Q: Does anyone really believe that vinyl sounds better than digital? Only digital deniers! Reproducing stereo sound from a vinyl record involves many issues and compromises including high- and low-frequency reproduction, varying track speeds, a groove that contains left and right sounds, all coupled with dust, scratches, record and needle wear and motor distortions. How about doing a blind test of a live band vs. digital vs. vinyl?
A: I am among those who prefer vinyl over digital for music reproduction, despite vinyl's limitations, as you have described them. I also have many more LPs than CDs, and my turntables get much more use than my CD players or streaming devices. Despite all of that, I do not consider myself a "digital denier." But I do question both the reasoning and motivation behind the blind test you suggest. I don't think it is necessary to prove that one format is better than the other. The same way that there are times we have a hankering for Italian food, sometimes we order Chinese and there are times we want a good, old-fashioned American burger, we should be able to enjoy both vinyl and digital formats without having to disparage the other. It is nice to have variety. Plus, there's a practical side to not limiting yourself to just one format: There is a lot of music that's available on vinyl that is not available on digital, and vice versa. So, we need them both.
One place where digital is clearly king is home theater. I can't imagine a needle in a groove trying to re-create audio from a movie soundtrack the way Blu-ray can.
A good deal better
Q: Thanks for recommending the Emotiva Airmotiv T-Zero speakers. I just ordered them and discovered that Emotiva offers a military discount to active service members, veterans and dependents. I photographed my DD214 and sent it in for verification. I received a 10 percent discount and total cost for the speakers was only $359.10, with free shipping. Any company that is selling quality gear and recognizes vets will get my money first.
A: Thank you for your service, and thank you for passing on this information. If you are eligible for this deal, go to emotiva.com/pages/military-discounts to sign up for the 10 percent discount.
The Airmotiv T-Zero speakers (emotiva.com) already are a stunning value at $399. With 10 percent off that, they are a steal. I've been listening to a set for a few weeks now. They sounded great when I started, but they keep sounding even better as I break them in. I just played a vinyl LP of "Phantom of the Opera" with the original London cast, and it was fantastic. Not only was the sound very beautiful, but the speakers can be played at high volumes without the sound quality breaking up. It was so realistic that they made me feel like I was reproducing the performance in my listening room, which I don't think I have ever said about any other speakers selling for under $400.
Combine the $399 Emotiva TA-100 receiver with the $399 Airmotiv T-Zero speakers and you have the basis of a really great stereo system with high-end panache. If you qualify for the 10 percent discount, the system comes to only $718.20, including shipping.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.