need to get a new power cord, interconnect or tweak, it's almost always because i've spent more time listening to digital. When I listen to my turntable, I often think to myself---my system is right where I want it to be.
I believe Brauser is correct in saying many audiophiles have moved from vinyl to digital because the current quality of digital is sufficient for them and outweighs the inconvenience of vinyl.

But now there is a battle taking place on the field of audiophile insecurity. The digital converts must now cajole and ridicule the vinyl holdouts by trying to convince themselves (the digital converts, not the vinyl holdouts) that digital is “better” than vinyl. This is ludicrous and reminds of the schoolyard taunts heard long ago, and, like the schoolyard taunts, will not serve to improve or advance our understanding of sound reproduction but to distract and muddy the conversation.
So, it's okay to say vinyl beats digital but it's ludicrous to say digital beats vinyl?
If you have to ask the question, it means you have never heard vinyl done really well.
I prefer mine medium rare actually.
That is right :-)

If you have to do vinyl really well to beat digital, then I would rather take digital. And you are right - I did hear some vinyl in a very high end rig years ago. But that TT cost more than my room and equipment. What is the point in spending time and $$$$ if you have to beat a $$ digital rig? I would rather spend time with my family and save the $$ for music.

This is a never ending topic - but fun, nevertheless, to hear all the arguments. I hope everyone enjoys their music anyways.
Yes if you have a collection of records. Maybe if you don't. Yes, Tostadosunidos, that is right. Everytime I hear a great vinyl set-up it motivates me to consider getting my suspension (ugh) table up and running. I was again recently remotivated and it is once again under consideration.
Aren't all of todays recordings actually recorded and mastered in digital? So do they convert these recordings to analog for vinyl distribution? Seems like a weak link to me for the vinyl crowd. Though IMO all recordings up to the early to mid 80's should probably be best heard on vinyl. After that you can probably flip a coin.
One last thought, digital is the future.
"Aren't all of todays recordings actually recorded and mastered in digital? So do they convert these recordings to analog for vinyl distribution? Seems like a weak link to me for the vinyl crowd."

While it is true today's recordings are done digitally, it does not mean they are recorded at the consumer resolution level. Hi-rez professional recording can be superb- the bad rap digital gets is because of what happens when it is down sized into a consumer format. Thus vinyl is excellent at maintaining the integrity of the original. It is not a "weak link"!
Who says all ... vinyl recordings are recorded and mastered in digital?? You'll note I deleted the word "today" from the OP's Q.

I own a whole bunch of LPs pressed in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Right now I'm spinning a Night Hawks R&B LP that was pressed in 1976, WOW!! And there's a large supply of old vinyl that's in good shape sold in a record store located about 2 miles from my house.

So the answer to the question is YES ... IMO vinyl is worth it.
The late Harry Pearson made this comment: "If you want to enjoy your digital, stop listening to vinyl."

As a person who has over 5000 vinyl albums in his collection and about 2000 CDs, I can say that to my ears vinyl is superior, especially from the point of getting you involved in the music from a soulful standpoint.

At this point, I listen to CDs for convenience ... and to vinyl for the music. I have a lot of mono jazz recording from the 50's. I can put Paul Desmond, June Christy and Lester Young right into the room by playing a 60 year old record that sounds absolutely amazing.
We had an audio group meeting a few days ago. It was a tribute to a audio buddy that recently passed away and was into vinyl almost exclusively so vinyl only. One of the guys later commented to me on the ticks and pops, discrete as they were, and how it made things unlistenable for him, just couldn't get past that aspect of vinyl. So there you have a reason by some to avoid vinyl in addition to the inconvenience. I myself am waiting for the day when I listen to an orchestral recording on digital playback and the strings sound as convincing to me as they do on a good vinyl system. There just seems to be more musical relevance and natural ebb and flow to the music but we all hear different and value different things. This is clearly less about the music than how it is presented as I also enjoy digital, it can be most involving but the two formats are different enough that what may be good enough for the goose is less so for the gander.
Although I have not lived with vinyl since my teenage record player days, I have listened to numerous megabuck vinyl rigs at shows (as much as 500k), and heard some of these rigs with vinyl and digital, and though the vinyl often sounded very nice, I have not yet had a religious experience.

I know what you vinylistas will say: show sound sucks, and I need to hear a good home set-up.

Well, not all show sound sucks, and if I haven't heard something that makes me say, "Ah, *now* I get it!" what would motivate me to undergo the hassle and expense?

There are some that can't get beyond the tick/pop situation.

A friend of mine several years ago tried to go whole hog with vinyl. He bought a Nott table, Plinius phono stage, Clearaudio cartridge and about 100 records. He lasted for about a month before he walked away from it all. He just couldn't handle ANY surface noise.

The silver lining is that I was able to pick up quite a few near mint records on the cheap....;-}}

Dealing with the ticks/pops/surface noise/echos IMO is age dependent. Many audiophiles under 45 grew up with cassettes and then went on to cd's never becoming accustomed with vinyls shortcomings.
I don't get the ticks/pops/surface noise? That would drive me crazy, but I get very little if any of that at all. I clean all of my vinyl before fist playing it, then just use a brush on the records after that. Most records are pretty much dead quiet.

I can't tell you how many people have listened to my set up over the years, and not believed me that it was a record, it's so quiet.

Buy new records, and set up your gear correctly, and that's not a problem.

Also, if you can't hear the difference, then don't buy vinyl. But I would say if you can't hear the difference, just keep your iPhone and ear buds in, you don't need to be spending big bucks on audio gear.
"But I would say if you can't hear the difference, just keep your iPhone and ear buds in, you don't need to be spending big bucks on audio gear."

Often, where there's an abundance of abuse, there's a shortage of evidence.
Why is it always posed as a choice between the two formats? If your audio system is in the service of your music (as it should be, right?), and you have both LP's and CD's, then you obviously can't choose between the two, you need both a record player and a CD player. I have a fair number of LP's that never made it to CD (no 78's, though!). That's for us older guys. If you're younger and don't yet have any LP's, then yeah the question can be should you get into them and the requisite turntable/arm/cartridge/phono amp/record cleaner. New LP's cost a lot more than CD's or digital downloads, so one has to decide if the music is important enough to oneself to spend twice as much for an LP vs. a CD (or download). I find myself in that predicament often these days. And that's assuming the LP of any particular album sounds "better" than the CD, a mighty big assumption. For myself, I have to really love the music to spring for the LP, and have some reason to believe that it sounds enough better than the CD to make it worth it to me. I already have so much music in my collection that for me to want to add something new to it, it has to be mighty damn special. I just don't have the time left to waste on non-"A" music. You youngins---make the most of your years! Every minute you spend listening to the equipment is a minute you don't have anymore for listening to the music. Those are two very different things. Listen critically just long enough to find good sound, then forget about it. Take it from one who spent too much time doing the opposite!
Vinyl is a religion. Often people optimize their system for
the vinyl and use CDs "for the convenience". It
usually means that they cannot find recording they're
looking for on the vinyl because of very limited selection.
SACDs are generally considered better sounding than CDs but
are not very popular for the same reason. I would rather
spend my money optimizing system for popular media.

To me not only pops and clicks are unacceptable but also
faint hiss of analog recordings. It brings me from
"being there" back to my living room. As for the
sound - I have some breathtaking sounding CDs showing
ability of the media. I also like convienience of the
computer server and ability of the backup in case of theft
or fire.
Everytime I acquire a newer piece of quality digital gear. The more my historic fondness of vinyl becomes less of an issue.

My advice to newbies is sample the latest and greatest digital gear available if you have the funds before going retro. Unless retro is just your thing. I am a hybrid. I like it all.
"Listen critically just long enough to find good sound, then forget about it. Take it from one who spent too much time doing the opposite!"

Sage advice, I totally agree!