Adventures in turntables and LP playing - or "Proof that skepticism does pay".
Apr 19, 2002 at 3:38 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

fjhuerta

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The story...

I grew up on a steady diet of 78, 45 and 33 1/3 RPM vinyl records. And professional grade tape recorders (the reel to reel kind). Back in my days <cough, cough> Kenwood had real amps (I remember the monster 100-250 watt-RMS amps my uncle used to own), Technics was all the rage in turntables, and equalizers with single-color LEDs were preferred. Tape recorders? My uncle had a Nakamichi (not the Dragon, but it had Dolby B, C and DBX). Speakers? Well, he had some huge Kenwoods, with 15 inch woofers, 4 inch mids (2?) and horn tweeters.

So I can safely say that, although the equipment wasn't quite bleeding edge, I grew up with nice sounding stereos all around me.

Anyway, I learned to operate a turntable when I was some 3 or 4 years old, and loved the sound. Gradually, my equipment (I inherited lots of it from my family on the first place) grew more and more common, until I ended my vinyl infatuation with a (very lame) Technics linear turntable with a worn stylus. That year I got my first Sony Discman (must have been around 1986-1988), and I never bought an LP again.

Fast forward - 14 years. My grandmother died some 8 years ago, and I got her stereo equipment. Not quite top of the line, but for a granny, her stereo sure rocked. Technics integrated amp, Technics tape recorder (with tape selector for Ferri-chrome - remember those tapes?!?), and Technics turntable. The belt had already disintegrated, the stylus was meant for a DJ, I guess (too rugged), and it was completely unbalanced.

Now, I didn't have the slightest intention of fixing the thing. I had heard "I Robot" on DVD-V 96/24, and I just knew there could not be any turning back to analogue. Still, I was intrigued by the possibilities. Really, I had warm memories about LPs. Could it be that I could love them again?

Then, a friend of mom, who claims to have been one of Elton John's lovers, gave me the entire Elton John collection, signed by him, on vinyl. WOW. I had to do something about it.

I went off to buy a new turntable. Sony? $70 USD for a flimsy looking player. Kenwood? $200 USD for an even worse turntable. Clearly, I thought, I should just fix my Technics.

I cleaned it. I got an Audio-Technica cartridge (for close to $90). I got a new belt. I oiled the thing, changed the light on the stroboscopic fixture. Balanced it. Cleaned it throughly. Adjusted the cartridge, balanced the arm, balanced the whole turntable, set up the pitch, clean my records, cleaned them *again*.

Then sat, and listened.

***snap, goigle, blop, pshhhhhhfffffft, goigle goigle, brrrrrrrrrt, pffffffffft pfffffft pfffffft ((dull cymbals, dull highs))) pfffftt (so much surface noise) prggggrrrrtttttt snap crackle crackle crackle ((so much background noise!)) pshshhhfhhhfffft (you get the idea***.

So now I'm $130 USD lighter and wiser. I shouldn't have fixed that thing. My DCC & MoFi remasters of Elton John classics sound simply STUNNING when compared to the original MCA records. It's as if the MCA records were made from 5th generation masters. The only albums that sound comparable to their CD counterparts are some cheesy disco music.

Well. At least I did give LPs their fair chance. And my Technics turntable looks stunning in my rack.
 
Apr 20, 2002 at 4:58 AM Post #2 of 9

mbriant

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You're a brave, brave, man, for posting this fjhuerta.

I think you're my hero.
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Apr 20, 2002 at 12:48 PM Post #3 of 9

JML

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Before you give up completely, clean the LPs. Try and find someone who has a motorized cleaner with a vacuum to suck off the cleaning fluid.

If the LPs are damaged, however, they'll still sound poor even if cleaned. The damage would be from the obvious surface destruction, such as scratches, but also from a worn stylus.
 
Apr 20, 2002 at 1:07 PM Post #4 of 9

wab

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JML is right, try to get them cleaned somewhere. I get good results with my cheap ($35) Disco Antistat record cleaner. A good, clean record has no crackle, pops or hiss to speak of and should sound great when played on a good, properly set up turntable.
 
Apr 20, 2002 at 3:24 PM Post #5 of 9

shivohum

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Fjhuerta, you might really want to give it some of your records in better condition a try on a higher-end turntable. Beg, borrow or steal one or listen to one at a dealer. I wouldn't so easily dismiss the love for vinyl. It's certainly got its faults, but it also has its unique charms, of that there is no simply no question in my mind. If you refuse to discover them, it's really your loss.
 
Apr 20, 2002 at 7:38 PM Post #6 of 9

fjhuerta

I gave Jude an Orpheus and all I got was this lousy title.
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I'm betting it would be close to impossible to find anyone around with a vaccum record cleaner around here. It was practically impossible to get a new stylus around here (I bought mine at J&R, mail order), and I found the belt at a very small store which stocks weird stuff.

