Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Falcor, Oct 10, 2015.
Thank you. I will try 3~4 different resistor values to try.
I edited the post above for recommend values to try. If I have time, I will post measurements results with my test record for various values.
I didn't want to start a new thread for my question. I have been considering getting a turntable. If I do It will likely be a VPI Prime Scout (even though I am in love with the look of Clearaudio turntables - I trust you guys lol). This would be the 3rd most expensive component in my setup after my speakers and amp so I am taking my time in deciding whether to get into vinyl at all.
I have been scouting out to see if I would be able to find LPs of some of my favorite recordings and I am not having a ton of luck. I know I am late to the record collecting game but this is damping my enthusiasm somewhat. More importantly however is my skepticism of vinyl that is basically created from digital masters. I buy a fair share of newly released music and there is almost always an option for buying and LP + Flac download. I have read that most new records are created this way.
SO... do LPs cut from digital masters bother you guys at all - do you still find them superior to the CD or digital file from the same master when played through your favorite DAC?
I have thought about going cheaper on the table to allay some of my concerns but i think that would be a waste of money. I'm either going to do this thing or not.
I personally like to keep digital digital and analog analog. So, most of the records I buy were either pressed before ~ 1982, before the switch to digital in studios, or are contemporary presses cut from the original tapes and kept AAA (Blue Note Tone Poet releases, for example). If it was recorded digitally, to my mind, why not keep it digital? It doesn't make sense, to me, to add another layer of conversion or format change.
This means that I've discovered or re-discovered a lot of mostly older stuff via LP record. I also really enjoy the crate digging aspect.
That said, sometimes you can be hard-pressed to tell a digital cut from an AAA cut. And sometimes the LP pressing with a digital step can be the best sounding of all available pressings. Still, I figure that, if a file was involved at some point, why not keep it as a file? When I do hear the difference between a digitally sourced LP and an AAA LP, it's usually in the uppermost treble. You can hear, I believe, that sound of the top end has been cut off on the digitally sourced. But, I don't know, maybe some would hear it differently....
Finally, I think you'll hear a lot more difference between various tables, cartridges, and tonearms than between various DACs. It's a real rabbit hole, the analog stuff, but I find it really hard to get excited about DACs. Whereas turntables, to me, are just cool, tactile, fun (sometimes maddening) to experiment with and just generally more soulful. But, again, it's a rabbit hole.
I used to think I would only have AAA records, but honestly I have quite a lot of digital mastered vinyl that I prefer to listen to over the DAC.
I can't speak for the sound quality of vinyl over CDs from the same digital masters but, for what it's worth, the Dynamic Range Database frequently lists the vinyl of recent music as superior to digital formats, at least for music released by major labels, as this example shows: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=lana+del+rey&album=
I have a feeling you'll find a wide variety of opinions on this one. I have (or had, until lockdown) access to a great record store with a huge collection of used LPs which is great for building up a collection of old pre-digital pressings. But I also buy plenty of new LPs with digital download, and as you say those are most likely created from digital masters (and digital files).
My perspective is that LPs are nice to listen to. I do not personally find that new release LPs are better than their equivalent downloads, but purchasing the vinyl and getting the download is a happy medium for me. Some new albums clearly have a more dynamic mix on the LP, others sound like its exactly the same. If you're at all interested I wouldn't let your preference for new music turn you off. I think wbass has it right, overall.
I would suggest perhaps getting a used VPI Classic with a metal arm over the Prime Scout. People tend to take good care of their turntables. Classics fell below 2k for a while. Now they are a little above (minus good deals), but if you buy used, in the original box, and decide it’s not for you, you probably won’t lose much. Plenty come up for sale.
The only way to know if you’ll like it is to try it. Opinions are strong in both directions, but I think it’s worth it.
Vinyl is hell. Vinyl is unreasonably expensive. Vinyl is totally worth it.
Keep in mind that you don't need just a turntable and cartridge, you need a
Record cleaning system
Stylus cleaning system
Static control system
Alignment jigs and protractors
Isolation and vibration control system
Wifes understanding and agreement that toddlers may need hands amputated it they mess with your deck
Your understanding and acceptance that 80% of the vinyl available has crap
sound quality regardless of origin date or format.
That being said, welcome to this rabbit hole. I've spent nigh on 50 years chasing vinyl nirvana and it's been worth every dollar and every wrong turn.
