Turntable v DAC: comparison of sound quality at same price point?


New member
Jan 8, 2011
Hi everyone,

These days, most of my listening is through my DAC and that's not going to change. Some ripped CDs and increasingly internet radio and Spotify. Despite what some traditionalists may think, SQ is so close to uncompressed CD that it makes no difference unless you are really listening intently. I also have an older NAD CD player, so I do still spin the odd CD.

My amp has a decent phono stage, so in the future I'd like to add a turntable to play some of my old vinyl and allow me to rummage around the local record shops. With the advent of internet streaming, Vinyl and CDs are now available at bargain prices!

Before I trawl around hifi dealers, I'm trying to decide how much budget to allocate to the turntable v dac. There are 2 options in my mind:

- stick with a budget DAC and get a better TT--then seek out my favourite albums on vinyl for critical listening sessions (I only have a limited time to sit down and enjoy music without distraction)

- get a budget TT just to play old albums/charity shop finds and eventually upgrade the DAC (in this case it wouldn't be worth paying £20 to own my absolute favourite albums on vinyl)

Having not heard a turntable for a looong time, I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have one.

As a benchmark for a rough comparison, how does the SQ of a Rega CD player like the Apollo/Saturn or the new Rega DAC compare with an equivalently priced deck like the new RP3 or the older P3-24?

Apart from the qualitative differences between analogue v digital sources, do you have to spend more, less, or the same on a TT for comparable sound quality?


New member
Nov 12, 2009
Interesting! Have also considered to buy a Rega (RP1) to spin an occasional vinyl. Especially remastered CD:s can be painful to endure. Figure that it will take a while before the DAC:s can emulate vinyl.


Well-known member
Nov 29, 2007
well as an owner of an unused NAD CDP C 542 why is it unused? well I now use a LogitecTouch for playback. (NO DAC) my Turntable is a Project 2 Xperience Xpack Turntable which included an Ortofon Rondo Red cartridge (which cost more than the Touch).

To me they both sound great Oh and my DAC Magic is also unused.

How this helps you I dont know but I feel you are looking at from the wrong side.


New member
Sep 4, 2011

At the moment my Rega P3 24/TTPSU/Goldring 2500 setup is beating my Rega DAC/V-Link/ALAC/Pure Music setup, but that could change as the DAC has only about 30 hours on the clock, but I don't think it will. The TT is a joy to listen too. But saying that the DAC is still wonderfull and starting to open up alot more now - I listened to Parklife last night (first time in about 10 years) and it sounded amazing!

What DAC have you got? I had a Dacmagic before the Rega and it was pretty good, but the Rega takes it to another level.

If you can't afford to upgrade both I would put the money into a good TT. The amount of times I've seen topics with title 'got my tt - what's all the fuss about?' and 9 times out of 10 they haven't invested in a good TT and bought a budget model that sounds awful. I would also think about going 2nd hand on the tt and cart. I picked up my P3 24/TTPSU/Goldring 2500 for £500. TT and PSU was 2nd hand and the cart was new but bought from the private classified section on a hifi forum.



Charlie Jefferson

Well-known member
Sep 2, 2007
I've often pondered this too. In relation to my own kit (as below), overall, I'd say I prefer vinyl to digital streaming.

My turntable doesn't "thrash" or "easily outperform" my DAC but it's got a sound quality I readily want to listen to.

My turntable is about half the price of my DAC.


There are decades of arguments on this topic. Clearly some still prefer listening to vinyl rather than on CD or other digital formats. Many of those reasons have nothing to do with sound quality, and more to do with the tactile characteristics of vinyl - its "feel" - like larger artwork and its required playback ritual. There is no there is no technical proof of the sonic superiority of the vinyl medium compared to CD - quite the opposite in fact. That's not to say that some don't prefer the imperfections and colorations of the sound that comes with vinyl (as compared with more modern audio technology). I'm not one of them but perhaps you are - best to audition and decide for yourself.


New member
Mar 3, 2010
Probably most of the early complaints about CDs being cold and clinical compared to vinyl LPs were less the fault of the CD player and more the fault of the analogue to digital transfer of the source material. Compared to today, the technology and techniques were primitive. Additionally, back in those day there were only a handful of CD pressing-plants worldwide and record-labels which didn't want to risk losing their original masters would send dupes to the pressing-plants, dupes which were obviously at least one generation older than the master used to cut the record. This could deteriorate the potential sound as well.

Though the irony is that while we now have the technology and techniques to create exceptionally accurate tape->digital transfers of analogue masters from the 80s and earlier, quite often such potentially-outstanding remasters become victims of the loudness-war.


New member
Jan 8, 2011
Thanks folks! Just the answers I was looking for. Personal experiences rather than conclusive opinions!

Very interesting to hear the comments of Vinylrush and TrueBlue!

It sounds like more evidence that you get what you pay for! You do hear talk of the latest "analogue-sounding DACs" or folks buying budget decks and expecting them to kick the butt of a hi-end CD player.

And as MajorFubar points out, a lot depends on the mastering--so it's good to have both options.

I think I will get a TT soon/eventually. May well start used.

Lots of music on the internet to enjoy in the meantime!


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