When and how did you, if at all, realize vinyl is better?


Of course I know my own story, so I'm more curious about yours.  You can be as succinct as two bullets or write a tome.  
jbhiller
  • Fully analog without any software between media and ears
  • Not protected by any form of DRM, terms of use, etc.
  • Actually owning something and that something is not an immediately depreciating asset
Of course there are other reasons related to personal preference and sound, but the bullets above are a pretty big deal to me

Greg
Thanks Greg!  I agree.  Keep them coming.  
I got in to this about 25 years ago, and started with a Denon dcd-3520 CD player. I liked the sound of the CAL Audio labs player better, but I had no idea what the hell I was doing, so I bought the less musical sounding Denon. Then on to separates from Krell and Spectral. Not having found what I was hoping to, I bought a Basis 2000/Graham 2.0 and a VDH MC-10S cart, and soon after a Koetsu RED. Fast forward 20 years, and I don't even use digital. In between I have had a C-J CD player, an Audio Aero Capitole, and an EAR Acute. Never has any digital source brought forth the emotional involvement and pure enjoyment of analog. I recently set up a 2nd system in the bedroom with Harbeth P3's and a Croft integrated. I am playing a Sony PS-1 in to it for sound, and considering a $500-$800 DAC, but ultimately I think a turntable will grace that system instead.
I visited Salon One Audio in Wisconsin Rapids in the early nineties.  The owner had a rep from Wadia compare his latest digital d/a and transport to a Versa Dynamics turntable. To me and many others the analog setup well out performed the digital.  I have found the digital of today to be formidable, but still not as consistently "musical" as analogue.

When I got into audio, digital playback was just a gleam in an engineer's eye. All we had was vinyl, reel-to-reel and FM. (And live music.) Really.

I've stayed with the LP ever since - while also adding digital into the system. I simply don't see it as a "what's best?" question. I enjoy all of it.
Only after spending some bucks on Wadia 781i and Naim CDS3 and tons of efforts/$$ hunting down boxes of  Japanese mini-LP CDs.  Lesson learned the hard way, but I soo hated warped LPs that just refused to hear the obvious!...
I would not say vinyl is better but it can be especially with the digital loudness wars of the last 20 years having ruined a lot of good music. Japanese vinyl is usually excellent and that is all I have ever boiught - the rest can be disappointing and even terrible - it is easy to hear the difference good vinyl over bad vinyl. The 33 LP is also a big compromise. LP stands for long play and squashing all that music on to one LP is a huge compromise. It is easy to hear the difference between a good 12" 45 rpm single and a regular track on a 33 LP album.

Some obscure stuff on vinyl is wonderful for the musicianship - much not available on digital. I have an album by RASTUS which is a Tower of Power like band that never made it big. The young drummer "Smokey" is incredible and easily could have become a Dennis Chambers had he not drifted into obscurity and died young too. If you can get your hands on RASTUS - they could actually keep up with TOP. Rarities like RASTUS make vinyl fun and interesting but to say it is better than digital is to ignore all the great digital recordings and all the very bad vinyl out there - so not a fair statement.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9hFlyLNI1Hk
I am about to find out. See my previous post on recommendations for an equipment stand:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/equipment-stand

Long story short, after 33 years I have just purchased a TT (Michell Engineering GyroDec, SME IV and Clearaudio Maestro V2 Ebony). First 3 MoFi LPs will be delivered today and the cartridge on Thursday. So, with luck should have the system up and running at the weekend. I will report back.
I never though vinyl was better.  I always thought it sounded different.  

And since 90% of my music listening if off vinyl, I guess this is a difference that I prefer.  I can make more of an emotional connection to the music faster than with digital - its gets my toes tapping sooner.  And tunes linger in my head longer after listening to vinyl.

And yet there are still some albums that I prefer digital with.  Although its just 10% of the time.
Gosh, has it really been 16 years ago when Michael Fremer, vinyl pundit extraordinaire of Stereophile, pronounced his pick for the five best sounding rooms at CES. Four of them were digital systems. The fifth room was the monster Walker Audio/Kharma room, featuring the Walker Turntable and the Grand Kharma Ceramique speakers.

