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A hard thing to do - find the reviewers who use LP as a *primary* listening source. Digital would be secondary (or no digits at all). I cannot prove anything here. It's based on recent reviews and the strong comments they made.
It seems (most) of Stereophile, Absolute Sound and (all) Enjoythemusic writers use digital as a primary source. Audiostream, which has a few writers, is all-digital. But they are a digital website.
Virtually all Soundstage/Ultra Audio, Stereotimes and PFO writers use digital as primary.
David Robinson (of PFO) always put LP first - but seems to prefer the Gryphon Kalliope DAC nowadays. Robert Youman (also of PFO) seems to like the Esoteric K-01x or T+A DAC as much as vinyl.
About 6 years ago, James Darby (editor of StereoMojo) gave up his turntable for a Lampizator DAC. Two more editors -Steve Rochlin (of Enjoythemusic) and Jeff Dorgay (of Toneaudio) did the same for the Gryphon Kalliope DAC. These last 2 could still be using LP as secondary sources, however.
Marshall Nack (of PFO) seem to have put the CH Precision DAC in front of his LP gear. Marc Mickelson (of Audiobeat) said recently that the DCS stack he reviewed was the equal (or better) than his reference turntable. A first for him.
Ken Micallef (of PFO) seems to use digital as much as LP these days, after his Line Magnetic DAC review.
I could go on, but here's the "last of the bunch" for pure LP:
Michael Fremer, Jon Valin, Greg Weaver, Jack Roberts, Art Dudley, Herb Reichert, Paul Seydor, Miles Astor, Ron Nagle, Rick Becker, Dick Olsher. But even here, Dick loved the Monarchy DAC so much, it could be tied with LP.
Fascinating how few, out of (roughly) 130 U.S. based reviewers. And out-right shocking that this happened *after* LP improved -greatly- over the past 30 years.
'Digital' means Red Book CD (resolution) for most of our files. And this means the impossible happened: a 'low-rez' digital format defeated much-improved LP. Going back in time, did anyone think this would happen ?
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An entire thread based upon an appeal-to-authority logical fallacy (a vote of authorities, no less!), in order to grind the same old tired axe, sprinkling in the usual lies and half-truths, all in order to help the OP feel superior to others. The only value in the thread is the naming of the vinyl reviewers. Thank you for that part.
It's been said (repeatedly) that we're in a 'vinyl resurgence'. Plus the quality of playback was 'vastly improving', right up to this day.
To see if this translated to actual systems, I had the bold idea to survey those who are involved. And it appears very few are -it was a farce.
Vinyl resurgence should have led to more use of LPs as review material. Many believe that vinyl is a better and more accurate reproduction medium.
On the other hand, good digital has come very close to good vinyl. (That said, to me digital will always be a parabolic curve that comes close to but never quite touches the horizontal analogue line).
I suspect it is a matter of convenience. Much of the digital in use by reviewers is streamed from a NAS/Stick/Laptop and it becomes very easy to sit in a chair and select tracks from your phone (or tablet). Switch on the fly without having to clean a record, put it on the TT, take it off, put it back etc. Since most reviewers have other jobs, it makes sense to leverage time so to speak. And if the quality of digital has become "acceptable" then the decision becomes easier.
Many reviewers still use vinyl and digital. Many reviewers still refer back to cherished vinyl when reviewing a component...a baseline if you will.
What bothers me is when someone reviews a digital reissue but fails to compare it to an original pressing, even when the reviewer has access to the original vinyl.... Then they dodge the question when asked....
It appears almost all reviewers prefer digital-CD to LP.
Serious about their music selections *and* wanting the best out of their equipment, they need a source with as much accuracy as possible.
LP is loaded with problems, as I noted to RGA below. You are free to believe what you wish, though...
I grew up with vinyl, returned to it in the early 2000s, and listened to vinyl records predominantly (not exclusively) from maybe 2004 until recently. For years, the reviews I wrote for Stereophile used both analog and digital sources. Lately I've been reviewing a lot of DACs, which makes it a bit hard to use records as a source :-) --although I do have some needle drops I listen to regularly in evaluating DACs.
