Pros and Cons of "Staying with" Analog and Vinyl

After having various turntables over the last 40 years, I am seriously considering getting out of analog. The "vinylists" argue that analog playback sounds more natural, musical, and provides more of an emotional response. I have experienced this feeling several times while listening to my modest vinyl collection, and tend to agree....until I begin hearing pops, clicks, surface noise. I keep my vinyl generally clean and protected

However, after listening to the 40th anniversay edition of Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" I am more convinced that analog is just not worth the time, money and, maintenance. The dynamics on new Aqualung are superb and there seems to be much more detail to what I remember of the Mobile Fidelity remastered recording

I have a modest analog set-up Rega P3-24 with their upgraded PS and the Dynavector 10X5 MC. I was on the verge of upgrading to the new Rega RP-6 which includes a newly design PS, and a choice of color plinths. Even with a generous trade-in value offered by the dealer, I would still be putting in about $1300 + which would get me into the Dynavector DV 20MKII ( above their 10X5.)

I personally don't see the value regardless of the sonic qualitative edge of analog. Maybe, the money could be spent elsewhere or not at all. BTW, I am not getting into computer audio, and am STILL not convinced that a BASIC DAC will bring me closer to analog sound quality. Members have recommended Peachtree's DACIT, and even the supposedly new and improved Musical Fidelity V-DAC II. I have a Rega Apollo player. A great sounding player, but it has its flaws.

Therefore, I would like to hear the pros and cons of staying with analog....or just dumping it. Thanks
I have adopted digital wholeheartedly. As you mention, the noise inherent in vinyl has become a distraction to me. And the newer 24-bit DVD and BluRay based music sound absolutely fantastic, especially in 5.1 format...

If you have a decent sized vinyl collection in decent condition, I suggest "...Staying with" Analog and Vinyl", if not then I'd suggest moving on. FWIW, I made such a consideration some time ago, besides having a tuner, I'm analogless.
Stay where you are, and don't invest another dime in analog. Start to sell of the vinyl and when the last lp is gone, sell the gear. I agree with you about bluray is the future with more refined dac's to come. Move to better speakers first. When Miles Blue comes out on bluray do a reality check against your vinyl of same. That will tell you that your vinyl affair is over.
This is a hobby, if there are aspects you have tired of, move on. If the joy is gone from the whole ritual of the album, let it go. Your current system sounds like a dandy. Keep it to at least transfer music you may not be able to get from another source easily.

I still love my turntable, but mainly use it for music I have on LP's that I do not have available on disc. And don't be so quick to dismiss computer audio, a good music server or such, may open up a new door of musical enjoyment. Most of all have fun listening to the music.
You answered your own question in that vinyl has the inherited problem with the noises you mention. That did it for me too, although I came to the conclusion years ago that the noise distracted me to the point of not caring if I listened to music or not. When you listen to live music, you don't hear all the noises you mention, so why do "audiophiles" continue to seek the "Holy Grail" in their equipment and yet tolerate the noise?
All the above responders gave good advice. It's your ears that are listening, and if the noise bothers you, get rid of the vinyl. Happy listening!
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I have gotten out of vinyl just to get right back into. I have done this several times over the last 25 years. I did it as a teenager. OOH look at this new digital thing oooh! it is so convenient and it sound better so I thought. Then one day I digging through my things and I find my old vinyl collection and I say lets listen to some of this old vinyl. I find my old turntable head over to my former employer a hifi store where I worked while in college and buy decent cartridge and a used phonoamp. Find the same music from the vinyl and on CD (same master recording) and go wow where did that come from the vinyl kills digital I am back into vinyl. Then I do this for a few years and then I get stupid and get into home theater sell the turntable but keep the records. Then get tired of every year your freaking receiver or pre-processor is already outdated by the time you drive home from the AV store. Do that AV thing with tons of speakers every where for a couple of years until my live in girlfriend calls me up says I want to watch a movie wile I am out of town and she cannot figure out how to turn the freaking thing on. Sell all the stupid av stuff and buy a extremely expensive Krell DVD player a Krell integrated and a pair of B&W 802 Nautilus and a cable box. Did not even miss the AV junk. Then one day I horse traded into a Nakamichi CR7A cassette deck and while testing it before I sold it here on audiogon. I find some cassette tapes that I recorded off of vinyl and others off of CD and wow what a difference the cassettes made off of vinyl sounded better than the ones made off of CD. Then I do an A-B comparison of a NAK CR7A against a $10,000 Krell DVD player. The cassette deck wins. Now I bought a used Sota Star Nova turntable with a SME V, Koetsu Rosewood Signature and a krell phonoamp from an older gentleman who was one of my previous customers from when I worked in the audio store. Got it home and wow I have never been happier. My system has changed so many times I cannot count but now I always keep vinyl as the focus and supplement it with a decent digital rig. I have have a modified Mac Mini music server with a decent DAC and a Oppo BDP 95. The digital is just sound and it is convenient but when I want to listen to something really special I put a record on my Sota Cosmos MK IV. Do not get out of vinyl just enjoy it and use the digital just as filler.
Since I have a large collection of vinyl (and also digital media) I have continued to own and use high-quality phonograph systems.

