Audio quality per source components' cost comparison

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
1,049
139
285
Round Rock, TX
#1
I know most people feel that it's difficult to compare source types per $ but if you had to compare digital to analog (turntable) versus analog (R2R) how would you rate all them? For example IME and IMO:

- An ~$18K turntable setup (TT, phono pre, vibration control platform, cartridge, tonearm) is sonically approximately on par with an ~$18K digital setup (DAC, music controller / streamer). For R2R, I don't have enough experiences to accurately compare. Thoughts?
 

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
1,049
139
285
Round Rock, TX
#2
Hey, just wanted to send a big THANK YOU! for all the responses. Great group to be a part of. :-/
 
Last edited:

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,644
621
660
Manila, Philippines
#3
It's a tough question man LOL
 
Likes: sbo6

dcathro

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2016
52
30
83
Melbourne, Australia
#4
Generalizing, I think that good analog is more expensive than good digital, especially at the low end.

Analog scales up as you spend more money.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
11,428
2,309
603
E. England
#5
Hey, just wanted to send a big THANK YOU! for all the responses. Great group to be a part of.
Don't be too cross with all of us Lol.
It's a very hard Q to answer. I would say the beauty of analog can be had with very little outlay at all. Rega tts are eminently affordable. Until now I've found the cheapest digital is pretty offputting. But examples like Chord Qutest and MHDT tubed dacs at $1k are meant to be hugely impressive. In the middle range, there's some toing and froing, and here it's all about analog setup and careful choice of voicing re cart/phono and rest of system. It's as you get higher into the high end that a gap emerges, and analog pulls away. $20k and up.
So my Eera Tentation cdp at $12k is IMHO pretty peerless and trod on my $15-20k Michell Orbe w OL motor/Perderson upgrades, SME V, Transfiguration Orpheus, Tom Evans Groove Plus SRX.
My current analog rig that comes out at $30k, shows my Eera a clean pair of heels.
How my current analog rig compares to a similar price SGM server/Aqua Formula XHD dac...that's an interesting Q.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,821
1,925
610
North Shore of Boston
#6
This is a difficult question to answer I think because there are not many people who have compared different price tier digital and vinyl sources in the same system over a short enough period of time to make firm conclusions. All most of us have to go on is anecdotal experiences. A dealer, or veterine of the industry may have a better idea, but digital is such a moving target.

I know three of my buddies love their Yggy2 DACs. They have different transports and cables, but total cost is probably in the same ball park as another friend who was digital only and recently bought a new Technics DD turntable, built his own phono stage. All four people love the sound of this gear. The question is tough because these guys have not brought their Yggy2 and transports to the vinyl guy or visa versa.

I assume to answer the question properly and with some degree of confidence, we would have to do direct comparisons in the same system. Absent that, we are simply inferring preferences and value, and there is no shortage of that.

There are data points out there. MikeL, SpiritofMusic, some of my friends who have both digital and vinyl - they all seem to prefer their vinyl, by a little or a lot, even though the sources may be differently priced.

I think it comes down to what medium holds the music you want to hear, which format fits more into your lifestyle, and which format sounds better to you. Price and commitment also play a role. For some it can be both formats, for others, it is clearly one or the other, for a variety of reasons.

Personally, at my price level and with only limited comparisons, I prefer vinyl for sonic reasons, though I do appreciate the convenience and accessibility to music with digital. At the high end lower level of about $6K for digital or vinyl, I prefer vinyl, though this is based on different system and room contexts. At the top end, MikeL has written that he prefers vinyl, though I do not know if that is the case with all three of his turntables.

In the end, I suspect personal biases will make it difficult to reach an objective, or definitive answer as to which offers more value.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,407
1,250
525
Denmark
#7
This is a difficult question to answer I think because there are not many people who have compared different price tier digital and vinyl sources in the same system over a short enough period of time to make firm conclusions. All most of us have to go on is anecdotal experiences. A dealer, or veterine of the industry may have a better idea, but digital is such a moving target.

I know three of my buddies love their Yggy2 DACs. They have different transports and cables, but total cost is probably in the same ball park as another friend who was digital only and recently bought a new Technics DD turntable, built his own phono stage. All four people love the sound of this gear. The question is tough because these guys have not brought their Yggy2 and transports to the vinyl guy or visa versa.

I assume to answer the question properly and with some degree of confidence, we would have to do direct comparisons in the same system. Absent that, we are simply inferring preferences and value, and there is no shortage of that.

There are data points out there. MikeL, SpiritofMusic, some of my friends who have both digital and vinyl - they all seem to prefer their vinyl, by a little or a lot, even though the sources may be differently priced.

I think it comes down to what medium holds the music you want to hear, which format fits more into your lifestyle, and which format sounds better to you. Price and commitment also play a role. For some it can be both formats, for others, it is clearly one or the other, for a variety of reasons.

