Upgrade path question. Upgrade analog or turn to digital?

I am running a full analog rig and my beloved cartridge needs service soon (6 months about) so I am wondering if I should sell the analog rig (tt+phono+lps) and rather buy digital source. I am planning to upgrade it later if I am not going digital. 

I am satisfied playing lps, I do it when I can focus on music, but sometimes it`s tempting to have the same quality, just a button away. I can afford either the digital or the analog upgrade and I don`t have the space for both. I am thinking about two scenarios. 

Change the diamond in the Ikeda, rewire the tonearm, change the bearing, add a DS Audio ION-001, max out the VPI Classic 1. It`s sittin on a Shun Mook maple board and heavy sandbox right now, looking for a serious platform north 2000 dollars used or that money goes to the phono upgrade.
Upgrade the phono later, what I save on the digital goes here. I am hoping for a used Aries Cerat, but would be happy with other OTL solutions.

I sell the analog rig and going digital. I was thinking about to buy a streamer north 5K used and either a ESOTERIC D-02X, Aries Cerat Kassandra II, or similar. 

I am planning to upgrade the integrated amp either way, the room treatment almost done.

Or a C version,

Gryphon Diablo 120 with DAC and call it a day.





Why are you against upgrading the phono, the amp and the platform altogether? The tt upgrades are coming quite inexpensive so that makes sense. 

My feeling is that you can always go digital in other audio in your life, but vinyl is what you have set up your system for. regardless of sound quality either way, the physical aspect of vinyl has been part of the catch for me. Same with coffee. I grind my beans with a hand grinder. Have had the same grinder for 35 years now. In my mind, why would I put the beans into very noisy electric grinder and ruin the mood to begin with? 

If you decide change make sure you listen to a digital system you really like before you go that route. Whatever you decide to do I find that room correction software like ARC from Anthem/Paradigm, Audyssey or Dirac is a must have, not a nice to have. I have a very well treated room and room correction software works better in that environment. It can't make magic out of a bad room, just dial in one that is already decent.

ADD Streaming; KEEP Vinyl. 

Worn stylus is a great opportunity to try a different cartridge, do it soon, have your existing cartridge as a backup.

Do you have the few tools and skills to align a new cartridge? 

I guess I would start with how old are you? I’m 70 and have had vinyl all my life. So, it was great having my really good vinyl rig as a comparison as I brought my digital up to the level of my analog… a nearly forty year odyssey. I listen 98% of the time to streaming… but it is fun to spin a disk once in a while.

In general, if components are carefully chosen, it will cost around a 10 - 20% more to get the digital streaming end up to analog in systems in the $10K - $50K system cost area. In the $50 -150K systems you can do digital for about the same cost as analog for the same sound quality. After that analog pulls ahead again with the cost advantage.

But the advantages of digital are enormous. $14.99 / month for access to a nearly infinite library… Qobuz… half a million high Rez albums. So, unless you are an old fart like me I would go for digital and drop analog. I think the vinyl resurgence is peaking and in the next ten years will start falling as digital gets the cost advantage at lower price points and vinyl becomes only nostalgic. Progress in digital is rapid now.

Yeah, and put yourself at the mercy of the streaming services with their compressed data streams! They do this to get their files to fit on the 'Net pipelines. Once data is discarded it cannot be recovered!

Keep your LP playback system and get an iFi Zen Stream and a Topping DAC. That's all you will need for streaming. Keep buying LPs!

"max out the VPI Classic 1"

Listening to a Classic 1 for 10 years or so. As it is stock, it delivers enough of what the $10K+ setups do. You probably already know maxing the phonostage is paramount before sinking any money into the table.

As a platform for a better arm...a Fiekert or something with appropriate arm board to go with it, which then can be moved to a more substantial one in the future.

The 3D or gimbal will be a less costly, but not as significant in SQ, IMO.

If you don’t already have one-Phoenix Roadrunner/Sota speed controller. More accurate than VPI’s ADS.

why choose, have both! streaming is wonderful... truly the world of music at one’s fingertips, all for less than the cost of 1 lp or cd per month...

