FWIW, my Project RPM10.1 with Sumiko BB and Bel Canto Phono3 seriously outperforms my EMM Labs XDS1. It's that scary :)
Depending on your tastes, you might also want to consider the VPI Classic. I heard the original with the JMW 10.5" arm which has a warmer sound than the Project.
A Rega P9 will not only outperform the SACD but also give you a good dose of that high end digital sound. More importantly do you have the vinyls to start this journey or are you willing to start afresh ?
IMO, you can probably equal or exceed the quality of your digital set-up using a VPI Traveler, an Audio Technica OC9ML/II and any number of decent phono stages.
As far as sound quality goes, you will probably like vinyl better. Before you commit yourself and buy gear, I highly recommend you listen to some records first. There will be some noise (tics, pops etc). Even with good equipment, you will hear some of that. Also, depending on the type of music you listen to, the noise you hear can vary. If you listen to something like rock, you will hear a lot less noise than you would with music that is not "loud" all the time, like classical.
If you decide to try records, here is some equipment I would consider. VPI scout, Dynavector 20x2 low output, Dynavector P-75 phono preamp, Dynavector SDS speed control, VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine.
Analog, properly implemented, will bring a whole new dimension to your listening. I have many SACD's but they are no match for their analog equivalents. I think a good staring point, if you like jazz is Miles Blue. I have 'Blue' in every media format ever issued. Yes, even an eight track tape. Blue is a good source to experience just how superior analog is. Included in my media of 'Blue' is an original two track, reel to reel, pre recorded analog tape. It blows away each of the SACD versions I have. Enough said.
Well, I might be on a slightly different path. I think SACD does have some virtues above vinyl...namely quietness (especially important on some classical), can also be great at bass impact, timing etc....you have a first rate SACD set up also ( I am using dCS Scarlatti)
4K can get you a nice vinyl system. You'll get great exposure to what vinyl can offer like the warmth, dementionality, the timbre. Plus frankly I just enjoy it. I also tend to listen to SACD's for classical and vinyl for jazz and blues. Part of this is to software available...part..just what I like better...
I think you need to spend a little more. What phono stage are you using or do you need to include this also in the 4k? Also do you use a line stage today?
You can get a nice table, arm and cartridge for about 4k (the vpi's/rega's above are certainly good choices) - the phono stage is a critical element..sorry for more questions than answers
Jfrech raises a good point. A lot of people try SACD by going out and getting a cheap universal player. I've seen this first hand many times. Most audiophiles feel that CD is lacking so they feel the new format will easily beat any CD player, even a cheap one. More often than not, they are disappointed. The analog portion of a digital product is every bit as important as the digital section, if you want good sound quality.
I don't think that's the case hear because it looks like the OP has a good DSD unit. Its just something to consider.
As Zd542 mentioned ,you might want to listen to some records and make sure your OK with tics, pops,and surface noise in general.Because no matter what,,,you will be dealing with this to some degree.There are some records that will have nothing in the way of surface noise.Some records will be so bad you will refuse to play them, as it sounds like a hailstorm on a tin roof.That is the two extremes.I was brought up listening to vinyl and most of the surface noise(if it is not too bad) seems to be on a different level that is seperate from the music and does not interfere with my enjoyment.Do you have the time to search for good pressings and cleaning records,then brushing them for dust before playing them,and changing or flipping them every 16 minutes or so.I love listening to records,when I have the time.And Im glad I made the investment.
Whether one stands up for SACD over vinyl or not, SACD has one serious detriment, lack of program titles. The library on SACD is tiny compared to what one can find on vinyl. 33.3 goes back to the late 1940's, stereo LP's go back to the early 1960's. So be it SACD or not, vinyl rules in total library of recorded music.
Some people turn away from vinyl because they cannot abide clicks, pops, and surface noise. This does not have to be, but there is no free lunch. From new records to used, media care is a necessary condition of long term vinyl enjoyment. It's not really an option.
At the start, my suggestion is to include a record cleaning machine (manual or vacuum) and cleaning fluids (eg. AIVS) in your budget. If you are disinclined to clean each record (including new ones) at least once and/or the budget does not allow, then vinyl could turn into a disappointment.
If you're okay with the media fussiness and willing to tolerate a certain amount of newtonian level mechanical tinkering then "Living la Vida Vinyl" can be an Audio Joy like no other.
Jfrech, My line stage is ModWright LS36.5+PS36.5.
$4K is for analog front-end without phono.
That throws an entirely different light on component considerations. IMO, it would be good to consider a VPI Classic 2 with an AT-OC9ML/II cart. That will come in right at $4K and provide really excellent quality music vinyl reproduction. (It's NOT about sound, it's about the quality of the music experience.)
As others have said, it would be a good idea to do some serious listening to vinyl before you take the plunge. It is a tweaky source to get the best results, but IMO, those results are worth it.
(It's NOT about sound, it's about the quality of the music experience.)
Many/most who venture into analog just for a trial run, just to see if it can really better their existing high quality digital player are actually looking for "sound" and not "experience". The first few months are enough to either put them off or convert them as believers. The hunt for great "sound" is quite common in digital domain and one who is coming from it would not want to give up great sound to experience better music many a times. Resolution is the name of the game in digital after all. So a vinyl setup which can truly beat top quality digital playback (which OP has) in all ways and actually make a digital guy an analogue convert has to be a very good one IMO. $4k is just okay to start with but nothing even close to serious in analogue domain. I have seen people who start with low budgets in analogue, actually miss the analogue bus forever because they hear less resolution than a average DVD player and add to that so much more hassles. They never know what a good analogue is all about, they dont even care to know after this.
IMO, a well restored EMT 938 from one of the EMT engineers would be a great start. It comes with its matched tonearm, cartridge and phonostage, all of them of very high quality with almost plug n play nature. Here are some links where it is available:
Too many times I heard Redbook CD's that are better than their SACD counterparts
To match the ease of use of your EMT
IMO, a well restored EMT (938) from one of the EMT engineers would be a great start.
This is truly an excellent idea.The whole thing is as near plug & play as one can get.
Re, new TT, the above are all good choices as are the TT&arm packages from Clearaudio.
But the big EMT have the phono equalizer as well.
I would agree that all of the above TT combos will outperform the sacd.
And, to state the obvious: check that the noises inherent in analogue reproduction are acceptable to you.
As a side issue, I have very few pops in very many of my records.
A friend of mine who has the EMT 938 with EMT 929 tonearm and TSD-15 cartridge tells me that this turntable doesnt react to isolation platforms, it sounds the same no matter where you keep it and it is dead silent in the grooves unless the record is really really damaged. How cool is that ?
If you never had turntable before, the most important part is probably to have someone helping you set up the turntable properly first. I have been listening to CDs since about 1986. Had some urge to try LP but did not really know where to begin and the idea of setting up turntable just did not sound appealing and the idea of building LP library after accumulating a few thousand CDs just does not seem like a good idea. Then 5 years ago, one of my colleagues asked if I was interested since a friend of his wanted to sell his Blue Note Piccolo/Shelter 201. So I thought why not and went out and bought a cheap Clearaudio phono to go with the setup. At that time, I recently sold Esoteric D05 and got Berkeley Alpha DAC. A friend came to set up the turntable and I never looked back. I would not say that the analogue setup outperform my digital source in everything but considered the price different and in many areas where it outperformed my digital front end readily, it did not take long to see. Since then my digital front end is changed to Playback Design MPS-5 and my analogue front end is now sigificantly more expensive. I still enjoy a good SACD playing from disc or through music server but seriously for most listening sessions, I now only listen to digital source if I don't have that particular music on LP or when I am too lazy and just want to go through various songs quickly then I use my music server.
Even original DSD recorded SACD does not sound as good as LP that was made from those DSD master, I think. I have a whole bunch of Stockfisch SACD/LP, Jarvi Beethoven symphonies cycle, Tilson Thomas Mahler cycle on both SACD and LP and there is no contest, I think.
Forgot to add, recently another friend who has Esoteric K1 also decided to try analogue setup and went with Rega P6 that a dealer set up for him. Nowaday, he is spending most of his spare time buying LPs, cleaning LPs and listen to his P6 more than his K1.
Pani,Thanks for suggesting EMT. I had a look into links you provided and it's very interesting.
Pani,Thanks for suggesting EMT. I had a look into links you provided and it's very interesting.
