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turntable reviews?

DSJR

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#41
I'd love to know whether a good, relatively inexpensive setup can deliver "good as it gets" sonics, and to what extent we can color it to sound like very costly, audiophile-approved setup via DSP and maybe by introducing harmonics.
Forgetting the used market, where vintage Thorens and Lenco decks are fetching a small fortune now as well as other second or third rate sh*t once available in the 70's, take a look at a current Rega Planar 2 (latest one with user adjustable bias correction/anti-skate - don't go there as to why they thought to remove this adjustment for a few years), fit an AT 95ML or better perhaps, 540, use an external stylus force gauge to fine tune around 2g and then with lid removed entirely to play, site as carefully as possible. We're lucky in the UK as prices are much lower but the performance and basic sonics of such a combination *should* offer very satisfying noises for most people. I don't know the cheap far eastern alternatives very well at all, but I think AT make a nice equivalent if the Rega is either too expensive or too tacky in some respects.

Next level up and I must try to find out how good it is as I love the original mid 70's version, but I wonder how good a Technics SL1500C (£900) with aforementioned AT or Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge would sound? I love the Rega Planar 6/Neo, but US prices are mad frankly...

I know there are other cartridge choices but I personally find Nagaokas dirty at this price level and Grado's are so coloured and well, dull, I find them a joke if used in a multi-format system.
 
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Cuniberti

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#42
I have dabbled in buying test LPs and such for testing. Alas, I am not sure how exact the science is here since the LP itself can have issues. And of course cartridges impact the results. I do plan on doing a test or two at some point just to see where we stand.
As a recording/mix engineer most of my clients now want vinyl pressed along with their digital albums. Because I needed to listen to test pressings I went down a big rabbit hole a few years ago looking for a turntable, cartage, and phono preamp. I even had Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering to cut be a test lacquer so I could calibrate my gear to his. What a huge pain in the ass getting it right. I can't imagine trying to do a review with tests given all the variables involved. I'm not surprised it's something you wish to avoid.
 

LTig

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#44
I think the biggest differentiator between well setup turntables is the phono preamp and Amir has tested a few of them. Next up is the cartridge. I feel there are far too many uncontrollable variables to properly objectively test turntables. Heck, it can take hours just to get one properly setup what with azimuth, tracking force, anti-skating, cartridge and arm geometry, VTA, etc. it is a very fiddly system.

I love my vinyl rig but I know the limitations of the format. I just think Amir has far too many other things to occupy his precious time to spend it testing turntables. That said I would love to see someone take up objective measured reviews for turntables.

Martin
Yep. Anybody with a decent sound interface could do this, no need to buy an AP.
 

JeffS7444

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#45
Forgetting the used market, where vintage Thorens and Lenco decks are fetching a small fortune now as well as other second or third rate sh*t once available in the 70's, take a look at a current Rega Planar 2 (latest one with user adjustable bias correction/anti-skate - don't go there as to why they thought to remove this adjustment for a few years), fit an AT 95ML or better perhaps, 540, use an external stylus force gauge to fine tune around 2g and then with lid removed entirely to play, site as carefully as possible.
In the USA, I seem to recall Consumer Reports giving top marks to BIC turntables, and if I find one in a thrift store, I may be very tempted. Ditto Dual.

A pity that Acoustic Research turntables are so pricey these days; they really did have an effective and unfussy suspension.
 

Wes

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#46
people might list the things to look for in a turntable to help the OP - not features so much as construction

extrinsic vibration is crucial if playing loudly from the TT

but extrinsic vibration is of no consequence if transcribing to a digital file, which is what one should do
 

DSJR

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#47
In the USA, I seem to recall Consumer Reports giving top marks to BIC turntables, and if I find one in a thrift store, I may be very tempted. Ditto Dual.

A pity that Acoustic Research turntables are so pricey these days; they really did have an effective and unfussy suspension.
BIC in thre UK weren't too good as I remember, but I'm talking 1975 here and only for a few months.

Dual idler models are huge fun BUT, you MUST have experience in stripping them down and carefully rebuilding as they're a bit delicate and finely set in the best versions (1219/1229) and some parts MUST be replaced if damage isn't to occur to arm height adjustment on the aforementioned models - it's not terminal any more, but you need to be a fine machinist to be able to prepare and carry out the work. Garrards are far safer but again, cheap ones glue up with dried grease and you need to pretty much fully strip and clean them (current project is an SL75B bought glued up for fifteen quid inc P&P Christmastime). I'm fond of my Garrard 86SB despite the flimsy arm. Rumble and noise is low and the flimsy arm is fine with some modern cartridges (edit - I've a few of this make too for my sins). Later Duals were also nice but became increasingly basic and less heavily engineered as they went on. The 505 was still available in '5' form but at high price for what it now is.

AR XB1 I loved and the arm is a great example of an excellent working and well compromised product that looks like 'pants.'

I'm going off on one again - apologies. Try Vinyl Engine for the forums there as well as a wonderful library of service and instruction manuals, as well as a good few posts and gallery pics by yours truly - cough.

For classic Duals (Lord help me, I have five of the blasted things :D ), Look up the Dualcan.tumblr site for full qualified stripdowns to the last clip and spring... Great hints from a properly qualified Dual service engineer.

So much more to say, but best not to really as I take off too much on this subject - apologies to all once again. When we finally come to move, my better half will go ballistic when she sees the decks I have here in our thankfully dry loft-space.
 