I'll always love records, but things have changed. 1. Digital has improved immensely. To my ear, the best high-res digital recordings share many virtues with analog while eliminating some disadvantages and bringing substantial advantages to the party. 2. Tidal has influenced the way I listen to music more than any other development since I returned to vinyl. My music collection is substantial but not huge; Tidal lets me listen to most things I'm interested in hearing--not all, but most--immediately, on a whim, in very good sound (on recordings that sounded good to begin with). And Tidal, of course, is digital. 3. To me, the vinyl resurgence peaked and started to decline--what, a decade ago? A little less?--when demand was sufficient to keep used record dealers in business but supply was such that you could buy great used records for not a lot of money. I'd go into a record store and buy ten or twelve records, many of which I didn't know, for $5-10 each (more, of course, for really special LPs; significantly less for classical), then explore them with relish over the following few days. Today it's much harder to find unfamiliar LPs I'm interested in at prices I'm willing to take chances on--partly because stores are more picked-over, partly because there's less I don't know, and partly because used records cost more; many interesting used records are a little too pricey to buy on a whim--and I can hear much of that same music on Tidal for no additional cost beyond the monthly fee. (On the other hand, there's a rich abundance of high-quality new reissues, and an increasing tendency toward new vinyl releases--both excellent developments, but neither cheap.) I should add that LPs are the > > only < < physical format I still buy, but I buy far less music than I used to in physical formats.
Several of my favorite audio writers--idols, really, even if some of them are roughly my own age--listen either exclusively or mostly to vinyl. I love their writing, and over the years I've learned much from them. But, with the greatest respect for those esteemed colleagues, I do not find one technology innately, sonically superior to the other; excellent music in excellent sound is available in analog and digital form. That has long been true--there have been excellent-sounding CDs since, what, circa 1990?--but these days there's much excellent-sounding digital. Like I said, things have changed. Why discriminate?
A final point: When it comes to physical formats, I care about authenticity. So, for example, I don't buy many audiophile 45 rpm record sets, even though they sound very good; I want my reissues to resemble the original. (Sometimes, even "better" sound is a disadvantage; I much prefer my SOTS Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced, or any early MCA in good condition, to the audiophile reissue; the reissue just doesn't sound right to my ears.) Similarly, I'm not interested in vinyl reissues of records that were not available on vinyl when they were new (although I do own a few). That rules out vinyl versions of, what, 20 years of music-making? A quarter century? And even today, only a small slice of new music is released on vinyl.
Hi Jim, thanks for sharing.
I assume most of your digital is not hi-res. It might be upsampled CD files (?) Or 16/44 that sounds like hi-res !
Because, there isn't much hi-res out there. Unless you count SACD, which doesn't sound as good as CD (with playback I'm familiar with).
> > I assume most of your digital is not hi-res. It might be upsampled CD files (?) Or 16/44 that sounds like hi-res ! < <
No upsampling, so yes, the bulk of my digital is files ripped from CDs, pure redbook, though some are losslessly compressed (FLAC mostly)--last winter's project. To be candid, I've always found hi-res hit or miss; I've got some CDs (or CD files) that sound spectacular; some (truly high-res) files that sound so-so. Your post made me rethink what I wrote, which was a bit hurried and imprecise: There are many great-sounding CDs, and playback has reached the point so that they sound pretty great, IMO. Plus, high-res is approaching (if it's not there already; I think it probably is) total transparency--yes, I'm saying I don't think 24/192 has a sound of its own. (I do think DSD has its own sound, but it's subtle.) So that's two points that I combined awkwardly into one. So the second point is, I don't think there's a problem with digital anymore. It can be as good as engineers can make it.
Also, so far I'm impressed by MQA. I've spent hours poring over the papers and patent applications and concluded that it's legit enough to judge on its merits--which is to say, on how it sounds. And so far I like it. So there's that, too, especially for streaming.
Thanks for noticing! Haven't used digital for reviews in decades.
My reviews not only use LPs but 15 ips reel-to-reel tape, the penultimate in analog reproduction. Something I've been writing about since the dawn of The Tape Project. Stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of Chad's two latest tape offerings as well as the Doshi Audio V3.0 tape stage, Low inductance Flux magnetic heads and new Transparent Audio wiring!
Myles B. Astor
... what's the ultimate? I thought THAT was tape.
Myles B. Astor
analog format because analog copying is marginally lossy. The ultimate analog format is the original master tape, not a copy.
The digital files of the original studio master recordings are exact copies of the original and I am fortunate to have many to use for reviews and enjoyment.
