The character of analog and digital

Having just obtained some high quality analogue components, I want make some comments on the character of both analog and digital.
First of all it’s very difficult to speak of analog in general. Records vary widely (indeed wildly) in sonic character and quality. Digital recordings are much more uniform. When you play a digital file you more or less know what your getting. Of course some sound better than others, but there is a consistency of character. With records, it’s the Wild West. Variation in SQ and character are rampant.

Therefore it becomes very difficult to make generalizations on which categorically sounds better.


With recent upgrades in streaming setup...still in evaluation phase, I'm finding both more and less uniformity in digital recordings. More in the sense I don't hear major differences between 16/44 and various degrees of up and over sampling. Less in the sense of I now have the ability to choose various music players, for instance Roon, HQPlayer, Stylus EP,  two machine or single machine streaming, and much, much more available from proprietary operating system that allows a variety of streamer settings.  Every single iteration has unique sound qualities to the point I've yet to determine a favorite, point being one can manipulate digital sound to have entirely unique sound qualities, love this about digital, although can be a pain at times!


I agree most of my best vinyl from 50's, 60's, analog became much less uniform once we come to the 70's, I always believed this due to solid state entry into recording studios and multi tracking. 50's, 60's mostly all tube equipment in studios, many recordings pretty much live in nice sounding recording studios.


With the recent streaming upgrades I've now been motivated to finally upgrade my analog setup, in midst of those upgrades with more planned. Made a decision I couldn't give up on vinyl, damn sound quality, even with lower resolution vs my digital is deserving of major upgrades to challenge my digital resolution.


Bottom line for me, both digital and analog capable of damn fine character.

Here's another two cents' worth! Just couldn't resist!

There is a plethora of variables at play here, just as the respondents or contributors to this post have already pointed out, to boil this down to anything other than personal preference (e.g.  quality of system components, not the least of which are the TT, cartridge and phono stage; recordings themselves; sound engineering; mixing; recording studio equipment, mixing panel, microphones, microphone placement, etc.; vinyl soup mix used in any given stamping plant; not to mention quality control procedures employed, if any; quantity of LPs stamped from the Master Disc, not to mention processes involved making those discs; how LPs were and/or are cared for; acoustics, in general; personal audiology; etc.; etc.; ad infinitum).

All things being relatively and generally equal in this respect, my ears prefer good quality, well recorded LP albums to anything I've heard in the digital realm, thus far, including the best Digital Master CD recordings and high-resolution streaming I've done serious seat-time with on state-of-the-art systems in high-end audio shops, through Qobuz and other services. The highest quality digital sources I've heard come very close, for sure. However, my ears still prefer vinyl, so far. I keep saying "thus far" and "so far" because I want to keep an open mind about this, although I'm skeptical that digital can or will ever be able to match vinyl in this respect. It's just different. I simply do not understand the technology enough.

To my ears, anyway, it seems digital just can't capture the open, airy and quiet space(s) of whatever room, hall, recording studio or wherever the performances were recorded. It's as if that is homogenized out, if that makes any sense. I can't explain it any better than that. Seems paradoxical, I know. One cannot hear dead quiet silence. However, I'm convinced most people can feel it. I always find that sense of dead quiet silence or sense of spaciousness captured by the best vinyl recordings missing from even the best digital media. Again, this is just a personal preference. I'm not trying to start a food-fight here. Most times, I tend to play my CDs when I'm in the kitchen cooking or entertaining friends because they are definitely more convenient, quicker and easier. I play my LPs when I can actually sit down in the living room and fully enjoy the music I want to hear.

When I've compared good recordings of live performances I've attended, my ears always feel the vinyl renditions come a bit closer to the live event than the digital ones. Could there be an auditory neuroscience factor involved because I just simply grew up with vinyl? Hell, if I know! I'm not a scientist, but my ears know what they like.

your postulate of asymptotical closing of the gap between vinyl and digital seems counterfactual: vinyl suffers from distortions simply not present in digital, e.g. tracking angle on conventional tone arms, warp and flutter depending on pressing quality, imperfect reconstruction of the RIAA curve in the analogue domain, tonearm, step-up and analogue cable distortions to name but a few. Admittedly harmonic distortions on vinyl are euphonic and therefore often preferred to the ‘cold glare’ of digital, that however doesn’t mean they aren’t distortions. I fully agree with @lalitk that digital needs lots of work and am well aware of your state of the art setup on both vinyl and digital.


i guess i’m cursed with this whole listening thing. i find the best possible digital and vinyl sources, develop my system to tell me the truth without compromise, then listen to both every day. and draw my conclusions.

all the rest is noise, obfuscation, and rhetoric.

you are welcome to join me anytime for listening and point out where i’m wrong. seems obvious. 

certainly there are good, better, best recordings too. so each digital and vinyl event has variables. the media is 'more' variable with vinyl. 

I enjoy listening to music because it evokes emotions. In my experience using my system the sound between analog and digital is very close and I can listen to either for hours. 

There are certain recordings I’ve compared analog to digital and when they are the same file it’s hard for me to distinguish the difference; however, I have noticed some recordings where I prefer the version and sometimes the version I have is LP and other times there’s a digital version that I prefer. 

Finally I often wound if my preference is based on the emotion evoked or remembered as a result of listening to the music. 


far away from wanting to prove you wrong! I am just pointing out that digital would have to have a fundamental problem yet to be identified to be eternally inferior to vinyl.

Enjoy the music.