Vinyl...should I stay, or should I go?

I've sort of hit a crossroads and have decided to part with my turntable, all accessories which go with the turntable, and my record collection. However, before parting ways with my analog gear I wanted to gather some feedback and make sure I've given vinyl a fair shake.

My setup is a VPI HW-19: a Zorin tonearm and a Dynavector 17dx cartridge, with a Manly Chinook phono-stage, It plays through Primaluna dialogue Pre amp and amps. The speakers are Goldenear Reference. 

Confession, despite this setup, I've mostly streamed Roon music through an ultraRendu into a ModWright oppo 205. It's just recently I decided to give listening to vinyl a try. I'm pretty much a novice to the finer points and nuances of getting the best out of vinyl.

Experience: I'm finding the streaming music seems to be more centered with a deeper and more textured soundstage. When I stream, no matter what era the music is from, the singer/music is front, center, deep and wide. On the other hand, the last couple of records I've tried. A very old and somewhat used Alan Parsons Project lp and Jim Croce, Don't Mess around with Jim 180 gram lp, have not presented the same quality soundstage. In fact, in both cases while much of the music is centered, the singer's voice is coming mostly from the left side (speaker). Also, I'm finding the bass to be lacking. Last night in a side by side comparison, I was taken aback by how much better sounding was the streaming music.

Question: Is this typical of vinyl or is there something in my setup (again I'm a novice) I'm overlooking? With all this said, any advice on what to check or look for would be much appreciated. I'm not trying to start a debate about the merits of vinyl vs. streaming. I'm really just trying to find out if what I'm experiencing is typical of the vinyl experience or if there's something I should be correcting before pulling the plug and selling off the analog gear. Thanks
LP ONLY sound superior if:

the arm and cartridge are located physically correct distances from the spindle; and the cartridge/stylus to groove angles are correct tangentially/horizontally and vertically, and the tracking force, and anti-skate force are ALL done carefully ONCE,

then play, enjoy, check only tracking force and anti-skating every few months.

You have identified, your cartridge is not tracking properly if the imaging is so noticeably different, and off to one side. Other factors/alignments may be improper.

I think you owe it to yourself to have the TT/Arm/Cartridge properly set and listen some when 'right' before you part ways, even if you need to pay someone to do it. 
And, a magnificiently engineered LP to get/hear the best.

IF you like guitar, this is an awesome sounding LP, the most amazing for imaging is side 2, tracks 2 and 3, all three guitarists play, amazing imaging! I highly recommend you buy a new one, doesn’t need to be the best version, just a new undamaged version

Get a CD version also, then you have a true comparison Cd to LP, LP ALWAYS wins at my house. If your Tt is properly set up, and you find the LP isn’t better, isn’t worth the work, SELL!
Tell us where you live. Perhaps a vaccinated member lives close enough to come over and check it. I'm in Plainfield, NJ, 07062, twice vaccinated, have tools, will assist.
You mention just recently starting to give vinyl a try - is the cartridge through the break-in period, you think? I’m not familiar with the 17dx, but could imagine if you’ve less than 50 (+/-) hours into it, it may open up down the road. Can make a pretty big difference on some carts - just a thought. Good luck. 
A truly great turntable like TW Acoustic AC3 with TW10.5 arm and Transfiguration  Proteus cartridge and TW RPS 100 phono stage will blow away digital I have a Esoteric 03XD which is one of the best.Any great turntable (VPI etc)set up correctly should always sound better than streaming or digital.Well that my take whatever you do enjoy.
Digital is far easier to deal with and many do not like the PITA records can be. If your collection is not all that large or it is worn you might as well recover what you like in files with the money you make selling the vinyl rig. Your turntable and phone stage are very reasonable. If Digital sounds better to I do not think vinyl will up stage it without spending a lot more money. I use both but I have a collection of thousands of pristine records many of which are not available in digital. So, I am bound to continue. I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I've been spinning records since I was 4 years old. Old habits die hard.
You're vinyl equipment should be capable of outstanding performance.  Not all albums are top notch, but with a good LP, and proper setup, your vinyl should be singing to you.
Sounds like a set-up problem.

For a simple VTA test as far as the lacking bass goes place a thin LP under the LP you play (reset/adjust the tacking force) and see if this helps.

If it does report back to receive further advice from the forums.

If it does not then look into cartridge loading.

What people said. Its not set up correctly. Get some help and then make a decision when you heard what the system can do.
Looks like I can’t respond individually, so I’ll just go down the line...

