You have a very nice system. If you like the way it sounds, then do absolutely nothing. With such a high quality system money is nearly always better spent on adding new music. Based upon my experiences with the M-L Odyssey I'd recommend you add another pair of VTM200s (or possibly a VT100) and biamp. Sorry I didn't directly address your question.
Don't even think about it,RUN to analog !
Suggestion: Shelter 501 MKII ($800) instead of 90X ($2700)
501 MKII is one of the best value under $1000.(I like it better than 901 in the mid area that would be a good thing for your system,haven't heard the 90X)
I know you have extra $$ to buy a cartridge,but saving $$ is not a bad thing. You can play with 501 first and upgrade it later if you think it's still necessary.
My opinion may be some what bias since I have never owned a TT(though I have listened to them many times) and I do own the DCC2/CDSD. I of course have thought of this myself and went digital for a number of reasons, but that's me. You should contact the member Gladstone here, he has both the meitner combo and the TNT HR-X I am sure he can offer a lot of insight. I know he prefers the analog in his system, but I believe he feels the digital(in particular well recorded SACD) comes pretty close. If he had to do it again I am not sure what he would do!
Bottom line is there is no digital rig that will be the equal of a good analog rig. Analog is the HIGHEST resolution source we have (it is infinite). The Shelter 90-X is a special cartridge and worth every penny.
I am familiar with a situation of a person I know who has the newest Meitner stuff, and also a Teres 265 TT with an OL Illustrious tonearm, and Shelter 901 cartridge. The entire analog rig was approximately $7900, all brand new. The Meitner gear cost alot more than that, and he bought it new.
The Meitner does not match the analog gear, but it comes closer than any of the other digital stuff he tried. The Meitner is very good digital gear, one of the best.
Realistically speaking, there is no digital gear that will compete with a turntable like that.
However, with a limited record library like you have, it may be a consideration to be able to get the best possible reproduction from your larger digital library. In that circumstance, it may be a worthwhile thing to get a great digital player. It will sound very good indeed.
But it is not going to beat(or even match) a high end TT rig such as you outlined.
This is not to say that you wouldn't have a very enjoyable system with a Meitner digital setup. You definitely would.
Personally speaking, and I am biased, I'd get the TT and more records, and never look back. Analog is a cut above, always has been, and it looks like it will continue to be that way.
I had a similar dilemma, and, like Tireguy, I went digital--for any number of reasons. I've heard some world-class turntables in my life (Rockport, SME Model 30, TNT HR-X), and to say that the Meitner gear (or any digital, for that matter) can't match a great analog rig is selling the Meitner stuff (and digital in general) WAY, WAY short. Personally, I like the Meitner gear better in most respects than any turntable I've personally heard, and as I mentioned above, I've heard some pretty good ones. IMHO the Meitner is the first digital component to truly play on an even ball field with the very best of analog. But to each his/her own. They're just different flavors of the same ice cream.
My analog rig is the VPI TNT, JMW-10 arm and van den Hul Frog cartridge, which I am running into the Manley Steelhead phono stage. I am also running the EMM Labs CDSD into the DCC2. The DCC2 doubles as a preamp for my analog rig. The Meitner gear is the best digital sound I have personally experienced. It approaches the sound of analog, but, in my opinion, does not match the performance of my analog rig. The differences are most apparent with large scale orchestral music. If I was not a classical music fan, however, I suspect I could live without my analog front end. Since I am a classical music fan and since I own thousands of LPs, I intend to continue to run a high end analog rig in the foreseeable future.
In response to you question about the quality of the preamp in the DCC2, I found that it matched and, in some respects, slightly exceeded the performance of the Lamm L2 I was previously using as my line stage. While I have no personal experience in comparing the DCC2 to the ARC Reference line stage, I would expect the DCC2 to be very competitive.
Hooper,i bet you didn't heard those analog set-ups in your system !
I should add this: At the level of performance we're talking about, no one format (or playback device) does everything the best. There are things that, for example, the SME Model 30 does that the Meitner gear doesn't do quite as well (that utterly analog sense of ease and flow, for one thing--though the Meitner comes close in this respect), while the opposite is also true. On some recordings, the Meitner will excel; on others a great turntable will be preferable. You can't lose either way, IMO.
