LPs anyone? [vynil records to the younger set ;) ]

July 19, 2019, 12:51 PM · I have a reasonably large collection of LPs, some from when they were sold (!) and also lots picked up along the way out of I guess nostalgia. I finally bought a turntable - plugged into a pair of amplified speakers - and was blown away by the rich sound.

First record listened to: Michael Rabin. Maybe a mistake, I wondered why I was fooling with this... :o

Anyone else with needle and threadlines?

Replies (159)

July 19, 2019, 12:58 PM · I listen to the same recording on LP played through my old Marantz stereo and on spotify played through a modern active speaker system and wonder why they call it progress.....
July 19, 2019, 1:04 PM · I suspect progress and profit are sometimes interchangeable...
July 19, 2019, 1:43 PM · Vinyl.
July 19, 2019, 3:23 PM · My husband is an avid vinyl collector, as am I. I love going through old bins at shops to find (cheap!) vinyl treasures. I was also gifted a huge collection of opera on vinyl, which I listen to on occasion. I love my mp3s for their portability, but if I can listen to a proper record on our stereo system I’m all for it. .
Edited: July 19, 2019, 8:38 PM · I have over 4000 lps and have been an avid collector since I was 12 years old.They spin on a Linn lp12 with a lyra Kleos cartridge and amplification is a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP integrated amp.I love collecting Telefunken Das AlteVerke baroque albums with Nicholas Harnoncourt and the old Deutsch Grammophones from the early sixties, the heyday of recordings.It really is fun digging through bins looking for "treasures".About three weeks ago I received an email from a retired history professor who wanted to give away about 200 albums or they would be going to the landfill.About half of them are fantastic Phillips , Telefunken, London Full Frequency and Decca records.One of those was a Phillips of Henryk Szeryng and Ingrid Haebler playing Mozart Sonatas K454 and 481.Absolutely stunning imagery and dead quiet noisefloor.And to think this would be at the Erb Street dump right now..
Just as an aside does anyone own a recording of Sibelius Symphonies No.5 and 7 with the Vienna Phil and Lorin Maazel conducting? Its on London Full Frequency from 1966 ( CS 6488).Of the thousands of lps I own THIS one has the greatest soundstage and depth Ive ever encountered.That last C major chord in the 7th symphony just leaves you limp....
July 19, 2019, 10:24 PM · Quality Analog sound, like a good cartridge on vinyl, running through that Marantz tube amplifier to big speakers is better than digital, but expensive. At the low price end, digital is better than a cheap turntable connected to a transistor amp and cheap speakers. Which is why digital has taken over most of the market.
July 20, 2019, 12:19 AM · I was always deeply allergic to the snap, crackle and pop. Binned my collection, but it was only about 50 records. I miss 1 or 2 of them, but not enough to buy a turntable for.
July 20, 2019, 1:51 AM · Like Gordon, a large proportion of my LPs (2000+) suffered from extraneous noise of one sort or another. A man with a van carried them all away a few years ago. The ones I missed I've been able to recover from CD or online and play them through the same 1980's Quad/Spendor system, and the only sonic differences I can detect are on the positive side. Next to go are the 2500 CDs, now all ripped to mp3. I know some people can tell the difference but happily I'm not one of them. Having been a disc junkie for half a century I'm finally clean!
Edited: July 20, 2019, 2:22 AM · Recovering missing stuff can be fun. A friend of mine recorded an Astor Piazzolla compilation cassette for me in about 1980. That got digitally transferred just before it wore out, but the quality was terrible. Since then I've tried to recreate the exact compilation from digital recordings. I'm only one track short of perfection!
Edited: July 20, 2019, 7:45 AM · I'm with Gordon here - the extraneous noises bothered me too much (they still do). But I had some favourite recordings which have never appeared on CD so I invested in a good quality sound card and some de-clicking software and converted my favourite LP's to digital. No deterioration, minimal extraneous noise.
July 20, 2019, 7:48 AM · Good points Joel.Digital is definetely more convenient.Lps take up a lot of space and its tiresome cleaning them.However I love the ' fleshiness' of vinyl especially with the 8 EL34s and 6 12au7 tubes of the PrimaLuna amp.Baroque performances are especially satisfying when the amp is set in the triode configuration.For the large orchestral works I put the amp in the ultralinear mode which gives a big spacious feel.
I know nothing about digital streaming.It sounds like a great idea .Does anyone do this?
Edited: July 20, 2019, 8:14 AM · There is something wonderful about planning to listen to an LP. Its not the 'instant gratification' of a streaming or even a CD player. You turn everything on, pull out the LP sleeve, place the record on the turntable and turn it on, position the stylus and lower. After a few crackles you are treated to beautiful music, rich and satisfying - something to drink a glass of wine to. How much more that is like the effort to go to a live performance, the connection with the musicians - the whole ritual and grandeur of classical performance. OK, your efforts are admittedly artificial but the whole experience signifies a conscious planning, physical effort and mental immersion in the event. The very process of making the music happen creates a musical event.

OK, so I am waxing poetic but the result is a deeper connection with the artist and composer - a little bit like satisfaction of playing the music rather than just a cursory listen while you do the dishes.

Edited: July 20, 2019, 12:07 PM · I don't think I have a dog in this fight since I have some problems with my hearing (constant ringing, for example, and some hearing loss), so the "warmth" and other features ascribed to vinyl are probably lost on me.

One thing I would say about "warmth" is that it can't be magic -- there must be some underlying physical effect at the root of it. From what I have read, the most likely culprits are mid-range equalization and distortion.

Years ago, when CD players first came on the scene, I went to a reputable hi-fi shop in my area (it was in Dearborn MI). There, I overheard some folks talking about which one sounds the best. That sounded totally crazy to me since I would have thought that the purpose of a CD player should be absolutely dispassionate conversion of digital to analog and "flat" reporting of that information to the amplifier. Of course, the salesperson was of the opinion that the $2000 CD player sounded better than the $1200 CD player and so on. (This was in the early 1980s when $2000 was a lot of money -- and when the issues associated with the quality of sound on CDs were pretty much all on the production end.) Nearby was a room full of Mcintosh amplifiers. These amplifiers were said to sound "warmer" than other amplifiers. And they were designed so that you could see a little bit of the glowing orange vacuum tubes inside, which certainly looked warm. In another room there was an amplifier sitting right in the middle of the floor. It looked like a huge glowing Ziggurat. The price tag said $12000. It didn't even have tone controls. To get those you had to buy another thing called a pre-amp. I was glad for the multi-functional convenience of my Technics receiver, which lasted me through graduate school. But the pinnacle of the hi-fi craze was unarguably the great speaker cable debate, which was finally put to rest (debunked) by a report in Stereo Review. After that many of us were quite soured on the proven absurdity of the hi-fi world, and couldn't bring ourselves to step back into the fray when vinyl made its resurgence some years ago. By the same token we were not surprised when others did. Nostalgia and disposable income are powerful forces indeed.

Having said all that, there is definitely something I miss about vinyl -- the acreage of packaging that was fertile soil for extensive "liner notes" about the players, the performance, the composer, and what-not. Occasionally you get something nice with a CD but usually not much at all. With streaming you're lucky to get stuff like "Hilary Hahn started playing the violin when she was 7" among equally emetic banalities.

Edited: July 20, 2019, 9:57 AM · Great posts Elise and Paul! I dont think tube amps are " warmer" than solid state.I bought the PrimaLuna for the bandwidth and its superior construction.Im 55 and this is the last amp I'll ever own.I had my Linn LK 1 and LK2 for 24 years.Lets see if Im so lucky to go another 24.So true about the liner notes.I have the LaSalle Quartet on Deutsch Grammophone playing Webern Schoenberg and Berg quartets .It actually comes with two thick booklets along with the 5 lps.Superb recordings and you educate yourself at the same time.
I cant think of better ways to spend my disposable income.
July 20, 2019, 10:07 AM · "You turn everything on, pull out the LP sleeve, place the record on the turntable and turn it on, position the stylus and lower"

Did you forget to clean the record and stylus before playing? A soft carbon fibre brush should be fine for the latter.

Clicks and pops usually aren't as big of a problem as distortion caused by mistracking and wear.

July 20, 2019, 10:46 AM · "Warmth" of tube amps; An electronics engineer, not me, could explain it better, but there is a buffering effect, like a spring, to the tube that the solid-state does not have. Transistors leak a little. A friend of mine does a good business rebuilding Tube amps for the electric guitar crowd.
July 20, 2019, 11:03 AM · I too have plenty of nostalgic associations but that's all they are - a phantom of the mind rather than a property of the object itself. I kept a few purely for that reason but have hardly played them since the rest went.

