Should I start buying my music on vinyl?
December 1, 2011 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Should I start buying my music on vinyl? Do I want a record player/turntable? If so, which one?

I was oblivious until last week that many of my favorite artists and bands are releasing most of their new records on vinyl. I also saw that some amazing old stuff is being remastered and re-released on vinyl (like the new Mothership Led Zep collection).

My questions are:

How much better really, in terms of sound quality, are these vinyl versions? I know about the fidelity loss in mp3, but, being a child of the CD generation, I've never really listened to vinyl. Will I really notice the sound quality difference? Will my mind be blown?

Is this just a passing fad, or do we think that current artists (I guess I'm talking here about folks like Radiohead, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, Deadmau5 all releasing on vinyl) will continue to do this?

If the answer is yes, what turntable do I buy? I have lots of speakers and amps and things, so I don't need the kind with the built in speakers (and I'm assuming those are sort of cruddier anyway?). I'd want to keep my budget reasonable (so I'd have money to buy records!), and I see a lot online in the $100 range. Are these fine? Or is worth spending a bit more? What is the difference?

Can I plug these directly into a speakers, or would I need a receiver with a pre-amp and all of that also?

Any other information or opinions you have on the matter is very welcome. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski to Technology (30 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Will I really notice the sound quality difference? Will my mind be blown?

Probably not. You will get a lot of talk about vinyl sounding "warmer" and "more natural" and whatever, but it's all ridiculously subjective and a lot of it comes from people who spend more money on sound equipment than you will ever have.

The vinyl thing going on right now in the indie circles (as opposed to the fact that plenty of artists have never stopped releaseing on vinyl) is more about retro-styling, and the idea of a ritual around music listening -- an opposition to ease and lack of ceremony to digital music -- than anything having to do with vinyl having more fidelity over CDs. Hell, the human ear can't even tell the difference between a CD and a high-enough bitrate MP3 (we're talking about 320 and up, here.)

Whether they will continue to do it is really up in the air. But, hell, if you take good care of them, records last practically forever, so it's not like you'll end up with a bunch of worthless media if you decide to start buying your music on vinyl.

And as far as the ritual is concerned, yeah, it is pretty fun having a record player. I had one in high school during my classic rock phase and bought tons of old vinyl for dirt-cheap and had a blast with it.
posted by griphus at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sound quality difference really depends. It depends on your ears, how good your equipment is (speakers/amp/pre-amp/turntable/etc), in what condition the vinyl is in, and if the particular vinyl was mastered well. When labels and/or artists care about their vinyl releases, they have a mastering engineer specially for the vinyl release -- it's that much different.

However, there should be a noticeable difference with decent equipment, even. Highs are crisper and certain instruments are not so muddled. Many audiophiles walk about the "warmth" of vinyl -- it's debatable, but it's something you might notice. Many fans spin vinyl even if they can't really tell the difference in quality for the analog appreciation of the music, physically placing the record and turning it and setting different rpms, and such. If you love music, it makes you feel more connected with it.

Vinyl is not going away. I wouldn't say that there is necessarily a "re-surgence" of vinyl, sales have been going up past few years. The whole of vinyl sales are NOTHING compared to digital downloads and cds these days, but the numbers are going up even in the fractions of a percent.

Vinyl is also critical to audiophiles, which make up a healthy enough niche market. But it is also healthy in the DJ market, genres like drum and bass and some hip hop circles exclusively press singles and albums on vinyl.

And as you've noticed, many indie rock artists pride themselves on vinyl releases and may have exclusive vinyl only tracks. Not only that, many "classic" artists are now being re-released on vinyl, with the 180-gram audiophile treatment (the quality of that is also debatable, but at least they are trying to cater to the niche market).

An entry level turntable I suggest to everyone, is this belt-driven Audio Technica one. Only $70 !! But it is incredibly decent for the price. There's also a pre-amp in there, so you can plug it in directly to your receiver and play. Maybe even your speakers too, if you desire.

AVOID any turntable that are combos - cd/cassette/turntable in one, or anything that looks "old-timey" but are "new." Some might suggest scouring yard sales for old turntables from the 60s and 70s -- not bad advice, but there's the same risk of getting a dud from the era along with the chance of getting something really good. Even if you get something good that's 'vintage' like a Thorens for example, you may still have to invest in a kit to clean it, change belts, etc.

Another advantage of the AT turntable I linked above is that it the cartridge (or "needle") picks itself up after the record is done, which is nice if you are lazy. Many more high end models are manual so it will grind to the end if you don't pick up the level yourself.
posted by xtine at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've spent very little money on my setup, and I fancy I can hear the difference. Get a used turntable and spend your money on the needle.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:52 AM on December 1, 2011

P.S.: My apartment warped all my old vinyl, so keep in mind that taking care of records takes a lot more effort than just making sure they don't get scratched.
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on December 1, 2011

I have this relatively inexpensive, but well reviewed Audio Technica turntable, and it's just fine.

A few months ago, I got one of my favorite albums, Combat Rock by The Clash, and I was actually surprised how much better it sounded (since I've heard it a million times, but only on CD and MP3). For records that were originally mastered and produced to be played on vinyl, I think in general the sound is quite a bit better.

Personally, I like owning physical media if I'm purchasing music, and the fact that bands are packaging records with coupons for free downloads is icing on the cake. You get the best of the two worlds, audio quality and physical media with the convenience of a digital download.

I also like the fact that it reminds of music being an experience and not just sometime to listen to: I have to physically turn it over in the middle, and for older records, there is sometime about sides a and b.
posted by General Malaise at 11:55 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and another thing. Vinyl is neat to collect because many artists include a download card for digital downloads as well. If you are spending money to support the band, might as well get something collectable along with it!

If and when you start to purchase vinyl, make sure to have a proper shelf or cabinet to store them in, Ikea Expedit shelves are inexpensive and practically the ideal shelf for them. Store them like books, and NEVER stack them on top of one another, which can cause them to warp.
posted by xtine at 11:56 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was raised listening to vinyl. I do appreciate the sacrement of handing the record, poring over the huge album cover, reading the liner notes and lyrics. I had a good sound system, and all my vinyl sounded great. My formative musical memories all center around vinyl, and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

But I would never go back.

Aside from the subjectivity of it sounding "better" than CDs or MP3s, you do have to take care of them to a much higher degree than CDs, and even in new condition, pops and hissing may be part of the equation.

For the record (pun!) when I bought my first CDs, I was blown away by how much better they sounded than vinyl. Little by little I replaced my vinyl with CDs, and have no regrets.

I wouldn't tell you to not buy vinyl. If you've never had the experience, then why not? Spend a little on a decent turntable and enjoy! You could have a whole new hobby going through the bins at thrift stores and garage sales. But do it for fun, not because you are going to reach some sort of sonic nirvana.

So, with that in mind... have fun with it!
posted by The Deej at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

You might find this article to be explains some of the peculiarities of vinyl, and why mastering for vinyl is much different than mastering for digital/CD.
posted by malocchio at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

YES! I have been wanting to go vinyl for ages now, and I think it's finally time. The sound is so much cooler (and you'll feel so hip..).

I don't have recommendations on types though, so I'll be watching this thread for answers too
posted by RaynDrops at 12:52 PM on December 1, 2011

The trick is that each component matters. One weak link will decrease the final quality, be it the needle or the speaker, or anything in between. You can always buy parts that seem decent now, and change things up when you research more, come across a great deal, or want to try something new. That way, your equipment becomes part of the over-all experience.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:54 PM on December 1, 2011

... but I have no solid suggestions on parts.

One thing to think about: might you be moving much in the future? Vinyl collections can get really heavy, and will be no fun to haul around more than necessary.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on December 1, 2011

can't speak to the equipment, but we have one in our house, and it's awesome to just sit down and listen to a record and chat or play a board game. you can also get a lot of good records second hand (our half-price books is a good source) if you like the hunt. I'd explore a few record stores in your area now to see what kind of music they have.

sound-wise, they're a lot better (*but I have a crappy CD system and a nice turntable setup.)

ps. buy slowly, b/c records do take space.
posted by ejaned8 at 1:29 PM on December 1, 2011

Vinyl is delightful. Apart from the sound (which is noticeably better, at least for me) and the closer connection to the music, the scope for cover art and fantastic inserts is far greater. Generally speaking, I think vinyl just looks good in a room as well--Expedit is definitely the way to go (I have the big one designed for a flatscreen TV and I have my stereo/turntable set up in it). My own collection of LPs has been lovingly built over the years, and each record has a memory associated with it (a flea market in New Orleans, the dusty basement of a local Goodwill, a stolen treasure from my dad's trove, etc.). Shelves full of stories as well as widely varied tuneage.

In terms of a turntable, I have a Technics and I love it, but I would recommend something like this-converts your vinyl to mp3! Awesome!

I say do it. And enjoy!
posted by Go Banana at 1:35 PM on December 1, 2011

There's lots to be said about the ritual of listening to music on vinyl. Much like there's plenty to be said about the ritual of almost anything from another era. If all things (mostly portability) were equal, I would have kept and built onto my vinyl collection. But CDs were easier and MP3s are even easier for this former nomad.

If you can find a used Technics turntable in decent condition I would go that route, but it isn't going to be cheap.

If you've the interest and the funds I say do it!
posted by FlamingBore at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2011

Unless you have very nice speakers, a decent quality receiver and very good high frequency hearing (i.e. you've rarely been to rock concerts where you didn't wear earplugs), vinyl is an atrocious waste. Here are the downsides:
  • Not portable
  • Takes up a ton of space, if you're a big music lover
  • Sound quality is significantly worse than digital for some metrics (i.e. THD, Signal to noise)
  • Requires a ritual for listening
  • Terrible preservation format, as records wear out faster than you'd think. Also, they are super sensitive to climate.
  • Decent equipment (where you will actually be able to hear the difference in a positive way) is not cheap. Not cheap, at all.
  • Equipment requires calibration, and more frequently than you might like to perform it. Also, calibrating a turntable is a bit of a dark art.
Don't get me wrong, I've had three major record collections in my life. There is an ineffable quality to listening to a vinyl record. I get the ritualized music listening thing. However, I tend to think that the ritual is usually a proxy for the meaning one gets out of proper, thoughtful listening where you are attending to what's really going on in the music.

My earnest recommendation: if you're going down the vinyl route, buy the best equipment you can afford. Thorens has made great decks since the 70s, and can be gotten on the used market for relatively cheap. I tend to like Rega tables if you're looking new, in the relatively more affordable range. But buy from a reputable source. Big cities usually have used audio equipment shops, that keep things in good working order. Choose a few records carefully. Ones you know you'll continue to appreciate for a long time. Listen to them occasionally, and see if the experience is worth the hassle for you. If you just jump in and try to make vinyl your daily music consumption format, you will likely get very sick of the downsides quickly. If it's for the ritual, don't make it an everyday one, as it will quickly lose the intangibles that make it special.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 2:34 PM on December 1, 2011

One thing to keep in mind about buying modern artists on vinyl is there is a pretty wide range of quality when it comes to pressings. If you do start buying a lot of new vinyl, whether reissues or current bands, you'll get a sense for which labels / bands are producing quality releases. Wilco for example have some of the most consistently good sounding records, which in my opinion blow their CD releases away. On the other hand many represses (recent reissues of the Pavement discography I'm lookin at you!) have a muddy sound not better than a CD in any objective way.

The trick is that each component matters. One weak link will decrease the final quality, be it the needle or the speaker, or anything in between.

This is good advice. I'm not one of those people that spends hundreds of dollars on cables, but I feel like a $100 turntable would be underwhelming and not much better than digital playback. Most entry level (audiophile) turntables start at around $300 new including a cartridge, which can be upgraded later if you find yourself buying and playing a lot of records.

I would look for something like a used Rega P1, a very simple table with few moving parts and one that would be worth upgrading. Mine was built in the 80s and I've since given it to my brother who revived it with a new cartridge and belt (A rubber belt for Rega style turntables is ~10 bucks and to say you install it would be an overstatement.) The aforementioned Technics 1200 would be a great pick for another used table, though slightly more expensive as they retail at ~$600. They are built like tanks and have a reputation among DJs and home users alike for accurate sound (ie the stability of the actual rpm.)

How much better really, in terms of sound quality, are these vinyl versions?

Maybe I've drank the proverbial kool-aid, but I inherited a rather high end stereo, including a CD player of similar caliber to my turntable, and the difference between quality vinyl and an equivalent CD is immediately obvious to anyone that's heard it.

As far as amplifiers go, if you have a receiver with an input marked phono, it has a built in pre-amp and you can plug right in. Here anyways, there is a dearth of midrange hi-fi receivers out there on craigslist. I was quite happy with my old $100 used NAD and it's built in phono pre.

