Considerations before going down the vinyl rabbit hole

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by purr1n, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    I just wanted to make a quick note here about a new Audio Technica model, the AT-LP140XP. It looks like Audio Technica has been paying attention and fixed many of the things that were, shall we say, under-engineered on the LP-120. The top of the plinth is metal instead of plastic, there is no internal preamp at all, and unlike the new AT-LP120X there is a height adjustment to tweak the VTA. You could do this on the previous version of the LP-120, but you can't on the current version for sale on Amazon with the "X" at the end of the model number. So, as an LP-120 owner myself, I would definitely steer away from the new AT-LP120X and toward the AT-LP140XP. Unfortunately, the AT-LP5, which looks like a nice table otherwise, also lacks a mechanism to adjust the tonearm height. So if I were just jumping in today with $400 to spend, I would probably go with the AT-LP140XP.

    Product page: https://www.audio-technica.com/cms/turntables/5b81f8460bd88dfc/index.html
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    For a serious table, it's looking we need more to step into the $800 range.

    AT-LP1240
    AT-LP7
    PLX1000

    Darko did a vinyl rip comparing PLX1000 to SL1200G (the super heavyweight 4$k reincarnation of the SL1200) using the same cart and the blind test results were close.
     
  3. JayC

    JayC Resident Crash Test Dummy

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    I don't get it, so let me ask this out loud: is it common consensus that DD tables are the best at these price levels? Also, most of them (PLX 1000 included) come with a built in phono with no way to bypass it unless you do something yourself. Is that the intention?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    The PLX1000 does not have a built-in phono. The ATs have a built-in phono that can be bypassed with a switch. If one is serious, an external phonostage should be used. The LP7 is belt drive, the others are direct drive. Different sound. These three are near the $800 range, that's when we are starting to see some significant mass (27-32 lbs). For these kinds of designs, mass is important. The bottom shell of the PLX1000 can probably use some Dynamat, the rest of the table looks pretty solid.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    on second thought, turntables are a pain in the ass~!

    I just picked up a second Lenco L70 today for the low price of $250 moose dollars. of the 'mainstream' idler drive turntables, the L70 is my favorite for its styling, drive train and tonearm.

    [​IMG]

    what happens when you bring home a CD player:
    1. hook it up
    2. power it on
    3. insert a CD
    4. press play

    here is what happened when I took home this Lenco:
    1. locate a level surface using a bubble level, adjust for uneven flooring by crudely cutting pieces of foam and sticking them under the table
    2. hook the table up, realize the captured phono cable has no ground wire, causing vibration of the metal chassis and undue strain on the motor. un-solder the captured phono cable and replace with new cable with ground wire.
    3. initial speed check shows we are running slow. carefully adjust the speed using set-screws in agonizingly small increments until 33.3 rpm is attained.
    4. notice the tonearm level is whack, carefully adjust the tonearm height using set-screws.
    5. notice the lifting mechanism is not properly adjusted for the new tonearm height and is dropping the arm too quickly. carefully adjust the lifting mechanism using set-screws.
    6. notice the tracking force is whack. unable to identify if stylus on included Pickering cartridge is old stock or modern production (an original stylus will track at 3-4g, a modern one closer to 2g). L70 tonearm is spring balanced so VTF adjustments are quite coarse. carefully set VTF by ear.

    all of this is not including the careful service of mechanical parts the table will need to operate at potential. the L70 headshell has no overhang adjustment so cartridge alignment by modern standards is somewhere between 'good enough' and mistracking depending on the cartridge and stylus profile in question.

    I would not say these grievances are limited to vintage tables either. the issue of mechanical servicing aside, modern turntables, tonearms and cartridges are even more fussy. it's kind of amazing what certain manufacturers expect consumers to have to do at home to get best performance from their tables. the era of the brick&mortar dealer providing home setup is coming to an end, especially with this stupid pandemic.. at least in the 1950s through 1970s most everything was designed for the layman to get things working, and then direct drive took over.

    I have gotten digital to sound so incredibly good I am not sure why I still torture myself :)
     
  6. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Nor am I.
     
  7. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    And I'd say you'd got off pretty easy for a mechanical idler drive table. Especially at that price.
     
  8. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    ..Aren't we all here for the challenge? for the mental stimulation we get from solving problems? Or, in my case, just mental.
     
  9. Rustin Cohle

    Rustin Cohle Friend, FKA jazztherapist

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    Yeah, I don't get the dichotomy. Vinyl is sort of like sports: I traffic in it precisely for the torture. Anything else more convenient just ends up freeing me up to feel more real shit. Most things I do help me forget I'm going into the ground forever. Happy Friday!
     
