I do still have a small vinyl collection. Keeping it for old time sake.
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IMO, you guys have missed the bulls eye completely somehow. Putting together an analogue playback system is not easy, and if your vinyl mostly consists of noisy, or even worse, 3rd party pressings! I suggest you find better records. If you cannot put on Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" ( new 180 gram vinyl copy ) and totally be blown away by it, then your system or your ears need some sorting out!
I think analog, at its best, is a very decent medium.
I agree it's annoying having to get up so often to turn record over, etc.
My advice to newbees: Play new records ASAP and look for gross defects -return records that are not perfect/close to perfect. I've waited long periods, sometimes years, before playing and finding the record is just garbage (even premium vinyl).
One "Classic Records" Led Zep was badly "dished" which I sent back immediately.
Missioncoonery, I don't think there's anything wrong with the medium, it's just different than digital. The same goes for the different analogue tape formats.
Vinyl takes a commitment, with the cleaning and the flipping of the record and I admit very often I'm not up to it and it's easier to have a CD listening session.
But, I grew up playing vinyl and kept my setup during the CD years. So when I listen to a record, I don't expect there to be a silent noise floor, I like the sonic characteristics of an analogue system. Since the digital age, many listeners can't accept that the analogue chain is not as quiet as digital, so maybe your expectations are too high. But with a well setup system, the dynamics and nuances of the music are there.
I have a modest vinyl setup; about $1500 and it's easy for me to get lost in the music.
For a younger person, I can't imagine just now getting into the LP/Table/Arm/Cartridge/isolation platform/phono amp/LP cleaner/etc world. It's a lot of work, and takes a while to get really competent at and comfortable with. Not to mention having to move the LP's every time you relocate!
For those who grew up with LP's, and had already amassed a sizable music library by the time the CD was introduced, it's a very different story. I wasn't about to replace 5,000 LP's with CD's, even if they had sounded as good, which they didn't (I already had a good record player, and early CD machines were mighty bad, as were the CD's themselves). I find it unbelievable Herb Reichert did, only recently coming back to analog. At his age, starting over again! Especially as digital has improved so much, and new LP's cost so much.
But unless an LP has been really manhandled, I don't see why it should be so noisy. Mine aren't, and some of them have been played many, many times in the 45 years I've owned them!
Mission- at the risk of sounding like a vinyl advocate, I'm wondering why you have a constant snap crackle and pop on new records. Have you cleaned them before playing? If so, I wonder if the cleaning is the problem; that fluid residue is being left on the surface. I have spent much time refining my cleaning methods over the years, and even without fancy cleaning machines, I can get an effective result using a basic VPI. (That isn't to say you can't go far deeper, particularly with old copies).
Posting this in the hope that it may help- you shouldn't have to suffer noise- I can get 45 year old records to play dead quiet.
In other respects, you are absolutely right- vinyl is a PITA- it is sometimes labor intensive, quality of pressings can vary considerably, etc. Not posting this to disagree but to help.
It's a strange thing, but...some of the WORST quality audio I've heard came from analog. And some of these were pretty pricey setups. One was at the house of an audio manufacturer whom I won't mention. Screechy and unmusical was the simplest way to describe it. You'd think he would know better.
Yet paradoxically, it is also true that the BEST quality audio I've heard...also came from analog. While digital is "constantly evolving" supposedly, I've heard audio extracted from 20+ year old turntables that the best digital I've heard still can't touch!
The only thing I get from this is maybe you DO need to be "anal" about your setup...because it seems this is very critical. But analog was never really about convenience, which was why digital came on strong in the first place.
If I were retired, I wouldn't mind devoting a lot of time to analog, to satisfy my audio OCD. Right now I just don't have enough time for it.
Personally - I listen to vinyl when I really want to "listen" to some really excellent live music and do not mind the exercise of changing albums.
Rest of the time I put on the digital.
My current digital rig is extremely convenient...
- my entire collection is on a "RAID mirrored" NAS drive
- I access/stream the tracks from my iMac
- I control the access via my phone/tablet from anywhere in the house
- the quality is extremely good
However - the quality of my digital rig still pales in comparison to my vinyl rig, which is hardly surprising, since I've spent more on various analogue related component-parts.
