Questions about SACD vs.analog for classical music

I've just ordered a VPI Scoutmaster. A rather impulsive decision made at just the point when I was about to have my Sony 9000es modded. Not quite just at the point, but right after I removed my Hw-19jr/pt-6/Glider/blackcube rig from storage in order to get the parts ready for shipping to they new owners. I had what i thought would be my last night listening to the TT, after a several year hiatus, and you know what? There was that organic something, that harmonic coherence in certain recordings that I noticed only in the very best SACDs. In some of my LPs, that 'present' or 'real' feeling exceeded all but one or two of my SACDs (only the Rite of Spring on Telarc, a few tracks from the telarc classical sampler 2, and one other were superior to anything I heard on the VPI). OK, the SACDs were obviously cleaner sounding and more extended (I was using Stax sr-lambda phones) except when compared to a couple of the highest quality analogue productions lps I own, but it got me thinking: hey, if my humble jr. sounds this good now, I can only wonder how good one of the purportedly much improved high-end rigs would sound. The Sony mods would have cost upwards of $1300, but selling my jr. and lumping all that dough together and allocating it to a renewed involvement in analog looked, well, promising.
So I ordered a new Scoutmaster (at substantial discount) with the JMW-9 arm and am now by the way researching my options for cartridges and preamps. I've sold my blackcube, but have a Jolida JD-9 on load from a dealer, which sounds very nice with the jr. (the sold TT about to be shipped) - very vivid and harmonically satisfying, well articulated, etc - though it's not as quiet as the 'Cube and I even can hear some AM radio coming through my phones when I turn up my linestage preamp volume. But here I digress.
My main reason for starting this thread, aside from having some assorted questions about carts, preamps, and the like, is to ask for some objective and subjective opinions regarding the decision I just made. Bear in mind that my main interest is classical music, especially chamber (esp. string quartets, trios, wind quintets, etc) and piano with some orchestral, followed by classic rock and some Blue-Note era jazz. The SACD route seemed promising at first, and I told myself that, even though there were only a smattering of sacd recordings for many of my favorite classical performers (eg. Elly Ameling Soprano, Yo-Yo Ma, Rubinstein), there were so many truly talented lesser-knowns on the sacd scene (e.g. pianist Freddy Kempf on BIS, Csaba and Heisser on Praga digitals, and of course Paavo Jaervi on Telarc) that I deemed my chances of attaining long-term satisfaction with purely sacd (and a little redbook on the side) to be very good. Especially after sacd mods. As for classic rock, the SACD of the Police Synchronicity just blew me away (through Sennheiser HD600w/cardas cable).
But THEN it occurred to me that the only way to possibly hear my very favorite string quartet - the Vegh Quartet - in better than redbook fidelity was through vinyl. Ditto for numerous other performers who will never appear on sacd. Then of course there's always the Beatles, Stones, Jerry Garcia and others to sweeten the deal for vinyl. By the way, I sold my Ikemi redbook player in order to open up some new options and try something new. Even my girlfriend almost cried to see the Ikemi go, her having been converted just enough to an audiophile that she could absolutely see someone justifying having spent almost four grand on a source component (even a non-disc changer)
So what do you guys think? When my scoutmaster arrives, am I in for some visceral thrills and deep musical connection? I know that it's also dependent on the rest of my system, and so far I've narrowed cart choices down to the Lyras and the Shelters, leaning heavily towards the former. As for phono preamps I'm considering the Linto, Ear 834p mm/mc, and a few others including a modded Jolida JD-9 or something along those lines.

Is the scoutmaster, fitted with a $1000+ cartridge and a similarly priced phono preamp, going through Cardas golden reference into either a Bryston B60 integrated (and then to Sennheisers or B&wdm603) OR into a Stax srm-t1 tube driver of my Stax electrostats, going to 'knock my socks off' as suggested by Mike at VPI yesterday? How close can I get to SACD (especially to the 'pure DSD') fidelity through this setup? I know speed stability and noise floor will be drastically improved, giving tones accuracy and timbral accuracy, and i expect bass to be better and overall macro and microdynamics as well BUT... am I going to be able to achieve some of the same absolutely organic, sparkling, and pure sound of some of the better DSD recordings? What about the musical clarity per se of redbook, in particular when listening to string quartets and the like? Will I get a 'clean' sound in the tonal sense, not overly dark, but a sound that seems right? What about the upper octave of piano?
I once read an article long ago (i believe it was in stereophile) in which the author admitting to prefering cassette tape over vinyl due to it having cleaner and more pitch accurate upper octave reproduction. That was then, this is now. What do you guys think? (last time I'll ask that, I promise!)

I have a very good SACD player (Sony XA9000ES), and my analog rig is the VPI Scoutmaster with the JMW9 Signature arm and Dynavector DV20-XH cart. Phono stage is the EAR 834P (MM only).
I love SACD and the vast improvement it brings over most redbook cds, but you can't compare the SACD player to the VPI. It's not close. The only category that the SACD player wins is convenience. Analog rigs do require much more attention (Re-checking your tracking force and azimuth, cleaning records, flipping over to side 2, etc.).

The first group to really embrace CD in a big way was classical music lovers. Ever wonder why?
I would prefer a Dual 1219 with a Music Maker cartridge to SACD. Period.

We are talking about a "category shift" here ... a connection with the music that NO form of consumer digital at any price has ever done for me.

I admire the attempts that our most talented digital designers have made, but their efforts to date have left me cold.