What amazes me is their durability, particularly since my first equipment was primitive. Do I remember correctly that they left an LP on the moon, or at least sent it into space? I don't expect that will get a lot of playing but it'll certainly give the aliens ("locals" in their own terminology) something to puzzle over - an undulating groove containing the noise of a hundred or more bowers, blowers, bangers and (er..) singers all mixed up together

Edited: July 20, 2019, 7:34 PM · Your friend has an interesting job Joel.I had my phonostage built for me by Dan Santoni, who owns DTS audioelectronics.Its fascinating to listen to him explain the " nuts and bolts" of how amps , preamps, phonostages etc. work.As Paul Deck commented on the "proven absurdity of the hi-fi world", Dan Santoni has helped steer me clear of over- priced crap components.
Similar to Elise,I associate great vinyl recordings with judiciously chosen alcohol; like pairing the right food with the right wine.I had that Sibelius 7th Symphony recording with Oban single malt scotch.
On the subject of maintenance, degaussing your cartridge with a Sumiko "fluxbuster" makes a remarkable difference in the overall sound.
Edited: July 20, 2019, 10:20 PM · The record in space is aboard Voyager. It has left the solar system as we know it. Grumiaux is playing the e major gavotte. However the Voyager recording is not on vinyl -- it is etched into gold.
July 21, 2019, 7:18 PM · Do any of you have direct to disc lps? How about Mercury Living Presence 35 mm recordings?
Has anyone purchased Living Stereo reproductions? If so do you think they're worth the rather steep price?
Are 180 gram pressings just "nostalgic" nonsense or are they really superior to "normal" pressings?
July 21, 2019, 9:16 PM · How do they do those living stereo reproductions? Actually play the records with a turntable and digitize the cartridge signal?
July 21, 2019, 11:29 PM · I find a big difference between CD and SACD on my fairly high-end player/receiver/speaker combo. The SACD restores all the warmth and bloom and naturalness that the LP has, except that it does so in a pristine fashion.
Edited: July 22, 2019, 7:32 AM · I would like to check out those SACDs Lydia.You're not the first person Ive heard to say that.
Paul the Living Stereo reproductions are exactly the same as the originals except on 180 gram vinyl.The record sleeves are exactly the same.They're manufactured by a company called Analogue Productions who use the original master tapes when making a new master stamper.I own eight of these albums but at $47.00(CDN) each its a treat rather than a staple in my vinyl diet.
July 22, 2019, 10:50 AM · OK Peter, now I see. When I typed "living stereo reproductions" into Google, the first thing that came up was a boxed set of 60 CDs of albums recorded on that label. The boxed set is about $1000 new.

I wonder if the SACD reproductions are just more carefully mastered or even doctored to give them the characteristics that Lydia describes.

July 22, 2019, 11:43 AM · I bought a number of SACDs for the surround sound rather than the faster bit rate (or whatever). I haven't done a one-on-one comparison but I doubt my old ears got much benefit from the latter. The novelty of surround sound also wore off so those discs are going with all the rest. Of course the vintage RCA Living Stereo SACDs aren't in surround sound but even the ordinary version of that 60-disc set sounds very impressive. I actually think it's the simpler microphone placement that makes a lot of 1950's and 1960's recordings sound so good, and modern vinyl cuts and pressings offer much improved tracking and quieter surfaces as compared with the original LPs.
July 22, 2019, 1:28 PM · I think you're right Steve.Why I enjoy the golden era of recording(late 1950's to circa 1975) was not what the recording engineers did but what they DIDN'T do.The Living Stereo set up was usually done with two or three mics only and very minimal doctoring.When our orchestra recordrd the Brahms Serenade in D Major I counted 12 mics over the violins and 3 out in the hall.Its on CBC SM5OOO series and sounds compressed and over manipulated.
Edited: July 22, 2019, 1:44 PM · "I actually think it's the simpler microphone placement that makes a lot of 1950's and 1960's recordings sound so good." There's no doubt that minimalist miking contributed to the "characteristic sound" of the recordings made during that era. Whether they sound truly "better" than what modern recording techniques give is a matter of taste -- taste that is undeniably influenced by what we remember hearing when we were younger (i.e., nostalgia).
July 22, 2019, 1:57 PM · I own a fairly decent vinyl player and needle (Rega Planar series) that goes through a SS amp. I typically only buy vinyl copies of my absolute favorite recordings. 99% of what I listen to is on digital. To be honest, I find vinyls to be inferior in terms of sound quality even to Spotify digital, but it's just fun to have the physical copy. On really transparent, accurate equipment, you can definitely pick out the "superiority" of the digital formats, but then again, many people in my experience find really accurate playback to sound "unnatural", and prefer a less-precise but more pleasant sound.

Discussion of masters is a whole different rabbit hole to go down. There are music services out there that will provide you with ultra-high-resolution digital masters, but I've heard differences between the high-res masters and the "downsampled" mp3s that in theory shouldn't be explained by compression algorithms alone, leading me to believe that the recordings are manipulated in ways other than bitrate.

But I'm not an audio engineer, so this may all just be hooey.

Edited: July 22, 2019, 4:38 PM · I beg to differ with you Paul in regards to the nostalgic concept.As a full time professional violinist I actually play or have played the pieces that I listen to on the stereo.Its just nice to sit back and listen to other people do the work.My time line of "golden memories" is perhaps a decade or less( i.e we played the Sibelius 7th about 5 seasons ago).
Youre right about matter of taste.There are definite ups and downs to vinyl.
Vinyl stll gives a lovely depth and width to the soundstage that becomes more noticeable with better cartridges.My first one in the mid 80s was a $75.00 Ortofon and gave a garbled , one dimensional sound.Next was a Sumiko BluePoint Special for $450.00 which was the beginning of good detail and a sense of the room.My Lyra Kleos gives a three dimensional feel plus accurate textures and super fast dynamics along with a great feeling of pacing and rhythm.I dont want nostalgia.I want speed, accuracy and musicality with my audio equipment.
Edited: July 22, 2019, 6:58 PM · I really don't care that much about the problems of the quality of sound of all of those old LPs (and I've got a couple hundred of them, not to mention several old 78's).

To me, one is listening to history, to all of those greats who are no longer with us. The voice of a great artist always seems to come through. You can't put a price-tag on that.

July 22, 2019, 7:57 PM · "Vinyl stll gives a lovely depth and width to the soundstage that becomes more noticeable with better cartridges."

If anything, digital should give the most faithful channel separation compared to vinyl. I wonder if some of the "memorable" sound of the minimally-miked vinyl-pressed recordings of the 60s is actually the result of poor channel separation. True channel separation coming directly from the mike signals to digital will sound different -- and worse because it is not what you "grew up with."

"My first one in the mid 80s was a $75.00 Ortofon and gave a garbled, one dimensional sound. Next was a Sumiko BluePoint Special for $450.00 which was the beginning of good detail and a sense of the room. My Lyra Kleos gives a three dimensional feel plus accurate textures and super fast dynamics along with a great feeling of pacing and rhythm."

Wow, really? I'm sorry but that just sounds like gobbledygook to me. If you retire from orchestra playing you have a career waiting for you in hi-fi sales.

Edited: July 22, 2019, 8:11 PM · Those hi fi salesmen sure pulled a fast one on me eh? I wish we lived closer Paul.I would give you a good demo so you could hear what the gobledegook is all about.
Edited: July 22, 2019, 10:50 PM · It could just be that I can't parse the language. Maybe you can help me out here. What are "accurate textures"? When I tried to look it up, I noticed that "an unprecedented level of revealed texture" is a phrase that appears in the Lyra sales literature. That's your brand of cartridge, right?

And how exactly does your $4000 phonograph cartridge affect the "pacing and rhythm" of, say, a Mozart Symphony? Note here that "pacing and rhythm" is language that appears in Ortofon sales literature for their cartridges.

This is exactly what happens all the time throughout the history of hi-fi. The manufacturers churn out an endless stream of increasingly bizarre neologisms in their sales literature, and consumers, eager to defend their expenditure of obscene amounts of money, choke it all down. So-called experts, in an effort to appear "in the know" gladly play along. Then they all repeat it to one another in online forums until they actually believe it. None of the terms are ever actually defined.

For example this language appeared in a review of Sumiko's pretentiously named "Ranier" cartridge: "Timbres are rendered faithfully. The rhythm and pace never feel discombobulated. Instruments and voices have a three-dimensional feel." The reviewer also noted that "It comes in an elegant miniature wooden box that had a beautiful fragrance." Really, you can't make that stuff up. And all of that for $149.

If he's right then you definitely overspent for your three-dimensional feel.

July 23, 2019, 4:45 AM · I thought texture would be pretty obvious Paul.The sound of a wooden violin has a different texture than a brass trombone.An oboe sounds " reedy" like compared to copper timpani with plastic heads.
As Ive written earlier Ive gone up the ranks from the cheapest equipment to good stuff so I have a reference point of comparison.
Like violins and bows Paul dont listen to the b.s of salesmen but use your own ears.I think you would hear the difference between a $149.00 cartridge and a $4000.00 or could you with ringing in your ears?
I guess in the same vein I wasted money buying my fancy French bows.Hell, theres no difference between a $145.00 bow and a $4000.00 right?
I guess the dogs off the leash now...
July 23, 2019, 6:29 AM · "Vinyl still gives a lovely depth and width to the soundstage"

I've noticed this too, at least on some recordings. It is nice.

But is it more accurate or a consequence of more phase errors, noise or other effects? I find it hard to believe the former, due to the numerous physical, observable and measurable deficiencies in vinyl reproduction, which are not surprising - what's surprising is how good it sounds sometimes despite the problems of the medium. And in the end, as music is a subjective experience, not an exercise of measurement, whatever wags your tail is good, and language to describe it will be inadequate.

July 23, 2019, 7:44 AM · I have been led to believe that, when vinyl sounds better, it's because of the 'mastering' of the recordings.

Sound engineers from the 1990s onwards have been too happy to punch up volumes and adjust treble/bass balance. As a result some of the complexity and dynamic range of the original recordings has got lost in the 'digital' versions.

Unless the LP gets played through a different speaker setup, that's probably the main positive difference in sound. (Of course LPs have the benefit that you can't play them through tinny mini speakers or mobile phones, which will also help.... :) )

Edited: July 23, 2019, 10:41 AM · Okay so "texture" seems to be the same thing as "timbre." Do I have that right, Peter? And what's your calibration standard for the "correct" sound of an oboe surrounded by a 100-piece orchestra? How do you know which cartridge makes the oboe sound most like an oboe should?

That's the problem with these things -- and with the "sound" of violin bows too. Truly scientific tests are rare (and admittedly they are difficult and expensive), and the alternative is new-age mumbo-jumbo. You took off your $450 cartridge and you put on a $4000 cartridge. And now your albums all sound better. And you're claiming bias had nothing to do with that?

