Long story short.....the wife wants to hear her old records and plays on my hobby to gain her end. I wasn't even considering vinyl as a source ever again since my last go-around some 15 years ago. But being sensitive to the spouse's needs I scout the usual venues and eventually (about 3 months until today) score a Dual 1246 with a signet am30s cartridge off craigslist.
I grab an ultra cheap phono preamp (rolls VP29) from a local hifi dealer and get to spinning some poorly stored records......
.....what's this?! They sound....well.....good! Much better than I thought they would anyway. There is much crackle and pop, but I attribute that to the fact that they haven't been cleaned in 15 years and may be a little out of shape after being stuck in a drawer horozontially during that time.
The wife listens to some of her classics and loves it. I then get to put on probably the only piece of vinyl I ever really wanted to hear since purchase many years ago - Stevie Ray's Live Alive. Yeah there are some crackles and pops, but the detail and soundstage are amazing.
I get very curious and put on the only LP I have on CD, Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey. I spend time switching between the two and become doubtful of the vinyl. The CD sounds louder, which may be a product of the medium, and there is more lower-end detail. The CD seems better but I begin to wonder if this is a production difference. Was the CD remastered? I don't know. Still, the LP has a very engaging quality.
I eventually put on some Tchaikovsky that I completely forgot we had. Again, completely involving. I don't have a CD to compare but resolution seems very accurate and again the presentation is totally immersive. I don't get it. The soundstage seems huge.
I come to the conlusion that there is a quality to the vinyl that I just can't put my finger on, but I like, maybe alot. I didn't want to like it. I've seen what crazyness goes on with vinyl-phites....millions of dollars spent on isolation solutions, cartridges, style's'ssuses, platters, vodoo and what not. I want no part dammit! But I have to say, there's something there.
What is really bugging me is that I don't know enough about this source to understand what the weak links are. I'm not going to spend $1k on a cart or a phono stage. I'm a bargain hunter (mostly by necessity, not choice). I'm sure the $90 phono stage didn't help things but there have to be other, cheaper, solutions to maximizing the records that I've recently re-discoverd.
Really what this long-winded post boils down to is a fishing expedition for cheap tweaks to maximize what I'm working with. This vinyl business is just too mystical for me. Any help is greatly appreciated.