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Turntable action

Discussion in 'Source Components' started by Flint, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of the sound of turntables over a well produced CD. I believe that comes from the fact I was exposed to high quality two track reel to reel masters running at 15ips or 30ips at the ripe young age of 15 and most of my learning about listening to music came from working in studios where that was the common source, not an LP. I owned a decent turntable/cartridge which I used in my bedroom while growing up, but LP sound never compared to a quality reel to reel. I did my best to make my turntable sound good, but it never held up to what I had learned to be the standard. Then CDs came out and offered a way to hear almost what was on those half-track reel to reel tapes, and I was hooked.

    However, my transition to CD left about 100 LPs in my collection which I have either never found on CD or other digital formats OR which I didn't love enough to replace with a CD. I have held on to those LPs for 30 years, or so, and haven't heard any of them until this past weekend.

    What happened this past weekend?

    Two things happened. 1) I finally pulled out the free turntable my uncle gave me, and old Sansui direct drive beast with an S-shaped tonearm, and cleaned it up, lubricated where I could, and installed a brand new AT cartridge which cost WAY more than I should have spent on it. AND 2) I stumbled across a guy here in Austin selling a near mint Rega Planer 3 turntable with a glass platter and a Shure cartridge at a giveaway price (without a dust cover) and bought it.

    So, after spending several hundred dollars getting the old Sansui up and running, then bringing home a newer Rega monster, I have been auditioning some of my better old recordings. It is great to hear music I haven't listened to in nearly 30 years. I also like how cool the turntables look on my media stand in my nearly redecorated living room playing through my Parasound stereo preamp (purchased through a forum member) and my Parasound mono amps (Purchased from another forum member) to a pair of SVS high end bookshelf speakers (used in the great SVS shootout GTG at my home several years ago where apparently I was the only one who preferred this model over the newer model with a lousy "upgraded" crossover).

    Now I have LP action in my bachelor pad. The chicks are gonna dig it and I can retire my weird pick-up line, "do you want to come up and see my etchings," (which I always have to explain, which ruins the dry antique sexual humor) and start saying, "how's about we spin some wax at my place, baby?" - which will surely get my some fine young tail.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
    Randy and Zing like this.
  2. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    I hope you receive fulfillment from the "Chicks".
    Flint likes this.
  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Famous

    I concurred with you on the SVSs and preferred the originals as well.
    Flint likes this.
  4. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Thank goodness, I have been suffering from insecurity ever since I thought I was alone in preferring the speakers I ultimately kept.
    Batman likes this.
  5. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    To add a little nerdiness, I don't know the model of the Shure cartridge which came installed on the Rega turntable. The guy I bought it from used all the right terms and made me believe he knew what he was talking about, so when he said it was the top of the line Shure, I inferred it was the Shure V15 hifi series model, but it doesn't look like the current M97xE. So, who knows? It works with the MM setting on the preamp, but I don't recall Shure ever making a MC cartridge.

    For the old Sansui, I purchased a brand-new Audio-Technica VR540ML after auditioning about a dozen cartridges at a showroom in Austin (who didn't sell AT, though it was their regular recommendation for serious listeners). I like the way the Rega looks much more than the Sansui turntable, so I am likely to move the AT cartridge to the Rega, but their tonearm is going to harder to work with and I will need to use a proper alignment guide and a tracking force gauge rather than the simpler industry standard head shell with plastic alignment guide and easy to calibrate tracking force gauge. I need to do some research on the Rega and its tonearm.

    We'll see.
  6. Randy

    Randy Well-Known Member Famous

    I foresee hordes of find young tail in your near future. With lines like that, ho can you miss.

    So which turntable sounds better to you so far? Unless I missed it you haven't given us your subjective opinion yet, other than you dig the looks of the turntables in your system and the Rega is cooler looking than the Sansui. Come on Flint, give us the scoop. Which one sounds better?

    I have an old B&O turntable put away somewhere that I think about getting out from time to time.
  7. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    I cannot definitively say either turntable sounds better. I prefer the midrange and treble of the Audio-technica cartridge over the Shure, which has punchier bass.

    How should a spinning platter sound?
    Randy likes this.
  8. Randy

    Randy Well-Known Member Famous

    Its been so long since I have heard one, I have no idea.
  9. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Congrats on a very nice set up. Back in the early 80's I found AT cartridges to sound a bit bright, I use to call them Disco cartridges. I always preferred Pickering and Empires, Pickering being what I used.
    These days I hear very good things about AT's offerings and plan to pick one up for my rig.
    As for vinyl VS CD/DVD/ECT, for the most part I agree with you. However some of the great analog recordings are breathtaking on L.P. for me the vinyl thing is more about an engagement with music. I always listen more completely to an L.P. over a CD or the like. I dig the interaction with the vinyl, pulling out the zero stat gun, the dust cloth...ect. dropping the tone arm and then sitting back with all the info on or in the album cover.
  10. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    Everyone discovered to deeply love the music they love in different ways. For me it was in studios with reference monitors and two track tapes. For others it was with LPs and what I consider a long and tedious ritual of preparing the medium to play. Some people found cassettes or listening in their cars or on a Walkman the method which introduced them to a music world which takes them away. I find LPs distract me from the music because I hear the artifacts and I kinda dread the whole process of getting to listening. I am fine making a CD listening experience as ritualistic as most people's LP experiences - I set aside a time to listen, I carefully choose the album I want to hear, I dim the lights (or turn them off), prepare the space, fix any beverage I feel I want or need, and settle in for a great experience listening to the whole CD. I am an album person, and CDs never changed that for me.

    But we all have our thing.

