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Next stop in my journey... my RPM5 arrived. [56K!]

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
As some of you might remember, I couldn't help myself with all the vinyl craze going around, and some few months ago, I jumped on the vinyl train. It has been a very steep learning curve for me with vinyl care and TT adjustment, but I think I've pretty much covered the basics.

Initially with a promise of a good deal on a RPM5 from my dealer, I got stuck with a Debut - but no more!

My spanking new RPM5 arrived yesterday... [excuse my crappy pictures - I still manage to hold off from purchasing a digital camera]. Also, please pardon my overexcitement.

So, here she is - walmounted, leveled, adjusted and ready to play some tunes.



Platter detail - MDF platter that came with a cork mat and two felt mats. Also, a screw down record clamp that should be better and pose less strain on the motor and bearing than my older record puck.



Tonearm detail - Pro-Ject 9c tonearm, carbon fiber, VTA and azimuth adjustable, sporting a Pro-Ject K4/K6 cartridge.



Back of the RPM5 - RCA sockets and AC input jack - that output box will be changed with a new one sporting XLR connectors once my AQVOX Phono gets here.



Front of the RPM5 - conical aluminum/rubber feet with feet pucks [I believe they are called feet pucks anyway].



Motor detail - decoupled from the chassis to reduce vibration transfer [or so Pro-Ject states].



And, just a little something my dealer added as a bonus, small tubey goodness to tie me over until my AQVOX Phono 2 CI gets here - the TubeBox MKII. Sports a dual mono circuitry, adjustable MM/MC inputs, and [finally found one] a subsonic filter. Uses ECC83 [12AX7A] tubes.



Cartridges in use - at this point, a combination of Pro-Ject K4/K6 cartridges [MM manufactured by Grado Labs] and several OM series Ortofons.

Upgrade path [I know it might be early for upgrades seeing I got this yesterday, but these have been planned even before I ordered this one] - a Ortofon Rondo Red MC, a Shure M97xE MM, and a balanced phono stage - AQVOX Phono 2 CI.

I am letting this one break in for a couple of days, and will be back to this thread with sound impressions. One thing I will say - out of the box, there simply is no comparison to my older Debut II.

Assuming anyone is interested in more details about the TT, I am happy to answer any questions. While I do realise my pictures are crappy [they are off a camera phone anyway] I will try and locate a proper camera and post updated pictures, should there be more interest.
post #2 of 14
Good to see some vinyl-enthusiasm here, looking good there.
I "only" have the Pro-ject RPM4 with a Grado Gold Cartridge myself, and I'm really happy with it as well. Only thing I need now for my headphone setup is a phono stage, and even though I thought about getting the Grado one at first, which is said to have great synergy with the Grado cartridges, I also considered other possibilities. I'm looking forward to reading your impressions.
post #3 of 14
That's got to be the wierdest looking CD-player I've ever seen. Did you say it was made out of vinyl? Wow!
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosk
That's got to be the wierdest looking CD-player I've ever seen. Did you say it was made out of vinyl? Wow!
Oh yeah, I am still having troubles fixing and centering CD's on the threaded axle with that screw-on clamp. Hopefully, experience will build up over time.

But I do believe it is made of MDF instead of vinyl. Spray painted for the platter, and piano finish for the plinth.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alu
Good to see some vinyl-enthusiasm here, looking good there.
Thanks Alu, I must admit I enjoy the ride. Since I have mostly been a computer-as-source user lately, it is nice to once again experience the ritual that comes with the usage of a turntable - endless tweaking, adjustments, leveling, cleaning...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alu
I "only" have the Pro-ject RPM4 with a Grado Gold Cartridge myself, and I'm really happy with it as well.
In my humble opinion, the RPM4 is by no means a slouch, I had listened to it in the personal system of my dealer, and I like it very, very much [given the price point]. Actually, the RPM5 should be a direct descendant of the RPM4 - unfortunately, it does not come with a dust cover, so I would need to think something up.