If I did not own a large vinyl collection already, I would probably not get into it now as back in the day, I bought most of my vinyl for $5 to $8 per lp, and that was the dominant format of the time. Now, new vinyl records are selling for $20 to $50 per record and I can't bring myself to buy them except in special cases.

That said, my vinyl still gives me something that my best digital has not matched, namely more air in the highs and faster sounding high frequency transients. The faster sounding transients add to the impact and realism I get from high frequency percussion instruments and that increases my you-are-there experience. Digital is not bad by any means, but it does not quite do the same thing that analog does, probably due to the types of digital filtering that are commonly used to roll off "unwanted" high frequency nasties.

I even get this extra air and impact from old cassette tapes I've made from my records years ago... it's definitely an analog thing. So I like having the best of both worlds.

Of course not every vinyl system will provide the kind of speed, air, and control that I get from my system, so many vinyl users will not hear this clear-cut difference in the highs (bass too, come to think of it) I'm speaking of. In fact, dare I say, that vinyl playback through digital amplification is a true blast if you get it right!
Digital is the best tweek for your turntable. Listen to digital for a couple of days then go listen to your turntable.
"until I begin hearing pops, clicks, surface noise"

Surely this is not 'breaking news' I got out of vinyl as soon as the first CD players appeared. What took you so long?
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I agree with Elizabeth. Also, I probably hear clicks, etc in only about 5% of my 3000+ albums. If you're hearing it in most of your LPs, you might need to change your buying standards. I sold all of my 1100 albums when cd came out. I was dumb. I've done my best to replace those and increase the number. I ordered 5 new ones this Christmas alone. Digital does ZERO for me.
"Also, I probably hear clicks, etc in only about 5% of my 3000+ albums."

If this is true, assuming you have normal hearing, then LPs ain't what they used to be.

"I have to say the small amount of surface noise is not a problem at all"

Would you be so forgiving if you heard noise on a CD? Would you tolerate a small amount of noise in a preamp or any other component? I almost said wire also, but the Lord stopped me in time. :) Seems as if noise is ok, depending on the source. One of my favorite CDs is very unpleasant to listen to because of the 'breathing' of the violinist. To me noise is noise, regardless of the source.
The main advantage that there's no digital resolution that would reach an analogue ever.
Cons: vinyl playback will always have more noise than CD.
Viridian wrote: "There are tons of performances that have only been issued on LP and never remastered on any other format..."

There is another option. Over the past 10 years I've converted about 2,000 LP and open reel tapes to digital format. I now have my entire collection on a music server and, other than a few items with sentimental value, got rid of the LPs.

I resigned from the "audiophile" club long ago. Digital has its own issues, but I find it amusing when the vinyl advocates blithely overlook the inherent clicks, pops, surface noise, off-center holes, inner groove distortion and other flaws while proclaiming the format inherently superior.

My take? I have wonderful recordings on LP and lousy ones. Same thing is true of digital. Many of the complaints about modern recordings have zero to do with format. Rather, the problems are based in the fads and fashions currently in vogue in the recording industry.