Now, if you're listening for ticks, pops, and all of the usual audiophile criteria, you may indeed prefer SACD.

This is something only you can tell us.

Thom @ Galibier
With the Sony S9000ES in its stock form, you haven't begun to hear SACD (or even redbook) at its best. Allen Wright mods probably my first recommendation, followed by ModWright (for a different, not necessarily better, approach).

(Note: I haven't sprung to mod mine yet either; putting the $$$ into a NOS Garrard 401 and playing around with plinths, arms, cartridges, etc. Ain't this hobby a blast?)
i've posted similarly before, but not since i've gotten the EMM Labs CDSD in my system:

i used to own a top-flight vinyl rig consisting of one of the upper Teres tables, an SME V arm, and a VdH Colibri cart.

if you haven't heard CD and SACD on a full Meitner setup, you haven't heard what digital is capable of. i'll take my EMM setup over my old vinyl setup any day of the week. it sounds better. even regular CDs best a good deal of vinyl on that machine. when comparing SACD forget it.

a lot of people still prefer vinyl because they are used to the additive properties of it. vinyl errs by addition. digital by subtraction.

in my experience, SACD is absolutely the closest in properly reproducing texture, timbre, and spatial cues.

and what that thing does to CD playback is amazing.
I am with Lazarus28 the capability of top notch or highly modded digital player on both redbook and sacd is simply amazing. Vinyl (IMO) simply can not touch the resolution and dynamics of digital let alone the blackness of the background and with sacd you get all that timbre and realism.

I have a Scoutmaster/Sumiko Blackbird, playing into a Musical Fidelity a308 integrated with phono. I listen through JM Labs speakers, but also through a headphone rig consisting of Sony MDR-R10s amped by Earmax Pro Anniv Ed. My digital front end is not Meitner, but I have a modded Sony SCD555ES, and also a Bel Canto PL-1 Universal Player, so I have good digital. You and I are almost identical in musical taste. I am an amateur cellist and chamber music is my favorite, followed closely by other classical and classic jazz (Coltrane, Ellington, Basie, Rollins, etc.). My favorite classical vocalist...Elly Ameling (who else sings bach Cantatas like her?) And the Vegh quartet, lovely... who does Beethoven better?

Don't sweat your decision. You will find those older artists from the 50's through 80's that never will make it to SACD. My forst steal was a $5 copy of the Quartetto Italiano playing Mozart's "Haydn" quartets. Used but plays like mint...and so it goes. Classical albumns are usually well cared for. I've bought several used Amelings (Kaffe Cantata, Wedding Cantata, Jachzut gott in allen landen, all used and almost pristine... for a coupla bucks.

Now soundwise, I do love noise and still natural sounding. I haven't yet decided whether the vinyl is absolutely better because I don't yet have that many direct comarisons. For me now, a good SACD is CHEAPER than a reissued "audiophile" pressing. For example Living Stereo SACDs, Mercury Living Presence. I have the SACD vedrsions of Janos Starker's Bach Cello Suites. Do I need a $90 vinyl version? There isn't that much difference I bet. The Miles Davis Kind of Blue SACD sounds terrific. Do I need a vinyl version if it costs 2x or 3x as much. Maybe, just to try it out!

The fun with the vinyl is the tinkering with the setup, getting up every 30 minutes and flipping the side. And its true vinyl wipes CD's butt, but not SACD. Even the true aficionados have to concede that SACD is pretty close. You get to go to garage sales and find incredible collections of good vinyl CHEAP. Its an adventure.

Enjoy the Scoutmaster.
SACD does not cure the digital sound. It may soften it with the Emm labs set up, but vinyl just sounds different. It's a matter of preference rather than rehash the same old arguments, go listen for yourself. By the way you can better the EMM labs for a fraction of the cost with vinyl, and the software will cost $1-2 a peice. And there are 1,000's of classical LP's to choose from.

