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Trying to understand the turntable/vinyl world...

JP

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Finally, after all these years, and in response to a question that exactly no one was asking, the folks at Nagra have decided to sell a record player. You can go to their site and read their pseudo-engineering marketeering spiel. Obviously it'll be top notch, but it got me to thinking about how it all went down, at the marketing and product planning meeting:

Dieter: Ok, I've called this meeting to brainstorm ideas about what can we do to play on our 'heritage', and cash in on the vinyl resurgence. You know, we want to be able to sell something no one else has. Something that will definitely justify the through the roof cost we're going to charge, and at the same time, something having the 'Nagra aura'.

Hans: How about instead of 'regular' belt drive, we add an additional belt-tensioner flywheel thingy? That will make it look like an open reel deck, and we can offer some sort of esoteric engineering claim for, something that will sound believable to Ken, over and Hi Fi News. And we'll ship one to Fremer, over at Stereophile. You know, the guy that just got his whole house wiring upgrade. He'll definitely appreciate that with a good review!

Dieter: Great, thinking. That's what I'm looking for. We'll make the drive system look like an open reel tape recorder. And open reel is about as cool as you can get. Anyone else? Brenner?

Brenner: And of course we'll add a little round meter that measures something. VU? Not sure about that. How about wow and flutter? Or rpm?

Hans: We'll call it the Nagra Modulometer!

Brenner: Umm...er... what's a Modulometer? Isn't that that from a '50s sci-fi movie?

Hans: No. Your thinking about an Interociter. This will be different. And much better. We'll figure out what it does later, tonight at the pub, after work. Once we've thrown back a bucket or two of Trois Dames, it'll all start to make more sense...

View attachment 168843
View attachment 168844

"During listening no active speed control is employed. While listening, the motors are only running in a closed loop mode. By eliminating active speed control the “cogging” and associated ill effects on image stability generated by such active systems is avoided."

Someone might want to explain to them what 'closed loop' means. We can let the misappropriated trigger word slide.
 

Robin L

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Finally, after all these years, and in response to a question that exactly no one was asking, the folks at Nagra have decided to sell a record player. You can go to their site and read their pseudo-engineering marketeering spiel. Obviously it'll be top notch, but it got me to thinking about how it all went down, at the marketing and product planning meeting:

Dieter: Ok, I've called this meeting to brainstorm ideas about what can we do to play on our 'heritage', and cash in on the vinyl resurgence. You know, we want to be able to sell something no one else has. Something that will definitely justify the through the roof cost we're going to charge, and at the same time, something having the 'Nagra aura'.

Hans: How about instead of 'regular' belt drive, we add an additional belt-tensioner flywheel thingy? That will make it look like an open reel deck, and we can offer some sort of esoteric engineering claim for, something that will sound believable to Ken, over and Hi Fi News. And we'll ship one to Fremer, over at Stereophile. You know, the guy that just got his whole house wiring upgrade. He'll definitely appreciate that with a good review!

Dieter: Great, thinking. That's what I'm looking for. We'll make the drive system look like an open reel tape recorder. And open reel is about as cool as you can get. Anyone else? Brenner?

Brenner: And of course we'll add a little round meter that measures something. VU? Not sure about that. How about wow and flutter? Or rpm?

Hans: We'll call it the Nagra Modulometer!

Brenner: Umm...er... what's a Modulometer? Isn't that that from a '50s sci-fi movie?

Hans: No. Your thinking about an Interociter. This will be different. And much better. We'll figure out what it does later, tonight at the pub, after work. Once we've thrown back a bucket or two of Trois Dames, it'll all start to make more sense...

View attachment 168843
View attachment 168844
Reminds me of the Nagra D:

R.jpg



Cost something like $10,000 back in 1992. A reel-to-reel digital tape recorder, capable of 4 channels of 16-bit or two channels of 20-bit recording [by syncing up two channels as one]. The updated version, the Dii, features the same physical design, but now maxes out at 24/96 for all four channels. In any case, big, bulky, totally non-standard, hard to find tape, very expensive and so on.

The Tascam Portacapture X8 6-input/6-track handheld adaptive multitrack recorder is a handheld digital recorder, uses Micro-SD chips up to 512gb in size, far more practical in every way. $500. Have no idea what the Nagra Dii costs.


tascam_portacapture_x8_handheld_adaptive_1637106380_1644741.jpg

 

anmpr1

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Can a Stellavox record player be next? LOL

I remember times 'twisting the tape' when loading a reel. Hopefully the Nagra belt won't allow for that. But will it squeak, and shed rubber? That's the real question. :facepalm:

I like Nagra gear. I'm talking their kit from back in the day. Not much like it. Solid engineering without a price point. You paid a lot, but you got what you paid for. And it served an important purpose, out in the field. But sometimes I think you have to laugh at what they've become, with this sort of thing. Which often seems like it boils down to selling something with admittedly exquisite fit and finish at a high price, for no compelling reason.
 

sergeauckland

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Can a Stellavox record player be next? LOL

I remember times 'twisting the tape' when loading a reel. Hopefully the Nagra belt won't allow for that. But will it squeak, and shed rubber? That's the real question. :facepalm:

I like Nagra gear. I'm talking their kit from back in the day. Not much like it. Solid engineering without a price point. You paid a lot, but you got what you paid for. And it served an important purpose, out in the field. But sometimes I think you have to laugh at what they've become, with this sort of thing. Which often seems like it boils down to selling something with admittedly exquisite fit and finish at a high price, for no compelling reason.
Nagra are now a very different company from when Stefan Kudelski ran it. At that time is was entirely engineering based, but then split into two companies, Kudelski Group which are still engineering based, mainly in Video encryption and security, and run by Andre Kudelski. The Nagra Audio company, which is a brand of the Audio Technology group, was at one time run by Stefan Kudelski's daughter, but I don't think there is now any connection between the two groups.

It seems to me that Nagra Audio just trade on the visual style of past excellence, without any of the substance.

S.
 

Suffolkhifinut

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"During listening no active speed control is employed. While listening, the motors are only running in a closed loop mode. By eliminating active speed control the “cogging” and associated ill effects on image stability generated by such active systems is avoided."

Someone might want to explain to them what 'closed loop' means. We can let the misappropriated trigger word slide.
There are two types of closed loop system, positional and velocity. Turntables obviously fall into the ‘velocity’ category. Speed is monitored and a feedback signal is applied to the controller in an attempt to keep the speed at the set value. This means the speed oscillates slightly around the set point. In my opinion for turntables an open loop (no feedback compensation) system with a heavy platter is much better, the gives a flywheel effect in trying to keep the speed stable.
 

JP

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There are two types of closed loop system, positional and velocity. Turntables obviously fall into the ‘velocity’ category. Speed is monitored and a feedback signal is applied to the controller in an attempt to keep the speed at the set value. This means the speed oscillates slightly around the set point. In my opinion for turntables an open loop (no feedback compensation) system with a heavy platter is much better, the gives a flywheel effect in trying to keep the speed stable.

Not sure why you're quoting me as your post appears to be unrelated. Either approach can be executed sufficiently such that errors are below audibility. Still, the best speed consistency I've seen remains PLL DD.
 

Suffolkhifinut

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Not sure why you're quoting me as your post appears to be unrelated. Either approach can be executed sufficiently such that errors are below audibility. Still, the best speed consistency I've seen remains PLL DD.
You asked for ‘Someone to explain what closed loop means?’ That’s what you got, a straightforward question got a straightforward answer. Cogging is something entirely different.
 

JP

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You asked for ‘Someone to explain what closed loop means?’ That’s what you got, a straightforward question got a straightforward answer. Cogging is something entirely different.

May want to read it again. It was a rhetorical statement pointing out that they mixed up closed-loop and open-loop.
 

MattHooper

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I'm being wow'd again by my vinyl set up.

In some ways I'm too lazy to be a turntable/vinyl guy - I truly dislike the fuss of setting up cartridges especially. I'm amazed that other people can often swap between cartridges just for fun. For me it's such a hassle. But then I've also made it hard on myself because, although I'm lazy I'm also a bit obsessive about the sound quality, so I now do my cartridge alignment using this custom-made protractor:


You send the turntable/arm specs and the guy does a custom protractor for your set up.

The selling point is that this system, while ridiculously finicky, is supposed to ultimately be more accurate than the average patterns/protractors many use.

It is simply diabolically tricky to set up a cartridge, particularly my cartridge, with this thing. The lines you have to hit are border-in-on-microscopic fine. First you have to adjust the overhang of the cartridge so it hits all the points along the super fine radius line. Then tighten the mounting screw. THAT in of itself usually takes me an hour or three! THEN you have to adjust the angle of the cartridge (Left to right) using the null points, using the parallax to first align your eye to get the lines straight, and then try to get the stylus/cantilever straightened between the parallel null lines. That of course necessitates loosening the cartridge mount screw which inevitably throws off the work you've done in the previous hours nailing the over-hang. And it involves what feel like microscopic adjustments of the cartridge - on the level only brain surgeons are familiar with - WHILE desperately trying to see the null lines through a USB microscope or a high power loop. Worse: my cartridge is very low slung, so I can barely see the cantilever to begin with.

My first try as I remember took me about 8 hours (on and off through the day, taking breaks! The next I think more like 5.

I'm willing to go through this agony both because I want my record collection to sound as good as possible and because, normally, I'd only have to do this when putting on a new cartridge, which for me would be about once every 3 years. BUT...a while back when taking off a record I somehow clumsily swiped the lifting lever of my cartridge, knocking the whole damned thing loose and askew! My blood ran cold given how much work I knew I'd just trounced, and how much it would take to do it again. So I just eyeballed it back on, listening that way for the last few weeks, thinking "still sounds pretty good" though not as good as I'm used to.

Anyway, finally got around to going through the Mint Protractor adjustment process again yesterday. This time got it down to 2 hours.
The thing with stupid analog adjustments like this is, as my turntable pal puts it, "it never sounds the same way twice. Sneeze, wear a different shirt, and it sounds different." Each time I've done the adjustment it's never sounded exactly the same - damned close, but not perfect.
I mean, we are asking to get a teeny rock to perfectly trace between two ultra small sides of a valley with micro information on each side.

This time, by as much as dumb luck as anything else, I seem to have really nailed the alignment or something because the sound is AMAZING!
It sounds so incredibly pure, so clean, so detailed...like I'm hearing down in to the molecules of a recording studio!

Ever since I got this turntable/arm/cartridge (Transrotor Fat Bob S turntable/Acoustic Solid arm/Benz Micro Ebony L cartridge) I've been impressed by the sound, but nailing the alignment seems to have pushed it further. My digital source is full res streaming through my Benchmark DAC 2L in to a Benchmark LA4 preamp. About as good as it gets. And yet when go from listening to my digital source to the LPs, generally speaking, I'm still gobsmacked by the sound of LPs! I'm not of course saying they are identical in how they sound. But I do get all that "my god that's clear, detailed, rich, spacious, realistic" etc - all those audiophile thrills - from the LP set up just like I do from the digital source.

When I combine that level of sonic satisfaction with the other elements of record listening that for me distinguish it from digital (my enjoyment of owning physical records, the aesthetics of a nice record, the aesthetics and conceptual design pleasure of the turntable, the way records aid my focusing on music etc), this is why I find myself listening to more records than my digital source. For me, the combined experience makes listening to a record feel like "a rich feast, dining out" vs digital feeling more like "fast food" (ubiquitous, easy, ever present at the flick of a finger digital music streaming).
 

Leiker535

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I'm being wow'd again by my vinyl set up.

In some ways I'm too lazy to be a turntable/vinyl guy - I truly dislike the fuss of setting up cartridges especially. I'm amazed that other people can often swap between cartridges just for fun. For me it's such a hassle. But then I've also made it hard on myself because, although I'm lazy I'm also a bit obsessive about the sound quality, so I now do my cartridge alignment using this custom-made protractor:


You send the turntable/arm specs and the guy does a custom protractor for your set up.

The selling point is that this system, while ridiculously finicky, is supposed to ultimately be more accurate than the average patterns/protractors many use.

It is simply diabolically tricky to set up a cartridge, particularly my cartridge, with this thing. The lines you have to hit are border-in-on-microscopic fine. First you have to adjust the overhang of the cartridge so it hits all the points along the super fine radius line. Then tighten the mounting screw. THAT in of itself usually takes me an hour or three! THEN you have to adjust the angle of the cartridge (Left to right) using the null points, using the parallax to first align your eye to get the lines straight, and then try to get the stylus/cantilever straightened between the parallel null lines. That of course necessitates loosening the cartridge mount screw which inevitably throws off the work you've done in the previous hours nailing the over-hang. And it involves what feel like microscopic adjustments of the cartridge - on the level only brain surgeons are familiar with - WHILE desperately trying to see the null lines through a USB microscope or a high power loop. Worse: my cartridge is very low slung, so I can barely see the cantilever to begin with.

My first try as I remember took me about 8 hours (on and off through the day, taking breaks! The next I think more like 5.

I'm willing to go through this agony both because I want my record collection to sound as good as possible and because, normally, I'd only have to do this when putting on a new cartridge, which for me would be about once every 3 years. BUT...a while back when taking off a record I somehow clumsily swiped the lifting lever of my cartridge, knocking the whole damned thing loose and askew! My blood ran cold given how much work I knew I'd just trounced, and how much it would take to do it again. So I just eyeballed it back on, listening that way for the last few weeks, thinking "still sounds pretty good" though not as good as I'm used to.

Anyway, finally got around to going through the Mint Protractor adjustment process again yesterday. This time got it down to 2 hours.
The thing with stupid analog adjustments like this is, as my turntable pal puts it, "it never sounds the same way twice. Sneeze, wear a different shirt, and it sounds different." Each time I've done the adjustment it's never sounded exactly the same - damned close, but not perfect.
I mean, we are asking to get a teeny rock to perfectly trace between two ultra small sides of a valley with micro information on each side.

This time, by as much as dumb luck as anything else, I seem to have really nailed the alignment or something because the sound is AMAZING!
It sounds so incredibly pure, so clean, so detailed...like I'm hearing down in to the molecules of a recording studio!

Ever since I got this turntable/arm/cartridge (Transrotor Fat Bob S turntable/Acoustic Solid arm/Benz Micro Ebony L cartridge) I've been impressed by the sound, but nailing the alignment seems to have pushed it further. My digital source is full res streaming through my Benchmark DAC 2L in to a Benchmark LA4 preamp. About as good as it gets. And yet when go from listening to my digital source to the LPs, generally speaking, I'm still gobsmacked by the sound of LPs! I'm not of course saying they are identical in how they sound. But I do get all that "my god that's clear, detailed, rich, spacious, realistic" etc - all those audiophile thrills - from the LP set up just like I do from the digital source.

When I combine that level of sonic satisfaction with the other elements of record listening that for me distinguish it from digital (my enjoyment of owning physical records, the aesthetics of a nice record, the aesthetics and conceptual design pleasure of the turntable, the way records aid my focusing on music etc), this is why I find myself listening to more records than my digital source. For me, the combined experience makes listening to a record feel like "a rich feast, dining out" vs digital feeling more like "fast food" (ubiquitous, easy, ever present at the flick of a finger digital music streaming).
One thing I'll admit, though it is susceptible to the whole hobby (and anything else, really), and though I share 100% your feeling of streaming's easy of access actually being a subjective 'downside': I was happier without access to very precise alignment tools.

When I first went fine line, I managed to skew the cantilever immediately after taking it out of the package. That broke my heart as well as my wallet. AT at the time was having a shortage due to Covid, so I had to wait for my local supplier to get replacement styli. Meanwhile, I was still using the very bent fine line, which still sounded way better than my entry ortofon 3e. Only problem with it was a very slight channel imbalance, and IGD that shouldn't be there in magnitude. My mind in these time of usage just went numb, and I enjoyed sound to the max, knowing that I couldn't ever really get the alignment right.