It is a pleasure to be able to see a happy analogue listener. Those EMTs are legendary TTs and if by any chance you do not like listening to LPs on one of these TTs you can be sure of two things:
1. LPs are not for you (which is a very rare case)
2. You get your investment back with minimal loss, because these TTs have great resale value.
BTW, among the three EMT engineers Mr.Dusch seems to be the most popular. He not only restores these TTs to original condition but also upgrades the phonostage section to accommodate wider frequency bandwidth to cater to new age hifi system's resolution. And he also gives a warranty with all his products.
I recently took the vinyl plunge after being SACD oriented. I spent a little more than $4000, but got a used Basis 2500, Vector 4 arm, Benz cartridge and Simaudio phono preamp. I had the table and cartridge set up by a professional; I also bought a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine. I did this because I wanted to have an alternative source for non-classical music. I had basically given up listening to regular CDs.
Buying records and listening to my new analog front end is both wonderful and frustrating. My biggest frustration is that many brand new discs I have purchased have significant surface noise when in new clean condition.
It does put me on edge when a click or pop comes up repeatedly and probably always will. For that reason I listen to classical solely on SACD. And some new discs (like those from New West) just sound like crap compared to even the CD. But when the magic happens it is seductive. I bought a used copy of The best of the Guess Who at a used record shop for $4, and the pressing is immaculate with very minor surface noise. The sonics are better than I could have dreamed. Same for a copy of Al Stewart Past Present and Future. Oh well, we all have to live within these limitations until digital gets it better than analog.
Abronfer, if you realy think you have the time and patients for a Turntable - go for it.
I do not know enough about all the gear in your price range to be of real help. But would I think $4K for a TT, arm and cart can deliver a lot, esp if its used.
Eight years ago the vinyl bug hit me and I have not looked back. There has been a lot of fun that has come out of the effort/expense.
For the EMT, I can wholeheartedly recommend also
another ex-EMT engineer Hans Fabritius from fabtech.de (honest, no BS, no $$$-hungry person, helped me a big big deal to put my 930 in shape...teching about the machine as well).
There is also Hans van Vliet in Holland (no persolan experience apart from few emails but sounded very right too).
Abronfer...I realise I may be offering conflicting advice but I would urge you not to get "hung up" on record cleaning issues at this stage.
Although I'm an advocate of cleaning LPs I feel everything has its place. In the 1980s Linn used to argue cleaning was unnecessary because the the stylus performed this task. This is obviously an "extreme" view but in one sense it is correct. If you purchased 120g LPs from new and kept them dust free, then, on a well optimised rig, many/most of them will appear to be noiseless. This is certainly the case with most of the stuff I bought back in the 70s & 80s. They can sound as good as the day I bought them (and quieter than some of the ones that have been cleaned!). However, not knowing the history of pre-owned vinyl, e.g. cigarette smokers, you may wish to clean them yourself or have them professionally cleaned for a small fee.
I don't personally clean my 2nd hand LPs but instead hive the job off a few dozen at a time to a bureaux or dealer to do it for me on a Lori or Keith Monks for £2/item.
Given that some 2nd hand LPs only cost £0-99 this is a small price to pay for not being oppressed by drudgery. 9 times out of 10 they'll do a better job than I would :) Thus you can get on with enjoying the music as life is most definitely short.
As a minimum I would recommend a Zerostat gun though. It keeps static to a minimum. Use on both sides whenever you flip, then again both sides after playing (or just pop the LP straight back into an anti-static sleeve and seal it.)
I also endorse the view that with analogue the more you spend on the arm and T/T the greater the reward. Many are quite happy to use a Denon 103 on their expensive rigs... :)
Hope this is helpful.
I have Stockfish DMM vinyl, with the accompanying hybrid SACD/CD of the same recording. This is great for direct back to back comparisons of the 3 formats. I have recently become hooked on Vinyl, but to be truthful, there is not a lot in the difference when flicking between sources, SACD is as good as vinyl when flicking between sources, however after extended listening to vinyl, when you go back to SACD, something is missing. I don't have the vocab to describe what is missing, but I know I definitely prefer vinyl. The best digital I have heard was a recording in double DSD of a record!!
Was it the rumble or drone sound of the needle touching the record, that you missed with SACD?