Will a $700 turntable outperform a CD player?


I’m looking into getting a second source as I don’t want to be tied down to internet and a streaming service as my only source.  Will a $700 turntable and inexpensive phono preamp out perform a Cambridge CXC transport / Schiit Gungir Multibit?  
The Schiit Sol / mani preamp look enticing but I know nothing about turntables.

I used to dj and always used technics Sl1200’s and really liked them.  I can pick up a nice SL1200 mk3 used for $600...

I figure that before I start spending hundreds, possibly thousands, on cd’s or vinyl, I should be sure which format I want!

Thanks for any advice / input regarding this 😁

Best Regards,
Bruce
7c90e6a3 4d95 47c3 9334 49cf96bf86c6b_limo
I used to dj and always used technics Sl1200’s and really liked them. I can pick up a nice SL1200 mk3 used for $600...


I think you can find SL1200mk2 for $350 instead of mk3 for $600. No audible difference between those two. You can upgrade mk2 slowly (rewire tonearm, replacing stock feet). And the rest for the cartridge, it's more important 
After college, between being poor and moving around a lot my Technics SL1700 went in a box for a good 10 years. By the time I got settled and had money it was 1990 something, I had forgotten all about the turntable, CD was supposed to be so much better, that when I started building my new system in my new listening room only CD was even considered at first. 

Until one day reading Robert Harley and he is saying the turntable is the foundation of a high end music system. Wait- what? Well I still have my turntable, my POC Kenwood has a phono stage, we will just have to settle this turntable BS once and for all. 

Turns out the cantilever on the Stanton 681EEE cartridge got bent somehow. Dang. Pliers. There. That looks reasonably straight. Still have a few records in a box somewhere. Get this over with. 

Amazing. Flabbergasting. Wife comes home. Hears music. Can't see the turntable. Assumes its CD. Says that sounds good what is it? Blocking her view I say Tom Petty. No I mean what is it, sounds so good? Its a record. What??!?!?!?

Vinyl is so much better than digital it really is not a question of sound quality. Its purely a question of personality. If playing a record is something you will enjoy then its a match made in heaven. If it feels like drudgery then you will probably find it easier to put up with digital and learn to pretend not to notice how it sounds.
You know, the two possible combos you mention should be very close in performance, the vinyl setup looks really interesting and I would love to hear how they pair togeather, the digital setup is one I own and love that combo in my headphone rig with this caveat, the Gumby tics when you pause the Cambridge and this seems to be the case with some other transports when paired with it. I do really like the combo but find myself playing/preferring my VPI Scount with a Grace F9R in the same setup, but then again I am a vinyl guy. Enjoy the music
If you often find yourself tapping your toes along with music in the elevator maybe not. 
Wait a minute, I tap my feet to music in an elevator.
"Vinyl is so much better than digital it really is not a question of sound quality. Its purely a question of personality. If playing a record is something you will enjoy then its a match made in heaven. If it feels like drudgery then you will probably find it easier to put up with digital and learn to pretend not to notice how it sounds."  This exactly!!!!!!!!!!
Outperform-verb, perform better than.

a member pm’d me an iformed me that someone would have to come and set up the stylus, I’d have to buy a record cleaner, find domewhere to store my records, that I can’t skip tracks with a remote...

so I don’t care about having to get up to change records, can’t I just do what I used to do and not touch the records and occasionally clean / condition them with some gruv glide?, store my records on the ground inside a flight case?

Can I not just buy a good sounding $700 turntable that comes with a catridge already installed and “set-up” buy a decent phono preamp, and some records?

My reservations are that records will more than likely be more expensive and a $700 vinyl set-up not outperforming, ie, sounding better, than my gungir and CXC...


