How do you decide?

So those of you with more than one source…ie TT, streamer and CD how do you decide which format to buy? Vinyl or Digital?

So would it be on:

  1. Cost
  2. SQ
  3. Convenience
  4. Other

Would be interesting to say what eg CD or Vinyl or Download and why?

Ok, good question. I tend not to buy cds these days. I find I listen to Streams of albums and if I like it I buy the vinyl if I find I really like the album then I will try and find a hi-res copy -all legally of course- for those times when streaming locally is easier.
If I really really really like the album then I’ll probably end up with many versions of it.

For me, it is fortunate that SQ, cost and convenience all converge on digital.

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Convenience and flexibility wins I’m afraid.

So, for me, it’s CD with a rip being used and the CDs put in a box and placed in the attic. I do number the boxes and record which box the CD is in so it can be found easily if I need it.

Occasionally they get dragged out of the boxes and stuck in the car for a while (old car, CD only, no aux input and don’t use it enough to think about changing the unusually sized, steering wheel controlled Radio/CD)

If the album was produced in the 70’s: vinyl always. For sound quality reason.
I don’t stream Tidal or Qobuz, for sound quality reasons too. So only downloads. Don’t buy cds, apart if the download doesn’t exist.

CDs rips, CDs or hi res only for me, usually purchased from HD Tracks. CDs I use to get that Amazon but both delivery and costs have become a problem. Getting them from a local source now.

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CD rips, on-line hi-res purchase and old records.

SQ. If I can find the same thing available on two formats, I buy whichever one is better. That’s easier to discern without being subjective if both formats are digital. Often that is an HD download. While I miss the liner artwork, I like having the music collection not in the living room even more.

I don’t find older albums from the 60s and 70s to really lose anything in the conversion to digital if done well. Especially if they use a late stage digital transfer process like AAD.

Cover art - always top of the list for me.

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When I had multiple formats, vinyl and CD, I had in effect switched from vinyl to CD once a CD player was available that matched vinyl for quality overall, and so my buying switched also, only buying vinyl if not available on CD or if significantly cheaper in a sale.

At that time I had no awareness of there being different/variable mastering sometimes making CD sound better and other times worse, or I would have been choosy, wanting to buy on sound quality - though that would have required comparing before buying, and there wasn’t really any easy way to do that.

Cd and rip, with a free amazon download when its available.
Vinyl high quality fot stuff I take a liking to, but normally only after I’ve listened on digital.

I use a combination of Qobuz and CD rips, though I now only buy CD’s if they are not available on Qobuz. Qobuz streaming sq to me is as good as cd rips using roon core on a Mac mini streamed to my NDX2. Roon also integrates my online and offline libraries, and gives me album covers and information about the album and artist, it also provides recommendations on other similar artists, all of which I find invaluable.

Some interesting responses…personally I dont have a high quality streamer…i do have an LP12 and a CDI. I prefer the SQ of the TT but the convenience of the CD player.
With the streaming I think I would miss the sitting and listening while reading the sleeve notes and album art and pics…seems to bring it all together for me.
Cant speak for the SQ of streaming …but dont think I could afford a streamer that could match the performance of the LP12 or CDI… :thinking: So unless the SQ is equal to or better than my current sources…i guess its CDs and/vinyl for me…
So I usually buy Vinyl…but on those border line decisions CDs seem so much cheaper these days. I will usually stream the material to my headphones via my phone to see how much I like it.
So my decision matrix is SQ, how much do i like the material, and cost.

Interesting thread.
I used to buy a lot of CD’s and would often buy the vinyl version of it. I’ve always streamed music primarily for the ease of access and discovery value and do also stream either locally or from the Internet things I also own on vinyl.
Having spent a decent period of time buying vinyl for DJ purposes through the 90’s and 00’s I built a meaningful collection and continue to add to it as the basis of a life long collection. They have a place in my home environment and are both a listening source and a collection.
Cd’s I don’t feel a collection type connection with, they are just stored away and more of a hassle than a collection as such.
I do still look out for used CD’s as they remain great value for money vs other means to consume music.
All my CD’s are now re-ripped and in a Roon library however I don’t conciously choose to stream my CD rip given I have access to both Qobuz and Tidal. There are some things that are only in my local library so Roon is managing my preferences and discovery first and foremost and does a good job doing so In my opinion.
I’ve had numerous Naim CD players over the years but don’t anymore and invested in an NDX2 as my main digital source.
I have a Rega RP3 and RP6 but tend to listen to vinyl only when I’m in the right head space for it which is less often realistically given my lifestyle and having a 2 and 4 year old to distract me constantly!


Interesting what you say about playing vinyl. When I was working the rp3 stayed in its box most of the time I was travellng and temporary living in Europe. The Nait and a Sqbox was always connected along with a PC or laptop holding ripped cds.
Now these last few months (seems like years) even in retirement I find myself with more time to listen to vinyl. So much that my upgrade list is now extended from a first thoughts of P6/ania to my goal of p8/apheta. I’ve rediscovered something special about the act of giving time to putting on an LP and listening.

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If you like ‘information’ while you listen then you might like Roon. One of the reasons I went with it was the metadata management, the information about songs, band members, links between band members etc. etc.

For example I found out Alison Goldfrapp sung on a Bryan Ferry song that I owned but would have (probably) missed since the CD’s just too small to read any more.

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I tend to agree, you need to be in the right frame of mind to make the most of it.
I dabbled with the idea of getting rid of the decks I had and getting either one of the newer Technics SL-1200 (partly for sentimental reasons) or a nicer Rega like a P8 or a P10.
Instead I spent a more modest sum on some refinements to what I already had and bought myself more vinyl.
I tend to dip in and out of buying vinyl, selectively choosing material in the context of the collection as a whole.
The majority of which is electronic/dance/club orientatted that suits my tastes and interests. I like finding recordings that allow me to complete a labels catalogue or the sum of the outputs from a specific artist as well so I have whole sections of my collection that are a mixture of material from a specific label.
A lot of the more rare or exotic stuff or things no longer available I don’t tend to play often as some of them are worth a lot now and I’ve been sensible to look after them and protect them as an investment.
If I want to enjoy that material I’ll typically own the CD anyway and worst case can usually stream it or rip the vinyl as needed.
I did do a vinyl rip archive process a few years ago as I did with a percentage of my tape recordings but time constrains what is possible!
I have a lot of tapes (compact cassette) from pirate radio as well from the 90’s which are often difficult to source online and often poor digital transfers.
During my time DJing I had a portable Sony Mindisc recorder I used to record sets and also a portable DAT recorder which I used for the same purpose. Those recordings hold no monetary value but their emotional value is priceless to me and many of my close friends from those heady days.

@StephenPacker Yes that would be great but then I would have to get an NDX2 or something like that to benefit?

Couldn’t agree more with respect to Roon, I’ve used it for many years now despite being initially skeptical about its cost/value.
It’s discovered for me many things I’d never have found or heard without it, its level of integration and ease of use in my multi vendor listening environment is faultless in my experience and the database is fast and scalable with very rich metadata support. I’ve not found anything yet that I’d feel could replace it in my listening setup.


There are other DACs/Streamers… But if you want current Naim I think that the ND5XS2 is the least you’ll spend for something that can be integrated into an existing system.

Personally I’m happy with the nDAC fed by a third party streamer. Actually more than happy.