If digital bettered vinyl, they wouldn't be releasing all these TT's and cartridges because it's a pain in the arsh to play, setup LPs, but we go through the effort because it sounds better.
Wow thanks for all the feedback. It;s fun to read and write about this stuff. So the Scoutmaster will - barring catastrophe - definitely arrive tomorrow, as will a used Ear 834p deluxe (chrome) which I was the first to snag here today for $800 (seemed a decent price anyway, from resale perspective at least), and a Lyra Helikon (normal 0.5mv version). I settled on the Lyra and 834p on the basis of having read of, and further intuited the implications of - with respect to my own taste - each's pros and cons; the Helikon's purported slight pushing of detail over musicality well complemented by the Ear's reputation for the opposite. Moreover the deep line-contact aspect of the Helikon really penetrating down to the cervices of previously unreachable (by other cartridges) pristine groove depths of my LPS kind of sealed the deal. That and the fact that this particualr Helikon was at the right place at the right time today
I should be listening to the table set up tomorrow with the 1.25mv Glider I already own ( the rest of the hw-19 jr walked out the door today), and with the Helikon either Saturday or Monday depending on when it arrives (I got to trade some LPs to partly eat up what was already a good deal). The Scoutmaster box will arrive sealed and have a recent serial number, and will I be tempted to open it? You betcha. I'll lose the option of modding the sony for at least many months to come, but I already enjoy the SACD sound of the unmodded unit enough to connect with the music, given the best performances (IMO ones such as the Brahms Violin Sonatas and Clarinet Quintets and Beethoven Piano Trios, plus all the great piano and orchestral - but DANG hardly ANY classical guitar, of which I'm one of the lesser amateurs).
The last LP I listened to before packing up the hw-19jr/pt-6/glider rig was "The Guitar Artistry of Charlie Byrd" (Analogue Productions). This recording and (to a somewhat lesser extent its music) never fails to blow my mind when heard through either my Stax or or Sennheiser HD600/cardas. The percussion in particular is breathtaking, especially the bossa nova type stuff on side 2. I had the guy (and his more experienced audio buddy who is reintroducing him to vinyl and advising him) listen to the first 2 1/2 tracks on side 2 through both my humble B&W DM603 (which he also bought from me) and through the HD600. His mind was also blown, as was his friend's. Just such a great recording and the delightfully round notes and variously textured nylon string guitar licks, slaps, and chokes ajockeying for position among the traditionally percussive elements - these in turn backed by a deeply organic and well defined acoustic bass as the third instrument - was a sonic and (again to a lesser degree, musical) experience so far unrivalled by my unmodded 9000es.
It's not a very fair comparison, since I have no Charlie Byrd on SACD, nor do I think that the jr. could have reproduced a vinyl cut version of the DSD Rite (among others), but the magic conveyed in the Byrd trio recording seemed SO musically 'right' (slight buzzing in the very loudest passages not withstanding) and at the same time expressive of all acoustic and musical elements for which I would ever hold an allegedly faithful rendition accountable, that I could only surmise that, yes, the scoutmaster/jmw-9/helikon/ear will indeed be all that and more.
Only downside is, i had to sell my only non-minature transducers (the Dm603) in order to enter the game on this level.
I'll report back with my first impressions. Ready or not, I'm ready for some hardcore slouching on the couch this weekend, for what one person predicted will be '[my] week of sonic revelation'. And to the guy above who has the same musical taste as I - thanks for giving me an philosophical escape hatch through which to crawl should a modded Sony turn out to have been the 'correct' path for me, given my [our] listening tastes; such escape hatch being that leading comfortable into the notion that, hey, there will always be the fun of finding cheap vinyl that sounds great. So my Scoutmaster and 9000es can get along like cats and dogs raised in the same home from birth, and curl up together in a manner vaguely and stereotypically reminiscent of the yin and yang.
Cheers, and keep it coming!
Dear friends: I agree that with a top CD/SACD/DVDA player, like dSc, EMM Labs, meridian, etc. , the " digital sound " almost dissapear and the quality sound reproduction is nearest to the analog one and to the real music.
I'm saying this with SACD/DVDA at 24/192kHz and only when the original recording was recorded in that native digital format.
Still with all the best digital technology the natural tonal balance ( top to bottom ) that the analog medium has is not even with digital, it is near but only " near ".

It is very dificult to compare both mediums because both are extremly different technologies, each one with its own advantages and disadvantages. We have trade-offs in both mediums: which one is best for us -?, this is a question with several answers because our music sound reproduction priorities are very subjective ones and singular for each person.

We ( Jos{e and I ) build our self design CD/DVDA player that at least is in the same league that EMM Labs and other top digital players ( in some quality sound reproduction characteristics our design outperform EMM Labs ) and I could live hearing that unit instead of my analog rig. The digital technology at this performance level is really great.

There are several differences between both technologies but the real differences exist at the frequency extremes: the digital medium has advantage at the low bass range and the analog one has advantage at the high frquency range.
Now, there is a really big disadvantage in the SACD/DVDA technology: SOFTWARE, it is almost cero. The recording companies are not supporting the SACD/DVDA medium and never will. Everyone can ask then: why am I investing 15-20K in a technology that can't give me any support ( software ) in the future?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Your evolution is very similar to mine: CD to SACD, (same sony unit at one time), 2chan to multi here, and finally a Scoutmaster. (How you're getting it so fast I have no idea.) I have the Dyna 20X low and couldn't be happier with the synergy. Nightly, the reproduction leaves me speechless, and, to address the pro-digital crowd, it's not just the "colored" sound. Let's not forget the better soundstage, the better timbral delineation, the more accurate authoritative bass, the quickness, etc. Don't forget a record cleaning machine or at least record cleaner for CD-quiet sound!!!
Robm321: What "fractoinally" priced Vinyl rig betters the sound of the EMM Labs? Please include table, arm, arm cable, cartridge, phono stage, interconnect from phono stage to pre-amp and 2x power cords (table + phono stage) you can quote either retail or resale pricing. One other question- Have YOU done an A/B comparison of the EMM labs CDSD/DCC2 and your vinyl rig IN YOUR SYSTEM ?? Many of us HAVE done this A/B comparison in our systems. Without this type of 1st hand experience your blanket statements are less than reliable and convincing.
"The first group to really embrace CD in a big way was classical music lovers. Ever wonder why?"

And the first group to really embrace SACD in a big way are the classical music lovers. 'Nuff said.
All the the most accomplished classical musicians I've ever known personally (including a clarinet player in the Boston Philharmonic who's a long-term friend of my girlfriend, a pianist who recently finished a doctorate in composition, a harpsichordist who is friend of my parents, my classical guitar instructor who attended Eastman as well as another virtuoso guitarist, Apostolos Paraskevas, who taught me for several years until I couldn't afford him), seem complacent with the worst low- to mid-fi sound systems. They must be interested in just the notes themselves or something. Likewise my girlfriend's brother-in-law and his two (now) adult children - classical trumpet, violin, and piano respectively - ALL heavily embrace the iPod and use the stock Earbuds! They don't even both to encode their music at higher than 192kbs, even though their large capacity iPods would accomodate it. The classical trumpet player is a talented amateur who regularly plays in a brass quintet in Wayland, MA, and his son especially is a talented (though not quite concert-level) pianist who plays challenging concertos very well at almost full tempo. All the above people have large collections of classical recordings, yet none of them own a system that even deserves to be called 'a system'. We're talking worse than Bose speakers, $200 CD changers made ten years ago by Kenwood and the like, $60 headphones in the best case scenario and usually worse.
I don't know what the point of my spiel here is, but intuitively I feel that whether or not classical music lovers (I'll assume that those performers do in fact love the music they listen to) embrace a medium or not is hardly the basis upon which the given medium can claimed to be sonically superior. I myself am an audiophile, but my technical skill as a musician is far below that of those mentioned above. However I will say that there was a time early in my life as a youngster when I even enjoyed listening to the reproduction of works such as the William Tell Overture on my 1983 IBM PC that had no soundcard and as such played only the tones themselves - nearly monophonic.
I'm not implying that digital sound reproduction only gets the notes - that would be utterly absurd - but in light of the above, I'm inclined to think that many classical music lovers have embraced the digital medium without regard for the types of sonic omissions which some accuse all but the high-end digital recordings and playback of exhibiting. It is true in classical music more than in any other genre that the essence of the music - what the composer had in mind so to speak - is largely conveyed by the printed those who are trained to interpret it. So if printed musical scores sufficed for so long as an adequate recording medium, it's no surprise that classical music lovers would have lower audio standards RELATIVE to the reproductive demands placed by (especially richly orchestrated) classical music on a given recording medium and playback apparatus. Thus since clarity is above all the prime requisite for accessing classical works, I'm not surprised at all when lovers thereof embrace whichever is the clearest option relative to their financial means. In a sense, I'm accusing some classal music lovers of being 'clarity whores', though admittedly this claim is contradicted to some extent by the less than stellar clarity - with respect to the more understated or softly articulated symphonic phrases - offered by a pair of earbuds. Yes, there's so much more to a classical performance than the music per se, but unlike other genres, their notes themselves can provide long-term musical satisfaction to those who's brains happily decode them.
I hope didn't open a can of worms here.
On a different , the Fedex train carrying my new Scoutmaster has reportedly pulled into the station, so in a few hours - by the end of the day latest - I shall know whether all my love has been in vain (sorry, i had a high fidelity dream about that last night (those guitars!), and has been in my head ever since, albeit now on a vanishingly
Ted sez:
All the the most accomplished classical musicians I've ever known personally ... seem complacent with the worst low- to mid-fi sound systems
Quite naturally so.
If you love music, you don't need a superlative system to listen to music.
If you have your audiophile cap on, you're interested in improving the reproduction of music.
Fact is, most audiophiles happen to be music-philes as well!

IME there's one exception: some classical performances sound WRONG in a badly set up or inferior system. Case in point: a recording of Berlioz S-Fantastique sounded flat in one system.
Conclusion: the maestro was a softie and/or the orch was sleepy.
Wrong conclusion: the same recording played through another system showed that the conductor & orchestra were staccato & dynamic.
This is an extreme example, but factual nonetheless.
Robert Silverman, who recorded the Beethoven Sonatas using the Boesendorfer Reproducing piano for Stereophile, said that he is one of the few classical musicians who give a damn about recording technology.

I think that the mid fi systems give enough of the music in a clear enough way that the essence of the music itself is presented. And the ease of playing, random track acesss, and relative indestructibility of the cd made it "ideal" for most classical musicians, who want to hear the interpretive qualities of the performance, not the "air and space", so to speak.

Truthfully, we audiophiles, like sound, hence the word audiophile. We are basically aural hedonists who are willing to pay for our fix.

Last night I had both, a live performance of Mahler's 6th, by the Houston Symphony. They were inspired, asnd I also got to hear the excellent acoustics if Jones hall, whereby I could hear an individual soloist amongst the dense orchestration, all of course unamplified. There will never be a substitute for the coming together of close to 100 musicians playing together live. We search for the holy grail in vain. Keep going to concerts guys.

Nice try but I'm not going to chase rabbits and type out a laundry list to help you argue for EMM labs digital over analog. And what difference does it make? Vinyl has a different sound than digital. When I heard all the excitement for the EMM labs stuff, I had to hear it. My dealer had the setup on a much higher end system than I have at home. He also had the VPI TNT Jr. - don't know what cart, arm blah blah blah. I did listened to both and by far preferred the addictiveness of the TT. Then I went home and listened on my Scout with Dyna Karat cart - expecting to be embarrassed after hearing my dealers setup with modest components downstream and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the organic sound that analog gave me. The EMM labs sounded softer than most digital (I will admit it's amazing), but the digital sound wasn't eliminated completely like some state(this is with a high end tube set up no less)- it just seemed to be softened.

The EMM labs had more audiophile qualities than my scout, but my modest setup was more enjoyable to me in the end which made me warm and fuzzy knowing that I saved a lot of money. If this wasn't the case, I'd sell all my TT stuff and save myself the hassle of cleaning, flipping, storing LP's, Setting up the Cart., having to buy a new cart. to replace the warn out one, etc. But until a Digital setup will give me that "realness" that I feel with vinyl, I'm sticking with it.

