Turntables better than a Wadia 861SE w/ Statement

I have a Wadia 861SE w/ Statement upgrade freom GNSC. Thinking of getting a turntable. What are the best choices that produce sonic qualities better than my digital?
Digital and analog: different flavors...
Agree with the above poster. However I prefer my vinyl setup. I just like the sound better YMMV.

Given your investement $$'s in digital, you'll have to spend quite a bit. Also, do you have a preamp or using the Wadia direct to your amps?

I used to have a Wadia 860, So I am somewhat familiar with the sound you are getting. I can offer some opionions, but there are going to be a bunch on what to actually go with...

I'm running my Wadia into a CAT Ultimate MkII running into a CAT JL-2. The preamp has a phono section with ~26dB of gain. Big question is what is the minimum level of an analog rig to begin to equal the Wadia. Are we talking 10-20K investment or less?
If you want to continue to love and respect your WADIA rig, don't buy a turntable. I retired mine so that I could learn to love digital. It has generally worked, but after spending tens of thousands of dollars over the years investing in new and "better" digital gear, I've come to realize that I have probably the same level of performance I once had with a Rega and nice Grado cartridge!!
Hi Aoliviero,

Thinking of spending 10-20K for a vinyl setup? Don't!

My modest system of Basis 2000 table/RS Lab RS-A1 arm/Shelter 501 II cartridge (via 47 Lab Phonocube) probably sounds better than your Wadia. (Please don't take it personally.)

But to answer your question... I spent a lot, lot less!

I have a Wadia 861xi which I like hugely. I have also heard an 861 modded by Northern Sound.

I also have an analog rig which I generally prefer although the sound seems to depend hugely on the mastering and manufacturing of the particular recording.

Originally, my vinyl setup was a Rega P3 with a Koetsu Black cartridge and Tom Evans MicroGroove+ phonoamp. This would retail for about $4.5k. I thought that this analog rig was in many ways better than the Wadia. Generally, there was better detail in vocals and strings, and large symphonic works were less congested. On the down side, the bass was somewhat bloated and it turned out that the notes did not decay as quickly as they should although I did not recognize either of these deficiencies at the time. My newer analog rig, which is based on the SME 20/2 turntable, sounds even better.
I think you're phono stage is your CAT is pretty good. Maybe someone else can comment. But for under 10K...you'll have a ton of options. I'd go for a used SME 20/2 with SME IV.Vi arm...approx 6k. Or a SME 10 and arm...4k. Spend about 2k on a good cartridge, Lyra Helicon, Shelter, something. $500 on a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine, $500 on a better arm cable, like a Hovland or similar.

You have a lot of options in the price range. The Basis mentioned above is also great. The SME 20/2 is a lifetime investment. You may trade cartridges...but the table will likely be a permament resident.

Good luck.
>>I've come to realize that I have probably the same level of performance I once had with a Rega and nice Grado cartridge!!<<

Comparing an 861 SE Statement to this analog combo is apples to oranges. Mount a Zyx Airy 2 or 3 cartridge with a good tonearm/turntable and it's goodbye Wadia.
Check out the Nottingham table/arm conbos,really worth checking out.Especially the Space/Acespace unit at about $3K.
CAT phono stage is excellent although the gain is pretty high for some cartridges which can make volume settings a bitch with the stepped antenuator. That was my experience with an early CAT Signature, anyway.

There are better arms than that Nottingham for less money. SME is the way to go but don't buy it from the North American distributor as you'll pay TWICE as much as from other sources.
Hello Aoliviero:

When I first got back into vinyl, I spent +/- 30% of what I had into my Levinson 37 transport and Chord DAC 64. The up-side is I have not bought a CD in three years, the down-side is I have bought in the neighborhood of $1,000 in records, and have just up-graded my turntable / arm / cartridge / phonopre, for the third time.

Best regards,

Hi Aolivero,
I once participated in a friend's similar effort to "balance sources". We used an earlier version of yr pre, with a Symphonic Line amp (outstanding match with CAT and sounding similar to JL) -- AND (bingo) a Wadia 861 (i.e. an earlier version of yrs?).

TO make this long story shorter, we tried a large number of tables, all privately owned or dealer loans, mostly reasonably priced, using a Shelter 5 s.(the SAME Shelter on all TT's -- you can imagine the setting up hassle!).