I've got a couple of 2nd generation open reels made from master tapes back in the early 1970s. When I record them to digital, they sound just like the tapes! The digital process does nothing to change it. The same thing happens when I digitize my LPs - unprocessed, they sound just like the original LP.

I know the golden eared types can spend endless hours worried about minutia, but as respects impact on sound quality, I find the original choices made by artists, recording engineers and producers multiple orders of magnitude larger than the storage format decision.
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Others have covered most of the questions you have to decide. What music do you have in your record collection that you value and can't hear otherwise? If it's not much, consider transferring it to digital before bailing.

If, OTOH, it's substantial, you should investigate WHY the surface noise is so significant. There are plenty of threads here on the topic, including a very recent one.

Despite Rok2id's scepticism, many on this forum and elsewhere listen to vinyl with little or no problems with surface noise. I'm one of them. I'm not going to argue this point from theory. I merely cite my experience while not in any way maintaining that it's valid for anyone but me. I can't tell Rok2id what to like and he can't tell me... and neither of us can tell you!

I have a reasonably good system for both digital and vinyl: a $6K universal disc player (including CD, DVD-A, SACD and Blu-ray) and a $20K+ vinyl front end. We have ~1500 digital discs and ~4000 LP's and enjoy them all. The advantage of digital discs is their convenience and of course they're inherently quiet. It takes me 20+ minutes/side to clean an LP but once I do it's almost invariably quiet enough so that we can enjoy the the natively higher resolution of vinyl (higher than blu-ray, just as film is still higher res than blu-ray for PQ). Home digital media have not yet matched the resolution of analog sources, whether in sound or in video.

From the above you might deduce that very expensive equipment and much work is necessary to do vinyl well. For me that has proved to be true. That will factor into your decision as it does for anyone. For myself, my LP collection contains many hundreds of releases that will never be available on any other medium. Abandoning those would be musically unthinkable. Degrading them by converting to (today's) digital would be audibly intolerable. But YMMV surely applies here, as everyone's collection, musical tastes and sonic priorities differ.

Human hearing was developed over many econs to ensure survival. So we could hear the lion among all the other noises on the plains. This was few years before LPs came out.

Now, I got your point, it's just that it's getting to be a little much, this attempt to prove the so-called superiority of analog. Leave elvolution out of it.
I know the golden eared types can spend endless hours worried about minutia, ...
Why describe what you hear and prefer in emotionally neutral terms while describing what others hear and prefer as "minutia" [sic] of concern only to "golden eared types"? You made many valid points, only to undermine them with a descent into argumentum ad hominem. I see no reason to disrespect anyone else's hearing, musical tastes or sonic priorities.
Thesoundhouse is right on the money! I've had the same experiences, almost exactly. What I finally discovered is that when I'm craving listening to music, it's never digital.... because it's just doesn't sound like a performance, no matter how many thousands and 10s of thousands of dollars I spend. If you are focusing on the noise you aren't focusing on the music anyways...
It's not really about "superiority" for me. My Arcam CD player presents a clean sound. It is also very flat as far as depth goes. I simply enjoy the sound of my records and what they bring to the party more. And, as a 58 year old, when i say "been there, done that" I'm speaking from experience.
" If you are focusing on the noise you aren't focusing on the music anyways..."

This was written on a site that does nothing but focus on everything except the music. hahahaha But you are correct and it was good read it.
A lot of great points on both sides so I will keep mine short...I am 100% vinyl and only have digital hooked up for break-in purposes and system warmup. There just isn't any comparison for me.

What I don't records and missing some of my fav artists.
I see a lot of systems with no analog. But few if any, that have no CD player. Speaks louder than words.
I see I fed this beast of yours (Rok). The last time my CD player was actually used was 2009.
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Dougdeacon wrote: "Why describe what you hear and prefer in emotionally neutral terms while describing what others hear and prefer as "minutia" [sic] of concern only to "golden eared types"? You made many valid points, only to undermine them with a descent into argumentum ad hominem. I see no reason to disrespect anyone else's hearing, musical tastes or sonic priorities."

I always find it interesting that some people can come into a conversation after-the-fact and take personal offense at things written before they began participation in the thread.

