Given how few of the turntables sold in the last 50 years would have cost more than about £150 (adjusted for the time) I'm curious as to who was actually manufacturing records that necessitate or warrant a deck that costs several thousand pounds?
I could spend five grand on a record player but I strongly suspect I'd be very disappointed because I wouldn't find anything to play on it that would do it justice.
Dave, only a few people might ever get to hear such a set-up at a show.
I did once at an Absolute Sounds demo run by Ricardo Franassovici in Brighton in the early 1980s*. However, that system (Oracle, Black Widow, Koetsu, AR, Krell, Etude) cost about £30K in 1980s money!
(Today the source alone might cost more than that.)
So unless you are selling to Russian oligarchs (or the top echelon of Premier League footballers) the whole point of what such kit can do is moot.
Even if I were suddenly rich enough to easily afford buy such a system, then there is the equally vivid memory of the overwhelming ugliness, bulk and firehose sized cabling that would destroy any room it were placed in and mark one down as a 'nutter' by friends and family.
I am not saying you are wrong. (I have heard it for myself.) But the capabilities of the turntables you describe, are only relevant to a tiny fraction of a percent of a percent of the population.
The people here enjoying RP3s, RP6s or other budget - mid-priced TTs (as I did for such a long time) shouldn't have their systems 'poo-poo'ed' just because you once heard, or sold, or owned something capable of transcending the norm.
After the 'revelation' of that Absolute Sounds system I didn't go home and despair of my Planar 3 + RB300. (Far from it.)
It was like going to see a great film at a really good cinema with an amazing sound system. I would still enjoy a Blu-ray at home.
We treated ourselves once, when on holiday in Dartmoor a few years ago, to a lunch at Gidleigh Park Hotel (two Michelin stars) but the experience - although sublime - didn't diminish or put us off home cooking or an occasional trip to the local fish & chip shop
*The first and last hi-fi show we ever went to. It was a hot sunny day in Brighton and the hotel was grim and filled with only much older men (my wife and I were only about 20 years old then) playing 'demo-record' music like Steely Dan and Phil Collins. We left after an hour and spent the day on the beach instead.
You are quite correct in what you are saying and in terms of ownership I agree entirely.
My own quite modest, by these standards, SME20A/Red Signature setup had to be sold once I ceased being involved professionally, the investment and the running costs, £2k every couple of years for a new stylus/cartridge, was beyond my means.
But you are slightly missing the point here, the unaffordable, to most of us, players under discussion here are capable of setting a standard by which other players can be evaluated and perhaps more to the point, show what vinyl is capable of. I have heard a lot of systems over the years and pretty much all of the ones that have left me with my jaw on the floor have been vinyl based.
Of course this does not mean that people with more normal players do not enjoy the vinyl, I'm sure they do, but this discussion is really not about that, it is about the qualities of vinyl reproduction, that at the highest levels, still sets the standard in reproducing music in the home.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
Try these: http://www.analogueproductions.com/index.cfm?do=search&category=21
£2k every couple of years for a new stylus/cartridge, was beyond my means.
Re-tipping/overhaul of a cart shouldn't cost anywhere near that. Buying an entirely new cartridge every couple of years would be madness.
I have always found that a genuinely good player makes the most of almost any recordings. Sure there are some records that are so poor that they sound awful on anything, but any compedent recording, properly pressed and in reasonable condition sound pretty damn good.
This is slightly at odds with what happens at the budget end of the market where an upgrade can quite often show up limitations in the vinyl being played but top players seem to deal with with things differently.
Surface noise is an obvious point of comparison, it may seem to get worse with some upgrades but then, when you hit a certain standard of mechanical integrity, a well chosen and properly set up player deals with it in such a way that it becomes irrelevent. It is still there of course, but somehow separared and 'placed at a distance', such that is no longer a part of the music being played.
A similar thing happens with 'everyday' recordings, many that you may have considered quite average take on a new life on such players.
My player (used for pleasure and business) did get a lot of use, so 2 years was about right.
It was possible to return the cartridge to Koetsu for rebuilding but the cost and the time and hassle involved made it a pretty unatractive proposition.