We always had to pay for telephone, but it was cheap. Then we started paying for TV. It was kinda cheap but limited. Years later, we started paying for radio. Also cheap for awhile. Now they want us to make a monthly payment for music. In my mind, it all adds up, then you are the one who is limited. I guess that for the likes of me, I will never buy it.


i read what you typed, but i am sorry, i am not getting your point

maybe it is just me...

Depends how many records you own and whether you enjoy them. I see no reason not to buy a decent streamer/DAC for under $2k and add it as a source to your primary analog system. Just power if off for critical LP listening.

“why choose, have both! streaming is wonderful... truly the world of music at one’s fingertips, all for less than the cost of 1 lp or cd per month”
+1, @jjss49

You’re are unlikely to receive a sane advise from hard core vinyl hoarders. If collecting records is your thing, I understand; I still buy CD’s and Vinyl but selectively like those one off ultra pressings. For everything else, streaming has far exceeded my expectations and it has open doors to unlimited music. A well put together streaming system can be just as satisfying as any Vinyl / CD playback system.

Buy a high quality streamer / DAC and sign up with Qobuz. Look into offerings from Bricasti, Grimm Audio, Lumin or Aurender. Sit back and enjoy!

@4krowme I've finally finished my streaming setup, far superior to my vinyl which is not half bad, so now in process of upgrading my vinyl setup. Both can be entirely satisfying, only financial considerations should impact going with both or limiting oneself to either of the two.


By the way, not sure what you meant by comment of having to pay monthly fee for music, but I could make good case its practically criminal the small amount they charge us for these services!



   First off, I appreciate the way that you respectfully raise this question, so thanks. 


 I must explain myself better here. Since a long time ago, I have observed how we pay for more and more in services that were not supported by subscription in the past. I do understand however, that it is a choice and not forced so much as it may seem.


  To be sure, I am a very rare individual these days. That is not so much a compliment as another observation. For example, to this day, I have never owned any kind of cell phone. When I look at how the world population has accepted what I would call the 'Vegas of communication', I have chosen not to participate unless I find an actual need. Even my computer and skills with it are pretty limited because, again, it is all that I require.


 I am not going to grandstand here. This is just my personal choice. I am the same guy who didn't see the big deal about 'touch tone phones' as opposed to dial when they came out.

 Maybe this sorts things out a bit? 

i’m as all in with my vinyl as anyone, own 3 great turntables and 12,000 records, yet also all in on my digital and streaming, since that is where the new music is.

my point being follow your musical tastes. if you love to explore musically then you need a solid streaming digital front end to compliment your vinyl.

let the music dictate. if you have to choose i'd do the streaming and come back to the vinyl later.

Will you miss the vinyl ritual, or be liberated by the digital variety?  On paper you can build a great streaming system, but the devil is in the details.  So, if we were talking about your new found love for performance piano and have thoughts of turning pro..maybe don't quit your day job prior to making sure that your new gig is working out.

I am with you @mikelavigne just not quite to the extent you have committed . I enjoy digital and analog, streaming and server, LP, and like them for what they do well and do not dwell on what they lack. No matter the format enjoy the music. 


Why are you against upgrading the phono, the amp and the platform altogether? The tt upgrades are coming quite inexpensive so that makes sense.


Well it was based upon this:

I am satisfied playing lps, I do it when I can focus on music, but sometimes it`s tempting to have the same quality, just a button away.


If you are hot on the digital then maybe a TDAI integrated would be on the list of integrated amps to consider… as it has the room correction and a Roon player built in?

Don’t resist digital. It is inevitable. You will be assimilated.

That said, don’t give up analog. You probably have a long and memorable history with it.



I think your goals will determine your direction.  I love finding new artists and it’s my primary goal, consequently streaming…….I never knew their were so many talented groups that exist.  You won’t find them in your record collection..

If it was me, and I had a pretty decent analogue playback and a lot of LPs, I would just keep building and adding to that.

I say that because I have a pretty decent digital playback & an awful lot of CDs, and as tempting as it has been to delve into the vinyl aural orgasm that I have read so much about, I just have acquired too much aluminum, and I consider some of it to be really good.

What’s your budget?  One thing about Digital is that you can get great sound at a modest outlay.  I dislike analog and am tempted to tell you to ditch it, but the reality is that you can probably do both

I am an all digital audiophile for the following reasons:

- As a general rule I don't appreciate a lot of the classic "audiophile" music, so other than classical there isn't a lot of vinyl that is compelling to me.

