The downsizing journey

Has anyone else made a transition from a large vinyl-based system to a digital-only files-based system? Ann and I did this four years ago in order to change cities, move into an apartment and be closer to our daughter and her family. (Yes, retirement.) I’ve written about this transition in Positive Feedback. It was traumatic at the time, and I needed several shoulders to cry on through the process. But we’re well past the crisis now. And looking back, I decided it might be useful to write an update on our Pros and Cons after four years (published in Positive Feedback, here).

We survived the process! And we’re actually quite happy with the final outcome. Here’s our quick summary:

  • A big plus for the digital system is that Ann can now find music that she could never find among the plethora of LPs on the record shelves. This is thanks to the very comprehensive and fully indexed database at the core of our digital music library and to our music being entire in digital files, not physical media. (We use JRiver, but Roon is a fine alternative.)
  • A second big plus for the digital system is that we now are listening to a broad range of new musicians, new performances, and new musical compositions—musicians and music that were not available to us on vinyl.
  • What do we miss? The many LPs that will never make it into digital format and that we’ll always miss. (But the deep HDTT catalog is coming up with surprises every week!)

Have you gone through something similar? Do you have downsizing coming in your future? Please share. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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I did just the opposite, well, sort of. Just received a new storage unit for cd’s/dvd/blu-ray/4k blu-ray, as I outgrew the shelving space and started using the floor to store music/movies. And am contemplating another set of speakers, potentially later this year.

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Kicked around the idea when I went from a Mac based server to the Innuos ZENith MK III, but old habits die hard. That and many of my LPs are not available for streaming on any platform, as they tend to be limited distribution available directly from the artist from the 70’s going forward. So the vinyl stays, all 10,000 plus LPs. My wife says I’m nuts. You know…
She’s right!

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This is terrific that you are staying in place and have the room to retain your vinyl. Given a choice, I’d never have parted with my LPs. But, this apartment was not going to hold 8,000 of them no matter how carefully we placed all that Ikea shelving. :wink:

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We are currently discussing downsizing, having three homes in the Midwest. It will also require downsizing listening systems, as I have six, more or less.

I tried negotiating my way to a limited number of cherry-picked LPs. (Pleeze, just 1500!) Even downsizing the turntable and electronics. Nope, couldn’t get that idea past the goal posts.

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Ok I see this must have been hard!

I fortunately didn’t have to do something similar yet, furthermore I always needed both. Vinyl for the otherwise non digital available stuff or originals where superior, for the better masterings of the recordings also available digitally and for more or less everything prior to 1980…but in the same way I needed digital for all newer music that was not available on vinyl until the vinyl resurgence. I could never only have just listened to solely music available on vinyl. A much too narrow scope for my musical interest. For the same reason tape was no attraction for me, as inspite of the great quality, the limitation of titles is more than extreme and convenience non existent.

I really feel with you with that change although you now sure have a great music playback anyway. I feel so not mainly for the analog/digital change, but for the speaker setup/headphone change.

Just recently I thought about that the most insane limitation of our hobby is, that it realistically can’t be practiced in most real life scenarios in a way that’s the real fun (proper placement, loud enough volumes, without constant and limiting considerateness to neighbors or family members. It’s reallly a sick hobby, also given the fact that mostly only one family member has the true fun with this kind of isolating, kind of autistic hobby.

I love music and hearing it in this quality extremely, but I also see that the kind of reduced but still luxury variant you had to choose, might not be as far as I’d hope from many of us.

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I did attempt to down size the herd so to speak taking advantage of a local pre-COVID record pop-up sale. Essentially pulled duplicates, and unlikely future listens on vinyl. It was a fair amount of work. They were all cataloged in Discogs, and cleaned on a VPI 16.45 with rice paper inner sleeves and 3 mil poly outer sleeves. Most being NM- per Goldmine visual grading guidelines. They sold quite nicely, but I wish more had gone. It was actually a lot of fun. I offered younger people new to vinyl that purchased three or more records a blind pick out of those available at no cost. That was a lot of fun seeing the expression on their faces with what they ended up with. One pulled a NM- Pink Floyd’s The Wall, at no charge. Unfortunately, since COVID hit the opportunity has not presented itself again. I have about 500 set aside for a future pop-up. Ultimately I will continue to maintain a vinyl library, but eliminating duplicates just makes sense, at least at the moment. A friend who passed away recently had a collection in excess of 50,000 records. Mostly jazz, all graded and cataloged as he also sold them online as business enterprise set-up pre-eBay or Discogs. I understand the family is still looking for a serious buyer to buy the entire collection.

