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Low quality of my cartridge+preamp—can you suggest others? ≤€500
dumdidum
post Feb 15 2012, 00:58
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I currently digitize vinyl working with a technics 1210, an audio-technica at-95e, and the preamps built into my native instruments traktor kontrol s4. presumably, few people here will know what an s4 is. for purposes of this thread, it should be sufficient to note that the s4 is a midi controller (roughly speaking--actually, it uses a different protocol) which includes a 4-in, 4-out audio interface with 2 phono preamps that's geared towards DJs. the audio interface in the s4 might be comparable to standalone 4-in, 4-out USB 2.0 audio interface with 2 phono preamps in the $200 range (again, it would be an audio interface geared towards DJs so it would come with very low-latency asio drivers).

i am unsatisfied with the results i'm currently getting. i record with audacity at default settings (32-bit floating point, 44.1kHz). the gain in windows' volume mixer for the channel to which the 1210 is connected to is at 100%. the peak levels i'm getting during recording are at about -12dB to -15dB. (there's no way in audacity to further boost the volume during recording.) i don't perceive the audio quality as good at all despite the fact that i'm digitizing records in mint condition. (i'm trying to digitize vinyl-only releases so buying digital is not an option. unfortunately, in the genres i listen to--certain areas of house and techno--, vinyl-only release are relatively common.) on some recordings, the kick drum sounds muffled. on most recordings, i feel noise levels are excessive.

now, i certainly don't think the preamps in my audio interface are any good. the at-95e cartridge which i recently bought for EUR 20 is entry-level, too. does anyone have suggestions as to what preamp and cartridge to buy? as for my budget: EUR 500 (~$650) is my absolute max. ideally, i'd like to spend less. so i'd be happier if i can get something reasonable for, say, EUR 300 or so.

This post has been edited by dumdidum: Feb 15 2012, 01:01
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Feb 15 2012, 13:02
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I had a similar chain as yourself.

Technics 1210, AT 440MLa, Audacity. I'm not familiar with the NI S4. I have a MOTU Ultralite which is a 10 in/14 out interface with 2 mic preamps but no phono stage.

To rip vinyl I bought a Cambridge Audio 640P and connected that between the deck and a line in pair on the interface. The 640P is about the least expensive stand alone phono pre-amp (~$100) with a moving coil and moving magnet input (I also have a Denon DL-103). I don't recommend it for MC as it's a bit noisy. You can get the 540P, which is MM only, even cheaper and it works fine so long as you don't need massive amounts of gain. NAD among others have alternatives at the same price point.

The CA units don't have an independent gain but I could add some at the interface if I wished. I'd be surprised if you couldn't do this on the NI interface also. Although I suspect you this might be done on an already digitised signal and you wish to have the analogue signal peaking close to max to get the max bit depth. This isn't really necessary imo and as a previous correspondent has already pointed out it is standard practice to record at between -10 and -20 to be on the safe side. You can use normalise or amplify in Audacity as a final 'mastering' stage anyway.

If you insist on sticking to your original proposed requirements then you need to keep on looking for a cartridge with a higher output and/or a phono preamp with it's own analogue gain. With the former quality might be suspect and with the latter cost starts to become prohibitive. I don't think you'd gain much advantage in real world audio quality either.

After a bit of practice I have found that after ripping vinyl using this method neither myself nor my friends can reliably identify which is the original vinyl and which is the ripped copy in properly controlled tests. ymmv.

The problem I do have is that my rips rarely if ever sound as subjectively loud as the same tune in MP3 or WAV downloaded from the likes of Beatport or Juno. This is after normalising the rip to 0dB as well. What I suspect is the case here is that it is possible to compress the arse off a digital version compared to vinyl and that's what happens. Although I remain open to other suggestions?
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dumdidum
post Feb 15 2012, 13:55
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Feb 15 2012, 13:02) *
To rip vinyl I bought a Cambridge Audio 640P and connected that between the deck and a line in pair on the interface. The 640P is about the least expensive stand alone phono pre-amp (~$100) with a moving coil and moving magnet input (I also have a Denon DL-103). I don't recommend it for MC as it's a bit noisy. You can get the 540P, which is MM only, even cheaper and it works fine so long as you don't need massive amounts of gain. NAD among others have alternatives at the same price point.

thanks! again, i am a bit lost whether there will be noticeable differences (=audible according to the standards of HA) between phono stages in this price range. some of the audiophile sites also recommend the NAD PP2i and the Pro-Ject Phono Box II. Others swear that you need a Lehman Black Cube.

QUOTE
The problem I do have is that my rips rarely if ever sound as subjectively loud as the same tune in MP3 or WAV downloaded from the likes of Beatport or Juno. This is after normalising the rip to 0dB as well. What I suspect is the case here is that it is possible to compress the arse off a digital version compared to vinyl and that's what happens.

i have heard this as well, and i believe this considerations relevant to this topic are covered on HA's wiki.
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Posts in this topic
- dumdidum   Low quality of my cartridge+preamp—can you suggest others? ≤€500   Feb 15 2012, 00:58
- - DVDdoug   I can't recommend a preamp. But for cartridge...   Feb 15 2012, 02:48
- - zaentzpantz   I used to have the Audio Technica cartridge, and i...   Feb 15 2012, 11:21
- - RonaldDumsfeld   I had a similar chain as yourself. Technics 1210,...   Feb 15 2012, 13:02
|- - dumdidum   QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Feb 15 2012, 13:0...   Feb 15 2012, 13:55
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Feb 15 2012, 07:55) QUO...   Feb 15 2012, 14:36
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Feb 15 2012, 02:48) for ...   Feb 15 2012, 13:48
- - 2Bdecided   I'd have no problem digitising the kind of mus...   Feb 15 2012, 15:54
- - RonaldDumsfeld   I did also consider that maybe the loudest parts o...   Feb 15 2012, 16:21
- - derty2   Comments by a friend of mine who is quite good at ...   Feb 15 2012, 16:44
- - dumdidum   Arnold B. Krueger, derty2: This is good stuff, yo...   Feb 15 2012, 18:31
- - Gretschguy   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Feb 15 2012, 00:58) i a...   Feb 15 2012, 20:52
- - RonaldDumsfeld   QUOTE If you are recording at a peak of -12dB then...   Feb 15 2012, 22:02
|- - DonP   QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Feb 15 2012, 17:0...   Mar 5 2012, 21:52
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE Dumdidum, I would suggest not normalizing to...   Feb 15 2012, 22:27
- - kraut   QUOTE I would recommend the Denon turntable and DL...   Feb 17 2012, 14:58
- - pdq   The problem with software equalization is that it ...   Feb 17 2012, 15:27
- - dumdidum   ok, it took me awhile, but i have prepared samples...   Mar 4 2012, 16:19
- - db1989   The point of an ABX test is not to compare two pro...   Mar 4 2012, 22:19
- - 2Bdecided   I'm amazed that two supposedly working RIAA pr...   Mar 7 2012, 12:08
|- - cliveb   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 7 2012, 11:08) May...   Mar 7 2012, 19:35
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 7 2012, 12:08) I...   Mar 7 2012, 13:09
|- - db1989   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Mar 7 2012, 12:09) I...   Mar 8 2012, 15:01
- - pdq   If you think that one channel of the preamp has a ...   Mar 7 2012, 20:23
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (pdq @ Mar 7 2012, 20:23) If you th...   Mar 8 2012, 14:49
- - pdq   QUOTE (dumdidum @ Mar 8 2012, 08:49) QUOT...   Mar 8 2012, 16:09
- - dumdidum   QUOTE (pdq @ Mar 8 2012, 16:09) QUOTE (du...   Mar 8 2012, 17:05


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