Vinyl vs. CD

Hey out there,I've been listening to a high quality CD playback system for the past couple years and have recently become interested in going to turntable rig.(I still have an LP collection).I have a quality tube pre with phono and decided to buy an inexpensive turntable to spin some of my old favorites (Rega 2 with grado silver) I had no pre-conceived notion of what would sound better,I just remember the enjoyment I got from playing Hendrix, Rolling Stones ect.on an a good ole' record player.After listening to the Rega for a few days I switched back to CD's (Meridian 500 trans 566/24 dac)and found that the remastered CD issues of the same LP's sounded alot better.Must I drop several K's to experience "Vinyl Dreams" ?
Mar00; I just finished doing essentially the same thing you did-- and we're probably going to get "roasted" on this. I bought an MMF-5 TT and Musical Fidelity Phono pre-amp (M. Fremer of STPH, and Listener Mag. both highly recommended this TT). I used it for a couple of weeks and then happily went back to CDs (I have a Levinson M 37 transport and 360S DAC). I also started out with no preconceived expectations about the sound quality of vinyl, and in fact it cost me $400.-500. to try out this system. I also grew up using 45's and LPs and had fond memories of them. I compared new virgin vinyl LPs to the same CDs and definitely preferred the dramatically quieter background of digital. In fact, I was not able to listen past the "white noise, static, and crackling" of the LPs-- is all that background noise part of "hifi"?-- it gave me a headache. For LP cleaning I borrowed a VPI vacuum record cleaner from a vinyl junkie friend and carefully followed his directions for cleaning used/old LPs. Some new LPs, while quite good, were no better than good CDs. And of course CDs have some significant features such as direct track access, programming, and repeat that cannot be easily dismissed-- and they don't affect sound quality. Having stuck my neck way the hell out on this, I will admit that I would expect Albert Porter's system to be sonically much better than my CD based system, but Albert is at state of the art analog. Cheers. Craig.
My neck is out there also.... Takes alot of bucks to play a record better than a fine CD system. BUT if you spend the <10K (New), I think the vinyl does sound better. Making all things equal, I'll suffer a little digital "hash" for the ease of use. Plus, once I have been thru all of my CD tweeks, its not much of a sonic trade-off at all.
You have to spend a little more than 500.00 to get into a good Analog sound.I suggest about 1k+ on a good used Turntable with something like a Benz Micro Glider.I have an Anthem CD 1 1700.00 when New CD player.I have a used Well Tempered Classic With Glider Cartridge.I play the CD and the LP at the same time and switch from one to another.On any LP that i have which is in ggod shpe the Lp sound better.If you hear noise and cracle and pops the LP is no good.Even a good leaner wont fix a defective LP.Compare your 500.00 LP rig to a 500.00 cd player.Thats a fair comparison.Remember life is analog everthing around you is analog.Life does not unfold in on off on off 01010101 sequences.
ya, i bought my turntable & fono-stage used. but, i have only ~$2k invested in it, & i'd put it up against *any* cd set-up at *any* price. so, yes, mar00, $500 mebbe ain't enuff $$$ to better your nice cd set-up, but ya don't have to drop a huge wad-o-cash to better it. doug
Doug; seems we've been here before. And I post the following respectfully. I really like my digital system too and would be willing to "put it up against any comparably priced analog system", but in reality, how do we make this bold comparison. Have you ever actually put together an excellent digital system in your own home? Or just listened at audio stores? My best audio friend is into vinyl, and I've listened to his system many times: Well Tempered TT and CJ pre-amp w/phono, Levinson amp into MG 3.6 speakers. His system sounds totally different than mine, and I don't particularly care for it-- no weight, no body, no substance, very airy, soft mushy bass etc. But I think I'm mainly hearing his speakers character and room acoustics, and not so much his LPs-- of course, he loves it. I've also played MY LPs on his system with the same results. My system OTOH is more dynamic, more rich, more lush, with strong, deep, taut, quick bass; just overall more weight, and IMO more musical. Our music tastes are also quite different. I have treated room acoustics, vibration(s), dedicated AC and ground, HQ wire througout including AC cords. I have carefully, over several years, put this system together TO SOUND GREAT WITH CDs. If I had vinyl as a source, chances are I would have chosen different audio components and wires to complement the sound of LPs. Just because you say your $2K analog system is better than any digital system at any price, does not mean that I or anyone else has to believe it, and in fact, I don't. But I do respectfully agree to disagree. And BTW, I'm glad you've spent time in Oregon-- we agree that it's beautifl. Cheers. Craig.
Craig, I question whether your system has been optimized for CDs. More likely its optimized for you ML components. Assuming a reasonable level of neutrality, your system should not be particularly sensitive to whether the source is analog or digital. Personally, I love the convenience of the CD format, but sonically I've never found it better than "good". I can go for days listening to CDs and not feel I'm missing anything, but the minute I put on a record -- it's a night and day difference (nearly as dramatic as some posters attribute to swapping power cords (just kiddin')). I'm using a Wadia 850 for digital and a RPM table/are, MB Ruby into a Pass phono pre. There's nothing magical about vinyl. Digital clearly does deep bass and pitch definition much better. One thing to remember, vinyl may have an edge over digital, but both pale in comparison to analog tape. Hopefully, the higher bit/sampling rate digital formats will eliminate the gap. Whatever, ya' got, enjoy it!
