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From reading the reviews here it seems like a lot of audio companies are pretty shady? Which ones are generally trustworthy?

Zerimas

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#1
So from reading the reviews it seems like a good deal of companies are not exactly honest in their claims. Is it possible to compile a list of manufacturers which generally do not engage in obviously deceptive practices?

I don't know about Denon as a whole, but I have a good deal of faith in their phono cartridge division. Every cartridge you buy comes with a piece of paper which has the results of the tests the performed with respect to output and frequency response. It isn't terribly detailed, but the test results have the "stamp"—or rather a "seal" called an inkan (印鑑) or hanko (判子)—which is unique to the engineer that performed the test (basically it's their signature except more Japanese). Theoretically I could go to the Denon factory where they made my cartridge and find the individual who performed the tests, if I were so inclined. Not to sound like Denon shill, but that seems pretty sweet for cartridge that costs a couple hundred dollars (expensive, but on the low end considering you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on cartridges). I haven't really bought that many phono cartridges, but I don't think this is a common practice.

The phono division of Denon was the only example I could think of (from my experience) where the manufacturer made an overt effort to earn the confidence of the consumer. Then again, Denon cartridges aren't really aggressively marketed at all. It isn't surprising that they aren't more popular with audiophiles as their literature makes no claims about "PRaT" or whatever audiowoo is cool these days.



Anyway. Here is ca crappy picture of what I am talking about. As you can see the Denon DL-103 is pretty very flat for the given testing conditions and some guy is willing to attest to that. It isn't the "best" cartridge in existence, but I don't think it is too bad for a design from 1962 that only costs like $300 CAD.

Cheers!
 
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#2
Lots of higher quality microphones come with individual measurements. From memory, I think Dynavector cartridges used to come with an individual frequency response measurement. Not sure how many other do that now.

Engineering documentation is sometime "massaged" by the marketing department...
 

Zerimas

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#3
Engineering documentation is sometime "massaged" by the marketing department...
I definitely believe that. However in the case of Denon and probably microphone manufacturers I don't believe that would be the case. The documents provided aren't used in the marketing of it at all. I assume they are mostly to serve as proof that they didn't ship you something obviously broken.

The folks at AudioKarma thought it was a "silly" (that's putting it kindly) notion for me to seek out phono cartridges with flat FR. Really what other kind FR would you actually want from a cartridge? If I desired something else I could just use the fancy EQ I picked up from the pawnshop, DSP or a bunch of other stuff. The alternative would be buying a cartridge which some has "designed" to have "musical" (i.e. wonky/mess up/et cetera) FR. Which doesn't make any sense to me.

I dunno. I'll take what I can get. Documentation, "massaged" or not, is probably better than no documentation, which is incredibly common in the world of turntables (Rega, Linn, et cetera don't even give out specs like W&F or rumble). Well, probably. I don't know. Even if I had money (I don't), I would never want to buy something from a company that doesn't make engineering documents of some kind available.
 

Daverz

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#4
Audio Technica moving coil carts tend to be very neutral sounding, and I think they make some of the best carts out there, but they are not the bargain on the lower price end that they used to be, at least for moving coil.

I did get a pen plot with my Benz L2, but it wasn't as flat as your Denon. It's an actual old-fashioned analog pen plot with perforations on the edge for the plotter. I'll try to get a snap of it when there is better light.
 

Zerimas

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#5
Audio Technica moving coil carts tend to be very neutral sounding, and I think they make some of the best carts out there, but they are not the bargain on the lower price end that they used to be, at least for moving coil.

I did get a pen plot with my Benz L2, but it wasn't as flat as your Denon. It's an actual old-fashioned analog pen plot with perforations on the edge for the plotter. I'll try to get a snap of it when there is better light.
AT's most expensive MC cartridge is only about as flat as the DL-103 (except in the opposite direction it has treble emphasis). It also costs like $5000. Not so much of a bargain. Though it obviously has a more sophisticated stylus profile, cantilever, better stereo separation, et cetera.