I read through the following threads beginning to end, plus a couple more:
Turntable advice (this thread)
For the turntable curious; The Korf Blog
Phono pre-amp discussion
New Schiit Mani
Budget Vinyl Rigs
Schiit Sol Turntable Review - Episodic.
I'm giving vinyl another whirl, so to speak. My first turntable was a Technics direct drive unit with an AT MM cartridge, purchased around 1978. About 1984 I upgraded to a Denon MC cartridge. I don't have that rig anymore. Now I have a standard Pro-ject Carbon Debut with the 2M Red cartridge. The phono preamp is the original Mani. The cartridge has enough hours on it that it would be considered "broken in", but the stylus should still be in very good shape. The rest of the chain is Freya OG (tube gain stage) -> Aegir monoblocks -> Salk HT2-TL speakers. I never find the output from my Yggdrasil A1 to be fatiguing, and it is most certainly engaging.
I'm aware of the limitations of the Debut Carbon and the 2M Red stylus. I know that the newer Mani is considered to be superior to the original. All of my LPs were purchased in the 1970s and 80s. None of them are master recordings, just the basic vinyl that they sold at Kmart and record stores in those days.
So far it's been a really mixed bag listening to my old albums. Last night I listened to Hotel California, Duke (by Genesis), Boston, and Endless Summer (Beach Boys). My initial feeling was that it all sounded kind of muddy, with both the the bass and treble severely rolled off. I was thinking, sell it all, and get a Qobuz subscription, like I've been talking about. I gave it another try today and have been listening to albums for the past six hours. City to City (Gerry Rafferty) and Dark Side of the Moon sounded good enough that it was easy to imagine that on a better system, they could sound very good or excellent. Syncronicity (The Police), Exit...Stage Left (Rush), and one of the disks from Yessongs (Yes - three LP set) sounded relatively good. Magical Mystery Tour sounded thin; John Lennon's voice was shrill and the album was almost painful to listen to. That's not something I recall from the past, in fact the later Beatles albums were all among my favorites.
I'm not sure what to make of this so far. I need to listen to more of my albums, but did other people feel the same way about some of what they were hearing when they first started in with vinyl, or were coming back to vinyl, on a mediocre playback chain? I know that upgrading to a 2M Blue stylus would probably provide significant improvements, but that's $200 I would lean toward spending on a Sol with the AT-VM95EN cartridge. That's my option #1. The other option is seriously to sell the turntable, Mani and all of my albums. The experience isn't even remotely in the same ballpark as what I get coming out of Yggdrasil.
Thoughts? I know this is Vinyl Nutjob World, so most of the people who pay attention to it are more likely to be vinyl lovers, and the folks who sold their vinyl and have no regrets, will be less likely to chime in.
The 2M Red can sound grainy and compressed, and the rest of the 2M line is on the brighter side so it sounds like it might not be a match for your system.
You might want to give a Nagaoka cart a try before you decide to abandon vinyl. The MP110 likely won’t sound any more extended, but would likely solve your issues with shrill/grainy mids.
I had a Pro-Ject 1Xpression (and x2 Rega 3 series before that) and no matter what couldn't get it to perform on par with a decent DAC, maybe the mids, but nothing else. Like you, I didn't recall this level of craptastic performance when I was younger with a modest Technics DD table and a good Shure cart.
I had almost given up on TTs until I grabbed a VPI Classic 1 for cheap. If the 1Xpression and Regas couldn't do it, I doubt the entry-level Debut will be a suitable platform. There are some major compromises with the Pro-Ject tables under $1k. The other factor could have been that the older DD Technics, JVC, Sony, etc. tables of yore were just simpler to deal with and that there's a bit of learning curve on how to dial-in today's tables which have less convenient means to make adjustments. For example, dialing in VTA, which will affect lows to high balance, VTF which can affect transients, or azimuth for imaging and focus.
I dislike telling people to spend more money, but in this case, spend more money. I'm still evaluating this table here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...echnica-turntable-review-at-lp-dcvta-eb.9049/
I haven't had time to install a better cart (I have it, just haven't installed it) to see how far it can go. I know there are limitations already from the lightweight plinth and platter. The question really is can I get the mids and highs to scale up. The lows are a lost cause. Not horrible by any means, and Audio Technica has done a good job with anti-resonance, but unless there is more mass, the lows are going to be smeared warm poo to some extent. However, I think I may able to get the mids and highs up to par, and when that happens, the TT will best any DAC (mids on up) no matter how expensive, as long as older vinyl releases are used. With modern pop music, it doesn't matter.
