Although my current Digital and Vinyl playback system has many new components and cables that are not fully settled in, I did a comparative listening test. My findings in a very brief summary.
Streaming was bettered by CD and CD was bettered by records.
The most interesting thing is that I have a few records that I know have been made from a digital source and likely a shoddy one at that (Indian records- India has been known to have very poor quality record pressing plants). - yet the records are more intelligible than the digital streams or CD equivalent. The tone is off on a few of the records but they still communicate the musical message better. I am able to locate the instruments and the centre image is better more pronounced on records. There is more harmonic correctness to the music. I was not expecting this at all. In the past I’ve always said that both formats sounded the same to me using my previous setups but now that I have a higher end setup I’m finally hearing what I’ve read for many years.
This really makes me wonder what is it that digital playback is getting wrong or not doing as well as the analogue playback system?
Khan hi. Loads of stuff on the Forum on this, my own preference is vinyl but so often swings and roundabouts. However, frankly there are few digital sources that are really going to compete with your Vertere MG.
A friend and I recently compared a well-supported MG-1 with a (cheaper but still far from basik) LP12, which has itself been compared to a Stiletto’d LP12, Michell Orbe/ SME V/ Koetsu and a TMS at various times over the years. All good turntables.
They have different pros and cons, but to most ears they can all grip the listener a bit more than any digital version of the same tune.
That ‘can’ is critical though. With quite a lot of recordings from 1950s to 2020s, any SQ preference from me or mates is typically in favour of digital over apparently pristine vinyl, and more often there is no real preference beyond a specific listener on a specific day.
The ‘pristine vinyl’ matters too. Lots of my vinyl that might have been preferred to CD when new really isn’t now - even ignoring any clicks or worse. Thus, my actual vinyl is probably the winner on fewer than half the LPs I have, if heard dispassionately or blind.
However, we were generally comparing to a good digital version through Naim NDX2/ XPSDR or Naim CDS2 or both.
If you look at the streaming or CD options that you can get for the cost of your Vertere combination, I suspect that you could buy a digital source that would also win to your ear on quite a few recordings - not all digital differences come down to DAC quality, after all.
However, my guess is not really relevant. If you want to test the point, dem a comparable digital source against the MG-1.
If you do that, please let us know what you concluded.
Hi Khan, That’s been my experience too. I was very surprised when I took my Xerxes X/Tabrizi out of long term storage, where it had been to protect it from a young family. In the meantime having invested significantly in digital, I expected it to be no more than a nostalgic reacquaintance with my records, for occasional use. I didn’t expect it outperform my digital source. It’s now firmly my main source again and the target for further spend.
I can’t figure out the digital master thing either?!
Hi @Bluesfan, Good to hear… again . Your posts have not been inconsequential in my recent decision to go for an MG-1. I’m currently listening to my Xerxes with the Tabrizi/aging art9 (and it really is sounding worryingly excellent) as my Vertere Arm/Hana ML have been sent to Vertere to be re-homed on an MG-1. I also couldn’t resist going for the Imperium motor drive, having heard it at the North West Hifi show. I pick it up in a couple of weeks. I’m very excited and slightly apprehensive given how good my Xerxes is sounding tonight!
A someone who didn’t really grow up with vinyl I find completely the opposite and I continue to be surprised that so many people on this forum prefer the sound of vinyl over digital. A modest priced digital system sounds better to me ears than any vinyl system. I’ve come to the conclusion that many people tend to prefer the sound of the source they grew up with, so terms like better or worse aren’t really a good way to compare different sources, it’s really a personal preference for the type of sound.
Even with pristine vinyl only, I would probably get to 70% but nowhere near 90%. Different ears, different albums from different genres and eras and artists, different imperfections that particularly annoy us…
In any case it is a strong sign that you have the right turntable in your MG-1, which is the main thing.
I have a pretty decent deck. Sorry but I also like vinyl but to achieve a good result, many things need to be right including quality vinyl that has been properly cleaned. I have some really great records and they sound fantastic and yes when all is right it is good. I do spend more time with streaming though which I find less pfaffing around and also consider the result excellent.
I think vinyl adds a degree of distortion that is unavoidable
I think that’s very true. For me, I’m constantly frustrated by the travails of playing vinyl, the ticks, pops, scratches, rumble, warps, wow from off-centre spindle holes and the constant worry of busting that delicate cantilever, poor pressings and so on, but despite all of that hassle, when it comes to deciding which format to listen to in my precious hour a day that I get for listening there’s no competition. Vinyl all the way. I have an ND555 with 2 power supplies and it has seen around an hour of use this year. I find myself drawn in by the music I play on my record player in a way that digital doesn’t manage.
You are spot on with your comment about what we remember growing up with. My system is a deluxe version of my audio memory of my Dad’s Garrard/Leak/Tannoy system. The sound is different, but invokes similar reactions in me.
This gives us great cause for optimism about music streaming.
If vinyl records, despite all their obvious limitations & distortions, can sound more musically insightful and engaging than music replayed via very expensive streamers (I’ve auditioned quite a few), then just think how utterly brilliant streamed music can sound once the manufacturers develop out the deficiencies of today’s streamers.
We look forward to that inevitable day with an eager sense of anticipation.
A digital system needs to be ruthless source-first starting with the network - and using low-noise (RFI etc.) switch and file-server is more important than the dac. Just like the mechanics and platter drive are the basics of good vinyl, not the cartridge. Also a good digital system can have a very short signal-path ending up in a system closer to the mix than the analog mastertape let alone the signal pipe in a cutting lathe. Digital can be very emotional, you just have to give up the nostalghia!!
I am happy for all you Vinyl folks out there but as I sit here listening to my streaming (digital) based system I am quite happy and content. iPad/iPhone selecting the music with a click of finger and any content information usually just a click/search away one iPad or computer.
…and the music is sounding sublime! Life is sweet…
No nostalgia here either. As I mentioned in my first post on this thread, when I took my tt out of long term storage I expected it to be a nostalgia loaded experience. It was with mixed feeling that I concluded that my old tt out performed my relatively new and much more expensive digital source in all of the ways that Khan set out in his initial post and it reset my thinking. I’m not wedded to vinyl, indeed digital unlocks a whole world of music in a way that vinyl never will. I just prefer listening to vinyl in my system.