If it's a toss-up between LP and CD, go for vinyl but forget the Sol unless you want a steep learning curve in setting up a turntable. You'll need to commit if you want the whole vinyl experience. Get the Technics and have some fun.
Not to get all anti-McLuhan-esque, but to me the message counts more than the medium.  Sure, fidelity, convenience and habit figure into it.  But whether it's phono, CD, SACD, download, streaming or one of those many wonderful magnetic tape variants(!), I tend to go to the place that enables me to hear that I want to hear.
Look for a used Rega RP 3 should come in at around $700. Easy to set up sounds great.
Re-read your last post. Forget it man. You'll drive yourself nuts.
I don't see "ONE" as the best. I would zero in on one, get it the way you like, and if you want to tinker, well have fun.
BUT one better than the other, maybe...or maybe not.... 

Regards...
 Technics Direct Drive  TT rule....
But I have 2 Direct Drive tt and 4 belt ,all in excellent  condition...
CD format is dead horse.
no future for this media.

I think it’s for retired people only, I have no idea who else might be interested in CDs since digital is all about higher resolution files on hard drive (not on CD) so far. 

Even cassettes is more fun 
I'm retired, I have CDs. Are you talking about me?
The sol looks badass. I have a killer analog setup and an amazing digital side as well. Analog always wins. But digital is very close, and way easy. Analog will cost you more but you will be rewarded. Also, I have the gungnir MB in my bedroom setup and although this is an amazing DAC, it definitely sounds digital and almost surgical. The warmth of analog will lure you in vs that particular DAC. 
I tell people who want to get into vinyl that the fun ship has sailed. I loved picking up great old lps for 1-5$, or snagging a whole collection once in a while.  The world supply of original-pressing vinyl (not fancy, even thin, flexy mass-market lps from the 70s are amazing) has been bought up by collectors. The remainder sell for stupid prices. Reissues are typically poorly pressed from a 16-bit, 44kHz file. Noisy as hell and poorly manufactured. And they cost 35$ each. 

CDs now occupy that junk space formerly held by vinyl. You can get great stuff for 1-5$, or classical boxes, 50 for 50$. 

If you have a stack of records, might be a different story. 

Your Gungnir sounds good I'll bet. I'd stick with that and maybe get better speakers. 
I’ve been wondering the same thing as OP. I’ve never had a turntable and feel like I’m missing out on something (based solely on the fanatical adulation of the vinyl fanboys). I’ve actually never even heard a “proper” record playing setup. I often wonder what it would cost to better my digital sources. After carefully factoring in my complete lack of a record collection, my zero experience with turntable setup, a major case of OCD regarding any tics or pops, a preamp with unity gain, and the fact I’ve lately gotten so lazy I sometimes stream albums I both have on CD and have already ripped - I decide it would be too much hassle. At least this way I save my money for other equipment or whisk(e)y.
Is ignorance really bliss?
As someone who has a SL-1200 MK2, and a Cambridge Audio CXC running into a Topping D90, I enjoy them both but have more of a fondness for the SL-1200.  I have done a lot of KAB upgrades and have a Hana SL cartridge on it, and it sounds very good to me; it keeps excellent speed and I never have the feeling I'm going to break it like I have with other TT's.  I think the cartridge makes the biggest difference.  Streaming Tidal still edges it out IMHO in detail and dynamics, but there are times where I will stream for weeks and then pull out record after record after record and be quite happy.  It all depends on your preferences, but I think you'd end up spending quite a bit more money and time with vinyl than you would with the Cambridge and a really good DAC - tt, cartridge, phono preamp, record cleaner (if you go that route), and then the vinyl itself.  If you're a thrift store shopper you can pick up CD's for next to nothing, but the vinyl that's out there is usually quite picked over.  I've found that my Cambridge CXC is very particular about what I feed it, in that any disc that is slightly scratched will behave badly in it - YMMV, maybe it's just my machine.  But I think you can't beat the noise level while steaming or playing a CD.
I sold my $14k turntable/arm/cartridge because my $7500 dac surpassed the sound of analog pretty easy. A good MQA or DSD cut surpassed vinyl.
I had a very good collection of albums too but most of the new jazz I liked was never produced on vinyl and I get tired of just listening to old poorly recorded songs on vinyl. Plus the maintenance required to keep everything clean.
With digital and with Tidal, I find out new artists and new music constantly and I have the convenience of streaming ripped music to my dedicated audio room or 6 other locations around the house all from an iPad/iPhone.
it's ok to have both, then you'll know
Why such an insistence on either/or? I'm quite pleased by the various vinyl or streaming fashionistas who declare the cd dead, as they're loading up the shops with their discards. My collection grows each week as I raid the local record store; the proprietor, maybe the most interesting and knowledgeable guy, musically speaking, I've ever met says cd's are inconsequential to his concerns, even as he stocks the best selection I've ever encountered and prices classic cd's as low as a dollar. Vinyl may be his bread and butter, but his stock respects a much broader taste.  

