Records and CDs

I’ve just spent a couple of weeks exclusively going through my extensive record collection playing hardly any digital media and have come to some conclusions.
Records are fun and enjoyable to work with, but ultimately for a music lover they’re a dead end. Since very few new titles are being released on records these days I find myself going through mainly old familiar performances. Then there’s the age old problem of comparing the SQ of both media which is maddening. I just today went back to streaming (and CDs.). I clearly see, for me this is the way to continue my listening habits. Records can be used as a diversion but not the main event.


rvpiano: You and me both!!!  I only wish that I could get back what I invested in all that media over the past few decades and just keep a handful of the irreplaceable ones.  I'd be paying a visit to the local exotic car dealership! 

I enjoy the heck out of vinyl. However, I detest having to jump up every twenty minutes to change the record. My young audiophile dream was to, ASAP, transfer all new acquisitions to R-2-R tape for playback.

This is the only way to enjoy the new 45 RPM releases.

Truthfully, when I'm in my preferred listening mode, format doesn't really matter with my components.


All true.

Except.I’m currently listening to a huge Willie Dowling playlist.

This can only be accomplished by playing local files. Or buying all of his Bandcamp tracks.

Only a couple albums are on Qobuz.

Me too. 😊👍


I try to get up and play an album every week. But sometimes I don’t get too it… so I stream for the 20 hours I listen to music.

If I didn't have vinyl (and a slow reading thermometer) I wouldn't have anything to do.



I reached that conclusion a long time ago.  I reserve analog for recordings that are now digitally or were poorly transferred to digital 

The sonic consistency of digital is a pleasure.  When you listen to a digital source you don’t have to hold your breath wondering if it’s listenable or horrid.

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You would be surprised that if you are into current pop music, LPs are being released for a great many albums and sales are off the charts. 

I'm going to use this excuse to rant, I don't understand this at all. Vinyl is not a particularly good way to store music, as we all know it is subject to warping, scratching, and the inevitable clicks and pops. Couple that with what some believe to be an inferior form of music reproduction (digital) and you could conceivably have the worst of both worlds.

I know that in theory, music that is being mastered onto LPs these days is supposed to be high resolution (as in higher than redbook CD) but I wonder.

To me, the irony is that digital has never sounded better than it does today.


The other day I visited a store named Newbury Comics in the Danbury Mall in Connecticut.  I was astounding by the number of jazz artists, old and new, that were available on vinyl.  The problem?  The prices...$25, $30, $45, and higher - for records that will undoubtedly be warped due to the mishandling by twenty-somthings that have no idea how to properly store and display them. 

I only recently upped by vinyl playback game with a nice phono preamp and new cart, that took me to a new level in sound that surpasses what before was best, streaming. I’ve a modest digital system ( NAD C658 streaming preamp), but it sounds very good….but the vinyl has more life and depth of soundstage plus an “airiness” that the digital can’t quite match.
Consequently, until I up my digital end, vinyl will rule!

@rvpiano  - "Very few new titles are being released on records these days"? 

On what do you base that statement? Sales data would indicate otherwise, plus the fact that vinyl sales have been steadily increasing and new pressing plants are being opened. Will it ever be like the 'old days' again? No. But from what I've seen, just about every new release, large artist or small, is being released on vinyl....

What I don't care about are all the colored vinyl variants....

I feel very blessed I was very late to the vinyl game. The reason is I realized I do not need to buy tons of vinyl or everything that comes out. A lot of my friends are heavy into vinyl. That being said they mostly listen to what I call their top 100 albums and new acquisitions. So it might break out to 200. The rest sit on the shelf unplayed. I have my 200 close to my turntable. I sort of acquired for free about 400 classical albums that I slowly sort through. If it sounds dynamic I keep it. If it sounds like a lifeless MP3 then off to goodwill with it. My vinyl rig is very nice and beats the digital as long as the pressing is good. That’s what I’m saying. If your physical media does not beat Tidal or Qobuz then let it go unless it has value. Then sell it to a store or online. Life is way too short to accumulate a bunch of stuff you don’t touch. I recently just got back from a trip. I realized right away all the junk we buy: cups, trinkets, logo cloths we never wear, and don’t get me started on the shot glasses. If that’s your thing then you be you. I challenge you all to try to get rid of some stuff one room at a time. One of the reasons why vacations can be relaxing is you stop thinking about your stuff. Your brain is a hard drive. We are all running out of space. Start with albums and bar glasses you will never use. Believe me, you will sleep better. Start by putting it somewhere you can temporarily put it out of sight like a box in the basement marked charity. At the end of a month or two let it go. This helps you to let go and FOMO. 

Speaking for myself, the only records I have that sound worthy of my time to listen to considering all of the preparation and time required are the full size 12-inch 45 RPM singles and those were never very popular and difficult to find. They hold less information per linear inch and the vastly improved sound quality is immediately noticeable. They sound very good, but still not quite as good as a CD or streaming to me even on very good turntables.

Yes, records are making a comeback but that doesn’t mean they sound better. Same goes for antique cars. They are nostalgic, perhaps cool but will never drive better than their modern counterpart.

So, when I consider the inconvenience of having to physically find a record, clean it, clean the stylus, having to put it away, not being able to make playlists, having to get up every 20 minutes, if not more often, not having artificial intelligence introduce me to new music and the list goes on, streaming is the clear winer for me. Oh, and all with a simple click of a mouse from my favorite recliner!

As I mentioned on my previous post: I only wish that I could get back what I invested in all that media over the past few decades and just keep a handful of the irreplaceable ones. I’d be paying a visit to the local exotic car dealership!

In some cases a good pressing of an LP will sound better than a CD or CD-quality file in my system.  I have some digitally-recorded jazz LPs that sound better than their CD counterparts, even.  But in some cases a CD sounds better than even an analog LP.

In general, I find a digital recording needs to be at least 96kHz sampling rate to equal the SQ of an LP.  Admittedly, my current digital front end was less costly than my turntable, but it sounds better than earlier digital gear that was as pricey as the turntable/tonearm/cartridge.  I think digital gear has advanced enough that you don't need to spend as much on it as in the 1980s-1990s.  But maybe the most expensive digital gear can make a worthwhile improvement in the SQ of even CDs.

For playlists, the old analog method was mix tapes, preferably made on tape decks that were tuned to the specific blank tapes used.  Such recordings can be nearly indistinguishable from their sources in many cases, and if you played them on an auto-reverse deck you could get 90 minutes or more of continuous, all-analog music.  Cassette tapes I made in the 1980s still play on my Nakamichi decks, and those decks have rarely damaged a cassette--when they did it was because the transport system needed repair.  Reel-to-reel can provide even better SQ if you have the space for the deck and the tapes.

drmuso: I used to do the same.  Still have my Nakamichi Dragon tape deck in good working order, but you still have to go through the time-consuming process of recording everything, and that's if you can find a quality TDK MA series blank cassette at a non- absurd price that will inevitably degrade with time anyways.  I am sticking to streaming!

As I mentioned earlier, for me records cannot be the main event;  This is partly due to the maddening inconsistency in their sound quality compared to the relative reliability  of digital.  True, certain records do sound better than any digital on my system but, unfortunately, that is rare..  I also acknowledge everyone’s system is different in the quality of their digital and analog playback so that comparisons are difficult.  
In response to @larsman, Personally, when I mention the unavailability of new titles I’m referring to classical music which I listen mostly to.  I really can’t speak to other genres.

In my previous analogue frenzy I ordered a relatively expensive cartridge (Clearaudio Maestro.) It will be interesting to see what my listening habits will be after it arrives.


rvpiano OP: Maybe the new cartridge will inspire you, at least for a while.

I stopped and returned to vinyl, including getting rid of my turntables and then rebuying turntables back and forth all over again 3 or 4 times over the past several years before recently giving up on vinyl altogether. I am not sure what drove me to doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, perhaps insanity, as the saying goes, or perhaps nostalgia... I am in the process of removing my turntable from the stand to make room for a laptop and maybe also an old school lava lamp. 🤣 

And all this time I thought I was missing out because I don't have a TT and a LP collection (anymore). 

For me one of the joys of vinyl is the 12x12 album art and the wealth of information often included with the release. Plus the provenance of the mastering is usually available, unlike with streamed releases. I find that the mastering can make a bigger difference than the format, and like to be able to seek out the work of my favorite mastering engineers.

I am happy with vinyl. The quality and quantity of recording that pleases me out there is enough for decades. 

Happily the album art is becoming available in streaming. Qobuz now will have a pdf attached to the on line album, so you get to see it on your iPad or laptop while listening. So, hopefully that lack of art will go away and in future albums art will be created for new albums expecting on-line streaming.

Some of your past posts you praise vinyl and on other posts you praise digital. There is no reason that you can’t enjoy both!

Image result for spinning your wheels cartoons


the new classical releases on vinyl come from places such as the Berlin Philharmonic house label and are Uber expensive.  To me they represent a cynical attempt to catch well healed customers who have either fallen for the myth of vinyl supremacy or, more likely, wish to have it as pride of ownership but won’t actually be spinning it that much

@rvpiano exactly why I sold my analog setup. Constantly comparing digital vs analog, it’s an arms race. I ended up neither here nor there so I just focused on digital and the funds from selling my table, cartridge, phono amp and cables allowed me to get the digital and amplification chains to a much higher level.
It’s been a while and I don’t miss playing records.

