Vinyl Asylum

Welcome Licorice Pizza (LP) lovers! Setup guides and Vinyl FAQ.

Return to Vinyl Asylum

Message Sort: Post Order or Asylum Reverse Threaded

Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior

Posted on August 3, 2023 at 19:05:08

Posts: 1368
Location: Midwest
Joined: June 30, 2006
Are there any people out there, in Latter 2023, who believe (via experience) that (the best) vinyl is capable of higher (more realistic, more pleasurable) sound quality than any digital source?

Considering getting into it again. "Take Five" sounds bad on the best digital recordings and a $15K server & DAC. My vinyl recordings (DSD128) sound *great* but do they sound as good as the original, in longterm listening? I can't compare now since all the equipment is gone.


Hide full thread outline!
RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 3, 2023 at 20:38:41
Rod M
Web Geek

Posts: 15793
Location: So. California
Joined: March 1, 1999
March 1, 1999
Interesting question. I have many excellent recordings and some, not so much. Really good vinyl can be fantastic. So can some digital recordings.

There's no doubt that many digital recordings came from poor LP masters that weren't very good in the beginning. I recorded some very good 180 gram vinyl at 96/24 and it's fantastic and it plays on the server just as good, so the medium isn't the issue. Of course, a turntable has it's own sound, warmer, smoother. The recordings are like memorex, I can't tell the difference.

It strikes me that the engineering is the key. I have many 16/44 CDs that sound great, that can transport me to the venue in my room. Of course, too much of the current music is all beats and fuzz guitar which will never sound like real music.



RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 3, 2023 at 21:51:41

Posts: 5287
Joined: November 15, 2016
Long time vinyl lover and collector here. Lossless and hi-res digital is a welcome addition to my world.

Old vinyl should be superior if the master was fresher and newer when the vinyl was pressed.

All things being equal I doubt the format would matter much at all. All things aren't usually equal and often everything is not as it should be.


RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 3, 2023 at 22:59:20

Posts: 2517
Joined: January 11, 2011
If you want to get back into vinyl, then do so because you enjoy the hobby, like the large artwork and the ritual of playing a record and not because someone offers an opinion on what they think is higher sound quality. Vinyl isn't higher quality, it is just different. At best you won't hear any obvious difference if the Mastering and cutting quality is good.

Using a specific example, I bought both the recent Tone Poet and CD editions of John Coltrane "Blue Train" and there was no obvious sonic difference between the two (comparing a level matched redbook version of my transcription and the CD rip). When I analysed the digital rip of the CD and analysed the vinyl transcription, there was no difference in dynamic range or frequency response suggesting that the same master was used. I gave an audiophile friend 3 anonymous files - one from the Tone Poet transcription, the CD rip and a transcription of the standard BN reissue of Blue Train. He couldn't tell any difference between the Tone Poet or Remastered CD files. He could only say that he thought the file from the standard BN reissue wasn't as good and didn't have quite the same soundstage precision or detail. In other words is all about the Mastering. Always has been. Given that the vinyl cost me nearly 4x the price of the CD I would have to say that playing the record was just a more difficult way to play the CD. Even the standard BN reissue was acceptable if I never heard the Tone Poet. However, the Tone Poet is like experiencing the taste of a fine wine - you can tell it is better, but it isn't what I would say was mind blowingly better.

Just remember that records are now more expensive than the CDs and quality control issues in production such as eccentric discs, non-fill, warped discs are still very much a problem.
Virtually every vinyl disc I buy requires me to recentre the spindle hole, flatten the disc and ultrasonically clean it. If this sounds like something you want to do for every new disc you buy, then come join the club!
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats


RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 4, 2023 at 05:50:40

Posts: 6613
Location: East of the 100th meridian USofA
Joined: March 21, 2005
October 1, 2005
Given the same mastering source, and comparable stereo play back components, in my experience there's not much difference between vinyl and digital. Certainly subtle differences, but I enjoy listening to LPs, CDs, CD rips, Hi-res downloads, and 24-192 LP recordings equally well given a good recording/mastering.

That said, I agree with Anthony, if you're going to reinvest in vinyl, do it for the experience and not for "better" sound. I've been enjoying LP records for over 50 years and while I still play vinyl on a regular basis, I won't feel regret when I sell off the turntable, phono stage, and record collection. Modern digital play back has really come of age.