- I never had a vinyl setup, so don't have any emotional attachments to them.

- I don't have sufficient space (or budget) for the components or the media.

- I rarely have opportunity to sit down and listen with two kids and a small house, so    I benefit from the easy interface of digital.  I do only listen to ripped CDs.

It's hard for me to give advice to you since don't know what sentimental attachment you have to your vinyl and associated equipment, but do appreciate the desire to making listening to music easier.

I do, however, think that it's not a great idea to get rid of your vinyl rig until you know that you're satisfied with the switch.  I think you can probably add digital as a source with some reasonably sized components.

I'd suggest that you maintain your current vinyl setup with the minimal investment and then add a digital source and see where it takes you.  You might find that it works for 95% of your listening desires and then you can be more confident in moving way from analog and chasing the digital rainbow

I have the new DS Audio optical cartridge and its the biggest analog upgrade I’ve done. Highly recommended.

"tempting to have the same quality, just a button away"

Not goon happen without major investment in cables. power supplies and components.

If you spend enough you can get a well built streaming DAC that will get you there without taking up much room. Keep your current setup. Both serve different purposes.



Tough question since you are already heavily invested in vinyl. Either way you go, I believe there will come a time where you wish you had gone the other way. Meaning, even so you don't have room for both setups, you may want to spend your time and money trying to find the space that will allow it. Best long term advice I can give you.

Tough call. To get streaming properly where the quality won't frustrate you. is fairly pricey, (At least that was my experience) Each format transition was for convenience, 8-tracks played endlessly. Auto-reverse cassettes kept dance going. LP in car? The stacking 45's in pile dropping and grinding into each other to keep the music running. PRO: Digital feed means I never have to leave my chair! That's why we made our own cassettes with "our" music recorded in sequence on continuous play, I even bought an early cassette player that manually flipped the cassette over with robot hand!  But in the process I lost the sound of music. Now I'm back. The music is what I'm here for. My budget wouldn't get me to the quality I want in digital. For me its CD's and vinyl. I own my music. And yes, space is an issue with real things but as our internet is unreliable its nice to be able to just drop the needle and groove.

With digital having over 35 years in it ,you have to spend as much as good analog to beat it very good quality digital cables , roughly in the $1k range ,a very good Ethernet hub the Synergistic research is the best sounding under $2k 

Quality power cords, clean line conditioning ,dedicated line copper outlets ,

and a very good dac such as the Denafrips terminator2 ,or the T+ ,or Holo springs May KTE , the best sounding dacs under $10 k, at 1/2 the cost , imo 

in total around %$12-$15k. To get  very analog sounding digital through streaming ,

equal or better then at $30 k  turntable setup , far better S/N  ratio, distortion much lower blacker backgrounds, much lower bass, a turntable is capable to roughlless then 2/3rds the bits resolution of digital . Digital is capable of 20 true bits ,no more .

Having owned a audio store ,I had many opportunities to compare the last few years digital has gotten much better ,but if you get frugal in even one area you  will hear the. Difference ,if you build a dedicated computer or purchase something from little green computer then you can purchase HQ player dedicate a 2T SS hard drive to i5 and a top 6 core processor and graphics card, memory then the sky is the limit

you can literally Taylor the sound exactly to your liking but it has a learning curve .

i am speaking if you truly want to go all out .

Why not retip or replace you stylus or cartridge and get a starter digital setup, like a Bluesound Node. If you like streaming, the sky is the limit on streamers and DAC’s and if you don’t like streaming, you have everything analog you already like/love.

I’ve only been streaming for a few months and am really enjoying it, but I still spin a LP every now and then.

All the best.


A decent digital setup really doesn't require much space.  I would keep the current analog set up and add a small streamer that can access the home network and then have the music server connected to the home network somewhere else in the house.  Control the music streamer using an app from your phone or tablet.

Certainly wouldn’t dump your current rig when you haven’t decided if you like using digital audio. Add something budget friendly and fully capable like a Bluesound Node, and start streaming files to get your first experience….see if it’s “your thing”. If not you can sell the Node easily, and go back to fixing your analog rig.

