Found! What was missing all these years.

  • 16 November 2018
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VINYL!
I absently fumbled into a local weekend record market and walked out with 10 vinyl albums! Nothing to play them on though! So jumped online and soon a brand new Pro Ject turntable arrived. Hooked it into the Play 5s and oh my freaking aunt! I’m back in love with music! Words cannot describe the sound. I have two Play 5s paired and they have absolutely come alive, and then when I play it through the Arcam and Dynaudios and crank them up, they just sing like I’ve never heard!

I usually listen to digital flac files that I rip myself from cds using EAC, or recently have bought and downloaded some flac albums through HD tracks etc. but the vinyl is just in incredibly awesome. I would urge anyone to have a listen before you start dissing vinyl.

Some of the albums I bought - all second hand and most play like new:
Nick Cave: My Trial (12” double album at 45rpm) WOW!
Nina Simone: It is Finished (omg - it’s like she’s singing in my lounge room!)
JJ Cale: Troubadour
Chick Corea: Return to Forever SIMPLY AMAZING
John Lee Hooker: On Campus. Legend and sounds so much more authentic on vinyl.

While I’ll still mostly listen to my digital library, I’ll be building a new vinyl library now, but man it’s going to be worth it!

Did I mention I love my SONOS system?

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If you have the hardware, "rip" an LP to FLAC then compare playing that file with the CD rip copy or an actual CD of the same session. If you can find an early CD of the same session, compare this with a recent issue. It is also very interesting if you can find Mobile Fidelity LP and CD releases of a session, then compare these to generic LP's and CD's. Some of the differences are so dramatic that you'll spend considerable time simply convincing yourself that these releases actually originated at the same recording session.

Why do these various releases sound so different? Modern music marketing uses "processing" to make their product sound a little better to listeners using portable players (usually with earbuds) in noisy environments. While this processing is helpful in the target environment, it is not welcome in quiet rooms listening on good equipment. Older LP's and CD's did not use this aggressive processing.

By the way, which cartridge are you using on your turntable?
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Listening to vinyl is the best thing you can do for your music collection. Welcome to the family.
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If you have the hardware, "rip" an LP to FLAC then compare playing that file with the CD rip copy or an actual CD of the same session. If you can find an early CD of the same session, compare this with a recent issue. It is also very interesting if you can find Mobile Fidelity LP and CD releases of a session, then compare these to generic LP's and CD's. Some of the differences are so dramatic that you'll spend considerable time simply convincing yourself that these releases actually originated at the same recording session. By the way, which cartridge are you using on your turntable?
Thanks Buzz, when I read your post I remembered I had a CD from a friend of my fathers that had a massive vinyl collection (he was a sound engineer at one of the Sydney TV stations). When he retired some 20 years ago he started ripping them to CD using some Yamaha system. He gave my father a CD of an old Carmen McCray album that was a live concert. I just dug it out, ripped it to flac uploaded it to my NAS and listened. And you're bang on! It does sound amazing too. Nothing like a modern CD and much more like listening to vinyl. I'm off now to all the second hand record shops to start building a collection.

Cartridge is what the turntable came with, which I believe is an Ortofon OM 55 or 5E (can't quite make it out).

Thanks also for the welcome Misfit. Happy to be in the family 😃
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If I could make a recommendation.

Pick up Television's Marquee Moon... it's incredible.
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Thanks Misfit, always keen for recommendations 🙂
.

Cartridge is what the turntable came with, which I believe is an Ortofon OM 55 or 5E (can't quite make it out).



It's an OM 5E. This is an entry level cartridge. There are step-up options and it turns out that mounting details are critical. Unfortunately, very little is printed about proper mounting.
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It's an OM 5E. This is an entry level cartridge. There are step-up options and it turns out that mounting details are critical. Unfortunately, very little is printed about proper mounting.
Not quite sure what mounting options are Buzz. Do you mean the turntable or the actual cartridge? Although not sure how a cartridge could be setup different though?

Just did some checking and seems that for this turntable I need to change the cartridge to a 2M Red or preferably, a 2MBlue to get the most out of this turntable. I somehow knew there would upgrades to come 😉
Cartridge setup is a very critical detail that virtually everyone ignores. Essentially, one wants the playback stylus to follow exactly the same path as the disc "cutter". Visualize the cutter moving in a plane that is always parallel to a record radius. One would like to duplicate that plane during playback. Unfortunately, the playback arm is pivoted and the playback plane can be exactly parallel to the cutter plane at only two points. The "best" compromise alignment for the playback stylus is not something that is often discussed. There was an early paper in 1926, the seminal paper was published in 1941, but this paper is useful only to turntable designers and is filled with advanced math. A 1946 paper was very understandable, but due to the lack of electronic computers and calculators in the era, the author used a math approximation that (in my opinion) was not justified. There were a couple papers published in the 1950's and not much else. This is a useful tool.

If you use the tool, and I recommend using such a tool (my tool is drawn on heavy paper because no commercial tool was available back then), don't be surprised if the resulting cartridge alignment seems to be at an odd angle. When turntables were the only game in town, we did a survey of turntable published specs. We rummaged through hundreds of specs and found only two manufacturers that got it right.

