Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable + Led Zeppelin re-releases = rekindling my love for music

Discussion in 'Music' started by Carlo Medina, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Just found this thread and loving it. I bought a Rega RP1 with an arm upgrade a bit over a year ago and have been loving it.I've found so far that my worst vinyl sounds like my better or best CDs so I'm pretty pleased.

    I too picked up the Led Zep reissues. I had only heard a handful of Zep prior, and only via columbia house record club cassettes ha ha. The first drum kick in "Your Time Is Gonna Come" nearly knocked me out of my chair. So yeah, they're quite the revelation to my ears.

    Another one that struck me was the first album by The Stooges. I've owned it on cassette and two separate CD versions, and none of them sounded any good compared to the 180g vinyl Rhino put out. Also, if you're a Bob Dylan fan, the Mono boxset of his first 7 or so albums is a must. The stereo versions of the early solo folk albums always annoyed me since it put the vocals in one speaker and his guitar in the other. Now they blend properly and sound like you're in the room. The electric albums benefit too, Highway 61 Revisited never sounded better. The whooshing organ at the start of "Like a Rolling Stone", I'm gonna go listen to it tonight ha ha.
     
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  2. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    My turntable since the early 1990s has been an AR ES1 with Rega RB-300 tonearm. The new cartridge I recently installed, the Dynavector 10x5, is by far the best I've ever had. It set me back $450, which is nothing compared to the insane high-end ones. But what a beauty. The day I got it set up and started checking out various records is one I'll never forget. In all these years I'd never thrilled to it quite like this, and I've been advised to allow a good 100 hours of break-in before it "really" begins to sing.

    Until moving to an AVR several years ago I'd never used an outboard phono preamp, but sadly, my wonderful old stereo amp finally bit the dust and it was time to move into multi-channel sound anyway. The AVR is the Pioneer Elite (low-end Elite) VSX-21TXH and the L/R speakers are still my original Vandersteen 2c's. The phono preamp I bought for it is the Jolida JD9, and it, too, was a wonderful choice. I'm a happy boy.

    And what Russell G said: I've found so far that my worst vinyl sounds like my better or best CDs. Amen to that.
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

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    Thanks for the recommendation - I somehow never even thought about picking that up, but now that my record player is set up again, I'm gonna have to consider that (or throw it on a Christmas list or something). My brother owns the Bealtes mono box set (on CD), and I was blown away hearing those mixes after only having heard the stereo. I had a similar reaction to the recent Miles Davis In Mono box set (CD). Dylan, in mono, on vinyl -- well, I don't know if I can resist that!
     
  4. hanshotfirst1138

    hanshotfirst1138 Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm an avid Dylan fan, and on that subject, what is the difference between the versions of the Complete Album Collection, and when does the second come out. You need to take out a second mortgage to buy all of his stuff!PS Eagerly awaiting the new album later this month!
     
  5. Russell G

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    My understanding is the complete album collection is just that, every official release (skipping the Bootleg series) in remastered stereo on CD. I haven't heard since I didn't buy it ha ha. I don't think it includes any mono mixes.

    The Mono collection is the original mono mixes of his albums up until "John Wesley Hardin". After that album there were no Mono mixes, just the stereo ones since mono was abandoned by the industry. I bought it on CD boxset and loved it. I picked up the vinyl boxset on a deal and I think it sounds even better. Similar to the Beatles in this period, all thought and time was spent on the mono versions, with the stereo mix done as an after thought. So, while not as extreme with Dylan due to the music, there are some sonic differences. I prefer the Mono.

    And I hope they start putting out more vinyl sets to continue on where the Mono one left off. the Beatles are a bit of a rip, there should of been a Vinyl box called "The Original Mixes" instead of two separate mono and stereo ones.

    I haven't compared it to the stereo remasters since I never bought it, so I don't know if they corrected the annoying guitar in one speaker, voice in the other that drove me crazy on the early stereo CDs.
     
  6. hanshotfirst1138

    hanshotfirst1138 Stunt Coordinator

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    Looking through this thread, I'm genuinely curious, what's the mystique of the vinyl revival? Analog whore that I am, I'm certainly please about :D, but I'm curious, if it still has technical limitations, what's the continuing appeal?My cousins in their early teens were digging throught my parents' old 33 1/3 collection. I was immensely proud :D.
     
