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Turntables - help me understand the appeal?

watchnerd

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I agree.

I have to say I have been a bit surprised at just how good my quite modest in comparison early 80's Kenwood DD can sound since getting my feet back into Vinyl.

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Maybe I'm a heretic, but I think once you get past a certain level of turntable competence, the affect of the arm (a bit) and the cartridge (a lot) and the match between the two in terms of resonances, plus of course alignment, start to matter a lot more than the TT itself.
 

noobie1

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I recently purchased a solid vinyl rig and I’m shocked at how good it subjectively sounds despite giving up a lot of ooomp in the bass region. When I listen to digital, I listen for the gear. With vinyl, I don’t pay attention to the gear but listen for the music.

Before anyone wants to stone me, I believe digital is the superior medium. I purchased my rig to do needle drops because I believe vinyl records are mastered more to my tastes. The difference in sound is largely attributable to different mastering techniques and fluctuations in platter speed. In fact, I'm using a Puffin phono preamp connected to a digital preamp that's connected to my speakers. That's at least two stages of ADC. The music sounds transparent to my ears.

I've run into audiophiles who claim that a good analog rig costs a lot less than a good digital rig. I'm of the opposite opinion. You can get a properly engineered DAC that sounds great for $100. My first turntable (which I received as a present 2 years ago) was a $100 Audio Technica LP60. I threw the AT LP60 away after a year of hardly touching it. My current vinyl rig costs about $3000. It costs almost as much as all my other components put together. If you listen to a proper vinyl rig you might be surprised just how much you enjoy it.
 

JJB70

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I am not sure how a turntable could be cheaper than a digital source when you can use a tablet, smart phone or PC as a hifi source and transparent external DACs if you want one can be bought for peanuts. These days a hifi system only needs to be active speakers if they have a DAC, or a DAC and active speakers if not.
 

watchnerd

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Thomas_A

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I've had my current cart for almost over a year and I'm still below 100 hours. These guys with cart hours in the 1000's either have much older cart than me, or manage to listen to a lot more records.
According to the experiment there are no or only tiny signs of wear according to contact patch after 400 h using an elliptical. However it may be do that the first hours give a polishing impact Maybe we have a true break-in effect.
 

Frank Dernie

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I've had my current cart for almost over a year and I'm still below 100 hours. These guys with cart hours in the 1000's either have much older cart than me, or manage to listen to a lot more records.
I used to go through cartridges at a tremendous rate until CD came out, now they last ages!
 

MattHooper

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please...please....not THAT cartoon!

I'm not sure there is a thread on vinyl in the entire internet that doesn't contain at least one or multiple persons posting that thing.

If I had a time machine, before I got rid of Hitler and Stalin, I'd find that artist and spill ink on that cartoon so I'd never have to see it again upon return..;-)
 
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Zerimas

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Maybe I'm a heretic, but I think once you get past a certain level of turntable competence, the affect of the arm (a bit) and the cartridge (a lot) and the match between the two in terms of resonances, plus of course alignment, start to matter a lot more than the TT itself.
I think there may be something to that argument. I think it has been mentioned in this thread previously, but after a certain point manufacturers had to come up with new means to measure the rumble on turntables because using a press record didn't do anything. The turntable was actually quieter than the equipment used to cut the record. I don't know much about wow & flutter, but there is a limit to how audible speed fluctuations actually are, especially with respect to frequency.

Cartridges do affect the sound a lot because they all have vastly differing frequency response. I don't think any of them are completely flat, but some of them are definitely less flat than others. I am pretty sure when reviewers talk about a cartridge sounding "lively", "bright", "airy", et cetera they are mostly talking about the frequency response (well that an probably a bunch of sighted bias too).
 

MattHooper

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Apropos of this thread theme...

Tonight I had over my brother-in-law and father-in-law for dinner and once they saw the zany new turntable they were curious. Both appreciate good sound and good audio (my BIL for instance has owned floor-standing speakers from Sonus Faber, amps from Krell ...my father-in-law owns large and rather and wonderful sounding Monitor Audio speakers from the 80's. I've always been amazed at how good the sound is at his place). But both are hardnosed, practical engineer-types with zero romanticism for old technology. My father-in-law couldn't ditch vinyl fast enough when CD came along (he has a massive classical CD collection). Same with my brother-in-law.

As I answered their queries about the turntable, it's design etc, they maintained a puzzled attitude, baffled why anyone would be buying vinyl at this point - not even knowing it had become popular again at all - let alone why spend money on a turntable. Thus...it led to a listening session. I played a couple tracks from a group I knew my BIL liked, and later they picked through albums to listen.

After the first couple tracks my brother in law just shook his head, impressed, saying "Wow. I don't remember records sounding like that." My FIL was also taken aback and said numerous times, "that's really amazing!" Instead of leaving the sofa to join the rest of the folks at the back of the house, he wanted to stay put and keep listening. We had fun going through various albums and they stayed on the listening sofa for hours. Not every album sounded equally great of course - often we were pulling out very old, well-worn records from our teenage years. But some old and new sounded fantastic.