And on preview nonreflectiveobject better covered any other points I might have had.
posted by Lorin at 2:38 PM on December 1, 2011

Lorin makes great points, the Rega P1 is a lovely deck.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 2:39 PM on December 1, 2011

If you do buy something used or something in the $100 range (maybe avoid the Ion stuff - it's entirely plastic...there are a couple of USB capable entry level Denons and Audio Technicas that are a little bit better around the same price) a great, quick upgrade is to stick a better cartidge on that sucker (then take a few minutes to set it up properly). The Audio Technica AT120E sounds amazing for $100-ish, tracks light (so it won't hurt your vinyl) and is generally agreed to be one of THE giant-killer entry level-ish carts.

Regas are, indeed, wonderful turntables. Be warned, though, that the least expensive models require you to manually change the belt setup to switch between 45 & 33 RPM. There's an outboard power supply upgrade you can get that will eliminate that, but it's extra buxxx. Have fun. Records are the best.
posted by mintcake! at 3:09 PM on December 1, 2011

One thing to keep in mind is that the reason that most people other than DJs and serious audiophiles have dispensed with the "ritual" of music on vinyl is that it's actually kind of a pain in the ass. Someone mentioned that some vinyl these days may come with download credits to also get the music in that format -- if so, great. Or maybe you're willing to pay for music twice to get different formats.

Otherwise, keep in mind that if you buy a record and you love it, you won't be able to listen to it in the car, at the gym, or even at home without putting it on the turntable, turning it over 20 minutes later, and then taking the needle off it once it ends. If you want to have music playing for a couple hours, that means physically dealing with it six or seven times. Complaining about that may be a true "first-world problem," but hey, there's an easier way and most people prefer it. If it sounds like connecting with music in a way that is more focused or fun for you, or if you really care a lot about the difference in sound, have at it! For me, I still love vinyl, but I think the tradeoff in convenience (and less stuff in my apartment is worth the loss in sound quality), so I don't buy vinyl any more.

My personal experience - I have maintained a vinyl record collection for years. I enjoy it, and I do think it sounds great and different but maybe not "better" - although I don't have audiophile caliber equipment by any stretch. Maybe once every few months I'll sit down by the stereo and listen to records. Many of them are records that I still love, and (especially the few that I've bought within the last decade in fits of vinyl nostalgia) I would happily listen to them much more frequently if they lived on my iPod, and yet it seems silly to repurchase them digitally or buy a record-to-mp3 converter rather than spend that money on new music.
posted by Pseudonaut at 3:18 PM on December 1, 2011

I'm going to skip the sound quality questions--great CD systems and great vinyl systems both sound great. If you're putting something together, don't neglect the speakers, and don't discount the possibility of vintage stuff (and listen to the person who says that your system is only as strong as its weakest part--hint: it's probably not the cables).

And I'm going to skip the trends-in-the-recording-industry stuff too. Somebody might know where that thing's going, but I sure don't (it doesn't help matters that I don't think I like the same kind of music that you do).

Now then, on to turntable recommendations:

If you know for a fact that you'll never be into mixing or scratching, and you think there's a good chance that you'll be listening to vinyl for the rest of your life, I think the best way to go is something budget-audiophile. Once you put DJ stuff aside, and once you consider durability and repairability, I think that the 'budget' (ironic quotes because budget-audiophile tables are still around four or five hundred bucks) offerings from people like Pro-Ject, Music Hall, Linn, Thorens and the aforementioned Rega are the best way to go.

(If, on the other hand, you think you might be into mixing and scratching: despite the best efforts of folks like Numark and Vestax (and, to a much lesser degree, Stanton), nothing has ever beaten Technics.)
posted by box at 4:10 PM on December 1, 2011

Yeah, vinyl is a pain in the ass. I love it, don't get me wrong. But in today's world, it's more of a novelty.

As with anything, it's all about the mastering. True: vinyl has a higher potential frequency response. But you can't hear sounds that high, and even if you can, your equipment probably can't reproduce it anyway. Test it by hooking a computer up to your stereo, with a nice 192kbps optical cable, and generate a 23khz tone. You can do it with Audacity. You won't hear it. Secondly, records and needles wear out. Each time you play a record, you are wearing it out. Sound quality is lost.

What you are hearing is the deficiencies in the CD mastering process. CD cannot reproduce sounds above 22khz. And analog to digital converters do varying jobs at solving the problem when they are fed signals above 22khz. If the engineers do a good job of filtering out everything above 22khz before moving to 44000 bits per second, you don't hear the badness.