I like vinyl very much, having recently purchased a table and a decent selection of good pressings of (mostly jazz) albums. But holy hell, the prices are exorbitant. $54 for a Three Blind Mice label record? $35 for an Impex Records pressing? I get that using analogue masters are pricey, but I have a mortgage and children's braces to pay for. And as paulburnett notes above, even poorly-done reissues, made from digital sources, cost silly money these days.

How about recognizing that "the more the merrier" makes good sense here, instead of claiming that "putting up with digital" is some kind of audio sloppy seconds? 

To reply to the question: It all depends, right? 
It seems like you need to spend around $2 towards a vinyl rig to equal $1 on the digital rig. That is my experience anyway. That is just the equipment. That doesn’t factor in the expensive audiophile pressings that really bring things to life.

That said, I prefer vinyl. I like the ritual of playing lps and love the sound. I’m way deeper (cost wise) into vinyl so I can out‐preform my modest streamer and DAC. I’m ultimately ok with this though. I guess it just depends what you like ultimately.
Definitely all depends. Some of my vinyl sounds better than digital and vice versa depending on release. CDs played on a good 21st century transport always sounds equal or better than the Redbook file. Many tracks are indistinguishable between Redbook & HiRez. I know what music I like and much of it is not available on vinyl. 90% of all recordings are Redbook. 
I’ve been playing records since 1965. That was on my dad’s Garrard and HH Scott receiver and Wharfdale speakers. I enjoy records immensely!

i also have CDs. I also have streaming digital sources. 

I dont spend a lot on vinyl, not on my (14) turntables, nor cartridges (82). I inherited 4,000 LPs from my folks. My mother worked as Quality Manager for Columbia Records pressing plant in California, 1955-1967. I’ve added just under 1,000 LPs myself. Mostly eBay and thrift stores. 

All of the digital sources I have only serve as an expensive convenience, and to verify just how good all the vinyl sounds. 

When i want REALLY GREAT listening, it’s from vinyl.

All this talk of spending $1,000s for a vinyl setup is absolute garbage. Not necessary. 

And, if digital is so great, why the preoccupation with searching for the best DAC? Absolute garbage, too! Don’t you know?? Digital is perfect already!
I have 5K CD's, and approximately 2K LP's. I'm not clear whether you have a CD collection and or an LP collection. There are many ways of looking at your question. How much past history do you have dealing with a turntable? If this is your first venture, you will most likely make bad choices, until you gain some knowledge and experience. The entry level turntables currently on the market. Will get the job done, ie. playing records with  a reasonable level of reproduction. On the other hand, if you own a collection of decent CD's and a decent player, you will most likely be disappointed that the LP nirvana that you have heard about, and are seeking, is not so easy to come buy. The fairly new SCHIIT turntable, which by the way is not that easy to setup properly, but in doing so, is capable of some rewarding playback, depending upon your choice of cartridge. Even though the SCHIIT is only $650.00, factory direct, you will have to spend at least as much as the cost of the turntable to purchase a decent cartridge that is good enough to avoid wanting to get something else in 6 months or so. And then there is the setup. Not for the faint of heart. Especially if it's your first venture.  So, unless you can increase your budget to a point where you have enough to invest in a TT package that will truly satisfy the question you pose. I'd stay clear of it for a while and stick with the CD format.  That pretty well sums it up
@wolfie62
Jealous of your inherited albums. Some of my prized possessions are my Columbia red two eye, red six eye and grey six eye from that period.
I have another perspective on this.  I read here how transcendent the sound of vinyl can be — who doesn’t want to experience that?  But I had low expectations for my old vinyl, still recalling all the crackles and pops.  I thus didn’t want to invest much money until I knew if I’d even like it.  So, I paid $280 for a Denon DP-300f, which came with an inexpensive Denon cartridge but also included the Ortofon 2M Red cart as a free upgrade.  I bought a low tech but effective Spin Clean manual record washer and made my own cleaning solution from recipes on-line.  