  7. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    I think it is the whole mechanical process. Unlike an iPod, there is more there.There are times I'll turn the music down and put my ear close to the needle. You can still hear it...along with the other mechanical goings on.
     
  8. mark brown

    mark brown Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the reminder. Time to play my new (first new record i have purchased in thirty years!) Gord's Gold. Sounds great.
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Long time, no update. Well we wouldn't be home theater enthusiasts, who were prone to tinkering and tweaking our gear. I just made a new upgrade to my Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable: the Pro-Ject acrylic platter to replace the standard steel platter with felt mat.

    Living in dry, dusty Los Angeles, static is a constant enemy of my vinyl listening experience. Despite buying mostly new records, and taking excellent care and cleaning them, the atmospheric conditions almost always resulted in the felt mat adhering to the underside of my records when flipping sides. Didn't take a rocket scientist to know that static was ever-present for me in my living and listening quarters.

    If you read the various reviews online, you'll see testimonials swearing about how this acrylic platter substitution "improved sound", "opened up the recordings", "increased playback quality/resolution" etc. Sounds very much like the snake oil sold in home theater behind line conditioners, $1000 cables and interconnects, etc. So naturally I went into it with a dubious eye. Amazon has an easy return policy if I wasn't satisfied, so that relieved the "need to justify a purchase by hearing something that isn't there" phenomenon.

    There are two things I can definitively say this platter does:
    1. Reduce static, in comparison with the steel/felt platter it replaced. Definitely less hiss/pop on playback. Not totally eliminated, but after about a half-dozen full record spins, I can say unequivocally that there is markedly less static on playback. And on two of the days I tested this out, we had Santa Ana conditions with humidity in the teens.
    2. Provide better isolation between the stylus/record and the table/plinth. I know this because as I've played records for many hours prior to swapping the platter, there was a hollow thunk sound when I closed the lid as I began playing a record, the sound of the lid hitting the plinth, transmitted through the platter/record to the needle to my amp. That sound is now much less "thunky" sounding, and lower in volume. So there is better isolation from that noise due to the acrylic platter.
    Am I prepared to say records are better, musical instrument separation is increased, soundstage is wider, bass is tighter, etc.? No. But I can tell you my records still sound awesome. And maybe it's just the decrease in static coupled with better mechanical resonance isolation, but they do sound better in some hard-to-substantiate way. As of now, after about five hours of listening, I don't plan on taking Amazon up on their return policy.

    Plus it just looks cooler on my turntable:
    [​IMG]
    (disclaimer: this isn't my actual table, as I haven't taken a pic yet, but it is a pic of my model with the platter)
     
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    Lord Dalek

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    My setup: Audio-Technica AT-LP120 direct drive, Shure M97x Moving Coil Cartridge, Turntable Toys Cork Mat (seriously, Cork>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Felt), Art DJPre II PreAmp, and a SpinClean MKII for cleaning (best investment you could possibly make if you mostly buy old records like me). Maybe not the greatest but it plays my vinyl of Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems like a champ.
     
  11. Edwin-S

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    Personally, I just think it is that "hipster" subculture nonsense of somehow rejecting mainstream consumerism by adopting old or out of favour clothing and/or technology. It's like young gamers who have suddenly rediscovered old 8-bit video games and extol their virtues as superior experiences to modern games in terms of difficulty or satisfaction. I expect, any day now, for these people to rediscover ringer washing machines, dial telephones and ice boxes.

    It's that cultural phenomenon of referring to an old travel trailer as a "tiny home", In audio terms that is 180 gram vinyl, 40 dollar price tags and "warm analog sound compared to the harshness of digital", even though, in reality, telling the difference is near to impossible, especially with higher rez sources such as SACD and DVD-A.

    It's mostly just a fad to be different from the supposed "mainstream pack", especially among younger people who never grew up with the annoying pops, hisses and skips of vinyl records.
     
  12. Lord Dalek

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    Yeah it really is kind of a load of bunk as vinyl records are just as vulnerable to bad masterings, poor quality recordings, and lousy playing surfaces as any other form of recorded media. But hipsters just love that "magic" sound that comes from having your bass rolled off to conform to the RIAA Curve. Not to say they're any worse than those dingbats at the Steve Hoffman Cult of Personality who only see music as a series of waveforms and not much else though, yeeeeeikes.
     