Once I heard CD first time in 1989(Master Of Puppets) I realized that it sounded worse than cassette so didn’t bother jumping on CDs till mid-90’s when more interesting music were released on CDs not vinyls.
In general more great music is still released on vinyl than on any other media
Back in 1985?, when I was still impulsive and purchased the first available CD player, there were two brands, a Kyocera that sounded like mud. The best thing that digital purchase did for me was kill my impulsive nature, instead of accelerate it like it can. Of course, digital has come a long way, but like others have stated, has never given me that toe-taping emotional involvement. I still get bored with it after awhile. Recently, I moved out my digital front end off my rack and over to my other system. When the software, network, NAS, DAC, USB to SPDIF Converter, whatever, start to misbehave, I can find nothing so inconvenient and frustrating when I just want to listen to my music. How easy it is just to plop on a record and enjoy. I also enjoy, getting up and flipping over the LP, but realize I can't walk away and listen to it like Muzak. Digital has it beat there, but I also have a radio for that. I do understand how so many find the sound of digital to be excellent, but it's not the sound I prefer.
Kenny
It always sounded better to me.

Early on using digital recorders, I noticed that there was this weird distortion, which is an intermodulation with the scan frequency. If you record with an analog sweep tone, its easy enough to hear the distortion. Radio Amateurs describe it as 'birdies'; little chirps and cheeps the accompany the actual sweep tone, clearly not there in the source!

This type of distortion is also called 'inharmonic distortion' as it is not harmonically related to the fundamental test tone.

But the digital world does not like the idea that digital can make a distortion (after all, traditional IM and THD are almost non-existent). So they call this distortion 'aliasing'.

The thing is, the ear converts all forms of distortion into tonality and is particularly sensitive to the frequencies where aliasing occurs; this is why digital tends to sound bright compared to the LP, which inherently lacks this form of distortion.

When we started mastering LPs I discovered that a lot of what I thought I knew about the format was incorrect. For example, you can find people that think LPs can have 'saturation' which is nonsense! Here's why: the mastering amplifiers typically can make about ten times the power needed to turn the cutter head into a cinder. But the cutter head can cut undistorted grooves that no tone arm and cartridge combo could trace long before that cutter is overheated! So its arguable that the LP has more headroom than any other format.

Now when a lacquer is cut, if the stylus is set up right with the right angle and temperature (its heated), the resulting cut has a noise floor that is so quiet that no matter what your playback electronics are they will be the noise floor. IOW the noise floor of a lacquer is easily in the same range as a CD. The noise comes in with analog tapes and the pressing process (QRP, Acoustic Sounds' pressing plant, has done exceptional work in this area BTW, rivaling the actual noise floor of the lacquers).

We also found that any LP record combined with playback system made since about 1960 or so can do 30KHz without difficulty. So the LP has had superior bandwidth for a very long time. Most of its distortion comes in during playback and that is one of its weaknesses. 
I and an audiophile friend realized vinyl was not better when we did direct testing vs. well-recorded CDs.

vinyl is often better than poorly recorded CDs such as the first few years of most releases when CDs made their debut

You will realize vinyl is better if you like snaps, crackles and pops.
This is long, so bear with me.

Worked as a sound engineer for a band during my college years & got pretty good at mixing demo tracks from a TEAC A3440 down to a Tandberg TCD440A (still own that & it works wonderfully).  Used a Rega Planar 2 with an Ortofon OM10 as a basis of comparison and didn't do too badly, or so I thought.

Started selling hifi as my first real job after school and got introduced to Dynavector.  Put a Karat 23 Ruby on the Rega.  Went back to my demo comparisons and encountered an unpleasant surprise to my ego.  Ultimately traded the TEAC for a Sony CDP-101 in 1983.  Its sole advantages were convenience and the blessed end of surface noise.  Otherwise, the available source material was generally awful and the sound quality was just harsh.

In 1984, I lucked into a demo Sota Sapphire with a Magnepan Unitrac arm.  Mounted a DV 23RS on it and was simply blown away.  Open, spacious, natural, defined and every other positive audio buzzword you care to name.  The poor old Sony was not in remotely the same league, no matter how convenient it was.

