• If you ever spot Spam (either in the forums, or received via forum direct message) please use the Report button at the bottom of each post to make sure a Moderator can handle it quickly. Thanks for your help in keeping things running smoothly!

Vinyl vs digital

newlash09

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
219
45
10,820
Hi all,

I just watched a YouTube video of mr. Richard Schram and mr.john curl discussing parasound Amps. And mr.john responded to one query that he never listens to CD's or digital at all. He is a vinyl only guy. And he even didn't consider digital as music.

Now mr.john curl is a legend of sorts in the USA. He almost single handedly shifted an entire generation of Americans from tubed to solid state amplification. And I have always held him in high regard, as does the hifi press.

I had never ever considered vinyl before. I found digital to be convenient. But after watching the video, I feel may be I should give vinyl a shot too. Just to plug my curiosity that iam not missing out on something great.

Would love people's opinions on this, as most folks here have both vinyl and digital. And how they compare or prefer one to the other.

Thanks for your time.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,879
229
20,070
This question has been banded around for years on here....

IMHO, each has their own distinct merits and both have drawbacks. Generally speaking digital tends to be a little cleaner, while vinyl tends to have a little more realism. Personally I embrace both, but to me that's what makes music fun -- they are different but couldn't say one is better than the other.
 

newlash09

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
219
45
10,820
I agree that digital sounds more clear, but less realistic. Where as vinyl sounds realistic, but is not very clear.

But is vinyl more musical sounding.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
John Curl was my boss for a while back in the 70s and he is an immensly talented guy across a wide range of audio disciplines from the design of the Grateful Dead's legendary concert system to the design of pivotal hi-end hi-fi.

Given his age I am not at all surprised by his preference for vinyl over digital, I know exactly where he was coming from, the best hi-end systems I have ever heard have been vinyl based and my best ever system was conceived as exclusively vinyl.

The only issue, in my mind anyway, is the cost, top end vinyl playback is very expensive and very addictive. Once heard, the more affordable setups become something of a disappointment, I find them largely unlistenable, that so many people enjoy them is, to me, a mystery.

If you are genuinely interested, I urge you to contact a dealer who specialises in vinyl playback and get him ti play you one of his better systems, it will give you an idea of what is possible and, perhaps just as importantly, the costs involved.

About 6-7 years ago I spent some time with an old dealer friend and we spent a lot of time on vinyl systems, at that time we came to the conclusion that the entry level for serious playback was around £1500, our preferred player being the Clearaudio Concept MC at about £1600 excluding phono stage.

Something like that, with, say, a Croft amplifier and suitable speakers would give you a taste of what vinyl can do and in other circumstances I would be tempted myself.
 

grimharry

New member
Aug 2, 2015
11
0
0
I have both and to be honest it's not a night and day difference, well not at my level of equipment. The biggest difference is the price for example la woman by the doors HMV price for vinyl £30 cd £6.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
Adding a good vinyl source will allow you to listen to all the commercially released recordings where the vinyl version has been better mastered than the CD version.

The overall sound quality of vinyl through a decent turntable arm cart phono stage is close enough to CD so that when comparing the 2 formats, the better mastered version will sound better.

I only have about 5 albums on both vinyl and CD - through buying job lots. Once I have a recording on one format, I wouldn't knowingly buy it in the other. Of those 5 albums every one sounds better through my EMT vinyl sources than my Marantz or Denon CD players.

Most of my vinyl and CD's are bought used. The average cost I've been paying in the last few years is £2.50 for vinyl and £1 for CD's.

Good vinyl sources can be bought for £500 used in the UK, Germany, USA. A decent 1970's to 1980's heavyweight non-plasticky direct drive with a not too worn used MC cartridge.

The difference in sound quality of various vinyl sources is a lot greater than the difference between CD players. Hence the source first system building philosophy from the vinyl era.
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
newlash09 said:
Hi all,

I just watched a YouTube video of mr. Richard Schram and mr.john curl discussing parasound Amps. And mr.john responded to one query that he never listens to CD's or digital at all. He is a vinyl only guy. And he even didn't consider digital as music.

Now mr.john curl is a legend of sorts in the USA. He almost single handedly shifted an entire generation of Americans from tubed to solid state amplification. And I have always held him in high regard, as does the hifi press.

I had never ever considered vinyl before. I found digital to be convenient. But after watching the video, I feel may be I should give vinyl a shot too. Just to plug my curiosity that iam not missing out on something great.

Would love people's opinions on this, as most folks here have both vinyl and digital. And how they compare or prefer one to the other.

Thanks for your time.
there are differences in the sound quality, but these are ones that can easily be made up in decent dacs. But the bit people sometimes miss I think, at any level of hi fi ownership, is that upgrading speakers and amplification and dacs etc will more often than not take any concerns over formats out of the question. Simply because what you can achieve out of speakers and amp upgrades etc is so much more profound.

The guy talking about music not being music being if it's digital, is a bit like saying Swiss chocolate is the only chocolate because of its good reputation , and American and British chocolate isn't as such. The Swiss chocolate may be the best to some circles, but it doesn't make it the best and equally other brands in other countries can be as good and regarded as chocolate. It's exactly the same with the vinyl v digital argument.

It's a kind of esoteric type or argument that is often professed by people who like to be seen as experts and their opinion matters most.

If I were you when you've got your pmc's, listen to what different sources and dacs can do, maybe mqa. Also the argument against vinyl has typically been that it costs more per system than cd. You need the phono stage, the cabling, the tt. One of the commercial reasons cd took off is because you could do the same quality sound cheaper, and with dac advances that's even more pertinent today. You need to be spending double what a decent dac and CD player can do with vinyl. And why do it too when it's a cottage industry, limited albums on vinyl, and audiophile players are only kept alive by the mass market buying vinyl again for cheaper systems, that once these people loose interest like they will with cd in a few years time, the audiophile manufacturers will have no commercial reason to build new turntables. The market at the moment is in the digital spheres, it's where music is available, and it's where the future has gone and is going. Analogueistas will resent that because where there is human beavhiour, there are always people clinging onto difference for difference sake. I also think there is an element of elitism in vinyl since if the hi fi is good, the format really doesn't matter within certain bounds, and most formats we have nowadays are so damm good anyway from cd, downloads, to streaming online. Also the high bit rate downloads.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
davedotco said:
...Given his age I am not at all surprised by his preference for vinyl over digital, I know exactly where he was coming from, the best hi-end systems I have ever heard have been vinyl based and my best ever system was conceived as exclusively vinyl.

The only issue, in my mind anyway, is the cost, top end vinyl playback is very expensive and very addictive. Once heard, the more affordable setups become something of a disappointment, I find them largely unlistenable, that so many people enjoy them is, to me, a mystery.

If you are genuinely interested, I urge you to contact a dealer who specialises in vinyl playback and get him ti play you one of his better systems, it will give you an idea of what is possible and, perhaps just as importantly, the costs involved...
The best high end systems I've heard have NOT used vinyl. They've NOT used CD.

I never worked with John Curl. I've never worked in the hi-fi trade neither. I'm just an enthusiast that's dabbled in a few things and gone to various hi-fi events. So how come I have more experience / knowledge of the true high end than davedotco?

davedotco, would you like to tell us what your best ever system was and why you don't still have it?

The cost issue ONLY applies if you're stuck in the davedotco paradigm of buying new from dealers. By all means go to a dealer for a demo but do not buy from them. Buy used. The best - or joint best - vinyl sources ever made went out of production in the 1980's. Plus you'll have the benefit of over 30 years depreciation.
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
lindsayt said:
Adding a good vinyl source will allow you to listen to all the commercially released recordings where the vinyl version has been better mastered than the CD version.

The overall sound quality of vinyl through a decent turntable arm cart phono stage is close enough to CD so that when comparing the 2 formats, the better mastered version will sound better.

I only have about 5 albums on both vinyl and CD - through buying job lots. Once I have a recording on one format, I wouldn't knowingly buy it in the other. Of those 5 albums every one sounds better through my EMT vinyl sources than my Marantz or Denon CD players.

Most of my vinyl and CD's are bought used. The average cost I've been paying in the last few years is £2.50 for vinyl and £1 for CD's.

Good vinyl sources can be bought for £500 used in the UK, Germany, USA. A decent 1970's to 1980's heavyweight non-plasticky direct drive with a not too worn used MC cartridge.

The difference in sound quality of various vinyl sources is a lot greater than the difference between CD players. Hence the source first system building philosophy from the vinyl era.
i agree with Lindsayt first para, but for me this is a reason not to bother with vinyl since there are too many variables into knowing how good the recording will be before you buy it. You can check what people say, look at the dynamic range database, but you still probably will be none the wiser over which is better and until you play it. My attitude is that it will be good sometimes, and other times not so good a recording, but just take your chance with it, and if your systems good enough already for the owner, who cares. I hear people listening online and then buying the vinyl record but the cd could be as good.

I totally agree quality of vinyl has bigger differences, but that's why Id refer back to saying about vinyl costing more per pound than cd, and the reason for it is obviously a turntable is a mechanical and analogue acoustic device. So materials play a huge part. In cd it's circuit design of mass market produced electronic components. So can be done cheaper. So definetely id have more of that then vinyl when I can get more for my money sound wise. Ie better value. It's very much a no brainer for me.
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
newlash09 said:
I agree that digital sounds more clear, but less realistic. Where as vinyl sounds realistic, but is not very clear.

But is vinyl more musical sounding.
it can be very clear and very good if you spend thousands on vinyl. The difference for me is mainly in things like the smoothness of bass, and naturalness, which vinyl often does better, where digital recordings often have edginess to them coming on and off a sound or note etc. But cd is just as musical and often is better dynamically.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,879
229
20,070
QuestForThe13thNote said:
newlash09 said:
I agree that digital sounds more clear, but less realistic. Where as vinyl sounds realistic, but is not very clear.

But is vinyl more musical sounding.
it can be very clear and very good if you spend thousands on vinyl.
I haven't spent thousands on vinyl (look at my sig), yet it still comes across as more natural.

The point of which one is clearer or more clarity becomes irrelevant. It's about the overall ambiance.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
I agree with everything you said in post #9 Quest.

It's a highly personal choice.

Album cost of £2.50 vinyl vs £1 CD.

Hardware cost £500 to £5000 vinyl source vs £15 to £? for a CD source.

There is a lot to be said for sticking with CD only.

One thing I would add about mastering and the DR database:

The biggest selling album in the UK in 2016 was Adele's 25. The DR database shows that the CD version has a DR rating or 5 or 6. The vinyl version 10 or 11. To my ears on my system playing the CD version back to back with a recording with a DR of 15 would make Adele's 25 sound bad. Very bad. Unnatural and flat as a pancake. The vinyl version would at least be listenable and an enjoyable event even though some dynamic compression would still be apparent.

For the best selling albums over the last 15 years theres a trend for the vinyl versions to have easily audibly better mastering.

I can post a list of the best selling UK albums for each year for the last 55 years with their associated DR ratings if anyone's interested?
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
But I think the problem with this Lindsayt, is there becomes a natural tendency to buy vinyl on what sounds good and not the music. The same with CD but possibly more so with vinyl given its more expensive. But because we come at it from the music first - that's why we buy hi fi to serve that need - shouldn't it be about buying the music for music sake and not the recording. I pereceive their are a lot of audiophiles who buy off of the recording, they always talk about it being a factor in buying the music. It almost never is for me. Most music I listen to from used CDs bought online, new CDs and tidal streaming, and very little downloads. But no vinyl.
 

grimharry

New member
Aug 2, 2015
11
0
0
A lot of people are picking up on the vinyl revival oxfam have got some second hand albums going for £20
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
Again I agree Quest.