1) The best digital (incl the Wadia) sounded very good, esp when NOT compared to analogue. The performance was also consistent and, of course, there's no set-up hassle, LP cleaning hassle, etc.
2) The overwhelming majority of TT were capable of better musical enjoyment than the digital.
3) Cheap vinyl reissues sounded horrible. Badly set up TT's sounded average to horrible.
4) Few cd's sounded absolutely "horrible" -- but none we tried sounded absolutely outstanding.
5) Amazingly, the TT bass was superior, as was the upper register as the TT became better engineered (also more expensive).

Many good performers from Teres, Amazon, Clearaudio (the mid-priced stuff), Scheu... priced <3-5k + cartridge, new.

The latest +10k (new) TT+arm offerings were beyond comparison; usefully, the set-up and maintenance for these TT's is also minimal/non-existant (take S. Yorke, for example; many others).

We didn't try SME, unfortunately.
We listened to classical and some blues.
Gregm & All,

Thank you for your replies. It seems that properly set up and reasonably priced Turtable rigs can easily outperform decent digital in many ways.

Embarking on a turntable/arm combination seems very intimidating. Maybe it's because I don't have the experience here that I did on evaluating digital front-ends. My main questions are now:

1) Is there a particular area one should focus on? Turntable ? Arm? Cartridge?

2) Is getting an "all-in-one" system like the Nottingham or VPI whorthwhile? Does it limit upgradability?

3) How much should one spend to get something that is clearly better than the Wadia?

From what I've read, my short list would be below. Any recommendations?


Nottingham Spacedeck/space arm
VPI Scout Master

High End:



Shelter, 901
Zyx (not sure if gain is high enough)
Benz Micro-Glider, Wood
Hi Aoliviero,
your question is exactly up my alley!! :-)
Altho my Wadia 861 is stock & not the SE version, I still love it. I run it into a CAT SL1 Sig Mk3 & in turn into a pair of Symphonic Line RG4 Mk3 amps. I agree w/ Gregm that these amps are really very good sounding & a very good match for the CAT SL1 Sig Mk3. They seem to be sounding a bit better ever since I upgraded their diode rectifier bridge.

Take a look @ my TT setup - it retails for little over $4K & it handily beats the Wadia 861. It's more "organic" & the music simply flows thru it. Not that the music doesn't flow easily thru the Wadia 861. In & of itself, the Wadia 861's rendition of music is simply superb & so far I wouldn't trade it for another CDP but when compared to my TT setup, the Wadia loses. There's a "correctness" of the music thru vinyl that the Wadia cannot give. I don't think that it's the Wadia as much as I think that it's the digital format. I've worked on getting the sound out of the Wadia & I feel that I have it where I want it now. So, the Wadia's sound has been largely optimized in my system (sure there can be improvements but I think that I'm at the point of diminishing returns).
Often the recordings that sound most analog thru the Wadia are the ones that are 2-mic recordings such as "Blues Union", "Meeting by the River", those recorded thru DSD format like "Healin" & those using the JVC K2 process. Not surprising!!
I think the advice in this thread is pretty much dead-on: you don't have to spend a whole heck of a lot for the vinyl to setup to beat the digital. About half the cost of your digital setup should *easily* do it, from my experience. I personally like the Nottingham Spacedeck w/ the latest SpaceArm & the Teres designs. Superb dynamics & PRaT! The scary thing is that you have sooooo much choice, you could very easily get analyes-paralyses choosing one!!
I've heard A CAT System many years ago hooked up to a Goldmund Reference Turntable System and a special Van Den Hul Cartridge and I will never forget that unbeliveable stunning sound.Just left digital totally in the dust ,no comparison at all.
I don't thing you realize just how great a CAT can sound in a great analog rig.You're in for one great ride,and I'm sure you will end up dumping the Wadia.
I know thats a bold statement to make,BUT IMO your in for a real treat.
Personally I would sell the Wadia and throw the money into a mid level VPI deck,and get yourself a top end phono cartridge.

Good to hear from you. I was hoping you would join in since you have a similar system as mine. Anyway, thanks for the encouraging words. Sounds like it won't take much to get some good sound.

