Originally Posted by arcorob
I have to agree...honestly, once you get over 5k to 6k (Such as a VPI Classic III), you are showing your cash. The percentage of increase in sound from a 5k table to a 15k table MIGHT be 1%..after that ...nada...Its like having a solid gold razor or jewel encased cel phone. Did they work better ? No...just bling.
I know some would disagree but its a matter of physics and science. You can only extract what is there. So given that most audiophile carts have frequency response below and above human hearing, 1/2 DB channel balance...and dead inert tables, you are then at the mercy of the mastering. You cant be $290,000 better. Just doesn't happen
It is not only money. If the 300K table is just a smidge worse adjusted than say a 5 K table, the better adjusted 5K table wins - ALWAYS. Azimuth is the most critical - has to be adjusted perfectly - to below 1/3rd of a degree for best results. This is made easier today using Fosgometer or Clearaudio "device" or Feickert - but can also be done using an oscilloscope.
If you had any idea how big are "errors" in recording and mastering, you would stop worrying about half a dB here or there - or cables ( the only exception the most sensitive one, from the tonearm to the phono preamp - to make matters worse, exactly TOTALLY opposite requirements for MM than MC - today almost everything available is MC friendly and MM hostile ..) .
I used to have 5 tonearms on the same TT, capable of simultaneous playback. Unless the carts had severe limitations in trackability and/or distortion, the main factor in SQ is frequency response. That 1/2 dB (and quite some more) is correctable by a QUALITY equalizer - before anyone starts waving with a cross and hawthorn to fend off this "vampire", a good demo of cart + EQ is required; I prefer cart with requency response that can be corrected using good EQ and superb tracking/distortion over one with flat response and even slight limitations in trackiability/distortion. Some Grados are positively divine properly EQed...
I started to record because very quickly during my development of TTs it became clear that most, even the best recordings on vinyl are hopelessly compressed, limited in bass, etc, etc - some of this is unfortunately really limited by what can be put on disc, quite some totally unnecessary, much also have stamp of the original equipment they were recorded with - etc. There were/are very few vinyls that have (almost) no limitations - most notable are perhaps direct to disks from Miller & Kreisel. No wonder Ken Kreisel, who recorded them, used Grado's best cart at the time, the Signature 2 for monitoring the pressings - those very carts were on sale on ebay about 1 year ago. Although I never had any of those Signatures, I do have a few better Grado styli from that era - and after a good disk is heard
without the usual compression impaired by most of MCs of present ( most are uncapable of +18 dB @ 300 Hz ), returning to +15 dB @ 300 Hz or less cart is hard indeed. Present day Grados do not have this capability, for the most part at least. The best Grados are SUPERB trackers - +18dB@300 Hz equals approx amplitude of 90 micrometers - and best Grados exceed 100 micrometer mark, some even 110; dynamics literally explode, there is no breakup of sound even in the largest climaxes in operas; Joe Grado was a quite active opera singer ... - and it shows.
No matter how flat it is; if it can not convey the full dynamics/bass, it will sound constricted ... - never happens in live music.