    I imagine that this is just a phase for me and once I believe I cannot justify any improvements to the LP rig, I will likely transfer my impossible to replace LPs to digital file and put the LPs and Turntable away.
  11. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Wish I was like that. Once CD's became popular and I was hooked on them I drifted away from listening to complete albums. There are exceptions but not enough.
    I had a real to reel set up as a kid and did enjoy the sound quality. By the time I discovered it, or should i say I came to age reel to reel was dead. It was short lived for me. Portable became more important, sadly
  12. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    Unless one has access to original master tapes, all other forms of reel to reel or cassette tape are vastly inferior for technical reasons too numerous to go into here. My main listening source when growing up was to commercially available pre-recorded 7.5 ips tapes. When I listen to those tapes now, I cringe at their hopelessly terrible fidelity, but at the time, that's what I accepted. I didn't get into vinyl until many years later.

    The thing is, even assuming a normal 15 ips two track tape, there are going to be relatively gross and easy to hear distortions from the signal which comes in from the microphones. Unfortunately, 15 ips was accepted as the standard speed throughout essentially all of the history of analog tape recording, and although all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz can be recorded at full level at this speed, that speed just isn't fast enough; the compromises of that speed are just too much for complete transparency. 15 ips was the standard for reasons of tape economy and nothing else; it was deemed "good enough". Noise reduction schemes like Dolby and DBX reduce or eliminate the noise, but all other distortion and frequency response factors are made worse.

    Very, very few masters were recorded at the much more optimal speed of 30 ips, which was the speed the Germans used when they developed tape recording during WWII. This speed is almost transparent because so much oxide is moving past the heads over time, and even better performance is attained by using 1/2" tape for two track instead of the normal 1/4". The Studer tape machines which were in use in Europe were more likely to use 1/2" for two track recording; in fact the Sergeant Pepper 4 track recordings used 4 channels on 1" tape, which is one reason they got away with so much overdubbing and multi-generational copying. Nowadays, whenever anybody bothers to record to analog tape, the 30 ips speed is more likely to be used, as is 1/2" tape, although tape is murderously expensive now that only two manufacturers exist on earth. 30 ips does have one disadvantage though; diminished response at very low frequencies. One of my two track tape machines can run at 30 ips, and it sounds so much better as a result.

    Of course none of the above matters now, and it matters less and less as time moves forward.
  13. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Very intresting. I'd always heard that the wider tape was better...guessing now due to speed mostly. For short period I fooled around with recording to VHS tape because I was told it was great for audio.

    All that aside I was always under the impression reel to reel was as good as it got in the consumer analog market.
  14. JeffMackwood

    JeffMackwood Maxi-Me

    Relative to other forms of consumer recording available at the time VHS-HiFi audio recording had outstanding audio quality. Because of the rotating heads the effective tape speed was very high - among other reasons. Even when using the slowest recording speeds, frequency response, noise, and distortion were good enough that a dub from CD sounded like the original. Plus you got six or eight hours of recording time (T120 or T160) making it a very economical medium to use. Shelf life is also pretty darn good - especially for later generation(s) of VHS tape - none of the ones that I ever made has ever had issues. Played one a few months ago from my collection that I made at least 20 years ago. Biggest drawback was the time it took to FF or REW to the section you wanted - and noting the counter / index info for each recording was crucial if you wanted any chance of being able to do so - especially when using a T160.

  15. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I'd forgotten about VHS HiFi, which was very good. When I was writing music for films, on a couple instances the master I delivered was in the form of a VHS HiFi tape. I do seem to remember though that the tapes started to get static and dropouts if played too many times. I bought one of the first DAT machines about that time, which had slightly better specs than CD. That format was really fragile though, to the point that I tried to play some of my DAT tapes a couple years ago, and none of them were playable.

    Now, any Joe with a computer can use Audacity to record audio, limited in quality only by the audio interface. Kind of takes the adventure out of the recording process though.
  16. Dentman

    Dentman Well-Known Member

    Yes they did sound very good. I only fooled around with it for a few months back when my wife and I bought our first home...91ish?
  17. rammisframmis

    rammisframmis Well-Known Member

    The audio on VHS HiFi was formatted as a frequency modulated signal, which means that in theory the frequency response could go down to DC, the same as digital. Using frequency modulation, the speed of the tape was irrelevant as long as it was fast enough in relation to the spinning heads to record the carrier frequency.
    Dentman likes this.
  18. malsackj

    malsackj Well-Known Member

    With the VHS HiFi it was on the helical scan part and not the stereo two track in the linear. Most were on the tape so you could play back on other machines that only had the mono or stereo linear tracks. the linear tracks were lower than a cassette deck for sound quality.
  19. malsackj

    malsackj Well-Known Member

    And back on the subject I have two TT. Sansui PL-40 Linear tracking, Direct Drive. Second one is the Marantz 6100 belt drive. AT cartridge on the Marantz. Dont remember what model. I pull out a record rarely
  20. Flint

    Flint "Do you know who I am?" Superstar

    I've decided to make the Rega Planer 3 my main Turntable and will move the AT cartridge from the Sansui to the Rega. Once I complete calibrations and get everything working, I expect to be done with tweaking for the time being. I will put the Shure cartridge on the Sansui TT and move it to my home theater, just because I can. I also plan to move my LP collection down to the family room where the Rega is installed. I will be honest, 80% of the reason I am doing this at all is because I finally furnished my family room as I have always wanted with a clean Mid-Century Modern feel which welcomes the LP era as the high tech hobby of the time. It just fits.

    So this is about home decoration more than sound.

    I will listen to LPs, but not all the time.
    Randy likes this.

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