But, even today's modestly priced digital gear is extremely good, especially when I think back to the analogue rig I started out with, and from what I am hearing/reading/experiencing it is getting better all the time.
My one gripe about vinyl these days is - I seem to return more defective albums these days...
- warped albums
- defective tracks - I'm talking serious track distortions
- one even had metal shavings embedded in the vinyl
Shouldn't the quality of vinyl have gone up with the advent of more precise cutting/pressing technology - or is it becoming a "Lost Artform"?
Would I trash my vinyl collection in favour of digital?
- I still buy selected vinyl for live concerts and classical
- if a store has both - I gravitate to the vinyl section
- However, I don't avoid buying digital albums.
- but I'm really glad of the vinyl resurgence.
But please - DON'T bring back cassette tapes :-)
Cleaning and care is 'mandatory' for me to fully appreciate
the intimacy of sound on records. Missioncoonery - take a look at the "LAST Factory" record cleaning and preservative system. As all old timers will know a mold (mould for Brits) release compound has been used to allow the record to release from the metal 'stamper' used to actually press the record. LAST has a special cleaner for new records to remove any mold release residue. That done I play the record(my experience is one cleaning is usually enough) to confirm it plays cleanly. I then treat it with their LAST Preservative for even "enhanced" smoothness and dynamics. "Voila"! I just won't play any record,new or used, w/o cleaning it. Dust and oil is in the air-just ask any cleaning lady!
I see a lot of discussion here about the vinyl vs digital divide. My only comment is that almost every modern music recording since the mid-80's has been on a digital format. So if you buy vinyl from the modern era, it has likely gone through a A to D process then back again. In other words you aren't actual listening to a true analogue recording and are subject to the quality of that digital process before you ever put the stylus in the groove.
Vinyl for me is the fun of finding old classic recording (read: analogue) and enjoying them for what they are.
There's no need to convince the OP of the error of his ways. Digital can sound just as good as vinyl these days. Some people prefer vinyl and I say, knock yourself out! Enjoy your vinyl!
But here's a quote from just a few days ago from Paul McGowan, owner of PS Audio, about listening to Michael Fremer's system and Paul's own:
"And here’s a side note before I continue. Mike loves to demonstrate the superior sound of vinyl to all that will listen. And what’s fascinating to me is he’s right. At Fremer’s home vinyl rules. In every case, when we compare digital audio to vinyl audio, vinyl wins hands down. If you visit Music Room One (Paul's system), I can demonstrate the exact opposite. So which is right? I think the answer lies in system optimization. I have made every decision in my system in service of optimizing one media, digital. Mike Fremer has done the opposite. And while each of us pays lip service to having maximized media performance of the ‘other format’, the truth is neither of us has really done so."
Digital sound quality IS improving rapidly. Unfortunately, my ears are heading in the opposite direction.
I am new to this hobby and went straight to vinyl, I collect classical music. I have a great system, Nottingham Analogue table, Shelter cart and AR phono and pre amp. I have built terrific collection of records that I love to listen to. I don't mind the getting up and turning the record over or the odd pop. Cleaning is a bit of a chore but that comes with the territory. I collect books too and my used books and used records all have a history. Record companies used to go to great efforts to design the covers and write the liner notes.
I have gotten a tremendous amount of pleasure from this. I own CDs but for my ears they don't compare to vinyl.
So this is what makes this hobby so interesting, there is something for everyone and every taste but at the core of is is a love for music, in all its diversity. We understand that it is one of the post profound expressions of human creativity.
About a year ago I decided to take another run at digital.
Took me a LOT of time, money, energy plus frustration. I found I had to spend even more than I'd invested in my analog front end (several thousand) to get something that sounded like music to me out of digital. Also, it's totally hit/miss with music files - no way to know what will sound good and what's not even worth listening to. Plus, the only thing one can (legally) do with a purchased/unwanted music file is delete it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty happy with what I'm hearing now from the digital side of the system, but it's not been a "picnic" either.
