Which Needle Drop Do You Prefer? [Poll]

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings (vinyl , 8-track, etc.)' started by bazelio, Feb 11, 2017.

?

Which needle drop do you prefer?

  1. The first one.

  2. The second one.

  3. They sound identical.

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Here are two needle drop music clips (not created by me). These are also available as free downloads from a major online publication, not copyrighted. The two files were created through the same rig containing some SBAF-schlongie gear, with only one difference between them (which should not affect leveling but apparently does**). The difference will be revealed later, if participation is sufficient.

    I'm curious to know: Which of these do you prefer, and also why? Please respond to the thread if you respond to the poll.

    The first version.
    The second version.

    I downloaded them in to my Roon library and listened through my regular chain to form my opinion.

    ** Please note @Chris F finds the second clip needs a +2.6 dB volume increase vs the first for the two to be level matched. Turn it up!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  2. bobboxbody

    bobboxbody Almost "Made"

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    I picked first, thought it had better staging and dynamics
     
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  3. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    Same, more impact down low and better staging/clarity

    I'll guess it's a resistance or capacitance change?
     
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  4. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Nope. :)
     
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  5. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    I thought the low strings in the second clip were slightly muddled. The attack on the and decay seemed more natural on the first.
     
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  6. Chris F

    Chris F Boyz 4 Now Fanatic - Friend

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    I know what these are so I'm not going to spoil it. IMO the second is the more natural of the two with better staging (more open) and better decay. Listen especially to the big drum hits near the end at around the 1 minute mark. The first has the more aggressive attack which definitely I think can be appealing but I don't think it's natural and it's short changing the decay.

    IMPORTANT NOTE:
    If you open the files in an audio editor you will discover they are nowhere near volume normalized and you should increase the volume on Second.aiff by about 2.6dB. Without correcting for volume First.aiff will probably win by a landslide because +2.6dB volume is going to heavily influence the decision making process.
     
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  7. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    I just did that analysis too. Kind of puzzling given what the difference here actually is between the two. But, yes, take @Chris F s advice and try to adjust the second upward.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  8. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    My listening was done on normalized volumes. It was the first thing I considered. That being said there's a non-zero chance that I'd change my opinion on a better rig, but everything but my Andros is stuck in a storage container waiting on a move.
     
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  9. bobboxbody

    bobboxbody Almost "Made"

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    I agree that the 2nd sounds more natural. I still prefer the larger than life dynamics and wider stage of the first, though the overly aggressive attack on the cymbal hits starts to become grating, wouldn't want it all the time.
     
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  10. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Clear preference for the second. The first sounds grey and smeared with worse separation and microdynamics. I couldn't hone in on individual parts. The second has a blacker background and sounds more effortless. Tonal balance is slightly different as well. The first has a brighter top end and less bite in the mids. Second might have a slight midbass emphasis but it could just be that it is easier to hear what is going on in the low end. I suspect the first might be more tonally neutral but I much prefer the slightly warmer presentation of the second.
     
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  11. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Horns sound off in both. I'm going to pick the second which sounds like it has more reverb. I'm going to pick that one despite the first one maybe being a little more realisticer/more louder/more betterer. I think both sound decent for orchestral music on vinyl. It's vinyl so I don't really care that much and can hear the eq of the record on the percussion.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
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  12. gurubhai

    gurubhai Friend

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    I prefer the second one too. The first one sounds a bit flat in comparison. The second one has better dynamics and sounds more engaging. Also, the back ground sub-bass seems to be much more indistinct in the first track.
     
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  13. Abhishek Chowdhary

    Abhishek Chowdhary Friend

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    First sample - Flat, grainy, muddy bass, inferior depth
    Second sample - Instruments have proper weight, Resolute, easy to identify reverb, much better depth, treble definition
     
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  14. gandhisfist

    gandhisfist Aurorus Audio - MoT

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    Second one.

    Initial attacks don't sound as hard, but more information around the attack present in the second. Seems to clearly have more information about the movement of the skin of the drums, and more low level dynamics than the first. First one sounds like it was sanitized of a lot of the decay and has a blacker background.
     
