The Day Has Come

For five immersive months I have delved into the matters of streamed music – from streaming services to DACs to cables, but only read about fuses. Sonos and Spotify no more.

A new world had arrived. Impressive deliveries, including convenience and massive content at a click of a button on the remote.

So impressed I more or less concluded that the traditional gap between digital and analog had been more or less obliterated.

So, after many years of dormant TT chain, today was the day. After refreshed TT setup the last couple days, I played vinyl.

More or less stunned, I was pressed into my chair by what I heard from my twenty-year-old TT chain (Michell Gyro Dec (with original ‘belt’ and spindle oil), SME 309 arm, Shelter 501 II cartridge, ASR Mini Basis phono amp, legacy Nordost phono RCA interconnect).

Finesse, increased tonal depth, increased tonal richness, dramatically-enhanced transients, stage strength and nuance, sheer power, clarity, power, completeness, and increased tonal balance and respect for individual characteristics/qualities. A curtain had been lifted. Jazz, rock, or classical. All luscious.

Anxious about disappointment that my memory of decades ago was fictional and after listening closely the last few months to several disappointing digital deliveries of Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, including DSD versions, I played my nearly fifty-year-old Deutche Grammophon recording of the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Karl Böhm.

It was wonderful, finally, again. I felt as if I had the position of conductor. Intensely grasping this recording is, making modern hi-res digital versions shallow facsimiles. And, I could hear without gain riding the amp from the quietest to the loudest passages.

Vinyl is real music compared to digital, albeit more content plentiful and convenient.

I look forward to auditioning an Aurender and above. Perhaps then I will better embrace all the clamor in favor of digital.


Welcome back, and it wasn’t all that painful now was it?


This is exactly what I been saying. Vinyl just sounds right in some kind of fundamental way that’s hard to describe. Hearing the same thing from others who probably have better digital systems than I makes me think my current digital upgrade quest may be in vain.


To my ears analog playback sounds like music, digital a facsimile thereof. Let the comments flow. :grinning:


Both can sound phenomenal.


No surprise here. Vinyl has yet to be surpassed. Reel to Reel is supposed to be better but I have no R2R deck so no way to confirm.

You still have to get off yer bottom every ten to twenty minutes.
That might actually be a plus.



Will still mostly use digital for its convenience and massive content. My SQ is great, though vinyl is greater. Laziness rules except for mile swims 4x/week.


ONE: The proverbial if not literal $64,000 question…what DAC/Streamer set up is known to equal vinyl playback without pops and clicks?

I know about the purported superior dynamic range of good digital. But my results yesterday – a 20 year old vinyl setup – vastly outperformed any DAC/Streamer setup I have heard (many but not the $20,000+ options). Mine sounds great, but vinyl setup is greater.

‘I really want to know’ as the song goes.

TWO: While I am asking…how likely is it that the Steller phono amp will significantly outperform my 20 year old ASR Mini Basis, which with TT sounded so luscious yesterday?

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I have heard many master tapes, hands down better than vinyl at least on high-end systems (my reference was IRS-V, Mark Levinson electronics, Linn TT, Koetsu cartridge)


You could very well benefit from a newer phono preamp. The Stellar would be a fine choice.

I would agree that the phono stage MAY be a weak link. There are lots of good ones around for the $2k mark, new and used. There’re a couple of Parasound JC3+ on Audiogon, the extensive shielding is impressive and usually pays dividends. And some Belden balanced cables for another $100.

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But my ‘weak link’ helped produce outstanding SQ

though would like to replace phono amp and cartridge

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The Stellar provided to be the final ingredient to put my vinyl playback system to the next level. Key for me was the ability to finally load my moving coil cartridge properly. The ability to change the impedance load during play, from my listening chair, was a revelation. I fine tune mine all the time because I’ve found my choice can change depending on the particular record. Of course every system is different and your experience could differ from mine but I’ve never looked back.



Exactly correct.

There is no one superior format; merely infinite variations in systems, rooms, recordings - coupled with listener preference and bias.


@akro, any idea what your TT system would cost with today’s money, or what a system of equivalent quality would cost?

I wouldn’t discount your ASR until a side-by-side comparison is completed with the intended replacement phono stage and new MC cartridge.

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As I have stated my preference for vinyl continues. I enjoy digital for its convenience and streaming to evaluate new releases under consideration for purchase. While vinyl has improved considerably over the years, and hopefully will continue to, vinyl just sounds right.

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I enjoy listening to my digital side. I’m listening to it now.
But vinyl has a corporeal quality or feel that I’ve never felt from any digital, no matter how expensive.