Sound quality of new vinyl recordings.

I would like to get back to vinyl. I have not heard any new vinyl yet but I question the sound quality and I hope someone can help as I have not yet found the answer to my question. Are new vinyl recordings from original analog source or are they just copying digital onto vinyl. If there are both out there what do I look for to tell the difference before I buy


Considering that MOFI made digital copies of analog tapes for years and everyone thought the whole process was analog, I think that we can at least say that like analog, there is digital done right and not so much…

It is pretty much impossible for an analog master of a popular piece of music to be copied over and over again without degradation.  Also, time degrades analog tape. So, archiving to digital makes sense, so you can’t judge a particular record except by reviews, or by reputation.

Almost anything except rap and country. But it needs to be a good recording. My system will expose bad recordings.

I've brought 180G copies of my favorite LP's. Most were definitely better then the old pressings. But as @vonhelmholtz stated, it all depends on what company did the new pressing. Getting opinions is your best bet on which ones are better or not. 

I would recommend The Robert Plant/Alison Krauss release on vinyl as a great recording. Although, I cannot tell how much of it was analogue vs. digital  recordings/mixing. A good sign in my point of view. My turntable/cart combo is around $5K, just FYI. 

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"My system will expose bad recordings." 


Dont buy new records then, there are a few exceptions from companies like RTi or Mofi that still know how to press a quality record. Check out or find old original used records from estate sales, friends, family, and record conventions,used record stores,antique malls, garage sales, anything found here will blow away some fancy packaged new expensive re release.  New records sound like a blanket was thrown over my system....yuk! Artists like Nora Jones, Leon Bridges, Kandace Springs are not represented well on vinyl ...very disappointing. 


Matt M

Can’t argue that MoFi, despite scandal, know how to put out a great sounding record (DSD file used as a source).
Analog Productions and other Acoustic Sounds series releases are pure analog and sound excellent.

So there are good and bad examples. Just do your research before buying a record.

Acousticsound has plenty of good recording.Venus recording are amazing.Mofi as well. APO label are excellent.UHQR are superb but pricey.

Most of Diana Krall ,Lynn Stanley, Patricia Barber , Holy Cole , Nora Jones album are excellent. Tone poet series as well.

Probably nearly everyone here has a very revealing system, yours's too as you say.

My recommendation: Don’t over think it. Go for affordable content with good engineering. If it's INVOLVING, done!

Even if: this pressing, made in this plant, on this day of the week is ’better’ than other pressings, I can’t be bothered, just avoid crap, enjoy!

Yes, you will get some duds, but not many. Favorite artists? You will be more attentive when choosing, so more than likely not get a dud.

Part of your brain listening for differences can be detrimental to simple enjoyment.

Research the opinions regarding the content, musicians, instruments, engineering, perhaps stream first to verify your taste, then find an LP, new or used, get it, enjoy it.

It is amazing how good an old LP properly cleaned sounds, or a very good used one, or new, (often need clean them).

I’ve bought a few 180g, more than half had warps, some so bad I had to return them. No more.

Bought a few 45 rpm, they do sound better, yet I’m not buying any more 45’s, a good 33 rpm sounds excellent already.

I am a firm believer in the superiority of a good early pressing from the 60's, 70's and early 80's. I started a mission a few years ago to replace some of my favorite albums that had seen better days and can say that probably half or more of what I replaced did not sound as good as the original pressings. And not to say all are inferior as some sound very good and better but the hit rate is not so good. I will say that I have picked up some current releases that sound great so I don't shy away from buying something that I'm interested in. 

Just a few examples. Dire Straits self titled MFSL 45 RPM sounds great out of the box with great separation of the instruments and a very full bottom end but maybe too much on the bottom end. That is not uncommon on many of the remasters that I have purchased.

Followed it up with my original Warner Brothers early pressing and it's perfect and more enjoyable to my taste with great balance and not lacking on the bottom end at all. Both version were done very well and sound great but I favor the original.

Another example is the Nick Davis remix and half speed remaster by Miles at Abbey Road studios of Genesis Selling England By The Pound on Rhino. With nothing to compare to it sounds great but when compared to my original Charisma pressing from 1973 it doesn't compare. The original is hands down better sounding. 

Everyone has different taste in how they like their music to sound and many people would probably enjoy the remastered versions more in even my few examples. It's all about personal taste. 

Do the research like said previously as the record label and engineer on the project can make a huge difference. 

But in my case I'll stick with the original versions if I can help it. Just saying. 


Make your research every time you buying new album. Lots of modern LPs recorded from digital masters and honest labels don’t hide this fact marking their albums with corresponding sign on the album sleeve, however some are try to scam saying nothing or lie that record made from analog masters. 


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It's a crap shoot. But on average analog originals from the 60s and 70s are superior. The majority of the recent pressings is mediocre at best. Not specifically because they are from digital sources rather than analog, but because the pressings themselves often result in way too many imperfections which renders the listening experience a pain. By example, the last Steven Wilson vinyl was pressed in Czechoslovakia and has so many pressing issues I had to buy a Italian CD pressing to be able to appreciate it. Sad.

Yes, it is variable. Even within audiophile pressings.

I am currently listening to a 1958 RCA Living Stereo recording. I just forget how good the recordings and pressings were in the late ‘50’s. The audiophile versions cut twenty+ years ago can be superb. In between playing one. I didn’t realize it was a 50’s recording when I put it on… it quickly became obvious it

Actually, it is the opposite story from the CD.

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To answer viridian i was looking to go back to vinyl because i remember the rich sound of my old vinyl from the 70's. I fear i may not get that if they are copying digital to vinyl then i might as well stay with cd's or streaming.

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"99% or more of new pressings are sourced from digital files." "Only a few specialist companies like Classic Records will use all analog tape."

Let’s take care of the simple one first: Classic records has been out of business for about 15 years.

Chad Kassem of Analogue Productions (record company) /Acoustic Sounds (distribution) / Quality Record Pressing (LP manufacturing) bought the inventory (metal parts---from which LP stampers are made) and intellectual property (the rights to the name UHQR) when Classic closed down. Almost all his very excellent LP releases are made directly from analogue tape sources, and the few that aren’t are clearly labelled as being not. AP has hundreds of great titles in their catalogue, many of them the best versions of specific titles ever manufactured. There are plenty of comparisons between various pressing of LP titles available for viewing on YouTube, made by serious record collectors.

The German company Speakers Corner is another superior reissue label. I have about a dozen of their LP’s, all excellent, all made from analogue tapes. Vinyl Me Please is another company doing all analogue reissues, and there are a couple dozen more (one being Intervention Records, others Acony, Light In The Attic, Jackpot Records here in Portland, plenty of others) doing the same. Anyone who is unaware of them is not to be taken seriously when making statements about the percentage of LP’s made from digital files.

So how about new albums, not reissues? You’ll notice guys making the claim that 99% or more of LP’s use digital files as their source material never back up that statement with solid evidence. Do they frequent recording studios, and/or know any professional musicians, recording and/or mastering engineers? Upon what is the statement based? Source, please, with examples and numbers.

The great studio here in Portland where Bill Frisell records a lot (Flore Recording And Playback) does so on a 2" 24-track analogue machine (I’ve recorded there), as does the other studio in town I’ve been in. When I recorded with Emitt Rhodes he had an Otari 2" 24-track analogue machine, and well known recording engineer Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello) was taping onto a 2" 24-track Ampex when I recorded with him in the old RCA studio on Santa Monica Blvd. (in the huge room in which The Stones recorded "Satisfaction"!), as did engineer Jeff Bakos when I recorded with Evan Johns in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lots of people say lots of things; not all of them know what they’re talking about.


Your last comment really brings up a lot of subjects.

On my system, digital and analog sound “the same”. Very, very close. To verify this it has taken all sorts of tests, attempting to get the exact same masters… etc. it gets really complicated. For one thing, vinyl masters deteriorate very quickly, so the pressing number in the series has an impact… not so in digital. But I listen to music about three hours a day and switch among streaming and vinyl… I have long since given up CDs and stored files as streaming is equal or better. But it is really clear that with the right equipment… digital can equal analog in sound quality. Unless we are talking about really good systems… greater than $250K… where analog wins because of its greater resolution.


So, here is the point. If you are constrained… let’s say to a system less than $20K… then vinyl can constitute a really compelling case… it can sound better than digital. But as your system gets better… digital can sound as good for the same amount of money. So, now the dilemma. If you are building a better system over time… then you will quickly reach better quality by investing in only digital… since spreading your investment into two technologies reduces the sound quality in both.

My analog end and digital end were about exactly equal at $45K digital and $42K analog. I am not sure why, but I have increased my investment by about $12K in $3K increments over the last year and a half. So, my analog rig sounds a little bit better… but, it depends on the recording. I just have to stop doing this!


This relates to recording quality in that what you hear is highly effected by the quality of the equipment you use to reproduce it. 

to me, digital would win, based on "average" sound quality. It varies a lot less than vinyl. I don’t have money for expensive albums, so half of my collection is pretty poor quality. But about 10% of my LPs is way better than any CD, as it has been described many times: it has a soul, ambience, nostalgia, authenticity, it’s natural and has no digital characteristics (on my system, it’s brightness, unnatural highs, "scratchiness")

It also has to do with the type of music, soon after CDs surpassed vinyl, I think digital became preferred and both our ears and producing music adapted to digital. I have no vinyl from the 90s and most of my CDs are pretty flawless. (e.g. Dylan vs U2)



I agree and have observed this as well. Vinyl has a greater variability in sound quality. Which I attribute to the mechanical pressing process (right or wrong). 

I continue with vinyl because it has been the best (or only) option for about sixty years of my life… I am 70 now. If I was under 50 I would not bother with it. 

Not a fan of putting modern digital masters on an inherently noisy and  flawed 100 year old format. 

Granted the packaging can be very nice. 

@ghdprentice and I know close to 0 about streaming.

We are probably the two opposite examples - system-wise, your system is as good as it gets (I know you keep improving it) and I don't just have poor albums but very basic components as well, that don't help.

That said, there are CDs that just suck too. I guess we either have good sources pre 80s or we don't - which 90% of what I listen to. 



I don’t see your system under virtual systems… that would be really helpful.

@ghdprentice its very simple and downsized  these days but sound is  the best I’ve ever had. Cambridge Evo 150 to Ohm Walsh F5 speakers in one room and kef ls50 metas +sub in another. Phono source is Denon dl103r cart on Linn Axis with Linn Basic tonearm to Electrocompaniet step up transformer to Rega mini phono to Cambridge. I use the Rega to provide A2d conversion so I can digitize my records for my music library. I use Plex and Plexamp mainly to stream from my library supplemented by the Evo streaming capabilities for internet radio, etc.  




Don’t be discouraged by the negative comments in reference to "new vinyl" including my own. While in many cases I have preferred the original pressings from my youth I have also purchased many of the repressed and remastered LP’s that are available today on artists from the 60’s and 70’s and also those recording today. As bdp24 stated there are a number of very good manufacturers that are putting out fabulous LP’s. Websites like Acoustic Sounds and Music Direct are a great source for music and new releases from Analog Productions, MFSL and many other manufacturers sound superb even if some do have a digital step in the process. Pressing plants like QRP and RTI are generally very high on quality. And if you want to search for original pressings from years back websites like Discogs is a great source and also great for research.

While I listen to music on LP’s, streaming and CD’s and enjoy them all listening to LP’s for me is an experience.

as i did a little research, new pressings are very rarely purely analog. And then what would be the point, you could just get it much cheaper in a digital source

Wow much more info than I expected. That is a good thing. I can stream from YouTube and sounds better than most cd's. I just want to avoid spending 2-3k on a TT and not use it. Guess I will have to do some homework and decide if I want to take a chance. Being an audiophile I am used to taking chances. LOL.

Yep Rock is another current label releasing new LP’s "cut" from analogue tapes.

The label has a world-class artist roster, including Nick Lowe, Alejandro Escovedo, Amy Helm (Levon’s daughter), Dave Alvin, Fountains Of Wayne, Jim Lauderdale (great songwriter and singer, formerly Lucinda Williams’ band leader & harmony singer), John Doe (of X renown, of course), Robyn Hitchcock, The Fleshtones (Garage Rock), The Rubinoos (a fantastic Power Pop band), Tift Merritt, and many more.

Contrary to those just repeat what they’ve heard someone else say, lots of labels and artists/bands are recording in analogue, and mastering engineers such as Bernie Grundman, Kevin Gray, Robert Ludwig, Ryan Smith, and Steve Hoffman are busier than they’ve ever been, cutting lacquers for LP production, using analogue masters tapes as their source. Go ahead, do the research.

Yes, lots of Rap, Dance, "commercial" (fake) Country, Pop, and other popular-with-the-masses music is recorded on hard drives (with lots of electronic manipulation applied), but who here listens to that sh, uh, stuff?

Do you know how hard Ry Cooder works to get his recorded guitar sound? He heard about the new recording format---early digital---and recorded his Bop Til You Drop album in digital---the first non-Classical digital album. He hated it, and went back to analogue. He eventually heard an LP on Water Lily Acoustics Records and flipped! Water Lily owner/recording engineer Kav Alexander was recording with a tube analogue machine, it’s electronics designed and built by tube expert Tim de Paravicini (who also designed and made his fantastic EAR-Yoshino amps and pre-amps, which most of ya’ll continue to ignore. So did Art Dudley, until he heard the EAR 912 pre-amp.), fitted with tubes from another tube expert (Roger Modjeski, whom you also ignored during his lifetime)---RAM tubes. To hear the best recorded sound you’ve ever (or never) heard, listen to Ry’s album on Water Lily, with V.M Bhatt---A Meeting By The River.

By the way: The Ry Cooder albums that MoFi reissued are pure analogue, not amongst the MoFi’s that include a digital step. The originals sound good (I have all in original Reprise Records pressings), the MoFi’s even better. Ignore Tom Port; he can hold only one thought in his mind at a time.

I have new vinyl that sounds as good or better than any older recording and it seems that digital recordings moved to vinyl can also sound better than a CD. There was an article in a Brit magazine regarding that a few years ago and I forget why that's true, but it seems to be.  

I can't see any justification in starting with vinyl nowadays. First there is the investment in the software, second there is the investment in the hardware. There is an opportunity cost in both and even just looking at the hardware alone, money spent on vinyl could be spent on improving one's digital playback. In terms of resource allocation, it is more effective to spend on one optimised system than two compromised systems.



Surprisingly, almost all of the comments in response to your post are true...the  positive, negative and in between.

Proceed on your Vinyl project with your eyes,ears and wallet open. It's a Jungle out there...

A good digital recording these days can easily reproduce what’s in most older analog recordings. I never dumped my older vinyl and still pick older vinyl up whenever I can if the price is right. Especially obscure older albums from the golden age 60-70 years old. If one is new to the hobby and wants to own versus stream, I can see the appeal of new vinyl at $30+ a pop for 20 minutes of music per side. But the reality is the advantage records have always had over CD is the overall packaging.



Thank you for sharing your system components. Knowing your system and venue is really helpful. Although at 70, I’ll likely be asking you again because… well my memory was never good and it’s not getting better. Hence I frequently refer to folk’s virtual system.

@ghdprentice I hear you. I’m only a few years behind you. I used to post my system but always decide to take it down after awhile due to privacy concerns. I do have lots of pictures though and am not against sharing those case by case as needed.


If ever in central Maryland/DC area I love having guests with common interests come visit. 

@mapman … “A good digital recording these days can easily reproduce what’s in most older analog recordings.”


+1 if you put the money you might have spent on an analog end you can upgrade your digital end… and over time have a better sounding system.


On the other hand, if you like fiddling… scouring record stores for gems (getting a good record cleaning machine)… vinyl can be fun. 

To dip your toe into Vinyl, to see IF you will stick with it:

This TT is my recommendation:



It has a built-in optional phono eq stage, so it can go into any line level input.


As soon as you decide vinyl is pretty good, then you buy a cartridge with advanced stylus, improved imaging via wide channel separation 28db and tighter center balance 1db

You will hear a noticeable improvement



now you have two headshells with two cartridges.

Hooked? Then better TT, better Tonearm (with removable headshell), you can start with the VM540ML cartridge you bought, and move up from there. Newer TT, more than likely now need a separate Phono Stage. Move up to MC cartridge, now need either a SUT (step-up-transformer) or a phono stage that works for both MM and MC cartridges. Bit by Bit, if hooked, if moving up, you will get lots of advice/help here. Point is, this AT120 TT is an easy and inexpensive way to determine IF you will stick with Vinyl.

If vinyl is not for you, then you haven't spent too much money to find that out.

There are some great comments here for and against starting a vinyl collection...and some not so much.

  • IF your decision to explore vinyl is from an audiophile’s perspective (vs. whether or not you like fussing with records), then don’t start at entry-level as suggested above - you will be bitterly disappointed
  • The cost of a good analogue source that will exceed digital is exponentially more expensive. I just upgraded my digital system and it is starting to sound really good, but will not replace my TT for deep listening sessions. My ratio is $3,200 : $14,000 (details in my profile). Not saying you need to / should spend anything near that much to get started, but $345 wont cut it (pun intended)
  • There are a TON of great new recordings out there, great sources have already been mentioned. The converse is also true. The poor recordings won’t get played much.
  • I just picked up Janis Ian, Breaking Silence and Nora Jones Come Away With Me (both re-releases) - they sound fantastic

I am constantly amazed by the fact that I’m listening to a 100 yo medium picked up by a vibrating needle generating a magnetic field that a couple of magnets send downstream. I embrace that rather than criticize it.

Lastly, disregard the naysayers about vinyl from digital sources. They can sound great. No DAC required to enjoy. So the question becomes: Is your DAC better than MOFI’s? If yes, maybe skip the vinyl journey.

IMHO Acoustic Sounds gets a 10/10 and MoFi gets an 8-9/10. You also need to look for whoever did the mastering and the engineering on that particular record. I have found that Bernie Grundman, Doug Sax, Stan Ricker, Kevin Grey, Steve Hoffman, Jack Hunt, Sterling Sound ( can't remember the engineers) are all excellent. ANY album they have mastered sound great. Anything that Bill Schnee and Al Schmitt worked on also sounds great. You have to read the fine print on the album sleeve - wikipedia has most of that information. Most stuff < about 1980 was all analogue (tape and tubes). After that it went solid state and digital. Other labels I have found to be pretty good are ORG and ORG music - 2 separate labels, apparently some legal issues - DCC, Nautilus, Reference Recordings, Sheffield Lab and M&K realtime. A lot of these are out of print and you have to search for them. ANY D2D will sound good, assuming its been taken care of. If you can find them, Umbrella Records did some great D2D of Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass - Canadian Label and band. Incredible sound and music. Anyway, have fun and enjoy it. If it sounds good to you, then its fine!!

If I decide to get a TT it will not be entry level. I do not want it to be the weak point of my system. I think I can get something good in the 2 to 5k range. For those who were wondering my system is mcintosh mc462, marantz av7705(only using in 2 channel not part of theater system). And tekton moab.. let the tekton and mcintosh bashing begin. LOL.

Don’t ignore or underestimate the importance of a vinyl cleaning system THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY USE.  It makes a tremendous difference but only if you use it.

The golden age of LPs was 1950s, early 1960s.  They took trouble and the raw material was purer.  Best is to collect these.

'Audiophile' reissues in my experience are of VERY variable quality.  Most early MoFis are excellent.  Good example of many is Beatles For Sale - Lennon is singing in the room.

Everything else is very variable.  Some are dire and I hate myself for having been taken in to spend big money on a disc a lot worse than the original.  Unfortunately apart from listening and (possibly) review, there is no way of knowing beforehand.

@clearthinker I am in not danger of spending $100 for a MoFi LP, but not even $30. Interesting to hear that that's no guarantee either, it seemed they were somehow worth the big investement. I buy $5-10 albums and about half of them are spectacular, all 60s, 70s, US or British pressings. 


We're in the same ballpark.  Three's huge quality in many old LPs from the usual suspects - Decca, Mercury, EMI.  For a long time I was paying more like £2 than £5.  Boxed sets were £1/disc and still very cheap.  I rarely pay more than £10 for a used LP.

But I would pay £50 new (but not more) for a really good reissue, and have.  That Beatles For Sale for instance. The other mid-period Beatles are very good too.  The 45rpm Crosby 'If I Could Only Remember...' (not MoFi) is one of the best pressings I have.

What we need is a used record seller who let's us listen.  Back in the 1980s/90s I used one in central London who had classical only.  He was careful what he bought and sold more records by letting me listen.  He had an OK rig in his shop.

@clearthinker funny things is, I have about 6 "original" Beatles LPs, (I never thought they were from the 60s, probably reissues from the 70s and they are meh. And now I looked closer and they are from "digitally re-mastered tapes"  

I know they cared a lot about the quality and production, especially as McCartney was obsessed with it and a tech nerd, and I'd probably pay a lot for Abbey Road or Rubber Soul - if it was stellar quality. 


@grislybutter     Do you mean 7 inch EPs?  (extended play).  The Beatles issued quite a few in the early-mid 60s.  They were mono, as I recall.  I had most of them at the time, gone now I think my brother has them.  They played well but were a bit flat at the frequency extremes.  But then my father's record player wasn't up to today's standards (Garrard, then Goldring Lenco - he was into hi-fi).  Mono cartridge with stylus as fat as you like.

The Beatles were lucky.  Their contract was with EMI.  The Stones were luckier - Decca.  My original UK 'Aftermath' has great sound by any standard.  And nearly 30 minutes per side for goodness sake.  Of course Decca famously turned down the Beatles in 1961.

@clearthinker they are regular 12". Mostly from Yugoslavia. 

I'd be happy with EMI :)

Lenco is a great band. My first turntable was Akai. As my story goes, I didn't have money for a turntable until I was 22. But I had an album collection before that, for 2 years, about 30, from my high school friend who needed money and sold it all for a small amount of money. I browsed and looked at my albums for 2 years before I could listen to them. I didn't mind, it was a luxury back then, most people couldn't afford more than 2 or 3 LPs a year!  

I am still chasing a few Stones albums from the 60s of course.