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Why Audiophiles Are Shopping for Vintage Turntables

MattHooper

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The last regular-use turntable I had was a B&O in the ‘80s (PS Audio PS-IVH preamp, Perreaux 2150B amp, Canton CT-1000 speakers). I’d already switched CDs by the time I took a look and saw that the kids had apparently mangled the stylus, so it just went to junk.

Years ago, I bought a Pro-ject 1.2 turntable, just to have around and to digitize a ’79 LP of my band for which the master tapes whereabouts are unknown. I bought a cheap phono pre from Guitar Center, for convenience. It died before I used it (turned into an oscillator), but just outside the 30 day return—wasn’t worth paying shipping to have it repaired. I had an old NAD 3020, so I used that to digitized the album. I never got to cleaning up the audio files before my office/studio was burglarized, all the computers and backup storage stolen, among other things.

So more years go by and thoughts return to the digitization project. I made a pass at it, the NAD was in such need of maintenance it was adding noise (noisy volume pots, switches…) intermittently. I remembered the PS-IVH. But it was dead, obviously needed a recap. So I recapped it. By this time, I decide to upgrade the cartridge, because I wasn’t all that impressed (stock was Sumiko Oyster—old style—bought a Nagaoka MP-110).

I have three pressings of the album plus a test pressing, tried to find the best—crappy vinyl, lots of embedded ticks. I got down to cleaning, and there is hum. WTF, it wasn’t humming before. Takes me a bit to figure it out, since it’s intermittent, but ultimately it’s not grounding or the pre, it’s the motor. (I tested this morning, just leaving the motor on, no audio—dead quiet for about 40 minutes, buzzed constantly thereafter.) But Izotope RX7 (and 8—the upgrade came along mid-project) handled that pretty well, and I finished the album cleanup with impressive results.

But ultimately it bugged me having a useless turntable with a new cartridge, even if I didn’t have much use for a turntable. I still have a few hundred albums, some never made it to digital, just not a “pressing” need to listen to them when I have Apple Music and pretty decent pro audio gear to listen through.

So, yeah, I wouldn’t be adding to this thread if I hadn’t ordered a Panasonic PLX1000 this morning. I almost bought a Rega during Cyber week, but the similarly fragile nature of it and its peers like the Pro-ject was a little unappealing. I don’t mind fixing stuff (besides the PS-IVH, I recapped my Lexicon PCM70 and Oberheim OB8 also in the past year), but reading of tinkering (new belt etc.) on brand-new Regas to get the speed right, gymnastics of dismantling the tonearm and reseating the magnet to put in my MP-110…a bit more of a "tank" build was appealing.

More in keeping with the thread: My buddy offered me the KM Audio Linear turntable in his closet, but I decided that could be another restoration project. It’s a Transcriptor clone, he put a nice tonearm on it, but I don’t see much about it on the net, don’t know the quality level. I may give it a whirl, and compare to the PLX if I have time. Anyone know anything about the KM?

PS—Reloop 7000 MK2 is pretty much the same thing as the PLX—has reverse, bypass-able pre, but lacks headshell, lid—for $200 less. Ultimately, I wanted the headshell and lid, didn’t care about the others, and the 20% coupon Guitar Center sent me worked for Panasonic but Reloop was excluded—guess there is a substantial margin difference. So basiclly a wash if I had to buy a headshell and lid with the Reloop.

It can be maddening! Sorry to hear about your turntable issues. I hope your Panny PLX1000 works out for you.

For many years I had a good turntable hanging around (micro seiki) that I'd throw in to the system occasionally because I still had some of my old records kicking around. It was a combination of dips in to nostalgia, and also enjoying the different type of sound. As I mentioned earlier, it was the vinyl revival that sucked me back in. Once I saw how much brand new vinyl was being reproduced, and ordered some new titles and re-issues, vinyl didn't seem to be just the dusty old, creased covers and crackly LPs it had been. Opening up a brand new LP, pristine and beautiful, made it feel new and fresh again. Ended up buying so many that it compelled me to upgrade my turntable/cartridge and, well, here I am no listening to more vinyl than digital.
 

MattHooper

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Speaking of vinyl comeback/revival, amazingly enough still going strong even during pandemic times!

Vinyl Record Sales Reach Their Highest Levels Since 1991


https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2020/12/09/vinyl-record-sales-black-friday/

"Between Friday, November 27th, and Thursday, December 3rd, vinyl record sales experienced a 56 percent year-over-year boost, per MRC, with customers having purchased some 1.253 million units across the weeklong stretch. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts thereof, the impressive figure represents the single largest vinyl record sales volume of any week since MRC Data’s 1991 founding – as well as the second time that weekly sales have crossed one million units."

I've had more record stores actually opening up near me during the pandemic!
 

earlevel

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It can be maddening! Sorry to hear about your turntable issues. I hope your Panny PLX1000 works out for you.
Fortunately, it's at the comical level, has become more of a "journey" than a task. I admit to being reluctant to get a new TT because there's little doubt I'll use it to re-digitize the album and spend dozens more hours in RX8...if the PLX gives me a better starting point than before :p

For many years I had a good turntable hanging around (micro seiki) that I'd throw in to the system occasionally because I still had some of my old records kicking around. It was a combination of dips in to nostalgia, and also enjoying the different type of sound. As I mentioned earlier, it was the vinyl revival that sucked me back in. Once I saw how much brand new vinyl was being reproduced, and ordered some new titles and re-issues, vinyl didn't seem to be just the dusty old, creased covers and crackly LPs it had been. Opening up a brand new LP, pristine and beautiful, made it feel new and fresh again. Ended up buying so many that it compelled me to upgrade my turntable/cartridge and, well, here I am no listening to more vinyl than digital.
Interesting. In exchanging comments with Ian (HiVynNyws) on YouTube, he remarked about enjoying "our hobby". I don't expect to go too far down the vinyl wormhole, due to lack of time, maybe patience, and the fact I spend a lot of time in the DSP world, but yeah—reading up on this board (initially looking for a DAC last month), I've been staving off the urge to put up a listening room in my living room again. Despite spending most of the time in my studio/office with pro audio gear (powered monitor, etc.). I do remember the days of listening being a "hobby" for me. Good memories, really. Vinyl has its issues, but it's always something we handle with care and respect—maybe becaue we want to get the most out of it that we can. That went out in a lot of ways with CDs, I suppose.
 

MattHooper

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One of my biggest pet peeves in the high end audio world, especially subjectivist-oriented, is the received wisdom that analog is the "superior" medium that "best preserves the original music," be it vinyl or analog tape.

Here's a good recent article dissecting the claim of vinyl being superior to digital. Nothing of revelation for people here, but it's a good read with some interesting hopping around of history, even if you know the technical info. Hopefully some who have naively bought in to the "vinyl is superior to digital" meme will come across this and get a clearer view of things:

Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl

https://www.laweekly.com/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl/
 

jsrtheta

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One of my biggest pet peeves in the high end audio world, especially subjectivist-oriented, is the received wisdom that analog is the "superior" medium that "best preserves the original music," be it vinyl or analog tape.

Here's a good recent article dissecting the claim of vinyl being superior to digital. Nothing of revelation for people here, but it's a good read with some interesting hopping around of history, even if you know the technical info. Hopefully some who have naively bought in to the "vinyl is superior to digital" meme will come across this and get a clearer view of things:

Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl

https://www.laweekly.com/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl/

If a million people believe a stupid thing, it's still a stupid thing.
 
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watchnerd

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One of my biggest pet peeves in the high end audio world, especially subjectivist-oriented, is the received wisdom that analog is the "superior" medium that "best preserves the original music," be it vinyl or analog tape.

Here's a good recent article dissecting the claim of vinyl being superior to digital. Nothing of revelation for people here, but it's a good read with some interesting hopping around of history, even if you know the technical info. Hopefully some who have naively bought in to the "vinyl is superior to digital" meme will come across this and get a clearer view of things:

Why CDs May Actually Sound Better Than Vinyl

https://www.laweekly.com/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl/

Don't need to read the whole thing, just skip to the end:

“Every way you can measure it, digital is going to be superior,” Metcalfe says. “It really does come down to the preference of the end user.”

Or, as Kees Immink says: “Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is better.”
 

makinao

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I just served as a consultant for a vinyl reissue project, because I was the producer of the original CD version and had backup copies of the masters. I sold my old SL1600 years ago because it went south and ran out of V-15 type V styli. So the plan was to get another cheap used SL1x00 model. But it turns out that having it reconditioned, getting a new cartridge, and getting a decent phono preamp would be more expensive than a brand new P1 plus or a AT-120XUSB. So I ended up buying the AT to avoid the hassle. I grew up with turntables, so setup was a breeze. And I still had all my Discwasher implements, so record and stylus cleaning would not be a problem.

The project went well, and the 180g test press was better than I expected. The vocals and guitars had a "warmth" that I think attracts many people to vinyl, and the dynamic range was pretty good. But I still rue over what vinyl listeners are missing from the digital version, such the effortless highs and lows, superior separation, and absence of noise.

The turntable is probably going to sit unused most of the time, as I have no other projects in the pipeline involving vinyl.
 

MattHooper

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Don't need to read the whole thing, just skip to the end:

“Every way you can measure it, digital is going to be superior,” Metcalfe says. “It really does come down to the preference of the end user.”

Or, as Kees Immink says: “Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is better.”

Actually I still had a little issue with that last line. "Better" is still a subjective term so someone may find vinyl sounds "better" to them.
You can try to disambiguate things by adding the caveat "I'm using "better" in the sense of "more accurate." But then, why not just avoid possible confusion and say "more accurate."

So I think it would be clearer if put: “Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is more accurate.”
 
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watchnerd

watchnerd

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Actually I still had a little issue with that last line. "Better" is still a subjective term so someone may find vinyl sounds "better" to them.
You can try to disambiguate things by adding the caveat "I'm using "better" in the sense of "more accurate." But then, why not just avoid possible confusion and say "more accurate."

So I think it would be clearer if put: “Some people like marmalade and some people like mustard. If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is more accurate.”

Sure.

Although some will still quibble with that and say that less accurate = worse.

In any case...

This horse has been beaten dead 100 times already on ASR. ;)
 
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watchnerd

watchnerd

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But I still rue over what vinyl listeners are missing from the digital version, such the effortless highs and lows, superior separation, and absence of noise.

I have access to the digital version (or multiples thereof) of almost everything in my LP collection, either from CDs I ripped to a NAS or from streaming.

There is no need to be rueful...the digital versions are usually easily accessible for those who want to compare / contrast.

The exceptions are some "Lost Recordings" that never made it to digital.

Some LPs I've bought even came with digital download codes.
 
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Snarfie

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Last year i could get hold of a Thorens TD160 in good condition.. Bought it for sentimental reasons. This turntable i used in the 70ties till late in the 80ties. Did sound good enough for me at the time till i heard the difference between my vinyl Ahmad Jamal - Rossiter Road record an CD i whas chocked at the time. So i borrowed last year the Record an compared it again to my same/first edition CD the horrorfication appeard immidiately. :facepalm:The Thorens was sold within a week.
 
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watchnerd

watchnerd

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Last year i could get hold of a Thorens TD160 in good condition.. Bought it for sentimental reasons. This turntable i used in the 70ties till late in the 80ties. Did sound good enough for me at the time till i heard the difference between my vinyl Ahmad Jamal - Rossiter Road record an CD i whas chocked at the time. So i borrowed last year the Record an compared it again to my same/first edition CD the horrorfication appeard immidiately. :facepalm:The Thorens was sold within a week.

You were expecting them to sound the same?
 

Midwest Blade

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I have several album editions in both Vinyl and CD, 100% I favor the CD versus the LP, on a subjective basis. As I have stated, I was a late convert to the the CD in the 80's, the audio shop that I frequented was a big holdout for years and obviously sort of steered my opinion. I bought my first CD player on the spot at another audio shop after one quick audition.
 

Snarfie

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You were expecting them to sound the same?
Ha ha not realy but because all the hype around Vinyl i thougt could be that i imagen it all yearsss ago. So i put it up did a a/b comparison an hear all the vinyl pops an clicks sound again compared with the Cd that was dead dead silence which is needed playing Rossiter Road to hear all nuances. I was cured in 30 seconds.
 
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watchnerd

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Ha ha not realy but because all the hype around Vinyl i thougt could be that i imagen it all yearsss ago. So i put it up did a a/b comparison an hear all the vinyl pops an clicks sound again compared with the Cd that was dead dead silence which is needed playing Rossiter Road to hear all nuances. I was cured in 30 seconds.

What's interesting to me about this is that some of my visitors (well, before the pandemic) thought some of my LPs "sounded like CDs".

I think @MattHooper has heard similar.

So, yeah, vinyl can sound pretty bad compared to CD.

But sometimes it can also sound (not measure) closer than people expect.

Quality of the LP itself and the rest of the system matter immensely.

45 RPM LPs being a weird side case to me that sound more like tape.
 
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Snarfie

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What's interesting to me about this is that some of my visitors (well, before the pandemic) thought some of my LPs "sounded like CDs".

I think @MattHooper has heard similar.

So, yeah, vinyl can sound pretty bad compared to CD.

But sometimes it can also sound (not measure) closer than people expect.

Quality of the LP itself and the rest of the system matter immensely.

45 RPM LPs being weird side case to me that sound more like tape.
I think when you make a Vinyl master an you use that for producing a CD the Cd is limited by the dynamic range of the Vinyl master an will probably (besides the clicks an pops) sound worse than the Vinyl. I think around 10% of all my digital music is ripped from Vinyl because i like that version more. But it is by far the minority of my music collection.
 
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watchnerd

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I think when you make a Vinyl master an you use tha same same for producing a CD the Cd is limited by the dynamic range of the Vinyl master an will probably (besides the clicks an pops) sound worse than the Vinyl.

That never really happens, unless someone is horrible at their job.

The vinyl master is different in ways far beyond any dynamic range issue.

The most obvious example is deep bass being mixed to mono.

What's more likely is that you have the original master, and then LP and CD and streaming derivatives, although digitally remastering for CD or streaming isn't strictly necessary and is done for other reasons (e.g. sound good in cars or on smart speakers).
 

Robin L

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That never really happens, unless someone is horrible at their job.

The vinyl master is different in ways far beyond any dynamic range issue.

The most obvious example is deep bass being mixed to mono.

What's more likely is that you have the original master, and then LP and CD and streaming derivatives, although digitally remastering for CD or streaming isn't strictly necessary and is done for other reasons (e.g. sound good in cars or on smart speakers).
I bought two very recent LPs that seemed to have the same level of compression as the LPs, the Decemberists "The King is Dead" and Rosanne Cash's "The River and the Thread". I was hoping the LPs might be less compressed than the CDs, overall both LPs sounded worse in every way, and no less compressed. I've encountered some LPs that were just fine overall, but these weren't among them. I gave up on LPs soon thereafter, mostly because I no longer had room for them. Can't say I'm missing them right now.
 

Snarfie

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That never really happens, unless someone is horrible at their job.

The vinyl master is different in ways far beyond any dynamic range issue.

The most obvious example is deep bass being mixed to mono.

What's more likely is that you have the original master, and then LP and CD and streaming derivatives, although digitally remastering for CD or streaming isn't strictly necessary and is done for other reasons (e.g. sound good in cars or on smart speakers).
I meant the CD will not sound better than the Vinyl simply because you can't get more information out of the original source which is in this case the Vinyl master. Thats why Steven Wilson is always looking for the so cald "don't use master" which probably is the master with full dynamic range which can't be used for vinyl esspecialy if there is lots of bass lows in the needle will leave the groove. This link explaind a lot found it quite revealing . https://www.laweekly.com/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl/
 
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BDWoody

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But sometimes it can also sound (not measure) closer than people expect.

I was actually surprised at how close it could be when I got back into it. I have a friend of mine now driving himself crazy trying to get his system to sound like mine after a recent visit. Mine sounds better than he'd ever heard records sound. His sounds like he remembers it always did after setting it back up.

Great choice with Aja (Deacon Blues) as a good one to record by the way. I have some very good copies of the brothers in arms LP that show how quiet it can be. My quietest is probably an NFSL boxed Blood on the Tracks in 45 LP with some special pressing process. Very quiet. I'd bet most would not spot it unless listening very closely, and even then. It's quite good.
 
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