Audio999: Actually, I have heard the SME Model 20 in my system within the past year, and I still went with the Meitner. I've heard the Rockport, Model 30, and Walker Proscenium AT LENGTH in the systems of friends of mine . . . and I still went with the Meitner. Again, the Meitner and a great analog rig will do some things the other won't, but it doesn't necessarily make one or the other definitively better. I just happened to like the overall sound of the Meitner better in my system.
What great responses, thank you all. I heard a SME30 - clearaudio insider - boulder set up just blow away the DCS stack about 18 months ago, so I know how good analog could be. However, from what i hear, the meitner gear surpasses the DCS stack and, in my price range, the sme30 et al are not a consideration.
It seems as this may very well be a case of different, not better. I also will probably get a chance to A-B to DCC2 pre section to my ARC ref2Mk2, which should be interesting.
In my system I am using a Verdier Platine TT, Graham/Myabi arm cartridge combination, and Cello Audio Suite (with so -called "Premium" Phono section). It's rather good, and since I have thousands of LPs (mostly classical, but a handful of jazz) it provides endless enjoyment. Being somewhat of a lunatic, I decided to get the Meitner digital gear (DAC 6/Philips 1000) to play my small collection of CDs (~500) and SACDs (~100). The Meitner equipment is far and away the best digital I have heard, and on well-recorded SACDs there is little to choose between the Meitner and my analog set up. So, I suspect that it is almost purely a matter of personal taste at this point. If I were starting with no LPs, then given the cost of building a library, I think I would stay exclusively in the digital domain, even if it is not ideal. (This was, of course TWL's point.) It is impossible to justify such enormous expense on any rational grounds, but then audiophiles are not famous for sanity.
It seems to me that you are contemplating committing totally to analog without having ever tried it.
(Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, btw.)
I love analog, and certainly recommend it, highly in fact.
However, you seem to have decided that analog is something that everyone likes. It is not. Some people can not stand the hassle of cleaning records and having to be ever so careful with their vinyl, lest it be ruined by scratches, dust, pet hair, etc... Some people after awhile dislike the little pops, clicks and background noise that is a fact of life with analog. (And no, these things don't bug me, but it does some people.)
Might I suggest that you try out analog on a smaller scale, rather than going all out? (Even buying used, you stand to lose quite a bit of money if you don't like it, if you purchase the kind of equipment you mentioned. And you really stand to lose a bunch of money on records, as new vinyl is very costly, and used vinyl is always a source of frustration. (Some used record sellers grading systems need to be adjusted, a lot!) Don't give up on CD's either, as not all music is released on vinyl. (Such as Wilco's "A Ghost is Born" - It still has not been released on vinyl after it has been out for many months on CD. Bastards!!!)
I would suggest that you get something like a low end Teres model or a used Basis or even a mid-level VPI (i.e. like a scoutmaster), a Shelter 501 or 901 cartridge, and used Aesthetix Rhea. (The phono preamp is not where you want to go cheap though, IMHO). The total cost would be about one-third of what you were thinking of spending, and yet it would give you 90-95% of the analog sound of the more expensive setup you were considering. Try it out for a few months. If it works for you, then upgrade. (If you buy used pieces carefully, you will be out only a small percentage when you sell them to upgrade. (Which given your apparent budget would be almost negligible. Plus, you can upgrade at your convenience, piece by piece, which makes it more enjoyable as a hobby, at least in my opinion!
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter, which are worth every penny you paid me for them!
Good Luck in your search.
i've owned 4 different levels of analog in the last 8 years, from an early VPI TNT Mk II with Graham 1.5tc arm, to the Basis 2500/Graham 2.2, to the Rockport Sirius II, and now the Sirius III.
for digital there has been the Levinson #36s/37, the Linn CD-12--Marantz SA-1, the Meitner DAC6/SACD 1000, and now the DAC6 with the new CDSD transport.
my opinion is that from the Basis 2500/Graham 2.2 (i used an original Aesthetix Io phono stage) level on up the analog simply gets you closer to the event than any digital. not to say that i don't love digital or that the Meitner is not the best digital i have heard.....but......with better vinyl there is simply sooo much information in those grooves.
at the HRX or SME 20/2 level.....the game is pretty much over.
as your LP collection grows (this is about MUSIC) and you upgrade your vinyl front end.....there will continue to be a bigger and bigger payoff (you can trust me on this----there is a long way to go before you hear everything an lp can tell you). another benefit is that in most cities you could go out and buy 100 lps for $100 and enjoy most of them. the new music possibilities are endless.
i'm no format snob.....i love'm all....music is valid on any level. but Lp's pull you the deepest into the event.
digital on the DAC6/CDSD is wonderful on an informational basis; but the engagement and 'reality' is not in the same realm.