The 90s rolled around, and I finally decided to try a new CD player.  Went with what was Harmon-Kardon's best at the time.  Dual 16 bit processors and 8x oversampling, I seem to recall.  It was much better than the Sony, but still paled next to my vinyl rig.  Regardless, CDs had begun to rule the shelves, costs were down and the convenience factor was compelling, so I started reserving my table sessions for special occasions.

Shortly after the turn of the century, I became disillusioned with audio.  MP3 files sounded even worse to me than CD, nobody seemed to care about production values and save for the jazz scene, most new music was not my cup of tea.  The H-K finally gave up the ghost and went to its reward. The Sony still worked and still sounded bad.  Life also presented its share of curves to be negotiated.  

Then vinyl started a comeback.  Some new friends began remarking about how "cool" it all was.  My wife and I looked at each other at that, thinking to ourselves "if you only knew..."  Dusted off the rig.  Discovered some entropy had affected my electronics and used the opportunity to upgrade.  Time had finally caught up with the Sony, so a new disc player was called for.  Sent the table out to be refurbished, got a new arm, cartridge & cable.  

Picked up what I believed to be the best all-in-one disc unit I could afford after demoing dozens.  I wasn't disappointed, either.  After nearly 30 years of unrewarding digital playback, my new deck was actually musical.  Natural, even.  And it imaged!  It even played SACD, DVD-A and all the video formats, too.  An elegant bit of engineering.  Then my table got back from refurb.

Time to do the A-B.  Plenty of material for it in both analog and digital, with digital being vastly improved through HD downloads.  Repeated the exercise with just about every new release that has piqued my interest since.  I can honestly say that digital has become much better, but I remain underwhelmed.  No matter what kind of digital source I use, the limitless soaring of the horns on Harry James' D2D Sheffield recordings, the wall of sound in the classic MFSL UHQRs like Crime of the Century, the definition in the Passport studio pressings, the genuineness and humor in the Zappa Barking Pumpkin first editions and the personal presence of Frank Sinatra shining through his first Reprise productions just aren't there.  

I can't give a more precise explanation of my view than that, and after much thought, I'm beginning to believe that's because it's ultimately not something that can be exactly defined.  Music is one of the most, if not the very most, concentrated forms of emotional communication.  Each of us has our own unique emotional mix and reaction set to stimulation of it.  That means there will simply not be a scientifically uniform consensus; it just isn't feasible.

If there is any kind of valid metric to be applied to the digital-vinyl conundrum at present, it might be in comparing the application of Edison's empirical science to that of Moore's Law.  The Edison principle now has 140 years of patient engineering evolution behind it.  Moore's Law posits a geometric progression and has been around for 52 years.  Its application to recorded music still hasn't managed to displace Edison despite far more accelerated development.  One day that may change, but that day isn't today.

Still in the end, it's all about what makes one happy.  We enjoy these kinds of musings because we're audiophiles.  Things that increase our understanding and stimulate our appreciation of music and musical reproduction make for happy listening!

