Considerations before going down the vinyl rabbit hole

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by purr1n, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    SO, YOU HEARD VINYL IS AWESOME AND SOUNDS AS GOOD OR EVEN BETTER THAN THE BEST DIGITAL?

    These latest discussions are why I am super hesitant about getting folks into TTs. It's going down the rabbit hole that either leads to wonderful or severely messed-up results. It's Lucy in Sky with Diamonds and Are You Experienced. You have absolutely no idea what kind of trip it's going to be. Take it from me, I f'd up three times with on-and-off efforts over 20 years before I got it right.

    ON VINTAGE OR USED GEAR

    These are mechanical devices with precision parts. We have no idea if the person is selling because they got a bum unit or did something by accident that smashed the bearings in the tonearm. I would easily recommend a new Technics SL1210GR, but any remaining vintage SL1200s are iffy. Most vintage SL1200s have something wrong with them that non-experienced people would not notice. I would only buy vintage or used gear from well known refurb outfits that offer some sort of warranty or return policy, or someone you know where the history of the TT can be established. For new and cheap, some of the AT tables look interesting like the AT-LP5 for $450 - like x10 better than an entry level Pro-ject for the same price.

    THE PHONOSTAGE

    Phonostage is just a crucial as the TT, cart, etc. I'd say even more of a factor if the TT is the typical MDF plinth deal because it will influence the sound more than a table swap to another MDF plinth. The problem is that phonostages all sound different and decent ones or specific ones that best synergize best with your cart and table may not cheap. I haven't even settled on a phonostage yet for my main TT. If you are starting out and want to keep things cheap, this can be a nightmare situation. Did I mention that the phonostage is just a crucial as the other parts?

    ALL TOO EASY TO SAY VINYL IS AWESOME

    Don't listen to me when I say with a straight face that I can enjoy almost any cheap table more than any DAC (well, other than the low-end Pro-Jects). I have records from an era when the production chain was AAA (analog recording, mixing, and mastering). I have about a dozen carts lying around. I have four or five phonostages. I can plug-and-play to obtain fantastic results from almost anything. 95% of vinyl for new releases sound like butt, unless they are from Japanese boutique outfits, and even then, the old stuff from the Golden Age of Audio in the late 50s and early 60s sounds better.

    FREE IMPROVEMENTS - 10000 ADJUSTMENTS THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY 10000% NEED TO F*** WITH:
    • VTF. Play with VTF to get different transient behavior. Just remember that too light may mean poor tracking. Don't worry about too much VTF. It's needles that fly all other the place that wreck you records.
    • Cartridge alignment is crucial. You will hear audiophiles say they purchased Mr. Feckhart's kit and suddenly got betterer results. That's because the local audiophile store techs who set up the table did a craptastic job - they don't give a shit about you. You don't need the expensive kit if you have a PC. Just go to Conrad's site and download the program to print out a protractor.
    • Azimuth and anti-skate. Some tables don't have these, but if you do, tweak them, maybe even by ear instead of by eye because the needles are never aligned right with the body. This needs to be done for the best stereo imaging and focus. If you want to be more precise, some ideas here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...setting-azimuth-with-a-pc-and-soundcard.1905/
    • VTA. Another big one. If you want more lows, point the end of the arm with the cart with an upward slope. If you want more highs, point the end of the arm with the cart downward slope.
    • Get a center weight (not free). Helps flatten the record and adds mass. There's a reason why 90% of high end tables have platters that weigh more than several bags of dog food. And oh yeah, different center weights will sound different.
    PHONO CARTS

    Oh gawd, f***. Phonocarts are all over the place. Some are more mellow and tube-like (Grado), some are known for being extended but with body (Nagaoka), others are all over the place depending upon their place in the lineup (Ortofon), and the rest cost more than a car. Yeah, the upper end of the 2M series is a ripoff, but some models have their place and can perform excellently in the right system with the right tweaks. A huge fricking problem is a lot of carts will have slightly screwed up FR. MM carts may need a specific poof or resistance loading to sound right. See here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-black-measurements-and-optimal-loading.1899/.