By the time they left, they weren't puzzled about why I was listening to vinyl on a nice turntable anymore, and that I hadn't abandoned my persuit of great sound quality for mere cozy nostalgia. :)
 

watchnerd

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please...please....not THAT cartoon!

I'm not sure there is a thread on vinyl in the entire internet that doesn't contain at least one or multiple persons posting that thing.

If I had a time machine, before I got rid of Hitler and Stalin, I'd find that artist and spill ink on that cartoon so I'd never have to see it again upon return..;-)
I've actually considered making that cartoon into a poster or t-shirt.
 

Zog

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Apropos of this thread theme...

Tonight I had over my brother-in-law and father-in-law for dinner and once they saw the zany new turntable they were curious.
Another war story. A little while ago my mother-in-law and her sister visited from Holland. They expressed disbelief at my turntable, quizzing me many times: 'do they still make records?' and not accepting my nonchalant 'yes' at face value. I put on Elvis' Fever (a well known audiophile choice) and basked in their incredulity!
I explained that there were lots of sources of vinyl. One was the original records, many from the sixties. (As an aside I recall a Greek audiophile on YouTube explaining that he loved his sixties orchestral records. He said the sixties were a time a great optimism and this this feeling has percolated through). Another is modern pressings of classics - my Elvis LP being such an example. And third there is new music being put out on LP, Katie Melua and Adele are examples .
 

watchnerd

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Cartridges do affect the sound a lot because they all have vastly differing frequency response. I don't think any of them are completely flat, but some of them are definitely less flat than others. I am pretty sure when reviewers talk about a cartridge sounding "lively", "bright", "airy", et cetera they are mostly talking about the frequency response (well that an probably a bunch of sighted bias too).
I've seen some graphs from Denon and Audio Technica that looked flatter than my speakers. When I had a DL-103 it actually came with a QC inspector print out graph of the FR.

But, yeah, a lot of the fan-favorite / cottage industry carts are pretty spiky.

Here are the FR graphs from Miller Audio Research report for the Audio Technica AT33EV, which is the main cart I'm using now.

I don't know why they separate the low and the high frequencies into two separate graphs, or the significance of their vertical vs lateral tests.

screen-capture.png


screen-capture-1.png



The AT33EV is a mid-priced ($469) LOMC with decent (but not amazing) specs, a fairly tank like build (as an aside, I'm a fan of the value for money that the big scale cart manufacturers like Audio Technica, Ortofon, and Denon provide when compared to boutique makers), a stylus guard (critical to me these days after the housecleaner killed earlier MCs), is the nth-generation of a design that's been around since the 1980s (I think), also comes in mono (I also own) and Shibata flavors, while the EV version comes with a workman-like alu cantilever and nude elliptical stylus.

And that last point, the elliptical stylus, has turned out to be critical for me when it comes to reducing distortion because I'm absolutely mediocre at turntable alignment, and the elliptical and conical stylus shapes are more forgiving of a little slop, as compared to the advanced line contact types.

Which brings up my last philosophical point:

A well-aligned and properly loaded modest cartridge will beat a poorly aligned, improperly loaded expensive cartridge.

I've heard some really awful, really distorted, not-at-all-flat turntable/arm/cart combos that were also shockingly expensive, yet were set up by bozos who tried to do it all by ear.
 
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watchnerd

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Oh, yeah, another point:

A modest cartridge playing pristine, high quality vinyl beats an expensive cart playing worn, nasty vinyl.

The guys I've met who use mega-expensive LOMCs to play garage sale vinyl make me scratch my head.
 

watchnerd

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Another war story. A little while ago my mother-in-law and her sister visited from Holland. They expressed disbelief at my turntable, quizzing me many times: 'do they still make records?' and not accepting my nonchalant 'yes' at face value. I put on Elvis' Fever (a well known audiophile choice) and basked in their incredulity!
I explained that there were lots of sources of vinyl. One was the original records, many from the sixties. (As an aside I recall a Greek audiophile on YouTube explaining that he loved his sixties orchestral records. He said the sixties were a time a great optimism and this this feeling has percolated through). Another is modern pressings of classics - my Elvis LP being such an example. And third there is new music being put out on LP, Katie Melua and Adele are examples .
Sadly, in the EU, there is the increasingly bad 4th category:

LPs made from CDs of music in the public domain, with no remastering for LP.
 

JJB70

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Peter Aczel was right (as he was on so many things) all those years ago when he identified the quality of recording as the singularly most important determinant of sound quality. Digital is a superior format to vinyl in every way except cover art but audio is no different to most things in that rubbish in = rubbish out.
What does surprise me is vinyl popularity in classical music, as classical music for the most part has escaped the decline in master quality of some other genres and some classical labels far from wasting the potential of digital have actually exploited it. So in the case of classical there is not positive I can see to vinyl but a huge disadvantage in the need to keep changing sides and in many cases also changing records to play a full piece.
 
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