Digital or Phono question

I recently received my new Strata Stellar integrated amplifier. Wow, digital music has been transformed for me. But before I got the Stellar, I had recently purchased a new turntable and Moon phono preamp longing for the analog sound again. PSAUDIO phono out of my budget. Now I prefer the digital output coming from the Stellar. I was wondering if upgrading my Ortofon 2M red stylus at some point would help? I would hate to let the turntable just sit there.

I will continue to maintain, as I have on another thread, that digital and analog excel in different ways. Analog has that 3rd dimensional palpability that no digital format has matched in my system. Digital has other advantages like dynamic range and, I don’t dispute or minimize it, convenience.
What matters most to you? If you value both wide dynamic range and palpability equally I personally can’t imagine letting a TT you already have gather dust. Like the strengths digital has over analog more? Let the TT sit. But to summarize, I don’t see the two formats competing equally in all areas with analog done well still beating digital in the realm of reach out and grab it beauty in 2020. I support both in my rig and see myself doing so into the foreseeable future.
Your call.


Yes, why one without the other? I also maintain both, even moving forward.

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Thanks for the input. I won’t give up yet.

Very good point. I also have both and tend to go through spurts where all I want to listen to is analog or digital.

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@owlsalum. Great summary of the differences of the formats. I generally prefer analog but streaming high res on Qobuz or Tidal is such an easy way to find new music. Having both set ups is a blessing.

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This Analog Kid has been a Digital Man 100% for the last 4 years. While I love the sound of Vinyl. I don’t yearn for the care and feeding of it. I’ll admit, I’ve never had a Turntable/Preamp/Cartridge setup in the 4 or 5 figure range (but I’ve listened to some). I just can’t justify anymore spending $40 a pop or more on Audiophile Pressing of truly Classic Albums when I can buy an SACD (preferred), DVD-Audio/Hi-Res PCM, and of course CD’s (but I stream mostly non SACD/DSD titles that aren’t in my “Media Closet”).

Of course I have the Gold MFSL CD of Signals :smiley:


I am spending $50k+ on a new turntable. My digital is awesome, but it cannot compete fully.


Only digital here. Streaming via internet or local net is 99%, CD playback is 1%. I haven’t played a record for at least 25 years and have no interest in playing them now.

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What will it be!?

The reason I also love analog and vinyl is that I am watching screens an klick around in fantastic software all day for my job.

Playing vinyl provides with all the memories and nostalgia a real break. It’s not only about sound quality, it was good in the 80’s for me and it is still good now.

I love digital music as well, some music sounds truly better digitally and the convenience of playlists in servers prevent me from listening to the latest purchased albums only.

So the mix is beautiful. For those who love mechanics and the physics of it the can enjoy spending tens of thousands on a turntable, I could do so too as I love mechanical engineering, but truth be told you can certainly buy beautiful looking turntables with good sounding cartridges for less than 1000 US and if you buy the PS Audio Sprout or alternative you can get a decent integrated pre stage integrated or even separate for a couple of hundred bucks, Lehman Audio, Lime Tree, ABACUS, Project, Schiit and many more interesting proposals.

PS Audio started with good affordable separate phono pre stages. Now the only affordable (meaning less then 1000 $) is the Sprout, but I can not see the point of buying a Sprout integrated solution next to my Stellar Gain Cell DAC.


I agree with @owlsalum re the relative merits of both formats.

As to your cartridge question, you didn’t say (or I didn’t see) any mention of what your turntable is, so it’s difficult to make any blanket statements about whether a better cartridge would make a noticeable difference. But I’d be willing to bet it would. There’s nothing wrong with Ortofon’s 2M line - they’re actually quite good moving magnets. And I use a 2M Bronze in my VPI Scout and love it, and that’s coming from a prior Sumiko BPS moving coil (I got an open-box deal on the Ortofon that made it an easy risk to take). But there’s no disputing that the Red is the bottom of that line of Ortofons. I don’t know what your budget might be for a replacement cart, but if I were you, I’d try to swing the Bronze if I could. I feel pretty confident it would take your vinyl up a notch or two unless your turntable is very entry-level.

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Thanks for the help. I was kind of thinking about upgrading to the bronze. My turntable is a Project Debut Carbon EVO.

I read only good things about the Ortofon 2M MM cartridges, I am contemplating to replace the no name MM cartridge on my Thorens TD 105 with an Ortofon 2M cartridge. Off all already attractive 2M options the Bronze Seems to provide the biggest bang for the buck. I read that everywhere. I’ve read stories of people who bought the ELAC Miracord, they exchanged the brand new cartridge that was supplied with that turntable with the 2M Bronze and never took it off again.

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I think you’d do well with the Bronze on that ‘table.

Thanks for the feedback.

Project has a selection beautiful phono stages that would work well with the 2M Bronze, whether you want state of the art solid state or tube amplification for reasonable budget. I think their tube amps are designed and/or manufactured in cooperation with EAT, who know a thing or two about tubes as the produce some of the worlds highest quality tubes. They cooperate also with turntables, or used to cooperate.

A friend of mine has that same project turntable, he considers it a very good turntable, I don’t remember the cartridge he had. He uses it to rip his entire vinyl collection to 24 bit 96 kHz utilizing his phono stage (Lehman if I remember correctly) and RME DSP Pre Amp A/D and D/A converter, a masterpiece.

That entire process is also a lot of fun.

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