Please do post the picture of your plot. It's kind of surprising that the Benz isn't as flat as the 103. The Benz has a boron cantilever (the 103 is just aluminum) which I think would be somewhat of an improvement. The L2 does have 35dB of channel separation whereas the 103 is only above 25dB (I don't know exactly how numbers work, but that is a pretty huge difference—10dB is a lot). Fun fact: they originally wanted to get 30dB of channel separation out of the 103, but they couldn't do it with whatever technology they had 1962 (or at least not at a price that was acceptable to the Japanese broadcasting industry).
 

Zerimas

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#7
Here's the plot that came with my Benz L2, old school from a B&K plotter. Sorry, taken with my iphone.

View attachment 30239
That's pretty cool. Its is signed too. It interesting that they use a velocity of 3.54 cm/s whereas Denon (and most other tests) use a 5 cm/s velocity for their impulse. I don't know how much of difference that makes.
 

Daverz

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That's pretty cool. Its is signed too. It interesting that they use a velocity of 3.54 cm/s whereas Denon (and most other tests) use a 5 cm/s velocity for their impulse. I don't know how much of difference that makes.
How would you interpret that? Frequency response on the top and impulse response on the bottom? If the top line is the frequency response, then what I thought sounded like a raised midrange is just my imagination.
 

restorer-john

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#9
Bear in mind the scale (potentiometer range) is 50dB. Anything will look reasonably flat. And that Benz drops 2dB right through the mid only to kick back up at HF.
 

solderdude

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#10
upper trace is frequency response which is measured with a specific input resistance and capacitance which may or may not match yours.
The drop is just one subdivision = -1dB ?
Depending on the used RIAA pre-amp the FR may differ (shouldn't but can)

The bottom trace is the THD+N (distortion as in rest signal minus the test tone)
 

restorer-john

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#12
The drop is just one subdivision = -1dB ?
Note the trace is on the upper side of the graduation up to 500Hz, then it ends up on the lower side with a whole graduation in between. Much closer to 2dB based on the 50dB range than 1dB.
 

solderdude

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#14
At 200 Hz I see the trace as 44dB (right smack in the middle of 44dB) at 5kHz I would say @ 42.7dB so about -1.3dB (I think the felt pen used is too thick or worn) ;)
I remember the plots I made back in the days at least had a finer pen.
At 20kHz it is around 44.2dB so +0.2dB

Anyway not bad for a rock dragged through a plastic groove.
 
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#15
Yes, but it does it by scraping a rock through a plastic groove. I think that's pretty amazing results with Barney Rubble technology.
I'm also impressed that the Denon only has has a 0.68dB channel difference - not bad for caveman technology!
 

JJB70

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#16
I have absolute confidence in Benchmark, superb engineering and although not cheap I do think that prices actually offer good value given the depth of engineering and performance. JDS labs are at the other end of a spectrum but again seem a company with real integrity and very solid engineering. March Audio, are another, and RME. Looking more mainstream, if you avoid their statement stuff then Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Beyerdynamic and AKG offer well made and engineered products at sensible prices. Yamaha in my experience tends to offer good, well made gear which isn't silly. JBL do some excellent stuff and offer real substance. Etymotic make some terrific IEMs and know their stuff and are not ripping customers off. Various Chinese companies like Topping, SMSL and Fiio do some excellent and very affordable gear. Cambridge Audio offer good down to earth gear at sensible prices. As I am writing I am realising just how many good companies there are, I could keep going on. Unfortunately the industry gets a bad reputation because of some of the high end snake oil sellers.
 

RayDunzl

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#17
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q3cpma

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#18
The more measurements provided by the manufacturer, the better. That's why I simply don't consider any other brand than Neumann, Genelec or Psi for my future speakers. I require at least FR (ripple/tolerance and extension) and some SPL by frequency charts for fixed THD levels. A bonus would be horizontal/vertical directivity and cumulative spectral decay.
If you know another brand making active speakers giving these, I'd like to hear about it.
 

BillG

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#20
Certain Harmon International companies - I'm specifically referring to Infinity, JBL, and Revel - tend to make excellent speakers, as verified by numerous measurements and reviews. I happen to own some Infinity's that I quite like, Reference 162's and RSUB 10, and would recommend them to friends... :cool:
 
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