A Couple Of Articles For Digital Listeners

If you prefer digital audio, here are a couple of articles that provide a little support for your listening preference.





Tomcy6, good find, as it is Saturday morning, I read both of the articles that you posted links for, and I found them both quite enjoyable.  I am not a dyed in the wool vinyl guy, nor a fully digital man, I have both and enjoy both, though I do lean toward vinyl, and I play more vinyl in my system, despite having a larger collection of digital music.

The articles make a good point for digital, though I am sure one can find equally convincing journalism that sings vinyl's praises.  Nearly convinced after reading the 2 articles, I thought I would refresh an experiment with fresh morning ears, and also with new speakers that have only just been perfectly positioned!

It is not an amazingly scientific experiment, but here is what I did for a bit of Saturday morning fun.  I found Steely Dan Gaucho in my LP collection - a clean, 180g disc of vinyl, and put it on my table.  I then cued up the 24/96 version on my mac mini with the lovely software by Roon.  I played them at the same time, and I lowered the output on my DAC to match the output on my phono preamp.  I switched back and forth a bit real time on the preamplifier to make sure the volume adjustment was as equal as I could get it.

Now, the test.  I restored the track - Babylon Sisters - on both the DAC and the turntable.  Normally I find this kind of hard switch A-B testing a bit too crude, but it is valid for some purposes.  So, with both digital and analog playing, I switched back and forth every 10-15 seconds or so, to appreciate the differences between analog and digital.  

After reading those two articles, I was all ready for digital to take the cake, in at least some ways.  But alas, in my system, vinyl is king, at least, most of the time.  As the articles pointed out, there are many variables involved, and perhaps for some albums, the digital version is better prepared compared the the vinyl version.

Naturally playback equipment has a huge impact.  I read an opinion piece by a non-audio journalist recently that digital sounds better than vinyl unless you break a certain threshold of quality on the vinyl playback system.  a crappy CD player sounds better than a crappy turntable he said.  Probably true.

My digital front end and analog front end are pretty fairly matched from top brands (PS Audio, Whest, JA Michell, Lyra), with a bit more spend on the analog, but not by a huge amount.  On my system, with this recording, the vinyl sounds better, but then again, not by a HUGE amount.  I would be happy listening to either.

I would love to hear a digital recording that blows away the vinyl on my system.  Got any recommendations?  I do think there is merit to the potential of the digital realm.  DSD being the latest thing, seems to have made some big improvements, and the future has yet to come - perhaps someone will come up with something new in the next decade that takes digital to the next big leap, which is totally expected!

For now, I do love my records :-)
Oh, I hope this ramble does not start an argument as Tomcy6 wanted to avoid.  I too want to avoid that!  I do see the merit in both mediums...

I just believe that invariably this discussion will evolve into digital vs vinyl debate for the 1000th time. The analog devotee just can't seem to help it and  must defend records,good luck 😊

Well so far, so good. I think that we can all agree that some vinyl based systems sound better than some digital based systems and vice versa.

And we can agree that some people prefer the sound of vinyl and some people prefer the sound of digital. I don’t know why the topic usually ends up in an argument. In the words of the late, great Rodney King, "Can’t we all just get along?"

So far it’s going well here. I just wanted to give the digital listeners something to read that wasn’t a slap in the face, which is what I often find in audiophile publications.

Great post marktomaras always good to hear from someone who keeps an open mind and can enjoy both formats.

The next step in digital may be here. Meridian’s MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is a new way to package digital music and correct some of its problems. It’s not a new format. It’s backwards compatible with all existing players and streamers.  You do have to have an MQA decodable Dac to get the full sound quality benefit.

There are a few MQA decodable Dacs out there now. Meridian has a $22,000 MQA player as well as a $299 MQA Dac, and someone else has an MQA Dac out. More are supposed to be on the way. Tidal is working to MQA encode its library and I believe is offering MQA streaming now.

MQA is far too much for me to explain, but in the May/June Absolute Sound there are a number of articles, reviews and FAQs about the new technology. Robert Harley is greatly impressed by MQA. We’ll just have to see how people feel about it as the technology rolls out. I’ve never heard it myself.