And, frequency response isn't the whole story of sound quality. With vinyl, you will have speed variations, stereo imaging problems if the grooves aren't EXACTLY centered with the hole, phasing issues if your preamp doesn't remove the RIAA curve exactly the same way as the original one put it on, general awfulness if your tonearm isn't balanced exactly right, and finally, the mass of the needle itself imparts a tonal quality onto the music. Mastering a record is all about tradeoffs, too. Bass sounds usually have to be mixed dead center, because otherwise the needle would skip on playback. In order to fit more music onto vinyl, they have to compress the dynamic range. That's probably no big deal for some things, but it can be.

When people say records sound warm, it is because of those things. Those things sound nice, the same way tubes do. But that warmth is just a type of distortion, or a lack of reproducing the recorded sound precisely, that happens to sound nice.
posted by gjc at 5:20 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a turntable (second-hand, cheap-o) in college during an exploratory phase and the most notable thing about having a turntable was that it made new categories of music more accessible, which is something the question mentions. Disco, exotica, and remixes were what I mainly listened to. Dug through the crates at Moby Disc, Canterbury Records, and Poo-bah Record Shop.

Audio quality was a moot issue, not important to me. Don't know much about modern record players.
posted by msittig at 5:30 PM on December 1, 2011

I wouldn't say that your mind will be blown by the sound, but it does make for a much more deliberate music experience than hitting shuffle on iTunes.

You can definitely start with one of the $100 turntables and plug directly into whatever stereo equipment you have currently. Always plenty of upgrades available later if you wish to pursue the vinyl hobby.
posted by highfidelity at 5:54 PM on December 1, 2011

highfidelity sums it up pretty well.

I would recommend that instead of going the vinyl route, continue with CDs and simply upgrade what equipment you have. If you'd like to start from scratch, look into either an integrated amp or stereo receiver, plus a good CD player and speakers. Eventually you can upgrade your speakers and switch to a preamp/amplifier in place of the integrated/receiver.

Also, consider looking at the used/vintage market. Assuming you make it back to Portland, Echo Audio is a great place to find quality pieces. No doubt there are similar stores in other major cities, too.
posted by nickthetourist at 7:11 PM on December 1, 2011

To me, going back to vinyl when you didn't grow up with it seems like an affectation. Hipsters (in the derogative sense) are looked down on in part for adopting affectations as substitutes for depth.
I tend to feel a bit of a calibre question mark over backward-looking people and cultures, in part because the people who seem to me to be the most awesome and influential are pretty much always forward-looking.

Someone like David Bowie probably loves vinyl, but he loved it not because it was vinyl, but because it was the future (at the time). Therefore, when not of David Bowie's generation, loving vinyl like he does doesn't make you like him, it makes you less like him, the opposite of him, in important ways. David Bowie is forward-looking.

The past has lessons for us learn from, but a lot of people feel that historical re-enactment is going a bit far. Vinyl has more social sanction than most other forms of re-enactment, but you should always try to be brutally honest about what aspects of it are driving the appeal of something to you. Be wary of that social dynamic where everyone who has part of their identity invested in X will agree and prop up each other that X is awesome and evangelise it to others. I'm very susceptible to that - I'll get swept up with them and think that X is really the happening thing and I want to be part of it all... but much later, no-longer exposed to people who are invested in maintaining that momentum, I'll look at things more objectively and come to a very different conclusion.

If you're interested because of sound quality, well I don't think you're going to benefit - you get a different kind of distortion basically. But as pointed out, it does mean you can get recordings with different mastering priorities, and that might be interesting if you're into that.
If you're interested because of the ritual and the artefacts, I think you might be better to create your own rituals and artefacts using things that already genuinely matter to you, rather than adopting someone else's. And people will respect the real deal - even if they're into vinyl and you're not.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:04 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Vinyl rocks. It definitely sounds different to CDs, and not just to those so-called audiophiles who swear they can hear the difference between different types of interconnect cables (they can't). Is vinyl a more "perfect" medium than CD? A lot of that will depend on the what the same track sounds like on CD - CDs are theoretically the better quality, but on early CDs the digital mastering was sketchy at best, and on recent ones there's often that brick wall distortion as a result of increasing loudness. Given the same track on CD and mint condition record with similar mastering, will the record sound better? That will depend on whether you like that analogue "warmth" of vinyl.