The turntable is properly balanced and aligned, the vertical weight and anti-skating were set up according to the turntable's manual and the stylus specs. The only thing that could be wrong would be the records, but I have no way of cleaning them.

Still, when you compare the maintenance a turntable needs (constant adjustment, cleaning of stylus, change of stylus, cleaning of records with special equipment, etc.) with the straightforward use of a CD, you begin to wonder whether the (supposed) benefits are worth the extra work. Clearly, for me, they aren't. Quite probably, my Elton John records aren't very high quality to begin with (although being signed... well, you get the idea
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, I don't have lots of LP's, and I do have some 40 MoFi / DCC remasters. So my needs are better served with a nice CD player, anyway.

To each its own... I'm just happy I discovered for myself LP's are not for me (and, seemingly, not for many of us anymore).
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Apr 22, 2002 at 4:44 PM Post #7 of 9

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally posted by fjhuerta
Then, a friend of mom, who claims to have been one of Elton John's lovers, gave me the entire Elton John collection, signed by him, on vinyl. WOW. I had to do something about it.

Then sat, and listened.

***snap, goigle, blop, pshhhhhhfffffft, goigle goigle, brrrrrrrrrt, pffffffffft pfffffft pfffffft ((dull cymbals, dull highs))) pfffftt (so much surface noise) prggggrrrrtttttt snap crackle crackle crackle ((so much background noise!)) pshshhhfhhhfffft (you get the idea***.

So now I'm $130 USD lighter and wiser. I shouldn't have fixed that thing. My DCC & MoFi remasters of Elton John classics sound simply STUNNING when compared to the original MCA records


ANYTHING sounds better than North American MCA Elton John LP's, or any MCA lp's for that matter. MCA rainbow pressing were utter garbage. In fact, at least one or two EJ's were mastered wrong (Dolby switch off) and the pressing quality was horrendous.

Now...

Try some original UK DJM pressings and they will make your Mo-Fi CDs sound sick. Don't give up on LP's because of MCA pressings. It's like giving up women because one had zits.
 
Apr 22, 2002 at 4:57 PM Post #8 of 9

fjhuerta

I gave Jude an Orpheus and all I got was this lousy title.
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Quote:

Originally posted by Beagle
ANYTHING sounds better than North American MCA Elton John LP's, or any MCA lp's for that matter. MCA rainbow pressing were utter garbage. In fact, at least one or two EJ's were mastered wrong (Dolby switch off) and the pressing quality was horrendous.


By "rainbow pressing", do you mean the albums with a black sticker on them with a painted rainbow? Yes, those are my LPs. And yes, definitely they do sound like they were terribly mastered. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", in particular, sounds as if someone had removed the tweeter from my speakers. I can't agree more with you - those albums are barely used, have almost no "pops", yet they sound terrible.



Quote:

Now...

Try some original UK DJM pressings and they will make your Mo-Fi CDs sound sick. Don't give up on LP's because of MCA pressings. It's like giving up women because one had zits.


I know. I have a couple of weird disco LPs (there is one, pressed in France, from a group called "Voyage") that sounds better than the CD counterpart I own. By "better" I mean more... natural, I might say. Highs are a lot more relaxed sounding, yet they have the same speed and attack - they simply are better.

The thing I meant was, if I had my (sizeable) LP collection I used to own (no dad - I'll never forgive you for giving them away!!!
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) I would keep on cleaning and adjusting my turntable. But, considering all I own are the Elton John discs and a couple of weird albums, I don't think it's a good idea (at least for me) to spend any more money in my equipment.

Still... ah. Technics turntables are so beautiful
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Apr 24, 2002 at 4:32 AM Post #9 of 9

zowie

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Quote:

Originally posted by fjhuerta


So now I'm $130 USD lighter and wiser. I shouldn't have fixed that thing. My DCC & MoFi remasters of Elton John classics sound simply STUNNING when compared to the original MCA records. It's as if the MCA records were made from 5th generation masters.

Well. At least I did give LPs their fair chance. And my Technics turntable looks stunning in my rack.


Your right that you shouldn't have fixed that thing, but you did NOT give LPs a fair chance if you listened to a them on a plastic 20 year old japanese turntable (and a famously poor pressing to boot, as noted by the prior posters). IMO, with only a few exceptions, the majority of technics electronics ranges from so-so to trash.

As it happens I have a DCC 180gm vinyl Elton John thats one of the LPs I use to stun visitors at how much better vinyl can sound than they are accustomed to hearing from their CDs. Some think they're hearing a CD. And I have an affordable and hardly state-of-the-art turntable (17-yr-old AR w Rega arm and some mods).

I don't use a cleaning machine. Just a Discwasher brush, careful handling of the records, and a decent cartridges which, believe it or not, can dramatically reduce noise.

I'm not going to preach that you should see the light and start blowing money on a quality analogue set up. If I didn't already own a couple thousand albums I wouldn't have one either. But I would urge you to withhold judgement until you get a chance to hear a quality modern turntable.
 

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