I had a modified Sony XA777es and an excellent analoge setup (Nottingham Dais table with Anna arm, Allaert MC1 MKII cart., Audio Note M-8 phono.) I liked the digital system, but the vinyl was much better, that the extra work to play LPs was worth the effort. Last spring I bought the DCC2/CDSD combo. Now I rarely play analog although the vinyl is maybe slightly better ( more air, etc.) However, the digital ( I play mostly CDs) is so outstanding that I do not want to do the work to play vinyl, though I still enjoy and will still keep the analog system. I doubt that I will upgrade the vinyl any further.
With regards to the preamp, I have had a Audio Note M-8 tube preamp and I earlier reported that I prefered the this preamp in my comparison to the DCC2. It was legitimately suggested that I did not give DCC2 enough time to break in. I subsequently ordered a M-10 preamp using the M-8 as a trade-in. While I am waiting for the new preamp ( it has been over 3 months), I am currently using the DCC2 as a preamp. This now broken-in preamp is so enjoyable that I would not be disappointed if I did not receive the new preamp for whatever reason. I have not had the occasion or desire to compare the DCC2 preamp to other preamps, such as the ARC (which I am sure is excellent.)
Rlips, did you ever finish listening to your entire music collection?
Yes!! I did. I also gained 10 lbs doing it, as I would listen every night from about 10pm to 1 am, so I didn't sleep enough and was too tired to excersise. I also found myself snacking a lot.
I have lost all the weight, worrying about what to do next;)
So, this is how I am starting to see it:
1) Digital is a moving target, right now the meinter is amongst the top, but it is not a mature technology.
2) At the level I am considering, most people who have heard seem to favor analog at the highest end.
If I do go analog (I am starting to lean in that direction) I think it makes more sense to try to go at as high a level as I can, rather than going through the constant upgrade process that characterized my current system.
I will still try to hear a direct comparision, and am not ruling out the meitner if I can find it here on A-gon.....
If any of you meitner guys live in the Chicago area I would love to bring my modded Exemplar, and APL units to your place for a comparison. I have not had the meitner in my system, but have heard it at a store. I felt the Meitner was not as musical as these units, thus did not want to pop for the meitner. I think it would be very interesting and open some eyes, your, or mine. I have converted a couple of friends who where vinyl junkies with the SACD performance of an earlier modded APL, and the redbook of the Exemplar. The latest mods on mine are vastly superior. I would think it would be worth your while to at least hear these units.
If you are going to be at CES this year, you will able to hear the DCC2/CDSD combo in room 2161 in Alexis Park
I have both the HR-X and Meitner DCC2/CDSD, as Tireguy indicated. I can't be as certain as Mike L. is about the superiority of vinyl across the board.
I've also heard the SME 30, Rockport, Verdier, Forsell, Walker, Avid etc.
I think it comes down to the recording engineer--some SACDs and CDs sound better than analogue, probably more like what you would hear in a concert hall. But a lot of vinyl sounds better than CDs and SACDs--smooth and a pinch warmer and mellower.
You can't go wrong either way. Vinyl keeps improving as far as cartridges and tables are concerned. So does digital technology. For the sake of convenience, variety of new recordings, and the punch that digital delivers, I would probably go digital if that was the only choice.
But I wouldn't say that unless I had isolated my transport with the Machina Dynamica Nimbus stand. That brought digital into another realm.
Thank you all for the great responses. It looks like I have an opportunity to aquire the Meitner gear near new at a discount, so I will start with that route. It should be in my system by middle of next week.
I will listen both with and without my tubed pre (ARC) and report back. I am not ruling out analog in the future, but I think, for now, the nod goes to the digital based on my library. I will continue to try to aquire vinyl in anticipation of adding anolog.
the Audiogon classified ads usually tells the story. why so many Meitner Dac6's for sale and why is the new Meitner DCC2/CDSD units surfacing for sale now?
Every component comes for sale for one reason or another, doesn't matter how good it is. People's lives are complicated and there are MANY possibilities. I have seen the extreme high-end turntables for sale many many times in the past, what does that mean? Absolutely nothing. But now that you mention it there is something to be said of a digital component that retails for $17k that is selling for $14k.