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  15. fishski13

    fishski13 Friend

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    Despite slightly preferring the presentation of the 2nd one, it sounds like it could be a lower bit rate compared to the first? The file sizes don't indicate this though. It's hard to volume match between tracks with a stepped attenuator.

    EDIT: everyone gets a Like from me for posting and taking the challenge.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
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  16. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Likes abound. Fear not. Take a listen and state a preference. There's no wrong answer!










    Except for the bitrate and RC guesses. Heh.
     
  17. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    Second one sounds better to me: more alive and natural sounding.
     
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  18. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    Second one sounds less flat, more 3-dimensional, and more natural than the 1st to me.
     
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  19. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Ok well I was hoping to get votes from the greats like @shaizada @Wfojas and others, but post-reveal honor-system votes are welcome. They may even already know what this is.

    So on to the difference between the first and second clips....

    These clips came from Analog Planet, where Michael Fremer has already performed the same poll. Results over there were quite different with something like 19% of folks thinking there was no difference between them, and then promptly later coming back to say things like "but, but, I was listening through my Mac speakers." Sure.

    At the time of this reveal, voting results are as follows:
    1. The first one. 5 vote(s) 25.0%
    2. *The second one. 15 vote(s) 75.0%
    3. They sound identical. 0 vote(s) 0.0%
    The second one is heavily favored here.

    Details:
    • The first file features a Lyra Atlas cart installed on the standard VPI JMW 10.5 metal arm mounted on VPI's (then) new Classic Direct Drive turntable.
    • The second file features the Lyra Atlas installed on the newer 3D printed tone arm on the same turntable.
    • Downstream gear in both cases: The phono preamp is the Ypsilon VPS100. The preamp is the D'Agostino Momentum while the A/D converter is Ayre's QA-9. The interconnect between the phono pre and preamp is TARA Labs Evolution, which replaces the Zero
    All measured set-up parameters were identical between the two. And, actually, the first question I'd ask is whether or not set-up parameters ought to be the same in order to achieve the best sound. For comparison A/B purposes, I suppose it makes sense. Otherwise different VTA adjustments to the metal arm could in fact bring it closer in line to the sound (and performance) of the 3D arm - to what degree, I dunno. I don't really consider the JMW arm ideal for fine, repeatable VTA adjustments. Quite the opposite. So, YMMV, I guess. But maybe the 3D tonearm wants a higher VTA than the metal arm. In fact, it seems likely to my very little brain, but what do I know.

    [​IMG]

    Michael Fremer says: "Sonically I don't see a comparison. The printed arm sounds far more linear and truly detailed played back through a high resolution system."

    I agree, and other comments I read that agreed with my experience were that the first file had a brittle sound to the cymbals. That they lacked body and sounded tinny in comparison to the second. Etc.

    Sound stage... I dunno. Maybe the first sounded "larger" to me, but the second had better separation and was less smeared. I'll take the second every time.

    Regarding horns both being off. I'd have to re-listen. I think the second probably sounded more brassy to me, if I recall. In a good way.

    So this all came about as I'd started reading, out of interest, about tonearm design and the notion that resonances in the tonearm represent some possibly significant degree of differentiation between vinyl reproduction and the original master tape. Mat does talk about the material choice for the 3D arm (epoxy), but seems tight lipped as to how rigorous the test of various alternatives actually was. Whatever the case, I do think the differentiation between arms is in their sensitivity to movement between the motor and platter and that directly correlates to the metal arm having a final sound that appears to have more peaks and valleys compared to the more "linear" sounding printed arm. And this also begs the question as to whether or not the effect transfers well from the direct drive unit to the belt driven Classic units that most of us own. I don't know. But what I do know is that many independent descriptions of Classics with printed arms seem to characterize the sonic differences in a very similar way. So... that's quite interesting at least, IMO. And if weren't for the damn price (for a plastic unipivot arm, seriously?!) I'd try one out myself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  20. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Without looking at the reveal, I'm also going to say I prefer the second one. The percussion felt overly emphasized in the first, and I found the highs grating. The second felt more organic, more balanced. This was listening to both through VLC on my MBP out to the GOV2+ to the Andromedas.

    Edit: Just read the spoiler. Well la-dee-fucking-da.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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