I recently visited a friends house who had a rega turntable and a naim cd player. Both high quality pieces. We played 'The trinity Session' on vinyl, and I have to agree it sounded better than the CD version. It just sounded more 'natural'. There was also a little more background information. I would guess the turntable was in the 1000-1500 range. I'll probably try a turntable. More to have access to all the great old jazz/blues albums I see at used record stores than anything. BTW, when you buy used vinyl at record stores, what are the chances of getting a worn out/bad record?
As others have mentioned, it's only fair to compare apples with apples -- e.g., a $500 analogue set-up with a 500 CD player, not as one gentleman did a $300-400 analogue set-up with an ultra expensive Levinson digital front end. I have a Sony CDP-X779ES CD player (listed for $1900 in early 90s) and a Technics SL-1000MKII (similar price in mid-80s). CD has better dynamics and, of course, no surface noise (most of my albums are 20+ years old), but the analogue has comparable bottom end and is somehow less fatiguing. So to fairly compare a $5K+ Levinson digital rig with analogue one should buy one of the many available high-end tables available -- and not a Rega, unless it's a top of the line with a comparable cartridge. For my own part, while I always want to be able to enjoy my LPs, I am looking forward to the day when SACD or a comparable technology will be readily available, both hardware and software. Happy listening all! dr.joe
hi craig, i respect your point-of-view, & it's true - w/my ~$500 nad cd changer, my digital is far from state of the art. but, i a-b'd my nad w/a $1700 alchemist nexus cd player, on *my* system, and there was *no* difference between the two. my brother-in-law a-b'd this same alchemist on *his* system w/a $3500 resolution audio cd-55, & he said there were "miniscule" differences between the two, only noticed, & yust "barely", when run in a direct a-b comparison. i can see no reason to upgrade my nad cd player - i wonder how much $$$ i'd really have to spend, if i wanted cd to come close to analog on my system. i agree that cd is way-convenient, but i'm waiting until the 24-192 format (or whatever) is commercially awailable before spending any more $$$ on cd-playback. regards, doug. ps - i *do* have a full-range system, w/a pair of vmps larger subs, electronically crossed over to a pair of meret re's @ 60hz w/a marchand 24db/octave x-over. a pair of bridged adcom gfa 555's drive the vmps', & a pair of electrocompaniet amps drive the merets in a biamped configuration. i get *great* tight, deep bass extension, and excellent dynamics w/vinyl, on my system. cd *is* good, yust more fatiguing, & a bit less dimensional...
Sedond, I may of misunderstood your last message, but if I am reading it correctly, you are stating that after some A and B testing, you have found your $500 CD changer to be darn near as good as a $1700 and $3500 CD player. If that is what you are stating, something isn't right and you are be lead astray from CD's for the wrong reason's, IMO.
I'm still listening to vinyl on my first turntable, a Dual 1219. When records were all I had, I replaced the cartridge once a year religiously as part of the vinyl/altar offering ritual. I still clean each one before I play it. Now I'm hooked on CD's. But never ever ever do I think about wasting another buck on vinyl. It sounds as pleasing as it needs to for me. I like it alot. But I don't compare the two, or expect them to sound alike. Vinyl is quite dead in a contemporary sense, unless you groove on finding new titles somwhere and go through the (don't tell me, I now how easy you think it is) hassle of getting them. In fact, years ago I made metal tapes of most of my LP's on my Nakamichi 3-head and much prefer listening to them. Way more convenient, and ya get to hear both sides! Whine all ya want about what I'm missing. I just don't care. Good CD rings my bell. Finally analog, put simply, means a likeness or copy. Real life isn't analog, it's live and if you're lucky, original too.
hi brian, no, you *dint* misunderstand me - run thru a cary slp98 preamp, there was absolutely *no* difference between the $500 nad cd-changer & the $1700 alchemist nexus cd player on my system, which is as stated previously. (*everything* sounds better thru a melos music director preamp, tho!). i've not listend to the resolution audio cd-55 thru my system, but my brother-in-law has compared it w/the alchemist nexus on *his* system: alchemist kraken preamp, audio research vt100 mkII, proac 2.5's. miniscule changes between them both, he reports. both also sound better thru the kraken than straight-in. also, a *big* improvement w/a new a-r ls16 preamp he *yust* purchased. so, what's not right? perhaps my nad cd-changer is a giant-killer? it did receive a class-d s'phile rating, after all! ;~) regards, doug
The original poster was unfair in his comparison. Would he be satisfied with the performance a 500 CD player?
