Originally Posted by 4:3 Toshiba
This "CD vs vinyl" question is blowing my mind of late.
There was a time when I thought 8-track tapes were all the rage, but ever since true hi-fidelity equipment became cheap enough for the average listener to own, I quickly settled on albums as my medium of choice. Moving into the 1990s, records began to get scarce, so I purchased a CD player and have never looked back. I don't buy CDs as much as I used to since I can cherry-pick MP3 songs from Amazon for .99 cents now.
For what it's worth, I have a 30 year old Techniques SL-5 liner-track turntable, with an Audio Technica moving magnet cartridge (the cartridge listed for about $200.00 at the time of purchase). However, this combination just doesn't begin to compare to the sound coming from my CD player. To be fair though, my albums did sound better when I had an equalizer, but I don't think they sounded as good as my CD collection.
Am I missing something, or is my turntable and cartridge a weak point here? I intended to buy another equalizer, but a reputable salesman convinced me to buy a BBE ARS. This component (made in California) was a great addition to my system, but after purchasing a 7.1 Denon receiver, there was no dedicated tape monitor switch, so I had to connect the ARS in-line with the CD player.
Which Denon is it? Look for a group of jacks called 'Adapter'.
The fact that the turntable is linear tracking tells me that it takes a P-mount cartridge and that limits what you can use- they make more cartridges for the standard bayonet mount, which is the usual type seen. Some companies made a mini-bayonet, but they're somewhat rare and they use the standard two-screw cartridge.
So, to answer the question, I would say the turntable and cartridge are a bit of a weak point. I would say that a Rega Planar or Pro-Ject Debut with either the cartridge that's usually packaged with them or the next step up would be a big improvement. I listened to vinyl last night from about 7PM-10:30 and today from 10AM-2:30. I never loaned my albums out, so I always knew they'd be in a condition that's acceptable to me. I have known people who treated their albums like farm animals and immediately decided that they'd never handle mine. I had forgotten how good albums can sound- the separation was far better than I remember, but it's not a case of listening to them with two systems in a short time.
FWIW, I use a Sony PS-X600 with a Denon DL-110 and if I can find another headshell, I'll be able to use my Denon 103d, which is considered a 'classic'. The fact that the DL-110 is high output and the 103d is low output is the main reason I wanted the P5.
I don't know how good it is, but Emotiva has a phono preamp that's very reasonable. Parasound has their ZPhono and I have read great reviews of that one, which lists at $200.
You got into CDs at a better time than the first-adopters, who had to put up with digital copies of master tapes that were mixed to make albums, not CDs. Once they started to re-mix them, the sound quality jumped up many levels. I think you will be surprised by the sound of a good turntable and cartridge combination. Many dealers became lazy in the '90s- CDs were winning and they wanted to spend as little time as possible selling turntables, so linear-tracking turntables with a P-mount was the easy way to go. When I got into the business, we would actually demo turntables and cartridges, so people could choose the one they liked. Hell, we even used albums as the source when we would demo cassette decks- we'd record some music and then rewind it & synch it, to switch between the album and the tape.