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Turntables - help me understand the appeal?

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If you look at the only cartridge reviews I know of that include distortion measurement cartridges only have 1% distortion on a mono signal in the mid band.
Magnetic tape does deteriorate over time, all of it, there are differences between manufacturers but "can deteriorate" is optimistic!
I bought an LP a week from about 1968 until I got married and money was needed for other things, though I still bought them, just at a slower rate.
I have 4 record players, they all sound different to each other but all are nice in their own way. The type of distortion one gets on both tape recorders and record players tends to be euphonic (except noise and speed fluctuations) even to such an extent that a very popular plug in for my digital recorder emulates tape overload.
I quite agree with you on both how enjoyable listening to LPs can be and also not advising a non-LP owner to depart on the expensive journey of becoming one...
Not many review have measurements, Here is one of a cartridge that I have it's big brother. Best case THD is well under 1%, worst case is 2 or 3%. Average distortion during playback of normal music is probably somewhere in the middle. Whatever, sounds good to me.VM540
 
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This is, in fact, the only reason vinyl could be considered superior to CD. In the '60s and '70s, the presence of a double album meant the good times could roll (pun intended) that much earlier, and in greater volume. Balancing a single-disk album cover on one's lap whilst rolling a doobie was a dicey, and spillable, affair. The double vinyl album eliminated much of the agony, leading to some great nights. Try doing that with a CD jewel case!

Otherwise, the entire vinyl obsession is nonsense. As P. Aczel many times noted, the automobile killed the buggy whip business. Yet somehow, today, we have enough money, but not enough sense, to indulge an absurd obsession with an almost Stone Age medium, an obsession that future generations will study in social science classes as an example of (mini-)mass delusion.
Fine, please send me $6,000 to replace my LP's with digital files or CD's and get me the keys to all the studios that have the tapes of music I want that has never been transferred. I think playing LP's is fun just for the astonishment at how good this admittedly crude business can sound. I don't know anything about your history but most of the people that I know that insist vinyl sounds terrible were playing scratched to hell records on a cheap rumbly turntable fitted with a $12 cartridge.
 

Frank Dernie

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Not many review have measurements, Here is one of a cartridge that I have it's big brother. Best case THD is well under 1%, worst case is 2 or 3%. Average distortion during playback of normal music is probably somewhere in the middle. Whatever, sounds good to me.VM540
HiFi News measure all the cartridges they review. Lateral (mono) distortion tends to be around 1-2%, vertical (the difference signal so a vector addition to the lateral for a single stereo channel) 3% and more, and this up to around 2kHz where it typically starts to rise to a peak at 7-10%, which is probably irrelevant since the second harmonic at these frequencies is beyond audibility.
 

SIY

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Not many review have measurements, Here is one of a cartridge that I have it's big brother. Best case THD is well under 1%, worst case is 2 or 3%. Average distortion during playback of normal music is probably somewhere in the middle. Whatever, sounds good to me.
Worst case is considerably worse than that.

Above is the rarely reported distortion in the vertical direction. For a 50um groove at 100Hz, the distortion is 3.9% which is more than 4 times the lateral. Vertical distortion differences from lateral are a secret cartridge manufactures would not like you to see. The mechanics of moving up and down are different from side to side... The IM spurs at 3.6kHz and 4.4kHz tell a different story. The RMS sum of the spurs is 6.3%...
And so on. Phono can be fun to fiddle with, like having a 1950s Bug Eye Sprite, but an under-$100 ADC/DAC will grossly outperform it. People like it (I'm one of them), but we can't pretend that it's in any way an accurate medium.

BTW, there used to be a magazine called High Performance Review that ran similar phono cartridge measurements; they also showed graphs of distortion versus velocity in both horizontal and vertical. And yes, the results were a horror show.
 

Juhazi

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Oh boy, still in '80s many magazines measured turntables and cartridges. Nowdays it is a fortune to see even a RIAA preamp measured. This has helped vinyl to get cult status and raise listening impressions to skyhigh "value". Like said previously, speed error, wow&flutter, rumble, resonances of cartridge/arm, tracking, response, channel separation, distortion etc. measurements give values that would scare out all modern readers!

I still have all my LPs and 3 TTs and 5-6 cartridges, for fun and they have never been hi-end.
 
