Originally Posted by bluewizard
The discussion is already pretty long, so I'm not sure if I can really add anything.
First - Should you get into vinyl? I don't know - should you?
Meaning as a novelty, it is pretty expensive. If you fully intend to collect over 100 albums, then it might be worth getting a decent entry level turntable, but entry level means about $400. If you fully intend to collect over 300 albums, then perhaps you can invest in a better turntable. Perhaps up to $1000. Equally if you plan on having 500 or more, then we can consider +$1000 turntables.
How does that fit with the equipment you have now? If you currently have a $500 stereo, or God forbid, a $500 surround sound system, then an additional $400 is something of a waste.
So, you need to consider this from two perspectives. One, how deeply do you plan to get into this vinyl 'thing'? If it is a novelty, then it is an expensive novelty. If you think you are really interested, then are you $400 interested?
Next, what system do you have now? Both the depth to which you will explore vinyl, and a turntable in reasonable proportion to the depth, and to the value of your other equipment, points to the direction you should explore.
As to whether vinyl is better than CD? That is the wrong question. The real question is, is the CONTENT on vinyl better than the CONTENT on CD?
Other have already referenced the Loudness War, in which some genius (sarcasm) at the record companies decided that Louder is Better. Of course, it is not actually louder, it is just the perception of louder. So, modern content is overly compressed, killing the Dynamic Range and subtlety of the music.
The advantage of CD is that it has immense Dynamic Range, but what good is it, if it is all compressed out.
Vinyl may not have the same Dynamic Range, but it still sound silky sweet. Now as someone else mentioned, if a vinyl album is just a CD copied on to vinyl, then there is nothing to gain. But, commonly, vinyl is mixed differently, and has far less compression; not no compression, just far less. Typically vinyl is produced with a different attitude, and because production runs are so much smaller, they get little interference from the corporate executives.
Let me illustrate this by another example to show that the real question involved the content, not the medium. There is a video on YouTube related to the over compression of modern music. The person found a newly pressed CD of a CD he already had (sorry don't remember the details) . He bought it out of curiosity to compare them to see if it had change. Indeed it had. The modern version was horribly compressed compared to the original version. Which lead him to make a video showing the difference between the two. You can see the music waveform for both pieces of music, and you can clearly see the compression and lack of Dynamic Range in the modern version.
Right now as I type, I'm listening to a Django Reinhardt - Solos/Duets/Trios - Volume 2 on vinyl, and it is a delight - clean, clear, crisp, quiet. Given that these recordings were, at best, laid down in the 50's, it really sound good. Given that this album is out of print in vinyl, I was curious if I could buy it on CD. So, I searched Amazon, and sure enough it is available. But I can't help wondering how badly they screwed it up? I'm sure for convenient casual listening, it would be fine, but the vinyl has subtleties that I can't describe.
In another case, I have Super Session (Bloomfield, Cooper, Stills) on vinyl. This was a used album I picked up somewhere, and it is not in real good shape; a lot of surface noise from years of abuse (not by me). Still even with all the noise, this is a stunning and engaging album. I also have a new CD of the same album, but the CD is dull and unengaging. When I play it, I'm hardly aware that I'm even listening to it. But the album, bad as it is, grabs and holds your attention, even when you have it playing in the back ground.
So, back to Django, do I or don't I buy the CD? I would like to but with any CD I consider, there is always the worry that they have screwed it up. That they have compressed all the Dynamics out of it. The Record Labels wonder why CD sales are down. Given how bad CD sound, it is no wonder no one is buying them.
CD's do have the potential to sound very good, but just because they have the potential, doesn't mean that potential is delivered to you the consumer. The same with vinyl, it can sound breath taking, assuming the music hasn't been compromised by humans in a misguided attempt to make it better.
The Loudness Wars have gotten so bad, in the UK, they are thinking of passing a law that says, all digital music will have to have a bit of meta-data in it indicating the relative loudness. If it is recorded really hot (loud), the the player will automatically bring it down and level match it to a common standard. Now, this in no way effects whether you can turn the volume control up or down. The purpose of excessive compression is so that when the music switches between someone else's song and one of your songs, your song will appear to be louder. But with everyone doing the same thing, they just push louder and louder, with less and less Dynamic Range in essence flattening the music down to nothing. With meta-data equalization scheme, all music will be the same level, and the incentive is lost to keep compressing the music to make it seem louder. With the incentive lost, the hope is that they will start mixing music for quality rather than loudness.
So, it gets down to attitude, the attitude guiding the mix of what will later be pressed on to a given medium. Highly commercial music is far more likely to suffer from compression whether on vinyl or CD. Music like jazz and classical, because their audience demands high quality sound, are less likely to be overly compressed. Older CDs and older vinyl are less likely to be compressed regardless of genre.
So, in the modern world, how good an given content will sound will depend more on how the content is put on the medium far more than the medium itself.
JVC XRCD are proof that CD done right can sound very very good. JVC established some parameters by which common Red Book CD's could sound its best. Unfortunately, the method never caught on, mostly because Record Companies take a "good enough" attitude. Does this music sound good? No, but it sounds "good enough". Unfortunately, "good enough" really IS NOT good enough for people who truly like to listen to music. For 14 year old girls drooling over teen heart throbs, "good enough" might be good enough, and that does represent a huge segment of the buying market. But for people who truly love music and strive to hear it at is best, "good enough" is far far far far from good enough.
So, should you get into vinyl? How much time and money do you have to spend? As I said before, if you aren't determined to have at least 100 albums, then there is little point.
I wouldn't get into vinyl for sound quality alone or you may be dissapointed. Modern digital players are very good and affordable. Turntables can sound anywhere from total garbage to very impressive and cost lots more to hear the potential compared to modern digital. Lots of things can degrade vinyl sound quality. Cartridge quality and set-up, turntable and tonearm build quality, phono stage quality, and turntable isolation issues.
If you want a new hobby vinyl playback can be interesting and frustrating also. Lots to learn about cartridge set-up and fine tuning etc.
I have samples of LP records that sound better than my digital samples and visa-versa. But a cheap entry level turntable set-up will be disappointing sound quality wise anyway. IMO