    MCs are no different, but will always have that rising last octave (good for anyone older than @Serious). Some like the Denon DL-103 are super duper sensitive to loading. So just in case you didn't have enough to worry from above, there is the cart to worry about now. And there's probably a 50% chance you may have gotten the wrong cart for your table. And as far as adjustments to "EQ" your cart correctly, you are shit-outta-luck if you have no money unless you want to play with RCA splitters, resistors, and a soldering iron. The cheapest unit I know of with all these adjustment options is the iFi Phono3 which starts at $999.

    Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the needles are wear items and start to suck after as little as 500 hours? Or that little brat who is your brother's kid just ripped the cantilever off of your cartridge. Or maybe it was you who accidentally caught your sleeve on the needle and ripped it off? Every long term TT owner had had something like this happen to them. It's not any different from motorcycles where there is a 100% chance that you will dump your bike, so it's best to be prepared.

    IMPERMANENCE AND OTHER CRAP

    Records are wear items and start to sound like shit after you've played them for the 200th time. They get dirty. You may lose grip with one of your hands and gouge the record against the edge of the table or record cleaner. If you are used to digital, you are going to hear surface noise, clicks, pops. Very few records, even new, are perfect. You have to get off your ass and flip the record after four songs or two movements. WTF, where did that record go? Physical media is not as easy to find as something in Random Access Memories. Crap, why do I have hum - it wasn't there yesterday. You are in analog-mechanical world now, but it seems that everyone who was already in it conveniently forgot to tell you of its downsides.

    CONCLUSION

    Bring money, patience, tenacity, and a massive amount of anal-retentiveness. If it sounds like I am trying to scare you away, I am.

    P.S. It's best done if you have a friend who is experienced that can help.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  2. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    It definitely helps, (and it might be a requirement) that you are by nature a tweaker (no, not that kind; shaky hands and vinyl do not go together). Plug and play it is not, and even if you think you finally have it set up perfectly, it will not stay that way. Good luck. Hope you don't mind, fearless leader:cool:.
     
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  3. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    [​IMG]

    Too many adjustments for my anxiety to handle. You scared me away for at least the next decade. I accept my CD transport fate.
     
  4. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Vinyl is as complicated (or simple) as you want it to be. Just buy a new Audio Technica AT-120 and watch Vinyl Eyezz Record Player series (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0ZjPeadgBuM3HyK7Y_SWitjoxwP3ug-K). That will get you 90% there and you will be perfectly content. If you want to tinker then watch his top 5 upgrades for the Audio Technica AT-120 (youtube.com/watch?v=WMk_fL0lOwc_) and that will get you another 9%. Then just avoid the 1% that makes you batshit crazy obsessive and just enjoy it.

    Or you can also just buy a old linear tracking turntable from the early 80s that has been recently refurbished on ebay. Then avoid all the b.s and is 99% plug and play. Turntables peaked in the early 80s and it has been mostly bullshit audiophile circle jerk since. Hence why I recommend the AT-120 because it is essentially the son of the Technics SL-1200 which was legendary.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The context of this post was from a few guys who had set up simple TTs and wondered in the vinyl advice thread: "Why is this warmpoo and rolled? Why is vinyl not special like how these vinyl nutjobs say it is? Why is vinyl in every way worse than my Bifrost 2 DAC?"

    Sure go down the path of Vinyl Eyezz. That will just get them right back exactly to where they started. It's actually quite easy to set up something that works - but sounds like shit. The standards of good sound here are going to be a little bit higher than the typical YT viewer who wants to get into vinyl and best system is an iPhone with AirPods.

    Couple of notes:
    • Those cheap linear tracking turntables on eBay from the 80s were the worst. I remember them, they never worked quite right. Most of them where P-mounts, which limits cart choice. Only the TOTL stuff was good. Most of rest of it was garbage.
    • The preamp bypass from Vinyl Eyezz upgrades video isn't exactly easy for a newbie. The Pro-ject Tube box? A new counterweight for no good reason? A pleather mat? Really?
    • LOL, the AT120 is not the son of the SL-1200. It was only made to look like it.
    Do you even have a vinyl set up or are you recommending something based on what you watched on YT?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  6. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Most vinyl sounds like warmpoo because they are either listening to records that are 120 gram crap that can be up to 50 years old now or they are listening to new stuff from people that have no idea how master vinyl.

