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Wow: Is vinyl the format of the future?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
I must state first off that I am a changed man. Up until last sunday, I was a big advocate of CD and SACD, and I remained happy with digital formats. A powerful force shattered my long-held beliefs about formats: I paid a visit to Todd Green's place. As many of you know, he operates a new company aptly named Todd the Vinyl Junkie (http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com). His premise is that the "old format" of vinyl is still by and large better sounding than any new digital format.

At about two-thirty P.M. on Sunday I showed up at his place. He has a small office with lots of audio equipment and supplies; I spent a few hours listening to stuff in this building. The first thing he did was stick in an old pressing of Ride of the Valkyries, a pretty well-known symphonic work.

Right off of the bat, I was impressed. The sound was clean, smooth, and more lifelike than I had ever heard before: the highs seemed to breathe a sigh of relief; there was no longer a distinct "bass," "mids," and "treble," but just plain music. Detail was excellent, and the tone of the trumpet was just excellent, much better than any CD or SACD I've heard on any source.

This was just a warm-up of things to come. I was at this point highly skeptical of vinyl, having never heard it before in my life, I had no idea what the overall outcome of this audition would be like. Our second album was some pink floyd.

In spite of the fact that the record was at least thirty years old, it sounded clean and above all more natural than I had expected. Having heard such remarks as "vinyl is a colored format" from some people, I wasn't expecting the neutral detailed presentation from this album.

A few minutes later, we fired up a pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. Todd said that he's been lucky finding recordings such as these; there is a wide variety of quality levels due to how people took care of their records.

I was skeptical for the first seconds of the introduction. The "pounding heart" bassline that is so recognizable lacked a bit of sparkle compared to my SACD setup.

And then it happened. The first voice entered, and set the standard for detail, blowing away the SACD and CD remaster of dark side of the moon (you know, "I've been mad for ********* years," etc). What was more amazing was how the introduction built up: It sounded more coherent and detailed than I had EVER heard it on digital. I could hear each and every individual voice or instrument, but the musical whole was surprisingly natural.

Things just kept getting better. I heard some really old stuff as well, and we also listened to a couple of audiophile pressings. Nora Jones was my favorite, especially the introduction, also some disco pressed on a '45 (can't remember the name of the group) but it's the first time I've heard excellent electronic-ish music.

When we plugged the HD600/cardas and my MOH(R) into Todd's analog setup, things just got better. Detail, decay, and texture were mind-blowingly realistic.

After much delight we finally hooked up my NS500V and Todd's Meridian to the MOH amp.

We directly A/B'd these two sources with the same equipment we had used to hear the records.

Surprisingly (or not, depending on your personal experiences) the meridian was o.k., but sounded grainy and "hashy," compared to the vinyl DSOTM recording. What I mean is, the high end exhibits a signature with digital, a sort of glare which never went away and drove me nuts after hearing the vinyl. The SACD player was also o.k., but the meridian performed better with CD. We agreed that the NS500V has some promise as a SACD player: it didn't sound like a $120-$200 player; it had more bang for the buck than was expected.

Let's go back a bit. Listening to track 3, "Time," the first one minute is where you can really start seeing the benefits of vinyl as a format. When the clocks and bells start going off all over the place, the vinyl setup made it sound eerily realistic: tone and texture was next to perfect. Imaging was also excellent, and detail was more lifelike than any digital format I've heard. When switching to the meridian, the sound was much less lifelike. Detail was all there, but the highs lacked much of the qualities exhibited by the vinyl recording. Mids were actuall more colored with the meridian/CD version. Switching to SACD, the sound was a tad hashier/brighter and we both thought it sounded tinny in comparison (its not easy for a $120 player to hold its ground to the 507 and a bluenote turntable though!).

However, the verdict remains: I just plain flat-out liked vinyl better. Not only did it have more detail, imaging, and balance, but it was just plain a hell of a lot more lifelike. Soundstage depth was better to boot, and the sound was dead-smooth, startlingly so with HD600s. There were no "bumps" in the frequency spectrum, as I had incorrectly expected. I have never heard cymbals sound so realistic, strings so organic, horns so piercing, etc. etc. The only thing better is live music, if only for the fact that you gain the visual perception of the performers and the feeling of intimacy which comes with being at a live performance. Let's just say the sound was all there with vinyl.

Of course, there are a few downsides. It's a bit more work maintaining a good collection of records, and you've got to take care of them to keep them sounding good over a long period of time. Also, there is the occasional pop or tick, which is a minor setback compared to the massive gains of the format itself.

I just canned my plan to go SACD, or any digital format for that matter. I'm going to sell my player pretty soon, and start hoarding the vinyl: It's just too good to pass up.