There are plenty of albums that are more easily or only available on vinyl - mostly pre 1984 non mainstream recordings. There are plenty of albums that are more easily or only available on CD. Mostly post 1990 releases. For these albums the choice is simple. Buy it in the format that you find it.

If someone has both a vinyl and CD source the decision on which whether to buy an lp or CD that's easily available in both formats then comes down to price and any mastering differences.

For me it'd be a very simple decision with Adele's 25. I'll avoid the CD version like the plague and would be happy to buy the vinyl version if I saw it for £2.50.
 
Feb 18, 2015
58
1
0
I made a decision a couple of months ago to absolutely do away with all my vinyl and vinyl playing paraphernalia...it really was like a monkey on my back....every shop selling vinyl must be visited....the constant worry is this set right,is that set right...do I have a good enough cartridge....is my phono stage good enough.....bank account leaking like a bucket and then...for all this effort and 2.5k later it still sounds no better than my 1k 6 year old naim cd player.....also newer albums tend to be doubles with an average of three songs on each side...which in turn means your always up and down changing the damn things.lol....so I got rid of all my boxes and now happily streaming away on my superuniti at a constant 16/44.1 or if I'm feeling flush..I'll download a nice 24/96 from qobuuz and try and work out if I really can hear a difference,but I don't need to worry if it's all set up properly lol.still less expensive than the latest vinyl offering at anything from £15-£45 quid.I can get 4-6 cd's for the same price as a single vinyl records.

Just remember if your going to get into vinyl from zero kit or albums...it's a rabbit hole that I would urge you to steer clear of.
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
Mark Rose-Smith said:
I made a decision a couple of months ago to absolutely do away with all my vinyl and vinyl playing paraphernalia...it really was like a monkey on my back....every shop selling vinyl must be visited....the constant worry is this set right,is that set right...do I have a good enough cartridge....is my phono stage good enough.....bank account leaking like a bucket and then...for all this effort and 2.5k later it still sounds no better than my 1k 6 year old naim cd player.....also newer albums tend to be doubles with an average of three songs on each side...which in turn means your always up and down changing the damn things.lol....so I got rid of all my boxes and now happily streaming away on my superuniti at a constant 16/44.1 or if I'm feeling flush..I'll download a nice 24/96 from qobuuz and try and work out if I really can hear a difference,but I don't need to worry if it's all set up properly lol.still less expensive than the latest vinyl offering at anything from £15-£45 quid.I can get 4-6 cd's for the same price as a single vinyl records.

Just remember if your going to get into vinyl from zero kit or albums...it's a rabbit hole that I would urge you to steer clear of.
id agree this is why I don't think I can get into it. Playlists are a big part of listening to music for me, and vinyl wouldn't cut it. I often don't listen to an album through,
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
If you look at the music industry figures this 'lot of people' isn't many comparatively to other formats. There may be many sustaining the market for vinyl in uncomparative terms, but it's a tiny proportion of the market and vinyl is actually declining again.

what we need is people buying and investing in streaming (and downloads which aren't doing anywhere near as well ATM) as the main music sources now, much the same way as people invested in CDs from the 80s to its peak in 90s, to the extent it will bring more musicians into the industry and make music cheaper for the masses as well as increasing turnover that the music industry needs, as volume saturates the market. Vinyl is largely a nostalgic purchase for the mass market ie to buy records again of a bygone past. It's looking like it's short term. But cd disc manufacturing is projected by some studies to die out in 5 years time, shifting emphasis onto other digital formats. And hopefully it will get the streaming firms into profit, many of whom are in difficulty. But I'd like a way of ownership so I really hope mass market good quality and high but rate downloads take off. I suspect once CDs go, they will.
 

jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
177
50
18,670
Mark Rose-Smith said:
I made a decision a couple of months ago to absolutely do away with all my vinyl and vinyl playing paraphernalia...it really was like a monkey on my back....every shop selling vinyl must be visited....the constant worry is this set right,is that set right...do I have a good enough cartridge....is my phono stage good enough.....bank account leaking like a bucket and then...for all this effort and 2.5k later it still sounds no better than my 1k 6 year old naim cd player.....also newer albums tend to be doubles with an average of three songs on each side...which in turn means your always up and down changing the damn things.lol....so I got rid of all my boxes and now happily streaming away on my superuniti at a constant 16/44.1 or if I'm feeling flush..I'll download a nice 24/96 from qobuuz and try and work out if I really can hear a difference,but I don't need to worry if it's all set up properly lol.still less expensive than the latest vinyl offering at anything from £15-£45 quid.I can get 4-6 cd's for the same price as a single vinyl records.

Just remember if your going to get into vinyl from zero kit or albums...it's a rabbit hole that I would urge you to steer clear of.
I retain purely for nostalgic reasons a small number of albums and TT acquired during the mid 80's. Rarely play them these days, but Mark's post prettty much covers why I have no plans to get into vinyl now.
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
Not getting into vinyl is a good reason to update CD players to the best possible ones within budget, for when CD players are no longer made once cd discs are no longer available
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
3
18,545
I would be very wary about trying to build a vinyl system from scratch ( no pun intended ) especially if the reason is for better sound quality.

If the reason is because you like fiddling about and tweaking with bits and pieces and the mechanical beauty of a turntable and cleaning records and searching boot sales for second hand vinyl then go for it .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH_tr5Dd-i0

I used to own a quite reasonable turntable based system but I sold the lot and I don't miss it one bit, in fact I would say that spotify 320 on the right equipment is at least the equal if not better sounding.

Imo of course *smile*
 
Q

QuestForThe13thNote

Guest
I'd throw a curveball in and say streaming from a computer or nas and off online sites, is where it's at ATM. For all the asthetics of a record the ability to have huge amounts of music at your fingertips to enjoy, far outweighs any benefit of vinyl in any sound benefit perceived, or cd too.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
Electro said:
I would be very wary about trying to build a vinyl system from scratch ( no pun intended ) especially if the reason is for better sound quality.

If the reason is because you like fiddling about and tweaking with bits and pieces and the mechanical beauty of a turntable and cleaning records and searching boot sales for second hand vinyl then go for it .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH_tr5Dd-i0

I used to own a quite reasonable turntable based system but I sold the lot and I don't miss it one bit, in fact I would say that spotify 320 on the right equipment is at least the equal if not better sounding.

Imo of course *smile*
One of the primary reasons I ditched my vinyl and my system was due to a change in the way I listened to music. Once out of the business my musical horizons expanded hugely and I quickly became bored with listening to the same music (my 800+ lp collection) over and over again. The change started with my first iPod in the early noughties and was concluded with the arrival of Spotify a few years later.

The choice of music is fabulous, I can ignore the dross that is modern pop and search over 70 years of recordings of great music, going back to a library of even 800+ albums is inconcieveable.

The lossy codec used is, in my view inadequate for a serious 'hi-fi' system, but quite adequate for my musical enjoyment. Should Spotify implement the 'full flac' lossless streaming they seem to be promising, I might even contemplate an upgrade.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,879
229
20,070
@Cno

You make a lot of good points. To me, though, it isn't just the certain sound vinyl gives: For all its deficiencies, vinyl, or records in particular, is more interesting than a cheap plastic CD and case.

Open up a record and it has sleeve notes, additional info that's not on a CD... and just as important, lyrics you can actually following without the use of a magnifying glass. It's just more theatre.

Of course, that is set against cost, TLC to maintain a recording and storage. All-in-all, IMHO all the extra care yields a big payoff.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts