The BLISS of returning to ANALOG: my experience

I was an early adapter: I jumped into CD with the very first $1,000 players came out.
I bought all the CDs, replacing my LPs.
I lived this way for almost 20 years. No LPs.
Recently I was given the oppertunity to buya collection of LPs (over 900). They were cheap and I decided to take the leap into vinyl, even though I didn't have a TT, nor even a pre-pre to run to my line level preamp.
I found a Audio Research PH-1 and borrowed a TT.
I have been scouring the second hand stores and after about 4 months have nearly 3,000 LPs. (most not yet listened to)
I clean them, then play them.
Tonight I listened to Simon and Garfunkel Bookends and side two was a revelation. (a clean two eye copy 1E 1F markings)
CDs NEVER sound like this!!!
My Sony SACD SCD-777ES sits unused!
Hi Elizabeth,

I'm an analog fan from way back and I am happy that you've recently found your way back to the great sound of vinyl.

That said, If there's such a big discrepancy between your vinyl source and your CD source, then your CD source must not be very good or possibly outdated. These days, high end CD playback can be very close to the best analog turntable/arm/cartridge systems. My investment in my analog playback system is at least twice that of my digital playback gear and while I think that the analog has an edge -- it's more of a speed-bump than a wall. I think that if you improved your digital source you'd be surprised at how good CDs can sound nowadays.

Hey, if you want a real kick, go out and get a decent reel to reel tape deck and some prerecorded R2R tapes and compare them to your TT system. You might be surprised again...
Welcome to the world of analog! It is nice to see that someone is getting the picture of what analog can do. I can only say that you have heard what "the fuss" is all about, and I'm glad you posted it. There are still many in denial about this. Enjoy!

PS - If you liked "Bookends", try "Parsley Sage Rosemary, and Thyme". This has some really great recordings and material on it. I used to use it for demos back in the 80s, at the audio shop.

I'm glad your enjoyment factor has improved with the change. Another recommendation I suggest is Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years". An added bonus on this LP is "My Little Town", a one song Simon and Garfunkel mini-reunion. Speaking of which, I read yesterday there is likely to be a Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour soon.

I offer this experience as a contrast to Plato's post. A fellow Audiogon member and myself met at an auction a year or so ago. There isn't much great gear to audition where we live and he had several high end systems where my system is really modest by Audiogon standards. Mine consists of a Linn Genki, 2 LK100's, Aktiv crossovers, Keilidh's and an LP12, Ittok, Blue Point Special. His best system was a pair of ZH270 Bernings, Merlins and an Audio Aero Capitole. Hell, his speaker cables exceeded the value of my entire system. To make a very long story short, I took my LP12 to his home and left it for a week and the only way it could be inserted into his system was by using the phono stage on an old Panasonic (or such) receiver. The Capitole is history now and he just took delivery of a fully loaded 300 series Teres, Illustrious, Shelter 901. I don't think a person, even a person of considerable means, would make such a change unless they heard (in his words) the "magic" vinyl has to offer.

I don't intend to beat up on digital playback because it can be very rewarding. Besides, accumulating quality analog software can be quite a challenge now days. But, in my experience, it requires a considerably greater cash outlay in digital gear to equal the results of a modest, but excellent, analog rig.

Time will tell if todays best CDP's will still be used twenty years from now. I doubt it. My table is twenty one years old and I gaurantee it will still be in my system twenty years from now assuming I am also around.
Well, in contrast to Lugnut's experience, I've owned a VPI Aries with JMW 10 arm that I had a real hard time getting to sound as good as my digital gear and since then, I've had better luck with my Michell Gyro and Orbe SE TT's with a $4500 AHT phono stage. I use the Wilson Benesch Act 0.5 tonearm and Benz Ruby 2 and Shelter 501 II phono cartridges. My analog sounds really great through my Monarchy Audio SE-180 monoblocks and my Audio Physic Virgo II speakers. There's no question about that.

But I also have an old Parasound C/BD-2000 belt-drive transport and a Boulder modified Art DIO, which I use in conjunction with the Perpetual Technologies P-1A (as an upsampler), and a Monolithic power supply. Now, provided that everything is adjusted and working 100% in my turntable system, when I get the digital gear set up just right, with my proprietary blend of digital cables and isolation treatment, well, it's a very, very, close contest in many areas. Each may enjoy a small advantage here or there, but it's really almost too close a race to pick a clear winner. Of course that statement is recording sensitive too. It sort of comes down to the merits of the recordings under scrutiny -- how well they were mastered in their respective formats.

Hey, if anyone wants to bring a Linn over to my house for a shootout with my digital, I'd be up for it anytime. I guarantee I'll have you scratching your head for answers...

Me too! Me too! :)

We bought a CDP in 1984 and stopped buying LPs, the whole sad story. Even sadder, around 1991 we nearly stopped listening to music at home for ten years, without really knowing why.

Paid off the house last year and started upgrading like mad, new speakers, new wire, new amp, nice CDP (Arcam FMJ CD23). Pretty nice, but still not right.

