Its not vinyl

I have read 100’s of discussions on the subject of building a streaming digital option for audiophile systems. Everything from the internet connection to the streaming source and then the dac. In my reading through the posts the argument will quickly turn to its not analog, vinyl is better, on the anti streaming side and then on the pro streaming side posters will fed the argument with its almost as good as my phono stage, sounds better than analog. This will even hold true within the dac manufactures and dac owners who will refer to their dac sound as analog sounding or just like phono. I think this is most referenced in the R2R dac category. I started a discussion on the new Gustard R26 which is a discrete R2R ladder dac. Right away I was confronted with “why do you want to spend the money to replace your phono analog end that you already have and sounds great”?  I  Replied with the usual “phono does sound better, even a $30,000 dac will never beat analog and all the other analog vs digital talking points”. Then it hit me that we have been arguing this wrong all this time. The argument should be that the quest in putting together a top notch streaming digital setup is not a quest to beat analog or beat phono. The quest and objective is to achieve a “ less digital sound”. We all know that sharp, bright  razor blades in my bleeding ears sterile digital sound, that will bring in-listener fatigue and quickly want you turning off the music. What I am reiterating here is that the quest the cost and the journey in digital is not to beat analog it is to beat “digital”.


Really great thought here, and you are absolutely right. I probably sound like a broken record (pun intended) but what we are all trying to beat is noise (from challenges in power delivery, and leaks due to poor isolation) and subpar timing/clocking challenges, which then renders the digital samples with less precision, resulting in imaging that is slightly out of focus (photography analogy there).

The delivery of digital and analog are very different, and there are qualities in each that are both worth appreciating and worth being frustrated about. And whether a person prefers one or another is purely subjective. In my case, my digital rig almost always eclipses my phono rig, except for a number of select masterings/pressings that are specifically created for vinyl. And from a retail standpoint, both rigs are almost head to head, between $60-70K each, so neither are slouches.

Digital has come a really long way in the last three years, and I’m excited to see how it continues to advance. 

I am a Vinyl LP Source user for many years and only recently made a place for a CD Source in my system, which is enjoyed in equal measure to the Vinyl Source.

I have never really felt the need to attack a CD Digital Source, for its qualities or describe it as lacking in SQ.

My delay in adopting it as a Source, was pretty much down to, not finding a CD Replay Set Up, that I could wed to, and perceive as being enjoyed in parity with the LP Source.

Very Recently I have received demonstrations of a few Streamed Digital Sources. I am not too sure if the Streaming Method has been one that is seen as the most valued. The Streamers used have been from recognised Brands with purchase values of up to £6000 

During the demonstrations, I have not heard one that has inspired to the point I wish to own the Streamer Set Up.

I have also not heard one in use yet with my chosen DAC, but at present, have not discovered a Set Up, that I can perceive as being able to be enjoyed to the point I would want it hooked up to my DAC in the home system. Creating a listening experience, to learn if the Set Up, can be perceived as being enjoyed in parity with the LP and CD Source.

Streaming has not been a negative experience; it has been influencing in other ways. I do see the idea of a Streamed Music as an attractor, as the simplicity of use, is a wanted interaction, add this with the ease of access to a vast catalogue of music controlled via an App is with its appeal. 

I view Streaming at present as a modern alternative to a Radio, whilst pottering around the home, it can be turned on without there being too much to concern from oneself about whilst in use. It can fill a home with multiple choices for music, for endless hours. What's not to like, I would not be hesitant in adopting this method of usage at any time.

I can't see myself discovering a Streamer Source in the near future, where the impression made is one that I would be willing to sit in front of, where it is perceived as having a parity in enjoyment with the use to LP and CD. The determination to discover a Streamer Source that can offer this, and the need to put in the foot work required, are not a priority at present.

I have heard the Vinyl LP as a Source material, that has failed my expectations and been quickly removed from use, due to the assault on the ears. On occasion the offending Source Material has been returned to the vendor.

The same applies to CD, now I have become much more familiar with it, not all recordings are going to be a pleasure to sit in front of, and some CDs are returned or discarded.

