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New to buying turntables and sound systems
d_headshot
post Mar 18 2010, 22:34
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I need a new turntable and a sound system that works good for both vinyl and digital audio. I already have an amplifier so my budget will be geared mostly towards the sound system and turntable. My budget is around $1000 but can go higher or lower later on in the year(can use $1000 for the system and $200 or even less for the turntable). I read the FAQ but didn't help me to decide on the brand of cartridges or other information on buying a stylus or cartridge set. Any help for a vinyl newb like myself would be appreciated.
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DVDdoug
post Mar 19 2010, 01:27
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My advice is to "go shopping". Go to a real store and check-out, and listen to, some equipment! Touch the turntable and try to compare the "build quality" of different brands/models. (It's been many years since I bought a turntable... So I don't know... but $200 seems like it might be on the low side.)

There are lots of issues to consider, such as how loud you want to listen, the size of your room, and what kind of music you listen to.

What else do you want in your "sound system"? Do you want to listen to CDs & the radio? Movie audio?

Speakers will make the biggest difference... No two speakers sound alike. Surround sound can also make a big difference. If you are going to use the system for movies (home theater) you will appreciate the surround sound experience. Even if you're listening to stereo music, you may enjoy the surround-sound effects. (Some people prefer the pure-original stereo. I like the "soundfield" effects.)

What kind of amp do you have? I assume you have a power amplifier? A power amplifier only has one (stereo) input and perhaps a level control. An integrated amplifier (a preamp integrated with a power amp) has multiple inputs and tone controls, etc.

If you have a power amp, you can get a separate preamp and optional tuner, or you can set aside the amp and get a reciever, which contains a tuner, preamp, and power amp. A receiver is normally the most cost-effective solution. (You could also use the separate amp to drive a passive subwoofer.)

In any case, you'll probably need a separate phono preamp, since most modern preamps & recievers are not designed to accommodate a turntable. (Some turntables have a built-in preamp, but most don't.)

QUOTE
I read the FAQ but didn't help me to decide on the brand of cartridges or other information on buying a stylus or cartridge set.
As a "cartridge benchmark", the Shure M97xE (Shure's best) is less than $100 USD. Shure has always made good cartridges, so I don't see any reason to spend more than that. In the old vinyl days, I was a fan of Grado cartridges, and any Grado is probably "good enough". If possible, you should find a store where you can listen to various cartridges. You won't hear as much difference as with speakers, but you probably will hear some frequency response differences.

QUOTE
I need a new turntable...

...Any help for a vinyl newb like myself would be appreciated.
Why are you getting into vinyl? What are you looking for? What are your expectations? Do you want to be a DJ and "scratch"?... Do you have some old records that you want to play or digitize? Do you think that vinyl "sounds better", or has someone told you that vinyl sounds better than digital?

Personally, I hate the "snap", "crackle", and "pop" with vinyl... The only time I use a turntable is to digitize old records that are not available on CD. In the old days I was more picky about analog sound and I was always trying to improve my system... Now, my attitude is, "It's only analog, and it's never going to sound as good as digital."

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Mar 19 2010, 01:46
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Apesbrain
post Mar 19 2010, 02:18
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For turntables and cartridges, a good place to start is here. You can learn about your options and see prices for a wide range of solutions. I hadn't looked in a while and I was surprised that there are a few reasonable solutions under $200. If you are going to be recording vinyl to digital, you may want to consider a turntable that has built-in USB. Granted, these are not typically going to be of the same quality as a traditional turntable but those are going to be twice the price at a minimum.

I'd agree with DVDdoug that Shure and Grado are trusted cartridge brands. So are Audio-Technica and Ortofon.
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Light-Fire
post Mar 19 2010, 04:08
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You could buy one of those USB turntables, than convert your LPs to lossless digital files. After encoding all your LPs you can sell the turn table, recovering some of the money (assuming you can't borrow one for that purpose.)
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cliveb
post Mar 19 2010, 10:47
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QUOTE (Light-Fire @ Mar 19 2010, 03:08) *
You could buy one of those USB turntables, than convert your LPs to lossless digital files. After encoding all your LPs you can sell the turn table, recovering some of the money (assuming you can't borrow one for that purpose.)

If the OP is serious about getting decent sound quality out of his LPs, then the last thing to do is buy a USB turntable. As a general rule USB turntables are cheap & nasty affairs. See other threads in this forum for more extensive discussions of their shortcomings.

My advice would be to try and score a secondhand good quality turntable, from the likes of Dual, Rega, Thorens, Project, Linn, Technics. You'll get far more for your money than buying new, although you might want to factor in the cost of having it given the once-over by a vinyl specialist HiFi dealer to make sure it's correctly set up.

You could also consider one of the old "battleship" Japanese direct drives from the 1970's. They were not very fashionable back then, but there was not really much wrong with them and they will probably last a lifetime. Look for brands such as Pioneer, Denon, JVC, Sansui, and of course Technics.

Whatever turntable you get, if it's secondhand you'll probably want to replace the cartridge. Don't buy a secondhand cartrdge. Reputable brands of cartridge are Shure, Ortofon, Audio-Technica, Grado, Sumiko, Goldring, Rega, and no doubt a bunch of others I've missed.
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d_headshot
post Mar 20 2010, 22:22
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@DVDdoug

I'll see if I can number your bold questions so I can avoid quoting a whole post wink.gif

1. Just music CDs and vinyl records

2. I have to dig up the amp since I'm not sure if it's a power or integrated.

3. I'd like to get into vinyl because from my personal experiences listening to someone else's set up, to me it sounds more "real" compared to CDs and because I listen to alot of metal, the guitars are usually more powerful sounding and the drums have more punch and character. I like that CDs don't have the artifacts found in vinyl records, but I'd like to start listening to a warmer sounding medium. I don't mind the pops and crackles because to me it adds to the experience and I don't notice them when the music is playing. Only at the beginning of the record.

Also since I listen to non-remastered CDs, I don't think the differences are too huge to make any "switches." I listen to all my original digital audio for portability and would still like to listen to the digital audio I do have that I don't own on vinyl through the same speakers.



@Light-Fire

In my opinion, Lossless digital files of vinyl tracks sound almost the same as original CD tracks except the fact that there unwanted artifacts in the vinyl rips. A USB turntable would just be a waste when I could get a quality turntable that was meant for analog playback.


I'd like to thank everyone in the thread for their advice and I will do some more research and report back to this thread with more questions later on.

This post has been edited by d_headshot: Mar 20 2010, 22:25
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Light-Fire
post Mar 20 2010, 22:44
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QUOTE (d_headshot @ Mar 20 2010, 16:22) *
...In my opinion, Lossless digital files of vinyl tracks sound almost the same as original CD tracks except the fact that there unwanted artifacts in the vinyl rips. A USB turntable would just be a waste when I could get a quality turntable that was meant for analog playback.


I'd like to thank everyone in the thread for their advice and I will do some more research and report back to this thread with more questions later on.


Before you go ahead and spend your money please consider this:

A USB turntable is not necessarily of bad quality. However, if you can't find a good one you can still transfer your files through a conventional one, connecting it to a phone preamp (if necessary) and then to your sound card stereo input and using software such as audacity.

The are no artifacts on Lossless formats. However there are imperfections in the vinyl (whatever you rip them or just listen to it)

CDs usually sound better than vinyl (all other things being equal) because they have no clicks and pops.

If a vinyl that you like have a different master than the one used in the equivalent CD the rips (of the vinyl) will sound like the vinyl and not like the CD.

DIgitizing your collection will enable you to save it from further degradation due to time (however you have to properly keep backups).

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Fedot L
post Mar 21 2010, 11:12
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A good, even very reasonably priced, hardware graphic equalizer: at least 10-band (“octave”) or more bands; the “lowest” (usually the left) slider at not higher than 31 Hz; +/- 12 dB range. To connect “Line in” of the equalizer to the “Tape out (Rec)” of your integrated amplifier or preamplifier, and “Line out” of the equalizer to the “Tape in (Play)” terminals of your integrated amplifier or preamplifier.

This would give you a possibility to compensate, if you wish, to a certain degree, the “roll-off” of extreme bass in the system, typical for the absolute majority of loudspeaker systems on the market (usually below 70-50 Hz down to 35-30 Hz), to attenuate, to a certain degree, probable “boosts” or “dips” in your room’s acoustics, and to control the spectrum of any program in other frequency bands, for to correct various spectrum defects due to properties of different media or “eras” of recording, and simply spectrum disbalances in different releases, to your taste.

The only precaution with equalizers is not to exaggerate extreme frequencies, for to prevent hearing or speakers damage, but only to compensate a lack, or to attenuate an excess, of some sound spectrum segment, to your impression.
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DVDdoug
post Mar 22 2010, 19:15
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QUOTE
3. I'd like to get into vinyl because from my personal experiences listening to someone else's set up...
You might want to get some help & advice from your friend. If you want a system that sounds similar to your friend's system, you should look for similar speakers and a similar phono cartridge.

QUOTE
...to me it sounds more "real" compared to CDs and because I listen to alot of metal, the guitars are usually more powerful sounding and the drums have more punch and character. I like that CDs don't have the artifacts found in vinyl records, but I'd like to start listening to a warmer sounding medium.
I wouldn't count on vinyl always sounding "warmer" or "better". The goal of high fidelity it to accurately reproduce the recording. so on a "perfect" system, the vinyl and CD should sound identical (assuming they are mastered identically).

If the record sounds warmer, it could be that the record was mastered differently, or the cartridge may have frequency response variations.

I agree with Fedot L, that an equalizer (or simple bass/treble controls) might help. Mid-bass boost is often described as "warmth", and this might improve the sound of your CDs.



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d_headshot
post Mar 23 2010, 03:34
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Just to clarify and apologize:

What I really meant when I said artifacts were actually the pops and clicks that are present in vinyl. I've observed that "artifacts" is a term mostly used in digital discussions on this forum so I'll be careful not to confuse the term in vinyl discussion.