So, you can pick out words in my post and form a monumental argument or go the immature route and call me an $%#& lol, but that won't make digital sound any better. And I listen mostly to digital now, because I don't have a lot of time because it's more convenient. So, I'm not a vinyl evangelist. I just chose it over digital for the sound that I ultimately like.
the income most classical musicians see from recordings in any media is non-existant. the numbers of units sold in cd, sacd, and lp of most classical releases continue to decline at a greater pace than even pop and jazz. steady employment is the name of the game for most musicians, and rightfully so. the arguments for the advancement of sacd technology become more hollow as the recording industry as a whole is racing to new media and the internet. ANY 'workman' turntable that spins accurately with a nice cartridge/arm combo will compete with the most expensive digital front end hardware. apples and oranges of course, but to proclaim sacd superior in sound to most analogue sources is entirely based on faith in a dead end software.
Robm321: You, originally, made a very clear statement about the superiority of a vinyl rig you are, presumably, familiar with. When asked for specifics you decline to or cannot be bothered assembling the information. How are we to take you seriously when you so freely throw out opinions, but cannot back them up. I don't care what you listen to and I don't care if EMM LABS or XYZ LABS is better or worse than whichever vinyl rig you're so enamored with- I'd just like to know what vinyl rig YOU ARE so enamored with !! Additiionally- If I made a "monumental argument" I don't know what is was, I'm unclear how anything I said was "immature" and finally, I have not and do not call people names.
Dear Ted,
FWIW here is my experience.

I have a sony 9000es, a Lyra Helikon, an 834P and a reference modded GNSC wadia 301.

I find "redbook" cd's on the modded 301 to be vastly superior to SACD's on the 9000es. I also tried two hybrid SACD's and found them to be horrible on the 9000es. Granted, the wadia costs 3x more than the 9000es. I suppose I'm suggesting that you may want to demo a great quality cd player, SACD or not, before putting a lot more money into the 9000es. In my experience, SACD, without a significant leap in hardware improvement did not lead to satisfactory audio, especially when listening to classical music.

I did an a/b comparison between my wadia and my analogue rig using a Helikon low output mc and an EAR 834P. Analogue felt more "live" and and the soundstage was closer. However, with the wadia beat this combination for allowing me to hear detail, pinpoint full tonal ranges of individual instruments and create an airy soundstage. Then, I borrowed a friends aesthetix Rhea, which changed things significantly and now the analogue beats the wadia in every respect. In my situation, I found the EAR 834 to have lovely midrange, but for symphony listening, I'll have to replace it with something that can expose more detail and has more air around the many instruments competing for space in symphonic recordings.

In other words, in my experience (and others may have a different experience) a really great cd player beats a good analogue rig and a really great analogue rig beats a great cd player. Sometimes there seems to be an assumption that a good analogue rig will beat all cd players and that did not match my experience. And I found that the Lyra Helikon is capable of more than what the EAR 834P can do with it.

Vinyl sounds better that SACD. SACD is close but Vinyl is better. Bad Vinyl does not sound as good as SACD & bad SACD recordings don't sound as good as Vinyl. A great Vinyl rig will outpeform the EMM or similar SACD players. Check anyone here with both & read their posts & what they prefer. Is this absolute. Don't listen to vinyl if you want to enjoy your SACD. Listen to a poor analogue setup & you will be happy. Listen to a great one & you will get back on the vinyl bandwagon.
I find it is all about the music and the appreciation of the art irrespective of which format you chose. If a cheapo tt set-up and one to two dollar albums found at garage sales (played on who knows what over the years) does it for you then great. I for one could never get beyond the vinyl noise and the hassle of setting the thing up. When I purchased my first cd player (philips CD-80) back in the early nineties my tt set-up became a non item and I never looked back; but that is my preference. Now I have a mooded SCD-1 and it is simply amazing how great it sounds on cd and sacd. If I ever had any inclination to try vinyl (because of what I read here) I don't now. A friend of mine has a very nice vinyl set-up that I have heard and thank you. But again that is my preference. For people to bash each other on this site to me is missing the point of this hobby and not contributing anything to the true spirit of friendship and information sharing or gathering. After all we all have something in common the enjoyment of listening to recorded music irrespective of format preference. And while I can not appreciate vinyl I can sppreciate those who do.


I mentioned the TT and cart. that I used on the front end. The Scout, the dyna cart. Discovery cables, Rogue Audio Stealth Preamp, analysis plus IC, etc.

It's a matter of opinion like you said, so how are you going to argue what I like or don't by arguing about tonearms? or whatever.

I've used this set up for years and have argued the vinyl digital thing and am frankly tired of the back and forth because it gets no where. So, I gave my opinion. I don't care who "trusts" me or not. It's an online forum. I would expect people to be slow to trust any of these posts. How can I trust you? Just because you list components. Anyone can make a list up.

That's why it's good to listen for yourself, decide for yourself, and who cares who agrees or not. By the way I'm not the only one that would rather listen to LP's over the best CD, SACD can offer, so if you don't want to trust me, then trust them.

As far as the "immature" thing: You misread my post.