The worst part was cleaning each record by hand, and then listening to them.  But it was “shelter-at-home” time with this COVID-19 business, so what else was I going to do?   I ended up cleaning most of the 328 records at least twice, and some a third time. So I easily did 700 cleanings by hand over the past 2 months.  I found that my results were better if I did more vigorous cleaning than the Spin Clean called for.   But I am done.

Am I glad I went into vinyl as an option (still looking to enjoy music on CD’s and streaming)?  Yes, I am.  There is a hands-on satisfaction for me with vinyl, even the cleaning.  And so far I haven’t spent a dime on new records — I inherited my family’s collections and was otherwise given albums for free.  Out of all those records, only 6 were unusable.  If I had to start from scratch on the records (no pun intended), I might not bother. Going cheap has worked for me, but I don’t play music at loud volume, as I like to relax while listening.  Maybe if I was trying to replicate the sound levels of a rock concert, I might feel differently. 

(My latest venture has been to convert my records to digital files, to eventually put onto my Bluesound Vault 2i.  A nice fellow here helped direct me to the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4, which can convert the music on records to 24/96 digital, or even higher.  I will be able to access my vinyl recordings as easily as I do CD’s, but with even greater resolution.  That is the plan anyway.  And it gives me something to amuse myself with).
will be able to access my vinyl recordings as easily as I do CD’s, but with even greater resolution . You can't get greater resolution when transforming your vinyl collection to digital . You will get what is already on the vinyl , period , thats it . 

Having said that depending on digital playback equipment you might even get a inferior sound , more brightness , colapse soundstage and things of that nature . 

On the question of which is better , analog or digital it depends on the equipment and recording . There are one box solutions for digital that sound great even on redbook cds and vinyl setups that sound fantastic . 

There is one thing for analog playback that I consider extremely important to get the best possible sound that many omit when they are commenting on vinyl playback and that is the quality of the phono circuit or Riaa conversion circuit 
 

No matter how good your turntable or cartridge is if your phonostage is not up to the task you will never be able to reach your analog setups full potential . 

Experiment and hear the differences between two phonostages and you will be surprise at the profound differences in playback between them . 
I’m retired, I have CDs. Are you talking about me?


@tooblue there is a difference between younger and older generation of people, strangely but VINYL format is widely popular between young people while CD (and CD players) are not at all (replaced by streaming and files long time ago). This is why i think that CD is for retired people (aka older generation). I also think that majority of audiogon posters belog to the older generation.

@b_limo I remember when CD became popular here, it was in the 90’s and at that time i had portable CD player, hi-fi Turntable and Cassette Deck. The CD sound was clean, but Vinyl was much more dynamic and more impressive even in my mid-fi system with average cartridge. In 95 I bought my first Technics SL1210mkII, sold all the CDs for vinyl, been using only vinyl and cassettes. Only vinyl for over 20 years now (with dramatically improved system).