And then you lecture on the need to remain "emotionally neutral". Around here? Are you serious? You've got a very selectively applied definition of "argumentum ad hominem"!

I've been in this hobby a very long time and the phrase "golden ear" has been around as long as I remember to describe those hobbyists who focus on the subtle aspects of playback. I've never thought of it as a pejorative term, and apparently neither did The Absolute Sound consider it such when they started their "Golden Ear Awards" for new equipment or the speaker company that used the phrase to name their company!

I realize that my approach to music listening probably puts me in the minority around these parts, but that's fine. It's a big world and there is plenty of room for everyone. There is absolutely no reason to take umbrage over a commonly used phrase that wasn't even pointed in your general direction much less at you.
You can raise alot of money selling your vinyl...let me know if you decide to sell...
So much talk about obvious things. I don't think that the OP and a few others who commented are true audiophiles, perhaps even not true music lovers. Let's hope I am wrong.
Hey Inna, what is a "true audiophile"? Or for that matter, "true music lovers"? Your expert opinion and knowledge is so welcome. Enlighten us, please?
Analog is much better more air,deeper stage,more depth.If you think CD is better jump on it be my guest.
Rok2id, I respect your right to prefer digital and to revile vinyl analog reproduction. But in your initial post you stated that you abandoned vinyl immediately when the first CD players became available. That does not speak well for your audio goals; those early products and the earliest CDs made to be played on them were nothing short of horrible, and I will posit that this is a fact, not an opinion. I remember being at a party where the host was using one of the early but then well respected cdp's as a source of background music. (He had the Meridian cdp that put Booth-Stewart on the map, I think.) The sound was so amusical that I privately begged him to shut the damned thing off or to reduce the volume. So, we are all different. To each his own. Vinyl can indeed be a pain in the ass, but I love it. I have a tweaked cdp as well, and I use it for parties and as background house music, secure in the knowledge that digital has come a long way since I sat cringing before the Meridian. But when I sit down just to listen, vinyl is my choice. However, I will acknowledge that the current state of the art in digital reproduction has a lot going for it. As Cronkite used to say, that's the way it is.
The debate never ends and gets sillier all the time. They are your ears. Please them. But I will offer a suggestion, before you drag your proverbial other foot through the all digital door, try a suspended table set up that has soul. You can always sell your Rega here or on ebay and the suspended table rig as well if you don't like it. You certainly can do this with out spending a lot of money and you might find a new appreciation for vinyl. You have a good cartridge but you may want to step up here a bit. I however, will not be in the market for your current Rega or your contemplated Rega upgrade. Not saying suspended is the only way to go but until you step up the bucks considerably I think the suspended tables are more musical. Just my opinion.
I agree with your statement about the early CDs and the Players. I first became aware of CD around 1985-86 in Germany. I could not afford the early players, but I had about 100 CDs before I finally got a player. I considered CD to be my prayers answered. My main audio goal was to get away from all that damn grinding click and pops and rituals in volved in playing a record. I started off thinking I would just buy classical CDs and continue with Jazz and Pop on LP. I didn't foresee the remaster thingy. I still have those first CDs. They still sound bad. I think Liszt was my first CD. Now, apparently true audiophiles can find tune their ears to hear some things and block out other noises / sounds. I cannot do that. A true audiophile can hear the difference between every amp in creation. Every piece or wire that exists. They can even hear power cords. And they get very picky about these things. But, they don't seem to hear all the shortcomings of LP. I don't get it. But it's all way above my pay grade. A Guy with a receiver and polks should not dare question the oracles. But to sum up: I listen to music. Not the gear, no critical listening, no sweet spot, no matching of components and all the rest. Just the music.
FWIW, I bought 15 LPs today all in excellent condition for $35. Much cheaper than drugs, motorcycles or hookers. Much safer too!
I went looking for my cd of dark side of the moon. Turns out I don't own one. Pulled out and cleaned the vinyl. It's playing now in front of me as I write. Lp12, Helikon, tubes....I couldn't be happier.

If I could magically turn everything into secure, hi-rez computer based digital, I would. But I don't have the patience to do it any of the available ways.