The idea of letting anyone other than the original manufacturer rebuild a multi-thousand pound cartridge is where the real madness lies.
Looked at from a technical perspective in comparison to a CD, an LP is a disaster. In every measure (except upper frequency bound*) an LP is significantly inferior - an inferiority that increases each time the LP is played as the grooves wear / melt away.
Strangely, the distortions that the mechanical recording / playback process introduce seem to pleasing to listen to - I don't pretend to know why.
So, I will grant that many people like the sound of LPs, but that's not because they are more faithful to the original, it is that they distort / mask the original in a way which humans perceive in a positive way.
* A new LP at 33 1/3 can get up to 50 or 60KHz, this soon drops off after it is played a few times.
I remenber reading an article that took a look at this.
The authors view was that when playing a record energy was transmitted into the vinyl from the stylus in much the same way as it is transmitted into the air as 'needle talk'. This energy propagates through the vinyl record until it meets some kind of discontinuety at which point it is reflected back to the point of origin and picked up by the stylus.
He postulates that this is a kind of low level feedback that has an effect on the sound similar to that of a 'reverb' used in a studio. Anyone who has heard a voice (say) recorded dry, then 'enhanced' with a little reverb will know what I mean. The result is that the reflections in the vinyl add to the original recording in such a way as to make it sound a bit warmer, more full bodied and generally 'nicer'.
Now, I have no idea as to whether this comes even close to reality or is total BS, but it does tie in with my own obsevations that the better and more stable the player, the less noticeable these effects become. As I said earlier, really good players sound much closer to CD than you might imagine.
Which is not to dismiss vinyl. It has it's place. It's fun and engrossing...but as a medium...ancient tech.
Funny, one could say the same about compressed music like MP3s. But shhhhh, don't tell the kids that.
Arcam Solo Mini/Monitor Audio RX1/Cambridge Audio 751BD/Samsung 37” LCD
I do think there's some snobbery out here. Our old Technics SL-202 direct drive turntable was the dog's proverbial sound-wise. It sounded superb, and was only average-priced for its day. If I had to be brutally honest I haven't bought a digital source/CD player that sounded overall as good. But it had great synergy with the amp that gave up the ghost eventually.
Although Dave does have a point, to an extent - as opposed to CD players and digital sources, I think amplifiers and turntables have never been more expensive today in real terms.
Melt away? That's a tad melodramatic. This is where a better turntable comes in. Less record wear.
Whatever the reason is for people peferring vinyl, they prefer it, full stop. The supposed superiority of CD can be pushed until you're blue in the face, but when you sit someone down, play them a track on a CD, then the same track on vinyl, they'll choose what they prefer - and who are any of us to tell them they're wrong?
David @Frank Harvey Hi-Fi, Coventry
Vinyl now available in store!
Whatever the reason is for people peferring vinyl, they prefer it, full stop.
I've never been happy with full stops, unless there's a good reason for them. Some people express a preference for vinyl, some prefer digital. It may not be your job to worry about this discrepancy, but I wouldn't be happy until I understood it.
I had a train set when I was a kid. I dusted it off again when I thought my kids were old enough to enjoy it. But they're girls, and they weren't really interested in trains. I still loved it though and found it much more involving than the video games my daughters were playing. I thought the train set was somehow more real. But in reality I was just in love with endlessly fettling the bits of metal and enjoying the fact that this piece of primitive technology somehow worked, against all the odds. All the while the kids were having much more fun on their Nintendos.
What classical music are you listening to?
I'd love to be able to explain it too. The only thing I could think of was that the mechanical aspect of the turntable (arm etc) has some sort of effect on the overall sound. But even if that were true, it doesn't account for the fact that the whole soundstage is more three dimensional, rather than just sounding fairly flat. There's other aspects too, but that's the main one for me.
Well, you could, but then MP3 as we know it now is vastly different to what it was 20 years ago. It has spawned lots of other excellent codecs such as AAC and OGG, FLAC and WMA. And you couldn't tell the difference between them and a CD. The last part can't be said about vinyl.
“Out beyond ideas of wrong and right, there is a field.
I'll meet you there."
© 2014 Haymarket Publishing