It won’t if the other guy knows what he’s doing. If both systems are Untweaked, straight outta the box in an untreated room, who cares? They are both going to suck, relatively speaking of course. Everything is relative to something else. There is also the sticky question of what your preferences are regarding sound quality.
The first question I would ask is how many record albums vs CD's do you have? Used CD's are a lot easier to come by right now, but personally, I prefer the ritual AND the sound of playing a CD. If you are looking for a brand new, easy to set up turntable under $700, I would recommend the Rega Planar 2 ($675 everywhere - comes with a really basic cartridge) or the Pro-Ject 1Xpression Carbon Classic ($689 at The Music Room (tmraudio.com) - comes with an Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge). Good luck! 
I've been back into vinyl for a few years. While I do stream, I prefer the physical medium. That's just personal preference. , and that preference differs from day to day, and what kind of listening in doing. The more fixed I am on the music, the more I lean towards vinyl. 
     I still buy CDs both online and in person. But I prefer to buy vinyl in person for inspection , as my online experience has been more inconsistent than with CD. Also, if something originally came out in analog,  I tend to prefer it on that format. Jazz I prefer on vinyl, but classical on CD because of the noise floor. But I will buy jazz on CD still, as there is some superbly remastered stuff out there for much less cash than the vinyl counterpart. For me it's not either/ or, but having the ability to take advantage of the best option at the time. 
    Cheap digital, say at the 300 dollar mark, will almost always outperform a cheap vinyl rig. But overall, my best sound on my system is on my best vinyl, but that rig is 5x more expensive,plus the cost of cleaning machines and various accessories.  So good sounding vinyl is an investment and a labor of love. To me it's worth it. I'd do some things different, but I'd do it again. 
    Lots of good advice from previous posters btw. 
      
     
Vinyl is only as good as the software.I have a Audio Technica at 120 DD
with the Audio Technica AT-95 for which I added a upgrade stylus for 39.00.I also have a Grado F3E and a Grado Blue which I will fit into some new head shells.I say SACD beats both of those.I am still amazed at DSOM 5.1 on Sony SCD-CE-595 changer.No conversion done by my Marantz receiver being fed by 5.1 analog outputs into its analog inputs.
Hello,
I agree with Ardsley on the first part. The gun is not the expensive part it’s the bullets or cartridge. MC is right. Vynal  has a personality that is unbeatable as long as you have the right pressing. Which can be very expensive and Sometimes hard to find. Man I would love to have many of these peoples record collections. I have a new Pink Floyd Dark side of the moon and the original Mofi pressing in mint condition. The Mofi will smoke any digital recordings. The new one gets beat by CD everyday. I also have the Mofi CD and the UCD and still the older Mofi record smokes them even if I play the CDs on my Oppo 205 with balanced interconnects. One good pressing can cost $20 minimum. I paid $100 for that Pink Floyd album. You can get CDs really cheep right now and sound really good. If you upgrade your DAC which will help your streaming too then you can get just a transport like the Cambridge.  This will save you a lot of money in analog cables too.I have seen and heard too many people buying a lower end Rega or Project only to spend a lot of money to turn them into the higher end versions. Way more than just buying a good used Rega P6 or P8/10. Save up for the Rega P6 or even better the VPI scout so you can put the money into the recordings rather than the player. Records are the best listening experience as long as you have the right pressing. Who wants to drive a Porsche with a Yugo engine? No one! Am I right MC? Regardless of what you do keep an eye out and try to find some good pressings that are at a good price for the future. Same for the record player and preamp. Good luck! I hope you get where you want to be. 
I can relate to feeling nostalgic and wanting to get back into vinyl.I've got records but my turntable bit the dust long ago.What stops me is listening to my brother's  VPI set up and knowing my Technics table never came close to sounding like that.I'd rather put the money into improving my digital.But still I find myself perusing tables and being tempted often:-)
Re the OP:

In my experience, a $700 turntable, if well sorted, or well set up, will equal or out perform, the best that digital can do or has done so far.

Until they get a better control of the LSB considerations of digital audio, this will always be true.