Also, the K4/K6 I am using are actually Grado's - if you want me to, I should be able to determine which ones for the sake of comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alu
Only thing I need now for my headphone setup is a phono stage, and even though I thought about getting the Grado one at first, which is said to have great synergy with the Grado cartridges, I also considered other possibilities. I'm looking forward to reading your impressions.
I seem to remember you have a Rotel RC-03 preamp? Do you use its built-in phono stage? My earlier setup included the K4 [Grado] on a Debut II in the RC-03, and I was getting an increased level of hum - not that the RC-03's phono stage is a slouch, it seems the root of the problem lay in the use of a Grado cartridge on a turntable without an isolated motor - and was picking up hum.

The Tube Box MKII I have just installed is much more balanced - the noise floor has dropped considerably, and the inclusion of a subsonic filter is a godsend for my speakers. And it is pretty cheap too - the going price for Europe should be ~180, VAT inclusive. Further more - I believe I would be able to tweak the sound further with some tube rolling.

Now - if you are willing to spend some extra cash, the AQVOX seems like a pretty good bargain. That unit has a multitute of options, as well as fully balanced operation [in and out] - good news for you and me is that the Pro-Ject tonearms do not need to be rewired for balanced operation.

In a couple of weeks I should be able to add my impressions on running a balanced TT rig with the RPM5 + Rondo Red + AQVOX.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Weekend listening impressions. And some digression. Bear with me.

While I think it might be a bit premature to go with a definite judgement for the RPM5 [do turntables and cartridges really undergo break-in?], I still feel I could share some initial listening impressions gathered via a couple listening sessions this past weekend. There are also some additional thoughts in here - this post turned out to be quite longer than I intended it to be, so bear with me.

Equipment

The equipment is listed in my signature, but for continuity sake, I will add it here. I spend most of the listening time with my speaker setup with the signal path in the following order: RPM5 + K4/K6 : Tube Box MKII : RC-03 : RB-03 : B&W 602 S3 + 2 x B&W ASW650. Cables used are mostly AudioQuest : 2 x Quartz, 2 x Ruby, and Type 6.2.

In addition to this, there is a second RC-03 preamp, used in conjuction with an E-MU 1212m as balanced source [as well as balanced input transformer] to drive my balanced HD-650, as well as a DT990 Pro [on load].

LP's

My collection is not exactly overwhelming [I did just start with vinyl a couple of months ago] but I tried to diversify the type of music I was listening to during the initial listening sessions. I am also adding the [approximate] year of production for my older records [which might need some more cleaning in the future - I am waiting on a vinyl care package]. That said [in alphabetical order]:

Air, Moon Safari, Astralwerks 6644 [1998]
Air, Talkie Walkie, Astralwerks 96600 [2004]
Al Di Meola, Elegant Gypsy, Columbia 34461 [1977]
Carl Orff, Carmina Burana, Telefunken 9455A [1983]
Dire Straits, Dire Straits, Warner Bros 3266 [1978]
Fischerspooner, Odyssey, Capitol 94896 [2005]
Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum, EMI 60611 [2005]
Mount Sims, Ultra Sex, Emperor Norton 7059 [2002]
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, Capitol SEAX-11902 [1978]
Pink Floyd, Echoes : The Best of Pink Floyd, Capitol 36111 [2002]
Pink Floyd, The Wall, Columbia H2C-46183 [1983]
Various Artists, Flashdance OST, Polygram 811-492 [1983]
Various Artists, Hair OST, RCA 75093 [1979]
Various Artists, Living Chicago Blues #1, Alligator 7701 [1978]

...and quite possibly some more, but this is as much as I remember.

Impressions

Let me first say that I started off with virtually no previous experience and very faint expectations [after all - how in the world could 30 year old records sonically compare to a CD?]. I now stand corrected.