Fast forward a year and I got the replacement ready. Bought a usb microscope and used a stevenson protractor as I hate IGD. After painstakingly aligning the cart itself, I then started to align VTA using the microscope. Hours went by till I had everything where I wanted. ... Then I listened to it. IGD was mostly gone, but there was a shrillness to the sound that most attribute to wrong VTA. I reconfirmed all the alignement and still don't have the sound that I want. The big irony, thus, is that with no options I enjoyed much better my rig than with minutia; to this day I'm fiddling with VTA and AS in a twisted audiophile tale of the myth of Sisyphus.
 

MattHooper

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I feel ya on that brother!

I did one painstaking adjustment quite a while ago and while it sounded excellent I was bothered bit a little peak in the upper treble - sibilance, cymbals all had an added spiky sharpness that was a bit fatiguing. As far as I could tell I got the alignment super close. But after a month of being a bit frustrated I tried it again. For all I could determine it aligned much as it had before. But..voila! that upper frequency emphasis was gone! It now sounded like I was always used to - really smooth and well balanced. Which was great, but also aggravating because I couldn't pinpoint what I did to get there other than just "trying it again."

The thing is once I have done my best and nailed an adjustment, where there is no obvious problem sticking out in the sound, that's really it. I don't fuss more thinking about "can I/should I adjust it some more?" I went years without even thinking of adjusting my cartridge..until it wore out and I had to replace it.

Another nice thing about getting the cartridge well dialed in is that it seems like record noise generally seems quieter and less intrusive.
 

sq225917

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Worth thinking about the end of track run out position when aligning a cart. These days with double albums being made from single anf 2x 45 being audiophile order of the day the inner end of side might be quite a bit further from the centra than many alignment templates expect.

I measured the ladt 50 albums i purchased and on average the best inner null point was 3mm further out from spindle than expected.

I didn't adjust it as I have a lot of classical stuff that's jam packed with long run times, but worth taking note of.
 

EJ3

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Eliminating alignment hassles:​

The P-mount T4P cartridge​

Perhaps I am not as particular as you are.

My Technics SL-M3 Automatic Quartz Lock, Direct Drive, Linear tracking turntable with top of the line Titanium Nitride tonearm (Technics invented P-mount & it was designed based on the Stevenson alignment), 4 pivots gimbal suspension, strobe light, speed adjustment, etc.

I use a variety of cartridges with NOS styli (Technics P34, SHURE V15LT, SHURE 300 & 400 ULTRA and also with some JICO styli).

Many P-mounts (not all meet the T4P spec) are available at:

From LP Gear's website:

At LP Gear, we have assembled the best P-MOUNT cartridges available in the world some of which are only available here.

Specifically designed to be user-friendly, the P-MOUNT or T4P cartridge makes changing and setting-up a phono cartridge very simple, easy and fast.

It takes only two steps: (1) plug and (2) screw. That's it.

Now why is P-MOUNT desirable? Most users simply want to play and listen to records. To them a turntable is simply a means to an end. The half-inch mount turntable requires several steps to install the cartridge and several other steps to balance and align the cartridge. Balancing and aligning a cartridge are required for optimal tracking, groove retrieval and sound quality. The P-MOUNT design simplifies cartridge installation and eliminates the need for cartridge alignment.

Please note: P-MOUNT cartridges are designed to be installed in P-MOUNT tonearms. They can also be used with a half-inch tonearm head shell by using a half-inch adapter. A P-MOUNT cartridge with a half-inch adapter supplied along with it is called a universal cartridge. Hence, a Universal cartridge is both P-mountable and half-inch mountable.
 

Sal1950

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A special offer for the vinyl guys from Steven Wilson
Don't get left out. :p
StevenWilson2021.jpg
 

dlaloum

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For easy setup/alignment and removal of a whole bunch of other issues - Linear Trackers are the "Bees Knees".

There are a number of them from the "Golden Age" - and a few current relatively rare arms... that require special mounting to a customised turntable.

All the Japanese brands had good to great Linear trackers.... as well as quite a few European and North America.... ones that come to mind:

Technics
Pioneer
Yamaha
Revox
B&O
Sony

Many came out during the p-mount era - and were fitted accordingly - some were designed for "standard cartridges" and fitted with p-mount adapters (eg: Revox) - and some were completely proprietary (B&O) .

There are still adjustments that need to be made and verified, except if they are p-mount, and the p-mount cartridge is fully p-mount standard compliant, TT's with a p-mount adapter still need to be adjusted to make sure they match the p-mount standard - and if the arm has been setup to the p-mount standard, you should make sure that the cartridge is in fact fully p-mount compliant - and not just p-mount mounted.

If it is merely p-mounted - then you need to check everything ...

My preference, is for a turntable with some degree of damping to the arm (low frequency fluid/electronic/magnetic)... the damping makes the arm far more flexible and capable of handling a wider range of cartridge/needle compliances.

Sony's BioTracer linear tracker had electronic/magnetic damping, with linear tracking and a universal headshell mounting - lovely! low to mid mass, but easily adjusted to mid mass or even mid-high

I have a Revox - very very low mass arm, a Unipivot linear tracker - magical with very high compliance cartridges - fitting a p-mount adapter makes cartridge swapping easier - but then increases the arm mass (which is OK it brings it into p-mount standard range - where it is normally too light for p-mount!) - and it has a special grease in the unipivot which provides very light damping (all that is needed for a low mass solution).
 

MattHooper

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My son (20) doesn't collect records per se - though he'll occasionally grab an album of an artist he likes and because the cover looks cool.
We'll spin a few songs on my rig.

He asked me to get Thundercat's "Drunk" on vinyl for a birthday present. It's an album we've both listened to digitally for years, and it's a constant on his playlist. I got the special box set pressed on red vinyl, separated in to four 45rpm discs. When it arrived my son was almost beside himself, practically jumping up and down because he thought it was so cool. Got around to listening to it last night. Beautiful packaging, every individual album and sleeve had wonderful artwork, each LP looked a beautiful orange/red colored vinyl.

We spun a few of our favorite songs and it sounded mind bogglingly good. I've never heard it sound that good before in the sense of a combination of richness, clarity, "oomph" and density to the bass etc. One of the best sounding experiences of almost anything I've heard on my system. My son was overjoyed "sounds like it's all around me!"

It really speaks to the current power that vinyl has for some people and why it's popular. My son listens to music streaming all day long - youtube, Tidal (and now we have Apple Music). I think it gives music a sort of wallpaper ubiquitous effect after a while. Whereas the music simply arriving in a physical form gave him a thrill that just flicking through the songs on his phone or laptop never gave him.
 

BDWoody

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For easy setup/alignment and removal of a whole bunch of other issues - Linear Trackers are the "Bees Knees".

I have the Technics SL-10 and SL-15, and laughed the first time I 'set up' a different cartridge on one of them. Push it in, tighten the little bolt, done.

The MC-310 in the SL-10 is still surprisingly good.

Getting the VM540 on the Kenwood 880D was a different experience. Glad I'm happy with it.
 

Chrispy

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I have the Technics SL-10 and SL-15, and laughed the first time I 'set up' a different cartridge on one of them. Push it in, tighten the little bolt, done.

The MC-310 in the SL-10 is still surprisingly good.

Getting the VM540 on the Kenwood 880D was a different experience. Glad I'm happy with it.
Curious, how did you test tracking ability between this style of arm vs others?
 

kongwee

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Orchestra music is a good reason why people will prefer to buy vinyl over CD when cost, time and space isn't an issue. You can give tons of scientific research. Yes digital is perfect. Recording engineers will tell you Red Book is not enough. Analogy tape is closer to mic feed than direct ADC. Vinyl is closer to analog tape than CD. That why SACD and DVD-A were born to address this issue.
 
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