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.