effischer,

Great observations and wonderfully written.
Building my own components my digital system probably beats most vinyl systems.  But my vinyl system beats my digital system.  Happy Listening.
In 1974 when I bought my first album... Grand Funk / We're an american band. I've bought over a thousand since and still listen most every day. I did have a few year's off in the mid 80's when cd's saturated the market. Never realized how good vinyl really was until about 1996 when I bought a VPI with a rega arm. Since then I've improved the analog portion of my system 10 fold & now get the musicians in my listening room whenever the record allows. Still have digital & it also sounds awesome, until I put a record on. Then the difference becomes clear. More width, depth, space between instruments, & sense of being there. Can't really say that vinyl is an overall better format than digital, just know it is at my house. That said, the analog portion of my system is about 5 times the cost of the digital portion, so it probably should be... Enjoy what you enjoy.
Very romantic idea, but dragging a rock across bumpy plastic is not ideal to say the least.  Recently went to a HiRez Vault DAC streaming source hooked into my Vanguard Digital via MIT Magnum Coax....extremely dynamic, holographic rounded 3D soundstage, airy and human sounding!  Warm and liquid with zero noise.  Technology is finally surpassing the antique tech of yesteryear:)
Unfortunately after  I had traded in my previous turntable and all my albums. Then heard great vinyl set up. Starting from scratch.
Hawkwind's "Warrior On The Edge of Time" fold-out sleeve pretty much proves the point for me as to why vinyl is so so so superior to other formats (the music's great too). Check this YouTube video at about 3mins...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUbe2K3PLro
Try it for yourself, stand in front of the speakers, with the CD version of the CHAOS shield sleeve open (and pretend to be that mighty warrior of lore, standing on the deserted abyss of time, champion of the oppressed but weary after many glorious battles in the mythic psychic wars of olde) ... it just doesn't work like the full-sized LP version ... :-)
1965
There was no digital back then, only FM, cassettes & RTR decks.
Every LP I would buy would be recorded to either cassette or RTR on the very first play to preserve & protect for the future.
When CD's became popular in the '80's - I couldn't STAND
THE NOISE it produced!
I first got into digital in the mid '90's as it became more necessary & the selection was growing.
I still back then & today swear by vinyl as my main source for serious listening & only play CD's as background music while working or playing pool as I do not have to get back to my system immediately after 1/2 a side.
To my ears VINYL RULES & CD's are convenient.
Yes there are a few CD's that I really like or love, but not one have surpassed the same sound on vinyl!
The best thing I have found about CD's is that they are much more easy to burn & make copies for friends.
YES - There are still flaws in both, but I can live with it as the bass, vocals & true sound still shine on vinyl over CD's/SACD/s.
Just to be fair:
My analogue systems (TT/Cart./Tonearm & Phono amp) never retailed over $70K & when I first started in audio (1965) my first TT  was a Garrard Zero 100 that cost me $169 complete with arm & cartridge.
My favorite CD player - if there was to be one - was the Reyimo & was probably the best redbook player I have ever heard so I cannot compare my vinyl systems to $100K digital systems as I could never spend that much for CD/SACD.
Just my two cents worth for 50 years & a couple hundred grand invested in audio.

The best sound I ever heard was the Warner Cinerama on Broadway.

In early '78 they had a revival of 70MM prints with 6 track stereo.

I was too young in the 60s to go to roadshows in the city.

The sound of stereo films like My Fair Lady, Paint Your Wagon and South Pacific on those original tracks was a revelation compared to the Dolby of the time .

Going back to vinyl with a Lyra Atlas reminds me of the sound system(alas lost forever along with the decomposed tracks of those movies. The My Fair Lady audio is terrible) in that theater. Such warmth and presence. 

I would have agreed with team vinyl until I heard my CD's ripped and sent to the HiRez DAC's on my Krell.  Seems that CD players are flawed in some fundamental way because what Im hearing is so much better than any one of previous $12 to $16k rigs!

^^^^^

Why are u trying to crash this party Dave_b ?

At least describe the analog kit u were using.

Quick note to dave_b (and no offense here) - 

If you can't understand dragging a rock across bumpy plastic then I would doubt you could appreciate a bow being dragged across the string of a cello.

Seriously - that's what's one of the greatest things about the reproduction of vinyl reproduction is that it works exactly the same way - grooves, friction, vibration between needle and tonearm, resonance = music.

The relationship between record+tonearm+vibration+resonance=music is almost exactly the same as a musical instrument.  

Maybe imperfect BUT

0/1's+laser+software is NOT a musical instrument.

Not arguing which is 'better' but I will say 100% that this is a true statement.  Only difference between a vinyl setup and playing a cello or other analog instrument (reeds, strings, bows, picks, sticks, heads, bells, mallets, vocal chords, mouthpieces, etc.) is amplification.

Stream away - I do

:) 