A few suggestions: only buy the latest Node 130 ($599), it has a much better DAC than earlier models, use Ethernet into the Node if you can, use a decent CAT 6,7, or 8 Ethernet cable

I am like you vinyl guy.

Lately i bought Pontus 2 dac and Mercury streamer,  it sound wonderful.

I suggest you to buy the most advantage Denafrips dac with Mercury streamer and that is all.

with a good valve amp and speakers the digital sounds like analog.


To me, the biggest difference between vinyl and digital is repertoire. There are 1000× as many releases available digitally as on LP . . . maybe it's 10,000×. So if you're interested in new music, digital is the way to go. If you want a $300 re-re-re-re-release of something recorded in 1957, stick with LP.

Of course, you'll miss dealing with fragile styli, acoustic feedback, VTA, cleaning machines, media wearing out or warping, hum and noise problems. . . .

It's not that I think LP is inferior as a medium. But you can get an astoundingly good system either way, and much more music in digital.

Get yourself a Bleusound Node and add it to your rig. It takes virtually no space, brings all your music under your fingertip, and you can still play analog when you like.

I recommend doing both and my rationale is why give up something you value.  

I was slow to adopt digital like to @ghdprentice and the convenience is wonderful.  I absolutely still plan records; however, it's not a majority of the time. 


My opinion and the path I’ve taken is to enjoy both digital and analog. If your budget allows why not take advantage of having access to both worlds. Twice the fun! Good luck. 


thanks for the expansion on your perspective


as usual mike, you get to the heart of the matter, imo - it is about the music, how to enjoy it, how to discover new artists, new performances, new creative endeavor... in this context, at least a ’starter’ streaming setup is a wise investment for those already with a beloved analog rig - the cost is modest and the benefit and pleasure gained is immense

I am a recent meddler in the music streaming world, all I have added was an app on my computer. I have been into high definition downloaded files for a while and I have a pretty good dac, so all I am missing is a dedicated music steamer. I am dedicated vinyl listener, generally, but the convenience of digital is pretty hard to resist. It took me a few days but I am steaming today in the best quality offered from my particular service at 192/24 and it sounds pretty good!  I have a few month free to see if this is something I would like to keep before they get me on the monthly payment plan. All you need to do is find a reasonable dac, a usb cable and a laptop to get started to try, download an app that allows you to try it for a month or so. Thats what I did. I would keep your vinyl gear a while. I also have spotty internet so its a bit of a coin toss, weather it is worth it or not. We shall see! Good luck and don't forget to enjoy the music and the ride!

Thank you all for the advice. I am going to send to service my Ikeda 9TT early next year and while I am waiting I am going to try a Bluesound Node 130 just to get my feet wet. If it catches me, then I am selling my analog rig. I like LPs, but not for the sentimental values. I just got a great deal on high end cartridge, tt and phono for 5 years ago. For that money it would have been impossible to get a digital system what is coming close to that SQ. The realism of the Ikeda 9TT and the Cube Audio Nenuphar Minis are really magical. Everything sounds like you have it in your room,.What I don`t like is the variety of recordings quality-wise. A clean good pressing is taking the head off and leave you smile for a half day a bad one is collecting dust. But I have more than enough good recordings to enjoy.

I am curious to go for Aries Cerat or full OTL at least next year. Either digital or analog. I am able to do that sacrificing one format. The digital would be a bit cheaper. For example: an Aries Cerat Kassandra II DAC is going around 10K used, an Aries Cerat phono costs a bit more. I am able to buy a good streamer and cables selling my tt, lps. I didn`t decide which brand I am going to buy, a bit cheaper or more expensive could go as well but I would like to have the same SQ. If I go analog, the Node is still going to be a good support, but I am not spending more on the digital part.

I don`t drive car, this is my hobby and want to explore what is possible at the very best, either digital or analog, doesn`t matter. That is the goal. 



seems like your asking us for your preference which we cannot answer.

At your price level, it’s analog sonics vs digital convenience. You’ve already achieved your “really magical” sound, whether switching to a digital system to achieve satisfying SQ is totally subjective - we can’t answer what “you” think will be satisfying enough.

Bluesound Node is how I got into digital. Enjoy your journey wherever it takes you.