  13. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Wow, way to paint with an overly broad brush there.

    Let's try this in a civilized, orderly discussion that doesn't slap labels on people, or dismiss their subcultures as "nonsense" or a "fad".
    1. It's not just for hipsters. If you knew me in real life, you'd know I'm pretty far from one. I'm a music (and movie, and book) lover.
    2. There is no doubt that done properly, digital can sound as good, or even be superior to analog. High res digital audio files can be analog's equal or superior given the limits of human hearing. However most digital music files are not done properly. Most digital files, especially those on CD and MP3/4, are overcompressed versions that reduce dynamic range over the original final master, which is most often the one used for vinyl. Even some high-res audio files can fall victim to the same overcompression as their CD counterparts. So while I fully agree that the digital format is capable of equal or superior sound quality (no pops, ticks, hiss of analog vinyl playback), more often than not the dynamic range has been overcompressed on digital audio files so that the resulting playback is a worse musical experience than on vinyl. And while yes it is a case of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) and vinyl can have a bad master just like digital, just look at this site: http://dr.loudness-war.info/ and realize that the majority of vinyl have significantly better dynamic range than their digital counterpart.
    3. The appeal of album art and packaging. If it doesn't mean anything to you, that's fine, enjoy your digital audio files. But it means something to some people, and to belittle or disregard that is incorrect. Given much of today's music is made with digital in mind, it's less of a factor now. But how about those classic albums of the 60s and 70s with awesome packaging (Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti building windows, Zep III rotating wheel, Sgt. Peppers cut-outs, the White Album's full poster sized lyric and art sheet and 8"x10" photos of the Fab Four)? There simply is no digital counterpart to that. You want a 24/96 file from HDtracks.com, that's all you are going to get in most instances (some will include a PDF of the album cover art, and even fewer will have PDF'd versions of inserts, certainly the majority do not include one or both). A recent reissue on vinyl of Spoon's Gimme Fiction has a second full album of additional songs, and in the album foldout is a multi-page picture booklet consisting of photos from the time the album was recorded (just in the early 2000s) as well as a multitude of notes, comments and testimonials from the artists involved.
    And as an added bonus, which has nothing to do with any technical merits of either format: the romantic appeal. I recently had a date over and when I dropped the needle on an album she liked...well let's just say I've never had the same result afterwards when I pressed play on my iPhone/Mac/Spotify/etc. Cue Barry White.

    Oh and a second added bonus: I've made about a half-dozen new friends in the last year that I've stepped up my visits to Amoeba on Sunset, based on love of music and the intermingling that happens in the store. Tower Records (now defunct) used to serve that role back in the 60s-80s, or so I've heard from Colin Hanks' documentary All Things Must Pass. I was too young at the time. I've not made friends on Spotify or iTunes yet.
     
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  14. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    That's the reason why I miss video stores (the longest friendships in my life have come from meeting people there) and why I like going to comic book stores and record stores- it's fun to shoot the shit with like-minded people.
     
  15. Lord Dalek

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    Well I do most of my record shopping at various Half-Price Books in the Cincinnati area that I have to make a fairly long and highly occasional commute for and rarely, if ever, do I strike up conversations with anybody there. Not like it matters, about 55% of what I purchase lately is either classical or jazz and that really doesn't interest most of these kids who are getting into vinyl for the first time anyway.
     
  16. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Although I've only played side 1 of Rubber Soul (Mono, 2014 release), I feel compelled to write my initial reaction here.

    Quite simply: I am blown away. I own the original 1988 Beatles CDs. I own both the 2009 re-releases in stereo and mono. I purchased Abbey Road on vinyl (2014 release, mastered from the digital remaster...you can read about the controversy online if you'd like). The reaction I had on listening to Abbey Road was one of satisfaction, but not revelation.

    So far, after side 1 of Rubber Soul, I feel like I'm hearing the mono versions with new ears. I'm not going to definitively say it's better or worse than then 2009 mono CD. I haven't had a chance to try to double-blind A/B them. But here's the thing, I don't feel the need to. Whether it's a reaction based on measurable, observable fact, or if in fact I'd truly fail a double blind, to me it doesn't matter.