As for the Sol, it's a great sounding table. They've ironed out the kinks. I haven't had time to update what they did in terms of the final package. The downside to the Sol is that it's still a bit difficult to set up.
As for Lennon's voice sounding shrill and harsh on that record, the story is the same as today. Not all records were mastered well. Some digital remasters are a million times better than the original vinyl releases. One reason to get into TTs is having a larger universe of masters to have available, but this doesn't mean all vinyl masters will sound better than the original CD or a more recent remaster.
P.S. In case I wasn't clear, chuck the Pro-Ject Debut out the window. That's the worse entry level TT one could possibly get and has probably scared off a ton of folks.
I appreciate the feedback, especially regarding your similar initial experiences. That makes me want to give it more of a chance. Since my initial post, I've listened to Boston - Don't Look Back and Jefferson Starship - Earth, and both of them have sounded pretty good, although I suspect there's lots of detail missing.
I know that wow & flutter on the Pro-ject isn't great and rumble is bad compared to even the comparably priced U-turn Orbit, but the extremely low mass tonearm on the Pro-ject probably beats those on comparably priced turntables. If Sol didn't exist today, I would probably go with the U-turn based on what I know, but they both have limitations compared to higher end turntables. I've also read a number of comments from people that imply that many of the shortcomings of the Pro-ject Debut don't disappear as you spend more money moving up the Pro-ject line, to a large degree, the turntables just look cooler.
I read through your unboxing and setup of Sol, and all of what followed. Plus I watched the Conrad Hoffman video. It should be easier now, and I'm not scared off by that, so I think I'm going to go that way.
I appreciate your feedback as well. I think before I go trying out different cartridges, I should upgrade my turntable. I realize that the upgraded cartridge may have a more significant impact than say going from a Pro-ject Debut Carbon to a Sol, but I'm afraid of spending money on a better cartridge, still not being sure how I feel about all of it, and having to sell the cartridge for half of what I paid for it, or then upgrading the turntable, which will likely already have a better cartridge than my 2M Red.
Like you I started my serious vinyl playback in the 70's,73 to be exact. Dual TT, Shure cart, Sherwood receiver driving large Advents. Steady upgrading ever since with a lot of attention to record care. currently running mid 80's Harman Kardon T60 (poor man's Linn) with Van Alstine power and tonearm mods. Shure ML140MR cart. Yes, despite its age I certainly think it's far superior to your current rig. And my 30 year old LPs are mostly in very good shape.
I have no desire to upgrade beyond this rig.
As I said earlier inI this thread, the vast majority of the lps released commercially in the 70s and 80s were sonic crap. Before you throw in the vinyl towel I urge you to get a few new quality lps to show what your current rig is really capable of. God knows I've got many lps that no digital stream/download can approach in involvement and realism.
What's your digital chain though
Tidal,Amazon HD, Redbook CDs > Bifrost1 MB A2, Modius, Arcam irdac-2 > 2 channel and headamps.
What’s your budget?
Do you still enjoy vinyl (nostalgia, physical media, etc)?
That's perhaps the most relevant question. I would lean more toward saying no. There's nostalgia in handling the LPs that I purchased 40 years ago, but I don't get enjoyment from cleaning them, I prefer being able to play an album beginning to end without having to flip to the B side, and I like being able to hit pause from my smartphone when listening to a digital source.
If I were to upgrade, I would expect to spend $1500-2500.
Probably along the lines of:
1) Sol ($799 + taxes & shipping)
2) a better phono preamp
3) maybe the ML stylus ($149) or SH stylus ($179) for the AT-VM95EN cartridge to compare to the EN stylus
4) look for a used vacuum record cleaner?
5) eventually a second tonearm and cartridge?
That's a lot of money to spend on something I'm not so sure about.
That’s what I’m trying to drill down to.
I was in a similar position to you and after trying out a skeletal table, moved up to a Technics SL-1210GR with a Nagaoka cartridge. The Technics took away all my nervosa about vinyl. I just listen to and enjoy records now. It is easy to adjust and gets good sound, definitely on the level of Yggdrasil.
That being said if you are “over” vinyl then you may just need to be done with it or make one well-researched last stab at it (which is what I think you’re doing).
Petey, before others responded with equipment upgrade recommendations, I was wondering if you had a record cleaning machine. I had the basic VPI back in the day and loved it. Surface noise was reduced greatly and I didn’t have to clean my stylus as often. I’m sure the cheaper machines probably do pretty well also.
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