New take on CD vs Vinyl vs CD

What if I digitize a vinyl record, and compare that CD to both it’s rebook CD, and the actual record?

1. Clean record (using a VPI HW-17)
2. Put vinyl on turntable (Ortofon Blue cart)
3. De-magnetize vinyl using a Furutech Destat III
4. Record vinyl using a Harmon Kardon CDR 20

My Parasound Halo integrated allows nice A/B/C comparison.

I used 2 CD players: Sony CDPXA7 ES, and XA 20 ES

I put the song on (‘We got the beat’ Go-Go’s) all 3 sources at the same moment (using all 3 of my hands)

Though the turntable and it’s mediocre cart is the weakest link, it sounded pretty nice. I then switched back and forth and forth a few times till I had a winner.

By far the digitized copy of the vinyl sounded best. Not the outcome I expected.

I then A/B’d both CD players, with the result remaining the same.

Can anyone explain this, besides my psychologist?


+1 dinov. I went the same route as you with a Bluesound node and then up the food chain with an R2R DAC and Auralic G2 streamer. Sold my turntable and phono stage for more than what I paid for it and all my vinyl also at top dollar to one person ( only had about 300 albums). Never looked back.

So many posts about what format sounds better. In my experience it is more dependent on the recording than the format. However, being able to access so much music on demand via streaming has, at least for me, put the fun back in music playback. I guess I'm a music lover first, and an audiophile second.

Too many variables for a valid or controlled A/B comparison here that would apply to anything other than the specific system cited and employed for this particular A/B comparison. For example, there are several ways to "digitize a vinyl record". Not familiar with the TT used but I've done considerable seat-time with an Ortofon Blue + Rega P3 + MAC amp + Luxman amp + Focal Aria 936 + (either a NAIM or Rega CD Player-can't remember which or the model number) + clean (as in ultrasonically cleaned) Mobile Fidelity vinyl repressing of an acoustic guitar artist I can't recall + CD Red Book). My ears definitely preferred vinyl over CD that day and I didn't have to listen hard or for very long to reach that conclusion. Other ears may have preferred CD or the digital sound that day. Who knows? To each his own! That's what makes the world go round!

I've done serious seat-time comparisons with other high-end systems incorporating CD Players and high-resolution streaming services. One system configuration I heard, a couple years ago, using a MAC (either the MA 9500 or the MA 8950 - can't remember which) + a pair of Sonus Faber towers (think it was the Sonetto V) + high-end streamer & high-resolution service (can't remember specifics on that) came about as close to equaling the sound quality of good, clean vinyl recordings that I've ever heard. To my ears, when all systems are equalized or when component synergy & sources are factored in, good, clean vinyl recordings sound more life-like or like actually being there than digital. It's as though you can almost hear or, rather, feel the emptiness or silence of the room or venue the performance occurred in or was recorded in. For me, digital lacks that air or that silent background open spaciousness. Good, clean vinyl recordings capture that and always seem to have just a little bit more or truer top end (cleaner, clearer high frequency) and low end (tighter, cleaner, more realistic bass response) than a comparable digital recording. That's about as well as I can describe it. Maybe it's all a matter of auditory neuroscience? In any case, it's a little like trying to describe what the color blue looks like to a person who's been totally blind from birth. Discussions like this (i.e.  digital sound better than vinyl?) are a lot like the never-ending debate over which speaker cables or interconnects sound better. Your ears know what you like. Listen to them!

I think your results are due in a large part to the level of equipment being used. No offense, but the CDR and CD players being used are not particularly high end. You did not even mention what turntable was used, but an Ortofon Blue is definitely entry level. I believe a comparison such as this demands high end equipment at all points.

Not criticizing what you're trying to accomplish, I did a similar thing 4 or 5 years ago, but using a MoFi gold CD and MoFi Original Master Recording LP of DSOTM.  But, keep in mind what you learn is pretty much useful to only yourself or someone with pretty much exactly the same system.  Upgrade the cartridge and everything changes.  Change CD players and again, everything will probably change.  And as has been pointed out several times, sound levels must be the same or else the louder one will always sound better.  It can be fun to play around like that, but what you learn is probably only useful to you and only for as long as there are not significant changes in your system.

Once you have reference components in your system then you can hear the differences with no problems.  As manufacturers of audio components, we have yet to make digital sound as good as Vinyl period.  That being said, our DACs probably sound better than most Vinyl rigs most have heard.


Happy Listening.