And what about "rhythm and pace." Is that "obvious" too? If so then are you hearing dotted-eighth-sixteenth rhythms with your $4000 cartridge where you were hearing triplets with your $450 cartridge and straight eighths with your $75 Ortofon? Is pace ("obviously") the same thing as tempo? I thought you could only change that by changing the rotation speed of your turntable. You're saying a cartridge can do that?

You asked whether I thought I could hear these subtle differences that you claim to hear. Probably I won't be able to do that. My hearing is somewhat compromised. But my response here is not motivated by jealousy. Rather it is motivated by a duty to call out pseudoscience, antiscience, and just plain baloney when I see it. When I see someone describing their cartridge in language that just happens to match what appears in the manufacturer's sales literature, my BS-o-meter red-lines.

July 23, 2019, 10:32 AM · The difference between your sonic mediums won't really come into play until you have listening equipment that's good enough. Get good headphones and you'll start to really notice the differences between MP3s at different bitrates.

My favorite recordings for illustrating the starkness of difference between CD and SACD are Hilary Hahn's. The CDs have a too-clean sound that makes her tone sound a bit glassy to me. The SACDs have much more warmth. The difference will be immediately obvious if you have reasonably decent listening equipment.

July 23, 2019, 11:26 AM · When the CD came out we were able to compare the same recordings done on CD and LP, what was obvious is the CD recordings were equalized different to emphasis the highs, people equate brighter sound with better quality, there wasn't any improvement to the CD, probably sounded worse on a really good stereo, so they changed the equalization to a non flat response to compensate, annoying.
July 23, 2019, 11:42 AM · Sorry Paul.I wasnt referring to any notes from Lyra or any other company.These terms are pretty standard for any stereo equipment such as soundstage , separation timbre etc.
Great point about the oboe.Thats when separation with a good cartridge is apparent.I only have my other previous cartridges to compare it to and friends with actually better equipment than me.
Dotted rhythms are more articulated with this cartridge.Any good cartridge just extracts more information from the lp.Oh sorry!! Was that dealer b.s and mumbo jumbo? Cant help myself...
Pace is defined as "the sense of rhythmic drive or propulsion in the reproduction of recorded music" (The Complete Guide to High End Audio by Robert Hartley) not the rpm of your turntable.
A friend of mine described high end audio with an analogy of listening to music on your cars AM radio which can be highly enjoyable but you have to fill in details in your head that are missing as compared to a home stereo.The better the equipment the less guesswork is required by the listener.
Look out Lydia.Paul will call you out on your pseudoscience and. b.s.Audio equipments all the same and youre another sucker...
July 23, 2019, 12:23 PM · Paul's presumably listening on a cheap stereo with hearing aids, no???
July 23, 2019, 1:28 PM · Pro tip for those buying stereo systems: A disc like the Miracle Makers makes for a great comparison. If you can clearly hear the differences between the violins, you're listening to a fairly decent set-up. If there aren't significant differences, thumbs down.

I remember when I first got the set as a gift, and listened to it on what at the time was a reasonable piece of home audio kit (the kind of set you could buy at a department store for about $1500), and thought, "What's the big deal? These all basically sound the same." Years later, trying the CDs on a home system worth probably four times as much, the differences were blatantly obvious.

July 23, 2019, 2:55 PM · @elise

The physical connection between listening to the record and sitting back with a nice drink is real. I could talk for hours about what scotches or beers to pair with which vinyl recordings (curse you Hilary, for never releasing that Brahms VC on vinyl), as I'm sure members of this forum who have met me can attest to.

With regards to which format is better for music, on a technical basis, even a normal 16/44 CD should be perfectly acoustically transparent and a far better technical medium than vinyl. HOWEVER that doesn't mean that the conversions from masters, whether digital masters or analog were done correctly, especially as over the years where equipment has changed, or the provenance of the masters has changed hands. Dark Side of the Moon infamously has a multitude of vinyls out there all mastered differently, and therefore they all sound different.

If the recordings were converted differently, even on transparent acoustical formats, people will prefer one or the other. Kind of like tube vs SS amps, where SS amps are technically speaking more neutral (on a general basis) but most people prefer the sound of tubes. When it comes to hi-fi speakers in a room, even though the attenuation in sound from air is different than just reducing gain, some people like bigger spaces, some like smaller.

Technically speaking, even production vinyls have some level of acoustical compression from the phono stage due to the inverted RIAA curve that we've kinda of accepted is just straight gain but for sure electronics will introduce some deviation from the original here.

Given your recent post about fine violin bows, this may fall on deaf ears, but cartridges can absolutely make a difference in sound quality. I think once you hit the $250+ range, the cartridge becomes one of the least important parts of the audio chain (for certain, I'm putting source and output way above the cartridge). But if someone saying it makes things sound more "rhythmic" I can absolutely believe it. Low quality needles won't (and this is a generalization) won't have the same cut on the tips and stability of good cartridges.

So what does this mean in terms of "science" and "logic"? In analog terms, it can "rattle" against the groove, or not be able to track the grooves precisely. So your fast eighth notes in a passage, for example, may not (sonically) end where you feel they should due to errant vibrations, making it seem like the rhythm is not as tight even though the record is being played at the same speed. If we're nitpicking equipment, on turntables with bad motors, the vibration from the motor can also cause this. On the really disastrous low-end, you can have needles (and turntables!) that can "bounce" against higher gain grooves, meaning some sound is not reproduced at all! And to make matters worse, bad cartridges can actively damage the vinyl recording.

Of course, hi-fi isn't without its drawbacks either. Vinyl is, at the end of the day, an imperfect material, so high precision playback equipment can reveal flaws that cheaper equipment won't, whether it's a flaw in the recording itself, or even a flaw in that particular vinyl. I have some metal vinyls from bands before they "made it" and some of them are truly recorded poorly, but you wouldn't be able to tell on less-precise playback equipment.

July 23, 2019, 3:31 PM · I use a circa $150 Grado cartridge, better than most $500 cartridges according to reviews, Grado make cartridges costing thousands of dollars but their cheaper models use the same technology, the are not moving magnet like most non Moving coil cartridges, but a third system invented by Grado, not exactly sure how it works but they sound great for LPs.
July 23, 2019, 4:48 PM · Yes...very nice cartridges.I just bought a set of Grado headphones...
Edited: July 23, 2019, 5:44 PM · Oh, don't worry. I'm sure the cartridge matters. After all that's the thing with the moving parts! I understand that the needle has to track the groove accurately and respond quickly and all that. Speakers / headphones have moving parts, too, so Lydia is safe. Speakers -- we can't escape those yet. But it's kind of funny that we invent increasingly sophisticated cartridges to "extract more information" (reasonable language) from a medium that amounts to scratches molded into a piece of plastic. You do wonder how accurately that can be done, but I understand it's a pretty sophisticated technology.

I'm mainly curious how much of the difference between a $450 cartridge and a $4000 cartridge would stand up to the bright glare of blind testing. Yes, I know: Useful blind tests are very very hard to design and expensive to conduct. That doesn't mean they're inappropriate in principle. I'm just remembering when people swore up and down about their gold-plated speaker cables and then it was discovered you can't hear the difference between high-end cables and lamp cord that you can buy for $0.25 a foot at the hardware store. I'll bet if we went back to old issues of Stereo Review we'd find discussion of cables couched in the same kind of jargon -- "soundscapes" and so on. We should at least agree that the credibility of the industry was badly damaged by that affair.

I did a very quick Google search for blind tests of cartridges -- I'm sure there are a great many out there -- and what I found (again, a very superficial look) is that what listeners preferred does not scale all that well with price. What we need is a meta-study like they publish in medical journals.

I'm also not disputing how much y'all enjoy your hi-fi kits. I'm sure you get your money's worth of enjoyment out of them, even if you've (at least partly) deceived yourselves with bias. If a placebo makes you feel better, by all means, take it!

Regarding "rhythm", a cartridge has to report back frequencies over 10000 Hz, right? How do you blur out a dotted rhythm event that has temporal features that are more on the order of 10 Hz? I'm struggling to understand how that rhythm would be inaccurate as a consequence of an inferior cartridge. What's the rise time on Joshua Bell's martele?

Thanks for the tip on the book by Hartley. Having a book on the subject does tend to lend credibility. I saw another one on Amazon called "The New Age Encyclopedia" that I might order in the same throw.

Edited: July 23, 2019, 6:45 PM · I hope James T can answer your question Paul .He seems to understand the technical aspects better than my artsy fartsy explanations.
Re: the double dotted clarity..perhaps the good cartridges track better resulting in less background noise...just guessing.
Just for fun Paul, check out the Lyra Atlas cartridge.Youll blow your stack when you see the price!
July 23, 2019, 7:13 PM · This is all very interesting - but I think we have to be careful of the age-old trap (and I do mean age old ;) ): some people have much more sensitive hearing than others and while there may be no difference between a wax-cylinder recording and one on a CD for some, it may be torture for someone else.

Sadly, I probably fall more to the wax-cylinder end of the spectrum. OTOH if that allows me to enjoy the romance of the LP, then so be it....

July 23, 2019, 8:10 PM · Must be nice to play your cheap violin and listen to music on your cheap stereo, all the while thinking that you have the best!!
Edited: July 23, 2019, 9:26 PM · Oh Peter, there's one thing we can agree on: There's always something more expensive. A reasonable business model in such things is to simply offer the most costly model. (Wasn't that Shure's marketing plan in the 70s?)

Lyndon, stop being such a troll. I never claimed to have the best and you know it. But my violin is not likely to ever hold me back from improving as a violinist. And my stereo isn't going to impede my critical listening. I listen for the interplay of the melodic lines, the metamorphosis of the harmony, the overall structure of the composition, etc. I spend my listening bandwidth quite keenly on the musical content because I know it would be pointless, with my hearing, to spend it worrying about the fugacity of the soundspace or some such.

I also listen for the violinist's technique. Now here's an area where the extra accuracy of a great cartridge might be useful because of the delicate bow-strokes and such. But my approach is still different. I'm going to hear much more difference in articulation and other sylistic features between recordings of two different violinists than I am likely to hear if the same recording is played with this or that cartridge.

Anyway I'm holding out for a cartridge with vacuum tubes. It'll sound warmer.

Edited: July 23, 2019, 9:55 PM · Coming from one of our troll kings thats a little ripe. You're welcome to be happy using cheap equipment, but when you start to insult people's intelligence for liking good violins and good stereo equipment, thats where you enter the troll territory, that and your incessant self promoting of crappy planetary pegs..
July 24, 2019, 12:14 AM · @Paul

I self-identify as a prole, and my paycheck reflects that, so my experience with hi-fi is closer to "mid-fi" among the vast world of audio, so take this with a grain of salt.

Hi-fi audio can reflect fine instruments in the sense that there are price bands of different components where a little cash can go a long way, and price bands where a lot of cash doesn't go very far at all until you overcome the next plateau.

Although you may disagree, consider the example of a violin and bow. The gap in quality between a $3000 and $3500 violin is unlikely to be big, if not non-existent altogether, luck of the draw aside. However, the difference between a $100 carbon fiber bow and a $600 wood bow can be quite large. In a blind test, I would say it's probably harder to guess the more expensive violin vs the more expensive bow in this example, and I think many on this board will agree.

When it comes to audio components with regards to vinyl, as long as you have a good stylus, let's say over $100, you start to hit diminishing returns pretty fast. As long as the stylus is from a good company and in good shape (they do wear out after all, most vinyl-philes replace very 1000 hours or so), it's probably the least important part of the vinyl audio chain. I agree on your opinion that two different recordings will cause a larger difference in music. Audio source, IMO, trumps almost everything, although I personally think playback device matters more.

This leads me to the answer to your 'rhythm' question. The stylus I'm using right now is known to be less-high-resolution among mid-range styli, which makes the sound slightly "chunkier" than a higher-resolving one, but also lends a little extra warmth. Because it doesn't fully track the grooves as accurately, some sound can "linger", or notes can "bleed" together as a result of the stylus carrying over momentum from other grooves (at least, this is how the physics causes the effects in theory). The result is a slightly fuller and warmer sound, and more forgiveness for crackles and pops, but it is actually lower-resolving, technically speaking, vs some truly high end ones.

Again when it comes to styli, this is on the absolute bleeding edge. If you have a good stylus in good condition, that's fine. Everything else about your music is going to be the bigger difference maker. Could I reliably pick between a $500 and $5000 stylus? Personally, I doubt it, unless it was an ABX test on equipment I was very familiar with, and I almost certainly couldn't do it as a blind test.

What does this have to do with rhythm? Crisper more "accurate" playback can sound cold and fast, with a lot of space between notes where perhaps your ear feels there shouldn't be (vice versa this is true as well). It can lead a recording to feel rushed because the acoustical effect translates to "not taking enough time on notes", or to put it another way, "this note sounds shorter than I would have liked". All of this consideration is also a reason why I like digital over analog vinyl.

To see this effect in action recording to recording, I take Hilary Hahn vs Joshua Bell playing Brahms VC. On Spotify the passage in particular is at about 3'20" in to the first movement with lots of arpeggios. They each play it at roughly the same speed (quarter note = 90 or so), but Hilary's recording feels slower because she's holding the contact on every note slightly longer, which gives the impression she's taking more time on notes. Of course, Hilary Hahn has an absolutely inhuman right hand, so even recordings she takes very fast can still sound at tempo because of this.

This is sort of what happens when styli don't perfectly "hug the grooves" of recordings and create thicker and longer-lasting sound. The tempo may be the same, the record is spinning at the same pace after all, but the music can feel faster or slower because of this effect. Just like how playing at the same tempo a good violinist can really drive the music forward, or restrain it, simply through different tone production.

I'm not sure if you're last point is made in jest or sarcasm, but in case it's not, cartridges don't contain tubes because cartridges don't amplify. A cartridge is a needle moving in a groove with a magnet on the other end. As the magnet moves through a coil, current is generated. This current is electronic sound.

Vacuum-tube based amps do create different sonic signatures (and they do so both qualitatively and quantitatively). There are reasons they went out of style, and there are reasons they are coming back in style. But you can by good SS-sound tube amps, and you can buy good tube-sound SS amps. But that is a discussion for another time and another place.

Edited: July 24, 2019, 2:13 AM · I've heard of wow and flutter but never groove "rattle", or its antonym "hugging" to "create thicker and longer-lasting sound". It's dangerous to underestimate the subtlety of human hearing but I'm sure Paul is correct that stylus mistracking (as it's more normally called) would have absolutely no detectable influence on tempo or rhythm, although it may appear to make time pass more slowly. In my experience mistracking is most noticeable when listening to operatic voices, and compounded when the groove is overmodulated as was frequently the case in earlier days. Violins aren't nearly so badly affected unless the stylus is practically worn out or has a large ball of crud adhering.
July 24, 2019, 5:24 AM · James just a little point. Your comparison: "$3000 and $3500 violin is unlikely to be big, if not non-existent altogether, luck of the draw aside. However, the difference between a $100 carbon fiber bow and a $600 wood bow can be quite large", is not actually fair.

To compare cost you have to use percentage not absolute value - in your example the more expensive violin is only ~20% more whereas the wood bow is 500% more!

July 24, 2019, 9:27 AM · FYI The Needle Doctor is a good place to see a grand overview of cartridges from $29.00 to $16000.00.
July 24, 2019, 10:06 AM · The vacuum tubes inside the cartridge wouldn't have to do anything... they just need to visibly glow. This creates a placebo effect of "warmth." If you don't believe me just ask the marketing guys at McIntosh. An orange LED would probably suffice.
July 24, 2019, 10:26 AM · @Lyndon, I'm not trying to insult anyone's intelligence for liking expensive violins, bows, stereo equipment, wine, or anything else where judgment is largely subjective. I'm glad there are individuals, perhaps such as you, who can hear these small differences because I am handicapped in that way.

All I want to do is draw a line between the kind of objectivity that would result from blind testing on the one hand, and online-forum chatter that amounts mostly to mutual affirmation liberally salted with poorly-defined jargon whose main purpose is to create an aura of sophistication and exclusivity. ("Look at poor Paul ... he doesn't even know what 'texture' is.")

July 24, 2019, 10:34 AM · The thing I learned working in the stereo business for years, is that 90% of people have very poorly developed hearing and will pick the loudest, bassiest and brightest speakers over the more accurate one with flat frequency response and low colouration, I assume you are part of that 90%, so enjoy your music and please leave the rest of us with ears alone.
July 24, 2019, 10:48 AM · @elise
I don't think I'm being unfair. Paychecks work in dollars, not multiples after all. When most people splurge on a luxury purchase, they don't say "I want to spend double the money of my current car on a new mid-life-crisis-mobile", they say "I want to blow $75000 on a car that will get the ladies". Likewise, at least in my instrument hunt, I will say "I have $X to spend on a fine violin", rather than "I want to triple the value of my violin". If an intermediate level violinist came to me saying "I have a $1000 violin and $100 bow, and $250 in spending money", I know where I would tell them to upgrade. Likewise, upgrading a cartridge from a $50 discount to a $200 ortofon will go a lot further than upgrading from a $1000 to a $1150 turntable.


I am certainly butchering the terminology here, but basically speaking, the way a needle is cut and the design of the cantilever can cause this. Vinyls are cut with a v-shaped "knife" of sorts, but styli are actually kind of rounded balls at the bottom, so they do not perfectly track the groove. "Better" styli will have needle shapes that can track the groove more accurately, resulting in better reproduction, especially of highs and trebles, but as a result, they are more sensitive to imperfections in the record and can seem a little "cold" sounding. On the cantilever side, "imperfect" designs will not perfectly absorb the kinetic energy generated by the vibrations, resulting in some feedback to the needle which generates sound not "on" the record. This effect is what I'm talking about, at least in theory, as a cause of these acoustical differences.

For a more obvious example, consider a recording like Hilary Hahn's latest Bach, which has quite a lot of reverb. Reverb that is, at least in the venues I have experience with, a little "unnatural" and not a perfect reproduction of her violin. However, it does make the music sound better (or at least, it made it sound better to her recording engineer).

July 24, 2019, 11:02 AM · There are hidden joys to be found sometimes in the old LPs, joys that the purchaser was not intended to notice but which today would be ironed out long before the product reached the retail shelves.

One example is a 1968 LP on the Supraphon label of two of Beethoven's quartets performed by the Prague Quartet. On listening to it I was aware that something slightly odd was happening. On the second hearing I realised what it was: the pitch was a semitone sharp and the vibrato seemed too fast. I checked – no, my audio equipment wasn't playing up. I checked the timings and realised what had happened. The studio had speeded up the master so that those Beethoven quartets could be put on the LP without making a break in one of the movements or reducing the sound quality. Presumably the Prague Quartet didn't know about this at the time, and wouldn't have been able to do anything about it. I still have that LP.

