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What Carl says... I second! Except when he writes that a good TT cannot
improve the quality of music -- well maybe not, but it sure can improve the
quality of performance!

The TTs at Sony were Rockports.

On Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 11:05 PM, Carl Pultz <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I didn't intend to brag to the list about my cool record player, as that
> note was intended just for Tom. But I would like folks to understand that
> there is a benefit to the seeming overkill of high-end players, at least to
> some point of diminishing returns. It's true that expensive record players
> manage to reveal more imperfections in the average LP or 45, but a good one
> will also make the music sound better (better sound, not quality of
> music!).
> Hard to describe but obvious when heard.
>
> Typically, more micro-dynamic detail gets uncovered, so the music sounds
> bigger, more expressive and alive. Loud impulses become cleaner and sharper
> because there is less of the energy lost by absorption in flexing of the
> tonearm structure and its mounting. A decrease in such resonances will also
> make small details apparent and timbres more clear as a bunch of complex
> sympathetic vibrations are not superimposed on the music. BTW, it is those
> vibrations that make valid the idea of a turntable having a "sound" - a
> timbral coloration that overlays everything played on it.
>
> What is most surprising about a good high-end record player is how much
> quieter the background noise becomes. A reasonable explanation can be
> imagined: any steady-state vibration (surface noise, lathe rumble) will
> excite resonances in the tonearm, platter, and plinth structure/materials,
> adding to the amplitude of that unwanted part of the signal. Preventing or
> suppressing those resonances will decrease the noise relative to the music
> vibrations, allowing the music to stand out in greater relief, with
> subjectively lower background noise.
>
> When I read here of the efforts of people trying with software to minimize
> noise from LP transfers, I wonder how much easier they would have it with a
> better turntable system that itself would generate less noise of this sort.
> I can play garage sale records, dusted with a carbon-fiber brush but not
> yet
> cleaned on my VPI machine, usually without any of the stereotypical crackle
> people expect to hear as the sound of records. Not to say there aren't
> relatively inexpensive overachievers. Sadly, too few on today's market.
>
> One of the nice things about microgroove is that you can keep getting more
> and more from it as the playback gets more refined. Are those Living Stereo
> SACDs better than vintage/Classic pressings? Yes, I'm sure they win on
> points - Das Lied von der Erde is completely transformed, so a big grateful
> hug to Mark Donahue. Yet there is some magical historicism to the LP
> experience that is worthwhile, if only for the connection it provides to
> the
> old ways, aspects of the producer's original intent, or to our personal
> memories of those musical discoveries. Or that, absent good remastering,
> it's still the best way to hear many recordings (i.e. Motown, whose CD
> reissues have been unauthentic in my experience).
>
> BTW, maybe someone can comment about the beautiful record player that was
> at
> Sony studios NYC - I can't remember the make. Forssell?
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
> Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:37 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>
> Hi Carl:
>
> You are right about the Philips with floor vibrations. Cheapo feet are the
> reason. I use an old IBM
> typewriter pad that used to sit under the Selectric typewriters so they
> wouldn't vibrate a desk.
> Plus it's on top of a heavy file cabinet sitting on a concrete slab,
> nowhere
> near any woofers. The
> touch-sensitive buttons were a koolio feature in the early 80's (along with
> big hair and
> "Flashdance"), but they get very insensitive over time. I now have to blow
> on my fingertips before
> operating them or they won't sense any touch. I'm not dead, but I do have
> dry hands and fingers. My
> mother (the original owner) had the same problem with those buttons. At her
> house, the turntable was
> in a cabinet that had cement under it and the speakers were in a different
> room, so no vibration
> feedback problems.
>
> In the case of both the Philips and the Technics servo systems, there's
> plenty of feedback to make
> speed accuracy and pitch accuracy if the system is functioning. One system
> that could get tripped up
> was Denon, which had two tape heads and a magnetic ring inside the platter
> as its system. That's
> only about one data point per second (2x 33 1/3 per minute), and some
> people
> can hear the system
> adjust speed on tracking-challenge stuff like fff to ppp on a good
> classical
> recording. I saw that
> tape-head and fixed magnet system used in one other place -- on AutoTec
> tape
> decks, that's how
> motion-sensing was done. Ampex used a light source, strobe wheel and
> light-detector on the AG-440C.
> I was taught old-school about tape spooling, and don't trust any motion
> sensing system. I always
> "rock and roll" to a dead stop, then hit stop. Diverging ...
>
> Anyway, as I've said numerous times, there is only so much "perfection"
> you're going to eek out of
> the _vast_ majority of LP records. Even a modest modern system (due to
> low-noise phono preamps and
> the general availability of decently compliant cartridges) will reveal how
> much rumble and hum and
> hiss is baked into the "golden era" records. Listen on headphones and it
> all
> hangs out. The early
> Westrex stereo cutters were tough beasts to wrangle, and the old lathes
> were
> rumbling to varying
> degrees of audibility. Plus the old tape machines had relatively high noise
> floors, old tapes
> hissed, etc. The problem with most "audiophile" records is that the content
> sucks and isn't worth
> hearing, performance-wise and/or recording-wise. Some reissue LPs of more
> recent vintage are
> wonderful exceptions to that admittedly blanket statement.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carl" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] High-end turntable
>
>
> > Pardon the imprecise language, professor. I mean to say the best playback
> of LP I have yet heard.
> > :)
> >
> > You mean the Philips model that used touch-sensitive buttons? I had one
> of
> those around 1978. It
> > was good, but the suspension was very sensitive to footfalls. Speed is
> not
> the only thing that's
> > important, but it should be right. The original Rega Planar 3s ran fast!
> (Purposely?) On how many
> > TTs can you hear the pitch go up after a loud passage? You're right about
> the Slovak stuff -
> > they're toys. I'd rather have what I think you've got - Technics? But
> then
> it would be fun to put
> > yours next to a mid-range Rega, and compare them for overall tunage. The
> Technics would probably
> > win for value, but of course, that's a very personal evaluation.
> >
> > Small things mean a lot with this black magic stuff, and they cost. The
> tonearm is important and
> > so is the way it interacts with the rest of the structure. The fewer you
> sell, the more expensive
> > each is, forming a commercial feedback loop. I know from working in
> high-end retail, that nobody
> > actually pays $170,000 or $35,000 for one of these things, unless the
> buyer's favorite charity is
> > his audio dealer. On the Clearaudio, the customer could demand a 25%
> discount and the dealer would
> > still make $15,000. No dealer would say no, right?
> >
> > Now, the question of value, .... that machine looks absurd. Clearaudio's
> normal stuff pales in
> > comparison to SME's workmanship, but their stuff generally is better than
> VPI or others at below
> > 8k (my buddy is a dealer for those makes and others). The SME's price
> makes some sense given the
> > scope of the market, inherent quality, and the performance you get.
> Seriously. I have owned (of
> > the good ones) Thorens, Luxman, Oracle, Micro Seiki, VPI, Nottingham, and
> now for some years the
> > modest little SME 10. They're all good, all different, and there is a
> hierarchy of reproduction
> > quality that, to me, is worthwhile.
> >
> > In high-end audio, high cost also is its own priority. It is sometimes
> money for nothing and when
> > it is shysterism, that's wrong. I'm okay with your populist sentiment,
> Tom. I've spent most of
> > life on a shoestring and right now Micky and I are literally below
> poverty
> income - only partially
> > by choice. So far, it has made sense to me to have a better TT than a
> car.
> Hope that doesn't
> > change!
>