    What matters is that whatever they did in 2014, it's brought me as close as humanly possible to time travel: I can imagine what someone with a nice, high-end system in the 1960s must have felt when they first opened a new Beatles album. An insert says:
    For the first time in ages, especially in this era of "The Loudness Wars" where everything is "remastered" (read: overcompressed to hell), I don't doubt the validity of this promotional material. The sound is crisp, clear, properly balanced, and revelatory. I am hearing little details in the music that were probably always there, but for whatever reason, are more audible than before. Despite my hesitation that it was mono, the instrument separation is actually amazing. It doesn't sound like mono, in the way that we'd think of mono, as having a small soundstage. Each instrument feels like it has the appropriate room to breathe and be heard. As cliche as it sounds, I really do feel like I'm sitting in the studio with the Fab Four.

    To let you all know, I did not buy a mono needle. I couldn't justify spending another $400 on a mono stylus, and having to mount and rebalance it every time I wanted to hear mono records. And to be honest, after I buy the Beatles on Mono, I'm not sure how many more mono albums I'll be buying. What I did do was purchase a stereo-to-mono set of cables so that the noise would be combined and reduced.

    I'm not sure if it was necessary, as the record is nearly dead quiet. More than any other records I've owned. In fact I have to listen hard to even hear any static or pops in between songs. Most times it's not there. When it is, it's so light and unobtrusive, I'm almost relieved to hear it. I understand the German plant pressing these is taking special care. It shows. As I type this, Side 2 is almost done. I look forward to Revolver, Sgt. Peppers, and then The Beatles (The "White Album"). Those are the four I bought today. Needless to say I'll be going back to Amoeba in the coming months to eventually complete the collection.
     
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  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I can't comment because I'm not a part of the vinyl revival movement...but I CAN say that I'm always excited to read about someone's reaction after listening to something that has excited them!

    Thanks, Carlo! :thumbsup:
     
  18. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    No problem, Mike, glad you enjoyed it. I actually finished playing all of the four albums I purchased and can say that I was uniformly floored. I'm going to pick up Mono Masters next (the compilation of their mono singles) and can't wait to hear Hey Jude...

    Two other recent vinyl purchases: My Fair Lady (1956 with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison) and the Grease soundtrack. Both sound fabulous, and MFL with Julie really shows how she was meant for the role (apologies to Marnie Nixon's singing in the movie, and Audrey Hepburn's acting). That's been a pleasure to listen to.

    Grease...well the sound quality on it is just fine, but what I can't figure out for the life of me is why isn't the LP in the same running order as the movie? The CD re-release is, and they have the same tracks, but for whatever reason the LP is in some random order. And the songs are short enough so that it isn't an LP space issue (songs per side, etc.).

    The one thing I have to remember is to keep swapping between the mono conversion cable and the normal stereo cable. If I forget, I'll be listening to all my LPs in mono...:rolling-smiley:
     
  19. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    I have four of the Beatles mono LPs so far, and they are a revelation. Not just in the beautiful mix itself, but, as Carlos points out, the exceptional quality of the pressings.

    At this point I haven't concerned myself with the mono/stereo cartridge question. I do want to have a second turntable up and running sometime with a tonearm that features quick-change cartridge shells. That's when I'll splurge on the mono stylus. Might try the alternate cable idea in the meantime.
     
  20. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    To harken back to a previous discussion about dynamic range, check out this:
    http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=fun.&album=some+nights

    This is one of those rare instances where I own the CD, the HD Tracks, and the vinyl (just purchased today). The DR has always bugged me on the CD, and when I bought the high-res HD Tracks, I thought "well it's just as overcompressed so that's probably how the band expected it to sound."

    So I'm listening to the album on vinyl, and about halfway through I'm noticing how much more room to breathe the music has, and how a few spots I always felt were too "hot" on the CD/HDT were suddenly much more in line with the rest of the album. So I decided to look up the dynamic range on that site, and holy moly, the data confirms what my ears were telling me. The dynamic range is far superior on the vinyl than both the CD and HDT, which proves my point in my previous post about how vinyl often has a better, less compressed master on it than CD, and in this case, even the high res 24/96 files sold on HD Tracks.

    What makes me upset is that the original, not-overcompressed-master exists, and was used on the vinyl, but not on HD Tracks. What a waste of money for me on HDT. I expected better from them.
     

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