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Our hifi is supposed to bring joy to our lives, not stress. Just enjoy whatever fits into your life.
I have a main system, a small system in another residence and a Tivoli table top radio in the bedroom. I love listening to them all.

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I sold a 1,000 strong LP collection (lots of new and specialist pieces in there), Slee Accession phonostage, Rega RP8/Apheta 2, a lovely headphone amp and a pair of Utopia headphones. Then I sold my CEC CD transport, PMC standmount speakers and Qutest DAC and Townshend Audio Allegri+ preamp and Slee power amps. Then off went all of the associated cables. A full system! Everything but the equipment isolation products.

Replaced by an Innuos Zen Mk3, Chord TT2, M700s and Focal Kanta 2. AudioQuest Diamond Digital cables and Townshend Fractal F1 interconnects and speaker cables.

Streaming only and yes I miss a few of my LPs, but the the overall leap in system performance was well worth it. My listening room is now adorned with my wife’s prize winning quilts and family mementos instead of racks and racks of vinyl and CD towers.

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That’s the spirit! :wink:

Don’t have that problem. In serious upsizing mode…

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Working on plans for a new beach house/retirement house which will effectively double the size of my current space. It’ll be neat to hear the system in a larger space.

I got rid of my entire analog gears and LP collection over 10 years ago and kept only the Cd collection to save space. I did not have streaming back then either. My wife was instantly happy when they were gone, but it took a few months for me to recover.

Now streaming and playing files are taking over, but I still have the PST since I have a healthy collection of SACD/CDs.

Congratulations! I love stories about music lovers getting more space for the sound to flow. :smiley: But, it won’t be real until there are pictures - hint, hint. :sunglasses:

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Yes, a traumatic change losing one’s LPs, with long recovery time required. Sounds like you are recovering with files and CD/SACDs available, so that’s positive.

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The Big question is, for those who down sized from LP systems to digital, do you feel there was a loss in sound quality?

I’d be curious to hear from others about this question, too. My experience has been positive. The sound quality is different, but on many days with high resolution DSD256 and DXD files, I’m a very happy listener.

There is a certain relaxed quality to vinyl, plus a tactile experience that adds to the total experience. Sometimes I miss that. But, I often feel I’m closer to the live feed from the microphones with the best DSD256 and DXD files than I’ve ever been able to get. In my vinyl days, the best of my 45rpm vinyl is what got me closest to the sound from the microphones. Only high quality 15ips tape dubs got closer.

Today, I regularly get this experience listening to DSD256 or DXD files from labels like Channel Classics, Eudora, Northstar, Lawo, 2L, Sono Luminus, Hunnia, Just Listen, Sound Liaison, and a few others, who are making new current recordings. Octave Records is getting there. And then there are the labels transferring from high quality reel-to-reel tapes to DSD256 whose digital releases are superb, like HDTT, 2xHD, IPI.

But note that I’m talking about high resolution digital crafted with a perfectionist mindset. There are a lot of poorly produced lower res PCM digital files that just sound shabby. Hmmm…, no different than a lot of vinyl that crossed my shelves, eh?

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It’s a little ways off at the moment, but when the time comes…

Here’s a reminder of where we stand at present.


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I’m not sure it’s an easy yes/no answer. In my case absolutely it’s better, because selling all allowed and upgrade in amplification and big upgrade in DAC and a HUGE upgrade in speakers. Zen MK3 + TT2 through Kanta 2 easily outperforms RP8/Apheta2 through small PMCs.
If I didn’t change amps and speakers I think the DAC upgrade would’ve been as good but different rather than better.

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