    Vinyl Eyezz goes into detail on how to properly align, anti skate, center weight. And the preamp bypass IS easy. There are a dozen videos about snipping 3 wires and resoldering them. If you don't know how to resolder then use some twist nuts.

    Did I say "cheap"? I will agree that cheap stuff is shit because it always is. But the Technics SL-10 and SL-15 are great turntables and they cost between 700 to 1000.

    And yeah the Pro-ject Tube box. It is like recommending the Schiit Modi. You don't need to buy top of the line VPI stuff to enjoy vinyl. Are you saying that for people to enjoy digital they have to have a Rocka Wavedream. No. Like digital, there obviously a lot of room for improvement with the more money and time you have but you don't have to make it rocket science to enjoy.

    Edit: I have 2 setups (the AT120 and SL10) and have own 4 turntables (SL1200 and a cheap 80s sony hand me down that I dont remember what is was but it was I grew up with). I ended up selling the SL1200 because it got damaged in a move. So I bought the AT120 and it got me 90% to the SL1200 out of the box.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    You really do not know what you are talking about. I actually have many 120g 50 year old records. A big part of my records are from the late 50s and early 60s. I love that big band jazz stuff. None of them sound warmpoo. Did you even read the other thread and understand the issues? These guys weren't running old records that were so worn that there was nothing left past 10kHz.

    I would never recommend a 50 year old linear tracker for $700-$1000 to a newbie. That's absolutely nuts. How did you suddenly go from a $200 LP120 to 50 year old $700+ vintage linear trackers? I mean, you are just better off with a brand new SL1500.

    Where did this TOTL stuff come from? I never suggested a $10k table. I am simply stating the many things that folks should be aware of if they want to get anywhere close to $200-$700 DAC performance from a TT. Vinyleyzzz has covered the importance of setup (I would disagree with Stephenson alignment or that high VTF is bad because low VTF is worse), but he hardly covers the nuances of how setup can affect the presentation. As for the LP120, I don't think you can even adjust VTA it on it.

    As far as the your Modi analogy, did you even read and consider what I wrote, how the phonostage is just as important as the TT, even, especially, at the entry level? Did it ever occur to you that the Pro-Ject may be more Topping D30 than Schiit Modi?

    Do you even own a TT?

    As I said, it's very easy to get a cheap TT setup and running. But it's a bit harder to get a TT setup and running and be able to compete against even good entry level DACs.

    Here you go for easy vinyl. It's really not that hard. I won't attest to how it might sound though.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  8. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    No I didn't read the other thread because I don't follow every thread on this site. But I don't need to read it to understand you posted this thread on front page stating the turntables are hard. You can be perfectly content spending $500 on turntable and be happy with the sound quality. I don't own a $200 to $700 dac (own sub $200 and more than $700 :D). But my $200 AT120 with $100 Ortofon Red cartridge sounds better than any of my cheap dacs and possibly a delta sigma Schiit Gungnir. I wouldn't recommend vinyl to newbies because cost of starting a collection of records. Digital is just too convenient and ends up being cheaper.

    Traded a Sennheiser 6XX for the SL10 (which is 40 years old not 50). Why is it nuts to recommend to a newbie? You are making it sound like you need to be mechanic to own a old car. It is direct drive so you don't have to worry about a belt. You do have to worry about the tonearm belt but that is easy to replace. And Technics knew what they were doing when they made it.

    TOTL came from you mocking Pro-Ject.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I've owned Pro-Ject stuff. Their entry level stuff is bad. I'm not mocking them.

    ON VINTAGE OR USED GEAR

    These are mechanical devices with precision parts. We have no idea if the person is selling because they got a bum unit or did something by accident that smashed the bearings in the tonearm. I would easily recommend a new Technics SL1210GR, but any remaining vintage SL1200s are iffy...

    You have gotten a unit with no problems. There are still moving parts inside: belts, gears, rail, etc. But I think going this route, one should be prepared of something going wrong. Lots more to go wrong on a linear tracker, especially one with a lot of electronics.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  10. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    I am not going to argue or deny the possibility of getting burned on vintage or used gear but its like buying any other used gear. You never know what previous owner did. I just tend to leaned towards the old stuff because their quality tends to be a step higher and I don't mind taking the risk. Especially with buyer protection from Ebay and Paypal.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Cool. I'm just not going to suggest to a person coming into vinyl not be aware of such a risk.