Hi Mar00; Sorry, I didn't mean to sort of "take over" your thread, but at least all the above is "on topic", and I hope useful to you. John_1; I too had a new LP of CJs "The Trinity Session" and with the MMF-5 TT it had excessive "white noise" that was clearly audible during quiet passages, and I was generally disappointed with it compared to the CD-- BTW that is one of my favorite albums and I am very familiar with the music. YOU OTHER VINYL LOVIN' BUGGERS-- I appreciate your civil responses:), and I suppose this is one of those questions that is trying "unscrute the unscrutable". Cheers. Craig.
Hi Gmorris; We were posting at the same time, so I missed your comment. No, I would not be satisfied with a $500. CD player after having my present system. But you don't have to spend as much on an analog system to equal HQ CD--IMHO, eg I think Doug is right, and I would GUESS that his $2K analog rig is as good as my $10K+ (MSRP) digital rig. My problem with analog-- and it's personal-- is that I could not listen past the various background noises of LPs, and for that reason, I found LPs fatiguing-- loud ticks and pops did not bother me. The Audio Advisor sales rep. told me a better cartridge would help reduce the surface noise, but would not eliminate it. Cheers. Craig.
Listening to a $500 dollar analog set up will kill many digital setups.If you want to be serious about exploring the possibility of getting into vinyl then you better spend more especially if you are going to compare it to a Levinson set up,although I would probably prefer the analog set up.Im sure the difference in sound isnt worth several thousand dollars more to spend.The fact is digital has always strived and failed to sound like analog.I say if you want analog sound then buy it.Why buy digital when true live music is analog despite what one previous poster said.Natural sound IS ANALOG.A person speaking to you is analog.A live performance is analog.The best thing about digital is its easy to use.I say you want the best sound you have to work at it.Proper turntable,arm and cart. set up is so important. Clean,treated records a must.And in regards to another posters comments about the avaliability of L.P.'s I have found EVERY recording I have looked for on vinyl,including modern rock.Usually $2-3 cheaper than CD's.I understand why many prefer CD over LP.It is lots of work,but its work I enjoy.Nothing like finding a rare treasure LP at a yard sale for a quarter,taking it home for a good bath and treatment.Sitting ack and spinning it and knowing the best MOFI,DCC, etc.. CD will never sound this good.(on todays CD players)
Rockvirgo,There have been many many comments made on this site.However non are more wrong and off base than yours about analog not being real life.Do you really belive this.If you do then there is no point trying to convince you otherwise.You probabbly belive the world is flat.Give your head a good shake.Pick up the last issue of listener and read the artivle on Analog.It is realit is all around us.We live in an analog world and if you dont understand this you have no bussiness posting on this site.
Hi Rockvirgo & TM12; I just looked up the definition of ANALOG in a new Webster's New World Dictionary. Definition #3 follows: "designating or of electronic equipment, recordings, etc. in which the signal corresponds to a physical change, as sound to a groove in a phonograph record". I still like CDs too Rock, but I've got to admit that this definition clearly indicates that Lps are a classic example of "analog". Cheers. Craig.
I am going to sell my Oracle Turntable and all of my records. The table is an original Delphi and has been upgraded to a Mark II. In addition it has a custom made power supply and a custom made armboard. The arm is Syrinx PU-2. It sounds good, much better than the Rega Planar 3 I replaced with it, but does not sound better than my Parasound CD2000/AADTIPR0/Bel Canto Dac. I have not listed it for sale on any websites because I do not want to ship it and I do not even know how much it is worth. I live in Bergen County,NJ. I do have the original box and manual. I have all of my records (around 300) listed in an excel file that I can e-mail. I have around 70 "audiophile" recordings which I am looking to sell. I have e-mailed the list to a few used record shops in this area and only one or two are even interested. This is probably a good time to buy used records, but forget about selling them.