So why buy new releases on vinyl? For sound quality? Well, perhaps, but you have to ask yourself if it's worth the extra investment and hassle. For DJing? Sure, although plenty of people DJ off CD or digital controllers these days. For the extra tracks, the packaging? For the joy of owning a collection, for the tactile, ritual, experience? If that's your thing, go for it. Given that, in the age of digital, owning a physical collection at all is something of an affectation, you might as well go all out and go for vinyl.

But, that's new releases. Here's why vinyl really rocks - there are 60 years of vinyl records out there, and for anything made prior to 1985 (plus lot of dance music, etc since then) that slab of vinyl is the original version. Forget about CD transfers, remastering, digital copies, etc, this is the music as it was intended to be heard, on the medium that is authentic to it. And the thing about vinyl is that as an analogue medium, it degrades gracefully. Unlike a CD which can suddenly skip, stutter, and eventually not play at all, a record slowly attracts surface noise, and if that's just due to dust and not wear, it's relatively fixible. Being white noise rather than digital glitching, it's a lot more pleasant on the ear, and arguably actually contributes to the sound, depending on genre (hence all the trip-hop type tracks with the sampled vinyl crackle). The card sleeves of records also degrade more gracefully than the ugly cracked boxes of old CDs.

This is dependent on where you live of course, because second hand record shops, markets, or fairs, are far better than mail order, partly because you need to check the condition of old records, and partly because the serendipity of finding a forgotten gem is an essential part of the crate digging experience.

So why collect second hand records? They're the original, authentic artefacts. There's a huge amount of stuff on vinyl that isn't available elsewhere. Some genres are really cheap to collect, either because there was a lot of it (70s / 80s pop & rock), or because it isn't well loved (hi-nrg in the UK, 90s dance). And given that there's a lot of cheap vinyl, it means it's easier to take a risk on obscure or forgotten things, which increases the chance of discovering something you love that you never knew about before.

> To me, going back to vinyl when you didn't grow up with it seems like an affectation. Hipsters (in the derogative sense) are looked down on in part for adopting affectations as substitutes for depth.

If you're going to listen to music that from before or after when you grew up, why is it an affectation to want to listen to the original source of that music? Or is it an affectation to enjoy music from outside of your time altogether?
posted by iivix at 2:49 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

the reason that most people other than DJs and serious audiophiles have dispensed with the "ritual" of music on vinyl is that it's actually kind of a pain in the ass.

"Kind of"? Jeez, people -- have you forgotten about scratches? It happens even when you're oh-so-careful -- and now your favorite track is ruined with that rhythmic popping. And if that bothers you (if you're a serious listener, how can it not) forget about used vinyl. Even brand new's no guarantee -- can't tell you how many new records I bought, back in the day, that had "surface noise". Vinyl's fun to handle, in a retro way, but I'd never go back.
posted by Rash at 8:35 AM on December 2, 2011

> Jeez, people -- have you forgotten about scratches

CD scratch too, and the scratch sounds worse on a CD.
posted by iivix at 9:57 AM on December 2, 2011

Most USB-out drives are inexpensive, and the sound reflects that (LOTS more on broad turntable reviews).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:31 PM on December 16, 2011

I would definitely not consider myself an audiophile and only have a fairly modest setup:- Pioneer VSX-921 Receiver, Pioneer BDP-140 Blu-Ray/SACD/CD Player, Mission 21 Series Speakers, Pro-Ject II Turntable with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge, Pro-Ject Pre-Amp and Speed Controller.

Personally, I love the sound of Vinyl, but I would necessarily say it's technically superior (since, like most people over 25, I can't hear frequencies above 15KHz anyway). To my ears, some recordings sound better on vinyl and some on CD (or better still SACD) although I do like the depth and "warmth of vinyl" (even if it is considered to be distortion).

I think we can debate CD vs Vinyl forever, but in detracts from the real point. It's all about the music and how it makes you feel. If it sounds good to you, that's all that really matters.

I totally understand what people mean by the ritual of listening to music and this certainly is this case with vinyl, but if I am short of time or out and about, I often listen to new albums (or just individual tracks) on MP3 or CD. Vinyl on the move is not very practical :)

Only when I find an album that I really want to keep for the long term, do I buy it on vinyl; and I only play the vinyl version on occasion to ensure it's longevity.

Just my 10 penneth...
posted by zompie at 8:02 AM on April 12, 2012

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