OTOH, I do not think this entire issue is significant except to those who have complete disdain for one or another format. Well chosen examples of any format are suitable.
totally hilarious to see the dogma over this , as if all are mutually exclusive..
Tape, LP, digital, Tuner at a whim I say ..........
Not necessarily. Especially when you consider new PB heads with narrower gaps are far better than what was used back in the '60s and '70s. Ergo the old master tapes played back on newer machines can sound even better than before (one has to make the distinction between record heads where the gap width is far less critical than the PB side.). I think with better heads, electronics, good transport, etc, the loss in going from the master to safety is minimal. I've compared several 2nd vs third gen here and again the losses are minimal done with TLC. Mostly the differences are a very slight loss of transparency, midrange bloom and focus. But ever so little.
Myles B. Astor
You say minimal and I said marginal. Nonetheless, copying involves transduction from one physical tape to an electrical signal followed by a transduction to another physical tape.
That's your usual response to format evaluations. As I remember (your) disdain on the CD vs. SACD debate. As long as there's respect, debate is good.
There are real technical issues here (on the old debate) and now, on format types for playback. Roger Sander's white paper on digital recording should enlighten anyone who wishes to gloss-over the issue.
The last time I visited several years back, Mike Hobson stopped by with some one off "white album" 45 RPM pressings. Two of the three rooms at Sea Cliff included vinyl playback.
Naturally, the Clearaudio Statement stayed put in Room 3. :)
I don't get the line of reasoning - if it's actually about music the review bloody well better have digital CD or Hi-Res because most new music does NOT come out on vinyl and even if it comes out on vinyl it is very likely just a digital rip so it's not going to sound better on vinyl.
If your favorite reviewer only plays this year's new boxed set of the Beatles or wants to review The Eagles for the 50 millionth time then great - it sure explains audio shows.
FFS! I am so sick and tired of hearing the same bloody 70s music over and over and over and over again.
I use vinyl for my reviews and CD and digital. I often buy the same music on both CD/download and if it is a favorite artist I will buy the Vinyl version because a lot of current music doesn't require a vinyl version. I'll buy vinyl second hand or special versions like Loreena McKenitt on vinyl.
But I understand reviewers not going vinyl - it's VERY expensive to do vinyl well enough to take out very good CD players such as the tubed Audio Note models. It's not only expensive to buy but turntables are more of a pain to operate and you have to replace parts. CD players have vastly improved over the last 30 years too you know. I still prefer vinyl when everything goes well but it doesn't always or even often always go well.
Having said that I will soon be buying a very good rather pricey for me tube phono stage (MM only).
Lastly, if you are an LP fan you should Buy the Artist LP on LP just because well - that's cool.
I'd FAR rather be listening to LP and new artists than buying bloody Eagles albums and listening to Hotel freaking California. And the Beatles - please please please me by not buying any more remasters. I twisted and I shouted do I really need to do it for 40 years. They're gone it's over deal with it - use youtube and find something new to listen to. And if you have to buy digital - oh well. Music over sound!
I didn't consider expense -thinking there are a number of 'affordable' decks $3-5,000. This is a 'vinyl revival', isn't it ?
On gear, don't we have 'vastly improved' tonearms and cartridges ? Quieter motors and plinths ?
I thought reviewers were concerned with sound quality -to 'get the best' out of their downstream components and loudspeakers. It looks like they're doing that - but with digital/CD.
I think the thing is most of those reviewers who don't have vinyl systems think vinyl sound quality is second rate. It's okay to disagree with those reviewers. Many of them make me scratch my head - I read them for entertainment but I wouldn't trust 99% of them to tell me what is good. I know what is good. All of these reviews should be taken for entertainment, or post purchase feelgood support.
Irony detector activated ....
I agree - and you're with the vast majority of reviewers.
Vinyl lovers claim LP is 'easier to listen to'. But live music doesn't have speed variation, needle drag and belt resonance.
With perfect speed control and flat frequency response, digital is a good place to start. A reviewer can understand his components better (by removing a wildly-variant source -LP).
There's almost no worry of microphony, esp. with servers. You get more bass and treble. At least digital tries to do highs -LP cuts them off at 15 khz.
More dynamic range, less surface noise. And you *always* get the best copy (of recording). Can we say that with LP ?
It's quite hard to find *any* problem with digital/red book these days !!
Actually LP has no issues beating digitial in the top end , for realism and naturalness and i have not heard any PC base system to beat a CD player with redbook ...