  10. je2a3

    je2a3 Almost "Made"

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    Just wanted to say that this is my favorite Lenco model. In spite of the lack of overhang adjustment, to my ears, this tonearm is a lot better than the younger and lighter mass version installed in the L75. Just use a low(ish) compliance cartridge with a spherical stylus like a Shure M3D or 7D, M44 + EMJ N44G or even a Nagaoka MP100 and this tonearm/idler drive combo will sing.
     
  11. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    yes, the L70 tonearm was basically state of the art for a consumer product when first introduced. I like to use cartridges from the early stereo era, Shure M3D, Pickering U380, Empire 108.

    there are precision swiss-made ball bearings for horizontal and vertical movement. using a spring instead of a counterweight moves the centre of mass closer to the headshell rather than the middle of the arm near the pivot point. this way motor vibrations which reach the tonearm through its pivot point are weakened before they reach the cartridge.

    for this reason the majority of high-end tonearms of the late 1940s and 1950s were of types B, C and D in the below diagram. today, you see only type A.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Friend

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    I was a vinyl collector before I was an audiophile, and in a way consider the the two to be separate hobbies that happen to overlap. Nowadays, I'm not only a vinyl collector and audiophile but I also enjoy DIY, modding, and tweaking stuff, so it's a triple whammy. I was lucky enough to receive an inheritance of albums, and along the way acquired several more bulk inheritances (I have more Willie/Waylon/Kris albums than I care to count) in addition to the albums I've bought, which are mostly modern-ish music. I used to have an LP-60 and worse, but it still brought me joy to listen to. I thought it was cool just to be able to listen to a record at all, and so did a lot of my friends to be honest.

    We see things through the audiophile lens of getting the best sound quality. To us, someone having a shitty, cheap turntable with equally awful speakers is a complete waste of money compared to budget digital solutions which will sound far superior. It looks to us like buying something you don't need, something that won't help you accomplish the obvious, unspoken goal of getting the best sound quality for the money. On the other hand, to a majority of people, a headphone amplifier is something you don't need. I don't think there's anything wrong with people having garbage turntables to play their small collection of slightly different copies of Random Access Memories and Disney soundtracks on picturedisc. It makes people happy, regardless of whether or not it sounds like complete shit. Hell, I have a friend who buys vinyl from time to time and doesn't even have a working turntable (he says he's going to fix an old Yamaha up one of these days but doesn't know the first thing... I'm probably going to do it for him eventually). In my experience, this is a mostly millenial phenomenon... maybe something to do with side-stepping the digital mess of modern life.

    That said, if someone is asking me about getting into vinyl, the first thing I tell them is to acknowledge that they're not doing it for the sound quality. At any reasonable starting budget, digital will sound better. I also tell them that they should start with getting some good speakers and an amplifier, at which point the ballooning cost of their new system turns them off.

    My vinyl rig, to me, is more than just a way of listening to music, it's also a shrine to my favorite music. I have a Sol which I am still iteratively tweaking and aligning, and learning. This process is as enjoyable for me as listening to music, and being able to precisely align such a sensitive analog system is almost as satisfying as some of my favorite songs. I built a Bottlehead Eros 2 phono preamp to a ridiculous spec, agonizing over almost every aspect of the build and using boutique parts as much as possible. Did I think it would make a major difference using Neotech copper vs the standard stuff that came with the kit for wiring up the power supply? Not really. I did it anyway because to me, it's more than just a tube amp, it's a work of art, my tribute to my favorite music, and as such I felt it should be as perfect as possible.

    As far as sound quality goes, my vinyl rig does sound better than my digital setup (Pi2AES > Bifrost 2)... or at least, more enjoyable... it was also a fair bit more expensive. It sounds more realistic, fluid, lively, full, and separation/soundstage is more natural to my ears. Digital sounds a bit thin and dry in comparison. Sure, digital has more dynamic range, but a lot of music doesn't even use the full range that vinyl has to offer.

    As to the idea that most modern pressings are trash, well... I am seeing a trend recently that more and more artists are releasing hi-res digital versions of albums, and they are backing off of the dynamic compression at least relative to the 90's-00s. We're not getting back to 50-60's level recording quality, but the era of producing brickwalled trash appears to be waning from where I'm standing. That said, I am not nearly as picky as some of y'all when it comes to the finer points of production and mastering... there is still a part of me that is just happy to be able to listen to my music on a record at all.
     
  13. Elysian

    Elysian Friend

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    I wish this was true but I think most remasters and hi-res releases are still heavily compressed. I usually validate my impressions against the Steve Hoffman forums. Aside from indie and classical, most remasters still have narrow dynamic range.

    I completely agree with collecting favorite vinyl recordings as something that feels a lot more personal than CD or tape ever was. I haven't paid much attention to vinyl rereleases these last few years but I was disappointed to discover that a lot of vinyl releases from major labels use the same mastering version as their digital counterparts.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?members/neo_the_one.8360/
    Butcher blocks at Ikea have been mentioned. Those are too small and too light. Think mass. I'm cheap. Glue a bunch of 2x4s, sand down, and stain. Weighs a ton.

