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I'd have just added the cost of those AQ cables to the speaker budget though.
Having been through this upgrade journey I have to say that I returned to my rega RP1, put on a cleaned up Tony Bennett LP I got for a Euro from my local charity store, laid back, closed my eyes and haven’t been more in peace with myself ever since.
I think if you are accustomed to Vinyl, you'll never be at peace with digital. It would be best to just upgrade your Vinyl setup instead of digital and deep digital portable listening, PC audio and car audio. As a millennial, I have never been exposed to good sounding Vinyl setup so I cannot relate to those who stick to them as to my ears, digital is the "accurate" sound to me.
You ll be surprised to hear that I purchased my first Vinyl player for the first time 3 months ago along with my other hifi gear (Mojo, q3020s upgraded by Dynaudio Emit M10) all at the same time to compare what I would like most. Therefore you unsurprisingly totally misinterpreted my statement about vinyl. Of course does the digital setup sound cleaner and more correct. Yet after all the money spent and all those discrepancies filtered out vinyl cannot be really compared to digital. I am not that old (listen to all music out there including hip pop, House , all sorts of elektronic, jazz, Classical etc) vinyl is a different animal that has something digital will never have. Charm, and class, authenticity - those gooze bumps you may get putting on a record which suddenly may remind you of your grandfather. Sort of like comparing Godfather movie with Need for Speed...
Oh nice. In my case, I always feel like I need to spend 5-10x of my digital setup on Vinyl just for the sound to be on par with the technicalities of my digital setup, hence me not really interested with vinyl since it sounds flat and muted compared to my desktop setup for the same price (frugal-fi budget digital 2-channel computer speaker setup BTW). My only gripe about digital is that too many tracks are mastered mediocrely and still has that "hardness" sound to it that only esoteric digital setup can eliminate that without compromising technicalities.
I am not going pretend to be someone I am not, so I admit that I am just a beginner hifier without such technical and market knowledge as you guys. I speak more from my instinctive heart rather than technical expertise. Therefore a question that may bore you and probably has been asked 100s of times before. I am intending to upgrade my vinyl player, a Rega Rp1 with a mid-level quality cartridge. I don’t wanna go crazy as of now with the budget but if I see a satisfactory outcome from my upgrades I might reach out higher on the cartridge side or might even upgrade my vinyl player if that’s more feasable. I was looking at the Nagaoka MP 110 cartridge for my Rp1 player. What’s your take on that guys. Anything exciting to be looking at in terms of turntable upgrades?
To be honest, you might be on the wrong forum to ask about vinyl upgrades since we're a lot more knowledgeable with digital gears than analog. I can only suggest that a good cartridge and especially a good phono pre will improve your sound much better. Can't recommend a good one other than Schiit Mani, but I don't know how it performs compared to other phono pre in the analog market.
This time I might have misunderstood your statement about spending 5 to 10 times on vinyl to have equally good setup. That’s what actually triggered my question. Anyhow you have a point there...
It's a "gut feel" as I wrote earlier so I hope you didn't take it seriously. I haven't ventured into dedicated vinyl setup as much as to have a clear comparison between the two. I would say this though even though I have not experienced it yet: if an analog setup (keeping the power-amps and speakers the same) is on par with close to a mid-fi digital setup (i.e. a Chord Qutest / Hugo 2 level DAC) in technicalities such as resolution, imaging, detail retrieval, PRAT, etc. then that analog setup would be superior in sound due to "unique sound tonality/timbre etc that is unique to vinyl". I can easily get that unique vinyl sound with a decent setup, however, I always FEEL that I need to spend 5-10x to reach the same TECHNICAL sound (e.g. high end phono + high end tonearm, cartridge, turntable) as the digital setup would cost.
Digital has that "hard" sound even at the $xxxx USD range IMO. It's very apparent when listening to esoteric digital setup costing $xxxxx or $xxxxxx USD that that "hard" sound is vanished yet the technicalities of the sound are still mind-blowing
You are familiar with the Chord line, do you really find them "hard" sounding as well?
I got the Mojo half a year ago and soon after replaced my 3.500 Euro DAC in the Stereo system with a Qutest.
To me that sounds just like you describe above, i.e. smooth yet detailed, dynamic, and with an incredible depth of sound stage.
Literally, the sound stage expanded far, far beyond my living room wall, like 5-10m or even more depending on the music. I can close my eyes and have a jazz bar or concert hall in front of me.
Haven't heard a good vinyl setup for a long time, but my Stereo now sounds very "analog" to me
Chord DACs, especially the Mojo has its own sound signature that is I would’nt really associate with vinyl since it does sound like a smoothened digital sound to me with less details than Chord DACs in the upper range. However, the Qutest and DAVE are close to “analog-like” sounding with DAVE being far more revealing and have more authority/dynamics/rhythmic drive in sound than Qutest.
I totally see where you are going with this. I also have a gut-feeling that if properly upgraded vinyl could possibly have the similar clarity to a high-end dac 3000 euro upwards digital stereo setup (sorry to be vague at this point) while maintaining its vinyl soul and touch. Someone mentioned here that any type of sound is a matter of taste. What would be interesting, since I more or less have come to that digital price point, is to upgrade my vinyl setup to a point where I reach that digital 192k Frequency style clarity (not exactly but a little closer to that clarity which at the moment is far off). Bearing in mind that I would keep same amp, speakers, cables, and as my mojo would be irrelevant in an analogue digital setup, I would possibly consider upgrading to a higher end phono stage (although the integrated phono stage in my Rega Brio R is apparently not the worst one out there). I know its a pricey experiment but to be honest I am having so much fun bringing little upgrades to the system and hopefully hearing the tiny yet so important little differences, that I consider it worthwhile. Still wouldn’t like to leave this forum for advice on vinyl as now you know my backstory and I hope some of you would be interested in following how my experiment goes on. Yet I like to learn and listen to advice so might be a good idea to go get some ideas from more vinyl obsessed guys btw I fully agree that with mojo the sound is more or less as both of you guys have described. Clearer and harder while lacking that warm touch. My idea was that the warmth of the Brio would nicely balance with the more clinical sound of the Mojo but things are not that simple in the hifi world. Learned it the expensive way looking forward to keep this exchange alive..
I have just been thinking once more about the above. Could it be that let’s say a USD xxxxx digital sound having lost its artificial hardness while maintaining its advanced technicalities, would be similar to a higher priced USD xxxx properly upgraded vinyl sound - as you describe timbre and warm, while technically similar in sound to digital USD xxxxx setup ? Would a very interesting experiment . I just doubt I have USD xxxxx funds to run this one on the digital side if there is anything unclear about my thesis please feel free to ask. I admit I have a strange way of expressing myself, especially if I don’t have full technical grasp of the subject matter..sorry
Let's not forget the diminishing returns, IMHO, a USD xxxxx digital setup would of course provide a sound almost devoid of hardness, but its technical ability would of course be more or less or a miniscule better than a USD xxxx or even bang for buck xxx setup that has a more noticeable hardness. Vinyl's technicalities would be of course vastly improved with USD xxxx over USD xxx and like digital, I predict that the vinyl with USD xxxx technicality would be comparable to xxx digtal technicality, again based on my perceived assumptions that it takes more money to obtain a more technical sounding vinyl sound (extrinsic of perceived sound hardness of course). This comes out to be about 5x at least of the digital setup.