Vinyl vs digital

Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
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670
Earlier this year I purchased my lasest (and hopefully last) turntable.

I am back to purchasing LPs. Usually ones from my early hifi days.

My latest acquisition is Street Life by The Crusaders.

Whilst waiting for it to turn up. I happen to be glancing at Tidal. So why not purchase a digital version at the same time?

So it's a 24bit 192KHz version vs vinyl.

It's early days, and the vinyl sounds better (though it's coming through at a higher volume, so I have to keep adjusting the levels during an A-B comparison.)

The equipment to be compared will be:

Michell Gyrodec, Rega RB303, Ortofon 2M Blue, through a Cambridge Alva Duo phono pre-amp

Pioneer N50A streamer: Playing files from a NAS and a laptop connected directly (USB)
Yamaha CD S2100: CD player which has a PC USB input.

Amp is a Cambridge Azur 851A with Tannoy Revolution XT8F

Full report later, but so far, it's the streamer vs vinyl and it's very close.

But this will not be a five minute test.

Which will come out top?

Stay tuned.

and.... why not add your own findings
 
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matthewpianist

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Feb 18, 2022
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Interesting, and I look forward to hearing your ongoing thoughts.

My first reaction is that you have a high-end turntable with a very good arm, but an entry-level/midrange streamer and this might skew things slightly. The Yamaha CD player is much more equivalent to the Gyro as a source, so that comparison would be very interesting.
 
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nickcornwall

Active member
Nov 24, 2022
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Looking forward to the results - though to make a risky prediction I would expect the Gyrodec to blow the digital away as the sources should in a different league as Matthew says.

I might try the same thing myself on a classical recording over the next few days - comparing P8/Apheta 3 with Primare NP5/Chord 2Cute.
 

Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
134
75
670
Ignore his signature he says amp is a Cambridge 851A. :cool:

I am putting together two systems. One AV and one hifi.

Things were setup for the AV system, but I have been purchasing new equipment for hifi.

At the moment, the Cambridge is temporary connected as I trial it (I haver it for 30 days return, but I'm keeping it :) )

So things are haphazzard at the moment.

The Turntable, CD, streamer, a DAT recorder (the Cambridge has a tape loop) and the Tannoys are connected.

The poor Onkyo is disconnected..... hah
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Earlier this year I purchased my lasest (and hopefully last) turntable.

I am back to purchasing LPs. Usually ones from my early hifi days.

My latest acquisition is Street Life by The Crusaders.

Whilst waiting for it to turn up. I happen to be glancing at Tidal. So why not purchase a digital version at the same time?

So it's a 24bit 192KHz version vs vinyl.

It's early days, and the vinyl sounds better (though it's coming through at a higher volume, so I have to keep adjusting the levels during an A-B comparison.)

The equipment to be compared will be:

Michell Gyrodec, Rega RB303, Ortofon 2M Blue, through a Cambridge Alva Duo phono pre-amp

Pioneer N50A streamer: Playing files from a NAS and a laptop connected directly (USB)
Yamaha CD S2100: CD player which has a PC USB input.

Amp is a Cambridge Azur 851A with Tannoy Revolution XT8F

Full report later, but so far, it's the streamer vs vinyl and it's very close.

But this will not be a five minute test.

Which will come out top?

Stay tuned.

and.... why not add your own findings
Usually if the volume is higher on a turntable it's down to the MVs. Some cartridges are high while others are low. Normally my CDP has higher volume as the ClearAudio is quite low MVs.

That's another great feature of my amp: change source and no matter how high the volume control is, once you click the selector it goes back to a factory setting on the volume control.

Personally I prefer the realism of vinyl - it sounds au naturel.
 
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Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
134
75
670
It's just past midday.
I have decided to cook spaghetti bolognese.
It's simmering....

What's that got to do with anything?
Nothing.... I'm just setting the scene :)


One cleaned LP (on a Project VC-S2)

Gyrodec vs Pioneer N50A

It's too close to call.
I listened to an 11 minute track and it sounds great on both of them.
The Gyrodec has been setup correctly (Must recheck the needle weight with a scale)

Now I am not in to the superlatives about sounds. I either like it or I don't.
Is it forward, insightful, laidback.... who knows.
My first impression was that the N50 sounded warmer that the Gyro.
Now is this down to other limiting factors?:
  • The phone pre-amp [Cambridge Alva Duo]
  • The cables from the pre-amp [generic from Amazon]
  • The turntable incorrectly setup
Either way. They both sound great.
I am going to have to go back again and see which I prefer, but to be honest. The streamer is either performing very well of my turntable has been setup incorrectly.
It's not a case of night and day, but one of subtle differences.

Oh yes... before I forget.
There is a great function on the Azur 851A which allows me to trim (adjust) the independent levels of each source (in dBs) So level variances sorted.
 
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plastic penguin

Well-known member
It's just past midday.
I have decided to cook spaghetti bolognese.
It's simmering....

What's that got to do with anything?
Nothing.... I'm just setting the scene :)


One cleaned LP (on a Project VC-S2)

Gyrodec vs Pioneer N50A

It's too close to call.
I listened to an 11 minute track and it sounds great on both of them.
The Gyrodec has been setup correctly (Must recheck the needle weight with a scale)

Now I am not in to the superlatives about sounds. I either like it or I don't.
Is it forward, insightful, laidback.... who knows.
My first impression was that the N50 sounded warmer that the Gyro.
Now is this down to other limiting factors?:
  • The phone pre-amp [Cambridge Alva Duo]
  • The cables from the pre-amp [generic from Amazon]
  • The turntable incorrectly setup
Either way. They both sound great.
I am going to have to go back again and see which I prefer, but to be honest. The streamer is either performing very well of my turntable has been setup incorrectly.
It's not a case of night and day, but one of subtle differences.

Oh yes... before I forget.
There is a great function on the Azur 851A which allows me to trim (adjust) the independent levels of each source (in dBs) So level variances sorted.
I've always been lumbered with vinyl since day one, so I'm biased. I would love your Gyro....
 
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Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
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670
I've always been lumbered with vinyl since day one, so I'm biased. I would love your Gyro....
It took me ages to obtain the Gyro.
Ages as in years.
I bought second hand and had to wait until one came up at the right price.

It has been my dream turntable ever since I first saw it.
 
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Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
134
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670
It does look great doesn't it. I assume bit is the Gyro and not the Gyro SE?
Also assuming it is a keeper the next upgrade should be the phono preamp. :)
You and your mad priced phono pre-amp! :)

I have just sold Cambridge CP1 phono pre-amp and replaced it with a Cambridge Alva Duo.

Mainly for the moving coil input..
I have a moving voil cartridge which appears to have geen damaged in transit.

Anyways, £162 (open box) ebay sale was enough for me.

No, I'm not Cambridge mad. The bargains just happen to come along at the right time.
 
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You and your mad priced phono pre-amp! :)

I have just sold Cambridge CP1 phono pre-amp and replaced it with a Cambridge Alva Duo.

Mainly for the moving coil input..
I have a moving voil cartridge which appears to have geen damaged in transit.

Anyways, £162 (open box) ebay sale was enough for me.

No, I'm not Cambridge mad. The bargains just happen to come along at the right time.
What is the MC cartridge?
 

Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
134
75
670
I'm back with the full review.
Where have I been?

Let's just say that two weeks with a urethra catheter (ouch!) was no fun and we'll leave it at that...

OK... Pioneer N50A vs Gyrodec, RB303 arm and Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.
Originally I thought that there was not much in it sound quality wise.

This time I played the LP and started the digital file at the same time.

I switched between both inputs for a direct A-B comparison.

Hey presto. As if by Magic, I could clearly hear the difference.
Now I'm not one for hifi adjectives, but I will do the best I can.

The Gyrodec wins hands down.

  • More open
  • A greater soundstage
  • Able to decern instruments more clclearly
It simply sounded better compared to the N50A.
Don't get me wrong. Both sounded good. The Gyrodec sounded better (too many uses of the word 'sounded?)

All is not over.
It will be the Gyrodec vs Yamaha CD S2100.
This should have a better DAC.

I will feed the Yamaha's USB input directly from my laptop.
The input can handle 24bit 192KHz signal.

That's for tomorrow :)
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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That's all very interesting. I grew up with vinyl. I loved vinyl. But when I realised how good streaming has become and the sound quality one can achieve with not much outlay and little physical space occupied, not to mention less fuss with wires and boxes I embraced it whole-heartedly. I have hundreds of CDs and I haven't even bothered to get a decent CD transport so I can still play those (that might change if I do a bit of furniture adjustment). I am still fond of records - I love going into record stores and of course if you have a turntable, you are going to have the opportunity to find record gems that will be unobtainable in other formats and give you the pleasure of cover art etc.