I didn't even get as far as you Mission, I bought a high end tt (transrotor) + all the paraphernalia needed to make it work reliably before I realized the whole shooting match (incl: actually storing the vinyl) was going to eat up my apartment, so I sold the lot before it even played a record. I couldn't wait to see it gone to be honest!
I currently own a Vitus SCD-025 cdp which has a good DSD USB board. I am happy for the time collecting cd's as I still think it sounds superior to most downloads & I enjoy owning the media, reading the liner notes etc. When my cd collection starts to get too big to store, I might add a server transport later on & rip my collection to the server. But I will still keep my cd's & archive them in storage boxes.
First - if analog doesn't grab you, let it go. There's just no reason to fool with it. But as far as the constant fiddling around, that shouldn't be. It's like when you learn to drive a stick shift, you're shifting every 10 seconds, but when you become more experienced, you're shifting a lot less. If the stuff causes you grief, let it go. There's enough stress in the world. But if you want to give the dead horse one more kick in the ass - maybe you have a friend who can get you set up and going in the right direction. Once properly set up, you should not have to futz with an analog setup all that much.
Nothing wrong with fiddling with turntable rigs if one finds it enjoyable. I used to when there was no better option for me. All for the love of music though audio technology is fascinating in itself.
Live and learn. Worst thing that should happen to someone is a fruitless dabble with records. I don't like when things are presented as all roses though. The bests things come to those who pursue them hardest usually. 🙏
If digital is done properly it can sound superior to many a TT set up. The caveat is that you have to spend A LOT of $ to get there. A modest investment of $1500-$2000 can produce a TT rig that can out perform mostly all digital rigs in that price group. The downside is vinyl does require a lot more maintenance and user involvement than a dig rig. There are +'s and -'s to each and its up to the end user to decide.
I tend to disagree that expensive CD systems are the answer at least without doing a whole of things to them. If someone is not willing to put in the time money and effort with digital it will definitely sound thin, like paper mâché, bass shy, boomy, glassy, hazy, two dimensional, congealed, synthetic, electronic, metallic and generic. No two ways about it.
My experience with analog is very different from yours. I bought a Music Hall MMF-5 for about $700 or so and compared it side-by-side with my $10K digital rig. I realized right then that something was very wrong. But I do agree that if you don't hear what vinyl has to offer, there's no sense fooling around with it. You either hear it or you don't.
I am pretty much with Chayro. First, you need to be able to hear the difference. Second, you need to want it enough to go through the vinyl record playing regimen. For many of us who have done it for 30 years, it is second nature and takes very little time. I don't mind it a bit. Finally, I have very, very few records with ticks or pops. If you pass #1 & #2 above, I recommend looking into a different phono preamp. Many experts have noted that the correct treatment of RIAA practically eliminates that concern. My CODA phono preamp must be a good one. The few records that do pop have visible damage from some type of handling issue, if I look closely.
One concession: My CDP is an Aesthetix Romulus, and I like it a lot. My vinyl rig cost 3 times that, but it really kicks ass.
That depends on the DAC and phono preamp you are using. I build a DHT DAC that outperforms most high priced analog set-ups. I also build a DHT phono stage that makes analog just as good maybe even better. You cannot make a general statement like this. Since I make my own gear including DHT preamp and I am able to demonstrate it in many other systems, do I can hear what most of you are hearing from both sides. I personally use digital for convenience and the DHT DAC sounds amazing, too close to call and I don't have to clean records and set-up the arms, etc. I also use a CEC transport that makes a big difference in the sound of my digital set-up. It is a step down without it.
I really respect Theo1124's answer. Like him, I believe it starts with a love of vinyl. I'm not talking about building a mega-dollar system, I sure don't have one, but it's more than entry level and listening is a pleasure.
I'm talking about the love of the medium, the collecting of LPs, their cover design and artwork. And as many of you know, there used to be a high level of craftsmanship that went into producing and cutting a record and it was tactile; you could feel it and see it, not to mention all the collectible vinyl.
I started playing records and collecting as a teenager and now I'm in my 50s. That's why I said earlier, I don't expect vinyl to sound the same as digital; there is some noise and coloration.
But like many, playing vinyl started to become too much work and mostly I listen to CDs now. But I'll still devote an afternoon to analogue.
IMO, vinyl isn't for everyone, and Missioncoonery, it sounds to me like you had a mismatch in your analogue chain or an other than optimal setup.
IMO, vinyl isn't for everyone, and Missioncoonery, it sounds to me like you had a mismatch in your analogue chain or an other than optimal setup
I dont think so,my guess is my TT setup sounds as good as most posting here except the fool that said VPI is low end table.It sound much better than what I had back in the day but for me and again this is just me..the expensive,the time,the cleaning,the setup,the tickering on and on doesn't justify what im hearing compoared to my digital side...and again its fun to hear music I haven't heard in years but that's about where it ends
I am going through the same transition. Listened to vinyl back in the 70-80s. Then seduced by the convenience of CDs. Then the disappointment with CDs as the resolution of my system increased. Then the return of happiness with digital when I began ripping CDs for playback on the Bryston BDP-1. Now, after 35 -40 years, resurrected my LP collection which I never abandoned.
I can say I have some recordings where digital is superior, and others where LP blows the digital away. Strongly depends on program material, how old the LP is and when it was recorded, and compared to what digital source. I have some digital recordings where a significant amount of low level detail is just gone, and other vinyl sources that sound thin and lacking in bass. Remember that the most recent "remasters" of 80's vintage music are made from very old (and perhaps degraded) tapes, and any reproduction from these is never going to compare with a first pressing vinyl version of the same music pressed back in the 70s or 80s. Sprinkle that with an overuse of noise reduction by engineers producing digital music for the masses and you can have large differences. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon comes to mind.
I agree there is a ritual to using phono, and cleaning is a vital part. I use the simple immersion spin cleaners. They are cheap enough that I have two; one for detergent cleaning and one for rinsing. I use DI water in both, and find that many of the surface noise issues of the 80s are gone. Completely. Immersion in a fluid is the only reliable way to remove static charges, and a semi-dry vacuum brush system can put static back.
There are tons of ways to deal with static electricity including but not limited to use of a long lasting commercial type spray on the carpet and other surfaces that could develop a static electric charge such as windows, bookshelves and clothes, a negative ion type room air purifier, even a coupla desk top devices would be a lot better than nothing, a tourmaline gun (that produces negative ions from heating the tourmaline) products such as Nordost Anti Static Spray and last but not least a humidifier to, you know, reduce the potential for static electrical charges generally.
Yes, there are other ways to deal with static. Most are hit and miss because vinyl is an insulator and pockets of static charge can get on the surface. Unless you contact that pocket directly, a brush or Zerostat will not be that effective. I have tried those ozone/ionizers that are battery operated and they are basically the same as a Zerostat, only better because they produce a flow of ionized gas and you don't need to keep pulling a trigger.
The one sure fire way that always works is dipping in a fluid like deionized water. It is the ultimate "humidifier". With a small amount (~2%) of IPA (iso-propyl alcohol) for wetting, it gets in the smallest nooks and grooves a brush cannot. Dries with zero residues if you use high quality DI water.
Would rather use pure water than any "anti-static" spray that could leave residues or contamination.
Vinyl had a very long run as the standalone medium without many contenders barking behind it. (I'm talking populist application here, not necessarily audiophile) I started on 45rpm singles, graduated to 33 1/3, had an 8 track followed by a cassette deck in my cars, then a reel to reel in my home, onto the compact disc. Whew. Long trip.
At the end of all this, this long and winding road, I must admit that my preferred medium is...(drum roll, please) the compact disc. (Ducking, cowering..)
I have spent as much on vinyl equipment as I have on disc, so I've been fair to either medium over the years. Fact of the matter is that either medium, as well as all of the associated equipment required to listen to both are...one and the same thing, artificial reproductions of musical information. Period.
I have never in my life listened to an audio system that made me think the sound was live. Never. Never will, either; and I have spent some enviable coin over the years on my various setups.
Vinyl to me now is more of a priveleged allocation of time, very amusing when a youngster's around and sees a turntable for the first time. I'm 59 so "youngster" is a fairly broad spectrum...
It's been a very long time since I've hosted a party and heard someone changing an LP while I was out of the room. We all remember THAT sound, don't we?
My preference for the CD, or even downloaded music, is derived from the simplicity of playback, of care, of maintenance. I have what I think is pretty good equipment for playback so I'm quite doubtful I'm missing anything audible; what's a few hertz here or there between friends, aye?
The youngsters I referred to earlier barely know what a compact disc is. I was rather surprised to be shopping in an office supply store last week when I spotted blank CD's for sale. Even I thought that was passè by this point. Even for business purposes alone. Sheesh.
I'm not letting go of my vinyl or turntable, nor my CD transport, DAC. Both have their place in my system, in my life, both also give me something tangible to physically appreciate unlike downloaded music. The medium, the message, the listener. Tin ears, golden ears.
Good forum. Holiday cheers to all.
All things being equal--equal in the sense that all components are of the same price point or level of quality, my experience is that vinyl provides a natural and dimensional sound that cannot often be equalled by digital.
In fact, I remember a vinyl to cd comparison with the high end DCS stack vs the top of the line Basis turntable at the NY audio show about 5 years ago with some expensive high end separates (I believe Burmester, but not positive). The purpose was to demonstrate how far DCS digital had come and to promote the DCS stack. I sat among a fairly large crowd of people whom I had never met. After a number of identical "mastered from original source" cd and vinyl selections were played, it was explained to us how we had just heard how digital has finally equalled or surpassed vinyl in SQ. In fact, many of us walked out at that point and joined in a conversation in the hall among audiophile strangers as to whether, in fact, the dealer was using some reverse psychology to sell the Basis turntable. Not one of the fellas in the hall thought the DCS stack was that close to the Basis in SQ. Of, course, the turntable, arm and cart (Lyra Titan at that time) was an expensive set up, but well short of the cost of the DCS stack.
Needless to say, that demonstration merely confirmed my opinion that existed prior and still does today.
However, if you never want to hear a tic, snap or pop in your music and do not cotton to the inconvenience of vinyl, I can surely understand trying to obtain the best digital presentation possible. Every year, the best digital gets closer and closer to the natural presentation of vinyl----maybe someday it will get there.
I have pretty humble setups both on the digital and turntable front, but I find myself listening to digital more often.
Though, when I feel like listening to something I haven't heard in years, and I just want to sit and melt away, I dig out the vinyl and enjoy it.
Although I agree that fiddling with vinyl is time consuming, I can't say I haven't fiddled with my digital playback just as much, if not more. But, with digital, it's always been troubleshooting a problem, which I enjoy, but can be far more time consuming.
In the end, to me, my system is just a means for me to enjoy music. There's no rule saying as an audio lover, you HAVE to enjoy vinyl :) The system is there as a means for you to enjoy music. If it's becoming a hurdle, then it's not really serving it's purpose.
With that said, I would suggest one last thing. Try one more table. Just one more. Nothing fancy, and nothing more expensive...but it's entirely possible that the Scout sound is not your cup of tea. Like, for example, if you want something that sounds more...say...refined, try a Clearaudio Concept. If something more energetic, try a Rega RP6. Shouldn't lose much if any money, since all three table sell for about the same. I'm sure you tried a couple of dac's before you found the sound you wanted from digital. And, if that next table is equally disappointing to you...then, well, at least you gave it an honest go, didn't waste any more money trying...and you can peacefully put it out of your mind for good :)
I have tried other tables,had a Linn lp12 and thoughts it sucked.I did all the upgrades whithout spending what I considered a big waste of my money and time.Had a Linn guru do his magic in the setup and sold it re-cooping my money.Tried a Rega table as well.The bottom line for me is im done with taking this any further.My TT setup is good but I just don't think its on par with my digital side and never will be... I listen to my albums and yes I enjoy it but when I really want to get serious im on the digital setup.
At 77, I'm older than most here. I started collecting records in Jr. High School when 78's were fifty-cents apiece.
I bought one of the first CD players when CD first hit the scene. It was one of those Phillips top loaders. I thought it sounded like crappola.
Over the years, I've upgraded the CD system and now run an ARC CD-7se. Okay ... now most CDs sound really good ... some sound really, REALLY good. BUT for critical listening, and to get really emotionally involved in the music, I still think vinyl is the way to go.