Cleeds....I had to ask’s not the size of the collection that counts...LOL, I had too. I actually have about 400 records. I bought out what was left of an older gentleman’s collection a few years ago and parked in my "media" closet. Just opened it and started going through it a while back. I have about 16 MFSL, half a dozen 200 and 180 gram, a number of Pink Floyd unopened and what looks like an original pressing of The Wall... I’m still sorting as I clean my way back through the closet.

elliottbnewcombjr... I live in Washington state, about 60 miles north of Seattle...use to be called the Emerald it should be called the brown pile city. I agree with you, if I can find someone to help me dial this in, it would be worth trying. I did have a friend who put the tt together and got it up and running, but I’m not so sure he really did his best work.

coys21...good thought, I bought the cartridge used from a’s in good shape, but I’m sure it’s well broken in at this point.

ebm...I want to believe my friend.

mijostin... I hear you, that’s kind of the thing. I tend to use my music as an escape after work and I often fall asleep for awhile. With records, I’d have to get up about 20 minutes...not to say I don’t have those time when I just sit and listen and would love to hear good vinyl playing.

knotscott....agreed, thanks

dekay....huh? LOL... I’ll try the first thing you suggested and work my way from there. Thanks

vinylzone... I’m always in trouble, staying or going...LOL. Actually told my girlfriend’s 17 year old son the other night he should check out the Clash, Combat Rock. summarized the situation succinctly. I’ll invest some time and effort into seeing this through...

Thanks guys for the help and advice... Skip
Your cart is out of fine balance, most are. 
 Azimuth could be non optimum too. Probably is.
I'm OK with you selling out. Vinyl is soooo 20th century.
Call Hawthorne Stereo and see if you can bring your turntable in and have them set it up properly. The setup you have should sound better than an Oppo.
“A truly great turntable like TW Acoustic AC3 with TW10.5 arm and Transfiguration Proteus cartridge and TW RPS 100 phono stage will blow away digital.”


What is the retail of your analog setup being compared to $15K Esoteric player? 
Oh boy... tough situation. As you purchased the cart “used” it could be used to death, could have some other issues as well. Here is where things get tough... you need an even playing field. If you don’t know the exact history of the cart, start there. New cart. Maybe a Sumiko or others. Don’t spend a ton (yet). Then, get your cart and arm dialed in. If you don’t know how, and don’t want to learn then have someone do it for you. I agree with the others, your issues are most likely setup/settings related. 
The thing with digital is it’s easy, brainless, and effortless. Absolutely subjective which is “better” simply because there are too many variables. I will say, vinyl, when done right, is sublime. Period.
Of you have over 500 records I’d say sort it out. If you’re not too invested in your collection then maybe move on. One thing to realize though is that streaming doesn’t pay artists.
One given, pertaining to vinyl; - - -  getting the most, or should I say best out of vinyl, is not an easy task. That's why many people give it up before they actually reach nirvana ! With vinyl, essentially all elements in the reproduction path need to be perfect, as conditions and budget will allow.. Something that can't be achieved by merely buying one piece of equipment and be done with it. 

You really need to talk vinyl to an expert if you can find one, so that he can walk you through the process to achieve the type of reproduction that vinyl is capable of. Every aspect is important, and especially the records themselves. I'm not saying that you should go this direction, but I do suggest that you look up and read everything you can about the KIRMUSS system of "record restoration". Then you will at least have a good understanding of the importance of achieving pristine restored records. Then and only then will you truly appreciate the vinyl medium and how close it "can come" to master tape. And of course, with the right playback setup. Again, if you are not highly skilled in working with all the elements in producing a perfect, or at least "near perfect" turntable and cartridge setup, I suggest you seek out an expert, that doesn't have an agenda. It will be worth the investment. Choice of tables, arms and especially pickups can make or break the final result. There is so much to choose from on todays audio market that it can be quite disarming. Talk to a lot of people before you make the next move. At some point you should start to detect a "common thread" that will hopefully send you down the right path of selecting components.  GOOD LUCK, and don't be too quick to give up on vinyl. Unless all you want is the "easy way out"
Patience is a virtue!
Not familiar with any vpi TT, nor that cartridge, however it may be a mismatch...take the weight of cartridge w/ hardware and the mass of your arm and plug the figures into vinyl engine resonance calculator for a start. Like others have mentioned, check your alignment, tracking force, vta, anti skating, TT level, its proximity to speakers, what it is sitting on, the cleanliness of your stylus, etc....lastly, NO two lp’s sound the same! Try another copy of troublesome lp’s. One expensive option, but often worth it, is to purchase an lp from better records. He has done all the hard work for you in finding the best sounding copy. I’ve bought countless records from BR and they sound great. Also, some lp’s were recorded and engineered to have the vocals in mainly one channel, they are not all front and center, it will vary from lp to lp. To me, even with my so called modest TT (music hall mmf-7.3/ 2m bronze), my lp’s sound terrific. Of course, there are a few that don’t, like anything else. You might also want to revisit your phono stage....I think you can do better there. The phono preamp Is a very important piece to get you better sound. The only way I’d get rid of my analog lp gear and records is when I’m dead! To me, collecting and playing lp’s is the most exciting and fascinating part of this hobby or endeavor. Heck, I have some cassettes that sound better than anything digital! 
I’ll invest some time and effort into seeing this through...

Thanks guys for the help and advice... Skip

Glad to hear you’re not giving up yet.....there’s good reason so many people are such staunch vinyl die-hards....there’s a lot more to it the just the cost and inconvenience! LOL. With the fine equipment you’ve got, and a substantial record collection, I think you’ll be well rewarded for getting your setup dialed in. It’s a great skill to learn, but there’s no shame in taking your rig to a good shop and paying for the service. Good luck!
I understand how you feel. I've often thought about the same thing over the years but I eventually kept all of my vinyl. I have 45s, LPs and hundreds of 12" singles--I'm too emotionally attached to my vinyl. They hold too many fond memories for me. With that being said, I do find myself streaming way more than playing my vinyl, mostly out of convenience. Think hard about getting rid of it----you don't want to regret it later.
Unless you need the money or the space why sell. You might find yourself down the road regretting a total get out. I never get into the debate of any source being better than another. Everyones ear hear different. I enjoy music from any source any time. Yes some i like way more than others but I never want to close any of those doors. For me getting an album out, cleaning it, sitting down and looking at the art work, and remembering the adventure to the store to buy it takes me back to a great carefree time in my life that I could never part with. I guess I am saying sometime it is not about the best or better sound but the experience that music can deliver that nothing else can.Think twice before you make a decision that is irreversible. 
Inferior LP recordings will not keep you engaged.

Your collection of 180 gram Reissues are the culprit. Bass has ALWAYS been suspect with reissues to my ears. Not necessarily weak bass, but tonality of it just sounds off to my ears.

Get a period press of a favorite a compare first, before giving it up.
I’m down the road from you in Renton. I love turntables and can set yours up. Give me a ring

I went though the same process as you. One thing to consider is that every cartridge has it's own sonic profile. Your particular Dynavector is generally very detailed but lean and lacking bass. I once owned one and never could get it to satisfy me and moved on to a cartridge more to my liking. That being said, I recently did sell my vinyl set up and the remaining 200 or so albums I had. Vinyl ,when everything lines up perfectly, and you have a great recording and pressing is pretty hard to beat. That happens less often than I would like to admit. Most modern pressings (180gm) have gone through a digital remastering anyways and loose the analog magic. Personally, I prefer having the huge variety that streaming offers. I can tune into the music I like that is also well recorded and sit back and enjoy without the hassle that vinyl brings to the table.
I have friends who have 1000s of records, listen to only the few hundred favourites that truly do sound great, while the rest collect dust...yet they can't give them up. 
@alvinnir2, that is definitely the case. I don’t have have a huge collection, and for the most part, mine have been carefully selected. However, there are still a few duds pressing wise. After a bit, I think all vinyl fans tend toward the good recordings/pressings vs the random album selection. Digital is similar though. Not all recordings are mastered well... but the selection and new music side of digital simply cannot be beat.
@liv2teach I am in the Seattle area. If you need help beyond what has been offered already get in touch. My web presence is the same as my username here. Analog is for me both a hobby and a vocation :)
If you don't mind the learning challenge I would not sell out of analog until you can say you mastered basic setup skills and then decide...

Turntable set up is important 

And its all about enjoyment so if you don’t feel the speed to get music playing is worth the level of effort for analog vs digital then it may be time to give up vinyl. 
I listen to vinyl 10% of the time. And enjoy it when I do so I think it’s worth it but the selection of music is minuscule compared to Tidal, Quboz and Spotify
One thing to realize though is that streaming doesn’t pay artists.

It pays more than buying used LPs does.
The OP is using a used phono cartridge of unknown history so he got the sound that he paid for.

I've owned that exact phono stage, that exact table, and similar cartridges.  Your experience tells me that you have setup issues or simply chose some especially bad pressings for your "dance now or forever be gone" ultimatum to your analog side.  I'll admit that I periodically wonder if certain files sound better than their LP siblings.  For me, vinyl usually wins in a test using same album.  
A few beliefs I hold (and with which many will disagree): (1) something recorded on digital (IOW, 99% of everything recorded after 1983) can and often does sound better through a high end DAC than through a high end analog setup, especially if the LP was an afterthought and was not mastered separately in a way that accounts for vinyl's lower dynamic range, (2) digital generally offers clean lines, low noise, and tight, strong bass -- let's not fight that or pretend otherwise, because it's a good thing, (3) the very very best sound I've heard on my system and others' $200k++ systems is with vinyl, and (4) with a well-matched system and reasonable room environment, digital cannot hold a candle to a well-pressed vinyl example, from something recorded on tape to begin with, in the areas of 3D palpability, excitement, engagement, immediacy, live/realistic/in-the-venue presence.  
My advice: for your "dance now" test, use an LP you know is close to perfect.  If you have to, spend $35 on something from Analogue Productions, for an album that was recorded in that 1950-1971 golden era (for a real treat, grab the Wonderful Sounds of Female Vocals, or the male vocals version, or one of their Ben Webster Meets ___ LPs).  Compare it to a digital version of the same thing.  And when I say compare, I don't mean a few minutes with each.  I mean listen to 20-30 minutes on digital first, then play a few minutes of the same side on vinyl.  Using the other side of the LP, run the same comparison in reverse order.  I tend to focus on vocal lines and transparency, bass extension/detail/texture, imaging/soundstaging, air/space/separation, and overall tonal richness and presence (betcha that Jim Croce LP is very "thin" and distant).  If vinyl loses, I see only three possibilities with your stated equipment.  (1) Setup problems, (2) a cart that's outlived its useful life, or (3) a pair of ears that simply prefers clean lines, low noise, and tight bass above all else.
I'm not one of those who thinks you must be crazy or deaf if digital wins.   But vinyl has so much potential that it deserves a fair shake.
does anyone else not understand how to create paragraph breaks on this forum? 

Two hard returns?

Testing now ...
Dear @live2teach : I think that 400 LPs does not justify the money you have to spend to have good LP sound reproduction. I'm in analog because I own 6K+ LPs.

Now, from the point of view of thecnology analog/lp in true " stop " its development due that this technology achieved its limits several years ago. Is obsolete and can't gives any one a single advantage over today digital alternative.

Additional to that the digital technology every single " day " goes better and better and digital almost has not limits in the short and long times to come.

I'm not against analog and I'm a MUSIC lover but at the same time I'm not " crazy " enough ( for say the least. ) to think or spread false information that today analog is superior when it's not, no matters what.

This is only an opinion.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Wow...great advice here. I’ve read through it all in detail...

I can’t respond to each person individually, but here’s what stuck and some steps I’ll take before pulling the to speak.

I’ve had two generous offers of help from people on here who live in the area, I’ll be contacting them... Thanks

The Oppo 205 I use as a DAC is not just an Oppo, it’s a Modwright which is a whole different animal...not looking for a debate, just stating a fact.

The Manly Chinook is considered a top of the line phonostage, so I’m not suspecting it.

I believe the problem lies in the setup (overall), the cart, and I’m suspect of the "Zorin" tonearm and possibly the records I chose to listen too. I have better records in my collection, but was hesitant to play them until I had the time to clean them and insure I wasn’t going to do damage by playing the way the Kirmuss mentioned on here looks interesting.

I’m currently selling off a bunch of "stuff" I’ve gathered over the years. It’s just money laying around and filling up closets. When I’m done with the sales and depending on what I find out about my system from those who offered help, I may sell off parts of the record collection "MFSL" and the tt and reinvest the money into a new and improved system.

Thanks again


I love this forum dearly but don't get me started on its quirks. Compared to the other sites I inhabit (among others, a bicycle forum and a violin forum), Audiogon's software just doesn't seem to want to create a readable message. What you see when you compose the message and what ends up published are often different enough to make the published message look more like the Dead Sea Scrolls than anything else.

Then, there's the tendency of many contributors to just write, write, write until either the needle has worn a new groove in the lead-out groove, their fingers fall off, or the kitchen stove catches fire.

The cure dear fellow audio-foil?  As you read the forum, keep the stereo cranked and happily obsess over the amount of spit the vocalist on the recording is launching onto his/her mike.
I don’t think there is any moral issue here. You should do what you like, and I won’t think any less of you as a human being, either way. Although you said you don’t want to start a debate, your “dilemma” as stated will inevitably lead to one. It’s already in progress. I am like Raul ; I am a vinylista because I own 2500 LPs and five turntables. Not to mention 8 tonearms and maybe 20 cartridges. I just don’t want to be bothered with assembling a digital system of similar quality. Whereas your toe is barely in vinyl waters. Vaya con dios.
I’d look at the cartridge. The two dynavectors I have had were real lean in the bass especially my XX 2 where I would have the bass up several dB on my Mac pre.  I upgraded it to a Koetsu Rosewood Signature, and WOW! I had to turn things way down. What a difference. Try another cartridge or have it looked at and set up by someone who knows. 
@l, doing a top digital system is not that expensive. Having it play endlessly when you are busy doing whatever is very nice. I only play records when I am listening seriously. But, I do use an auto lifter so I do not have to run to lift the arm.

I use to keep a lot of cartridges but I stopped because like Skis I find I only listen to the one I like best. I just keep one other as a spare just in case I F-up. 

Which table and arm do you listen to the most?
I ran from vinyl 30+ years ago and never looked back ! I have only one record (sentimental value )...and got nothing to play it on... thank god!
Did you try adding a "spacer" under an LP?

Know I kid a lot in the forums, but I was serious about this simple VTA test.

Typically reduced bass response is caused by the tail end of the cartridge riding too high (improper VTA for the specific cartridge).

Seems that recently (last 10 years, or so) many seem to be fanatical about having the tonearm being totally parallel to the platter which I suspect may be the cause of improper VTA in some cases.

Not familiar with you specific tonearm, but adjusting the arm height on my old SME is a PITA (especially compounded by my less than stellar fine vision).

This is why I use a "shim" mat for thinner LP's as I set up my current deck for what I would consider to be standard (run of the mill as far as thickness goes) LP's.

Years ago I used shim mats to ballpark tonearm height adjustments prior to fine tuning as it is a simple and effective method.

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With the affordable cost for the devices to replay CD and the quality that CD can be replayed at today, it can take a significant amount of time and money to discover a Vinyl Set Up that will make a impression that will be a overall attractor.
I say this as a recent convert to CD replays in my system after reconcileing with my CD Predujudice for over 30 Years.
The real winner out of all this has been Vinyl Replay in my system, as the CD performance encouraged me to spend the time to reconfigure my TT Set Up and continue with my research into supporting ancillaries for a Vinyl Front End.
I have no desire to push the boundaries created from my CD Front End,
but doing this with Vinyl has always been a secondary passion so I see the pursuit of small gains in the Vinyls performance to be ongoing.   
Dear Mijostyn, was your last post directed at me? I am not here for a cure. Although I probably should divest a bit in turntables tonearms and cartridges. First I’d have to choose between two completely different speaker systems, and I like them both. I have two very good one box CD/SACD/DVD players (3, if you count the OPPO that I use for movies), more than I need for casual listening, and none remotely tempts me to dump vinyl. These are already too many words for this thread.
Unless you need the space or money I would get the TT tuned up. Plus, Knowing it all works properly makes it easier to sell. Most people do not listen to their whole collection. Some are not being streamed or the pressing is not being streamed. Sell off what you don’t listen to anymore or the duplicate pressings. As far as the sealed albums I would sell them. You are deciding to sell stuff anyways so why keep the vinyl you won’t open anyway. I have purchased three sealed Pink Floyd albums and listen to them. Some can be worth good money. Your gear is really nice and can be sold at anytime. I think you should do this in phases so you don’t get buyers remorse. I love streaming too, but there is something about playing a record that I love. To me the sound is different. It should not be an all or nothing decision. I hope this helped. 
@elliottbnewcombjr   me thinks vinyl always sounds better at your house because your vinyl gear is far superior to your much older digital stuff.
Looks like you've got a really good system with that Chinook and all; I'd expect that vinyl would sound great on there, depending on your other gear. I've got a big vinyl collection but hardly ever played any records for years, just because they sounded so lifeless and dull. Recently upgraded the vinyl system, and now it's a whole different experience altogether - I love it!!