Unfortunately, this tool is not the whole story. If you start with the top surface of the cartridge parallel to the record surface, viewing from the side you'll notice that the stylus axis leans forward. The ideal angle is in the 15-20° range. I say "range" because there is debate about exactly what angle is optimal, and the angle actually varies during cutting because the cutter is hot and moving at various speeds because of the music dynamics. If you want to be very fussy, you'll find that shimming the front or rear of the cartridge can make a magical difference in the sound of a given record, but not be optimal for the next. Some turntables allow easy adjustment of the arm parallelism with the record. While one would like the arm to be parallel to the record in order to minimize the consequences of record warps, it is more important to get the stylus angle correct. Some turntables have a calibrated height adjustment. Very fussy users will find the correct angle for a given record, then tag the record with a number corresponding to the arm height setting. The arm is then adjusted for each record.

Also, make sure that the stylus is exactly perpendicular to the record when viewed from the front of the cartridge.

Finally, and very aggravating, you'l find that after replacing a worn stylus the shims will need to be adjusted.

How long will a stylus last? This depends on the listener. 1000 playing hours is the usual estimate, but some users will begin to be annoyed by increasing distortion after a few hundred hours. Extreme hours will result in unnecessary record wear..

Tracking force? Operate near the upper figure recommended by the cartridge manufacturer. Tracking too light will result in the stylus losing contact with the groove, causing high distortion and instant record damage as the flying stylus crashes back onto the surface. Tracking too heavy will result in unnecessary stylus wear and slow erosion of the record surface. It is best to be too heavy.

Keep your records clean. Playing over a dust fragment will cause scarring of the record surface in addition to the very audible "pop".

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Whew, this is a lot of stuff. This is why I prefer digital media. One plan would be to setup for the best possible reproduction of a given LP, then rip it. I'll not get into a debate with digital detractors at this time. Yes, there are some fine points to the digital process, but in modern times these points are not very significant compared to the gross geometric issues associated with LP's. (As you have already discovered, the digital detractors don't always get it right.)

Oh, I didn't mention that the hole in an LP is rarely exactly in the center and a record is rarely absolutely flat -- causing cyclic pitch variations that drive me crazy. Unfortunately, these pitch changes are captured by the rip. Theoretically, it would be possible to deal with these pitch changes by processing in the digital domain. There was a Nakamichi turntable that would custom center each LP before playing.

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Ha! Pandora's box is now open. I'm sorry if I have introduced you to the never ending quest for the "best" sound.
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Hooly dooly Buzz, I think I'm sorry I asked 😳
Very informative though, and can now much better appreciate the issues with the physicality of records v. pure digital. I did go and order the 2M Blue, and bought some of my favourite albums that I could get on record (I've been told to stop using the term 'vinyl') and started the whole digital / record comparison. Given that most of my digital library is either my own CD rips or flac version downloads (as opposed to mp3), I was interested to set up some blind tests. Waste of time really as I could always at some point always hear a click that gave away the record, but some just sounded so much better on record, while others I couldn't really tell the difference. Albums like my favourite Chet Baker and Bill Evans, Nick Drake (Five Leaves Left) and Nina Simone album just sounded better on record. I wish I could express it better, but I don't have the technical knowledge or vocabulary to do it. It's just a different sound that for some reason I really notice and enjoy and prefer. Others like JJ Cale, Black Keys didn't sound any different to me. While I'm not about to re-purchase my entire music library on record, I will be thinking twice about whether I buy a digital version or buy the record of the latest and greatest, with ripping the record to digital in mind.

Thanks so much for explanation, much appreciate you taking the time to write it up Buzz. Just not sure if I can do even half of it when the new cartridge arrives 😃
In the end, goodness of sound is always in the ear of the listener.
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Absolutely
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Just an update for the record lovers. After listening for a week on the ProJect, I grew to realise there was something not quite right. Hence buying the 2M Blue. However, I could not install this on the little ProJect, so I went and grabbed a new Rega P2 (got it for a good price) and fitted the new Ortofon to that. Well, words can't describe the difference. I did a comparison with the Carbon cartridge that came with the Rega, but the 2M Blue was an obvious improvement. This combination is light years from the little ProJect, sure it cost me a LOT more $$$, but how can you put a price on music? Of course the bottle neck now is, you guessed it- the Play 5's. Although, in fairness, for what I want, for the convenience and reliability of SONOS and the conditions that I live in, there's not much out there that beats them. So I'm now (for the mean time anyway), over the moon with the sound and loving the return to the dynamics of a vinyl recording.
You have barely cracked Pandora's box open. For low end systems investing a little more money has large benefits. For higher end systems investing a lot of additional money has smaller benefits.

If you update the speakers and amplifiers to very high end kit, the Rega/Blue will become the limiting factor.

There is no end to this.

Plus, regular living spaces are rarely conducive to good sound. One should get into acoustic treatment.

Again, it's all in the ear of the listener. When you decide that the system sounds "good enough", it does sound good enough, stop fretting, and ignore the rest of us.
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Not fretting Buzz, just excited. The new setup sounds great and I'll be stopping at this (unless I move back into a house). Mind you I was considering one of these turntables:


At only $199,000 it's got to be the steal of the century! Although I can't quite make out where the actual record goes???