76doublebass got me even more encouraged. I don't know about selling the Wadia. Still have 600 Cd's. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing analog for real and getting as excited as all of you.


ANdrew -- re some yr questions. TT+arm combos ("all in one") are qctually quite good usually, but the uprade-ability can suffer on the cheapest offerings.

A good way of looking at making the analogue investment "longer term" to follow the order: TT, arm, cartridge.

Among the reasonably priced/great performers you have TTs such as -- Scheu (self assembled; used to be called Eurolab), Teres, Pro-ject (the top models)... Among the many tonearms, you might look at Scroeder, Moerch, Origin Live. The beginner's Schroeder is IMO outstanding BUT there's a long waiting list it seems...

Many A'goners can offer excellent advice, one of these being Rauliruegas who has an unbelievable collection of analogue gear (including more cartridges than most dealers!)
Like Bombaywalla, I too have an 861 non-SE without GNS upgrades. It’s running into a Supratek Chennin, and then into CAT JL1 Amps., driving Soundlab M1’s

Firstly, moving from running the Wadia direct into my CAT’s, and into the Supratek pre, was an across the board improvement.

While the 861 is a very good and satisfying CDP, my analog rig is more so.

The purpose of my Supratek purchase was to gain phono capabilities. As mentioned, a side benefit was improved digital playback.

But oh, my recent return to vinyl playback has represented the most fun that I’ve had in this 40-year hobby. After a 20+ year hiatus, I jumped back into vinyl playback, with wads of greenbacks strapped to both feet, by purchasing a Galibier Quattro Turntable, and Tri-Planar Tonearm, with a stupidly “good” -- because of its low cost -- Denon 103R cart. Since this was my first complete table/arm/cart set-up, I didn’t want to chance “fat fingering” a mega buck cartridge, and went with the Denon. Since doing so, I haven’t had a real desire to upgrade.

Since my foray into vinyl, approximately a year ago, my Wadia has done little more than gather dust. I liken the difference between digital and vinyl to the proverbial appearance over substance debate. I’ve found that there is a certain “wow” factor associated with CD’s, but this, like lust, quickly diminishes, and doesn’t necessarily turn into love, like the vinyl playback that I’m experiencing.

If you’re concerned that you must invest a commensurate amount in a vinyl rig as the cost of a Wadia 861se GNS, I believe you will find that you do not. Sure the care and feeding of a vinyl rig and the software is more time consuming. A RCM is necessary, if not downright mandatory. And cleaning those records takes time. Buying and finding LP’s can be costly and a chore, but for the most part, I haven’t found it to be so. Thankfully, I saved all the LP’s from my youth, and have had a blast on the hunt for used, and most times, very inexpensive vinyl. Those small plastic cases don’t compare to the ascetics and feel of albums. These not so young eyes, find the difference in size alone, a plus.

An interesting benefit is that I’m finding myself spinning much more rock than I ever did with CD’s. While having lots of rock on CD, much was not what I would play as a steady diet. I found that I quickly tired of most rock CD’s. But that’s not the case with vinyl. Rock, even poorly recorded, essentially non-listenable on CD rock, is palatable on vinyl. Thus, well recorded rock is even more listenable on vinyl than CD. In fact, while Dire Straits’ recordings are done very well on digital, casual non-audiophile listeners have readily heard, and appreciated the differences of vinyl to digital.

With that said, I can’t directly answer your question because I lack your specific CDP, however, I can’t help believe that a vinyl rig costing less, and even much less than your Wadia, would be more to your liking. It would certainly be different, and if your sensibilities are anything like mine, those differences would be to your liking……Cheers!

