On 6/17/2014 12:53 PM, Miller, Larry S wrote:
> Regarding your reluctance to upgrade your system to the point where
> you can't stand to listen to your favorite recordings, I completely
> sympathize.

Funny, I'm just getting ready to address that question in an article I'm 
working on (about a phono preamp design that's been percolating for 
several years). My suspicion is that the electronic gear that "makes 
pristine records sound better but makes imperfect records sound worse" 
is not, as is often asserted, "revealing more accurately just how bad 
these records really are". I suspect, instead, that imperfect records 
sometimes, through their imperfections (scratches, wear, etc.) stimulate 
misbehavior in the electronics which then causes us to hear the records 
as sounding worse.

Back in the 1970s, when tube equipment was beginning to reappear in the 
home-audio world, a lot of people reported that certain tube preamps 
seemed to emphasize scratches less than their solid-state brethren -- I 
heard this a few times myself. A well-done article in, I think, JAES, 
pointed out that the tubed preamps in question all had significantly 
more headroom than solid-state preamps of the time, and suggested that 
this might explain the lesser audibility of scratches. That sounded 
reasonable to me, and my own experiments (written up in audioXpress) 
suggest that the worst scratches on LPs and 78s may be as much as 26dB 
higher than the 5cm/sec considered "nominal level" in disc cutting. I 
designed the preamp with that kind of headroom in mind, and its various 
incarnations so far have sounded very good.

I hope to submit the article for publication within the next six months. 
The design actually comes in two flavors -- one intended exclusively for 
RIAA discs, and one with adjustable compensation (mostly for 78s).


   One reason I'm so fond of the Stanton 881-S cartridge is
> that it seems to make recordings sound good without getting to the
> point, as do some moving coils, that mediocre recordings sound
> unpleasant.  I often wonder why this cartridge isn't used in
> transcribing 78s since it was available with an off the shelf 2.7 mil
> stylus and, to my ear, sounds much better than the commonly used
> Stanton 500. But getting back to upgrading, I'll offer an alternate
> view.  I'm not one who frequently upgrades my system, but when I do,
> that is, when I hear some piece of equipment that makes some of my
> favorite recordings sound better, then acquire it, I'm essentially
> rewarded with a new record collection, sometimes hearing things I
> never heard before.  That's why I upgrade.