1. I don't know. There's a lot of debate and I've gotten incredible sound from both digital and analog. With digital, I prefer hi-rez; I run both SACD and DVD-A. It is safe to say you can get great sound from both. Which is why I run both. Format snobbery is not going to get in the way of enjoying music.
2. Vinyl is often better mastered than the typical "Loudness War" CD you find today. But CDs can be mastered very, very well. One reason I love SACD is that it is sort of a guarantee that the mastering is done well. Though that argument is complicated because the vast majority of SACDs are classical and jazz, which tend to be mastered very well on CDs. Still, I'll pay a few extra dollars for hi-rez. I like to get the best possible recording.
3. Vinyl playback is tricky and capricious. The gear can be viciously expensive, then you have to set it up correctly. Even then, there's a bit of maintenance and upkeep. My hi-rez digital players are a lot easier to deal with. Still, I found it worthwhile to invest deeply in vinyl playback. The technology hasn't changed much, so I think the rig will be about as good as it gets for years. Digital changes every 18-24 months. I won't spend a lot on digital because something better and cheaper is usually on the horizon. For digital, I'll hang a generation or two behind and upgrade with used gear when it gets affordable. I don't think the Michell Orbe and SME IV will be much improved upon in the next 20-30 years, so I went whole hog. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. There isn't a lot of R&D being sunk into vinyl, so what's good today will probably be good in 2021 and beyond.
I enjoyed reading Uncle Eric's thoughts on the matter. I think he's a real smart guy. Like UE, I think it's all good. I've got a 32 year old Sony PS-4750 TT with Shure V15 VMR. Each has satisfied me from day one. Today, this TT/Cart is used to get my LP collection into my iTunes library.Thing is, I cannot distinguish the digitized material from the original LP's when I've set recording levels decently. In fact, most everything I've got in my iTunes library, from 256k downloads to 24/96 wav files sounds as good as SACD from my Sony DVP-S9000ES. My route from laptop to JBL L100t3's: Windows 7 up-sampled to 24/96 USB, to X-FI HD converted to optical S/PDIF, to Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro.
Edited by sterling1 - 8/2/11 at 5:40am