Pretty sure vinyl is the best sound quality you'll get, but CDs are high quality enough that most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference, certainly not without some really good audio hardware.
Vinyl has its disadvantages as well
"All-analog" doesn't always happen: Many modern vinyl records are produced from digital masters, either recordings made natively in software such as Pro Tools or converted from tape before being sent along for mass production. When I visited Gonsalves, he was working on My Brightest Diamond's new album — from his computer. But analog-to-digital conversion (and vice versa) has come along quite a bit since the birth of the CD, and Gonsalves says he asks for high-definition, 24-bit files to master from if digital's the option.
Still, as artists and labels hop on the vinyl trend, some new vinyl releases may be mastered from CD-quality audio, not the high-resolution formats audiophiles and folks like Neil Young adore. Is a CD-quality album going to sound more accurate on vinyl than a CD? Nope. But it will sound more vinyl-y, if that's your preference.
"There's basically nothing you can do to make an hour-long album on one record sound good," Gonsalves said. Vinyl's capable of a lot, but only if the grooves are wide enough for the needle to track them properly. A longer album means skinnier grooves, a quieter sound and more noise. Likewise, the ear-rattling sounds of dubstep weren't really meant for your turntable. "If you had taken Skrillex into Motown Studios, they would've said, 'It's uncuttable!'" Gonsalves said, thanks to the strain the high-energy music would put on the needle's journey.
Vinyl can struggle with highs and lows: High-pitched frequencies (drum cymbals, hi-hats) and sibilance (think "s" sounds) can cause the ugly crackle of distortion, while deep bass panned between the left and right channels can knock around the needle. "It should basically be in mono," Gonsalves said. Otherwise, "that's a hard path for a needle to trace."
The beginning of an album side sounds better than the end: As the album's circumference shrinks toward the middle, the needle speed changes and it can't follow every millimeter of the groove. If the song that closes side A or B is a complicated one — say, one with a busy harmonica solo — it may well sound less than hi-fi. That's why those double-LPs are worth the extra flipping.
Surface noise: "The warm sound of the vinyl, that's a form of noise that you get from dealing with the lacquer material and having it go through this manufacturing process," Gonsalves said. The vinyl format can generate other issues: crackles and pops, records that skip and the whine of a needle against the LP, all problems that the CD advertised itself on solving decades ago. But for many, these sounds are just part of the vinyl experience, adding to the charm of a format that takes some extra effort — and often rewards it.
I prefer CD, mostly for 90's Techno / Trance. If I play that on a record player on my preferred volume, the needle would end up next to the turn table :) Fun fact, most of the CDs I enjoy are recordings of mixing from records, pops and crackles all captured during the more quieter parts. CD is the best record player!