Vinyl is Superior because of all the recordings that will never be digitized , posted on August 4, 2023 at 09:18:16
John N

Posts: 1309
Joined: May 10, 2000
I have hundreds that will only become digital if I make them so.
And digital is superior because of all of the recordings that will never see vinyl.


Yes and No, posted on August 4, 2023 at 20:45:37

Posts: 2715
Location: Zardoz
Joined: March 9, 2004
This is just my opinion as a musician and a person who was present at a lot of live performances, both in clubs and concert halls.

In terms of absolute clarity and pristine audio, well that is an audio world that I leave to so-called audiophiles. It depends not only upon audio source but also your qualiy of audio playback equipment.

Personally, in terms of real world, whether in a concert hall or a club, your listening experience is much different from some sterilized, digitized audio.

Even in a "quiet" club setting or as an audience member for a performance in a concert hall, the audio is nothing like a pristine, crystal clear digital recording.

For real life live performance there is a sense of what I refer to as "atmosphere" that affects both the audio low and high end to create the "I was there" sense of real audio experience.

If you want the sparkly clean listening experience, then multi-miked recordings and digital are the best avenue. For more of an actual live "I was in the room" audio, vinyl is the only way you'll get that.

Combine with the fact that a of of the greatest recordings were made with analog equipment and pressed to quality vinyl, personally, I still prefer LPs over other media. That said, most of the popular recordings these days (pop or classical) are digital, so your options may be limited by that.


"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)


RE: Yes and No, posted on August 5, 2023 at 08:05:51
John Elison

Posts: 23725
Location: Central Kentucky
Joined: December 20, 2000
January 29, 2004
> If you want the sparkly clean listening experience, then multi-miked recordings and digital are the best avenue.

I'm kind of surprised at this remark because it's been my experience that fewer microphones provide a more realistic and natural sounding recording. This is because the more microphones you use, the more you obliterate the phase response, and linear phase response is almost as important as linear frequency response. In fact, linear phase response is probably what creates the most impressive soundstage and imaging. Some of the most realistic and natural sounding recordings have been made with as few as two or three microphones.

Of course, I'm not sure what you mean by 'sparkly clean'. However, in my opinion, more microphones will reduce the cleanliness and sparkle because all of the different microphones in different positions will tend to blur the sound. If you look at all the 'audiophile' recordings from record labels like Sheffield Lab, Reference Recordings, Crystal Clear, Century, and most if not all of the other direct-to-disc labels, they tend to use the fewest microphones possible in order to reduce distortion and improve clarity.

Happy listening!
John Elison


One difference in any case, posted on August 5, 2023 at 08:55:37

Posts: 36237
Joined: May 12, 2000
April 5, 2002
Even the best cartridges restrict channel separation and thus apparent stage width to these ears.


RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 5, 2023 at 09:36:34

Posts: 1518
Joined: March 31, 2010
In my experience, it really depends on the quality of the equipment. I returned to vinyl after getting frustrated with digital, but it took me a long time, and quite a lot of money, to get to the point where I can clearly notice the superiority of vinyl.

I found out that turntable is the most important part of the equation. It is only once I managed to shell out thousands of dollars on a good turntable that everything revealed itself. So, it's not an inexpensive hobby.

What is it that makes vinyl surpass even great digital playback. In my view, it's dynamics. I've never heard dynamics being so life-like when listening to a great digital chain. But a good turntable will make the sound leap out of the speakers and give you an almost palpable illusion that the musicians are right there, in front of you.


The multi-microphonist engineers have gotten better at their craft over the decades IMHO, posted on August 5, 2023 at 10:40:15
Posts: 25544
Location: SF Bay Area
Joined: February 17, 2004
February 6, 2012
Hey, DG, I'm talking to you and your Tonmeisters!

BTW, you don't have to go back into ancient history to find examples of minimally microphoned recordings. There are still engineers around these days who "keep the faith" by using minimalist microphoning techniques - such as John Gladney Proffit, who has recorded some of the Remy Ballot Bruckner recordings for the Gramola label and some (or all?) of the Texas Music Festival recordings for HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers). Basically, he uses one microphone per channel. (So with surround recordings, that means five microphones.) So he gets the best of both worlds: sparkly clean AND spatially coherent! (BTW, John has posted here on AA on occasion.)