    PXL_20201206_175404496.jpg
     
  15. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    ^if you do this I suggest taking the time to apply a coat or two of varnish. can be homemade or bought prepared (as long as its natural varnish without plastics). it will give the base a beautiful resonant character which can be heard, as opposed to leaving the wood 'naked'.
     
  16. Tom R

    Tom R Rando

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    Great warning thread. I love vinyl but I’m not sure I’d bother if I wasn’t already into it. I’d guess that most tables/arms/carts are not setup as well as they could be.

    But.....
    There is something about handling physical media, the big jackets with artwork I can actually see, the smell of the record itself, liner notes, putting it on the table. Dropping the needle and hearing that loud ‘thwack’ . Then the background noise of stylus in groove. Ahhh there’s the pre-echo from the adjacent groove. Right in time. Then the music! Sublime!

    For me, it’s the inconvenience and high levels of distortion and noise that make it all worthwhile.
     
  17. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    Suggestions for isolating TT

    I had this problem myself lately. My new spinner:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see it sits on a drawer in my desk which intended to carry a printer. This is probably not the best solution in terms of vibration isolation. I noticed that when people where moving around I could hear their footsteps coming from the subs which go down to 13 Hz. First I put a high pass in the PEQ settings of my Adi-2 Pro but I wanted to solve the problem. Given the fact that our living room already looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Putting the spinner on display on some sort of heavy base (why didn't the landlord include a ledge for a spinner on the concrete wall) was no real option. All my gear needs to disappear inside the desk (save the speakers).
    If coupling is no option, then decoupling might be:

    [​IMG]

    This is not my invention it is something I picked up in several German audio related forums. I got four springs from a DIY market. Their stiffness is such that with a load of about 4 to 5 lbs they have an eigen frequency of about 5 Hz. The four springs alone (spinners weight roughly 8 kgs) would be a quite wobbly affair and of course in theory once excited would wobble for ever. So you need something lossy, too. I use Sylomer SR55 19,5 mm square, 25 mm high stuffed inside the spring. Sylomer is something akin to sorbothane. It not only acts as a damper but also as a spring. My configuration leads roughly to a eigen frequency of 9.4 Hz. Tried it and no more noises coming from the subs, when somebody moves around.
    sorbothane will probably work, too. I just find the documentation for Sylomer more helpful. If you have a corporate email address you can register and use their calculation program, go to the getzner webpage, you will find their apps and data sheets.



    There are folks who measured the efficiency of this solution:



    Unfortunately there is no scale on their measurements but the difference is significant.

    This might be a helpful for people for whom coupling their spinner to something heavy is no option.

    Cost? Springs are around 1 $ each. Sylomer is not cheap. I got mine from someone who had bought a large piece of it. Total cost including springs for the set of four springs including their Sylomer stuffing: 10 € + 5 € p&p

    PS The drawer in the desk is quite low, so I do not see the springs with their green stufing. You may wrap something around the springs in order to improve their looks
     
  18. shredical

    shredical Friend

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    Thanks to your post, I ended up getting the PLX1000. Despite being used, i am enjoying my foray into the Vinyl world for the first time.

    Surprisingly spent more on records than on the turntable in a weekend of frenzied record buying.;)

    Currently on a NUmark Groovetool cartridge with stock headshell that came with the table.

    Have a pair of Jelco HS25 headshells on order along with a Nagoaka MP-110 and AT-540ML cartridge on the way.

    Haven't gone down the rabbit hole again with regards to the rest of the system ....yet.
    Right now, entry level Jamo speakers and pioneer receiver with built in phono section and a JBL 10 inch sub. Although i've already got my eyes wandering looking at possibilities, ATC SCM40, Magnepan w/Pass Labs, Genelec 8050A, JBL 4312G w/Luxman 500Mk2...

    And a Schitt Yggdrasil for the Digital source. ALthough, been thinking of a network based source instead like Bluesound or a Roon.
     

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  19. shredical

    shredical Friend

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    The turntable was actually a birthday surprise gift from my wife as a way to help me de-stress:p
    Of course, to go along with the plunge she indulged me and got me setup with a bunch of other 'essentials'.
    • Audioquest Gold record brush
    • Groovewasher Stylus and Brush combo with D2 solution
    • Squeaky Clean vinyl record cleaner. Thanks for the guy who posted a review on here regarding it that helped me from making my decision over a Spin Clean.
    • Hudson Hifi Corky turntable mat
    • Riverstone Audio VTF stylus gauge
    • Mitchell Record clamp
    • TurntableLab protractor
    Vinyl is a PITA. ;)
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Get one of the various Roon endpoint with SPDIF/AES out if no time or build pi2AES (can also use as Roon endpoint) if there is time. This way, you can use whatever DAC you want to.
     

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