When I dropped for me what was big bucks on a rig. Went with balanced and full range drivers and the detail began to really come through. If I could have gotten CD to sound better I would have been able to sell off the expensive vinyl setup and pocket a huge chunk of change. But I wanted an honest appraisal so just kept on until I was satisfied that the evaluation was complete, at least in my mind. 
Listener fatigue would set in with CDs to a much greater extent than vinyl. You know, there's no questioning listener fatigue. When it sets in you quit listening. It's not nuances, fine discrepancies or subtle differences. It's cut the rig off and go to bed. With vinyl I stay up too late.
Last rig I had was a Micro Seiki BL-51 wt Dynavector Rubycartridge!  I did appreciate it very much.  Of course vinyl can sound really good, but the artifacts distract me from suspending belief that I am experiencing the event as it originally sounded.  What I have now does it for me...has the positive attributes of vinyl without the drawbacks.
I don't know if its true.   I have CD's and the same vinyl...sometimes CD's are better, sometimes the vinyl is better.  (shoulder shrug)
I have one little bit of experience that is possibly relevant.
A [long] while back I was lucky enough to hear an ORIGINAL Charley Patton 78rpm (I didn't own it of course) and the sound of that pretty beat-up bit of shellac (through a modest system) was singularly spectacular, seriously good. It was much more immediate than any vinyl or CD version I have heard since.
The deck playing this wonderful disc was a modified Garrard (I think) with a Decca (I think), Technics amp - forgot speakers.
I doubt my current [quite fancy, Lyra Etna-lead] set-up could match the sheer presence of the Great Man played on the original.
It was like he was right there in the room.
Maybe this was just an outlier, specific to pre-war Delta blues? But I know others who have had the same experience (John Peel R.I.P. had an original Skip James 78 and played this with the LP version afterwards, even on the radio the difference was stark ... the 78 blew away the LP, and Peel could not stop stating this either on air).
Why would this would be? This is the only time I would submit that another medium was superior to vinyl, but in this case it was. Weird.
the best vinyl has phlogiston in it
After all is said and done, CDs sound relatively thin, disembodied, two dimensional, compressed, congealed, thumpy, piercing, hollow, diffuse, synthetic, amusical, generic, threadbare, edgy, bass shy, peaky, ugly, phasey, irritating, detailed, unnatural, unimpressive, commercial, like papier mache, airless and dry.

Whereas vinyl sounds relatively bold, liquid, focused, deinterleaved, sweet, beautiful, airy, articulate, coherent, musical, deep, open, 3 dimensional, full, pitch correct, engaging, soothing, shattering, dynamic, sparkling and correct.
Effischer well written indeed and it mirrors my observations. I also feel as Atmasphere notes, there is generally an inherent brightness in cd playback that I don’t hear with vinyl. Vinyl doesn’t always sound better than CD playback, but it generally is MUCH more listenable and at its best sounds more natural and complete at every level, you don’t feel like anything is missing. The bottom line for me is that my listening sessions are longer, I’m more involved with the music and less so with the sound than with digital in general.

We recently had a friend and his wife visit us for an extended period. He is not an audiophile but really loves a variety of musical forms. I played both digital and vinyl recordings in a variety of genres. He made an unsolicited comment that the digital sounded "synthetic" relative to records.


In the future the best vinyl will have Graphene in it.

LPs are the best i knew this 40 yrs ago been collecting records ever since then have a great CD player when I'm reading newspapers or Absolute Sound and Stereophile etc.
If they put caffeine in the vinyl I might come back to the fold:)
If I want caffeinated vinyl I just go to starbux...

But seriously, I've been building a system for the past few years, piece by piece, trying to understand what "good sound" is, and how the different parts of a system effect the outcome. I've tried to be neutral about tubes vs solid state and analog vs digital. In the end i'm a tinkerer, not an ideologue, so it doesn't really matter to me which side wins out. Or so I like to believe :)

Anyway 4 years later I have a system built around an SET amp (Art Audio Jota) with an analog front end (modded VPI Aries 1) that has just come into its own with the addition of a Doshi Alaap phono stage. On the digital side I have a Baetis server running into a Chord Hugo DAC fed by a fancy Revelation Audio S/PDIF cable. I'd say they're roughly comparable on the audio hierarchy (?), though I've put way more time (and enjoyment) into the analog side (and money!). But the digital side sits largely dormant. The spouse recently looked at it and said "that shelf is for the defunct stuff."

So why does it end up that way? I like the digital well enough, but there's just something very different about it. Like @effischer  I don't know how to define it, and like @dentdog it just happens naturally as I'm listening. I gravitate to the vinyl and focus in; I 'enjoy' the digital while i'm doing other stuff, but it doesn't grab me. High res files help, but only so much. The best I can say is that it's like the difference between the reproduction of a famous painting and the experience of seeing the real thing. They ain't the same.