The second example was a cheap (as in “cheap 'n' nasty”, as I later realised) LP of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto that I bought with the best part of my week's pocket money at a Woolworth's Store in my local high street. I think I was 14 at the time. I had never heard of the orchestra, pianist or conductor listed on the sleeve, and the label was equally obscure – there was a good reason for this, as it turned out. The second side had a different acoustic, and the piano playing somehow sounded a little different. My Dad, who had played a few concertos in public before the War, thought it was two different pianists on that LP, possibly different orchestras and certainly different recording locations. The deep joy came when I wound the volume up as the needle approached the end of its transverse across the B side and heard these magic words, evidently coming from the recording studio - “good work chaps, we'll print this one”. Unfortunately, I no longer have that LP.

July 24, 2019, 11:07 AM · James, for me it's an issue of timescale. If a cartridge can faithfully report information from the LP grooves at frequencies exceeding 10 kHz (events on a 100 microsecond timescale), then I don't see how it can fail to faithfully report a rhythm comprising events (e.g., individual notes) with rise-times and decay times that are -- well I don't know what they are but it's hard to imagine they would be less than 10 milliseconds (1/100 s). That's what I meant when I asked about the envelope of a typical soloist's martele.

@Lyndon, sorry but I'm in Lydia's camp. I use headphones when I want to be reasonably sure that I'm listening to what is actually in the data. But again I couldn't see spending more than $500 on them considering my hearing, and even there, physical comfort was as much a priority as the overall sound.

Edited: July 24, 2019, 11:28 AM · I'm going to assume you're talking about frequencies as it applies to sampling and not harmonic frequencies. This doesn't REALLY make sense because it's analog and not digital, so it's not really "sampling" the groove. I think we're talking past each other anyway. Let's say you buy a really shitty cartridge where fulcrum barely absorbs any vibrations from the stylus, causing it to freely vibrate even for only a little sound. this can make sound linger that's not on the vinyl.

The point I've been trying to make is that, while the rhythm as far as beats per second is concerned stays the same, but the reproduction of the sound can make the music seem more rushed or more restrained. You should listen to the examples I explicitly stated in my comment. You can even try this yourself. Record a passage, then crank up the reverb and play it back. Depending on your phrasing, this effect could make it seem either faster or slower. Hard to say without hearing a sample, but in general I feel like reverb makes music feel slower, like the player is taking their time playing.

As for the envelope of a soloists martele, it depends. How was it recorded? Was it in a venue or outdoors? What kind of venue and how big? How far back was the listener sitting? These can all make a big difference.

If you can't hear how acoustics make a difference at the same BPM, then my only advice would be "don't worry about it, because you can't hear it".

July 24, 2019, 12:17 PM · So I don't have a turntable any more, but if I did, I think the first new vinyl album I'd want to get would be Hilary Hahn's 'Retrospective', and I confess that one really big reason is just that the cover is SO PRETTY!

But more than that, of course, it's Hilary Hahn, so the music is wonderful - more about that in this article.

July 24, 2019, 3:25 PM · Just find the cover image, blow it up, and frame it! My facebook home page has an album cover as the main picture.
Edited: July 24, 2019, 3:31 PM · James if you're going to hear a 5 KHz overtone in your music, then doesn't the vibration of the needle have to have a component at that frequency? Doesn't the shape of the groove have to have that component too? If you made an LP groove with a pure 10 kHz sine wave, presumably your cartridge would report that information, right? And if there's no issue in the rest of your system (including your ears) then you'll hear that sine wave coming out of your speakers. That means your cartridge can respond to features in the LP groove on a 100-microsecond timescale. Simultaneously failing to respond on a 10-millisecond timescale seems improbable.
Edited: July 24, 2019, 4:44 PM · Im curious James as to the order you would upgrade a stereo system.Do you start at the cartridge and work your way back? I understand the "weakest link" idea but where do you concentrate your stereo bucks? How important is the tonearm in the chain? I have a 34 year old Linn Ittok LV11 in great shape.I wont upgrade until I can do an A,B comparison.The Linn Ekos SE is $3800.00.Ouch! What would a " better" tonearm do?
Edited: July 24, 2019, 7:21 PM · @Paul

Not necessarily. Physically speaking, a cartridge is a needle/stylus, cantilever and fulcrum, and some sort of magnet/coil that moves against a coil/magnet to generate an electric current.

But consider the case where a cantilever/fulcrum system does not perfectly translate the moving kinetic energy to the coil. Ideally you want a rigid cantilever that can transmit energy well, but let's consider the absurd case of a cantilever made of aluminum foil, a very soft material. The lever will absorb a lot of kinetic energy, which therefore does not translate to the magnet. Therefore the current generated will not be a reproduction of the grooves in the vinyl, even at a 10k sine wave because there is kinetic energy absorption happening along the system.

If you want a secondly absurd case, think about those cheap $100 Crosley briefcase players. The speakers are build into the turntable! Any vibration from the produced sound will be reflected onto the tonearm and the record. Gross! And furthermore, it will damage the record!


Without knowing your setup I think it would be hard to say. Secondly, I am a lowly wage-slave so have very little insight into $4000 tone arms. I personally have never auditioned tonearms independently (my Rega has one built in). I would say as a general rule if you have $4000 to spend on a tonearm, consider your speakers and if you can see improvements. $4000 is definitely into the territory where you can get truly awesome speakers, and I think output makes the most different, followed by source.

To the point where, if you were to seriously think about dropping that kind of cash, I would book a plane ticket to the nearest dealership for hifi and spend days auditioning equipment. There is a place near me, for example, called Pro Musica Audio that specializes in 5-6 figure stereo installs (they are doubly awesome because they do $5 meetups with experts/performers). You may have a similar shop near where you live.

In theory, a better tonearm will have better balance and a greater ability to absorb energy. Therefore, the needle will stay in the groove better (provided you have a stable platform), and you won't reflect as much vibration back into the cartridge. But again, as long as you have a decent cartridge in good condition, I consider the stylus the least important part of the chain. Speakers/headphones first, then source, at least IMO.

Edited: July 24, 2019, 9:14 PM · What's next? A $2000 spindle?

A well-known problem with turntables generally is a particular type of low-amplitude vibration, usually in the "sweet spot" of 2-8 kHz, that travel from the needle across the disc of the LP in the radial direction -- i.e., toward the spindle. This frequency range corresponds to a null region in the viscoelastic response characteristics of the vinyl medium. The best way to ensure that these vibrations cannot reflect back to the needle is to use a spindle constructed of a material that absorbs vibrations in that range. The Acme Shostakovich VD-100 Spindle has been shown to arrest these persistent vibrations leading to more faithful textural rendering and an overall increase in the dimensionality of the soundspace.

July 24, 2019, 9:10 PM · Thanks very much for that James! I have Revel f206 speakers which are relatively uncoloured with a good midrange so there will be no upgrade in that department for a while.
Ill take your advice and visit some high end shops near Toronto and in Waterloo.Im in no hurry to fork over that kind of cash until I do lots of auditioning...
Edited: July 24, 2019, 9:20 PM · Actually Paul Linn does an upgrade on the spindle called "Cirkus".It replaces the spindle and bearing on the old Linn lp12s with one that is twice as thick and the spindle is a little longer.It was $500.00 the same price as your headphones.
July 24, 2019, 9:36 PM · I have a quite nice Linn digital setup in my living room, for the opposite end of this technology. :-)
July 25, 2019, 7:18 AM · Is that a type of bit streaming Lydia?
Edited: July 25, 2019, 7:26 AM · A friend of mine sold his Linn Sondek for £400 about 10 years ago, the price he paid for it, thinking he'd done well. At the time we were unaware that its price had trebled since he bought it.

The ancient dogma was pay most attention to source, least to speakers. Then it became maybe equal amounts on source, amp and speakers. Now cheap, good sources are easy to get and I agree with getting a good amp and stonking speakers.

July 25, 2019, 8:04 AM · For me Gordon I have no real strategy for the order since everything I own is slightly used.Whatever comes up on CanuckAudiomart or its American equivalent I take interest in.
The Linn lp12s are all different prices depending on their upgrades.I like Linn because of the fact that they are upgradable so you can take your time upgrading depending on your financial situation.
Edited: July 25, 2019, 8:36 AM · I don't have the money to follow a strategy. I just know roughly what the strategy is.
I have an Arcam Solo, which I never liked (the DAB attracted me more than anything), and Monitor Audio floorstanders, which were fine for the price. But now I don't like the size of their footprint, and I really want some B&W bookshelf speakers and a bass bin.

The good thing about the Arcam is I have an rDock which is a custom dock for an iPod which you can control with the Arcam's remote. Cool. Except that I hate my iPod, lol! But it illustrates one other point - I am happy with the audio quality you get from mp3s at their highest sampling rate and then run through a HiFi. It's just the functionality of the iPod that I hate.

July 25, 2019, 8:48 AM · My neighbour has an Arcam amp.Very nice stuff!
July 25, 2019, 8:59 AM · Yes, in fact the friend who sold the Sondek had Arcam separates, but the Solo has never given me much joy - there are various CD formats it can't read, for example, and the buttons/logic become moribund quite quickly.
July 25, 2019, 12:57 PM · I you don't like the functionality of the ipod, Gordon, you can probably find a cheap used laptop that you can dedicate to music, podcasts, and the like.
July 25, 2019, 1:02 PM · "How important is the tonearm in the chain? I have a 34 year old Linn Ittok LV11 in great shape.I wont upgrade until I can do an A,B comparison."

Linn and others have some differences in opinion about tonearms. Tonearms have to hold the cartridge in place, and the right place will vary according to the cartridge. The Linn doesn't have any azimuth adjustment, so presumes that the cartridge's azimuth is perfect, which I wouldn't expect to be the case, even with expensive cartridges, and the stylus angle when there no weight might be different from when there is. And though there is some VTA adjustment, it's not meant to be easy.

One of Linn's arguments here is that records aren't perfect either - that they vary, which is true, and does mean that VTA and azimuth adjustments are also at best approximations across variations in records and their conditions - height and slope.