hi craig, i have *no* problem w/background noises on my vinyl set-up, and i don't have a super-spendy cartridge either. the ortofon mc25-fl retails at $450, but the needle-doctor sells it (perpetually on sale?) for $225. perhaps your fono-stage was lacking? or, mebbe ewe had too much gain from your fono-stage/preamp combo, for the cartridge used? i have a nice fono-stage, the pentagon ps-3 (retail $1900?), which i got as a demo close-out for $600. i had it set to highest gain for the lo-output (0.2mv) of my m/c w/my cary preamp, and all was well w/the world. no noise problems. when i hooked up the melos music director preamp, there was all sortsa noise on the fono - i dint understand it, and at 1st, i thought it was a poor preamp. but, a bit of experimenting led to the realization that the melos had so much gain, that, even w/the low-output mc cartridge i'm using, i could set the fono stage on its lowest setting, & still have plenty of gain. (melos sez this preamp will drive efficient speakers directly w/no amps - i *believe* 'em!) no more background noise, only sweet music. so, craig, i tink there was a mismatch in your system between the preamp/fono/cartridge. regards, doug
hi joe_b. *PLEASE* email me yer record list!!! re: your 'table, i bought an oracle, orig version updated to mk-v specs, all except the power-supply, included grace 727 tonearm, box, & shipping from canada to maryland, for $1250. included was the $60 to buy the correct factory box for shipping. hope this helps, doug
My preference is towards vinyl, although good digital these days has its attractions--I can now listen to CDs and LPs in the same listening session, where I had trouble with that for many years. I wonder if some of the problem stems from your old records. When I first purchased a good turntable (an old Well-Tempered, in about 1988), I remember my disappointment when listening to a lot of the albums I enjoyed in my pre-CD days with a cheap Technics turntable, although some of the albums (some Chesky re-releases, Reference Recordings, Harmonia Mundis) sounded infinitely better than CD. Apart from the care taken in the mastering, it turns out that the albums that didn't sound so good were ones I'd gotten through record clubs, which didn't use the greatest vinyl and probably were cut from dubs (who knows what generation) of the master tapes. Plus I hadn't taken the best of care with those albums. This manifested itself in a lot of surface noise and inferior resolution, muddy sound, etc. If you're truly bothered by surface noise, you'd have to spend more than you have done so far to get a turntable which will make you not notice the noise, but even then it won't make up for a cheap or worn out pressing and it may still wind up bothering you. Have you tried any of the recent re-issues on your set-up? If they don't sound better to you than their CD counterparts, then I'm not sure it's worth throwing additional money into hardware, because you seem to have a good analog rig. If they do, then you would be well advised learning about which pressings are best and how to spot them so you can pick them up for cheap at the garage sales (or else invest money in the reissues). I'm not familiar enough with pop and rock records to know which versions are the best or which publications which would help you identify them--there are some books in the classical arena.
Hey I'm sorry TM12, but my cat Missy won't eat analog cat food no matter how many times I put the picture on her plate. Lighten up, dude :-) Btw, the reason the world was believed to be flat for so long was because the people who thought differently were told they had no business voicing their opinions. Dreaming of Columbus...
I have been partial towards vinyl ever since I got into this insideous "time consumer" hobby, which I love. I have owned several front ends in both vinyl and cd. Early NAD, then California Audio, followed by Wadia, Sonic Frontiers and a slew of auditioned players. As time lapsed the cd hardware improved immensely, until I found the sonic differences so close, that the convenience of cd outweighed the these minor attributes. Some analog I've been privy to own or get to know are Sota, Oracle, with Sme and Koetsu followed by a long stint of VPI TNT (and it's incarnations), fitted with an Air Tangent/Clearaudio. This set-up served me well, but I never felt the bottom end was comparable to cd. More spacious, at times more involving, but some of the tonal inaccuracies disallowed me to enjoy, driving me towards tweak-hell. So, even with an expensive VPI, I felt hollowed. Now with the Clearaudio/Souther/Accurate I have finally attained a phono front end that betters every cd combo I have heard. I know better cd hardware exists, I just have not experienced the depth, unexaggerated macro presentation while maintaining the minute intricacies. I had gone months and months without a phono player, appreciated my Sony sacd tremendously, but know I find the turntable in constant rotation.
Joe_b please e-mail me your record list. I would be very interested. Thanks-Gary
Rockvirgo go burn another fatty.
Doug; I did consider the mis-match possibility and discussed it with a pretty knowledgeable Audio Advisor Rep. The TT came with the Goldring cartridge ($175.)installed and adjusted, but my vinyl junkie friend also checked it for me. I also got the Musical Fidelity X-LPS phono pre-amp from AA at the same time, as they recommended it highly with the MMF-5 and Goldring. The only control on it was a switch for MM/MC cartridges, which I made sure was set correctly. I can identify with Joe_b above. After this experiment, I decided to get rid of my modest LP collection (300-350). I called around some, and nobody wanted them. A local music store offered me 25 to 75 cents each for the ones he thought could sell, and he told me that they "buy LPs reluctantly and sell them gladly". I said to hell with that and gave the whole works to a local charity-- except for six that I kept for the cover art. I only did this because M. Fremer, of Stereophile,(he's the analog guru isn't he?) confidently stated that the MMF-5 TT would make a vinyl lover out of the most hard core digiphile. And I don't even consider myself anti-vinyl-- never have. But, I certainly do disagree with M.Fremers conclusion re: the MMF-5. P.S. If any audiogon member wants a once played MFSL LP of Bob Seger's "Against The Wind", cover and vinyl are mint, for $20. + about $3. shp., email me (I bought it sealed on ebay for $30.). Enough Already. Cheers. Craig.
Hahaha...*shakes head* these kids today :-)
Hi,here is my experience. I made all kind of comparison between my Forsell turntable with Transfiguration cartridge and Forsell transport+DAC and analog was ways better.
Rockvirgo go burn another fatty.