John's latest:

Unfortunately, the hall where this orchestra plays in Houston is incredibly dry - perhaps worse than Northrup Auditorium where the old Mercury Dorati/Minneapolis recordings were made. It's always somethin'! ;-)


Overall, it still depends on the..., posted on August 5, 2023 at 12:04:52

Posts: 31293
Location: San Francisco
Joined: July 8, 2003
January 28, 2004

There aren't any absolutes dependent on format.

I'd say if you have the time, patience, money and stamina, pursue
vinyl while keeping in mind it should be a hobby (bordering on passion)
but if it slips into obsession (easy to do), spend more time listening
to music than the format/system.

"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination"-Michael McClure


Conversely, have myriad CDs that aren't on vinyl and probably won't be..., posted on August 5, 2023 at 12:32:53

Posts: 31293
Location: San Francisco
Joined: July 8, 2003
January 28, 2004
in my lifetime.

"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination"-Michael McClure


as I noted "And digital is superior because of all of the recordings that will never see vinyl." (nt), posted on August 5, 2023 at 14:29:52
John N

Posts: 1309
Joined: May 10, 2000


Darn it, missed that! You are correct of course... N/T, posted on August 5, 2023 at 16:15:56

Posts: 31293
Location: San Francisco
Joined: July 8, 2003
January 28, 2004
"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination"-Michael McClure


The conversion to digital is a point for vinyl's *value*, posted on August 18, 2023 at 10:14:15

Posts: 1602
Location: Atlanta, USA
Joined: May 15, 2001
... if not superiority, per se. You ("one") can easily make infinite digital copies from a vinyl (shellac, etc) source, but to make a vinyl copy of a digital recording is extraordinarily expensive without access to a mastering studio, pressing plant, et al.


RE: Sanity Check: Is Vinyl Superior, posted on August 20, 2023 at 09:31:16

Posts: 120
Joined: June 23, 2023
I generally suffer less sybilance and listener fatigue when listening to LPs vs streaming.

Not 100%, but definitely a trend.

I have owned what were considered at the time high end pro DACs and it didn't change the equation. In fact the high end pro DAC was one of the worst in terms of high end grit. I sold it.

Now I use FIIO or SMSL DACS at about 1/10th the price of the pro DAC.


I guess it depends on the digital...-.., posted on August 26, 2023 at 19:45:35

Posts: 1191
Location: GTA
Joined: January 17, 2009
In my experience vinyl played on a good analog front end smokes CDs ( when demoed at high end retailers) played on top CD players. Not sure about "high resolution" digital. How high does the resolution (the density of zeros and ones) have to be to equal the resolution of top playback vinyl?


RE: Overall, it still depends on the..., posted on August 27, 2023 at 16:30:43

Posts: 2022
Joined: February 24, 2001
At 32-bit 384kHz, digital recordings can be *as good* as vinyl, or tape for that matter.

We're talking about 8-9 GB of disk space per LP.


In my system....., posted on August 28, 2023 at 09:35:30

Posts: 4423
Location: SoCal
Joined: June 25, 2001
Vinyl is still superior. It still has more of a real sound with texture on snare drums, horns, string that the Streaming and CD can't touch. To be fair, I have invested quite a bit of $$$$ on the Analog side to get where I'm at.

I can still listen to Digital media and be very happy as well.

I have made recordings from my Vinyl setup to a Tascam DA-3000 using HCSD cards using and it does come really close. I haven't due Recordings using the DSD function on the Tascam like John E. has, so I can say how that sounds to my Vinyl. I will have to sit down and try it, I did do some 24/196 and those were nice.

I haven't done any Recordings since I got my Grado Tinbre Reference III Cartridge and SPL Audio Phonos phono preamp, that should be nice on the recording.

I will report back my results when I do the new recordings


dynamics, posted on September 4, 2023 at 18:08:44

Posts: 15352
Location: canyon country califiornia, orig from buffalo ny
Joined: June 9, 2000
it seems to me that proper LP reproduction yields a better "jump factor" or better expressed---dynamic contrasts. that and the fact that vinyl seems to represent the actual event more authentically.


Right on target. Overall, not better or worse, just different. , posted on September 7, 2023 at 10:27:37

Posts: 2151
Location: Burlington, NC
Joined: June 8, 2000
And as with so many things, ultimately a matter of taste/preference.

Mark in NC
"The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains" -Paul Simon


Page processed in 0.044 seconds.