I think it is with more imperfect records that better tonearms make more of a difference - by having the less impact on the sound while the cartridge and arm are dancing around with the record. A clamp can also lessen some of that variation, but Linn doesn't believe in them either, from what I recall. Roksan also had something like Linn's no-clamp idea - taken to the point of making a spindle top which was to be removed after placing the record, so that there would be less contact of the record with the bearing. One good consequence of this was that with records that didn't have the hole in the right place, so that the arm would be swinging back and forth, you could correct the centering manually if you spent the time and got lucky. So you could improve upon one imperfection but not the other, unless you got a weighted clamp, which might create other problems.

Doing A-B comparisons of turntable components is difficult to set up - getting two identical turntables, cartridges, and having the tonearms and cartridges set up similarly. And if you have a dealer willing to do that, there's some presumption that the effort would be justified by the purchase, which leans towards presuming the expensive outcome.

If you have money to burn, sure, have fun with it (and there are other arms than Linn to consider for more fun). Otherwise, I'd ask myself if there's anything apparently wrong with the arm or its setup. (And if it's really worth it in comparison to a good digital setup.)

Edited: July 25, 2019, 1:59 PM · I have a friend who can give you a huge long spiel about his time spent working next to a superfi shop and getting to know the owners and spending time in their listening rooms during spare moments. By superfi, I mean people who will refloor your room and replaster your walls as part of the installation. Their speciality was to work out a hifi system that would sound exactly as though a string quartet was in the room with you and point out how bad it sounded compared with people's idea of what a superfi system should sound like. The superfi sound is a mythical sound. It's a very nice sound but it doesn't correspond to any reality.
In the 70s and 80s I read a lot of editions of What HiFi, and it was hilarious. People went to any lengths - they'd make platters out of 78rpm shellac discs with felt glued to them and heat the vinyl in ovens to 37 celsius desperately searching for better sound. It's an illness. Buy a half decent CD player, a powerful enough amp and get some nice speakers and listen to the damn music.
Edited: July 25, 2019, 4:57 PM · Thanks for that Gordon and J.I am of the opinion too that if it ain't broke dont fix it.I had the bearings checked out on the Ittok and they're just fine.Just be happy with what I have.
There is a superfi store Ive been going to for close to 30 years called Soundstage Fineaudio in Waterloo Ontario.Two weeks ago the owner demo'ed an Air Force 3 turntable ( $40,0000.00 CDN) with a power and preamp worth $30,0000 APIECE! It was great sounding but I think diminishing returns was at work here.BTW all the components were already sold..
Edited: July 25, 2019, 5:00 PM · Is that the turntable that uses a jet engine motor???
Edited: July 25, 2019, 5:09 PM · For that price you would think so! It has a vacuume pump built into the platter that sucks the vinyl into it.Not sure why...
The motor is separate from the table but is connected to the spindle with what looks like dental floss.I forget the tonearm manufacturer but the cartridge was a VandenHul Goldfinger.Talk about disposable income eh Paul?
July 25, 2019, 7:10 PM · Peter, I don't know why one would ridicule anyone for spending the equivalent of one year's college tuition on a phonograph tonearm. As Lyndon would surely say, if you want to listen to music with your $10,000 dog-crap setup, by all means go for it -- just don't blame those of us with ears for wanting something better.
Edited: July 25, 2019, 8:32 PM ·
Sounds like Lyndon's got your goat Paul...
July 25, 2019, 9:41 PM · Nah, it takes more than that.
July 25, 2019, 10:31 PM · if I ever get a hold of any of Paul's violins, those planetary pegs will be the first thing to go!!
July 25, 2019, 10:43 PM · My turntable is relatively cheap with a $150 grado cartridge, a Fisher 500C tube receiver I restored from the 60s and custom high end audiophile speakers I designed when I had access to a full anechoic chamber and test equipment back in the 80s at the speaker store I worked for.

That being said my records sound a lot better than CDs do through my stereo, anolog is just plain superior to digital IMHO

Edited: July 26, 2019, 8:24 AM · Can you describe your speakers Lyndon?
What tubes does your amp use?
Edited: July 26, 2019, 8:43 AM · I use top of the line Audax drivers, a 8 foot transmission line cabinet, 4 1/2 feet high, with an 8"special polymer plastic woofer midrange, with a pole piece instead of a dust cap. and a 10" woofer only, in the low bass both the 8" and the 10" work together, giving the equivalent of one 14"woofer, the treble is Audaxs titanium coated soft plastic 1" dome tweeter which unfortunately is no longer made, I recently had to shop ebay for genuine replacement diaphragms, Frequency response in the anechoic chamber was 40-20,000hz +- 2 db
The Fisher 500C uses all 12 ax7s for the input stages mostly telefunken brand and 4 rarer output tubes 6CA7, an honest 20-30W/channel RMS
July 26, 2019, 8:51 AM · Thanks for that! Have you ever tried tube rolling with your amp? I have PrimaLuna's proprietary 12au7s but was thinking of trying Mullards or Mazda Ciftes in the front two positions of the amp.
July 26, 2019, 9:13 AM · "The thing I learned working in the stereo business for years, is that 90% of people have very poorly developed hearing and will pick the loudest, bassiest and brightest speakers over the more accurate one with flat frequency response and low colouration, I assume you are part of that 90%, so enjoy your music and please leave the rest of us with ears alone."

A little off-topic, but the above probably describes how people chose violins, especially if they are not musicians: the loudest, brightest one is best.

I gave up my stereophile obsessions long ago. Anyone want to buy my Ohm speakers?

July 26, 2019, 9:29 AM · Those are decent speakers Scott.You could try selling them on American AudioMart if you want.
July 26, 2019, 9:39 AM · Back to the OP...Elise, you are in the Toronto area I think.Are there any used vinyl record stores that you have had good experiences at and would recommend?
July 26, 2019, 9:59 AM · Lyndon you can have my gear pegs when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. LOL
July 26, 2019, 11:05 AM · Its become evident that geared pegs are more than just an obsession for you, Paul!!
July 26, 2019, 1:13 PM · It's called evangelism, Lyndon.
July 26, 2019, 1:50 PM · I think OCD would be the correct term
Edited: July 26, 2019, 2:25 PM · You spent a decade (or two?) of your life building clavichords and you're calling me OCD?
July 26, 2019, 2:38 PM · At least I have a constructive obsession, not a destructive one like you!!
July 26, 2019, 3:23 PM · Hahaha! But let's not hijack Elise's thread any further. Where were we? $2000 tone-arms? Talk about obsession.
July 26, 2019, 3:40 PM · Whose buying a $2000.00 dollar tonearm Paul?
July 26, 2019, 3:41 PM · I don't know but I think Paul's been buying $200 violins.
July 26, 2019, 5:34 PM · I might be willing to spend $2,000 on a tonearm - maybe more if it was pernambuco.


(If I had the money and needed a new tonearm, but maybe I should ask Paul how much is reasonable to spend first, as a formula based on local tuition costs.)

July 27, 2019, 10:54 AM · Lyndon, unfortunately during my childhood I played on a violin that was, essentially, irredeemable except perhaps as an objet d'art insofar as it was constructed of bird's eye maple. This violin was made in 1972 and purchased for me in 1976 at a price of $400. Several years ago, upon "returning" to the violin, I purchased a violin made in 2006 by Wojciech Topa (Zakopane, Poland). I think if you search even briefly on the internet you will see that this is not a $200 violin. With the help of two pros in my selection process, I chose this violin over some others from shops in Richmond for which the proprietors were asking $16-18k. Curiously, the violin that "came in second" was priced at only $3500, so I bought that too, as my daughter needed her first full-sized violin at the time. The latter violin is an 1890 German workshop instrument. I probably overpaid for it based on what I have read since, but I most assuredly underpaid for the Topa, so overall I am happy with the results of my one foray into violin-shopping.
Edited: July 27, 2019, 11:40 AM · The IKEDA IT-407CR1 tonearm retails at $7400. A $4000 tonearm would obviously be a mid-level device at best. Of course, whether any of that is a reasonable expenditure is a matter of personal taste and perception as well as budget and conscience.
Edited: July 27, 2019, 5:42 PM · The Clearaudio TT 1MI tonearm sells for $32,000.00 (check the Needle Doctor).The IKEDA wouldn't even be mid -level....
July 27, 2019, 5:48 PM · "Of course, whether any of that is a reasonable expenditure is a matter of personal taste and perception as well as budget and conscience."

Indeed. And we're (mostly) in the (western) classical music world here, where instruments often run into six digit prices and sometimes seven or more, and attending a concert for a couple of hours of entertainment easily costs more than $200 for a couple, let alone the other presumptions and associations that often arise about wealth and privilege in this context, which are often justified.

That is not to say that these are all good and necessary - just that it's also a fact of life, and judgements are problematic.

July 27, 2019, 7:05 PM · When people spend large amounts of money on playback hardware I do hope it does not impede their listening to and enjoyment of the music itself.
July 27, 2019, 7:36 PM · It enhances it Trevor!
Edited: July 27, 2019, 8:08 PM · "Wow, this here Mendelssohn E Flat Major Octet sure is gorgeous, but ... argh ... it be even better if I only had that $7400 tonearm..."

"Wow, this here Mendelssohn E Flat Major Octet sure is gorgeous, but ... ahhh ... it's even better with my new $7400 tonearm..."

Either way, you're thinking about your tonearm and you missed the clever little counterpoint in the opening theme.

Edited: July 27, 2019, 9:24 PM · Wow Paul...you're really hung up on this tonearm obsession.Whose buying a $7400.00 tonearm?
Even with my 34 year old Linn Ittok LV11(worth about $300.00 now)I have wonderful listening sessions and as a " homage"to good stereo equipment, you forget about the actual equipment and become immersed in the wonderful music.This is obviously falling on deaf ( or ringing) ears with you but hey,keep up the sarcasm if that makes yu' happy.

Edited: July 27, 2019, 11:03 PM · I'm not hung up on the tonearm. I'm kind of shocked, however, that people would spend $7400 on one, not to mention $32000. And for what? Have there really been blind tests of these tonearms against one another? I hypothesize that the only difference is the expensive ones look really snazzy. And I'm not the first one to bring up tonearms here. You did, actually. Frankly it wouldn't even have occurred to me that people spend serious money on tonearms. I thought turntables came with tonearms. At least mine did. I thought it was pretty fancy that you could adjust the counterweight in case you put on a different cartridge that had a different mass. It also came with a wire so you could ground the turntable against the receiver. Do you have to buy that separately now too? Starting at, say, $200, I suppose? You know ... gold connectors and all.

So let me ask you -- do you think the $32000 tonearm actually makes records sound better than the $7400 tonearm? Do you think you or anyone else could tell the difference in a blind test?

And as far as being immersed in the wonderful music is concerned, people were doing that back in the days when records were made of shellac. My dad, who was born in 1930, lived in a duplex during the depression. The people who lived downstairs had a record player, and they let him come downstairs and use it. They had a few dozen records probably. Folks then thought it was a miracle they could listen to music in their homes like that. Dad told me one of his favorites was the Bach Double, and he was very proud when my teacher assigned it to me. He knew every note of that piece -- very frustrating because he'd make some kind of noise when I muffed a rhythm or an accidental. (Somehow he managed to learn the rhythms despite listening on playback equipment that would, today, be considered incapable of rendering "rhythm and pace.") Kind of funny how much people are able to enjoy themselves when they don't know about all the glamorous technology they don't have.

Edited: July 28, 2019, 8:44 AM · The Ittok came with the turntable.I brought it up once about twenty posts ago ,received some good advice and concluded with " if it aint broke dont fix it".Like a dog with bone you just keep running with it.
Again , refer back to my post about the AM car radio.I was just blasting mine on the 401 and having a great time listening to CBC radio2.
I dont know about the expensive tonearms although it would be fun to head down to my favourite stereo store and find out.
I learned the Bach Double with the help of records too back in 1975.We had a Clairtone stereo housed in a lovely walnut cabinet.I loved that stereo with its plastic tonearm and primitive stylus .Undoubtedly it inspired me decades later to build up my present system.
So Paul ,while I've baited you with the tonearm obsession, lets talk about record preparation.I use a product called First on each record which dissolves the "Pam" like coating used in the manufacturing process.I then run it through a Nitty Gritty vinyl cleaner which cleans and vacuumes off any dirt on the record.
Bring on the rant....
Edited: July 28, 2019, 10:28 AM · Cleaning your records seems like a totally great idea! A clean record should sound better. But hopefully your cleaning kit didn't cost thousands of dollars ... oh ... ... only several hundred ... phew. When I was a kid I always used a clean sponge and liquid dish detergent. Nowadays I would probably formulate my own cleaning solution which would likely be some combination of water, isopropanol, and 2-butoxyethanol ("butyl cellosolve"). These are all volatile substances that -- themselves -- will not leave any residue -- as long as you have access to very pure grades of these chemicals, which of course I do. (Essentially, the formulation is like commercial glass-cleaner without any ammonia or dye or fragrance.)

I remember when I used to buy used records at the Wyandotte Record Exchange for typically $3 apiece. Jazz was going out of style at the time and I amassed a great collection -- Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Don't need them any more because I can stream all that content. But it would have given me pause to spend, on a cleaning device, what I could otherwise spend on a least a hundred albums. Hence the sponge and the dish soap. Plus I was more interested in learning how to improvise by listening to these piano giants so a few pops and clicks weren't at all important.

July 28, 2019, 11:07 AM · Glad you approve.I use 7/8 distilled water , 1/8 isopropyl (99% pure so it says) and three drops of perfume/ dye free laudry detergent.Im ignorant about chemicals.Is isopropanol similar to isopropyl alcohol? I know this is your department Paul.
July 28, 2019, 12:06 PM · I vaguely recall using an anti-static brush.
Edited: July 28, 2019, 12:35 PM · Peter your formula sounds fine. For the concentrations you're using, liquid laundry detergent and dish detergent will not be significantly different. Both contain anionic surfactants which can leave residues but only if you're really lax about rinsing. Liquid Tide is actually a little milder pH-wise than Dawn Ultra (according to data in their SDS's which are available online). Laundry detergent is designed to produce very little suds, which is also a plus for what you are doing. Keeping the detergent very dilute is a good call. Look how much they tell you to use for a whole load of laundry -- not that much, and you'd want to use way less than that for cleaning records which are, after all, probably already 99% clean.

And yes, isopropanol and isopropyl alcohol are the same thing. The grade you are using sounds fine. If it comes in a metal can, you might consider filtering it to make sure there are no rust particles in it. Use a white coffee filter so you can see if anything gets filtered out. If it comes in a plastic bottle then no filtration is necessary.

Edited: July 28, 2019, 2:14 PM · Excellent advice.Thanks Paul.The First product evaporates instantly when applied.Would that be some sort of ether?No idea...
First of all I cannot afford this but one can now buy ultrasonic cleaners that clean your lps in a water bath ...kind of cleaning jewellry.They go for around $2500.00 and up.
I use an anti static brush each time I put a new record on.Part of the puttering around with lps.
July 28, 2019, 2:13 PM · Peter, ethers have characteristic strong odors. Also "first product" not sure what you mean by that. Is there some kind of sequence of different solutions you have to use? Water containing a surfactant (such as butyl cellosolve) for good surface wetting can evaporate quickly.

For the control of static, have these kinds of devices ever been discussed in your forums?


You would only need the NRD Model 2U500. My thinking is that you would attach that to the inside of the lid for your turntable, a couple of inches above the record surface, pointing down but opposite the tonearm, using Velcro. The device (2U500) contains polonium-210, which is an alpha emitter and will control static very very nicely. We use them in the lab inside precise balances or wherever fine chemical powders can fly away under high-static conditions. The half-life of Po-210 is 138 days, so they recommend replacement of the 2U500 every year at the longest (hence the Velcro). At the one-year point, the radioactivity has decayed to about 15% of its initial strength. The decay product is Pb-206 (lead).

Edited: July 28, 2019, 2:55 PM · The brand name is actually "First" put out by the Nitty Gritty company who make record cleaners.It has a strong odor.
Edited: July 28, 2019, 3:06 PM · Yuck! I wouldn't want strong solvents like ether, acetone, or chloroform near my LPs. They can swell and deform the vinyl, in addition to leaching plasticizers from the material and leading to premature wear and failure. Not to mention the risk to your health handling them all the time without ventilation or PPEs. Dilute isopropanol (as in your formulation) is not a threat to your vinyl surface because it's primarily aqueous. I just did a quick search for the SDS (formerly known as MSDS) for this product but could not find it. Is "First" still marketed?

And what about the polonium device? Ever heard of turntable folks using something like that?

July 28, 2019, 4:11 PM · Yes its still marketed.For static on records you can get a static " gun" called the Zilty Zerostat .Check out the Needle Doctor again.
Edited: July 29, 2019, 7:13 AM · Those static guns are overpriced BS. People used them in the lab for a long time too until they discovered the convenience and clear superiority of the polonium device. The purpose of the static "gun" is to create a tiny discharge that ionizes some of the air in the vicinity of your object so that static charges can dissipate to ground. This is what the polonium device does -- but it does it continuously and evenly.
Edited: July 29, 2019, 7:18 AM · I never got the hype for the carbon fibre record cleaning brushes - they might look good, but end up pushing the dust around and leaving a lot of it on the record. Discwasher brushes, which preceded them, and are still available, are superior in my experience, even dry.

If the record is already mostly clean, I suppose a pass with a carbon fibre brush shouldn't do much harm and might pick up some of recent surface dust (assuming the brush itself is clean). Carbon fibre brushes are also good for cleaning the stylus (they work fine without a liquid or chemicals).

Discwasher also made the original static gun. The only time I've had much use for a static gun was when I used a Nagaoka rolling cleaner - this left a high static charge on the record. I also found that the gun didn't do much good when the record was left on the turntable - it had to be lifted off in order for the gun to be effective.

Edited: July 29, 2019, 7:29 AM · I dont own one myself.Ive heard other people with the same sentiments as you.The NRD2U500 sounds interesting...
I understand what you're saying about the brush J.I think a quick pass over the record is OK , especially when you have an indoor cat that sheds.
July 29, 2019, 7:19 AM · If you don't have qualms about adding a radioactive device in your home. I think the risk, even minute, would outweigh the likely benefits for me.
July 29, 2019, 9:01 AM · Whatever the hardware, surely the big difference is that vinyl records are analogue, so there's no limit (especially on very high frequencies, which help with tone colour and placement etc.) and digital, which has a cut-off frequency.
Also, most vinyl records were made using a simple stereo pair, or Decca tree etc.
A lot of newer recordings are multi-miked, which always sounds artificial.
It may be very detailed -but so what!
July 29, 2019, 9:33 AM · Unless you're content with listening to recordings made in the 70's or earlier, the arguments for (pure) analogue over digital, even if we believe them, are moot, as you're likely to be listening to recordings originally made digitally.

Most reasonable people came to prefer digital by themselves on the bases of readily apparent flaws in LP's which are difficult to overcome (not least the damage done to / imperfections in the LP's themselves).