Both formats have their weaknesses. It boils down to what deficiencies bug you more and how much it costs to fix it! A great digital set-up gives you a quiet background, no pops or crackles, and CONVENIENCE. Digital lacks in its "naturalness" (but is getting closer all the time), having varying degrees of glare or hash. Analogue, specifically LP's, give you "music" but you have to train yourself (comes easier to some people) to ingnore or filter out the defects in the vinyl. I have yet to EVER hear an LP that didn't have some defect during playback (some more than others) and I've heard great set-ups. Nothing spoils a song like a pop or a crackle IMHO but it seems not to bother others anywhere near as much as myself. So it's personal preference. I have a digital system mostly because I had a lot more CD's when I got in to all this and the software has guided my system building. I would never begrudge anyone who has not gotten rid of their 100's of records to go digital. Likewise, for those who have vast CD collections. One reason I couldn't wait to get my first CD player was so that I didn't have to get up to hear the second side AND because I didn't want to clean my vinyl, needle, etc. after almost every listening session. Listening to one or two songs before having to get up and do work is not my idea of relaxation. But to each their own so long as they get enjoyment out of it. As far as this analogue being "reality" argument, I don't think it's valid. What we're really talking about is the medium in which something is RECORDED. Yes, digital is 1 and 0's but is converted to analogue so that the listener can HEAR something - like the mechanical energy of our speakers. Analogue, too is a signal that must be "converted", passed and amplified. The secret in both systems is to have the BEST signal you can. ENJOY! Tony
Re: snap crackle pop - it seems to me that when attending any live performance that there has always been some non-musical noise going on. Rock shows are obviously noisy, jazz shows have inevitable chatter and clinking of glassware, and every classical (ballet, opera, concert) performance has had it's share of coughing. How can you guys block this out and not an occasional quiet 'click'? Serious question. I've heard vinyl in brutal shape, so I can understand not wanting to hear that (although it kind of 'enhances' some folk, countrym and blues), but really most new vinyl is in decent condition and compared to a live performance free of noise.
Who ya calling fatty ma leetle parrot? Hahaha...
noise on vinyl must be a generational thing. sure, an album in really poor condition is annoying, but most vinyl noise is not at all irksome to me. (most of my vinyl is in decent shape, too). must be cuz i've been doing that vinyl-thing for over 30 years, and i got a cd player only 5 years ago - and *only* because some new releases i couldn't get in the vinyl format. i *always* check to see if new releases are awailable on vinyl prior to purchase - often, they are - gotta know where to look. doug
An experience last night might shed some light into Robba's question on how some sounds are easily blocked out sound, but others are not. We went to a hockey game last night. Very noisy venue, people yelling, clapping and generally being joyfully unruly. All the noises one might expect considering the venue and none of it was bothersome in the least. Except the guy behind us that, as usual, was loudly talking about business, the stock market, remodeling houses and on and on. Very non-hockey stuff in general. Based on comments from others around us his banter was irritating them, too. The relevant point is there are noises that are part of the venue's ambiance. They're expected. Those that don't belong detract from the experience. While inaudible to some, clicks and pops on records are like the guy behind us to other people. They spoil the moment with their distraction.
Hmm... so to combine Fpeel and Sedond's responses, perhaps some people have been 'trained' to associate vinyl noise with the playback experience, and are thus better at blocking it out, while other people have had more digital than analog experience and have troubles. Of course that doesn't explain why I can do the vinyl thing. (I bought my first CD player in '88 when I was 12 and have only recently begun to critically listen to vinyl - maybe I'm just lucky).
Robba, I think that is a fair summary and the reason this topic us usually so heated and I'm glad it hasn't gone that way! I really do APPRECIATE BOTH formats. Personally, it boils down to what limitations both formats have vs. the convenience (in all aspects!) that CD has over vinyl. And with the money I've spent so far, I can't afford to "switch gears". Besides, I think in 10 years or less this will be a moot discussion as some other (digital based) format will rule the day. If I had to give someone advice tomorrow, who is considering putting together a high-end system, I would ask them what type of music they like. I think classical, jazz and blues sounds better on vinyl while rock, pop and new age sounds better on CD. All of this is MHO, of course. -Tony
this is to joe_b I would be interested in knowing what albums you are looking to sell. I also live in NJ.
joe-b, I would also love have a look at your list. I listen to LP's on a Linn LP12/Lingo/Ekos/Klyde set-up, and to CD/DVD on a Muse 8/296. Love them both. For the most part, I prefer to listen to LP's if I have a good, clean pressing of a recording. I have NO issues w/ obtrusive surface noise with MoFi, DCC, Analoque Productions, etc, and most of my Decca, EMI, Phillips original LP's of classical music (bought second hand) are also very clean. On CD, there is just too much good music not out on LP to pass up, and the Muse gear gets close to my analog rig. If you want comparisons, I've done some of Lp vs CD vs DVD on a couple of albums - and it depends. The MoFi Folk Singer LP beat their Gold CD and the Classic 24/96 re-issue hands down IMHO (and in my system), but Hell Freezes Over is better on DVD. Mostly, I don't obsess about it too much. I guess its just a matter of taste, system balance, and good clean vinyl - but what's great is that the state of the art makes the music equally enjoyable on all formats (at least for me) - and that is ultimately why we are into the hobby.