You don't have to take me seriously, I don't care. Listen for yourself. I'm not the only one prefering vinyl over everything else.
sorry dgad - i disagree. it isn't absolute, no matter how badly you want it to be. i owned a Teres 265 table with an SME V arm and a Van den Hul Colibri cartridge. SACD is more real to my ears. period. i don't like the euphonic additions that vinyl playback has. (well, not so much that i don't like them, they just aren't real)

your argument that anyone who has both prefers vinyl is invalid.

in fact - there's another regular on the asylum who posted that if he'd bought his EMM gear before investing in a rockport, he'd never have bought the TT. (i'm going from memory here, so it's a praphrase, at best)

you can prefer vinyl all you want, but don't pull this "you've never heard good vinyl before" BS on me, because i've heard about as quality vinyl playback as you can, and i prefer digital. (short of a rockport, of course. i'd still love to hear one)
Lazarus28...I have sworn off expressing any opinion about vinyl vs high res digital (you want to see the tooth marks?) but I must agree that the "you've never heard good vinyl before" remark is tiresome.
I have heard the Emm labs stuff a couple of times on a couple of high end setups. Vinyl is still superior in two channels, although the Emm labs stuff does sound good.
However, I would say that multi channel SACD is a contender for classical music . I don't especially care for two channel SACD, but multi channel SACD is incomparable for dynamics, ambient recovery, and the kind of silent background and low noise that you want for classical. I couldn't argue that multi channel SACD is not a superior delivery medium for classical music.
I still subconsciously reach for the vinyl first.
Lots of tales of guys who have gone for the digital dream, only to go back to vinyl again after months or years, even with the high end digital stuff.
This argument begs the question in a number of ways.Firstly SACD or 1 Bit DSD is inferior to Multi-Bit PCM and Sony was forced a while ago to admit that they mastered in PCM and later DOWNSAMPLED the PCM Master to a DSD Master for commercial production.Secondly the Frequency Responses of SACD are not linear as the Roll-Off at 50Khz and Noise-Shaping required lead to massive Pink-Noise artefacts at 45KHz,which is sufficient to warm your Super-Tweeters and the Frequency Response between 5Khz-10Khz is inferior to that of CD.I have dumped COLD WATER on your arguments in favour of SACD.Please lift this debate to the required level of Audiogon and sane thinking Vinyl lovers everywhere(Humans).

I had a feeling after posting my response I might get a few who disagree. I will agree that unless your vinyl setup is at the very top the EMM is better. I had to upgrade my Vinyl setup significantly to better the EMM. I don't want to make light of your analogue setup, it is a very good one, but you do have colorations from your vinyl setup. I do feel that you are close to the top in analogue setups out there but you can improve on it. I have played the EMM setup for numerous listeners. We all agree it is very close. It is just that Analogue sounds more real. The choice in cartridge & tonearm etc will determine the coloration - if any. The EMM is also slightly colored & can be a little dry.

The statement you are referring to re: an Audiogon member stating that if he didn't have his Rockport he might not have purchased one after hearing the EMM. But on further clarification one Rockport owner has more than clearly indicated that he preferred Analogue to the EMM setup. This is the question I asked before I upgraded my Analogue front end. After I purchased my EMM setup I realized what digital was capable of (my previous CD player was an Audio Aero Capitole Mk II, no slouch, but extensively bettered by analogue from bass to treble and more). I also noticed that the midrange was still slightly but noticeably superior on Vinyl. I then asked many people who owned both the EMM stack & a top end Analogue setup, via private emails, if Analogue can better the EMM setup and at what level. All responded that in their systems they prefer analogue. They also all mentioned they are happy with their EMM gear. Now if I relied on hearsay I might still be second guessing. In my system it is easy to hear the superiority of vinyl over the EMM. You might call it my preference for the coloration of Vinyl. I would then say that every piece of equipment has coloration as does the EMM so your argument really makes no sense to me.

Now although it is easy to hear, it is still very very close. Weighing the convenience and availability of CD / SACD material does have advantages. One thing that I have doubts about is that pure DSD recordings are incredible & do challenge Analogue. I have a few and I find them incredible. The original PCM recordings are often poor. I have several LPs which I have either on CD or SACD. Except for the DSD recordings I find the LPs more real & enjoyable.
"It is nothing less than a tragedy that the Sony/Philips system SACD still is considered to be a real competitor to DVD-A, though it has lower real resolution than the CD-system in the highest octave.
DVD-A does absolutely offer a much higher dynamic range than CD, but it is very questionable if SACD does.
SACD is in the high frequency range quite mediocre, even compared to a good CD-system one-bit DAC, and of course clearly inferior to a CD-player with a real multi-bit converter.
On the contrary, DVD-A is in theory 250 times better than the CD-system at all frequencies!
Another way to describe the difference: The noise [power] from SACD is more than 20,000 million times higher than from DVD-A!
But maybe it is more relevant to know that this ultrasound noise from SACD is enough to warm up the tweeters voice coil with some detectable influence on reproduced sound. Besides, the ultrasonic may also affect the audible sound by down mixing in the air, at least at higher sound pressures." These comments were made by a respected Swedish Sound Engineer Ing Ohman in a Swedish Audio Journal,not to mention the general academic rejection of Single Bit DSD as a system capable of producing audio of the highest quality without inherent oversaturation.
Cjfrbw, think how much better vinyl is in multichannel format! SQ, QS anyone? Must be better than multichannel SACD!?
stefanl - we've all read the spin you're attempting to bring into this discussion under the guise of real journalism. none of the arguments you've brought up have been proven. none of them.

you can bring up Ing Ohman as a respected figure in audio all you want. i'll trust ed meitner and my own ears over him any day. we could start posting the contributions of each figure to the audio community, but that would be pointless. you believe the spin - i don't. i've heard otherwise, and have read into those arguments enough to know that they're false, and are usually tried to be justified by simple mathematical equations that don't hold water because of the person's misunerstanding of the inherent redundencies of the two encoding schemes. DSD has more information in the upper octaves, not less.

