Turntables vs. Digital - what do you get for your money?

I’ll see if I can talk my wife into doing the a vs b with me tonight!


So still talking?:slight_smile:

Ha ha we ate pizza and watched the first two episodes of Picard – no music last night.

I did on my own do a Yes - Close to the Edge bake-off. First press lp. vs lossless digital of the original cd release (Barry Diament mastering). Other than still a little light in the bass on the lp, which I attribute to the cartridge only having 10 hrs on it, man they are REALLY close. The volume level happened to be really well matched, and in going back and forth with the 2 input buttons at some points I had to look to see which I was listening to.

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IB, my brain is hurting now! I’m sure what you say is true, but it’s just sooo complicated. All this trying to compare and analyse everything just, for me, sucks the life and fun out of both the kit and the music. This is probably why my favourite room is The Padded Cell, and my favourite thread the WAYLTI2020!


I take a purely romantic view (and apologies, not probably germane to this thread at all)
I could sell my beloved Naim CD players if I had to.
My LP12…over my dead body!


Yeah I’m really looking for the ‘value’ and costs angles. It’s difficult, as even on the digital end per se, one can do pretty well for relatively little money e.g. with an old Mac mini, software and a ‘decent’ USB dac.

Hi, @Bart. I do have to concur that if one is playing the value game, vinyl can be a winner.

My own experience: I bought a c2000 Planar3 in 2008, cheaply, had it refurbished at the Rega dealer, loved it for 10+ years, then traded it at my dealer for close to my original cost.

But the money is not the whole story — until I discovered the brilliance of modern turntables like my humble Rega, I had never heard convincing fidelity from the format at all — in all the years before CD existed, I do not recall hearing any vinyl without glaring flaws due to speed variance, rumble, resonance, peak distortion, and surface noise. I never knew how far these defects could be engineered out, even by simply moving the turntable to a better site.

Clearly, I was never exposed to a well set up Linn in all those years. In intervening years, digital has largely set the benchmark for the common listener. Fortunately, lower-end record players these days have closed a good deal of the gap to top players.

For me, a big part of the fun with vinyl is how it exceeds expectations, even winning sometimes vs digital. It does not need to win every match to hold my interest and respect.



Now respect is one thing I certainly have for vinyl - after all it was my only music source for about 34 years, bringing unimagined pleasure almost daily, and I have such fond memories of the magic of each new LP I bought, it taking pride of place in the collection for a while. The magic did fade over decades, but that doesn’t diminish any of it.


And it is certainly not how I listen to music! Only written up that way as an attempt at a methodical reasoned answer the question of what do you get for your money, focussing on the sound. (And normally I only compare things when adding something new, which is rare.)

When it comes to value, I see two different answers here.
With digital it’s possible to get something really, really good for relatively little money. My own setup of MacBook and Naim DAC, linked with a good Toslink cable, is beyond what every turntable, arm, cartridge and phono stage combination available for the same price can do sonically.
On the other hand analog is able to give you something special without spending ND555 or Meitner money.


Okay, here’s the thing.
A good streaming amp (Naim Uniti of some variety for instance) gives you access to all the great recordings there have ever been, plus the entire world’s internet radio. It’s fantastic.
A good turntable (Rega Planar 3 does the job admirably) gives you the pleasure of collecting and playing vinyl, reading the sleeves, enjoying watching the turntable go round. It’s a tangible experience in the way digital will never be. And quite often you will get the sense that, wow, that sounds better than anything I’ve heard digitally. Quite why I don’t know, but it just does.
Enjoy both, for what they give you.


I agree with dpspeenc in that a streaming amp is fun and opens up new adventures in listening enjoyment, but there is no source like vinyl. I have owned Rega tables, but it is the RB-250 & 300 arms that are the true giant killers. I like Linn/Thorens/AR three spring tables more than the Rega, but the nice thing is any of those tables can be fit for a Rega arm :slight_smile:

Based on 45+ years of serious listening, to a wide range of music (although now mainly 20th/21st century ‘classical’) and on a wide range of media, including the ultimate (i.e. live concerts/ opera) digital wins hands down on convenience alone.

For me vinyl cannot compare sonically either (same music in different formats), certainly without incurring fairly hefty debt. Even then you will always have noise. Yes I know noise is everywhere but not always at exactly the same point in the music so that, unless you suffer from attention deficit, it ruins your enjoyment. If you listen on headphones a lot, vinyl is simply unpleasurable, particularly for classical.

And to top it all, the latest hires recordings are phenomenal, unequalled by anything vinyl could possibly offer, simply because of the physical limitations of the medium. And without having to spend silly money. Unlike the absurd prices demanded for modern heavyweight lps. Plus it doesn’t physically degrade every time you play it. You just need to make sure you have at least two backups at all times. Even then if you download from Qobuz or the likes you don’t even need to worry about that. If you add in Roon it’s a no brainer.

I still use vinyl, mainly for lps that I’ve kept for decades, found cheap on ebay, deleted recordings etc. But the hassle of storing, cleaning, dewarping, fragile eggs handling, etc. seriously detract from the evident visual and tactile enjoyment.

If you’d asked me this question 25 years ago, when CDs were still finding their feet, I’d probably have gone with vinyl. But not now.


I echo that


IMO, for the money digital offer a lot more. You could play locally recorded or online music from a cell phone…

As much as I like my turntable, I don’t see the point of playing music that was not recorded and mixed on analog equipment. Any digital conversion in the chain just spoil the fun !

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Yes, the only logic to vinyl playing of digitally recorded music is if you like the sound of the added vinyl signature. Different logic if an analogue recording, keeping it all analogue through the chain.

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Come on IB, you are sounding like the proverbial broken record with digital is inherently always better than vinyl.

I still derive more musical insight, involvement and enjoyment from the vinyl version of a given recording than I do the digital equivalent of the same album when it is streamed through DAVE & M Scaler into the same amp & speakers. In most cases these days, the recording has been inevitably mixed and processed in the digital domain, so there should be an inherent advantage to a streamer and yet…

Perhaps your digital replay chain is more technically capable than the one that I am fortunate to enjoy.

Best regards, BF


It’s fascinating to see THE ongoing debate continue…perhaps ad infinitum. There is no point in trying, on either side of the argument, to rationalise away someone else’s conclusion on account of it not being in accord with one’s own. Just accept that we all have our preferences…these won’t change simply because another implies that such a preference is irrational. Not to try the get the last word in, I will not restate my preference…please, all of us just enjoy our music. Usually, argument for the sake of argument is a fruitless enterprise.


Nice pun, even if not intended :slightly_smiling_face: (broken record)

I am in no way decrying people’s enjoyment!!!

Regardless of what digital might do to the sound and whether or not people find it stamps a signature or whether it is definitively better or worse than digital, vinyl does have certain effects, including more limited dynamic range (ignoring here deliberate compression for its effect), surface noise, and potentially other effects that I don’t claim to have identified in listening myself but others may do, such as artifacts from the RIAA de-emphasis and reversal, and the slowing linear velocity from beginning to end of record. The observation in my last post was specifically about vinyl replay of digital recordings, where any deficit from digitising has already happened, although the reconstruction filters might be closer to the original ADC process than any particular domestic DAC, but the vinyl process is than stamping its mark. That was the point I was making, not that people can’t or shouldn’t prefer it.


…and there we go again…this does not have any bearing whatsoever on someone’s preference.

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