PS. My Galibier Turntable purchase was a very rewarding one. Thom Mackris is a peach of a guy, and has forgotten more about audio than I will ever know. Although over 1,000 miles away, Thom patiently provided long distance hand holding, and encouragement during the setting-up process, and has continued to stay in touch. Formerly in league with folks like Chris Brady of Teres, and Peter Clark of Redpoint, puts Thom in what I, and many others, would say is pretty darn good company, providing a good reference point on your assumed quest for an analog rig.
Wadia? Not very sure about it. But i have the Burmester 969/970 digital combination. It is of different flavor as compare to my analog set up. Less time spent with digital as there are lots of fun tweaking my analog system. Overall it is more satisfied musically with the analog set up in my system and with lesser money spent.
My current Analog set up is consist of a VPI Super ScoutMaster with an outside ring clamp and a VPI Sychronous Drive System. The JMW arm is paired up with a Shelter 901 being driven by a BAT VK-P10SE Superpack Phono Stage. All of the 11 guys (Friends and Friends of Friends) that sat on the "sweet spot" had goose bumps all over their body thru out the listening session. I wonder if a Wadia 861SE digital player would have the same effect to this folks.
I'm in the quest for a new analogue rig myself. My finances only permit the moderately priced options: Nottingham Space Deck/Ace Space Arm, The VPI Scout Master/JMW-9 (Signature?), and the Teres 160/Origin Live Silver Mk II (or perhaps the Morch). I find all these options to be viable choices, if slightly different "flavors", as is the basic Scout. I'm not an admirer of the stock JMW-9 arm and I think the Signature version appears to be a worthwhile upgrade although I haven't heard it yet. None of the arms in question are exactly world class but all are decent. If you want to plunge into the deep end I recommend that you definitely add the Galibier Design tables and possibly the Avid Actus to your list. You should also consider the Lyra cartridges (all are approx. .5mV output). The Schroeders and the lastest iteration of the Triplanar seem to be the current pinnacles of tonearm design. Definitive judgements in analogue gear are very hard to come by as comparisons where only one variable is altered are not easy to arrange. Good luck in your search.
One of the simmering controveries in record reproduction is the issue of the alleged sonic signature of acrylic. VPI, Basis, Clearaudio, Scheu/Eurolab and Amazon seem to make up the pro acrylic camp while Nottingham Analogue, Galibier, Redpoint, Simon Yorke (I think), SME, Avid and Acoustic Signature have chosen to avoid the use of acrylic. Verdier, I believe, uses it in the plinth but not the platter. The lower echelon Teres use it in the platter (formerly their entire entry level table) while the upper echelon Teres do not use any acrylic. I'm not in a position to conjecture on how significant this issue is - perhaps someone with more expertise will chime in - but it is worth considering. At the level of $2K - $4K table and arm combinations it may not be an overriding issue but when one gets into the realm of $10K and up table/arm combinations the equation may change.
Personally, I would opt for the roughly $3K table/arm realm coupled with a $600 - $1.5K cartridge. That is certainly a good enough system to give you a very good idea of what vinyl offers. I suggest you also invest in a record cleaning machine and a good dedicated stand or wall shelf for the table. If you opt for the Space Deck I've heard very positive comments about the Boston audio mat.
I have never heard a top-notch CD player but I have no desrie to. My vinyl satisfies all the sonic needs I have for a fraction of the price.

For your price, you have the sky as your limit! Here's some ideas:

1. VPI Black Knight/JMW 10.5/Loricraft RCM/ZYX Airy 3
2. Teres 320/Morch UP-3/VPI Hw 16.5/Denon 103R
3. VPI Scoutmaster/JMW-9 Signature/DynaVector 17D2/SDS/Loricraft RCM
4. VPI Hw19-Mk IV/SDS/SAMA/TNT-5 Bearing and Platter/Wheaton Tri-Planar/Shelter 901/Loricraft RCM

...the sky is the limit.

Thank you for your suggestions Marty.

I have been hearing great things about the ZYX Airy 3. Does anyone know what the price and output are.

Also, based on the feedback in this thread, I plan to spend more in the 5K range for TT/Arm/Cart.
I believe there are four variants of the ZYX Airy 3: low (.24mV) output, high (.48mv) output, and your choice of silver ("S") or copper ("X") coils. The US distributor is Sorasound, search ZYX here on Audiogon. The current price seems to be $2,300.00. I have no experience with these cartridges but personally I'd be dubious about the wisdom of mounting any $2K+ cartridge on a $3K table & arm combination.
Well out of all the players in the 1000.00 to 5000.00 range, WADIA is by far my favorite, super smooth 4 volt output on the RCA's vs. the standard 2 volt machines, built way beyond what you could imagine for a cd deck to be, and it is the fullest body sounding unit with the most real sound stage, okay the soundstage is not real it actually sounds double the size it should be, my room went from 8 ft to 20 ft ceilings :)... and truth is I turn on my turntable and can't believe it could get better, but then the wadia warms up after about an hour of use and it is astonishing at how truly analog it sounds but with more weight and of course Bass is top dog out of the wadia but anyone will tell you that, but they are very powerfull sounding CD players, very open and very in your face, most dvd players sound a little rolled off and like you are in the 12th row, but the Wadia is very upfront, like you are standing on stage, could be good for some, could be bad for others, its all in your taste but mine is perfect for me, and It replaced a 3000.00 dollar universal, Yep SACD and all but the Wadia stomped it, I left SACD since and have completly invested in Redbook and Vinyl ...