I feel confident the Streamed Source will throw out a quantity of duffer recordings as well. I am not too sure how the Vendor can resolve an issue when their provided service, is streaming recordings that a listener is perceiving as poor quality and would like something improved. How does such a raised issue get resolved?


agree with the thought that with digital we celebrate the unlimited music access and ease of use. streaming music is a wonderful experience.

and performance wise we need not worry about vinyl directly, only worry about digital eliminating the sins of it’s youth. that it not sound like what we have termed ’digital’......that it sounds indirectly, it is helpful if we can approach our listening without worrying whether it’s a digital file, or a vinyl pressing or master tape for that matter. that we can seamlessly switch back and forth and just follow our musical moods.

i have three high level turntables and high level digital, and feel i can do this now.

I have been into vinyl for over 50 years and digital 40 years.

There is a lot of history and progress. Both of the basic amplification and speakers as well as source components.


We have reached the point where either digital or analog can sound the same or better. It depends on your equipment (and values). Because so much depends on the whole system. Also each of us have our conclusions based on our system and past experience and that varies widely. But every day that goes by digital gains ground.


My most recent upgrades finally brought my digital and analog into equality. Both spectacular, musical, and satisfying. While one can argue that there is an analog or a digital sound mostly from a historical perspective. I am going to ask you to suspend that for a moment.


Vinyl and digital are recordings of some original. The sound character… not the notes, and timing, but the tonality, presentation, musicality is determined by either the cartridge, arm, TT and Phonostage. Or the streamer and DAC. If the absolute resolution is roughly similar and greater than your equipment then the sound you get is entirely determined by your equipment.


You can have a really detailed cartridge that scrapes to much high frequency, put into a cheap phono stage and make it sound horrible, edgy and “digital”… a character of old digital. Or you can overly warm digital.


I have a cartridge that is very natural sounding while detailed (Koetsu Rosewood Signature), and I have a very good streamer (Aurender W20SE). My Phonostage and DAC are both Audio Reserch Reference (as are my other components). The result is the same character for both ends. Because Audio Research worked very hard to produce a detailed natural sound… and that means the Phonostage an DAC have the same character. So both digital and analog sound the same. 


So, increasingly as digital matures, the “analog” vs “digital” sound becomes a thing of the past.


Budget digital and analog tends to still have a bit of these characteristics. Also, analog has a bit more detail, so at the really high end, analog has an edge. But not for long as higher resolution become the norm.


So, I hope you can see the controversy will continue for quite a while longer because of system differences and the limited experience of most audiophiles… but that we are at the cross roads and the distinction is no longer really valid.

People that want their digital playback to sound like an LP are deluding themselves! LPs have the inherent problems of surface noise, limited channel separation and summed bass, inner groove distortion and cartridge mistracking, limited dynamic range. 

Tell me a lot isn't lost from a master tape when a master lacquer is cut using a cutter head/stylus/amplifier. Then plating the master lacquer to yield the mothers and thence the stampers. The stampers in use have a limited life. This is how LPs have been made since their invention in 1948 at CBS Labs. 

From a slightly different viewpoint, in most of the LP v. Digital comparisons one reads, they are comparing a commercial LP against the CD version, or perhaps a download or stream.  Particularly with classic rock material, the two releases are often decades apart and few have any clue as to what differences there were in mixing and mastering.

My view is based on my own conversion of hundreds of LPs in my personal collection to digital over a ten or more year period.  That meant I knew exactly where the digital file came from. My experience is that those digital conversions sounded just like the vinyl. As others noted above, the process of making LPs involves a LOT of mechanical steps, each adding its own flavor.  I've also been lucky to hear some open reel tapes over the years direct from recording studios, and they have a flavor that is different than the LPs made from them.  When I converted a few of these open reel that were direct copies from the studio tape, I again found that the digital copy captured the tape's qualities.

In my mind, most of the complaints I hear about digital have more to do with the intentional choices made in the production of the CD or digital file than any inherent incapability of the digital format itself.

I think that if you are using both streaming and vinyl as sources it’s not that one needs to sound better than, or as good as, the other. Both just  need to sound good enough so that you listen to them both.



+1… which for me is virtually the same. Digital came up short for 38 of the last 40 years for me.

When I saw the thread heading, I thought "Finally, someone is pointing out that LP's are not made of vinyl." I know it's a petty distinction---perhaps even just a matter of semantics, but LP's are PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride), not vinyl. Vinyl was what grandmas had on their sofas in the old days. Not that I think people should talk about their new Poly Vinyl Chloride acquisitions. ;-)

I'd never be able to tell if analog or digital sounds better. But I know they are different. And unless a company develops a "vinyl sound" switch on their amp (I am sure they have), they will always be different. 

+2, @jond

That’s exactly what I have been trying to accomplish for past couple of years. And I am loving what I have been able to put together! 

Analog and digital sound slightly different. With the right setups they sound equally good so you can just listened to the music rather than analyzing it. I agree with MikeLavigne. He got there with outstanding room setup and equipment, I got there with the same approach, but for a lesser cost more align with my budget.


This is my opinion so take it for what it is worth.  I have a refurbished Technics SL-1200-G MK II with a Hana EL MC cartridge into a Rogue Audio RP-1 preamp.  It sounds great.  But I recently bought a Denafrips Pontus II DAC  with a ultra Rendu streamer  with a LPS and it is phenomenal.  I think it is dependent on the vinyl pressing (180 or 200gram) or quality of digital.  They both sound great in the right conditions.

The digital sound and the analog sound are different, period. I believe that more of the music gets into a digital recording, but many people prefer the analog sound despite its limitations. It costs more in terms of equipment to get the peak analog sound than to get the peak digital sound, but on this forum price is no object. A point to be made here is that not all vinyl records give you the peak analog sound, which is a matter of art and craft. Analog partisans will keep on acting as though their preference is an absolute, and nothing is going to stop them. I believe there is something to prefer there, and that their preference is genuine. The best digital sound is still digital sound, with digital characteristics. A caveat here is that while I personally have a system that’s good enough to hear the qualities of a good analog record, I don’t think I have the type of equipment that gets peak analog performance out of LPs. 

I don’t agree at all with the phono over digital at all , isa longasyiu have Qualitydigital cables , and for example a Denafrips Terminator + 

$6500 8would put easily against any $15 phono setup ,

with digital you need a  quality hub like theSynergistic which retails for $2k 

Good  digital setup around $12k with dac mentioned above . My brother has both analog and digital ,ge even admits digital far better S/ N, much quieter backgrounds , better Bass for sure ,better Dynamic range ,for me the massive limitations in music choices, no hassles with cleaning ,and on demand music library,

isoldall my albums don’t mess them at all !!

Very few have experienced both best of best digital and analog in a single system, @mikelavigne  being one of few. His experience and preferences speak for themselves. And then take most of the rest, varying preferences speak loudly, that should tell you both can be entirely satisfying.


I for one don't dwell on the differences, I only care about how the music engages me, both do that, although my digital presently superior transparency/resolution.

Another 100% subjective opinion. So many people have fallen for the "sterile" digital sound thanks to people like Fremer. Most of them have also fallen for the "warmer" sound of tubes (that almost certainly got it's start because tubes are... wait for it... WARM).



@sgreg1 Interesting twist on a common theme


I think that if you are using both streaming and vinyl as sources it’s not that one needs to sound better than, or as good as, the other. Both just  need to sound good enough so that you listen to them both.

@jond Well said. By definition, they will be different.

I don't understand the conflict. I've got $1K invested in my digital front end vs. $14K in analogue. I'm really happy with both and listen to both equally for different reasons. Sometimes they sound scarily close (as in justifying a $13K delta).

Regardless of the variances in recording/pressing qualities (which are significant), I truly believe that a pure analogue (sine wave) signal resonates more deeply in our human psyche.

The bottom line is that digital can very accurately and cleanly replicate the sound of a human voice or a guitar or a drum, but the natural sine wave is converted to a square wave and back to a sine wave to send to your speakers and something is lost (or added) in translation. 

I guess that's why folks spend $20K on a DAC?

There are some really interesting reason why this is important to us. (Check out a book called "This is Your Brain On Music")

The first time I noticed this was way before I started my "audiophile" journey. 