You see, I've found out that I prefer a warm and involving system and am at times willing to sacrifice some detail for that. I've tried hard to develop a habit of listening to the music and not the equipment and complete a reasonably priced system dedicated for pure music enjoyment [I do admit that my equipment is worth slightly more than my music collection, but ad least that gap is now rapidly closing - I've come to my senses]. My components [E-MU, B&W] have often been dubbed anything from 'laid-back' to downright 'boring'. Alas, as I had already stated earlier on these boards - I seem to prefer this sound.

As it naturally comes to pass, at some point I decided that adding a vinyl rig would be a worthwhile [and most enjoyable, as it turns out] experience. I had planned on starting with the RPM5 right away, but had to settle with a lowly Debut II due to a miscommunication between my dealer and Pro-Ject. I am now glad I did start with the Debut - this way I can now fully appreciate the improvement that is the RPM5. I must say I liked the Debut, seeing it was my first deck, and I thought it sounded quite decent [for what I paid for it] although there were some issues [hiss and hum] when paired with some cartridges [Grado]. And then the RPM5 arrived.

I now also had a fancy cartridge alignment tool [a special gift from Pro-Ject for making me wait so long for the RPM5], so I installed the K6 and proceeded to tinker with the adjustment routines. Several hours later [yeah, I know] I was ready to start listening - but I really wasn't prepared for what I heard [or rather, what I did not hear].

This time, the RPM5 was connected to my system via Pro-Ject's Tube Box MKII, a tube phono stage [12AX7] with an active subsonic filter to one of the line inputs on the RC-03. Once I switched everything on [oh, the tube glow!] I had to get up and make sure that I had everything connected OK, as I struggled to hear background noise from the RPM5/Tube Box. I was greeted with a smooth blackground and was enjoying myself already - I figured the new phono stage must be a much better match for the K6 cartridge than the Rotel.

We started off [most of the listening done with my father, my sister and a couple of friends] with Living Chicago Blues. Halfway though side A, I was greeted with the appearance of Jimmy Johnson in front of my listening seat and I could almost touch him! I will not go on as to stating I have been hearing detail I had never heard before - but I will say I felt that Gibson in Jimmy's hands simply vibrating as he went through the strings.

Next up were Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie. These electronic masterpieces from Air feature everything from synthesized voices to acoustic guitars. These records also gave me an idea of how the RPM5 handles female voices [Cherry Blossom Girl sounded heavenly], very involving and at some point, almost painfully emotional - must have conveyed some subsonic messages, as we were all deep in thought before we realized that the record had ended.

What followed was Mount Sims, then Fischerspooner, then Al Di Meola [one of my reference recordings, Mediterranean Sundance with Paco De Lucia] and Pink Floyd. The RPM5 did not dissapoint. Music flows effortlessly and everything seems to be in its right place. See, I've always had issues with the low end in my listening room - it tend to 'bloom' and make it's presence overly noted, disturbing the listening. I worked hard on taming it - but realized that I had not needed to with the RPM5 - the bass was just right! Tight and cohesive, well defined and properly extended.

We also threw in some Kraftwerk for good measure - excerpts from their live performances. Wonderfully mixed and mastered new releases. The RPM5 more than held its ground. I am now perfectly prepared to sell off my CDP assuming I can get all the music I want on vinyl.

Summary

I love it! And what's not to love - I got a solid vinyl playback system that should tie me over for years to come. Upcoming upgrades [ordered Shure M97xE, Ortofon Rondo Red, Ortofon Kontrapunkt A and an AQVOX Phono 2 CI] should improve this even more [way more, I hope - considering the cash these upgrades cost]. I should also note that I was able to get a fairly low price for the deck - even with VAT, I paid nearly two thirds of the current US going price - I guess living here can have some advantages.

I guess I'd better be turning in. I might post some more impressions [short and clear next time] as time goes by, should there be interest. Also, I should say I would love to see some more local reviews of turntables [there currently is only one in the featured reviews section]. That said, any quesions - I would be happy to answer.
post #7 of 14
Glad to hear the table is living up to your expectations.