Also the reason why I'd prefer not to digitize my vinyl collection is because of the pops. I'm just weird that I like them in vinyl playback but I can't stand them when listening to a digital audio file. I feel that I just like listening to a recording on vinyl regardless of "sound quality."

I'd rather spend most of my budget on a good sound system and amplifier I guess the turntable could come second if I find one at a reasonable price.

What I'm going to do is print out your suggestions and see I can go to a local electronics shop that specializes in audio and get some more opinions. Right now seems like an awkward time due to other un-related problems so I apologize if I sound mixed up or wrong.
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Glenn Gundlach
post Mar 23 2010, 06:02
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QUOTE (d_headshot @ Mar 22 2010, 18:34) *
Just to clarify and apologize:

What I really meant when I said artifacts were actually the pops and clicks that are present in vinyl. I've observed that "artifacts" is a term mostly used in digital discussions on this forum so I'll be careful not to confuse the term in vinyl discussion.

Also the reason why I'd prefer not to digitize my vinyl collection is because of the pops. I'm just weird that I like them in vinyl playback but I can't stand them when listening to a digital audio file. I feel that I just like listening to a recording on vinyl regardless of "sound quality."

I'd rather spend most of my budget on a good sound system and amplifier I guess the turntable could come second if I find one at a reasonable price.

What I'm going to do is print out your suggestions and see I can go to a local electronics shop that specializes in audio and get some more opinions. Right now seems like an awkward time due to other un-related problems so I apologize if I sound mixed up or wrong.


Did I get that right? You're OK with ticks and pops in real time but if they're 'recorded', they're not OK? IMO they're never OK and I remember fooling around with the Watts disc preener and dust bug, Discwasher, Zerostat. I do NOT miss those days. My first digital recorder was September 1982 with a Technics SVP-100 ($2500) 14 bit EIAJ VHS recorder. It was the first time I ever could NOT tell the playback vs just listening to the mics. The next spring I got my first CD player for only $750. Those 27 year old discs still play fine BTW.

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usernaim
post Mar 24 2010, 02:50
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a) don't downplay the ability of 16/44 digital to capture vinyl. I have a turntable/power supply/cartridge/phono stage that retails for about $9k and a cheap consumer Sony cd-recorder and I would not bet on my ability to pick the direct from recorded playback in a blind situation.

b) the most important decision you have to make is whether to seek a turntable with or without a suspension, which will depend on where it will sit. Unsuspended turntables (even very heavy ones like mine) are susceptible to acoustic and structure-borne feedback which will color the sound, increasing the bass but making it muddy. (Many do like this effect and think of it as part of the vinyl sound). If you will put the turntable away from the speakers, then an unsuspended table like a Rega, Project, or Music Hall, or a partially suspended table will be ok. Otherwise, look for a used model with a spring suspension from Thorens, AR, Systemdek, Linn, SOTA, VPI, Sonographe, Logic, Ariston, etc.

c) cartridges make a great deal of difference--wide variations in frequency response, in tracking ability, in distortion, in compatibility with tonearms. If you like warm, Grado is good. Their tracking is not stellar. Shure has great tracking and flat frequency response, but relatively high moving mass and good but not great stylii. An Audio Technica AT 440MLa is the lowest priced cartridge you can get that has a micro-ridge-type stylus, which has less distortion particularly in the inner grooves and is less sensitive to scratches--but it has a bright balance that doesn't accord with what many think of as the vinyl sound. I am not a fan of lower priced Ortofon's which struggle with inner groove distortion in my experience. Add it all up and you will have to listen for yourself just as you would for speakers.
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cliveb
post Mar 24 2010, 11:16
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QUOTE (usernaim @ Mar 24 2010, 01:50) *
b) the most important decision you have to make is whether to seek a turntable with or without a suspension, which will depend on where it will sit. Unsuspended turntables (even very heavy ones like mine) are susceptible to acoustic and structure-borne feedback which will color the sound, increasing the bass but making it muddy. (Many do like this effect and think of it as part of the vinyl sound). If you will put the turntable away from the speakers, then an unsuspended table like a Rega, Project, or Music Hall, or a partially suspended table will be ok. Otherwise, look for a used model with a spring suspension from Thorens, AR, Systemdek, Linn, SOTA, VPI, Sonographe, Logic, Ariston, etc.

Even turntables with a suspended subchassis are susceptible to feedback. (I run a Linn LP12 and have observed this effect). Less so than unsuspended turntables, but it's still a factor.

Getting the suspension right on a deck like a Thorens/Linn/Ariston/etc is the trickiest part of turntable setup - much harder than aligning the cartridge correctly. Unless the OP is prepared to expend a lot of effort and/or expense in getting the turntable properly set up, I think it's probably easier to go for an unsuspended model.
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Speedskater
post Mar 24 2010, 15:00
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One thing that we can do now is record the vinyl to digital using headphones. That should remove most of the vibration problems. It also means that you only need to do the vinyl prep. procedures once and under good conditions.


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