    --

    A $300 TT setup that possibly may be as good as an O-OG Gungnir DS... that doesn't seem worth it. I know it won't even be close if you are using the built-in pre of the LP120 since the $300 doesn't allow room for an external phonostage. That built-in pre is horrid.

    These are the reasons why I wrote those considerations in the first place. You are not going to beat decent digital with the Vinyleyzz way. I don't think people here, such as @ChaChaRealSmooth who has expressed interest, wants a vinyl setup that is worse or brings nothing new to the table compared to his XSP.

    I'll add a line up top to clarity the context of this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @DEATHxMACHINE: I suddenly realized. Did you actually read what I wrote, or did you skim it really quick and come to a conclusion? Because I just re-read it, and thought the context was clear, especially in the third section title ALL TOO EASY TO SAY VINYL IS AWESOME.
     
  13. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Well you keep changing it every 10 freaking minutes so I have to reread it. lol
    But I read the whole thing and like you stated in the conclusion. You are trying to scare people away. VTF, VTA, anti skate, cartridge alignment really isnt that hard. You can buy some cheap kits that have alignment tools that make it easy (https://www.amazon.com/Riverstone-A...e+weight&qid=1592477318&s=electronics&sr=1-13)

    Oops. I left out I did the preamp removal and use a used Rega Fono Mini I got for $70. The preamp in the AT120 is trash.

    I just want to clear the air and state where I am coming from with regards to vinyl and how I view your first post. It seems to be directed towards the top echelon of SBAF which have the great critical listening skills that are looking for performance. Without spending a decent amount of time and money they are not going to get it out of vinyl without some degree of effort. That is absolutely true. I also believe vinyl is simply not as good as digital but that is another debate.

    But I don't think it hard to have good quality music that is fun to listen to using the Vinyl Eyezz way if you are not chasing the end game unicorn.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Well, it's not extremes. If you do not believe vinyl can be better than digital in any way, then the conversation is over.
     
  15. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    But why does it have to be better? I hope that you have some fun when listening to music and is not just about performance.

    In general I don't believe vinyl is better than digital because of perfection in the equipment is required to compete with good quality digital gear. Don't have to deal with the mechanical bs. But I think it can compete enough with lower end digital gear. But again, its fun and good enough.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It doesn't. It is simply the premise of my considerations. As you noted, the considerations are meant (not necessarily for the top echelon), but certainly for people who are looking for high performance.

    It kind of felt you were peeing in my cereal by disregarding my premise, and inserting your own premise: "vinyl will never compete with digital - why can't vinyl just be fun". Sure, of course it can, get a Numark or one of those suitcase players and add a Grado SR80. But the considerations were never written for that line of thought or that audience.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  17. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    But those are so shit (referring to Numark). That is like comparing a Modi to built in pc audio from 1999.

    Sorry it was not my intention to pee in your cereal. But your initial write up seemed a little to extreme to me without context from another thread. It sounding like vinyl shouldn't be considered at all. But now you added a headline stating in terms of high performance for dummies like me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  18. joch

    joch Friend

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    I appreciate the warning. A friend has been urging me to go vinyl--something I gave up back in the 90's after moving.

    What I would like to know is what are we talking about in terms of $$$ in this rabbit hole?

    For example, you can get a decent home setup with a Bifrost 2 + Pi2AES etc. for under $1K, assuming you have the required amp and headphones/speakers.

    So, can we expect the same $1K in a vinyl setup (TT, phono, etc.) that will be similar to a Bifrost and a streamer? Again, assuming you have that same amp and headphones/speakers.

    Sorry if this had been covered in the vinyl section, but I'm just afraid to peek into that rabbit hole!
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My bad. I should have added a link from thread to provide context and or include that line in the first place. It was a split-off from a prior thread.
     
  20. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Cool. Thanks.

    And also sorry if my responses are a little out of context. I would hit enter then see that you had updated your previous response.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020

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