Cheers,
Geek
post #2 of 64
welcome to the fold.
post #3 of 64
Welcome... abandon all hope, because unless you're willing to compromise with vinyl playback (i.e. not as good as it could be in many ways) you can not only feel sorry for your wallet, you can kiss it goodbye.

The price performance curve is drastically different than with digital, and you can expect continuing and very real performance improvements with turntables up to well into the five figure range -- and you haven't even factored in a cartridge, phono stage, record cleaning machine and other associated stuff.
post #4 of 64
Thread Starter 


Cheers,
Geek
post #5 of 64
Quote:
Originally posted by Geek


Cheers,
Geek
Cheer up... vinyl sounds so good that it's much easier to make peace with than digital (in my opinion) . Just thought it might be good to be aware of what a serious wallet-sucker it can be if you're not careful, didn't mean to bring ya down.
post #6 of 64
Thread Starter 
w00t.

I'm going to try and wait until I have $2000 or so before I make the spring. Shouldn't take too too long. . .

Cheers,
Geek
post #7 of 64
Quote:
Originally posted by Geek
w00t.

I'm going to try and wait until I have $2000 or so before I make the spring. Shouldn't take too too long. . .

Cheers,
Geek
Hey, I understand you can still find these used...
post #8 of 64
Vinyl rules, IMO. I'll pop in a CD anytime I want background music. But if I'm gonna sit down with a favorite glass of wine (lately a port from Door County), I'm always reaching for a record to listen to. I almost can't work while listening to vinyl, I just get drawn into the music.
post #9 of 64
I'm a bit sceptic about vinyl.. maybe it's the vinyl's distortion which makes the sound so pleasing.. anyone ever tried recording some vinyl from excelent rig using 24/192 A/D and playing back on some good DAC? I mean no M-Audio, but for example ESI WT192X, which uses one of the best ADC available.. there might be no difference than..?
post #10 of 64
Quote:
Originally posted by Glassman
I'm a bit sceptic about vinyl.. maybe it's the vinyl's distortion which makes the sound so pleasing.. anyone ever tried recording some vinyl from excelent rig using 24/192 A/D and playing back on some good DAC?
A good vinyl rig should floor even the most hardcore vinyl sceptic!

Recorded vinyl just isn't the same. It's almost always better to go right back to the source tapes, unless no such tapes exist.

My only problem with vinyl is that it's a bit more hassle than digital. You can get great albums cheap, but you need to spend a lot on equipment to get the most out of them. They also take up a lot of space, which I don't have. I'm living without vinyl now, because I was hoping to go into SACD, but I'm having second thoughts now. Two channel SACD just doesn't look like it's going payoff because of lazy recording engineers.

--Chris
post #11 of 64
Thread Starter 
Recorded vinyl is taking whatever flaws vinyl has and combining them with the flaws of a digital format.

I listened to a bluenote system through the moh(r) and HD600s and that's the closest I've been to a live sound. Nothing else came close to it.

Yeah, it's more of a hassle, but I'm in this for the sound and I really don't care what I have to do to get there.

Cheers,
Geek
post #12 of 64
I'd just like to point out that the listening room of a guy who makes his living from selling vinyl and accessories and has a definite financial stake in seeing increased adoption of it probably isn't the BEST place for an unbiased comparison of the quality of vinyl vs digital.
post #13 of 64
Quote:
Originally posted by Alereon
I'd just like to point out that the listening room of a guy who makes his living from selling vinyl and accessories and has a definite financial stake in seeing increased adoption of it probably isn't the BEST place for an unbiased comparison of the quality of vinyl vs digital.

I have to disagree in this case. The opinion was left of to the listener. He sells both a very high quality line of Digital sources as well as analog equipment. Both are installed in the same system. Bias in this case would require that he somehow tweak his system to perform better with analog gear and that is near impossible. I'm sure Todd is far baised toward the analog side of things but his system is not. What Geek heard for himself was a very high quality Digital source compared to a nice analog source. His opinion could have went either way. You should try it yourself sometimes.
post #14 of 64

Re: Wow: Is vinyl the format of the future?

Reports of the demise of vinyl have been greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain ). Not only has vinyl software been improved since the advent of digital, but the cleaning practices and playback hardware of today make all my old vinyl sound at least a full step better than it did back "then".

On the other hand, to open ears (and open minds), a well designed and set up redbook CD playback system sounds way better than did CDs through any system at the time of their introduction. Increased word length and sampling frequencies and improving digital-to-audio conversion are refining digital towards musical everyday.
post #15 of 64
Thread Starter 
The listening room doesn't matter in this case.

My impressions were based on the HD600s/cardas through MY maxed out home reference w/attenuators.

The source is what was different.

We compared everything on the exact same set of equipment, including the interconnects (M-paths, dimarzio).

There was no contest.

Vinyl is simply a more audiophile format to my ears.

Cheers,
Geek
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