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Vinyl sounds better than digitial if you ...

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by ab_ba, Dec 31, 2016.
  1. davelarz
    I listen to a lot of jazz and prefer vinyl - I have a decent rig (VPI Classic, DV 20x2, Black Cube SE II) and I find that I have my most ecstatic sessions with records. Feels more three dimensional, like the spirit of the music is in the room, bass in particular feels more lifelike. That said, in the last year or so I've gotten into digital, hi-res and DSD files, and I am amazed at the detail they bring. I was listening to a hi-res file of Rumours the other day, a record that I (and everyone else) have heard a million times, and I felt like I was hearing it anew. Brought the wife in and we goth commented how it felt like seeing HD TV for the first time. My feeling now is that there's no reason to be straight or gay on the question - I'm very happy going back and forth. Though I admit that something inside me takes a cleansing breath when I go back to vinyl.
  2. Mojo777
    I do love me some vinyl. If I can sit for an hour listening to music I'll typically lean towards spinning a record.
    For all the pop  and crackle comments. Get a good record cleaner, they work wonders.
  3. davelarz
    Yeah I agree about the RCM as well. How I yearn for an Audio Desk...
  4. Lemieux66
    Maybe the best thing if you like the vinyl sound is to digitise them into DSD the first time you play the record. Then you can play them without record wear and even use them with a portable device.

    Sony have a turntable that outputs DSD128 over USB but it's a budget deck. I wonder what the best way to rip vinyl to DSD is?
  5. leftside
    For the longest time digital music was only for convenience for me. On the go, in the gym, for background music, etc. A few years ago I purchased a McIntosh D100 DAC. This was a big improvement over my older DAC and I started to really enjoy digital music, but for critical listening I still used the vinyl rig.
    Recently I've purchased another DAC. Now, my digital system is about the same cost as my vinyl rig. Again, improvements have been made. So much so, that I now really enjoy listening to digital music. It's now a simple choice: if one of my favorite albums have a vinyl release, then I listen to it on the turntable. Otherwise, I listen to it through the DAC. Or, if I'm looking for a playlist of different music, then obviously the DAC is the only choice.
    It's all good :)
  6. Mojo777
    How do you like the Dynavector? I'm looking at the DV20 or going with a Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC
  7. davelarz
    It would be hard for me to assess the DV 20x2 LOMC honestly for a lot of reasons - mainly that it came as part of a package with a major tt upgrade. Before I had an MMF-7 with a Grado Reference Sonata - I moved up to a VPI classic with the DV on it (my first LOMC as well). The Classic/DV combo is in a different league altogether than the MH/Grado on just about every front. The bass in particular that this rig puts out both in quantity and quality is mind blowing to me. But it would be hard for me to say how much of that is the cart and how much the Classic. 
  8. davelarz
    Ah I see you have a Classic also. What do you have on there now? Everywhere I read that the 20x2 was a good match but I have a friend who has a Soundsmith on his (not sure which SS) and he loves it
  9. leftside
    I like the DV a lot. Soundsmith is also a very good choice. Funnily enough, I, first of all, put the DV on my old MMF-7. It was an improvement over the Grado. I then purchased the VPI and put the DV on there and again noticed another improvement. I'm pretty much "done" with upgrading my vinyl rig now, though. The phone stage was the latest/last upgrade. Of course, the cart will need replacing at one point. It's already been sent to Expert Stylus for a tip/cantilever upgrade/replacement.
  10. davidf
    Both can immensely enjoyable. I think it just depends on the quality and capability of the analogue or digital system you're using. Vinyl's background CAN sound silent with the right system, and digital can sound flat in the wrong system. Rightly or wrongly, an album on vinyl can almost sound like a completely different album, and you can certainly hear things that just don't come across on digital files. Digital is perfect for background listening, demonstrations etc, but vinyl is great for relaxing and having a good chill session on your own.

    I'm a fan of both, and usually end up with my favourite albums on both formats.
  11. PitBul34
    > Vinyl sounds better than digitial if you can find a well-preserved record
    Digital records are very different too.
    IMO, vinyl sounds better than digitial, but you should invest ~$5000 in your vinyl system to hear a vinyl effect (turntable ~$1000, tonearm ~$1000, MC-cartridge ~$1000, MC-transformer ~$1000, phono preamp ~$1000). HQ digital system is 2x-3x cheaper (DAC ~1000$, digital transport ~$1000).
    Let's compare the same vinyl & digital records in my system.
    Vinyl system:
    Turntable: Thorens TD-160 Super (professional refurbished) ~$1400
    Tonearm: Audiocraft AC-3000 unipivot ~$1400
    MC cartridge: Ortofon Rohmann ~$800 (MSRP 2600 DM)
    MC transformer: Technics SH-305 mc ~$800
    Phono preamp: Tube phono preamp, handcrafted.
    Digital system:
    Digital transport: Soundaware D100 PRO Deluxe ~$1100
    DAC: Denafrips 'Ares' discrete R2R Ladder DAC ~$700
    Vinyl record: Harry Belafonte in Carnegie Hall, LP, 33 1\3
    Digital record: Harry Belafonte in Carnegie Hall, DSD64
    1. Digital:

    2. Vinyl: 

  12. DelsFan
    I was going to share my thoughts, but your two recordings show the differences even on my (half-decent) computer speakers.  One is a bit harsh and lifeless and the other has air around the music, and presence, the vocals have timbre and decay with the vinyl playback.  With the vinyl it sounds like the guy could be real.  I can't comment about soundstaging considering my $150 speakers playing music from YouTube, but I'll bet the analog playback does have more depth,and the stringed instruments more like a live guitar or violin too.
    The last time I had my Linn Sondek turntable in my system - was a looong time ago - I was living in England and wondering if I should be thinking about a good CD player.  The local dealer in Loughborough lent me a Linn or Naim (I forget which) CD player costing at the time about 2000 GBP.  Yes, however, I agree that DACs have come a long way since 1999.  With this really "good" CD player I was quite underwhelmed; digititus set in after a short while and the whole experience wasn't like "being there".  I took it back on Tuesday and told him (surprised) that the awfully expensive CD player didn't sound as good as my turntable.  He said, "Of course it doesn't, to come close to the sound from your turntable you need to buy their 6000 GBP model!"
    BACK THEN, my thought was a well-chosen $300 turntable with $50 Grado cartridge would always sound better than a $350 CD player, especially if one could keep their records clean.  Back then it was really hard (impossible) to re-create life-like music with the DAC found in any affordable CD player, whereas with a decent turntable the life and timbre and spaciousness was still there; it was just that with more expensive turntables and cartridges you could get more resolution, more accuracy, more soundstaging.  Goosebumps, with good recordings. CDs back then were horrible when played back on good equipment; the only thing they had going for them then was convenience and an absence of clicks and pops.  I don't know so much now, as converting the digital signal to analog has become a lot more "accurate"; but I think it is still revealing that the high end manufacturers of CD players and DACs are still trying to... provide an experience which matches the involvement and accuracy of analog (vinyl).
    I don't have the right room to set up a two-channel system now, and I can't be bothered to have my turntable set up (professionally, when you take it out of the box - well - you don't, you take it to your local Linn dealer and he puts it on his jig and does it for you), and clean my records.  But my listening is done now through my ZVOX sound base, with CDs played through my Panasonic Blu-Ray player.  My goal is to not have to listen to crap, and what I have is a step or three above that.  I can still tell though, that air and timbre and realism are increased by inserting a power conditioner and using $200/pair RCA interconnects, even if my system doesn't soundstage very well or play very loudly.
    That's why I need a headphone setup!
    OH, I forgot, there is never any free lunch (although anyone with $4000 to $15,000 invested in their headphone system already knows this).  In the case of vinyl, I never lent my records out to someone who had a lower end turntable cartridge than I, or one which applied more tonearm pressure on the album (I think I was always under two grams).  Two or three playings on an old record changer (the kind with a needle, not a stylus) and the album is useless for high-end playback.  Some low-end styli would offer the same degradation, it would just take longer to accomplish.  Pretty much, now, I only buy old but new-in-wrapper albums because 95% of the time the subtleties in the grooves are "worn out" in a used album.
  13. PitBul34
    IMO, the main part of the CD-playback today is a quality of CD-transport mechanism, not an analog output stage or an old internal DAC of CD-player. Today you need 'old scool' hi-quality CD-transport and modern hi-quality external DAC to reach the audio-nirvana with CD-DA format. For those guys who has a large CD-collection up today, i'll recommend to buy second hand TEAC VRDS10 or VRDS10SE CD-player (it armed by 'bullet-proof' made of glass & metal CD-transport with original clamp) and then connect it via (coaxial or optical) digital interface to any modern DAC. I prefer R2R discrete ladder DACs.
    In my system - 1995' Teac VRDS10 as CD digital transport & 2017' Denafrips 'Ares' R2R discrete ladder DAC:

  14. VRacer-111
    I don't have any real inkling to ever get into vinyl... just makes no sense for a majority of my musical preferences and listening habits. I like the impact, detail/micro detail, clarity, and absolute dead silent noise floor of my SS setup (Computer with FLAC + DAC + amp + headphones) with the music. Some FLAC rips I have from XRCD24 mastered albums sound so lively and rich in playback it's almost better than a live performance.

    I can understand those who like vinyl though - similar to vehicles and choice of transmission for me; manual transmission until the day I die. I plain just want to feel more of a mechanical connection to the vehicle when I drive...
  15. Redcarmoose
    This is a great thread so maybe I'll add my 2 cents.


    Vinyl is a lifestyle that said it's also a slippery slope, you know one of the emotional ones. It's more than a hobby and maybe a way of life. I have had way more vinyl at one point in my life and listen to it less now, here is my story.

    I myself kinda followed the formats from introduction to introduction starting a rock kid listening to Black Sabbath tapes at 10 years old (1972).......... then moving into using my stepmother's big Advent rig and collection, at 13 years old. So there was nothing else.

    But what happened was a boat load of records were made and it was maybe the first time in human history that anyone could start to gain a collection of the worlds finest music in bulk. That surge of records ment if you were a music collector and read books about music then you found mainstream America getting away from all those 1950s-1960s-1970s-1980s records. Then you just drove around and collected. So even by 1996 the CD had already been around 10 years but no one (who collected records)cared, CDs were $18. Records were less than a $1, a penny sometimes.

    So the sound didn't matter as everyone was used to vinyl, it was not even questioned. Though you did have people with the money who only listned to CDs. I can't expound on that because I was not one of them. It's weird too because along with CDs starting to be normal, a lot of the music was almost made and mixed to sound what everyone thought was better on CD. Cymbals had this fast spacy digital reverb which CD players and stereos actually enhanced. So for mainstream America there was a sound that was sold. Bands recorded it and the loudness war was only just starting. Vinyl Jazz guys were just into vinyl due to the bass extention. To those guys CDs just didn't sound right in 1996. There were a bunch of Jazz vinyl stores, and they didn't believe the CD hype.

    Back to the 1980s.
    There was an interesting change around 1981. Not the first or second Talking Heads, but other newer new wave bands started to make funny mixed music. It was thin. It wasn't like all the new wave artists had bad vinyl but The Eurythmics as an example with 1986's " Be Yourself Tonight" absolutely sounds like a CD with first pressing vinyl. Though on the other hand, the second and third "Cure" records sounded like a million played on a turntable with a big system that could drive the bass line home. My point is that things were even getting spoty then. Not all records were audiophile and some were nice and some were not. Buying vinyl today is the same hit or miss, unless you stick with pricy audiophile snob labels.

    Back to the 1980s Again
    The Yamaha DX7 synth was changing the sound of music and somehow they just made records with less bass in pop music. Compare the Go Gos first release first pressing to something like any Savoy Brown record or Deep Purple record from a couple years before. So all this affects the record collector and person looking for optimal sound today. What I am saying is on a good stand alone CD player some 1$ bin CDs are fine and not worth paying the premium vinyl price asked today. Or, that shop with expensive old vinyl is not always going to make you happy because it was recorded wrong and pressed wrong in it's day. Or should I say it was purposely made thin sounding to make the music fit with the "Now sound".

    Back to the 1980s again.
    Much 80s music simply sounded digital. If I was going to do it all over again I would maybe only buy 25% new audiophile vinyl and or mix it with great 1970s vintage record examples.

    The big change.
    The industry was pushing the CD format and for us record collectors it ment records were free. I was offered a two car garage with the floor filled with LPs on end for $350. I didn't want them, I had too much.
    What happens is you have to hire workes to help you move. I thought the floor was going to fall in the second floor of my second to last house from 1000s and 1000s of pounds of records.
    But the great part is the finding, the hunt. I went from a 1200 in 04 to an upgraded Pioneer with Shure cart in 1998. I then moved to a Thornes 160D in 2003. I moved to a VPI Scout in 09.
    Still have the Scout. Still at finally getting a good Phono Pre and cables and a W5LE amp to hear this stuff some things surprised me. I love vinyl but in certain situations I like digital. That said all those Rush records I loved ...........hundreds of Rush records, all sounded bad. My digital Rush HD collection is simply better.

    And............this post is already way too long. To sum it up.

    Tables can be a pain to get correct phono presets right with a new needle. At time they lack dynamic volume and NEVER should anyone put another (laugh) booster in line.

    Records take up a big amount of space and you have the coolest wife for them, there are a few.

    Records have a higher noise floor and a ground loop hum that will never ever stop but can be taken to a good level. Much of your "NOISE" issues are handled with the mind like ignoring traffic outside. That's why a ton of new to join vinyl people sell their vinyl rigs because they can't handle the noise. If they waited 30 days their mind would take most of it away. IMO

    They key to loving vinyl is teaching the brain to filter pops. Better carts are going to go deeper pulling up more info but still.

    My Julie London records had orgasmic bass but pops too. So what do you do. Get a repressing! See how this Shiiiit starts.

    Never forget USB is wrong and will never work. Get yourself a stand alone transport and hear real 16/44:1 CDs before throwing it all away. Even after getting a good vinyl rig and amp, always borrow a nice stand alone CD player or get a stand alone transport to RCA to a DAC. I think HD USB is nice for limited stuff I have, but I could never live with a USB rig.

    There are not complete absolute truths in audio. The CD vs vinyl question may never end.

    I have heard 100K vinyl rigs with an audiophile jazz record playing and yes, it was the best. It trumped any stupid digital system I ever heard. But all things had to be right. In that regard you could close your eyes and actually feel like the jazz musicans were right in the room. You could almost feel another human presence in the room, their soul so to speak. So in that light if some one wants to pursue that end it is there. Disregard the BS about turntable speed issues VS digital, concentrate on vivid profound instrument placement and the sonic replay of a time maybe long ago. Vinyl is the only thing that goes there but it IS a pain.
    Rhino73 likes this.

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