Exciting times! There's no doubt that the future is in digital recording and digital  playback. There was a time when film cameras simply made better looking photographs than digital cameras, i'm talking about professional equipment now. Eventually though, and it didn't take all that long, digital surpassed film and as a photographer for 20 years,  I can safely say that a high end digital camera will absolutely outperform a high-end film camera.

 Clearly the case is not that cut and dry with audio.  Vinyl has been around for a very long time, and will stay around for a very long time as well.   I guess one  yardstick to keep an eye on would be the percentage of people who enjoy high resolution audio systems that use a vinyl playback system at all.

 My prediction is that vinyl will go the way of the dinosaur,  but not for quite some time. I wonder how many high-end turntable producers there are today and how many there will be in 50 years? 100 years?  

I can see why some like vinyl, as I conducted an experiment with the same Beatles track on CD v Vinyl and I preferred the vinyl because it had more body to the mids and fuller bass , even though it’s wasn’t as tight or separated as the cd.

So what I did was to reduce the channel separation of the cd (120db) to the same channel separation of the vinyl (30-40db at best) with a left and right mono’izing bleed network on the cdp.

And you guessed it the Beatles now on CD replay was preferred, as there was body to the mids and fuller bass, and the left right ping pong effect of early music cd replay was greatly reduced, more mono’ized for want of a better word and no surface noise as well with no tracking distortion of a stylus, even though separation L & R spread was reduced and tightness also was reduced.

Cheers George

Marktomaras try Radka Toneff "Fairy Tales" and Paul Simon "You're the One" albums analog vs digital on your system. I doubt one will blow away the other as you requested but the digital is clearly superior on my system. 

Hey, if you enjoy vinyl more than digital, or digital more than vinyl, or both, who am I to say you are "right" or "wrong" for enjoying your listening one way or another.

Too many of us Audiogoners seem to insist they THEY are "right" and if you don't agree with them, YOU are "wrong".  Kind of detracts from the enjoyment?
  I want to thank the OP for those excellent articles.
  I just sold my analog rig-Clearaudio Concept tt with Concept mc and a Musical Surroundings Phono Pre Amp--and used the $ to help me substantially upgrade my DAC, to the Mytek Manhatten.  I am ecstatic.
My thousands of redbook CDs never sounded so great and my computer files as well.
   When CDs came out I thought they were a Godsend.  No more pops, clicks, wow and flutter, speed instability,  brand new lps that looked like Ruffles Potato Chips thye first time removed from the album sleeve, and on it goes...Around 2000 I had a midlife crisis and I was missing the days of plowing through record store lp bins, and the relentless audio press propaganda for vinyl was heating up, so I bought the Project Starter table of the day, and I progressively upgraded until I hit the aforementioned Concept.  Vinyl was always a secondary source for, a change of pace, after digital.
   Without spending more time on the vinyl vs digital thing, I decided that
it just wasn't worth it, and that digital has come so far as evidenced by breathtaking gear such as the Mytek , that the current fashion for vinyl notwithstanding, I have learned my lesson and will be quite happily residing in digital heaven for the rest of my days on earth (Where I go after that is another story).

Well said Mahler, for those who wish there digital sounded like their vinyl, look at my last post, it can come very close if one does the mods, and it's only around $10 for the parts and you can make it switchable.

Cheers George  

Good digital sounds so good to me that I never have to look back at vinyl and wonder which sounds best.  The convenience factor of high end digital totally slams the door on the whole vinyl argument for me.  They both sound great in my system, but I play digital 98% of the time.

That being said, I will never give up my vinyl rig and 3,000 LP's.
May I just add the SACDs and SHM- CDs I buy direct from CD Japan are nothing short of amazing. Best sounding recordings I have ever heard on my system. I wish more of my favorite artists were available on these formats. They have been expanding their classic rock inventory as of late. I will say that there is nothing sexier looking equipment wise than a beautiful turntable. Pure old school.