My vintage 80s cd of TJB greatest hits ( both volumes 1&2) do sound exactly the same as well in overall tone and balance. Along with the other comps Solid Brass on cd sounded 100 times better than my vinyl version which i bought in 1985. I scored a Immaculate copy of solid brass a year ago for $14 or so on amazon so i was one lucky ducky. I agree that some of those early A&M cd reissues ( especially the first runs of Keep your eye on me onward) sound pretty nifty as many of the album masters ( which were pretty good quality already at the time.) Were being used to produce the CDs.In some respects, some of those original A&M CDs might sound a hair better just due to an additional 17+ years of aging on the master tapes. But, today's A/D converters are worlds better, and more care was taken when transfering them. (In the 80s, record labels were grabbing any tape they could find and putting it out on CD, to cash in on the new format. Some were good almost accidentally; others were not all that good.)
There are some good entry-level turntables out there today like the lowest prices models of Rega, Pro-Ject, Music Hall, even U-Turn Audio. Surprisingly, record shredder manufacturer Crosley contracted with Pro-Ject to build an entry-level audiophlie turntable, the C10, which ships with an Ortofon cartridge (which could be upgraded quite easily). It is a good time to get back into vinyl--I'd say overall that most vinyl pressings are really good now, but could get pricey. There are still some really bad pressings out there, but it's partly my duty (and others') to let everyone know what's good, and what should be avoided.
Reminds me, I did have an example of a good direct comparison: the 80s audiophile pressing of the TJB Greatest Hits (SPJ- series), vs. the CD. The 80s pressing was distributed by A&M Canada, pressed in Japan at the same JVC plant and mastered to vinyl by the same folks that did work for Mobile Fidelity. (SR/2 in the deadwax was Stan Ricker, JH/2 was Jack Hunt, etc.) Same vinyl, also--it has that brownish translucent glow to it.
Aside from the roughness of digital on the CD, switching between the LP and CD during playback was indistinguishable in terms of tonal balance and even surface noise. Those records were very good pressings back then, and it's very obvious that A&M used the same master for the CD that was used for the LP.
It's kind of ironic that just as the LP was dying off in popularity, Columbia was pressing some really quiet vinyl. Warner (WEA) was decent also--I don't recall if they were pressing their own, or having RCA (?) do it for them. But I had some 80s RCAs that were a little noisy... Overall though, I would say I had fewer problems with A&M's titles (and Columbia's in general) than with other labels back in those days.
I had severe problems with anything MCA had their hands on. "Platinum Series" Steely Dan reissues were noisy and dull sounding. Anything they pressed for Motown in the early 80s was even worse--I returned multiple copies of some Steve Wonder albums. It was a crap shoot. On the Steely Dans, had I known more about used record stores back then, I would have grabbed the ABC pressings.
It's funny that a big seller/mass market tile like Adele's latest actually has a non-disclosure agreement with every pressing plant they use--they are not allowed to say whether or not they have pressed the title. In the US, there are reports of bad, noisy pressings, while others are flat and quiet. The fact is, the plants are now capable of creating vinyl that has a very low noise floor, yet some are out there cutting corners and pretty much live in the world of "money grab," producing vinyl that suffers from sloppy manufacturing and nonexistent quality control. Like a time warp back to the late 70s and early 80s. Sorry, but the market has moved past that.