After about an 8-year COMPLETE hiatus from vinyl, during which I immersed myself in digital, I got back to LP playing about 1 1/2 years ago. I assembled a high end analog rig consisting of VPI & Clearaudio components. If I had to sum up the vinyl experience in one word it would be: NOISE. In an effort to eliminate or mitigate this NOISE, I've upgraded my table, swapped out cartridges, purchased and used myriad cleaners along with employing nearly every popular cleaning procedure. The final result was NOISE. I grew up musically (and otherwise) in the 70s when there was nothing but LPs. And never found the NOISE obtrusive. I got into digital, ultimately, because of the practicality of CDs vs. vinyl and my eventual purchase of a CAL CDP satisfied me musically. The return to vinyl was due, in part, to my 800 or so LPs staring me in my face, but also due to the hullabaloo regarding the wonders of "high-end" analog playback. So I gave it a shot. Folks, if you can't get past the NOISE (and evidently I can't) don't bother. All the money and effort in the world won't make it better. My guess is that vinyl devotees were never "away" from their vinyl for any appreciable amount of time. They are, therefore, so accustomed to the NOISE that they are entirely unaware of its presence. Well, good for them. And vinyl does indeed sound somewhat more natural, with less "brightness". If you can tolerate the NOISE, the required attendant cleaning & hygiene (and the not inconsiderable expense for the necessary cleaning materials) and the leaping from your listening spot every 17 minutes or so, go for it. My guess is most people will prefer to live with a bit of unnaturalness. I still experience a great deal of anxiety when spinning LPs and lots of teeth-gnashing (because of the NOISE), and a great deal of relief when returning to my CAL. For the record, all my analog components match up well and my cartridge is properly set up and adjusted. As for Fremer, it's doubtful that the MAN realizes how much influence his words have on others. Personally I think he is an incedibly irresponsible -place your favorite moniker here-. Like everyone else, I've read his statements where he claims that Analog Rig X at $300 blows away any digital rig. This individual is on a crusade and will clearly state whatever he feels serves his motives most effectively. I will allow for the fact that he actually believes these claims (though I, IMHO, doubt it). But others must realize that it is only one man's very biased opinion. If you've got LPs and want to get back into vinyl, by all means go for it. Just DO NOT expect your low buck analog rig to "blow away" your mega buck digital system. And be fully prepared for the NOISE. Proceed with your vinyl plans. Just proceed with caution.
I have avoided entering this fray because of the more than 100 emotional posts at a previous CD/LP posting, which began harmlessly as a similar topic. I am not surprised that there are those of you who have noise problems with LP. The LP format requires extreme care in setting up to get it quiet. Many dealers who sell analog are not experienced enough to get a turntable set up perfectly, even if they had the time to come to your home. LP is never absolutely quiet, although I have lots of LP's that play completely through with as good a signal to noise ratio as a CD. For those of you who have decided that CD is your format, be happy. However, I would like for you to quit defending the CD format as an equal performer in a ultra high end system. If you are going for the ultimate in musical reproduction, it has to be analog. If price is a consideration, then digital is clearly a better value, as you can get pretty good performance for less than what a phono cartridge alone costs! Analog is lots more trouble, much more limited on new program material, and more maintenance on all the associated equipment as well. All I can say is, this should come as no real surprise. I know of nothing in high end audio that is truly superior that is not a large pain in the rear. That includes tubes being more problems than transistors, LP more problem than CD, large and expensive cables more problem than zip cord, dedicated circuits more trouble than the ordinary household outlets, room treatments more ugly and more work than leaving the room alone, and separates more hassle than receivers. I was once convinced that digital "had arrived" and pretty much gave up on LP in the mid 80's, with the promise that digital would be perfect sound forever and completely overtake analog. Since then, I have owned at least twenty combinations of digital players, converters and anti jitter devices, with my efforts leading all the way up until about 1998. I finally gave up on trying to fix the digital format, and continued to play my CD's on mid line equipment, with the accepted the loss in quality. The good news is that I can now enjoy my analog music again, and quit worrying about trying to find a CD player that will compete with it. There are members who post on Audiogon that have chosen to come and listen at my home. One was an AVID CD user and owned a top of the line two box system, valued at well over ten thousand dollars. After a trip to my home and a direct comparison against my turntable (same artist and music, his choice), he sold his digital system and bought a VPI turntable and a phono stage. As for his CD's, yes he kept them. The difference is now he plays them, on a Rotel, instead of continually being disappointed by performance that never delivered what was promised, regardless of the dollar or time invested. What we often argue about here at Audiogon is the defending of the digital format as ENJOYABLE. I have no doubt that many of you have great sound with digital. I am simply saying that if you ever heard analog correctly, in your own system, you would have a hard time ever forgetting it. If you never get used to better, its much easier to be happy where you are.
