So I bought the Pro-Ject Acryl It and cork mat for my non-carbon model Debut III with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge today. I decided this would be a good opportunity to do a really pure A/B where only one variable is altered to listen to what this new platter is about. Also I must admit, this was all done on stereo speakers (Wharfedale Diamond 9.3).
I ran Diamond Rings "I'm Just Me" once all the way through on my old stock platter, and then switched out for the Acryl-It and played through again. Immediately the sound was quieter, but I didn't adjust the volume. Then I found the highs to be much more rolled off, the physical space the soundstage took up diminished greatly, as did the perceived size of the sound sources. Voices were most obviously affected and sounded muffled and duller. I AB'd back and fourth quite a few times until I was entirely convinced. I enjoy the stock platter way more. The sound is much bigger, much punchier, sound sources take up more space and have great clarity. But it's true that the edges of the sound sources a just a little fuzzier than with the Acryl It. The Acrylit did have more definition and focus, but it just sounded wimpy and rolled off and flat. The bass was more heavily layered with the stock platter, and I had much more urge to dance (important parameter).
So then I figured, this is a big fun synth pop song, of course it's going to sound better with all this extra in your face-ness and punch, but what about something simpler and more carefully (expensively) produced. I put on Wilco's Art of Almost, and I drew the exact same conclusion. This to me proved that the slight increase in definition wasn't worth giving up the richly textured tones even in situations where definition could be most beneficial.
I couldn't be absolutely sure until I listened to Bjork's Jóga on 200 gram for one last test, this time with a slight volume change to adjust for the level drop. I figured if there was one thing in the world that benefits from maximum realism, it would be Bjorks voice. And it did sound really nice in it's very dry state. But again, the soundstage collapsed in and everything got smaller, all the highs rolled off, all the subharmonics sadly left, and it lost all of its life.
Finally I AB'd the cork against the felt mats. The cork muffled some of the edgier edges of the felt on the stock platter, took away a bit of the perceived size of the sound sources, and tighter up the harmonics. A little extra definition isn't unwelcome here, and I'll be keeping it especially for this staticky time of year. I wouldn't exactly call it better though.
The Acryl It is going back. It greatly reduces how pleasurable my turntable is to listen to it totally killed the music flat (small exaggeration), but I guess the stock platter's resonance is causing the bigness/punchyness/brightness/funness. That resonance happens to totally work for me, and I feel this kind of distortion should be welcome if it's pleasing. Distortion is the spice of the analogue realm. Besides, it's in all the vintage mixing consoles/gear that were used to create the music in the first place.
So it was a kind of false start to my quest to upgrade my modest Debut III. Has anyone gone on an upgrade path with/from this turntable before? Had other experiences with the Acryl It?
Edited by TheMuffinMan_01 - 1/7/14 at 7:46pm