I think, at the end of the day, I have been lucky in that I don't know people with high end turntables to tempt me down the vinyl path. Interested to hear more comparisons though. I am shocked at how good Amazon HD sounds via the ifi Zen One signature.
 
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Fairly comparing digital and analogue (if that’s even possible) will rely on comparing the same master in both cases, which is usually pretty hard to confirm. I’ve heard vast differences between vinyl and streaming, purely because they obviously came from a different masters. I guess it’s a bit like comparing a well produced remaster of a classic album on CD to one of those cheaply produced, free with a newspaper magazine type CDs. I’ve heard streams that just sound naff. One that springs to mind was Lou Reed’s Take A Walk On The Wild Side, which I’ve heard used in demos - the stream from TIDAL at the time sounded like bad FM radio.

Despite that, the difference between analogue and digital can be immense. I remember when Tears For Fears released the Seeds Of Love album. I bought the CD and listened to that. A lot. Three or four years down the line, I bought the vinyl version. It was like listening to a different album. My instant reaction was, “so this is what it’s supposed to sound like!”. I think vinyl brings more attention to the midrange , which highlights different instruments to digital. I also found this with Boards Of Canada’s albums (any of them). They’re so complex and bass heavy in places that the focus is different between analogue and digital.

Because of this, there are some artists I prefer to listen to on vinyl rather than CD and vice versa. The only album release by Rain Tree Crow (basically Japan) in the early 90s sounds the same on vinyl and CD - I’ve done side by side comparisons, and couldn’t get over how close the two sounded. So I know buy my very favourite albums on both digital and vinyl (I’m not much of a streamer - I like to own things), unless it’s stuff like Alva Noto, where the sparse electronic soundstage is so quiet sometimes that vinyl replay will be plagued with hiss and the odd static pop or crackle. Definitely a digital purchase!
 
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robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
710
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Fairly comparing digital and analogue (if that’s even possible) will rely on comparing the same master in both cases, which is usually pretty hard to confirm. I’ve heard vast differences between vinyl and streaming, purely because they obviously came from a different masters. I guess it’s a bit like comparing a well produced remaster of a classic album on CD to one of those cheaply produced, free with a newspaper magazine type CDs. I’ve heard streams that just sound naff. One that springs to mind was Lou Reed’s Take A Walk On The Wild Side, which I’ve heard used in demos - the stream from TIDAL at the time sounded like bad FM radio.

Despite that, the difference between analogue and digital can be immense. I remember when Tears For Fears released the Seeds Of Love album. I bought the CD and listened to that. A lot. Three or four years down the lihe, I bought the vinyl version. It was like listening to a different album. My instant reaction wasm “so this is what it’s supposed to sound like!”. I think vinyl brings more attention to the midrange , which highlights different instruments to digital. I also found this with Boards Of Canada’s albums (any of them). They’re so complex and bass heavy in places that the focus is different between analogue and digital.

Because of this, there are some artists I prefer to listen to on vinyl rather than CD and vice versa. The only album release by Rain Tree Crow (basically Japan) in the early 90s sounds the same on vinyl and CD - I’ve done side by side comparisons, and couldn’t get over how close the two sounded. So I know but my very favourite albums on both digital and vinyl (I’m not much of a streamer - I like to own things), unless it’s stuff like Alva Noto, where the sparse electronic soundstage is so quiet sometimes that vinyl replay will be plagued with hiss and the odd static pop or crackle. Definitely a digital purchase!
I'm confused by your post. You seem to say you prefer vinyl but then say (I think) that some albums can sound better on digital, but you don't mention any examples you prefer in this format.
 

Symples

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2021
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670
Yamaha CD S2100 CD player with a USB computer input vs Gyrodec.

Once again it's a 24bit 192KHz file vs a 40 plus year old record on a Gyrodec, Rega RB303, Ortofon 2M Blue conbination.

CD on one input and the turntable on another.
Starting both and the same time and switching between inputs.

It's a draw!
I could not tell the difference.

Now it makes me wonder if I should simply stick to high quality digital files...
Weill it did for a nano second, but I love my Gyrodec and I love records.
Probably because there are so many good memories going out and buying records.

West End, Greek Street and Oxford Street. Then on to Tottenham Court Road to see hifi I could not afford.
Ending up at the KFC or Wimpy on Tottenham Court Road. A walk up to Warren Street tube station, then home :)


For me, a digital file can never match the tactile feel of a record.
 

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