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Samples from USB Turntables: Preparation, How do you want your clips?
Knowzy
post Feb 3 2009, 03:01
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As promised, I'm getting ready to produce some samples from USB turntables. Before I put needle to vinyl, I want to get some consensus on the proposed methods and samples. I also want to hear any additional advice you have to offer in terms of producing professional, consistent samples.

I ordered three USB turntables: The Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB, the Ion Audio TTUSB05 and the Crosley CR249. I also ordered some brand new albums to sample on 180 gram, virgin vinyl where available.

With your help, we can capture and analyze the best clips these low-end turntables can produce.



The Samples:



Steely Dan - Peg
From 30th Anniversary remaster of Aja. 180 gram virgin vinyl. Note: Using new song.

Play CD Sample (FLAC)



Pros:
  • Widely considered the best recorded pop album of the 70's (though I don't expect to find unanimous agreement on this at HA!)
  • Instruments sound clear and distinct from each other.
Cons:
  • Couldn't find a CD to match the 30th anniversary vinyl pressing. "Gold" remaster might be closer but is out of print and runs about $200 used.




Pink Floyd - On the Run
Dark Side of the Moon. CD: 20th Anniversary. LP: 30th Anniversary 180 gram virgin vinyl. See "Cons" below.

Play CD Sample (FLAC)



Pros:
  • L/R panning of several sounds could make a good test of channel separation and stereo balance.
  • Relatable: Best selling album of all time until fairly recently.
Cons:
  • Minimal vocals.
  • I believe I hear distortion at points but it could be intentional.
  • I wish I could have ripped the SACD version!
  • Edit: Now using 20th Anniversary CD due to remastering problems on the CD layer 30th Anniversary hybrid SACD. Thanks Axon for pointing out the problem. Next time I will ask for advice on LP-CD master matching. smile.gif




Gorillaz - Dare
From Demon Days. 190 gram vinyl (weighed record personally).

Play CD Sample (FLAC)



Pros:
  • Fully digital master transferred to analog vinyl.
  • Low, intricate bass that may be difficult to reproduce on vinyl.
  • Light-to-moderate compression that's presumably not present on vinyl version.
Cons:
  • Nothing comes to mind. Please chime in if you have reasons why this is a poor sample to use.




The Black Eyed Peas - Dum Diddly
From Monkey Business. 140 gram vinyl (weighed record personally). Edit: Now using a different section of the track

Play CD Sample (FLAC)



Pros:
  • Another all digital master
  • Low, jaggedy (from a waveform standpoint) bass note that should be difficult to reproduce on vinyl (last second of clip)
  • Moderate compression
Cons:
  • This was my original choice for a digitally mastered recording. However, the LP weighs in at 140 grams. I worry that the inferior vinyl will shift the blame of poor reproduction from the turntable to the vinyl. If you think this would make a better sample than Dare and are not as concerned about the vinyl quality, please chime in. Edit: Now using both this clip and Dare.




Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon
From Fleetwood Mac. Scratched and Dusty Album.

Play CD Sample (FLAC)



Pros:
  • Abused, scratched and dusty LP.
Cons:
  • Nothing comes to mind. Please chime in if you have reasons why this is a poor sample to use.





The Process:


  • Brand new 180 gram, virgin vinyl for DSOM and Aja. 190 gram and 140 gram vinyl for Demon Days and Monkey Business respectively with no pledge of virginity.
  • Brand new turntables. The only playback prior to recording will be the level-setting.
  • Record from best turntable to worst, thereby keeping record wear minimal. The best-to-worst order looks like this:
    • Audio-Technica: "Dual Magnet" AT3600L MM cart, aluminum platter, lists specs
    • Ion Audio: MM cart, plastic platter, no specs
    • Crosley: Ceramic cart, plastic platter, no specs
  • Set levels in the same track but at different point from sample. Make best effort to match the amplitude of CD rip. In the case of compressed digital rips, analog recording should approach peak without clipping. Edit: Or don't set levels at all if USB turntable doesn't allow it.
  • Computer : Three year old, home built PC Pentium / Via MB. Only USB mouse, PS/2 keyboard, DVI out and 100-baseT will be connected during recording. Edit: Forgot to mention headphones.


Any other samples?


  • Useful to take a silent sample form the beginning and/or end of an album?
  • Silent sample of turntable without power connected to test for problems similar to this guy?


Two out of three turntables have already arrived. I'm expecting the Crosley today. Sample clips will follow soon after I gather feedback on the process and clips.

This should be fun!

This post has been edited by Knowzy: Apr 23 2009, 17:27
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Knowzy
post Feb 3 2009, 20:39
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QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
140g is fine.

In that case, I'll probably stick with the Black Eyed Peas clip. More compression and that challenging "jaggedy" waveform.

QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
You might want to try analog recording the SACD DSOTM, unless you can find an earlier CD master.

I own at least one and possibly two other versions of DSOTM. I'll report back with when I get home tonight. Thanks for pointing out the CD layer issues on the hybrid SACD, I had no idea.

QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
Recordings of each turntable both without any music playing (but with the motor running), and in a blank groove, are extremely useful.

Will do.

QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
Measure the tracking force of each cartridge with a scale accurate to 0.1g or so.

That was part of my plan all along. I picked up model 55 shown here.

QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
Noise rejection of cartridge - How well the stylus profile is able to track the groove in the presence of groove scratches/dust/etc.

I have a few LPs in bad shape. I can sample those once I'm done with the brand new albums.


QUOTE (Axon @ Feb 2 2009, 18:24) *
I have an old pressing of Aja and the original US and 30th anniv pressings of DSOTM recorded with my 440ML, but alas I just broke the tip on my OC9, so I might be of marginal help with comparing against a higher end system. However, I do have a Stanton 500 at my disposal.... biggrin.gif

I would love to compare the low-end turntable samples to something much better. If you're willing, please bring 'em on!


QUOTE (botface @ Feb 3 2009, 01:03) *
I'm not familiar with any of these turntables so i'm not sure what adjustment they may/may not have.

Chart #3, Turntable Construction shows each USB turntable's adjustments. In the case of these three, none have anti-skate adjustment, nor an adjustable counterbalance. None of the cartridges are user-replaceable.

So, I don't think there's anything thing to adjust here. When I get my hands on a Debut or a DJ USB turntable, we'll talk!

QUOTE (botface @ Feb 3 2009, 01:03) *
Using a test signal may be better than comparison with CD...

I'm happy to get some test record samples, though I need help in picking a good one and some good samples from it.

"The Ultimate Analogue Test LP" looks like a winner with tracks like "Wow and Flutter Test Signal" and "Anti-Skating Test." I also found several others at Needle Doctor.

My main concern is how many plays I can get out of these before having to buy a new one at $40 to $50 a piece. I expect the Crosley to track around 6 grams and who knows how badly the anti-skate is preset.

At what point should I expect record wear become problematic for objective sampling?

Thanks for your feedback so far. I can't wait to crack these boxes open and get started. But I want to get all my ducks in a line first.
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botface
post Feb 4 2009, 09:42
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QUOTE (Knowzy @ Feb 3 2009, 20:39) *
My main concern is how many plays I can get out of these before having to buy a new one at $40 to $50 a piece. I expect the Crosley to track around 6 grams and who knows how badly the anti-skate is preset.

At what point should I expect record wear become problematic for objective sampling?

Mistracking will do more damage than tracking weight per se. In other words if a cartridge is tracking perfectly it won't do much harm even if the tracking weight is quite high. A cartridge that is mistracking will do damage even if it is tracking at a much lower weight. So, if you start out with the least challenging test and only go on the the next test if if a that test is passed you shouldn't have any problems with wear (I'm still using HFS75, which as the number suggests, was manufactured in 1975). I would be very surprised if any of the decks you're testing come anywhere near the +18dB test or the +16dB one. It'll be interesting to find out though.

Re the wow & flutter test track, I think you may need specialist equipment to produce a result
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Axon
post Feb 4 2009, 10:06
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QUOTE (botface @ Feb 4 2009, 02:42) *
So, if you start out with the least challenging test and only go on the the next test if if a that test is passed you shouldn't have any problems with wear (I'm still using HFS75, which as the number suggests, was manufactured in 1975). I would be very surprised if any of the decks you're testing come anywhere near the +18dB test or the +16dB one. It'll be interesting to find out though.
BTW, if anybody is interested, there is a f*ck ton of test records on eBay now. STR101 for $2!

QUOTE
Re the wow & flutter test track, I think you may need specialist equipment to produce a result
Actually I wrote a demodulation app in LabVIEW that I've been raring to play around with. If Knowzy posts the FLACs I will try to post some numbers within some reasonable length of time (but I can't commit to a firm deadline).
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