I'm completely clueless when it comes to Vinyl, but have always regarded the format with some curiosity. I guess that comes from growing up with CD's and digital mastering being the norm. So far I've successfully avoided hearing any audiophile-grade turntables, for fear that the sound will be so much better I won't want to go back to digital. (we all know how expensive LPs can be)

Incidentally, are there many audiophiles in Macedonia? You're probably the first one I've heard of to be honest.
post #8 of 14
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Tubebox II. I am looking for a phono stage myself.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosk
So far I've successfully avoided hearing any audiophile-grade turntables, for fear that the sound will be so much better I won't want to go back to digital. (we all know how expensive LPs can be)
AS far as cost goes, I do believe that you can pull a decent vinyl rig for the cost of a nice [albeit not high-end] CDP. And as far as vinyl prices go... for new releases - not that much more than CD's. But the real deals lie in used records.

Just today, I managed to score 30 used records for $20. And this pack includes jewels such as Pink Floyd, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola etc... they do require some cleaning - but are in pretty good shape to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosk
Incidentally, are there many audiophiles in Macedonia? You're probably the first one I've heard of to be honest.
I believe there are quite a few. Perhaps not as much on these boards, but I've listened to several high-end systems that included items like B&W Nautilus, McIntosh, Martin Logan and ad least one with a WATT/Puppy.

Headphones are not so popular, on the other hand.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by utarch00
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Tubebox II. I am looking for a phono stage myself.
Certainly. What exactly would you like to know? I don't have much experience with phono stages - but this one seems to have a wonderful synergy with Grado cartridges [the K4/K6 I listed are manufatured by Grado Labs].

The unit seems to be a hybrid design - I have little experience with electronic circuits, but I am fairly sure I spotted two opamps when I opened it up. The unit is a "dual mono" design, with a single dual triode per channel [12AX7]. At this point, I am relying on the stock JJ/Tesla ECC83's, but I hope to try out some EI [Yugoslavia] tubes by next week.

Further more, I would say it is pretty cost effective [over here, it can be had for ~$180 - I would assume the price in the US would not be higher than that].

I have a big final this weekend, but I am hoping to hook the RPM5 directly to the RC-03 to see exactly what impact the phono stage itself makes [note the Rotel only has a MM stage, so the Ortofon can not be used in the comparison].

Assuming there is interest here, once the RPM5 settles in, I might do a full review on the combo [RPM5, Tube Box MKII, K4/K6 + Ortofon].
post #11 of 14

Congrats!!!

Insides, congrats on the RPM5. It is a great success story, since you could gather the whole family for a long session... No way on Earth my family will do that...
Look for NOS 12AX7. Some of the new production tubes sound quite bright and "plain vanilla" NOS tubes are not very expensive. And I suggest you keep the CDP... That way you can try CDs at home before you listen in the car, where they really belong...
Have fun!!!!
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ori
Insides, congrats on the RPM5. It is a great success story, since you could gather the whole family for a long session...
Thanks - been a long way coming - that's for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ori
Look for NOS 12AX7. Some of the new production tubes sound quite bright and "plain vanilla" NOS tubes are not very expensive.
My options are quite limited there. I could order a Telefunken Smooth Plate, but how in the world to justify a $300 set of tubes on a $180 phono stage?

BTW, it just came to me. The factory where the EI tubes are produced is just a couple of hours driving from here [and a state border - but that is only a slight inconvenience]. I figured I should give the EI Elite Gold's a try. What do you think?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ori
And I suggest you keep the CDP... That way you can try CDs at home before you listen in the car, where they really belong...
Have fun!!!!
Well... the CDP is a keeper at any point - I will be doing some modifications to it in the future, adding a switchable tube output stage etc... Vinyl listening is quite the ritual, and for convenience sake, my Rotel and the E-MU are here to stay.
post #13 of 14

glad to hear that you are enjoying the rpm 5 ( the last post was a long time ago so you might not be enjoying it anymore but anyway ) i am just and so thinking about getting into vinyls and i am thinking that the rpm 5 would be a good place to start so that i could upgrade everything around it knowing that the turntable could keep up every step of the way.

post #14 of 14

lol nice bump

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