Yes, it is but don't get involved.
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Vinyl can be a pain. The records need to be clean. You need to clean the cartridge. Software is not readily available. Your cartridge needs to be aligned correctly, and you need a phono pre.
If your system is right. Tubes preferably, or very good solid state, you might be able to suspend disbelieve for a moment and imagine you are there. The recording needs to be good. Not a cheap price to pay, but no cd is going to emulate it.
Even a MMf-2 preferably 5 and a black cube, Camelot technology Phono pre, beats the pants out of very expensive CD players.
Note; I had sworn off tubes and LPs, but my ears bring me back.
Once you start it can be dangerous. You will get a better turntable cartridge, a record cleaning machine, lots of "outdated software". It is a commitment. Is it worth it? I think it is. That is just my opinion.
A nice (not state of the art) vinyl rig will give you a whole new perspective on the whole sound of reproduced music. It tends to be richer and fuller than the CD sound which has a tendancy to sound thin, sterile and harsh when compared to vinyl. There are some very nice vinyl rigs that can be had relatively inexpensively. Take a look at the Regas, VPI HW-19 Jr., Music Halls and the Thorens. Take a good look at the used listing here on Audiogon. There are plenty on nice rigs waiting to go.
You will also probably need a phono preamp. Again check the used listings. If you can't find something, Rotel made a nice one for $200 new. Creek makes one for about the same price and there are many others.
If you are unsure and want to try before you buy, two thoughts. If you live near one of the big cities you should easily be able to fine a dealer that can do the demo. If not, let your friends on the Audiogon site have an idea where you live. I am sure someone will be happy to setup a demo. Good Luck, Doug
I recently bought a Technics SL-1200MK2 and just happened to be changing the tonearm wires (for Cardas) today with our electronics technician. Nasty, to say the least. We could not finish.
If you get into vinyl, it's not going to be easy or cheap. I bought the turntable because I have over 600 LPs vs 200 CDs. Vinyl sounds more musical, yes. But technology is closing the gap. If I was your age I would not bother.
Wax all the way.But I must say that certain CD's when you here good ones reduce that urge this to only listen to orig. pressings from 50's and 60's.Good sounding jazz wax came in this era from Bethlehem,United Artist,Phillips and Blue Note among a few others.Bad sounding records also abounded form companies like Roost and Dawn.Then in mid 60's stampers went to her and worse vinyl started to be re-melted and get thinner.By the 70's record quality sucked.But comapnies like MFSL and more recently Classic records have come out with excellent and durrable wax re-issue which in some cases sound better than originals (yes better by tweaking new stampers with adjustments to old tape).CD's though have come a long way especially in the last 5 years with advances like 20 bit transfers.But it always seems to come down to the engineers who always want to "be part of the band".Some of the best sounding CD's are from Mappleshade which uses their own cables in short lenghts with modified mikes and NO MIXING BOARD i.e no compression,expansion,equalization etc.Look around also jazz fans for CD and Wax from Venus records of Japan.Some of their recordings they do themselves and I'll tell you what some of the best wax I have ever heard is the 24 bit digital recordings tranfered to records.It does not have to be an analogue tape to be a good record.Their CD's rock as well.
Vinyl (under most comparisons) sounds smoother and more natural than CD. You trade off some surface noise, detail, and distortion, but in many (or most) cases vinyl is a more pleasing sound to the ear. What's more, there's lots of good vinyl (little recent/popular music, but lots of old classical and 60-80s titles) available for very inexpensive prices (in San Francisco, there's a good selection of nice $1 records, many used record stores, and lots of good reissues out there).
On the downside, you have pay for another front end, you must put a lot more care into cleaning and storing records, and you can't pop them in the computer or car when you want to listen outside of your home system. I don't think vinyl is the right move for everybody, but I'm very happy having taken the plunge recently (I had only a few old records left over).
The best way to get into vinyl on a budget is to find a nice quality used rig and receiver. If you can afford a Rega 2, 3 or NAD 533 (about $100-500 used), I think that's a very good starting point. For somewhat less money you might find a decent Dual, Pro-ject, or Thorens rig. If you need to go new, there is a significant price bump, but I like the Music Hall MMF-5 at $500 or the Rega 3-2000 + Elys at about $700. The Creek OBM-8 is a good phono stage for $200 new (some people have reported RFI problems, but I don't have any and live in downtown SF).
Having recently made the jump into vinyl, I can tell you that it is not as inexpensive as some would have you believe. Everybody keeps talking about these $1 LPs. I say BS.
There is A LOT of crap out there for $1, but expect to pay $25-$150/LP for the stuff that you really want because everybody else wants it. Who wants the standard issue of Pink Floyd "DSOTM", Muddy Waters "Folk Singer", Cowboy Junkies "Trinity Sessions", The Police "Ghost in the Machine", Miles Davis "KOB", Berlioz "Symphony Fantastique", etc. when there are either original pressings or out of print reissues from MOFI, Nautilus, DCC, and Classic. The originals and OOP reissues are RARELY found in decent condition in a record store and sell for $25-$750 on ebay. I know because I bought them all recently. That said, I find every penny spent to be worth it and I'm not fretting SACD vs DVDA right now.