I recently got back into vinyl after taking about 25 years off, and have built up a nice little collection so far (probably about 300 records now, give or take). I just upgraded my turntable and cartridge to a VPI Traveler with a Grado Sonata cartridge. My digital source is a Bolder-modded Logitech Squeezebox Touch feeding into the DAC of my Marantz SA-8004 SACD player. I use a Dared MC-7P with NOS tubes as my phono/pre, a Krell KAV-2250 amp, and my modded 4.1TL's, with Signal Cables all the way through the chain. My CD rips are all lossless, done with EAC in secure mode, with Accurate Rip.
I've got a friend in the office who doesn't hesitate to give me flac about my audio expenditures. But he especially gets on me about vinyl. He loves to make comments like "So do you go to the bathroom in an outhouse as well?" He's a purely digital kind of guy. I always brush him off by telling him that any time he'd like to come hear vinyl destroy cd sound, I'd be happy to demonstrate for him. Yesterday, we did just that. I live quite close to my office, so at lunch time we took a drive to my house and we did a little demo....
Before we even started, he had to make a wisecrack. I've got my turntable sitting on top of a 3.5" maple cutting board for vibration isolation. The wise-guy asked if this was an "audiophile" cutting board. Ha ha.....
First up, Fleetwood Mac Rumors. I have the original cd, the HDTracks 24-bit version, and then the 45RPM reissue vinyl. I played the cd first. We listened to Don't Stop and Songbird. It sounded very thin, totally unimpressive. The 24-bit was a huge improvement. But when the vinyl came on, my friend reluctantly admitted that there was just more to the sound of the vinyl. Reverb was more realistic. Bass was fuller with better punch. Cymbols extended to a slow fade much nicer than the digital versions. And Christie McVie's voice on Songbird... it can give you goosebumps. At this point he admitted that this one instance sounded better, but he needed more examples before he could admit defeat.
Second, we listened to Stiletto, on Billy Joel's 52nd Street. We started with the 24K gold Sony Mastersound version of the cd, and then the vintage vinyl, not the recent reissue. The cd version sounded very good, not suffering any of the thin-sound that we heard on the Fleetwood Mac cd. But when I played the vinyl, he again reluctantly admitted that the vinyl sounded better. Same as before - more full and realistic. Warmer. Deeper bass and better extension of the highs. It just sounded "richer" than the digital version.
Next up, China Cat Sunflower from the Grateful Dead Europe '72. Started out with the original cd, then the 180g vinyl reissue. Same observations about the differences. One comment that my friend made at this point was that he was hearing a lot of reverb in my system. I told him that this is because he's really hearing the reverb that's in the recording, my hi-fi isn't adding any artificial reverb. He was not convinced.
So I busted out the Foo Fighters Colour & The Shape on 180g vinyl, and we played the intro track and then Monkey Wrench. Monkey Wrench has some very tight stops and starts, so if my hi-fi was adding any reverb it would be noticeable in that track. There was nothing resembling reverb here. The music was tight, full of punch, and went from loud to black instantly, with no sound bleeding into the quiet break. He was starting to become very impressed.
Then we went in a completely opposite direction, and I put on Baby I'm A Fool, from the 180g vinyl version of Melody Gardot's My One And Only Thrill. Spectacular.
Finished up with Ah'w Baby/Everything Gonna Be Alright from the 180g vinyl version of Drinkin TNT Smokin Dynamite by Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. This album is outstanding, the sound quality is just fantastic. I was keen to play it for him because I'm seeing Buddy Guy live in a bit over a week from now. He loved it.
We finished up at that point since we had to get back to work. But he reluctantly admitted defeat, agreeing that the vinyl beat digital hands down in every comparison we did, including 24-bit. He knew the Foo Fighters track well, and it was as good as he'd ever heard it. He told me that I had definitely opened his eyes, not that he's racing off to build an audiophile hi-fi by any means.
I wish we had a bit more time, I would have done two comparisons versus SACD for him. I've got two albums on both SACD on vinyl, and I prefer the vinyl in both cases. The first is Eat A Peach by the Allman Brothers, where I've got the original gatefold Capricorn vinyl. The second is Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, where I have the 180g vinyl reissue. The Pink Floyd is the better example, since the SACD and the vinyl reissue came out together, so presumably the source version is identical.
And that's without touching any classical music. To be honest, I've never loved listening to classical on my SDA's. I've always had a lot on cd, but always thought it sounded rather sterile on my SDA's. But then I inherited a bunch of vintage classical vinyl from my father, who was happy to give it to me since he doesn't play vinyl any more. I was blown away by how great it sounds through my SDA's compared to cd.
Plenty of people will disagree, I know that's coming, but in my little demo with my friend..... VINYL WINS!!!!!