Overlooking these flaws for the ability to handle the media, physically place the stylus into the groove, do the many things you can potentially to improve the sound or the upkeep, are play; fun to some extent, but in the end far from the point of the music as music, except insofar as it is a part of a belief that more music lies in the groove.

If in the afterlife we are able to have hear perfect music just by wishing for it, it would be heaven to some; hell to lovers of LP's perhaps.

For context, I am among those who grew up pursuing music and sound before there were CD's and who kept CD's at bay long after they existed on the hopes and beliefs (and play and broader sound-stage at times, etc.) of LP's, and yes, have been able to throw some time and money at the problem. But I'm calling it, at least for myself, at as I hear and experience it, not as I'd like to believe.

July 29, 2019, 8:00 PM · Were recordings really made digitally in the 70's J? What about the early 60's? Was there digital technology back then?
July 29, 2019, 9:57 PM · Digital mastering came out about 1980, I believe.
July 29, 2019, 10:08 PM · Yup: "CDs were introduced in 1982, the audio industry underwent one of the largest disruptions we’ve ever seen: the adoption of digital audio. Along with the advent of digital audio, the 1980s ushered in numerous advances in sound technology, which advanced the mastering engineer’s role even further."


Edited: July 30, 2019, 8:39 AM · Digital technology and sampling were certainly known about in the 70s. The extent of its use I couldn't tell you. It wouldn't have sprung out of nothing in 1982. That sounds like conjecture. I studied electronics from 1978-1981 and the theory behind the 44Khz (or rather 2:1) sampling rate was well enough known to teach to undergraduates in 1979.
July 30, 2019, 3:46 AM · LPs mastered digitally first hit the market around 1980, I remember it quite well.
Edited: July 30, 2019, 7:11 AM · "If you don't have qualms about adding a radioactive device in your home. I think the risk, even minute, would outweigh the likely benefits for me."

I guess you don't have any smoke detectors then? Residential smoke detectors contain Americium-241. Polonium emits the same type of particle at approximately the same energy. The radiotoxicities of Am-241 and Po-210 are comparable. Huge polonium antistatic devices are used industrially -- think of the static that arises in the manufacture of multilayer plastic films such as are used for bag snacks.

Think of the risks you incur by running electricity and gas into your home! Do you know how many fires are caused by faulty circuits and gas appliances?

July 30, 2019, 7:02 AM · Yes, interesting, Lyndon. Just because it was vinyl didn't mean the process was analogue from start to finish. I apologise if someone already said that. It would be kind of amusing - audiophiles spending all that money because all they really like is the sound of the friction between the sapphire and the plastic!
July 30, 2019, 8:25 AM · " Sapphire and the plastic"...perhaps thats the appeal of vinyl with its " fleshed out" textures.
July 30, 2019, 8:34 AM · yeah, can't remember what styluses are made from, lol!
July 30, 2019, 9:07 AM · "Sapphire and the plastic" - great name for a jazz band...
July 30, 2019, 9:15 AM · "LPs mastered digitally first hit the market around 1980, I remember it quite well. " So you think the article with the 1982 date is wrong?
July 30, 2019, 9:23 AM · Elise , how about "Plastic Sapphire"?
Sounds like some New Wave band in the 80's.
Where do you shop for vinyl in Toronto?
July 30, 2019, 9:59 AM · 1982 was the date for the first CDS, digitally mastered LPs predate that.
Edited: July 30, 2019, 7:57 PM · " Were recordings really made digitally in the 70's J? What about the early 60's? Was there digital technology back then?"

The know-how was available earlier, but production-level hardware wasn't generally available until the late 70's. The transition happened in the early 80's, and it was rapid, widespread and eventually become deep, whereby a recording might have be originally analogue, even analogue mastered, and cut to LP, but go through a digital step at the LP cutter.

These days they no longer have to say "digitally remastered" as it can be assumed. They would have to say "pure analogue" or something to that effect, and those are rare and not mainstream. Even some audiophile 'purists' such as Reference Recordings, which once did dual analogue and digital recordings to preserve pure analogue while maintaining digital reach have dropped the pure analogue.

Of course some niche players can still remain, but the point is that the mainstream material - where all the most commercially and arguably globally successful performers and performances would be found - have been digital for quite some time now, even in LP format.

July 31, 2019, 4:34 AM · Peter - Sonic Boom, Paramusic - there are quite a few if you look on Google maps. They are disappearing though - one big one, Jane's closes today.
July 31, 2019, 4:45 AM · Ah, the first commercial digital (to-vinyl) were released in Japan in 1972. Later the same year the first multi-track recording - was Smetana Quartet performing Mozart's String Quartets K.458 and K.421. [Wiki]
July 31, 2019, 6:51 AM · The concept of digitizing an analog signal for storage and transmission originated long before the process was applied to LPs. Questions about sampling rates, bandwidth requirements, and so on, were discussed in the electrical engineering literature going back decades before. Digital data storage is important for stuff like signal averaging.
July 31, 2019, 7:17 AM · Yup, but the question was about commercial digitized recordings - in particular LPs (since that's where we started out ;) ).
Edited: July 31, 2019, 10:15 AM · Classical LP's are even more rare than record stores - check ahead before you make the trip. This article promotes one which is currently closed (unsure if that's permanent; it might be a regular event for them with travel): https://www.ludwig-van.com/toronto/2016/12/09/feature-is-the-vinyl-boom-leaving-classical-music-behind/

This one is mentioned to have some classical: https://www.kopsrecords.ca/

Kops has an online presence which lists only about 30 records (including one for $3,000 - almost enough to buy a tonearm!), so I just called them to find out their actual collection size. He told me that they have around 4,000 classical LP's for sale, but most of them are in the basement of the Oshawa store - only a select few, selected by composer name, go to their Queen (more) and Danforth (fewer) stores. Generally only ones which are priced at $20 or more appear online, and of the others, many are $2.99 he said.

So it seems that current information by phone is better than online, and I'd suggest calling ahead.

Edited: July 31, 2019, 10:19 AM · The 2:1 sampling rate theorem goes back to Shannon and Nyquist, but the exact dating seems to depend on semantics.
1933 seems like a good date. Sorry, I'm in too much of a rush to read this in detail.
July 31, 2019, 11:04 AM · Thank you J and Elise for that info re: buying lps in T.O.
There was a lovely store called Forche's in Cambridge.It closed its doors permanently about six weeks ago.So sad...
My neighbour has many of those Reference Recordings produced by Keith Johnson.They are spectacular! I'll check and see if any digital editing was involved in making them.
Has anyone heard of the label Three Blind Mice?
Edited: July 31, 2019, 5:19 PM · An interesting comment prints on the receipt from Kops:

"PLEASE NOTE: modern budget record players' needles cannot handle most records, and as such we cannot take returns if the issue is with the turntable. We play test all records brought back as defective."

I think that refers to conical/spherical styluses on the included cartridges, some of which aren't removable.


August 1, 2019, 4:31 AM · I was always good at choosing the wrong thing.
I had an Ortofon cartridge when I preferred the crisper sound of Shure.
And I always used Ilford monochrome film stock, when I preferred the crisper contrast of Kodak!
Edited: August 2, 2019, 8:50 AM · Quite a lot of my "LP's" (I'm 70 yo..) are re-issues of 78 rpm "shellacs".
I got quite used to hearing musics through a shower of ball-bearings, although on my cousin's horn gramophone, the ball-bearings seem to fall on felt matting..

My favourites were Anne Stevens, Bach's Double (Grumiaux and Jean Pougnet), The Hums of Pooh, Trains, and Bach goes to Town..

When my Dad installed "steery-oh" the first to notice was our spaniel who leaped up from his nap by the fireplace, looking round anxiously!

August 5, 2019, 2:49 PM · Oh, and I forgot Sammons & Tertis playing Mozart, with which my parents successfully nudged me towards the viola..

My first "moe-noe" LP was Hamilton Harty's very "symphonic" orchestration of Händel's Water Music.

August 5, 2019, 3:07 PM · I still have a turntable on my wish list, but 2 days, coincidentally, found a JVC cassette deck player on my street and started listening to my old tapes. Most of them are still in good condition, despite beyond "best by age"..... and yes, good old analogue sound with Dolby effect hit me immediately. My 2nd hand speakers suddenly sound at their best and the dynamic range, colours and shades are all there.
August 5, 2019, 5:34 PM · I recently bought a 'moe-noe' LP by mistake. It's easy to do - it was described as 'High Fidelity', not 'Stereo', although there was a stereo edition. The transition to stereo, like the transition to digital recording, was fairly rapid, but as recordings, one can go through that again and again.
August 6, 2019, 7:52 AM · I've noticed J that one can buy very expensive cartridges that are mono only.Some audiophiles say that mono is the ultimate in clarity.Who knew?
Ive been stuck quite a few times buying mono recordings with no indication on the record jacket that it was such.
August 6, 2019, 11:37 AM · When the 2 versions were still available (erly '60s), the mix was quite separate: in mono I believe one had to help some things to "stand out", and use closer mics to avoid too much reverberation. The stylus motion is only horizontal so the cutting angles are different from stereo, and a mono cartridge will ruin a stereo groove by not allowing vertical motion (the two channels are cut on opposite walls of the V-shaped groove).

Then came "mono/stereo compatible" discs, where the principle mic pair are in X-Y mode to avoid phase cancellations in mono playback, and mono cartridges and styli were given vertical compliance to avoid damage to stereo grooves. Some of the early spectacular stereo effects were probably lost.

August 6, 2019, 12:18 PM · Peter, Linn's digital product is basically a giant storage device that you can rip CDs to, using uncompressed audio, and it has organization and playback. I use Linn speakers in my living room, where bookshelf speakers are more convenient. (For a bigger space, I have Sonus Fabers.)

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