It's hard to say, and I look forward to reading other replies, but it could to an extent be, not analog per se, but vinyl. There are limitations in what can be done to encode deep bass in vinyl grooves -- leading to the use of RIAA (and other) equalization. Also, if I'm not mistaken, cartridges tend to slope response down at the bottom end in order to avoid rumble issues. CD does not have those limitations. So it could to some extent be "analog" sound. But what you lose in this way, you more than make up for in palpable, lifelike, swinging, groovy presentation pure analog gives.
Of course, you may also have a mismatch. The Bellari doesn't have all that much gain, and the Project is pretty entry level. A better deck would probably help -- my Lenco certainly slams like no belt drive I have owned, even though it still isn't as oomphy as my cdp.
(Congrats on a really nice setup, by the way).
While I am notarious for willingness to point out the limitations of vinyl, I don't think that lack of fullness, richness, or oomph is a fair rap. The LF roll off should not occur with RIAA equalization at play. What you perceive as "bass" is probably in the range of 40-100 Hz, and this range is easiest for a stylus to trace.
If you want to change the overall frequency response of your system an equalizer is the tool to do it. I like the Behringer DEQ2496, which also includes a spectrum analyser so you can see what you are doing.
try checking your cartridge set-up. tracking force could be a touch light. If you don't have a protractor and tracking force gauge, get one.
I agree with CPK, the most likely culprit if your system can deliver the goods with a different source is your analog set-up. Some carts are better than others for specific attributes, you have the synergy with the phono amp, and the specific tweaking of the set-up may go a long way in getting to where you want to be. I have found adjusting VTA to yield noticeable changes.
Cartridge needs to be compatible w/the tonearm. The loading of the cartridge and the gain need to be compatible and/or set correctly w/the phono stage. Everything VTA, VTF, azimuth, overhang need to be set correctly. Any one of these or more could be an issue. If you have an experienced friend who can check w/you that would be best. If not, post specifics about each issue, so you can get confirmation that you've got setup right.
I'd say, no it's not vinyl per se. It's well worth the trouble to learn. Read the turntable basics on AA, and the tips on walkeraudio.com, both quite helpful. Cheers,
I had the same "bland" issue with the Grado Platinum. Changed the cartridge to a Shelter 501, ba-da-bing, problem solved. Non of my equipment is the same as yours though, except for the (old) cartridge. Good luck, John
How many vinyls have you tried. Not all vinyls are created equal. Some badly recored/mastered ones can sound thin, flat, and un-listenable.
I think Vinyl is a bit laid back compared to the "dryness' of digital, which is why many people like it. I am not surprised to see you comment that it lacks the "ooomph" you are used to hearing on digital, which some would call "harsh".
My experience with Vinyl was that you could get "oomph" on 12" 45 RPM singles made for clubs....just as good as digital. However, LP's were just a tad bit polite...I used to buy only Japanese pressings because of these issues. Although Vinyl quality variablility was not as bad as modern pop CD's ...
Obviously you'll get lots of different opinions on what the problem is. However, the FIRST thing I always look at when I read these analog posts is how much output the cartridge has and how much gain the phono preamp provides.
As mentioned above by another poster, the Bellari gain is low: with the stock tube around 30 db. Your cartridge at 5 mV is looking for an ideal match with a phono pre around 36 db of gain. Sometimes you can get away with being 3-4 db short of gain. My experience when you get to being 5-7 or more db short is this: you can crank the volume up all you want and it will get louder but the music will still sound anemic, bland and totally lacking in dynamics. Kind of like listening through about 3 wet blankets.
My advice is this: check at vinyl asylum on another tube for the Bellari that might increase the gain a bit-I believe I've read somewhere that this is possible and probably won't cost an arm or a leg. Alternatively, try to borrow a phono stage suitable for MM/MI cartridges with 36 db. of gain. My guess is that you will be pleasantly surprised with what the correct amount of gain matched properly to your phono cartridge will do. Will it be perfect? Of course not, but at least you'll begin to hear what your equipment is capable of.
I think your 'overtubed' with the bellari and the AES. Try a Graham SLEE SE2, might cost another $100 if you can find one used...i tried the bellari for grins and couldn't send it back fast enough as I'm tubed up as well...might be nice with a SS setup though.
If you are satisfied with the sound/dynamics of your digital front end: Try auditioning a few different phono pre-amps and cartridges with higher outputs. That's one of the most critical relationships in an analog system(that and cartridge compliance/tone arm mass). Be certain the cartridge is loaded properly(capacitance/impedance). That will have a major influence on your sound also(though usually the freq. response rather than dynamics): (http://www.extremephono.com/Loading.htm) As mentioned: The quality of records varies widely, like any other media. be certain to listen to records of known quality when your judging the equipment.