When a good turntable is properly set up, has an excellent cartridge installed and uses a revealing preamplifier that has great separation and vanishing noise, and you spin up an early-run pressing that was expertly mastered for vinyl (or even better - a direct to the cutting lathe recording), vinyl can positively wipe the floor with digital.
Now, that’s a lot of figurative “ifs.” While it’s true that really good vinyl playback gives you more than you get with digital, the path to get there can also be expensive and involve an ecosystem of specific components. And it can lead you down a road of constant vinyl album purchases, some of which can be quite pricey.
The upside of good vinyl is fully analog sound that has more real-ness, better dynamics and more detail, resulting in wide-eyed dropped jaws from the listening chair.
But digital, with its huge capability for dynamics and almost zero self-noise should be able to kick vinyl’s butt, right? And the price is right -- the same dollar amount that gets you one good vinyl record can instead pay for a month of unlimited streaming of nearly all music ever published.
The complete truth is that cheap digital is much, much better than cheap vinyl.
And good digital against cheap vinyl - it's no contest... digital wins, hands-down. Great digital versus pretty good vinyl sees the two edging closer, with digital still firmly in the lead.
But great vinyl? It can leave even the best digital in the dust.
In this episode of The Hifi Podcast, hosts Darren and Duncan talk about the magic of good vinyl, why vinyl recordings can be more open sounding and "audiophile," and how to go about getting better sound from vinyl than digital in your system. The album recommendation at the end of the show also highlights a recently-released recording, which — no surprise here — sounds a little bit better on vinyl.
Learn more at www.thehifipodcast.net.