Hi Blzbub; I appreciate your above post as it agrees 100% with my recent attempt at trying to get back into vinyl. You probably read this whole thread, and know that I had quite a bit of input early in the thread. As with your experience, the main turn-off to me regarding vinyl was simply NOISE-- not the loud ticks and pops, but the continuous "white noise", to static, to crackling. Even with brand new HQ vinyl, I was aware of the stylus dragging along the grooves. But I also agree that good vinyl can sound more natural than CD-- until you get up to a very good digital front end, which I have, and I assume you do too. I felt relieved and relaxed when I went back to the "quietness" of digital. While I respect vinyl junkies and their committment (my best audio friend is a vinyl junkie) to the format, it's not for me for the very reasons you mention, and especially the noise. I also agree about M. Fremer, while he believes what he is doing, he is too zealous and not very tolerant. Never-the-less, I'm glad I "had a go" at re-trying vinyl 'cuz now I know for sure. I don't know what you're going to do with your vinyl collection, but nobody wanted mine, and I ended up giving 300-350 LPs to a charity in hopes that they could make a little off them-- I even felt a little guilty, but they said "thanks". Cheers. Craig
Hi Albert; We were posting at the same time so I missed your well written statement above. I respect your views as much as anyone on this forum, and I have no doubt that your state of the art analog rig sounds better than my "quite good" digital one. As stated above I could not listen past the noise of the modest vinyl rig I tried-- further, I am very happy with my CD based system. Vinyl lovers seem to think they are the only ones committed to working at getting the most music out of their systems as possible, and with this I partly disagree. While maybe less work, I have installed dedicated AC and ground systems, spent 61 days placing speakers within room, built a 200 lb. stereo stand with many audiophile features, addressed vibration control, upgraded power cords (and all wires), and purchased the best quality digital front end that I can afford. I continue to try promising "tweaks" and enjoy doing it. BTW, it took me a month working 1/2 days just to build my stereo stand. My point is that there is much that the digital user can do to improve the musicality of his system too. Finally, I say again, your state of the art analog system undoubtedly "sounds" better than my CD based rig, and I would love to hear your system, but weighing every experience I can, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of the music system that I have (so maybe it's best that I don't hear your system), and for me that's enough. Cheers. Craig.
........forgot to mention all the room acoustic treatments I've done-- spent much time and money doing it too. I do not intend to get involved in a long unresolvable disagreement between the virtues of vinyl and digital-- and I don't think Albert does either. In fact, I'll give up right now and go play my new Cowboy Junkies CD "Waltz Across America", respectfully, and cheers. Craig.
Albert - it is an undiluted pleasure to read your posts as your dedication to the hobby obviously seeks to make the equipment servant to the music. And this is what this pursuit is ultimately about. Not only are your views hewn by years of experience, they are always models of balance and tolerance. And this is another attribute that makes this hobby an uplifting experience. CD's are symptomatic of our "hamburger culture" - they require minimal effort to acquire, use and maintain. However, we have to go to extraordinary lengths to make them listenable - akin "to polishing a turd". Many of us have unwillingly fallen victim to this flawed format (I, myself, readily admit to a CD collection of 4000+), precisely because the market and our hectic lifestyles have dictated this. For many of us, it is more desirable to have flawed sound than none at all.
Well, Garfish, your phrase "I was aware of the stylus dragging across the grooves" mirrors my experience precisely. And, yes, even with the so-called audiophile HQ 180gm pressings, cleaned so meticulously I could clearly see the frown on my face. But.........unlike yourself, I am a stubborn SOB who kinda refuses to give up easily. I've thrown wads of cash at the problem, have attempted to educate myself every which way, and still cringe helplessly when reading things like the above posts, where promises of audio and sonic nirvana are offered through "proper" analog rigs. Well, my analog rig is about as "proper" (+3k) as it's going to get. But after 3 tables, 5 cartridges, 2 phono stages etc. the buck(s) stops here. Now I need to figure out if there is something wrong with me or all those vinylphiles out there. If the goal of high end audio is the recreation or approximation of the "original event" it seems fairly obvious that this is impossible to achieve via vinyl. The onslaught of surface noise - forgot the pops and ticks - obviates any benefit of more "natural" sound. What can possibly do a better job at reminding you that you are not in the presence of the real thing than record surface noise? And if that NOISE is sufficiently objectionable, who gives a fig about things like soundstaging and proper imaging? The mood and the moment have already been annihilated. But I've got a lot of vinyl, much of which is not replaceable, or that I will not replace. So.....the beat goes on. Now, if there was just some way I can enjoy the MUSIC - at least as much as I did as a kid listening to a transistor radio - and forget about the EQUIPMENT, gee, now that would really be priceless. By the way, Garfish, where was this place you dumped your vinyl............?
