Last week, DAR readers were invited to vote on their preference from three digital versions of the same piece/s of music: 1) an original CD ripped to FLAC; and two needle-drops of the vinyl equivalent lovingly created with a Pro-ject 6 Perspex turntable (€1399) + Speedbox SE II (€435), here fitted with an Ortofon 2M Black cartridge (€6000), and a 2) PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter (US$999) and 3) Devialet Expert 200 (€6990).

Needle-drops (aka vinyl rips) are what connects Digital Audio Review to turntable coverage. Moreover, the results can be shared with readers. You get to hear what I hear! You get to say which is aurally pleasing to your ears. You.

Some might opine that the cards in this experiment were stacked in favour of the vinyl rig. Two vinyl rips vs one digital and the former offered up in 24bit/96kHz. The album in question, Everclear, was only ever issued once on CD and vinyl back in 1991, which pre-dates hi-res downloads.

The votes on the three files tumbled down as follows:

1-AMC was the Devialet vinyl rip, 2-AMC was the PS Audio vinyl rip and 3-AMC was the CD.

The PS Audio needle-drop and CD rip claimed an equal number of votes. The considerably more expensive Devialet unit (which is also an amplifier, DAC and streamer) chalked up 50% more votes than either of the other two.

A €2000+ turntable and cartridge combination combined with a US$1000 phono stage and A/D converter failed to convince readers that it offered a better sound than the CD.

Maybe this was the result of readers using inferior D/A converters.

Or maybe an A/D converter robs music of its magic? I don’t believe it does. If it did, we’d not be buying mainstream new releases, often sourced from digital files.

Or maybe this experiment illustrates how vinyl’s superiority isn’t as cut and dried as some would have us believe.

As I’ve said numerous times before, I buy, collect and spin records because I enjoy the process. As for my Technics SL-1200G and Zu DL-103r cartridge bettering the finest digital sources residing at the DARhaus, my jury is still out.

And so it goes with this Pro-Ject 6 Perspex turntable. It’s not enough to dust one’s hands after tossing off silly generalisations like “You can’t beat the sound of vinyl”. What sounds better and what sounds worse is turntable specific, cartridge specific and set-up specific. Fortunately for me, this turntable was setup by Pro-Ject’s German distributor.

Everything matters. And when everything matters, generalisations evaporate.

This in turn means the phono pre-amplification and A/D converter matters too. To ace this American Music Club CD with vinyl playback fronted by this Pro-Ject/Ortofon two-fer, we look beyond the PS Audio audio piece (whose functional wizardry is unmatched elsewhere). We need something of the Devialet Expert 200’s calibre and that doesn’t come cheap.

Further information: Pro-Ject Audio Systems