Dragged the 25 year old TT out and played a few records. Hmmm, this has possibilities. Did some research here and upgraded the analog rig nearly as much as Lugnut's friend, Teres 265/OL Silver/Shelter 901. (Thanks for the help, TWL!)

Long story short, and with no disrespect to Plato, there's more than a speed bump's difference. One format plays music, one doesn't. He's right about the R2R of course. Anybody have a few spare session or master tapes they want to sell me? ;)

Ah, S&G. "Bookends" was my favorite too Tom, wonderfully intimate recordings. Lost all those discs long ago.

Classic Records just reissued "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" on 200g vinyl. A little too much studio processing on that album, but still if it's anything like the quality of their classical reissues, buy it!
Hmmm... "One format plays music, one doesn't..." That's kind of drastic, don't you think, Dougdeacon? By the way, which one is which? :)
I guess I'm gonna have to take up lying for a hobby since telling the truth gets me in trouble. Whatever.
Lugnut, the beauty of this forum is that all of us are entitled to express our own views based on our own unique experiences. No one has called you a liar and you're certainly not in trouble. I totally believe everything you have contributed thus far. It's just that my own experience and search for the best gear (that I can afford) has given me different results from that of you and your friend and probably many others. It is through these kinds of differences that we learn and progress and I don't think that's such a bad thing. Heck, I used to be very anti-digital but with my present gear, I'm really enjoying it. With R2R tape, I now have 3 formats that are bringing me a lot of musical pleasure and if I can achieve that, then so can you and a lot of other folks. Why close your mind to another potential avenue of musical bliss? Just because you haven't found the "magical" combination for digital yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And it doesn't have to be that expensive.

How many times have you gone to an audio demonstration where there are both digital and analog sources, both decent quality, and yet one blows the other away. I've seen it happen plenty of times. Sometimes, sadly, it is the analog that suffers in the comparison -- even when the equipment is good. Personally, I just chalk it up to someone not taking pains to optimize the performance of one of the formats and discount the results as meaningless. To draw concrete conclusions from experiments that are not conducted fairly, with strict controls over the variables is folly. Peace!
Plato, remember you are making a post on the analog forum. Most of us who post here regularly only listen to cd's in our cars now.
Glad you enjoy the TT...I understand how someone with little or no experience with vinyl could make a post such as you have, I remember when you found the Maggies, I enjoyed that post also. I hope you don't get so lost in your new found love as to write off digital playback and cheat yourself out of some good music. Enjoy the ride, you have a lot of LP's to check out!!!


We did what we did with what we had. Like I said in my first post, there isn't a lot of high end stuff to listen to in our area. I didn't come across as relating my system as anything special. To the contrary, I termed it modest by Audiogon standards. Excuse me if I'm a little bit offended by regular criticism of the LP12 here. Yeah, there are better turntables to be had but like I've stated many times here in these forums I have no compelling reason to upgrade. I have heard several of the turntables that are regularly touted here as being superior to the Linn and IMHO the life is sucked right out of the music. Each his own.

I've never been on any jihad against digital playback and only recently parted with my last player. I considered it to be excellent. But after almost 10 years and two players I had about 40 CD's as compared to approximately 5,000 lp's. Having the CDP was a waste of precious resources.

The reality of digital playback is that a system has to be maximized for it. Insert analog into such a system and you have compromised the analog investment. And, here I run the risk of even more criticism, I think that with the myriad things one must insert into a system to make the most of CD's, amounts to signal processing. I've found the fewest things in the signal path the better the musicality.

If you re-read my first post I stated "to make a very long story short". The digital system I inserted my turntable into was tweaked to the max as far as I could tell. Multiple very expensive interconnects, power conditioners and isolation devices were used and it's generally agreed that the Audio Aero Capitole is one of the better players on the planet. If any piece wasn't given a fair shake in this experiment it was my LP12 run through the phono section of an early 80's very midfi receiver. The turntable was even placed in a location where it was subjected to low frequency feedback.

I wasn't challenging your experience and stated up front that this was in contrast to yours. Then I get a lame challenge to drive a gazillion miles to do a meaningless shootout.

I stand behind my last statement which probably set you off. A good, well maintained turntable will last a lifetime. The last twenty years has proven that not to be the case with CDP's.
Plato and Lugnut YOU ARE BOTH WRONG!!!!!!! Just kidding! You both make great points. I have been very very blessed to have landed some decent components over the years and I think you both have valid points (and believe me, I am NOT a politically correct person - I HATE that stuff - just be honest!). I have a decent digital front end and, at times, I feel like I could do without analog (more on this in a minute) - but then I come to my senses. But I go through phases where I listen to mainly digital for a week or two and then analog. When I then switch to analog and the recording is a good one, I think to my self "why do I need digital?" (No, I am not schizo, but I am weird!).

The reason I appear to be politically correct is that I have heard both formats sound incredible. Unlike Lugnut, I have an equal number of CDs and LPs because many of the albums I like are not available on LP. Therefore, I must have a CD front end to hear that stuff. While I do agree that well maintained turntables last a long time, digital probably could have some longevity of mechanical function, but the format has changed and improved so much over the last twenty years, many of us do not even have the same digital front end we had 3 years ago. I also think digital has closed the gap a lot in the last few years.