I still feel that vinyl is superior, even though I just upgraded my digital side. (Aurender & Chord). But the convenience of Qobuz digital is hard to beat. 

RV, FWIW, you have now arrived at where I was 10+ years ago. Vinyl had actually become more of a distraction than anything else. Great sonics (and some performances) on a few records, but when I played them I was more in awe of the sounds than the music. Bad reason for listening I thought. So I gave my records and system to a relative and I got all that I could no longer get, a refocusing on the music. Frankly I don’t really miss them and I’m able to spend my time discovering new (to me) music and enjoying what I already have. And because of age (hearing issues and audio limitations) I have focused on chamber music and solo instruments, mostly piano. I never really was that fond of orchestral due to recording limitations as well as the reality of having Mahler in my living room. I saved serious listening for the concert hall.

Perhaps it’s time to take Thoreau’s advice. Simplify! :-)


I don’t know why there is an either/or dichotomy with analog and digital in my head. Others in this forum have experienced the same dilemma. Somehow they won’t peacefully exist. It would be nice if I could have it both ways.


Exactly the same experience.  Listening for the sound of records rather than the music.  That becomes the operative mode.  And yes, orchestral which is my main listening is extremely uneven and frustrating..

@rvpiano - I've had a Clearaudio Charisma cartridge, the one just above the Maestro, and I can tell you that is one awesome MM cartridge; never felt the need to move up to an MC cart in the 3+ years I've had this. I hope you enjoy your Maestro....

Sound-wise, I enjoy both vinyl and CD and have good systems for both. Sound quality matters aside, I'll always prefer looking at album artwork on a nice 12"x12" sleeve than a little CD-sized casing. 

Can’t resist the temptation to do an A-B comparison between the record and the streamed digital version of the same performance to test SQ.

Remember we are in a rapidly changing audio time in the analog vs digital arena. Fifteen years ago analog sound simply exceeded digital at all price points. At that time vinyl was considered to have “an intrinsic” sound. Which is now clear that it does not. “The sound”, is the result of the playback equipment. At some point the increasing resolution levels possible with digital will surpass analog and a gap will begin to develop.

The relative sound quality has been changing as first, the mid tier audiophile became sound quality competitive (say around $20K - $50K for analog ((tt and phonostage)) and the same for digital ((streamer and DAC)) ), but at the low end and high end vinyl still was better than digital… IF you did a good job of choosing your components and matching their sound qualities to your taste in your system. Even when this was the case. You could end up by poor or good choices with the reverse situation.


Over the last five years the sound quality of DACs and now streamers have gotten notably more competitive at lower price points allowing digital to equal or surpass analog at relatively low investment levels. As evidence, this thread! You would not find this number of digital advocates five years ago.

I am sure in the next five years the conversation will continually shift to the majority scratching their head as to why anyone thought vinyl was good in the first place.


I totally concur with your point. I remember making those A-B comparisons in previous years with analog coming out on top every time. Things have radically changed. Having invested heavily (for me) in a new analog system recently, I fully expected to hear records surpassing CDs or streaming again. That is not the case. Digital has come a long way. And I guess that expectation is part of my dilemma.

I seem to be in minority here, so decided to A/B. Playing Herbie Hancock Takin’ Off, both Qobuz streaming (24/192) and vinyl simultaneously. 
Analog side: Hana ML to Rega Aria. 
Digital side: Aurender N150 to Chord Qutest. 
Both sides playing through a Rogue preamp with Siemens nickel plate NOS tubes & LSA amp to KEF R11’s. 
IMHO, vinyl wins by a very small margin. Slightly more refined, smoother (less digital), slightly more dynamic. Very / very close. Close enough that the majority of my listening will be steaming, due to convenience & selection. YRMV


I don’t see anything even remotely in the minority here. You had an old model lower tier streamer… not saying it sounds bad. I still have a Aurrender N100… but upgrade that to an N200 or N20 and bet the situation flips. 

Interesting observation on my streamer. The N150 is a current model that sells for $3,500. Between my streamer and DAC, I spent over $5,000. My analog side was just over $4,000 & in my mind superior. So you are recommending I move to a streamer that costs $7,000+, so $9,000 digital would be better than $4,000 analog?

Maybe, but IMHO we should be comparing like for like. If I then spend $9,000 on corresponding Analog (cartridge, TT, phono pre), I strongly believe the Analog would be superior, just like my current system or at any price point on a like for like comparison. IMHO. 