So for me the beatles and like zeppelin on vinyl are best, but for some other music CD's are better. So I guess you can't really say a turntable is better for everything.

P.s. the Wadia plays Killer tunes even when a bad disc is thrown at it, scratched, MP3, CdR's anything I can think of is flawless.

Good info. I finally found the Sorasound web-site. Good info. Actually, the prices may be even higher!

Any knowledge of the ZYX R-100 ($995) or the Benz Glider II ($795)?


Have you heard the 47 Lab Flatfish? Just wondering...

Aoliviero, hopefully someone with more experience with these arm and cartridge combinations will step in but I can supply some general information. I will let others make the arguments for sub-$500 cartidges e.g. the AT-OC9 II, Denon 103 (& variants), Dyanavector 10x5 and the mid-priced Grados. The next price notch up brings you into the realm of the Shelter 501 II (.48mV, approx. $850), Sumiko Blackbird (2.5mV, $750), Benz Micro Glider II (.4/.8/& 2.5mV variants, $800), Dynavector Karat 17D2 II (.23mV, $750), Ortofon Kontrapunkts (.45mV), Lyra Dorian (.6mV, $750), and the cheaper ZYX models (.24 & .48mV, Bloom $? - $1140 Yatra). Not every cartridge is a good match with every arm, at the coarsest level the compliance of the cartridge suspension needs to me matched to the appropriate effective arm mass. The cartridge price comparisons aren't entirely apples-to-apples as some manufacturers or distributors offer substantial discounts for retipping, oops damage or upgrades while others leave you entirely on your own once they have your money. Also some companies appear to have better QC and some cartridges track better than others. All these cartridges are fairly good (or at least ones I've heard) and have their partisans. I like the Lyras which some some people find insufficiently romantic. The shop that sells you your arm and table should be prepared to let you listen to at least a couple options.
No actually sorry, Not sure what that is.
if your looking for a world class tt then look no further,this is the last word in tt's.


I own an 861, and my Linn LP12 sounds a lot better than the Wadia in every way except background noise.
The Wadia has less hash in the background, but musically- there is no contest.
The LP12 is close in price to the 861se.
I will upgrade my 861 to SE status soon, but only because I have a large selection of CD's that I can't get on vinyl.

All of 'em!
If you are handy with woodworking tools and want a turntable that will blow away skeptics and save you enough money to spend more on the arm and cartridge check out the "Building High End Tables Cheap At Home Despot" forum on this site.

Here's something to whet your appetite.


This forum has the most messages of any on Audiogon. It has been running for two years, and extolls the virtues of the long-gone heavy platter Goldring Lenco turntables of the 60's, and early 1970's. These were a secret that is now coming out of the closet.

The turntables (GL 99, GL 75, GL 78 and a few others) use a true idler wheel drive which fell foul of the belt drive push in the mid 1970's. The table itself was superbly engineered with a massive, purpose built motor and a bearing machined to very tight tolerances. On the minus side it had a flimsy plinth and a mediocre arm. Until about a year ago you could find one on Ebay or sometimes at thrift stores for less than $100. The forum has pushed prices up and now it's rare to find one for under $250. But that's peanuts when you hear what it can do with a massive plinth
attached and a world class arm and cartridge.

I bought a GL 75 Ebay and had it shipped from England. As suggested in the forum I built a solid 10" thick plinth from layers of birch plywood. I then mounted an Origin Live Rega 250 arm with a Koetsu Black cartridge on it.

Holy shit. This turntable has slam and dynamics that will make you jump out of your seat. It also resolves more detail than I had ever heard on my records before. What turntable had I been using before I got the Lenco ? A heavily modified Linn Sondek LP 12 with an Origin Live DC motor and Cetech carbon fiber subchassis. This turntable with the mods is no slouch, but it sounded boring and seriously lacking in punch and excitement after the comparison with the Lenco.