To my ears, there's nothing like an early stereo or mono recording recorded back in the days when all tube electronics (including the mikes), were used. Everything from massed strings to vocals, with the right analog setup, can sound absolutely fantastic. If you're not getting these results from your records ... just stay on the upgrade path 'til ya gets it right.
Oregonpapa, I am your age and still remember when mono records were a dollar and stereo ones, two dollars. I have about 1500 records and about 1000 digital discs. I have owned at least 30 cd players with many of the more recent ones also playing sacds, but right now I have none.
But, I presently have both the best vinyl and the best digital sources, I've ever had. The turntable is the Nantais/Lenco Reference with Ikeda tone arm and 9TT cartridge. These go to the BMC MCCI phono stage. The digital is from a pro guy with the company name of Archiving Vinyl. Originally, this was derived from my interest is getting my many 45rpm reissues into the best possible digital with post digitizing RIAA.
This has resulted in their AMS music server. It allows running up to quad native DSD, which is a sampling rate of 11.2Mhz per second. These files are quite large, of course, but my hard drive are 3.5 Terra bit. Soon I will have two SSD which will hold most of my music data. One of the design goals was to have the very lowest "latency" possible. Basically, this is a measure of how much time the computer has to devote to processing the data off the hard drive or the SSDs. This means that you don't get the displays of album covers, etc. Also it has several atomic clocks to assure accuracy within the change of digital to the dac and into analog.
It uses JRiver MC20 plus Signalyst playback systems.
What I hear with the two sources playing the same music is entirely different. Vinyl is very pleasing with great holographic presentation. The only fault I find is having to get up so often and changing the record. Digital using Signalyst has greater dynamics, better bass, and top end and an amazing sense of being there. You also get much more detail and sense of where exactly the musicians are and slight mistakes they make. But the perspective is that of the microphones not being in the audience. I should say that this is more evident on older recordings than new ones.
So what do I listen to? When I am reviewing something, I use digital exclusively as it allows clean repeat listening with and without the component being reviewed. I have many LPs of old jazz that have never been released in digital as well as some where the digital version is quite poor. I do go on kicks where I listen for many days to nothing but vinyl.
Well I am 60 and could have dated one of your daughters. I believe I have both great digital and anolog setups. I am with oregonpapa. Listen to different music but vinyl 95% of the time digital when feeling lazy. My digital sounds great, I just really love the touch, feel and smell of vinyl. I love the way it takes me back to when the music was new(with NO snap crackle or pop). I love the physical envolvment. I love the art work and obvious effort and time that goes into the entire package. I love the sound. Great sound. Big bottoms, smooth mids and highs. Can't be beat by any available(to me) medium. Vinyl takes an effort digital is just that. Threads like theses are a joke. Some audiogoner announces "I tried it all more then once, don't bother it's waist of time". Always makes me laugh. My one question to you guys is how's the hearing?
I'm just sayin 🖖✌️
One of the things we have digital to thank for is the importance of using the earliest-generation tape source available from which to manufacture a disc, whether LP or CD/SACD. Record companies weren't overly concerned about using a second, third, or even fourth generation copy with which to master LP's from, prior to the bad sound of early CD's bringing the importance of that consideration to light.
I tried to like digital for many years. One day I listened to a decent turntable again and never looked back. Every time I try digital it sounds fine for an hour or maybe a few days but that's about it. My cheap rega rp3 setup with a super cartridge sounds better than the most expensive digital source I've heard. Better than a 100.000 $ DAC. That's when I stopped looking for digital as Asa source of serious high end
About a year ago I starting digitizing some of my vinyl. My vinyl setup is a VPI Scout with a Benz Ebony TR and a Linn Linto phonostage. With a good quality A/D (modified Korg MR-2000) and the appropriate DAC (Chord Hugo), my digitized vinyl sounds pretty much the same as the original vinyl. Plus I can take out most of the worse of the clicks, pops and hiss (Vinyl Studio) which really does improve the experience. Given the convenience, I play the digitized vinyl a lot more than I used to play the actual vinyl. It took some time to get the system right, but now I can get the sound of my vinyl with the convenience of digital, through a computer.