i can also sit here and qoute holocaust deniers and call them 'respected journalists' but that doesn't make it true. for all of your attempted intellectual snoberry, you'd think you would listen for yourself and do a bit more research before reposting material that has been, for the most part, disproven.

am i up to the level of (human) yet? or will i not be until i own another vinyl rig?
I cannot see that you could apply the'journalist' appellation to Stereophile's Editor-In-Chief John Atkinson who has done extremely interesting research into SACD performance.In the Stereophile Think Pieces archives there is a piece called 'What's Going On Up There' where Atkinson a producer in his own right,examines firstly vinyl and then as a follow-up,measures the upper end frequency levels of SACD.'His comments are very informative!(re PINK NOISE) Although very careful, any equally sharp reader can decipher Atkinson’s opinion from the text.'(Ohman)I don't think Dr's Lipshitz and Vanderkooy who presented the paper on how 1Bit DSD is inimicable to Audio of the highest quality at the AES convention in the U.S 1n 2001 and where Sony had to admit to persisting with Multi-Bit PCM,to be 'Holocaust deniers' as you put it.Please refute the fact of the PINK NOISE at 45Khz in SACD,which has been published graphically in Stereophile and the common acceptance of SACD's poor performance above 10Khz.Better still get one of the Stone's vinyl DSD releases and hear how truly bad this format is,even compared to London Electronically Processed reissues.
They asked Ray Charles in probably his last major interview before he died ...'which is better Ray analogue or digital?..Oh analogue..' was his reply and he elaborated.In Ray Charles' opinion digital is for convenience but analogue is for sound.Finally to quote Lipschitz and Vanderkooy 'The repeated 1-bit sigma-delta reconversions entailed by a misguided desire to store the data in DSD format after each(italics)intermediate processing stage,would result in the accumulation of significantly greater noise and nonlinear artefacts than would occur with any of the DITHERED(my emphasis) multi-bit systems under corresponding conditions.This is not a trivial matter,because each(italics)signal processing operation(even a trivial one such as a gain change)results in the 1-bit DSD data stream turning into a multi-bit data stream.'
I have some SACDs that sound really good. (45 KHz is a bit beyond my range of hearing). I have some DVDAs that sound really good. I have some CDs that sound really good. I have some LPs that sound really good. But I have no CDs that are multichannel, and if you have a first class multichannel system, that is a big deficiency. Actually I do have a few LPs that are multichannel (SQ) and a small number of them sound OK. But not even close to DVDAs.
The 45Khz level is important not in terms of the fact that it is there so much,but what it does to data within the audible band.By having to force sonic artefacts into this band without reserving say a couple of bits for dither,it destroys the linearity of frequency of an SACD.Conversely of course DVD-A is free from any artefacts here and above 96Khz/24 is perfect for commercial audio of high quality.
okay, stefanl, if we're gonna play "i read it in a magazine, so it must be true," then do *you* discount HPs assesments of SACD superiority (to 16/44 PCM?)

sorry bud, you're gonna have to do better than that.

although i know i won't change your mind. you're obviously a rabid fan of hirez PCM, which is also stunning.
O.K I confess that I seldom listen to digital and am a 'lurker' thinking about how you all do yourselves a disservice by not building an 'idler-wheel' Lenco or Garrard or consequently don't know what things are supposed to sound like anyway... etc.But I do have one good reason.I think that digital such as CD and SACD is bad for your well-being and have thought seriously(I kid you not)about this for some time.I refer of course to Oohashi et als' work on hypersonic sound and this is another journal paper I am referring to.The upshot is that it is healthier for you to listen to the ambient noise around you (that includes the traffic),than formats like digital that fatigue you and cause cerebral blood flow to drop to low levels and effect brain electrical activity badly.The biggest joke is the ambient music store containing all that stuff in digital format.There I've come clean.
And you believe all that. ;-) There are many technical criticisms of Oohashi's experimental design and conclusions and the experiments that purport to show that digital affects brain activity badly(?) are less reliable. If you prefer analog, fine, but there's no good physiological evidence to support the disitnctions.

Kal (wearing his neurobiologist hat)
Stefanl...Physical design of the ear (Intelligent or otherwise) precludes hearing 45KHz, and what the brain can't hear is unlikely to annoy it. On the other hand, extreme low frequency sound is felt if not heard. Play any LP on any playback system at LOUD volume (as audiophiles are wont to do) and the rumble will give you a headache.