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sergeauckland

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Oh boy, still in '80s many magazines measured turntables and cartridges. Nowdays it is a fortune to see even a RIAA preamp measured. This has helped vinyl to get cult status and raise listening impressions to skyhigh "value". Like said previously, speed error, wow&flutter, rumble, resonances of cartridge/arm, tracking, response, channel separation, distortion etc. measurements give values that would scare out all modern readers!

I still have all my LPs and 3 TTs and 5-6 cartridges, for fun and they have never been hi-end.
Quite apart from the fact that few magazines bother with measurements and employ 'golden eared' subjective reviewers, vinyl has never been about the measurements. LP playback always measured badly, even when that was all there was. Back in the 1960s and '70s, live broadcasts on FM radio was the highest fidelity source, before FM became subject to the loudness wars between stations all trying to be the loudest on the dial, and creating a 'station sound'. Tape, first reel-reel and then cassette was the second highest fidelity source, for tapes made from live broadcasts, as pre-recorded tapes were never that good. Vinyl playback was always technically the worst of the three main sources but was by far the most convenient way of playing what one wanted to hear, rather than either waiting for the radio station to play something, or threading tape on a tape machine. Cassette came close for convenience, exceeded LPs for playing a whole album, but less convenient if choosing tracks.

It was CD that gave us all we could ever want, high fidelity, convenience, virtual indestructibility and random access. LP playback then became a niche, one I enjoy a lot, and still buy many LPs, mostly Quadraphonic, for the fun of playing them. As has been mentioned before, LP playback for me is the 1936 MG TC of audio.

S.
 

levimax

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It was CD that gave us all we could ever want, high fidelity, convenience, virtual indestructibility and random access.
And isn't it ironic that 40 years later a technology with so much promise was used not to provide the best quality music but rather to save money and produce the loudest / most compressed music possible, so much so that for a lot of music the stone age vinyl technology is the best quality available. While many people think vinyl is "silly" I think if you have gone to the trouble to have a Hi-Fi system I don't see why you would want to limit your source choices, which is the "weak link" for most music. I can stream, play and rip all the "shiny disc" formats, down load files, and play vinyl. If I gave up vinyl playback capability because it is obsolete and inconvenient it would save me some space and money but would reduce my listening options and enjoyment.
 

SIY

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You confuse "technology" with "commercial decisions."

From a rational POV, you'd do best to rip the vinyl you think is better to a digital format.
 

levimax

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You confuse "technology" with "commercial decisions."

From a rational POV, you'd do best to rip the vinyl you think is better to a digital format.
I am not confused, I am not blaming the technology just pointing out the irony of how things turned out (which as you point out is because of commercial decisions.)

If I was rational I would just listen to music on Alexa and be done.... but that would not be nearly as much fun
 
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JJB70

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I hate the way the music labels have devalued mastering by churning out stuff which is compressed to the point of unpleasantness let alone ruining SQ. However in some ways it is a response to market choices. I don't think it's about loudness per se any more but more a response to the market dominance of small wireless speakers and car audio. I think the current state of recordings is part of the deal is the market wants room filling noise from small wireless speakers without the sound breaking apart. And it is probably the case that many listeners now think such mastering is the norm and don't know much else. And yet despite that I also think that there is a lot of very clever engineering being applied to such speakers.
 

RayDunzl

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I hate the way the music labels have devalued...
Hasn't The Record Buying Public devalued the whole business via thievery culminating in the "all you can eat" streaming business model?
 
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[QUOTE="sergeauckland, post: 156781, member: 48"Back in the 1960s and '70s, live broadcasts on FM radio was the highest fidelity source, before FM became subject to the loudness wars between stations all trying to be the loudest on the dial, and creating a 'station sound'. Tape, first reel-reel and then cassette was the second highest fidelity source, for tapes made from live broadcasts, as pre-recorded tapes were never that good. Vinyl playback was always technically the worst of the three main sources but was by far the most convenient way of playing what one wanted to hear, rather than either waiting for the radio station to play something, or threading tape on a tape machine. Cassette came close for convenience, exceeded LPs for playing a whole album, but less convenient if choosing tracks.
[/QUOTE]

Live FM Broadcasts and cassettes made from those broadcasts don't really count in my view. Cassettes may have lower distortion but LP has wider bandwidth and at least as much if not more dynamic range. LP also has more dynamic range than FM radio. As far as purchased music goes, LP was the hi-fi choice. Cassettes and reel tapes were made using high speed duplicators and had crap sound quality, No one was amassing a large music collection by waiting for and recording live broadcasts on FM radio. I am not even sure that is necessarily better than LP. It might be truer to the mic feed but on average live recordings are inferior to studio recordings for a variety of reasons. Most people used cassettes to make their albums portable or party proof and as recordings from an LP could not exceed the fidelity of the source. All this talk about wow and flutter by some commenters make me think they have never actually listened to a good record player. Yes, a $100 DAC has none and a $500 turntable may have enough audible flutter to be annoying. My ($1600 when I bought it many years ago) VPI Scout has no audible speed variation and the rumble is so low it is masked by groove noise. Yes there is groove noise even with a brand new record. It really is no more distracting than any other background noise such as HVAC, outdoor traffic, birds, frogs, crickets. I do agree that audio writers that are still claiming vinyl LP's are the best music source are simply smoking too much weed. That doesn't justify calling everyone that still enjoys their LP rig a deaf or deluded moron.
 
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If you look at the only cartridge reviews I know of that include distortion measurement cartridges only have 1% distortion on a mono signal in the mid band.
Magnetic tape does deteriorate over time, all of it, there are differences between manufacturers but "can deteriorate" is optimistic!
I bought an LP a week from about 1968 until I got married and money was needed for other things, though I still bought them, just at a slower rate.
I have 4 record players, they all sound different to each other but all are nice in their own way. The type of distortion one gets on both tape recorders and record players tends to be euphonic (except noise and speed fluctuations) even to such an extent that a very popular plug in for my digital recorder emulates tape overload.
I quite agree with you on both how enjoyable listening to LPs can be and also not advising a non-LP owner to depart on the expensive journey of becoming one...
One mid price cartridge review ...with 0.5% distortion.... stereo please
https://hometheaterhifi.com/reviews...udio-technica-vm540ml-phono-cartridge-review/
The upgrade for the AT440MLB ....with low distortion too!

The master tape recorders that I mentioned don’t need any noise reduction...
For example Sgt. Pepper was recorded in a Studer J37 4 tracks, too much noise or distortion?
The more modest Revox A77 has 66 dB SNR (2 tracks), add 4 dB with dolby
 

MattHooper

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In my system, in many cases, any background or groove noise is inaudible to me. Song fade outs, or quiet bits, just seem to fade slowly in to blackness. That was one of the more surprising things when I got a good turntable and cartridge. Though there are variables, among them how loud we listen. I tend to listen between 68-75 dB.
 
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In my system, in many cases, any background or groove noise is inaudible to me. Song fade outs, or quiet bits, just seem to fade slowly in to blackness. That was one of the more surprising things when I got a good turntable and cartridge. Though there are variables, among them how loud we listen. I tend to listen between 68-75 dB.
At those listening levels, yes. When you really crank it up though, there is audible groove rush, mostly noticeable in between songs. LP is never going to match the dead quiet of a CD or digital file no matter how much you spend
 

Juhazi

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Most RIAA preamps have a rumble filter , to kill <20Hz resonances. Motor noise and AC hum are bit higher, above the HP filter, but typically -40dB from signal. Funny, that I can hear vinyl noise even from FM radio broadcasts when they play vinyl (quiet parts in classical and at the end of a piece)! Worn out records give also hiss, which has higher tone and wide spectrum, clicks and pops add on this.
 

RayDunzl

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I can hear vinyl noise even from FM radio broadcasts when they play vinyl
Yes, I get that too from time to time...

Part of local station WMNF's playlist...

That's a pop/rock/blues etc. collection. Jazz is locally curated all night at WUSF, and so-called Classical is partly canned and partly locally produced at 24-hour WSMR.

1551943582327.png
 
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sergeauckland

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[QUOTE="sergeauckland, post: 156781, member: 48"Back in the 1960s and '70s, live broadcasts on FM radio was the highest fidelity source, before FM became subject to the loudness wars between stations all trying to be the loudest on the dial, and creating a 'station sound'. Tape, first reel-reel and then cassette was the second highest fidelity source, for tapes made from live broadcasts, as pre-recorded tapes were never that good. Vinyl playback was always technically the worst of the three main sources but was by far the most convenient way of playing what one wanted to hear, rather than either waiting for the radio station to play something, or threading tape on a tape machine. Cassette came close for convenience, exceeded LPs for playing a whole album, but less convenient if choosing tracks.
Live FM Broadcasts and cassettes made from those broadcasts don't really count in my view. Cassettes may have lower distortion but LP has wider bandwidth and at least as much if not more dynamic range. LP also has more dynamic range than FM radio. As far as purchased music goes, LP was the hi-fi choice. Cassettes and reel tapes were made using high speed duplicators and had crap sound quality, No one was amassing a large music collection by waiting for and recording live broadcasts on FM radio. I am not even sure that is necessarily better than LP. It might be truer to the mic feed but on average live recordings are inferior to studio recordings for a variety of reasons. Most people used cassettes to make their albums portable or party proof and as recordings from an LP could not exceed the fidelity of the source. All this talk about wow and flutter by some commenters make me think they have never actually listened to a good record player. Yes, a $100 DAC has none and a $500 turntable may have enough audible flutter to be annoying. My ($1600 when I bought it many years ago) VPI Scout has no audible speed variation and the rumble is so low it is masked by groove noise. Yes there is groove noise even with a brand new record. It really is no more distracting than any other background noise such as HVAC, outdoor traffic, birds, frogs, crickets. I do agree that audio writers that are still claiming vinyl LP's are the best music source are simply smoking too much weed. That doesn't justify calling everyone that still enjoys their LP rig a deaf or deluded moron.[/QUOTE]

I don't see why live broadcasts and recordings thereof don't count. At the time, most of my high quality listening was done from FM radio before loudness overtook quality.
I made lots of recordings of BBC Radio 3 live broadcasts on a cassette recorder, and the bandwidth was quite adequate for FM radio's 15kHz bandwidth, and noise a lot lower than even new LPs could manage. I still record Radio 3 live concerts, although these days it's digital off their internet stream. LPs can have a greater bandwidth than most cassettes, but the better cassette machines could do 20kHz so again adequate.

Yes, LPs were more mainstream than one's own recordings, but at least in the UK, FM radio was considered the highest quality source with the lowest distortion and noise between studio microphones and home loudspeakers. The only real limitation was a 15 kHz bandwidth, and that for most people over a certain age was acceptable.

S
 

Frank Dernie

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Live FM Broadcasts and cassettes made from those broadcasts don't really count in my view. Cassettes may have lower distortion but LP has wider bandwidth and at least as much if not more dynamic range. LP also has more dynamic range than FM radio. As far as purchased music goes, LP was the hi-fi choice. Cassettes and reel tapes were made using high speed duplicators and had crap sound quality, No one was amassing a large music collection by waiting for and recording live broadcasts on FM radio. I am not even sure that is necessarily better than LP. It might be truer to the mic feed but on average live recordings are inferior to studio recordings for a variety of reasons. Most people used cassettes to make their albums portable or party proof and as recordings from an LP could not exceed the fidelity of the source. All this talk about wow and flutter by some commenters make me think they have never actually listened to a good record player. Yes, a $100 DAC has none and a $500 turntable may have enough audible flutter to be annoying. My ($1600 when I bought it many years ago) VPI Scout has no audible speed variation and the rumble is so low it is masked by groove noise. Yes there is groove noise even with a brand new record. It really is no more distracting than any other background noise such as HVAC, outdoor traffic, birds, frogs, crickets. I do agree that audio writers that are still claiming vinyl LP's are the best music source are simply smoking too much weed. That doesn't justify calling everyone that still enjoys their LP rig a deaf or deluded moron.
I presume you never lived in the UK or perhaps don’t listen to classical music?
Whilst you are completely correct about the poor quality of pre-recorded cassettes and even reel-to-reel tapes the live broadcasts of classical concerts on BBC Radio 3 were definitely the best quality sound available during the 1960s and 70s, and are still fantastic, though budget cuts mean they are fewer of them. Recorded onto a good quality cassette recorder these were far better than most LPs and I still have lots of the recordings.
I used to record the live broadcast every evening back then, listen to the recording in my car and at home, if I liked the music/performance I kept it, if not I re-used the tape. Some of my all time favourite recordings are on these cassettes still.
LPs are OK, and I have hundreds of them and 4 record players, including a Goldmund Reference and a EMT (though not as fancy a model as Serge’s), the dynamic range of LP and cassette is similar, the frequency range also, in real terms, since unless you have a perfectly aligned cartridge with a first class fine line cartridge the high frequencies from a record player are distorted or not picked up.
I do indeed still enjoy my records but certainly would not recommend somebody who doesn’t have any LPs to start buying them, far too expensive for what you get.
 
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