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Interesting observation on my streamer. The N150 is a current model that sells for $3,500. Between my streamer and DAC, I spent over $5,000. My analog side was just over $4,000 & in my mind superior. So you are recommending I move to a streamer that costs $7,000+, so $9,000 digital would be better than $4,000 analog?

Maybe, but IMHO we should be comparing like for like. If I then spend $9,000 on corresponding Analog (cartridge, TT, phono pre), I strongly believe the Analog would be superior, just like my current system or at any price point on a like for like comparison. IMHO. 

@signaforce it’s a trap! Tongue-in-cheek but trying to compare entire playback chains based on per-unit or overall cost is not an errand I’ll run. And if in the future it’s proven to be an errand for smart folks only, never mind, I’ll happily play the fool. 😉

First order of business would be confirming the master of the vinyl disc and streamed file you’re hearing are the same. If not, all bets off. Next would be the QC of the vinyl - most new digitized/remasters (streaming files) will be of limited dynamic range, but then so are many LP’s. You may well be comparing two different variants of apples or oranges, which would be sufficient for small differences.

Old vinyl is can be fantastic for albums that weren’t mastered digitally, weren’t remastered well, or that simply aren’t available via streaming or digitally at all. Good QC’ed vinyl doesn’t need a 5+ figure setup to sound great; then again, neither does digital. If I had time to digitize all my records, I would have extremely few left in my possession. Hopefully someday.


I’m beginning to see that making it a contest of digital vs. analog is a fool’s errand. 
 They can peacefully COEXIST in one’s listening habits, appreciating each for its own merits. I don’t have to only listen to one over the other as the “main event.”  Just accepting both as part of a satisfying listening experience is where it’s at.  There need be no “winner.” 
Of course I acknowledge the advantages of digital but it needn’t usurp analog.


Thank you, good post. There are many variables. 

You are correct, Apple to Apple comparisons are difficult. Most of my albums are from the 60’s & 70’s. The remastered albums tend to be inferior and quality pressings can be hard to find.
For example, I recently purchased Miles Davis “kind of blue” remastered. The Qobuz version from the original cut is vastly superior in sound quality. Another example, I recently purchased Jon Batiste “We Are”…original pressing but poor, again Qobuz sound was superior. 
However, when I AB original old pressings to Qobuz, or quality new pressings, IMHO the nod goes to vinyl. 
There are many variables. 

I'm the exact opposite...records are the main event, digital is for my convenience. The process and interaction with the media (records) is part and parcel of what makes the whole experience enjoyable. Cd or digital cannot compare to the way old records were once recorded, all Analog. I'm in the "better records" camp. Some recordings suck, some are just out of this world (records). I also love the interaction with the device (turntable). 

@rvpiano   Maybe it's just me, or it's my age, but I've always preferred to own physical media.  I don't stream at all.  I like to feel the CD/LP in my hands.  I like to read the liner notes and enjoy the artwork.  Sound aside, LPs are a leg up on the CD format in this area.  Mind you, when they take the time to include a nice booklet in the CD case, that can also be a joy.  It's really tough to beat the sound quality and convenience of the CD format.  SACD?  I've been disappointed with the number of SACD discs I have purchased and can't hear any  improvement over my original CD copy.  Even when paying $$ for the remastered versions from MOFI.  I still buy vinyl but  mostly things like Tone Poet releases from Blue Note.  Another fantastic series of recordings are on the Blue Engine label under the Jazz At Lincoln Hall LPs.  The Wayne Shorter double LP is one of the best recordings I own. It brings back your faith in the LP format.  

It’s a complex issue.  There were a lot of analog to digital transfers that were poorly done (I think this more prevalent in pop than Classical).  The playback equipment of the time wasn’t the culprit as much as the transfer engineers.  The playback equipment has improved, but I have read several interviews with recording engineers who all say that as time went on they became more comfortable with digital. 
  The irony is that as transfers and playback equipment both improved, that’s when the lp resurgence happened.

  The music is the thing.  If comparing different technologies is interfering with enjoyment, and one can’t stop making comparisons, then either:

1) Admit to yourself that listening to gear for the sake of listening to gear is an enjoyable end in and of itself; or

2) pack up either the digital or analog system and keep it out of the system for a while and see how you feel about after a few months 

It's all good if you didn't spend it on audio you would be spending it on your psychiatrists spending it there.enjoy the music .I have spent money  on cars that I wish I hadent but I had fun went fast was in many competing races and still do my corvette has been the best bang for the buck lt always sure there is stuff in the audio world that is the same.stay healthy enjoy it all.