In order to do that, they’ll have to get their digital thinking in order and redesign the ADC and DAC from the ground up, again, for the umpteenth time.

To do this in conjunction with deep knowledge of how the ear and brain hears (a constantly growing knowledge base, btw...) and make the engineering so it is controlled wholly by such thinking, rather than the other way around.

The latter being how we arrived at this mess that we have today, one where engineering prettiness (i’s dotted, t’s crossed...) is more important that the reality of human hearing, human hearing --which is not looked at by the specialized people doing the ADC/DAC engineering.

We need hugely talented multidisciplinarians in the field of ADC/DAC design, plain and simple. Discovery oriented people, scientists in a multidiciplinarian mode and capacity.

As it all stands today.. (sigh)...a today, where a +$100k digital DAC unit combined with a +$100k ADC on the input end, can’t outperform a few thousand dollars worth of well sorted pure analog record and playback.

In engineering thinking and efforts, the digital system clearly does outperform...but.. with regard to the best in human hearing - it clearly doesn’t.

Major disconnect.


Yay yap yap...the answer is NO. If the question is what format is cheapest to reach a decent sound level that would be digital....if you want out of the box easy, Predictable, again it’s digital....if you want something to build on have some Hobby cash and/or time...vinyl. It’s really not that confusing there’s money to be spent, how much do you wanna spend ? How much time do you want to spend running around to acquire what level of quality. Throw in the nostalgia thing that might make a difference. 
teo_audio, demonstrating that every once in a while the forum proves its worth (I did tighten it up a bit):
In my experience, a $700 turntable, if well sorted, or well set up, will equal or out perform, the best that digital can do or has done so far. ..

Today a +$100k digital DAC unit combined with a +$100k ADC on the input end, can't outperform a few thousand dollars worth of well sorted pure analog record and playback.

In engineering, thinking, and efforts, the digital system clearly does outperform...but.. with regard to the best in human hearing - it clearly doesn't.

Major disconnect.

Indeed.
Hi Bruce, I say absolutely say - go for it-. You'll be happy you did!! I'm currently using a VPI Traveler (nice table put away) which was gifted me, new condition. It is perfectly fine and enjoyable for now, I've had records for many years, so have quite a few. I'd NEVER be without them! For the last couple of years, a local charity thrift store sells records for 25 cents. I go there quite often, and find mainly classical obviously (and some nice Jazz surprises) mint- condition. Classical is not popular plus owners seemed to always take care of their records. Rock are the worst cared for! Sometime's finding weed scraps in the gate folds. 
If you get the best digital and compare it with the best analog their sound will be very close . So close as to say that one can prefer one over the other and no one can complain . Obviously these playback system will be in the thousands .

On a more earthly system a 700 dollar Analog playback system a la Rega 2 or 3 or Project 1expression 3 with a good cartridge ( which will push the price of the analog rig over one grand ) will outperform a good 1000 cd player even though a good one will give the analog rig a run for its money at this price level .
And the award for most diplomatic post goes to...
The latter being how we arrived at this mess that we have today, one where engineering prettiness (i’s dotted, t’s crossed...) is more important that the reality of human hearing, human hearing --which is not looked at by the specialized people doing the ADC/DAC engineering.
I will gladly second you on that....

But for the eternal analog/digital debate, my point and experience is the 3 embeddings of an audio system contribute way much to the S.Q. than the choice of a dac or a turntable....

But who gives a damn for embedding the audio element where they cost so much in dollars and are state of the art? Almost nobody....I know because the discussions are about vinyl or digital, cables, tube amplifier versus S.S. etc.... All that totally secondary in S.Q. to the rightfully 3 embeddings in a dedicated room....

:)
Even Joe Biden say's "make sure you have the record player on at night". Hey, perhaps he's even a member here under an assumed name. 👍
and..as Biden's inside joke, a name made up/pulled from the first and last names of all the people on the arkancide list.

Car A accelerates faster and car B goes round corners better.

Which of them outperforms the other?