And such a rig wouldn't be cheap.

And I think that the lp ritual touches something from my history -- 51 now, still playing albums I bought when I was 12.

Sold a few albums when I hit 18 and got into jazz. Thought I was "over" some of the cornier parts of my rock collection, but years later wanted to hear Ambrosia sing "Nice Nice Very Nice" again. Had to track it down. May listen to it after the Floyd.

Own some modern big-money vinyl. It's mostly pretty great. The re-issue of some of the Roxy Music stuff is thrilling (among others).

What's my point? If you are actually listening to your rig -- whatever it is -- and enjoying it, be happy. If you have the money and inclination to go super digital, it's very convenient and I think it sounds as good as it is required to give immense pleasure. But if you have substantial vinyl and a credible rig, the cost of maintaining is much less than the cost (time and money) of the alternative.

YMMV and happy new year.
Rokdude-honestly it's not an us vs them situation. You seem to want to separate yourself as some modern audio Don Quixote. But, alas, your views about listing to the music is not special. We all listen to the music. All that is different is the way it reaches our ears. Try as you might, there is no right or wrong, better or worse. Ultimately, it's about the music.
It isn't "us vs them," it's both. For me, vinyl is still a more enjoyable experience, even with the occasional surface noise. I have a stereo copy of the amazing "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie" that at some points sounds like someone's making popcorn in the kitchen. It's still a dazzling recording.

Without question, CD players have come a very, very long way. The gap between vinyl and digital recordings, cued up on my turntable and CD player, isn't as vast as it once was. But it's still significant.

If I didn't have any vinyl, and were just starting out, I'm not sure I would bother with it. But if you have vinyl, I'm not sure why you would get out of a particular media, and replace those discs with CDs or hi-res downloads, when you already have them.

For me, I take my music in whatever form I have it in. I have the "Complete Riverside Recordings of Thelonious Monk" on vinyl, and still remember getting it, and not leaving the house for a weekend.

I also have some CDs that bring that same delight. It doesn't have to be a closed door, but rather, another open one.
Often while browsing on Amazon or some other site, I will see a CD with a great review and I will think, I have that, let's give it a listen. But when I go to the spot in my CD rack it's not there. Then I will remember, I have it on LP. I just hate the thought of trying to get into all that again. I think it will cheaper just to replace the good stuff with CD. And quieter. :)
And to speak to your value analysis, it's a fascinating point. I went from a Maplenoll Ariadne Signature/Sony XA-20ES CD player to a Thorens 2030/Primare CD21. Same Grado Reference Sonata cartridge for both.

The Thorens is more than 95% of the Maplenoll, so the sound quality of analog hasn't taken a significant step back for me. But the quality of CD playback has improved significantly from when I was last shopping. So retail for that Primare is about $1500. Retail for the 2030 (thank the heavens for sales!) approaches $4k with the Rega 300 arm.

If you spend identical sums on analog and digital, what kind of results would you get? Good question. But only you can answer what analog is worth to you, fiscally.

This doesn't even get into computer audio, which is the next great audio frontier, a medium that is growing by leaps and bounds.

But it sounds like you've made your mind up. I'm down to about 1,000 LPs after giving away a couple hundred or so, and can't see anything making me give those up.

Also know that digital isn't really about "analog sound quality." Digital is, as others have noted, more accurate than analog. But whether it's the added "air" created by that sound of stylus contacting groove or what, I can still play the same disc on CD and vinyl for anyone in my listening room, and they will invariably prefer the vinyl.

Weird, that subjective preference. Digital isn't supposed to sound like analog. It's like when people ask about solid-state amps that "sound" like tube amps, when the ideal amp won't have a "sound," be it tube or solid state. Likewise with digital vs analog. A great recording will be great, no matter the format, irrespective of sonic artifacts.

It's your ears, and your money. Do what you want with it.
I want to thank everyone who responded, especially those who dedicated the extra time and paragraphs to the thread. Every response provided me with perspective as to how to proceed

LET ME CLARIFY, that noise in itself does not bother me as much AS WHAT IT INDICATES".... which says you should have taken better care of the records, or need to clean the vinyl with a higher quality liquid and/or a record cleaning machine. I did to a degree: VPI record sleeves, the cheapo Audio Advisor record cleaner (for awhile), and a few spray and clean concoctions. The collection totals about 60LP's, I have a few classical LP's that date from 1976 given to me as a gift by co-workers. The Deutsh-Gramophone LP of E. Power Biggs, playing Bach is excellent on every level and without noise

I have some LP's that were sourced at the local record hut, and were in fair condition when I acquired them. I now replace noisy or worn LP's with their (hopefully) remastered equivalent, and some with Japanese pressings which overall are very good, but not astounding.

The remastered disc version of Hall and Oats "Silver Album" is excellent, and not bright or edgy as some tracks on the original LP. Whereas, the LP of the Byrd's "Mr Tamborine Man" is untouchable in the emotion it conveys despite its pops and clicks. As I mentioned in the body of the thread, I recently played the new 40th anniversary edition CD of the Tull's "Aqualung".... and, yes it is missing something of the emotional guts of the Mobile Fidelity vinyl LP, but the dynamics, punch, power, and clarity of the disc is astounding.

Rok, baby. If you really listen to music first and foremost and not to what your system is doing, then you should learn to appreciate vinyl. First of all, as Doug and some others have said, the experience does not have to be as tedious and "noisy" (ticks and pops) as you seem to think. That's all I can say.
For people that primarily listen to pre 1990 music, it makes sense to stay with vinyl. No doubt that the engineers back then and in the early days of CD new how to master for vinyl and not CD. Since the mid 1990's, the recording studios figured it out and CDs are typically very well mastered. To each his own, for me I burned out on the music from the 70's and 80's a long long time ago. I buy lots of new music and I buy only CDs. And for the vast majority of my purchases, the sound quality is better than a 30 year old vinyl recording. Much better. And once I burn it, it will last forever.
12-30-11: Dougdeacon
Despite Rok2id's scepticism, many on this forum and elsewhere listen to vinyl with little or no problems with surface noise. I'm one of them. I'm not going to argue this point from theory. I merely cite my experience while not in any way maintaining that it's valid for anyone but me. I can't tell Rok2id what to like and he can't tell me... and neither of us can tell you!

I'm one...before getting back into analog I cited that as an issue to keep my head still stuck in the sand with digital. If you have a vinyl collection of near mint or better condition, keep your records clean and your table well sorted, surface noise and pops will not be an issue. That is my experience any way.
I came to the conclusion after almost two decades of vinyl-dominant listening, that the expense and hassle and storage and routine was not worth it for what was becoming more and more marginal sonic benefits ( for me). Mt10425 directly benefitted from that decision acquiring the bulk of my vinyl at a pretty good price many years ago. I have no regrets and never had the urge to rebuild a vinyl rig, though I certainly enjoy others vinyl rigs. For me it was a matter of personal priorities, and those were and remain quite clear to me. Yours may of course be quite different. I mostly listen to music stored on hard drives now and enjoy it as much as I ever have.
If you don't get the analog thing or don't want to I'd say stick with digital. Analog done right is a chore and an expense. If it's not an enjoyable struggle/hobby for you it's not worth it. I've always been a worker anyway and when I put the time, effort and expense in I was so richly rewarded that I almost never listen to digital anymore. Digital is quite good at times and convenient. Just be mindful and OK with the fact that there IS more out there if you really want it.
"I see a lot of systems with no analog. But few if any, that have no CD player. Speaks louder than words."

Yes that's because people are inheratly lazy and will trade off sound for a lack of noise they have not learned to lessen with proper care and choices and focus on the the miniscual noise in a properly set up system instead of the music.
Always reminds me of the ones who put their ear to a tweeter and hear a faint hiss that can't be heard from the listening position yet its somehow this major issue to repair. Funny how few ever make a choice on a cartridge and its ability to play quieter than others do or at least you don't see it in the post's. Just the equipment that magnifies everything the cartridge see's and feels and introduces with poor choice.
It's a matter of taste and tolerance and the effort for each individual.
All media has trade offs in some form or another. Just listen to the music and enjoy. Cheers