The bottom line? I like music and I enjoy both. I love the nostalgia and ritual of analog as well as the sound. I enjoy the convenience and availability of new software of digital as well as the sound. Done right, they can both sound great (with the edge to analog on the better recordings) and done wrong they can both sound like crap!

Just my $.02

PS - how come it costs $.02 to put MY thoughts in but only costs a penny for yours?

As you said, this forum is for people to exchange experiences and ideas, and all experiences are valid.

Fact: we stopped listening - literally - for ten years. Even buying a widely respected and pretty darn good CDP didn't solve the problem. Buying a TT did, emphatically.

That experience warrants this conclusion (for us), LP's are musical and CD's are not. Note I don't claim that LP's are perfect or convenient or insusceptible of improvement. I look forward to the format that will let me utter the words, "perfect sound forever" without holding my nose or stopping my ears. But that format has yet to arrive.

Perhaps your experience differs, but this is Elizabeth's thread, begun out of her joy at a discovery similar to ours. I'd like to help her celebrate. :)
Yes, LP's offer infinite sampling . . .
Elizabeth -

I am recently in the same boat
thank God I saved all my old vinyl in my closet

I just bought a Nottingham spacedeck and couldn't be happier

the digital is so much more true to the source

now to save up for a VPI cleaner
any good ways to tame ticks and pops pre machine?

I bought a London Decca dry brush to clean with

I have already amassed about 200 albums for little over $400 including a few pricey 200 g (new Steely Dan and Peter Gabriel) recordings and some Japanese pressing on ebay

my record store owner hates that I now spend $25 via vinyl instead of $100 on cds a week and walk away with more music to listen to

flea markets hear me coming

oh the joys of analog
Elizabeth: So what CD player did you have ? Was it a Nak, Revox or Kyocera ? From what i can remember, those were the first CD players to come close to or break the $1K bracket. Based on those memories, these machines were all WAY better sounding than the others available at the time.

Other than that, i think that each format has strong and weak points. I'd like to combine the best of each into one format that is both convenient, reliable and easy to store and maintain. Since i don't know of anything like that, i guess that i'll stick with a system(s) that is capable of working with either format and trying to achieve the best that both can deliver in a "somewhat affordable" manner. Sean
I've nothing new to add to this old and somewhat stale debate forming over CD vs vinyl, however as I type I'm listening to my Tivoli radio which is playing Barbers Violin Concerto, and I'm transported. I guess I should call the station and see if this is a LP or a CD. But then, in my view, its always going to be about the music!
I love CD...I love Vinyl. Done right they both sound great.
Can't we all just get along?
Elizabeth Its really good to hear when a person experiments into the analog format and finds this format can sound better than digital. I not looking to bash digital, but I am looking for the best sound. The bad news is its just not as easy as putting in a CD. It takes allot of time and effort to do it right cleaning LPs, cartridge setup , gain setting , ohm setting ext ext ext , but thats not bad news, right. Thats the fun of this format. The thing that stuck out at me is the pace your buying used LPs RIGHT ON. Thats the fun part spending hours looking for that special find in used record stores, garage sales, thrift stores, E-BAY, Audiogon, new on Music Direct, Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc. By the way I have a SCD-1 and it probably seen 6 hrs use in the last 2 months so I know what you mean. Gotta go albums to clean for tonight`s listening session. David
Sean, I mean the VERY first ones.
The one I bought was a Sanyo ??toaster style load. The drawer tilted out and you dropped the disc in vertically.
The very first models were all $1,000 or so. back in 1983.
Then I had a Sony 101 (crap!!!)
Then I had a new Philipps 880 the famous one talked up in Audio magazine. (used this for a looong time)
Another CDplayer in my Pioneer Ld player
Then I added a Sony ES87 5 disc.(this baby played day after day all day for 10 years for my pets when I am at work)
Then I got a Rotel transport and an Adcom DAC 600 when a cap blew in the Phil)
Then I got a used Sony ES70 5 disc to replace the dead ES87
Then I got the SACD 777 and sold the Rotel
I added a Adcom DAC700
I added a Sony ES9 5 disc.
And now
Elizabeth, I have recently gone back to vinyl also. Bought a new table last winter and have already upgraded cart. & phono stage. Almost never listen to digital at home anymore. The vinyl sounds off the charts better (but it should as I just have an inexpensive universal machine for digital playback). While I am sharing your current vinyl bliss it is a guarded enthusiasm. Sometimes I feel that getting back into vinyl has only renewed my real audio hobby of shopping for and collecting music. I lost interest in going CD shopping years ago and now after buying vinyl like crazy for the last year I find myself looking for better copies of stuff I already have more than the new and different. It will be interesting to see if vinyl is still 'king' for me in a year or two or if some new format gets the music search started all over again. I really like the sound of vinyl though(even if it is a pain in the ass at times) and it does have one attribute that digital will never have, 12" album jackets are cool.