Shortly after this I sold the Linn on Ebay and
switched the Linn Ittok arm and Karma cartridge to the Lenco. Not quite as exciting as the OL 250/Koetsu combo, but it's a little more suitable for just about every musical style.

Don't know what musical styles you love, but a Lenco/OL RB 250 and Shelter 501 should cover just about everything and set you back no more than $1,600 including the wood you'll need for the plinth - if you shop around. But properly set up it will decimate the Wadia and outclass just about any turntable out there in the $5,000 price range.

Hey, if you don't like it you can use the arm and cartridge on another turntable. But I have a feeling that you will be amazed.
have fun,

I have a Wadia 301 with GNS reference mods. I just bought a Immedia turntable here on audiogon with an Immedia tonearm. Here is my feedback for what it is worth.

I first installed it with a benz glider cartridge. Detail was less than the Wadia, but it moved me much closer to a bigger soundstage.

Then, I repaced the benz glider with a Lyra Helikon and it kicks the Wadia's butt in every category but convenience. And don't get me wrong, I think the Wadia is the best cd player I have ever heard. Pre-Immedia I would have said the Wadia put me in about row 10. Now, I'd say the Wadia, although it sounds very analogue in many ways, puts me in about row 50. The Immedia puts me in about row 3, communicating all the emotion and immediacy of being in row 3 (but with the advantage that I can control the volume from row 3). Take care, Jeff
Any SX Series Micro turntable easily outperforms any red book cd-player I´ve heard until todate (Wadia, Accuphase, Esoteric, dcs...). You can´t go wrong with these.
you cannot really compare analog and digital. as many said, both formats are quite different especially in presentation.
im using a hi end cd player from accuphase. it sounds very good by all means, but i always prefer to listen to my analog rig. its just more musical, more fun... sad to say, it turns out to be more costly as well.
Just to note: The original thread here is a almost four years old.
Hello, I started this thread and learned a lot since.

anyway, I know of at least two examples of TT's beating the Wadia. I suspect many other would.

Anyway, I purchased 3 cd's over the last 4 years and listended to the Wadia maybe 10 times in that period. Should I say more?

Having a high end CD player is like having the best standard definition tv monitor, 525 lines. But having a turntable is like having a 16mm projector. If the 16mm film print material is in good condition you will have very little scratch and its resolution can approach 1080 lines (HD resolution) - if the image is captured well and everything is set up correctly. (35mm film can have maximum of 4k resolution, which is like having audio master-tape) That's the analogy I've been using.

CD player or redbook digital is convenient and consistent but it's limited by its redbook standard, just like SD TV is limited by its inherent resolution. But 16mm projector is a pain in the butt, you get the picture.

We have a Wadia System 9- mono 922 computers and 931 digital controller with the new Wadia transport on its way at our new showroom in Soho in New York City. You can listen to that A/B against our slate plinthed turntables and decide for yourself which is more to your liking. I believe that OMA is the only venue in the New York City metropolitan area with a Wadia System 9, by the way.

Oswaldsmill Audio

Jonathan Weiss
Since dealers ads seem to be allowed in this thread. I'll put a GNSC Statement modded Wadia S-7"i" up against most of the turntables listed above anyday. Best Cd player I've ever heard by a long shot...
Hi Steve: I have a S7i myself - great great machine. But my airbearing Micro Turntable easily puts that cd-player a shame. Nevertheless: S7i - by far the best sounding one box red book player I´ve owned.
I have owned a Great Northern Sound Statement mod Wadia 861 SE since 2003, so I am very familiar with its sound. Likewise, I have owned or been privileged to long term loans of several very competent turntables including an Avid Acutus with SME V and Koetsu Urushi, Linn LP-12 with Rega RB300 and Shure V15, Spiral Groove SG-2 with TriPlanar VII uii and Koetsu Urushi and Brinkmann Balance with Schroeder Reference and Transfiguration Orpheus. Note that I had ample opportunity to compare each of these analog rigs to the 861 SE GNSC Statement.

In short, I think that anyone faced with a choice of either analog or digital, no matter how good, is creating a false choice. I have substantial collections of both vinyl and CDs and some favorites are available on one medium but not the other. Since I care a lot about a lot of this music, I don't want to just pick one medium and lose the chance to listen to the music of one format only.

Second, I want to have the best possible experience listening to either format that I can. Why would I want a killer player of one medium and a tepid player in the other format?

Third, I don't think that CD or vinyl consistently are "better" one versus the other. As Gregm stated above, vinyl is subject to far more variation in quality than is CD. If you want consistently good quality, CD is the way to go. It also favors the lazy and sometimes I don't want to clean the record and flip it every 20 minutes. At the same time, good vinyl provides surpassing intimacy and warmth that CD seems not yet able to match.

Fourth, while modest analog and digital rigs can provide very good sound, you can improve each with additional investments that track diminishing returns. For example, my Linn LP-12 is a very good player at a small fraction of the cost of my Spiral Groove but I like my Spiral Groove a lot better and listen to it almost exclusively over the Linn. Similarly, my Resolution Audio Opus 21 is very good, just not as good as my 861 - again at a fraction of the cost.

Fifth, I think that there is an aesthetic unique to the experience of CD and one unique to vinyl. I interact differently with a CD in that I tend to toss it into the player and forget about it. It is a medium that requires less involvement in its preparation for play and during play. Selecting an LP, pulling it from the larger, art covered sleeve, placing it on the turntable, cleaning it and cuing the arm is very involving and I seem inclined to pay attention. That said, I am always moved by the CD version of "Till It Shines" by Lyle Lovett and Keb Mo and the LP version of Rickie Lee Jones singing "Lush Life." I find each of these experiences profoundly moving and would not willingly give up either. (These are just a couple of examples of music that moves me. YMMV)

In short, I like both formats but for different reasons. CD has great dynamics, bass, quiet and consistency. LP has a warmth and intimacy that draws me in, when it's good, though often LPs are kind of junky.

I hope that I have confused anyone looking for a simple answer because I don't think that there is one. The answer for me is to get the best CD player and table I can afford and listen to both. With luck, I can keep tracing a path toward further diminishing returns (and moving music) in each format.
Hi Frank, your S-7"i" isn't GNSC modded :-) I'm not saying...I'm just saying. ha
Casaross, your post was a wonderful and balanced perspective in a discussion forum where the digital vs. analog debate often turns antagonistic.

Thank you.
This Thread is from 2005.
High End Digital was never High End (only from Price) and is dying right now.
In a very few years high End will be Analog only, "the digital" will be replaced from Data downloads in probably some external DACs (PC/Mac to Docking Station)
The Digital Chapter in High End is closed.
Gnsc: Hi Steve. As GNSC does not provide mods to european 230 volt devices anymore... I´m not saying ;-)

I have both, Digital and Analog.

Personally, i do not think that Digital Red Book players can touch a well thought out Analog system at any price. Name them all. (Wadia, dcs, MBL, ARC, Simaudio, etc...). The closest thing to Analog is 96/24 downloads feeding into a top shelf USB or Firewire DAC.

I have many red book downloads (or ripped CD's) on my Ipod docked onto a Wadia dock feeding an ARC DAC7 (both modded by GNSC) with satisfying results. I take this up a notch hooking my my MacBook Pro to the DAC7 with a Bel Canto USB Link playing 96/24 downloads. Sound pretty darn good.

Queueing up Patricia Barber MOFI 45rpm Cafe Blue on a modded Sota Cosmos IV, Graham Phantom II and Ortofon A90 feeding an ARC Ref Phono 2 and Ref3 LE (both modded by GNSC) gives me gratifying results.

When i'm really lazy, i just hook up my Ipod to my Tivoli table radio with less than satisfying results but hey......some nights after returning from work late, i do not feel like firing up an all tube audio system.

Listen for yourself and make your own decision. I made mine.


If you are in the NYC area, OMA has a showroom in Soho, Manhattan and we have the only Wadia system 9 for public audition in the New York Metropolitan area, or so I've been told by Wadia. You can come in and here a direct A/B comparison with our turntables, using the same material recorded on both vinyl and CD. I've been told that we are getting the new Wadia transport in a couple of weeks by Wadia principal John Schaeffer.

Jonathan Weiss
Oswaldsmill Audio