I think another aspect to this is that the older reviewers who grew up on LP and have 10,000 or 20,000 album collections were mostly against CD from the start. That is a massive investment in a recorded medium that unless you are supremely wealthy you don't want to dump.
And CD did stink it up in the beginning so it was easy to write off the format.
I grew up on CD though and vinyl had to convince me. I wasn't one of the 60 year olds telling people that a Rega P2 was better than CD at 10 times the price. I read this endlessly on forums - $500 turntable beats $5000 CD.
So after a relatively horrible second hand Dual I bought said $500 P2 Clone (a NAD 533 with the famous RB250 tone arm) and a Goldring and then a Shure M97xE cart). Depending on the recording (oh yeah the recording which is 95% of to sound) the Turntable would win but so too would my modest Cambridge Audio CD 6.
And as you rightly note - even when I liked the vinyl better - it was never free of surface noise nor a lot of bad sounding vinyl (new or used).
Growing up with vinyl - you accept surface noise because that's all there was. Every turntable no matter which model - you will get surface noise and pops clicks and generally higher noise floor.
If you grew up with CD none of that exists - the sound is noise free. So it's very difficult to be listening to a piece of music where a female singer goes into her belting range and you hear sibilance or a loud pop. This doesn't exactly hold your ability to suspend your disbelief.
Having heard some very premium machines though - the weakness dwindle greatly and there are certain strengths which CD lacked - ambiance cues is a big one - it's the same reason modestly priced SET amplifier pulverize SS amps at 10 times the money.
The problem is for me - the entry turntables I don't think are particularly good - not against CD. You have to spend in the $3k+ range and even here - is it worth the hassle? For a newbie who has no vinyl is it really advisable to get into vinyl? Unless you have buckets of money - it's not.
And you still have to put up with the surface noise. In this day and age few are willing "to put up with" something. Lose a button on the shirt out goes the shirt. If you can hear past the up front weakness for the in the back strengths then vinyl has merit. If it is about music though then when a format has significant music content unavailable on the other formats it is a worthwhile format to own. But it's not about music for most people. It's about buying that special audiophile disc with the percussion solo to wow your friends.
Here is the thing about records besides the cleaning, resonances, low frequency feedback, groove noise, tonearm adjustments, record warps, expensive cartridges, stylus replacement, phono stages, LP storage space, side changes every 1/2 hour...it goes on and on!
The thing is a record will never sound the same way twice due to wear. Every time you play a record there is wear to both the stylus and the record. The stylus itself wears out the record while it itself is wearing out. As the groove noise increases with time you can never get that original state back.
When I put a CD on the very first time in my life. I could not believe that total silence until the music started. I had never experienced anything like it after all those records since I was 14 years old. I always wanted that absolute silent black background and would never go back, especially now at 68. That silence remains. The CD never changes. 50 plays are always as good as the very first. Music without noise.
One reason I love music is it allows me to forget life's annoyances. I do not need some of those annoyances to be part of the music. That is why I hate records!
Most surface noise issues( bad grooves / worn stylus apart) is usually from poor tracking , vinyl can be very quite and considering noise floor levels in most listening rooms gives up nothing to digital dynamically ..
No argument from me. My next upgrades will be a phono stage an analog (read tube) preamp and then an upgrade to my AN TT2. Maybe to the TT3.
I am basically noting that if people can't get past surface noise then this is not for them. Plus all the inconsistent quality of vinyl both new and used. It's not fun to spend $40 on a new record only for it to be stamped poorly or have issues. And here in Hong Kong - there is no refun and no exchange on any vinyl - so if it sucks or the center hole is punched wrong - you're out of luck. This is a policy in many countries. And for vinyl to come back it needs more than just the US market. CD just doesn't have any of these problems.
I think it is fair to warn people who are about to get into vinyl that there are pitfalls and it's not cheap.
Heck I would jump onto R2R tape but there is just no music on it. I absolutely love the sound (which to me is by far the best) but if all I can get on it is Cafe Blue and have to pay $3,000 for a few tapes of music I don't get to choose it's no good. I so wish Tape would come back in a big way -
Yes LP collection can be an issue, if you weren't collecting from yore, best to buy an estate collection and weed out what you dont want. I'm culling mine currently taking a 100 or so out and exchanging at the local Record joint.