jeez, i have a decent vinyl rig, but by no means anywhere near the top of the food-chain, at least as far as price goes! ;~) while i *do* get some unwanted noise on some of my discs in less-than-pristine condition, for the most part, it isn't a problem. and, while i *can* set-up a turntable, i don't have all kindsa fancy test equipment to aid me. while i have grown-up w/vinyl, i've listened to enuff cd's, and had enuff folks hear my set-up that are mainly familiar w/only cd's, to know that noise ain't an issue w/properly set-up vinyl. i gotta weigh in w/albert p on this one. my vinyl-cleaning regimen consists mostly of a dish-soapy sponge w/warm water, & a keith monks record-sweeper, which keeps the grooves clean & static-free, by tracking along w/the record - from the other side of the table, of course! ;~) doug
Yes, Albert's points are right on, again. I was one of the participants in that other thread. I was first getting to know Albert then, and many here thought I was "just being emotional", and had no real point to make. I will say this, here:.....................I love vinyl, and feel that the noise issue isn't an issue, unless the majority of LP's in your collection have seen thousands of plays on awful equipment (not by a 'phile), for 40+ years. If that's the case, then I don't blame you for being discouraged...............The reason vinyl has the potential to be better than any CD based system can be described in this way IN MY OPINION: If you have a halfway decent vinyl rig like mine (VPI 19jr, AQ PT-8, Benz Lo4, and Phonomena phono stage, and my linestage will remain a mystery), and you compare as similar to "the same" recording as you can find, on a CD in my CD player (you all know what it is)...what you hear is...more "continuousness" to all aspects of the soundstage, more contrast between the quietest and loudest sounds, more "reality" to the way instruments sound, and much more natural and "juicy" tonality thru the ENTIRE frequency range. You DO hear bass (and ambient bass noises in the recording) which can go all the way down to just above the arm's resonance (if you listen in good headphones, or have a decent subwoofer and good room/system setup). Pitches are much more defined and less artificial than with CD, thru the whole range. AND THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE of all, is that for the very quietest sounds on the recording (hall ambience, etc.), vinyl is detailed, real, rich, effortless....and I DO MEAN EFFORTLESS. Whereas the whole issue with this extreme low level detail, with the 16 bit format, is the reason audiophiles have always craved another "better" digital format, since the very introduction of CD. MY VINYL RIG IS NOT A STATE OF THE ART ONE, but my CD player is much closer to the CD SOTA than the vinyl rig. And yet, the vinyl is better (with LP's that are NOT very worn). Playing the ones that have more wear is still fun, still musical and satisfying, but will not be preferable to the corresponding CD on my player (assuming it exists, often there is no CD that has been issued). BUT THAT'S NOT EXACTLY A RINGING ENDORSEMENT OF CD'S..........All of that said: If I just listen to CD's for a while in MY player, then I can begin to forget about what I am missing with vinyl, and can enjoy them more...and can also listen to more music in the time I have alotted for that evening, since there is almost no "playing ritual" involved (and I DO get into the ritual with vinyl). HOWEVER.....Happiness on this level cannot really be accomplished if you just use a mass market CD or DVD player for CD's, and then turn around a spend $30k on a vinyl rig........IMO. There is just an imbalance there (unless of course you don't own many CD's, then it is the logical choice). AND THAT IS WHY I FEEL THAT TOTAL MUSICAL SATISFACTION, CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED BY HAVING THE BEST OF BOTH FORMATS, that YOU CAN AFFORD. I also think that most audiophiles are with me on that. Someone should do a scientific poll on it...Stereophile has a vote on this on their website on occasion, and I do believe this group of mine was in the majority, last I checked. I realize that's not a very scientific poll, but it's enough for me.
Unfortunately, both formats are necessary. I already stated that the majority of new music is not released as LP. It would indeed be a shame to miss out on all of the new music, some of which is excellent. Anyway, Carl's description is accurate as to some of the advantages of LP, and it really frustrates me to hear what my analog system is capable of, and not have access to many of the new artists. I can only hope that some new digital format will eventually come along and equal the best (analog) LP system. Truly, I would LOVE that to happen, I am ready for something SIMPLE that would make me happy. So far though, simple and excellence has been about as accessible as finding a new Porsche 9 series at econo box car prices. I originally hoped too, that the SACD format would be the salvation in this matter. Sony has (almost) the resources of Bill Gates, and is positioned with software to back up the venture. It is regrettable that Sony's desire for even greater profit margins are so important, that it smothers the possibility to provide excellence in a new format. Don't get me wrong, I have Sony products all over my home, even a Sony DVD transport in my own high end system, but it is disappointing to hear what LP can do, a format that is over half a century old, then, one has to wonder why some of today's massive and radical technology does not trickle down, at least a little bit, to us audiophiles that would really appreciate it. By the way, NOISE is NOT a problem with a great LP rig. Those who state that it is have had the unfortunate experience of hearing either bad software, bad hardware, a poorly set up turntable, or all three. If you don't want to get sucked into analog, be glad you have never heard it right. It is truly amazing what the extra quality can do when it is placed at the very beginning of the hi fi chain.
Forget Vinyl. Why would you want to hear cracks and pops, wow and flutter, groove sounds and a myriad of other distortions. Only masochists would ! Granted, original CDs sounded strident but that has changed with improvements in recordings and production. Redbook CD is the medium that should satisfy 99.99% of audiophiles almost regardless of the equipment they use.