The secret to getting a perfect copy of an analog recording is found in the converter that takes in the analog and spits out the digital. This converter is called an Analog to Digital Converter, or ADC, and is the exact opposite of what you're no doubt familiar with a DAC or Digital to Analog Converter.
ADC's are not really part of the high-end landscape yet, but they will be. Found mostly in pro audio for recording studios, these critical devices run the gamut from cheap to ultra expensive and very few have high-end audio traits you and I might appreciate. Of those with high end audio aspirations we would think of Ed Meitner's fine products as well as the newly released Ayre ADC created by fellow Boulderite Charlie Hanson.
PS Audio will be releasing our own ADC (and built in analog phono preamplifier) in late July called the NuWave Phono Converter.
The reason I suggest you'll start to see a proliferation of high-end audio ADC's is because of the slow but steadily moving shift towards digital audio as the center of one's system, rather than analog.
As most of us know there's been a resurgence of late towards vinyl and that resurgence has even crept into the newest crop of potential Audiophiles, the 30'ish age group. As an example my son Scott, who runs our sales department, was excited to take me over to the vinyl shop located on our University Hill district to pick up a hard to find double LP of a group called Daft Punk (I'll admit I've never heard of them). The album is on 180gm vinyl, has all the trappings of a high-end approved release and you know what? The music's good and the sound quality is quite good on a couple of the cuts. I am purchasing one for myself.
But vinyl resurgence not withstanding, the move towards a digital based system continues to march ahead, relegating LP's, tuners and tape decks to a secondary role in the music chain; going through a digital based setup. To handle that you need a great ADC.
Tomorrow I'll explain what not to do.