In the early days of digital, ZZ Top digitized Tres Hombres for CD. If anyone has this on original vinyl, listen to the drums on La Grange, then stream it or play the CD. The drums sound weird.  

Conversely, I believe Dire Straits recorded the first DDD CD, Brothers In Arms, and it sounded amazing back in the day.     


Fascinating conversations about Digital Sound vs Vinyl Sound. 

Its been shown that a Digital recording is an almost perfect capture of the oriiginal but some like the affect that the entire process of vinyl colors the sound due to its limitation but many people prefer this over the original digital presentation.

I read an article where they took the output of a turntable and ran it thru a good A to D converter. They then played that digital recording and everyone thought that it sounded like a vinyl record playing.

Just goes to show that the human ear does not want a perfect copy but one slightly altered by the vinyl process!



thank you for the kind words.

today i had 9 visitors for a 3 hour session. it’s a an audio club about 75 miles away that has visited me before. really nice and knowledgeable group and it was great fun for me. love these sessions. we freely switched back and forth from digital to vinyl, and played all three turntables depending on the music. there was no sense of disappointment if the musical choice happened to be digital. each visitor had multiple turns in the sweet spot and choice of tunes. sure, the vinyl mostly was superior, but the digital was awesome.

in past years once a session moved to vinyl it rarely returned to digital. not any more.

this is the way it can be. and what i wanted from my system. have both digital and vinyl at the tip top level, where i can follow the music wherever it takes me and be fully satisfied.

The only "quest" is to find hardware that is faithful to the music. The rest is gobbledegook.

Just finished listening to the remastered 50th anniversary re issue of Thick As A Brick.  It came in the original British cover of a 12 page newspaper.  Try cramming all that into your CD case.  🤣🤣🤣

I think @mlsstl makes a good point above:

He wrote, “In my mind, most of the complaints I hear about digital have more to do with the intentional choices made in the production of the CD or digital file than any inherent incapability of the digital format itself.”




I have no idea what you’re talking about ... I've always enjoyed digital sources more than vinyl.

@jond +1 Couldn’t have said it better. Been chasing this rabbit for years and digital has certainly come of age. Pair the performance with the ease and experience of playback, and ever increasing selection of music, it’s definitely where we are headed. I think I’m finally there with my system! Same koetsu cartridge, McIntosh system. Smooth transition in listening quality from source to source, it’s really nice!

@OP, I talked about that very thing before. I find it weird that many folks are so bent on wanting their digital to sound analog, hence the R2R craze. It really didn't do much for me with the Aries 2 and I much rather the sound of the delta sigma chip on the Gustard X26 PRO. Digital will always have a different signature sound than analog, so why not take the best available digital technology for it. Whatever, due to this craze, even Gustard had to join in with their new R26. Crazy. I love both my analog and digital sound and I am strangely GLAD they kind of sound different. For my age, you would think I would be stuck in my ways, but what's the fun in that. I also have fallen enamored with electronic music at 68! That will tell you all about me. I truly feel folks stuck in the old ways are missing so much, but to each his own.


I have almost equal amount of money in streaming and TT setup and I will say that with records, the music flows out of the speakers.  With streaming, good recordings will jump out.  Make sense to you?

Well, I do understand loving the packaging and art of vinyl, have over 3500 lps at this point. but we're talking about sound quality here. I'm not looking at art when I'm entirely engaged with listening, and the point is digital can totally engage you.


@baylinor +++ One slight difference, I'm hearing more convergence of the two as my digital streaming chain continues to improve. Timing has major impact on digital, as jitter decreases, sense of ease, relaxing into the music takes over, closing in on my analog here, and this with delta sigma dac.

The post have gone where I thought they would and  that is what I wanted to point out. Which ever delivery system you use digital or analog it should not be about one beating or one equaling the other. Analog only needs to better analog and digital only needs to better digital. Both are excellent form of music enjoyment that need not be competing with each other at every turn. 

+1 @jasonbourne52 



I don't understand why anyone would want a digital system to sound like vinyl.  If that is  the goal, then  wear earplugs to decrease the dynamic range and fry bacon in the background.  

   I had tired of the vinyl sound in the early eighties and have also regarded digital as a much truer to the source sound.  There are some re mastered albums from the analog era that sound worse in their present digital form, but the problem is the remastering, not the medium 

I so agree that we SHOULD be able to listen to analog and digital and appreciate each for its own unique character. BUT, I can’t do it because I very much want both to be equal in SQ, and in my case they aren’t. So, I listen mostly to that which sounds better (digital.)

As they say in the proverb, which wolf will win the fight?

The one you feed.

Feed the one you prefer and find it closer to your heart.

I have both CDs and vinyl. Most of them do not overlap. In general, I like CD (or streaming) for a light casual listening. I use LPs to time travel.

Sure, modern recordings have gone a long way. The "sound" very good, and say this sounds "perfect". No errors that I can identify.

Then I listen to a transfer from the 1930s, and I feel my heart and soul bleed. So vastly beyond sound. But that sort of experience is not for audio club meetings, you never get into that state when you have buddies along.... that's time to explore your SOUL. And those recordings done in the 30s, 40s, 50s hit just so deep...

It's not just the media. It's the people recorded. 30s-50s: those artists have gone through everything in life. Most of them were victims of war, fleeing from Europe and getting recorded in America. They've seen their lives turned upside down, and that comes through their art. Today our issues are about various levels of comfort, political correctness and desire for more money or power or sex. There's an odd poet here and there who go deeper, but not nearly as deep as those who have went through one or both world cataclysms.

Want to hear Rachmaninoff, Bartok, Schnabel, Martzy play? 

Or want to hear a contemporary technical virtuoso rock out...

A question of taste and what you crave. Each for a different occasion, a different mood. I'm glad we have media specialized for each.

I have had tons of experiences with digital sounding "THIS IS AWESOME!!!"

But I only had experiences with vinyl when I dread to play it again.. I even gave an LP away because it had such a deep effect that it traumatized me, and I don't think I could ever bear hearing it again.


Own 2 TTs and 3000+ records. Adore my digital server w/ Qobuz. 

Analog - for the lovely sound & fun at garage sales, Goodwills & record stores.

Digital - for "new to me" music exploration

Update: own 2 systems in same room, one SS based & one Tubes based


Analog only needs to better analog and digital only needs to better digital. Both are excellent form of music enjoyment that need not be competing with each other at every turn.


I dislike the new norm of super sharp TV. In some of my photos I add a touch of blur or subtle noise. This is an apt metaphor for what early digital sounded like and how its evolved closer and closer to holy grail of fine vinyl. Ironically the cleaner/clearer digital gets it’s actually more digital (sometimes even with some DSP, gasp).

I agree mostly with @dancub. I am a music lover first my journey start at age 14 when I bought my first LP that was in 1967 (Disraeli Gears). Over the many years since I have accumulated over 3000 and still own the first. I got into hi-end audio in the 70s digital in the late 70s. So yes yes I have the sickness of always looking for better sound. In todays world I am not willing to make a judgment on which sounds better. I do believe that vinyl is a much more involving medium. For example different pressings sound different I love Holtz Planets and have several different performances on vinyl my favorite is Zubin Mehta with LA. I at one time had 5 different pressing of the same LP trying to find the best one. My point here is I am emotionally attached to my vinyl sources in a way that is impossible with digital you may own a FLAC and a MQA of the same performance but not two different FLACS. So do vinyl and digital sound different yes but part (not all) of the reasons some of us prefer Vinyl is it is more tactile and we are more emotionally involved with the selection of the medium. This is what I believe anyone else?      

Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Make your digital as good as it can be, and be happy with that. Digital will never possess that something special that vinyl has. And that’s okay. 

To add to my (surprising for me) non-verbose comment, I'm a product designer by trade, with decades in hi-tec R&D. 

I love the mechanistic nature of analog, the look and feel of the stuff. Don't get much of that from my digital toys.

I remember one comment made by another poster somewhere on the Vinyl vs Digital topic. Stated that it really comes down to preference. With the equipment available for both, they are both capable of incredible sound. I have owned both and have to agree. Its all about which characteristic sounds best to you. I'm not sure there really is a 'better' anymore given the equipment available.

Here's a thought, don't listen to them.  You seem to have a pretty good handle on what YOU want.