AVS Forum Addicted Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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I'm a long time audiophile (which is like admitting you are a "foodie"...and I'm one of those too!).
I have been exposed to fantastic turntable based systems and digital systems for many decades and I never bought the "vinyl sounds better" claim.
(Or that vinyl is more accurate, a doubly dubious claim).
I've never had a problem getting digital to sound gorgeous and it's been my main source since the late 90's.
Still, I've also appreciated vinyl because vinyl can sound different, and in some ways and some instances more appealing. (With many caveats, not on every recording, not on every record, not on every system, etc...). To my ears, comparing some turntable sources with digital on the same system, the vinyl can have a bit more of a "free-floating" aspect, where it seems less locked into the speakers. I've seen technical descriptions of why this might be so (which amount to a form of distortion, not accuracy), but however it gets there, I like it. Further, sometimes there is a more "organic" quality, believable timbral quality (especially woodwinds) and a less hard quality (though sometimes vinyl can sound harder!). So sometimes I can enjoy the vinyl source more than the digital. But overall, I'm very happy with digital.
A couple years ago I added a turntable to my system again for several reasons. 1. A decent turntable was given to my free by my father-in-law. 2. I still had tons of records stored away. 3. I enjoy the tactile nature and artwork of LPs. 4. There's a great nostolgiac satisfaction to doing vinyl again, even finding records in vinyl stores. 5. I often enjoy the difference in sound from my digital rig. Vinyl is a nice place to visit now and again.
6. There is, as many say, a different aspect to using vinyl vs digital. I'd burned all my CDs onto external drives, and I also download quite a lot of music, and stream. And of course I can stream all this to my high end audio rig. This is of course extremely convenient. But sometimes it's almost *too* convenient. By that I mean, when you know you have instantaneous access to thousands and thousands of songs, it can be too easy to skip around searching for just the right one you want. And there can even be a bit of impatience with listening to one song as you know there are so many others at your fingertips to move on to. So I tend to skip around my music collection more, and with less patience for anything that isn't "just" what I want at that moment. Whereas with vinyl, there is a ritual/tactile pleasure (if you like it) to pulling out the record and playing it. And a certain level of commitment is involved. Skipping around songs, or between albums is nowhere near the instantaneous experience and so I'm willing to sit and keep listening to the next song on the record. And this is after all how I, like most of us who grew up with vinyl, tended to get into "albums." These day you can just burn, or play or download a single song from an album. But on vinyl, you get the whole shebang. I often
didn't immediately like the song that followed my favorite, but allowing album sides to play through made those other songs become more familiar, and then they often replaced the original track as my favorite.
I recently played the whole side of Rush's Hemispheres on vinyl, and I suspect my "trigger finger" would have been much more itchy and have moved on to another song/album/genre before the end of that side, if I'd been listening to my digital collection.
And I have to say, there is something heartwarming about the resurgence of vinyl, passing vinyl shops everywhere, seeing young kids buying it etc.
Maybe it's a sort of validation, where something that was "good" to you growing up is now seen as valuable to this generation.
So, while I completely understand anyone who couldn't give a damn about vinyl, and would reject it on technical, ergonomic and other grounds, I also understand why it holds appeal for others.