So I guess it's "pick your poison" situation.
Stefanl, so a jackhammer noise is analogue or digital?
I guess that digital video is bad for the brain too? Got to stop using this digital internet thing in front of me!
Eldartford, I have a system with which I can play CD's in multichannel. I use the same decoder as the SQ LP's - a Lafayette SQ-L 4-channel decoder. If LP's are 'superior' to SACD, then shouldn't the SQ or QS LP's sound better than SACD multi-channels? Of course not! As you have pointed out, it isn't necessarily so - it is more the recording conditions that determine the quality of the sound at playback, more so than the recording medium used.
Salut, Bob P.
As you can see from this sad display of attempts to PROVE (with evidence) what sounds better is rediculous. So, no more vynil or digital threads please! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. too have matrix multichannel capability, and it is true that you can run a stereo CD signal through it and make noise from the rear channels. Your point is well taken. Actually, the big problem with quadraphonic LPs was that the rear signal was represented by vertical groove modulation, and was very noisy, especially where only a small rear channel signal (ambience) was involved. Theoretically this should not be a problem with CDs, where the differential signal ought to be just as good as the common mode. However, I have not found that CDs respond well to matrix multichannel processing. Many LPs that were not intended to be anything but stereo do respond well. One of the best (IMHO) is a Judy Collins recording of "Amazing Grace". I have this on LP and the same performance on CD, and I looked forward to hearing the CD. What a disapointment! They must have remixed the CD and completely killed the effect. The performance is recorded in a church with congregation, and on the LP, after the singing ends, in addition to ambience, you can hear people behind you closing their hymn books and putting them into the racks on the backs of the pews. On the CD they completely cut out this part of the recording.
John Atkinson stated about SACD..."the DSD encoding does capture ultrasonic information, as claimed. But look at what happens above 40kHz in this graph:(see Atkinson article : DSD's noiseshaping energy makes an appearance." and here's what he had to say at the end of his examining spectral response".. the presence of random ultrasonic energy—as is present in the DSD-sourced PCM WAV data—will linearize a PCM D/A converter."(as Doug Rife postulates,the link is given in Atkinson).Firstly this implies that DVD-A and Vinyl might be more linear than commercially produced DSD(SACD) and thus actually be more correct,than the correspondingly euphonic SACD obviously is.This would also be a counter to those who guess as you can't actually hear out 45Khz it doesn't matter.It does,as both DVD-A and Vinyl show and SACD is a distant poor third.You are listening to more euphonics than you ever did with the much maligned Vinyl.
Eldartford, I too have found that the 'dematrixing' of CDs for rear ambiance sound is not nearly as satisfactory as LPs. I attribute this to the fact that the playback system for vinyl (stylus in grove) actually creates phase information with the main signals which is dematrixed by the rear channel device. The signal does tend to be noisier, however, but if used only for ambience rear, can be serviceable. Since I have three 'dematrixing' settings on my Lafayette, I have found that it too can be used with varying results.
I have found the exact same results with my London OSM Recording (vinyl &CD) of Respighi Pines of Rome etc. I prefer the CD, actually, for the better bass and lower noise during the quiet parts. The vinyl is quite stunning, though. I use my Phase Linear 1000 for vinyl dynamic expansion, which adds just a replaces the lost dynamics of vinyl, without being noticeable.
Bob P. we have been on parallel tracks. I also have a Lafayette SQ-L decoder and two Phase Linear 1000. The PL 1000 is controlled by the A+B mono signal, so if you want to use one for the rear channels (where it really is needed) you need to invert one of the rear signals. If you put it in front of the decoder expansion on the mono signal kills the differential (rear). When records are made they must expand on mono, because I discovered that using a DBX expander/compressor I could recover the lingering ambience that is artificially attenuated as the mono signal dies out. By the way, I devised my own logic decoder using the DBX before such devices were available to the public.
Eldartford, my decoder is used only to produce two rear channels signals by taking the pre-amp output (parallelled with the output to the front speaker amplifier), decoding it and using only the rear speaker outputs to the rear speaker amp. The PL1000 is in the tape loop of the pre-amp and I have found that there is no difference in the decoder's performance with the PL1000 in or out of the circuit - there is always some kind of rear channels signal generated, varying with the setting on the decoder, of course. Of course if the preamp is put into mono, the decoder doesn't produce much output. That is how, BTW, I find the 'null' on my balance control on my pre-amp. Any noise reduction or dynamic recovery done by the PL unit is passed along to the decoder and doesn't seem to affect the decoders work (except it is quieter and also more 'dynamic'), as far as I can tell, but then the signal is just ambiance 'noise', as you say, but still adds 'dimension' to the music, if not played back too loudly.
I rarely use the noise reduction section, but the Dynamic Expansion section is always on for vinyl and tuner listening. No need for PL1000 for digital, naturally!
Also, listening to the rear channel signal alone, is a very good method of positioning the antenna for the tuner - least distortion heard (or conversely, clearer signal), the least multi-path!
Salut, Bob P. control signal for the PL1000 functions is L+R. To the extent that rear channel noise spectrum is similar to front channels your hook up will work. What I am talking about is putting a PL1000 between the decoder and the rear amps. That won't work unless you invert one of the rear channel signals. But if you do this inversion the PL1000 is controlled by the LR+RR signal, which is optimal.

All your comments about finding balance null are familiar. I found that tone controls could also be tweeked up this way.
Eldartford, thanks for clearing that up!
Salut, Bob P.
This doesn't even look like the same thread any more. Since I''ve been gone, my innocent little question about various Agon members' *personal* experiences listening to classical SACD versus those listening to the same on vinyl has apparently spawned a panoply of continuations into the realms of the theoretical and elsewhere, with much proselytizing going on on several fronts.

For what it's worth, my scoutmaster/ear 834p/Lyra Helikon/Stax/Cardas Golden Ref. rig is finally up and going, blowing my mind continuously. Rigtht now I'm like one of those rats who keep pawing the release level on the little narcotic pellet dispenser continuously until its mesolimbic reward system is stoked at all times via every efferent. That's my one bit pseudo-intellectual gibberish for the evening. Now back to some SACD walloping colored euphony (after all I am using all tubes, from preamp to head amp)

When my feel-good chemicals have been expended to the point of a short period of neurochemical vesicular replenishment being on order, then perhaps I shall drop by and share some whining and pining.