I think @gregkohanmim may have a point - the analogy in the method of production of the sound (physical object creating vibrations, rather than a software algorithm) may be the key. Yes we humans are very smart, but sometimes we claim victory before we've really got it right. I'm sure digital will some day (maybe soon) eclipse the sound potential of analog playback. But it'll be a good while before a $4 sound file sounds anything like a good $4 used LP! and for me that ends up making a huge difference.


"If they put caffeine in the vinyl I might come back to the fold:) "

Dave I somehow sense, based on your comments on this site over the years, that you seem in a pertetual conundrum over many things audio. Alas! you’re not alone, it is the bane of being an audiophile as we all well know. Whatever the medium the bottom line is, enjoy!
I've realized that the premise is not necessarily true. I’ve listened to lots of vinyl for decades and now use a CD player as my only source. I believe you can assemble (craft) an audio playback system so CDs will sound just as good or better than vinyl. Each step of the way, while improving (striving for a certain preferred sound) my current system piece by piece, iteratively, its only source was digital. End game: CDs sound terrific on my current system. I think often times people who believe vinyl sounds better are judging based on playback on a system which was not purposely crafted for a digital source.
Rockadanny, I for one would emphatically disagree with that premise!
My system over the past 15 years was changed, upgraded, focused on digital sound including multiple turnover of digital components to try to achieve a less fatiguing presentation of music.

I can only say that my recent focus on vinyl playback has eliminated any ambiguity as to which I prefer. It is as it has always been as the two are different mediums. To me it's not even debatable. Maybe because of my age and growing up in the golden age of audio.  I  believe that the relatively recent  renaissance of vinyl playback is a connection to the emotional aspects of musical playback which is the heart of the matter. It seems many younger listeners, contributing to this renaissance also recognize this as well. What is going on here? Is this a  nostalgia trip or is there something deeper happening? 

To me is is quite clear in the here and now that the main advantage of digital playback, for the most part, is convenience. I have had more than the last 30 years to compare,  no ambiguity on my part, vinyl still reigns supreme in musical engagement. Having said that I completely respect the opinions of those that disagree, whatever floats your boat.
I agree that the premise is a bit funky, even if I prefer analog.  For one thing, "better" depends on what music you're listening to.  If you only listen to contemporary music, I doubt you're better off trying to hear it all in vinyl. No point in adding a layer of distance from the original digital recording. OTOH if you're primarily listening to music recorded before the Reagan administration (ok I admit it) then vinyl makes more sense.  

You will realize vinyl is better if you like snaps, crackles and pops.
In many cases ticks and pops are actually artifacts of the phono section; while the actual tick or pop is on the LP surface, if the phono section is unstable it will exacerbate the tick and make it a lot louder than it really is on the LP. IOW phono preamp design has a huge effect on this and its not a bandwidth thing.


 If you only listen to contemporary music, I doubt you're better off trying to hear it all in vinyl. No point in adding a layer of distance from the original digital recording.

The assumption here is that all modern music is digital and all mastered the same. Its not.

When mastering an LP from a digital source, the LP usually does not employ as much compression since there is no expectation that the LP will be played in a car. Further, the mastering house if often working with the master file that has far less processing applied than the file intended for digital media. So even though using a digital source file it can still sound better.

But analog tape is seeing a comeback too, and pro analog multitrack machines are going for a lot more now than just 5 years ago as demand has increased. IOW there are new LPs coming out now that are recorded analog.

Add to that: vinyl of new titles is a lot easier to find these days!
I have had more than the last 30 years to compare, no ambiguity on my part

Same with me. Perhaps I just got lucky with my choice of components.
I tried to listen to LPs on a few occasions, at some dealers setup. And these setups were comparable, dollar-wise, to the digital rig in the same system, or my system. When you compare the dollar-wise investment in analog and digital, I found the digital to be so much more better than analog. You really have to spend quite a bit of money if you have to get at the same level or surpass that level, in analog. I also head great sounding analog rigs, but they cost at least 4-5 times the digital equipment that dealer had. And at that level, the cables, power distribution, etc is also of higher quality. So not sure if it was just the analog player that made the difference.
And with 2 kids, their activities, etc, it would be a pain to maintain analog.
 The assumption here is that all modern music is digital and all mastered the same. Its not.

@atmasphere great point! thanks
he's right -- dragging a rock across bumpy plastic is not ideal tho a LOT of R&D has gone into it and made it much better than when it started

worse, the rock degrades the plastic every time

a well-recorded CD sounds better and can be replayed millions of times with no degradation - try listening some time

not to mention that high bit rate/depth delivery could be better than a CD

best thing to do is replace your speakers

if your speakers already cost over $35,000 then build a new listening room, and attach a house to it

I had to spend quite a bit (vinyl rig is about $10K) before my vinyl rig beat digital, and I have not spent a comparable on digital.  I can't say I've ever heard a topline mbl or dcs system.  It isn't likely that I will ever spend $10k + on a dac, or have the opportunity to do leisurely comparisons to lp in my own system. I therefore don't have a valid basis for comparison.

with my current systems, cd is for background, lp is for enjoying the sound.

     

"The assumption here is that all modern music is digital and all mastered the same."

Geez, talk about a Strawman argument. I never heard anyone make that assumption.
We've showed with a lot of excellent digital gear at shows. One of the best was the Stahltek, so far ahead of the dcs, msb and the like that quite often I found myself looking at the turntable to see if an LP was playing. IOW it was pretty darn musical! Its had better be- the transport and DAC combo was about $72,000 at the time.

The designer was in the room at one show (RMAF) and was playing a Massive Attack cut; I asked him if he would like to hear the same thing on LP. He said 'sure', I put it on and in about 5 seconds he turned to me and said 'digital has such a long way to go'. I chalk it to his pragmatism that he made some of the very best stuff out there.

Speaking of pragmatism, to know that the LP is not in fact inferior, you don't have to hear a comparison or know any technical stuff at all. All you have to know is that the year of least LP production was 1992. That's 25 years ago folks and yet somehow LP production has been on the rise ever since (in the UK, sales eclipsed digital downloads fairly recently).

IOW you know because the market continues to want it. If digital was really in fact better, the LP would have been long gone and no mistake. Superior technologies have a way of committing inferior technologies to the dustbin. This is why 78s went the way. And why no-one makes side-valve internal combustion engines. And so on.

 What the record labels tried to do was ram the CD down our throats. That didn't work because it wasn't actually better. Critics like to say that people prefer the distortion of the LP, but usually they fail to mention in the same breath that people prefer that over the distortion of digital (see my first post in this thread).

If one is to be pragmatic, it would be that one has to accept that we will never get rid of distortion although we will continue to reduce it. Being that such is the case, then it really becomes a matter of understanding how the ear works and which distortions it does not care about so much and which ones it does. To that end, distortions that involve higher frequencies and or harmonics are going to be less musical to the ear. Its possible to accommodate that in design.

So that is what digital has to sort out, and in the last 15 years in particular there has been a lot of excellent work in that area. I think eventually it will get there (it nearly is now although that's been true for a really long time); until then its getting easier and easier to find vinyl.


A well set up 'table with less than 2 grams of weight on the needle  do not wear down the vinyl. Vinyl gets dirty, a record cleaning machine can add amazing improvements to vinyl playback. I've got records I've owned since I was 14 years old, that have been played literally hundreds of times. And they still play like new after a good washing. Some older abused records may have a pop or two, but that is due to damage. A damaged CD can be completely unusable. So that road goes both ways. A vinyl playback setup is not complete without an RCM. (See my review of the new Pro-Ject VS-C) 

At present I've got more invested in my CD player than my analog rig. (Cary 306 vs Scout/Sumiko/Musical Surroundings) and they both sound great! If someone walked in and I wanted to give them the one song demo, I'd play them a CD. It has great dynamics and clean sound, great bass. But if we are going to sit down and drink several beverages and enjoy the music, I'll spin records. And it also depends on the music I'm listening to. Most classic rock and jazz, classical, I'll prefer on vinyl, because of the smooth and non-fatiguing sound. But if I want to hear some Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, I'll prefer the CD. Because it can play louder without feedback, has great dynamic range, crystal clear definition between notes.

Honest, a side by side A/B comparison willl say that the CD sounds better. But over the course of a few hours, the vinyl draws me in. I will play one after the other, and that leads to the next. After about two CD's, I'm done. I am more apt to have an emotional response to vinyl than CD.  I like GregKohanmin's idea about resonance, interesting theory.