I played my table for the first time in 2 months yesterday, digital is interesting ... :)
Another suggestion is your local recycling center - In Canada they basically sell you a $2 bag and say stick as much stuff as you want in the bag. You can get may 10 new still sealed vinyl in a bag. Only happened to me once but then I don't go that often. People die and the stuff gets thrown away. Classical is very easy to pick up in big numbers. Jazz is usually next.
Probably need a record cleaning machine. My VPI 16.5 is in Canada - so no good - I need a new one for HK but want something smaller and cheaper. New vinyl seems to need a healthy clean before it gets played. The sound has often been utterly terrible about 30 seconds in. Must be some sort of gunk or extra vinyl or something in these new pressings. Companies today that don't exactly know what they are doing compared to the 70s.
Do you think there is a lack of reviews of new tt's/arms/cartridges/phono stages? Certainly doesn't seem like it to me. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a review of any of those where the reviewer doesn't have another tt/arm/cart./phono stage to use in a comparison.
Does using LP's in the course of reviewing, say, an amp make the review(er) any more credible to you?
I doubt the majority of AA inmates still own and regularly listen to vinyl. Despite the "vinyl revival" sales of records are still tiny compared to digital music. The overwhelming majority of new releases are not analog and are not released as LP's.
I don't find it surprising at all that fewer reviewers own/use vinyl systems. But AFAIK there is still plenty of them left to review virtually every new analog product that is offered by manufacturers.
Not sure how you reached your conclusions regarding my listening preferences but they're way off beam. Analog is still my main source for both reviewing and listening pleasure - currently I use a Kuzma Stabi M, 4POINT14 or VPI Classic 4/VPI JMW 12", with a mixture of cartridges but mainly the Fuuga, Lyra Etna and Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement. Phono stages are the Connoisseur 4.2PLE and TEAD Groove Plus.
Like almost all reviewers I use digital sources too, for completeness and also access to recorded material I don't have on vinyl. Currently the digital sources I rate most highly are the Wadax Pre 1 Ultimate Trio and the Neodio Origine one-box CD player.
from your use of vinyl. You should sell your Lyra Connoisseur phono stage to me.
That's why I said I have 'no proof' (right off the bat). And in your case, 'seems to' prefer digital.
In your Living Voice speaker review, you clearly said digital was better. But only for that one speaker, I take it.
It is strange that you praised CH Precision as the best digital you've heard - yet you're not using it.
I appreciate that it's tempting to look for simple answers but in this instance can i respectfully suggest that you really do need to read a lot more carefully.
I think you'll find that the Living Voice review remarks that in the context of that system, CD can, in its own way, match and occasionally better LP. You might also add up the number of musical examples cited and their format.
The CH is rated as the best SACD replay I've experienced - not the same thing as the best digital.
But what I find most remarkable is that you think the Neodio Origine and Wadax Pre 1 Ultimate are outdated. I always thought components should be assessed on performance, not best before dates.
I no longer say Wadax is 'outdated'..
As to your comments, (quote) "CH Precision was the most musically emphatic member" (of your select-list of digital components).
Then years ago (in Hifi Plus) you stated that the Zanden-CD system was the equal of the $70,000 Blue Pearl turntable. Or at least a dead-heat.
The problem is that digital has advanced more swiftly than turntables (since 2004), yet you prefer LP. I respect this -but it does seem strange, in light of your great experiences with CD/digital...
..not since the Reimyo CD player anyway..
It was this player (in the pricier category) and Monarchy DAC (lower price) that seemed to usher in digital-CD as a true alternate to LP.
They were reviewed in 2004-06.
Part of the problem is that most new releases are not available as vinyl
Any reviewer has to go digital to cover most new releases. I follow Gramaphone and American Record Guide who have gone digital for this reason
Since we are concerned with reviews of equipment rather than record content, this point is irrelevant IMO.
Since many of us think that the best sounding LPs were made during vinyl's "Golden Age" shouldn't these golden oldies be used to evaluate hardware? Look at recent reviews by Art Dudley, for example.
Who says we are only concerned about equipment? I learn a lot about music on the asylum
...the best LPs were 180-200 gram or better center-cuts, from Kansas City.
Both issued *since* the golden era.
...but hasn't this been the case since 1990 ? And I thought we were in a 'vinyl revival'-w/ more LPs coming out.
It was writer's statements 'as good as analog' or 'better' that prompted me to ask who's spinning needle-disc ? Apparently, not too many.
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