Personally, at my price level and with only limited comparisons, I prefer vinyl for sonic reasons, though I do appreciate the convenience and accessibility to music with digital. At the high end lower level of about $6K for digital or vinyl, I prefer vinyl, though this is based on different system and room contexts. At the top end, MikeL has written that he prefers vinyl, though I do not know if that is the case with all three of his turntables.

In the end, I suspect personal biases will make it difficult to reach an objective, or definitive answer as to which offers more value.
And then there is Micro :)
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
8,864
2,655
770
#8
i'm likely the most heavily invested across the board of multiple source types (not that that is good). so this subject is very important to me. very.

yet the last 5 days i've been in love with my tt's, cartridges, and new EMIA silver SUT. so been ignoring other stuff. when i come up for air i will comment.:cool:
 
Likes: hogen

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,644
621
660
Manila, Philippines
#9
If not the most heavily invested you just may be one of the most balanced across the three that I know of Mike.
 
Likes: bonzo75

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,407
1,250
525
Denmark
#10
i'm likely the most heavily invested across the board of multiple source types (not that that is good). so this subject is very important to me. very.

yet the last 5 days i've been in love with my tt's, cartridges, and new EMIA silver SUT. so been ignoring other stuff. when i come up for air i will comment.:cool:
This thread is so far below you price range Mike, how would you even know :rolleyes: and i’m only half kidding ! 18k would probably only buy one of your fancy anti vibration devices.
 
Last edited:

Alrainbow

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
1,615
402
315
NYC , USA
#11
IMO,

Speakers first ( most budget ) then amp to drive the load ..
 
May 30, 2010
16,747
1,591
720
Portugal
#12
And then there is Micro :)
Who will tell that the original question is so dependent on everything else (system, preferences) that it becomes meaningless.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,407
1,250
525
Denmark
#13
Who will tell that the original question is so dependent on everything else (system, preferences) that it becomes meaningless.
You know i’m only messing with you Micro ! I consider you one of the most knowledgeable members in this forum, and probably the most honest one. You have no preconceptions when it comes to equipment, not like most of the rest of us :rolleyes: You tell the truth about gear, even when you are not satisfied and trying to sell it. And you are one of the few people that will admit being just as much into the chasing and trying out gear as you are the music :eek:
 
Likes: PeterA

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
1,049
139
285
Round Rock, TX
#14
Thanks for the feedback. I do agree that Mike's system would be the extreme end of the range - best of analog vs best digital. I also agree with some of the #s based on my experience. Part of the reason I created the post is because there is a significant amount of high quality music on vinyl that isn't of the same quality on digital (old Jazz in particular). And as such, I'm wondering if it's worth it from a budget perspective to invest in analog to match the quality of my digital or if just continuing to upgrade my digital is the better path. Budget, time and tradeoffs I guess..
 
Likes: Lagonda

sbo6

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2014
1,049
139
285
Round Rock, TX
#15
Who will tell that the original question is so dependent on everything else (system, preferences) that it becomes meaningless.
But that could be said about any component comparison. I believe correlations can be made when comparing source types and their associated costs. And what I've heard correlates with some folks above - >~$20K vinyl starts pulling ahead.
 
May 30, 2010
16,747
1,591
720
Portugal
#16
But that could be said about any component comparison. I believe correlations can be made when comparing source types and their associated costs. And what I've heard correlates with some folks above - >~$20K vinyl starts pulling ahead.
IMHO vinyl is one the most difficult subjects to correlate price with performance. First it exists since long, and great units of the past can be bought at very reasonable prices. Second there is such variance in the type of sound we can get from vinyl that most time the preference criteria surpasses the quality one. For audiophiles vinyl is however very attractive - our hobby lives on permanent differences and it is extremely easy to create differences using this media.

Evaluating vinyl economics also has problem - we need a turntable, a tonearm, a cartridge and a RIAA preamplifier. How are we going to split the 20k budget?
 
May 30, 2010
16,747
1,591
720
Portugal
#17
(...) And you are one of the few people that will admit being just as much into the chasing and trying out gear as you are the music :eek:
Thanks for the compliment - by the time my signature speaker stabilizes stating modified Quad ESL63 I will be mostly in the music ... :)
 
Likes: Lagonda
#18
IME, a first rate digital front-end will cost you $25-30K. That is a server or computer, software, a good USB DAC two good USB cables and a good USB reclocker like the tx-USBUltra.

Seems like a comparable turntable rig with a good RIAA preamp would cost you around $30K as well.
 

howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
1,391
1,128
400
#19
One interesting addition to your question would be what if you put that 18k into room design and acoustics? Would that bring about an even greater improvement than putting into another format?
 

HughP3

VIP/Donor
Apr 25, 2019
189
234
150
59
#20
This is an interesting thread. I am staying on the dark side for now but would really love to compare an equivalent analog rig without having to buy it first :confused:
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing