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Turntables - help me understand the appeal?

restorer-john

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We recorded a stack of simulcasts and 'whole album broadcasts' in the 1980s because they were infinitely better than many of the LPs we could buy at the local record stores.

FM stations would talk up a Friday night broadcast of a half-speed mastered Japanese pressing and we'd be sitting there, with our decks cued up, biased perfectly waiting for the needle drop. All we hope was the announcer (DJ) would not talk over the last few seconds and ruin our 'master' recordings.

Once they started doing the same with CD, it was a godsend.
 
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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
The reason I said they don't count is that is that recording something yourself from a live performance is not the same as music you can purchase whenever you want it. I am not a classical fan but even if I were, If I wanted a to hear a particular conductor and orchestra's performance of a particular piece getting it via a radio recording is unlikely to happen. Comparing the sound quality of a live BBC recording vs an LP means nothing if I want to listen to something that the BBC is never going to do live and that would cover the large majority of available recordings even if you filter for classical only. If not apple and oranges it is at least oranges and grapefruit. Additionally there is the matter of longevity. I used to dub all LP's to high quality cassettes for using in cars and for convenience at home. 20 years later the signal level had dropped off rather drastically reducing the SN to that of a rather ruined LP and sounding rather dull in the highs The LP's at twenty years old still play the way they always did.
 

graz_lag

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Enough as appeal ?

1552081455070.png
 

sergeauckland

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^Fully automatic with disc turning too. Dust removal with the brush going on...
Yes, but she's holding the record all wrong. It should be held between edge and label, not by the playing surface, as finger grease will hold dirt and increase noise.

Didn't her mother teach her anything?

S
 

MRC01

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...
I keep seeing, especially on Reddit/Audiophile, many, many turntable setups feeding similarly nice or better equipment.
...
For those who like listening to turntables on their main systems, why should I consider putting money into this? Can you help me understand why you like listening to records better than HQ streaming?
As a guy who listened to vinyl starting in the late 70s to until recently, I'll add similar advice: don't put money into it. You're not missing anything in terms of actual fidelity.

I listened to vinyl starting in the late 1970s when the alternatives were cassette or 8-track tape. Most vinyl records sound like crap, but the 180 gram and heavier pressings, Japanese press, half-speed masters, etc. done right, can sound fantastic. Like a really good SET OTL amp, vinyl can sound downright magical even if euphonically distorted. It sometimes sounds better than the CD of the same recording, even though vinyl is technically a lower fidelity medium because the vinyl was sometimes mastered with more care and skill. But it's a real PITA. Over the years I had a lot of effort & money invested in it, and about 1,000 LPs about half of which were those 180+ heavy pressings. It was expensive and impractical. I built a 160 lb. sandbox with a floating lid to isolate and level the turntable, a moving coil cartridge that cost about kilobuck (considered "budget" hi-fi by vinyl standards) and must be periodically replaced, built my phono amp from a DACT CT-100 powered by dual 12 V batteries, built a passive stepped attenuator for my "preamp". But about 20 years or so ago I started to find that it was practically impossible to find recordings available in vinyl, and even when they were, they sounded inferior to digital recordings and were more expensive -- like $50 for the LP when you can buy the CD for $10 or download the 96-24 studio master for $15, which sounded better.

So finally just a year or two ago I sold it all. I had a brief moment of nostalgia watching the guy drive away with all my vinyl equipment, but no regrets.
 

MattHooper

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As a guy who listened to vinyl starting in the late 70s to until recently, I'll add similar advice: don't put money into it. You're not missing anything in terms of actual fidelity.

I listened to vinyl starting in the late 1970s when the alternatives were cassette or 8-track tape. Most vinyl records sound like crap, but the 180 gram and heavier pressings, Japanese press, half-speed masters, etc. done right, can sound fantastic. Like a really good SET OTL amp, vinyl can sound downright magical even if euphonically distorted. It sometimes sounds better than the CD of the same recording, even though vinyl is technically a lower fidelity medium because the vinyl was sometimes mastered with more care and skill. But it's a real PITA. Over the years I had a lot of effort & money invested in it, and about 1,000 LPs about half of which were those 180+ heavy pressings. It was expensive and impractical. I built a 160 lb. sandbox with a floating lid to isolate and level the turntable, a moving coil cartridge that cost about kilobuck (considered "budget" hi-fi by vinyl standards) and must be periodically replaced, built my phono amp from a DACT CT-100 powered by dual 12 V batteries, built a passive stepped attenuator for my "preamp". But about 20 years or so ago I started to find that it was practically impossible to find recordings available in vinyl, and even when they were, they sounded inferior to digital recordings and were more expensive -- like $50 for the LP when you can buy the CD for $10 or download the 96-24 studio master for $15, which sounded better.

So finally just a year or two ago I sold it all. I had a brief moment of nostalgia watching the guy drive away with all my vinyl equipment, but no regrets.
Wow. Dunno whether to happy or sad for you ;-)

"Know Thyself" is rule number one for achieving what you want, and it seems you figured it out.

I'm on a completely opposite trajectory, absolutely loving my ever growing vinyl collection and turntable. I just listened to some old 1979 synth-based album and was in heaven - it sounded, as you described when vinyl is done right - just "downright magical."

When I upgraded my turntable/cartridge I did indeed do the audiophile thing - built a nice isolation shelf. My turntable is in a different room from my speakers so I'm not worried about vibrations from the speakers, but it is on a pretty flexible wood floor and my 17 year old son stomps when he walks like Godzilla. The springs have proven remarkably efficient at isolating the turntable from even hard floor-born vibrations.

But once I had peace of mind that way, I've been good to go. No thoughts of spending more or upgrading.

That said, I don't see any particular *need* to spend lots of money and effort for enjoyable vinyl playback. My old Micro Seiki turntable sounded wonderful and gave me tons of sonic joy.

I only upgraded because...hey...I could. But not everyone would want to.
 

DKT88

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Repeating what has already been said on this thread, I grew up with vinyl. Now I listen almost exclusively to digital audio files with a wee bit of vinyl. But I still buy (infrequently) and listen to (occasionally) vinyl records. It sounds different than digital, not better. So the bottom line is, unless you have some nostalgia for vinyl, or want to be retro-cool, you should skip it.
 

MattHooper

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Repeating what has already been said on this thread, I grew up with vinyl. Now I listen almost exclusively to digital audio files with a wee bit of vinyl. But I still buy (infrequently) and listen to (occasionally) vinyl records. It sounds different than digital, not better. So the bottom line is, unless you have some nostalgia for vinyl, or want to be retro-cool, you should skip it.
Putting the issue of sound quality aside, I still suggest that is a false dichotomy - that the appeal would only be between 'nostalgia' or trying to be 'cool.'

And I'd suggest that most people getting in to the vinyl resurgence are not operating out of either motivation, or certainly not exclusively. Remember that millennials are a large driver in the resurgence of vinyl and they generally did not grow up with vinyl as their prominent music carrier.

Rather, many have been finding out that there really *is* something they value in the physical format of vinyl and turntables. Not only the appreciation of the artwork and aesthetic value, but enjoying owning and using a turntable, and finding that owning and using records fundamentally changes a dynamic in how they listen and think about their music.

It certainly has had this effect for me. When I had my older turntable and used to occasionally spin one of my old dusty records, nostalgia was certainly a big part of that as I was born in '63 and grew up playing records. But the more I got in to it, got a better table, got in to buying more new releases and building a new collection, it has really changed my listening habits and thinking about my music collection. There's just a lot of elements about my vinyl collection that make it a far richer experience than the invisible little 1s and 0s on my hard drive and tapping play on my iphone. And that is what many people are discovering who get in to vinyl.

But that all depends on one's interest. Spinning the occasional vinyl album isn't really the same as being captured by vinyl enough to really make it more of a focus in your music collection. But to those who have put more effort or focus in to vinyl/turntables, there's much more about it than just nostalgia or cool factor.
 

MRC01

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I agree there is more to vinyl than nostalgia or retro coolness. Vinyl is more tweakable and the results are both measurable and audible. I had a lot of fun and education with vinyl, learning how to set and fine tune VTA, cartridge alignment, tracking weight and anti-skate, vibration isolation, building my own phono head amp, experimenting with cartridge loading, etc. You can really get into some hands-on educational stuff, learn something about mechanical and electrical engineering, and hear the improvements. Unlike many tweaks, with vinyl these make a real sonic difference!

If you already have a big collection of vinyl and a good playback rig, it can make sense to keep it around. Eventually I decided to make high quality digital transfers of my vinyl and found them virtually indistinguishable from the originals. But I can see somebody wanting to keep them around.

However, the OP was asking about getting into vinyl now, for the first time; that's a different question. I see no reasons to do that based purely on sound quality and listening pragmatism. Digital gives better sound quality, costs less, is easier and less finicky, and has wider availability of musical recordings in all genres.
 

Frank Dernie

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Putting the issue of sound quality aside, I still suggest that is a false dichotomy - that the appeal would only be between 'nostalgia' or trying to be 'cool.'

And I'd suggest that most people getting in to the vinyl resurgence are not operating out of either motivation, or certainly not exclusively. Remember that millennials are a large driver in the resurgence of vinyl and they generally did not grow up with vinyl as their prominent music carrier.

Rather, many have been finding out that there really *is* something they value in the physical format of vinyl and turntables. Not only the appreciation of the artwork and aesthetic value, but enjoying owning and using a turntable, and finding that owning and using records fundamentally changes a dynamic in how they listen and think about their music.

It certainly has had this effect for me. When I had my older turntable and used to occasionally spin one of my old dusty records, nostalgia was certainly a big part of that as I was born in '63 and grew up playing records. But the more I got in to it, got a better table, got in to buying more new releases and building a new collection, it has really changed my listening habits and thinking about my music collection. There's just a lot of elements about my vinyl collection that make it a far richer experience than the invisible little 1s and 0s on my hard drive and tapping play on my iphone. And that is what many people are discovering who get in to vinyl.

But that all depends on one's interest. Spinning the occasional vinyl album isn't really the same as being captured by vinyl enough to really make it more of a focus in your music collection. But to those who have put more effort or focus in to vinyl/turntables, there's much more about it than just nostalgia or cool factor.
I haven’t changed the way I listen to music for over 50 years.
I still put a record on and listen to whe whole thing sitting at home. The difference, for me, is that the records is now more often a CD than an LP.
I still detest background music. I wouldn’t dream of trying to listen to music whilst working, if I like the music the work would suffer and if I didn’t I would be irritated.
I am actually amazed anybody has found that LPs change the way they listen to music, it is not like that for me at all.
I never track skip, but that may simply be because I much prefer classical music and track skipping make no sense with classical.
 

Soniclife

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I am actually amazed anybody has found that LPs change the way they listen to music, it is not like that for me at all.
I agree. I mainly listen via roon, so can listen in any way I like, but the whole album in one go in the correct order is 99% of my listening habits. In truth in more likely to play a bunch of individual tracks in an evening using vinyl than digital, and mainly when someone has come over to listen to music.
 

MattHooper

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I haven’t changed the way I listen to music for over 50 years.
I still put a record on and listen to whe whole thing sitting at home. The difference, for me, is that the records is now more often a CD than an LP.
I still detest background music. I wouldn’t dream of trying to listen to music whilst working, if I like the music the work would suffer and if I didn’t I would be irritated.
I am actually amazed anybody has found that LPs change the way they listen to music, it is not like that for me at all.
I never track skip, but that may simply be because I much prefer classical music and track skipping make no sense with classical.
Yes I certainly think your classical-heavy listening figures in to your experience.

It seems you have not got in to digital music in the way much of the population has, where downloading single desired songs, or making playlists/streaming etc is predominant. It doesn't sound like you've even ripped your music to a hard drive, if you are still spinning CDs.

I don't think you should be amazed that a revolution in the way music is accessed might change listening habits for many.

I went back to listening to my digital source last night. I started with an electronica station I love, then moved on to accessing my library of ripped CDs. I truly enjoyed the sound quality (vinyl-zealots who say digital can't 'play music properly' are so full of sh*t) and the music.

But...inevitably...I noticed my restlessness. I found myself instead of listening to whole cuts, sampling, sampling and moving on to the next...because everything was just another tap away on my iphone app.

I switched back to my analog rig, put on the Issac Hayes album I just received, and, that was it. I was pinned to my seat happily luxuriating in the whole album with no "music ADD" spoiling my enjoyment.

Once again, my experience isn't yours and you don't seem to suffer this type of ditigal-restlessness - again may be partially attributed to what/how you listen - but it's clear from the experience shared by tons of people, including young people marinated in digital music - that they get what I'm talking about.

(And I envy folks like Soniclife as well, who don't seem similarly afflicted).
 

Frank Dernie

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It doesn't sound like you've even ripped your music to a hard drive, if you are still spinning CDs.
I used to. I travelled a lot for work and had carried a pilots case full of cassettes and a walkman, then CDs and portable player then minidisc and the smaller discs but then I heard about the iPod and pre-ordered the first one so travelling became a much lighter affair.
The problem is the standard tagging system was really for pop music, it even called tracks "songs" and no tagging system since has been good for classical. Certainly many people had the discipline to re-tag all their rips but I couldn't be bothered so I just made playlists of works for travelling. When domestic digital streaming appeared I gave it a try, first with a Wadia digital iPod dock to feed my DAC, which sounded fine but the tagging still irritated me. I have a Sooloos Control 15 which is nicely made but is just as useless as all the others for classical without a lot of work.
I came to the conclusion that 44/16 was superb for music and higher than that pointless (for me) so now I have retired I am back on CDs and LPs at home. I have ripped music on my phone and a qobuz subscription but hardly ever use either.
Even Amazon is useless since they use the hopeless tag system and some of their box sets have track samples labelled Symphony No1 1 st movement and no f*cking composer what use is that?
Grr!
So actually I was a very early adopter of file based music and have abandoned it because I hate it so much.
 

MRC01

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I switched back to my analog rig, put on the Issac Hayes album I just received, and, that was it. I was pinned to my seat happily luxuriating in the whole album with no "music ADD" spoiling my enjoyment.
...
Same reason my wife reads on a Kindle instead of a tablet. The tablet is better in so many practical ways: better with graphics, color, more configurable, night reading, supports multiple reading apps and book formats, etc. But it also has so many other features like a web browser, email, games, that distract her from reading. She likes the Kindle (or Kobo) because it only does one thing, no distractions.
 

sergeauckland

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I used to. I travelled a lot for work and had carried a pilots case full of cassettes and a walkman, then CDs and portable player then minidisc and the smaller discs but then I heard about the iPod and pre-ordered the first one so travelling became a much lighter affair.
The problem is the standard tagging system was really for pop music, it even called tracks "songs" and no tagging system since has been good for classical. Certainly many people had the discipline to re-tag all their rips but I couldn't be bothered so I just made playlists of works for travelling. When domestic digital streaming appeared I gave it a try, first with a Wadia digital iPod dock to feed my DAC, which sounded fine but the tagging still irritated me. I have a Sooloos Control 15 which is nicely made but is just as useless as all the others for classical without a lot of work.
I came to the conclusion that 44/16 was superb for music and higher than that pointless (for me) so now I have retired I am back on CDs and LPs at home. I have ripped music on my phone and a qobuz subscription but hardly ever use either.
Even Amazon is useless since they use the hopeless tag system and some of their box sets have track samples labelled Symphony No1 1 st movement and no f*cking composer what use is that?
Grr!
So actually I was a very early adopter of file based music and have abandoned it because I hate it so much.
I have every sympathy for the above. Like Frank, much of my listening is classical, but unlike Frank, I do most of my listening from ripped CDs, which I've tagged to be usable, but every single classical CD I rip has to tagged manually. It is a real pain, but for me no worse than having to decide where to store a particular CD. Say, a Beethoven Concerto and Schubert symphony on the same CD. B or S? Symphonies or Concertos? With a ripped CD at least I can rip it as two separate albums, each with their own tagging. It is a real pain regardless.

S
 

Hugo9000

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I listen almost exclusively to classical music as well.

Around ten years ago I spent countless hours ripping around 1000 or so of my CDs using EAC, saving everything as FLAC. I painstakingly retagged everything using a system that worked for me for classical. 'Genre' is the most stupid tag IMO, so I used that for composers instead, making a custom "genre" for each composer, using last name followed by first initial (there are a few composers sharing a last name, Strauss, Charpentier, Bach, to name a few for those who don't listen to classical lol). I made individual opus numbers or work titles "albums" instead of using the CD album the music was extracted from, which worked better for me. In my music folders, though, the "albums" were contained within a folder for the actual CD, so I could still find content by that method if I wished. Naturally, I have multiple versions (as many as 35 for some works) of many compositions, so I didn't want sorting to give me groupings of movements from the different interpretations, so I included the major artist or conductor and year as part of the title in the tagging to prevent that. Classical is complicated with a large collection if you want it done right and to sort logically in foobar or whatever player. For operas, I made acts or scenes into one track to simplify things, rather than follow the track points on the CDs themselves. This worked for me as I listen to a full opera anyway, so there was no reason to be able to pinpoint a specific aria. My system after careful thought and planning worked flawlessly for me. I also made certain to have multiple backups on extra hard drives. Then I would occasionally find a tiny playback glitch in what had been flawless files previously, and it was so frustrating fixing those files from the backups, that eventually I gave up and went back to just listening to the CDs. A pity, as my system allowed for really easy comparisons of details in different remasterings or interpretations of any given composition.

Other than doing comparisons (usually only when I've acquired a new recording) I mostly listen to entire CDs anyway. If an artist/performer doesn't have entire albums that are worthwhile, I generally won't waste my time with them and will find superior artists haha! One reason I don't bother much with popular music. Too many have albums of crap with one okay song. The only consistent rock performer I can think of is Chris Isaak. I like every song on every album he has recorded, so I'll listen to him occasionally. I have around 3000 CDs so I don't have time to waste on music I don't love haha! I also give my music my full attention. If it's not good enough to occupy my mind fully, I won't bother with it at all in general.

My solution on shelving location for CDs has always prioritized the reason I bought the CD. So Leontyne Price recordings all go together. If there isn't a favorite artist, then the CDs are grouped by composer. I don't alphabetize. Everything is by its value to me. Leontyne Price before all else. So I alternate artist groupings sometimes with composer groupings. A stranger would have difficulty locating particular composers or works in my collection, but no one has any business looking through my things but me haha! A stranger could probably find Wagner pretty easily, as most people would expect his works to be near the end, going alphabetically. He is at the end, but only because he comes last in my priorities haha! (Mozart would actually come after him, but the only reason I even have Mozart CDs in my collection at all is because a number of my favorite artists recorded things by him. Thus those CDs go in an artist grouping--and at the end of that particular grouping, naturally lol.) If I ever become senile or otherwise experience a failing memory, my shelving system will also be useful, as it means I'd be more likely to listen to favorites simply by their position on the shelves and easy access. Otherwise I might listen mostly to Albinoni in my dotage haha!

Oh, to make this rambling post on topic, I do have a few LPs. I have three full operas with Leontyne Price that I acquired, factory sealed, a number of years ago (I opened them to read the booklets and scan the pictures onto my computer). The only other LPs I currently own are Mariah Carey's Butterfly 20th anniversary reissue, and Chris Isaak's Beyond the Sun double-lp set. I listen to the CDs, though, as these few LPs are decorative/collectible for me. My cheap turntable didn't survive my last move a couple of years ago haha!
 
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MRC01

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... Say, a Beethoven Concerto and Schubert symphony on the same CD. B or S? Symphonies or Concertos? With a ripped CD at least I can rip it as two separate albums, each with their own tagging. It is a real pain regardless.
...
I store my music files on an external hard drive in Linux ext4 format. So I can have multiple soft links to the same actual file or directory, each under a different name or categorization scheme, without duplicating the actual FLAC files.
Thus I could find that one Beethoven & Schubert CD by Beethoven, by Schubert, by Symphonies, by 19th century, by favorites, by instrumental, by large ensemble, or however many independent parallel ways I want to organize it.
 
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