Robin L

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#48
I'd love to know whether a good, relatively inexpensive setup can deliver "good as it gets" sonics, and to what extent we can color it to sound like very costly, audiophile-approved setup via DSP and maybe by introducing harmonics.
My experience is that to get halfway decent sound from LPs, you need to start with relatively pricey playback apparatus. When I started [1973] the AR XA was the cheapest option for good sound. It was $80, as I recall. Add a cartridge for $20 to $50. In todays dollars, that's $600+. An AR XA, properly set up, will give better performance than most turntables I've heard so far.

I heard John Curl's setup, Linn LP-12 with all the fixings, moving coil cartridge, Curl's "Blowtorch" preamp over WATTs. Best LP reproduction I've heard, very different in that everything was in sharp focus [much like good digital, but with more "body" than the best digital I've heard so far.] That was 2000, I'd imagine the phono apparatus would be worth around $50,000 or more in 2000 dollars. That would be around $80,000 now. This also includes [no doubt] the best set-up work for the turntable possible. Though Curl's stereo did not include room treatments, and the arrangement of the system was in no way customized, it still had better sound than any other LP based system I've heard.

I sincerely doubt a relatively inexpensive LP player can deliver "as good as it gets" sonics, while a relatively inexpensive [or even dirt-cheap] digital playback device can.
 

JeffS7444

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#53
Dual idler models are huge fun BUT, you MUST have experience in stripping them down and carefully rebuilding as they're a bit delicate and finely set in the best versions ... but you need to be a fine machinist to be able to prepare and carry out the work.
As we're on the subject of non-marketable skills, it couldn't be any worse than my current hobby of repairing film cameras. ;)
 

DSJR

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#54
Those skills could be marketable - I just don't want the responsibilty and we live too far out here, although I do still keep my hand in professionally when able. When it comes to replacing broken Dual tonearm dearing rings (look it up), not sure I'd be up for it although parts are available now. I did totally rebuild a 1214 I was given which had been smashed up in transit, restoring the arm bearing pillar and replacing said arm complete with horizontal ball races (balls not captive horizontally on thi smodel). Mech cleaned of amateur added sludgy grease beginning to react with the Gadus alvania original and to finish it off, I found a cheap 1257 plinth to shoehorn it in (I bought an extra set of springs as I needed to stretch them to get suspension clearance) and finished off the restoration with a cast 1216 platter. This frankenstein deck performs incredibly well, runs very quietly and happily tracks at 1g with no aggro to the stylus (the bias/anti-skate is adjustable underneath on this model and the bracket needs 'adjusting' to accomodate lower playing weights - easy to do if you know how and why. Great fun for me at the time in less lethargic days ;)
 

Wombat

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#55
Somewhat a waste of time..

Maybe a new 1200 series Technics with three price-point cartridges from each of the MM an MC types.

Even then the disputes will be never-ending with subjective comparisons to myriad owned, but untested, gear combinations.

Too many component combinations and too many set-up variables.
headbang.gif
 
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Frank Dernie

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#60
Maybe instead of an ongoing series of product tests, Amir could test certain features and their relationship to outcomes. There are lots of myths, but we don't know for all of them 1.) is the effect real? or 2.) is the effect important?

Examples:
  • A comparison of performance across a range of VTA adjustments.
  • The effect of cartridge alignment error for a few common cartridges, and how much difference it really makes using the supplied alignment jig versus protractor tools (and the variations between those).
  • For common cartridges, the effect of capacitance loading. Here is where basic test data is useful: What is the capacitance of supplied phono cables? I use the cables that are installed on my Thorens, and my Adcom preamp imposes 100 pF loading. I have to guess at the capacitance of the arm wiring (which is stock) and the supplied cable. Some cartridges may be more sensitive to that than others.
  • The difference between conical, elliptical, Shibata, and microline styluses on the same cartridge.
  • The effect of tracking force on things other than wear and tracking reliability.
  • The effects of different resonant frequencies. Much Internet lore is devoted to coordinating the compliance of the cartridge to the effective mass of the tonearm. How important is this in the real world?
  • Really how does one estimate compliance in the terms needed by the formulas in use (which are often at a different frequency than what the manufacturers report)
Some of these are already discussed on the Internet with lots of words and the occasional calculation but very few real measurements.

Given that many folks will continue to sustain a vinyl playback capability, where is the Pareto front? What things requiring 20% of the effort attain 80% of any resulting improvement? That is not at all easy to learn from the Internet without having to filter out whole fog-banks of FUD.

Rick "recognizing that I know too little to understand most of the real issues" Denney
One could test all this, but since there are a plethora of other sites peopled by members who genuinely think analogue is technically superior :facepalm: I think ASR shouldn't bother, since we absolutely know it is not and if somebody wants to dick about with record players we should leave them to get their "fix" elsewhere IMO.

FWIW the effect of stylus shape and alignment has been known and calculated decades ago. The effect is mainly at HF where wear and deterioration of the groove would mean meaningful comparison would probably be risky since somebody would misinterpret them and subsequently we would have a thread clogging stream of bollox.

It is obsolete, can be fun and enjoyable but all technology and measurement does (always) is confirm the shortcomings. People who like playing LPs will continue to do so and the loudness wars will ebb and flow the possible but weird benefit of having the LP for more dynamic range.
 
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