Retro audio advice

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by breno, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. breno

    breno Member

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    I've heard abit about people saying that vinyl produces the best sound etc. Whether this is true or not probably should be my first question?

    Considering I'm someone who is somewhat sensitive to audio quality when listening, though I don't consider myself an audiophile, if it were true I can imagine listening to the sweet complexities of Dream Theater over some vinyl would be greatly appreciated.

    So while I've been briefly looking at turntables over the marketplace, I've had some questions out of pure ignorance.

    In order to achieve this 'amazing' audio, is there any differences in turntables? If I were to buy it'd be some second hand one from the past, or are they all pretty much the same? And two, what sort of receiver/speakers would I be looking at to attach to it?

    I guess I really have no idea what I'm looking at, or if it's even worth it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
  2. Slug69

    Slug69 Member

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    Spend money on the speakers closest to your ears then consider things like arguments between CD and Vinyl etc. There are terrabytes of arguments online about the pros and cons of Vinyl vs CD vs Stream etc.

    Turntables and especially the amplifiers they transmit to are an important part of the equation if you decide to go vinyl after deciding on speakers.

    Speakers first. Always.
     
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  3. th3_hawk

    th3_hawk Member

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    This is probably about right, buy nice speakers and any half decent amp and everything else doesn’t matter too much for the vast majority of people. My last update of the AV receiver had it’s price driven up in order to purchase a Pioneer which had a built in Chromecast so I could stream my music without needing to plug in another thing. My speakers are Aaron HiFi for the fronts centre coupled with Klipsch in the rear along with a Jaycar (I think?) sub. This is mostly for the TV but also plays music quite a lot too.

    In the dining room I have a Sony mini System with AirPlay built in and a Chromecast Audio plugged into the line in…


    The lounge is much better than the dining room, but both are capable or producing (to my ears at least) all the sounds I would expect to levels that are more than loud enough (capable of easily being waay too loud). So yeah, clearly not an audiophile, but I’m happy.



    So while I’m not an audiophile by any stretch, I do like nice things and have read lots of this debate over the years. My understanding is that digital can hold a wider audio range than vinyl and reproduces it better by every measurable test.

    Audio mastered for vinyl has to be tweaked to compensate for the frequencies that are lost/diminished on playback so a direct conversion is always terrible, digital is technically superior and cleaner in every way when it’s been mastered for digital.


    In most test even audiophiles fail to pick the differences consistently and even when they can it’s the exception and on gear so high end that normal people aren’t going to have it anyway. Ie Comparing that $29 Kmart CD player to your $30,000 record player and amplifier isn’t a fair test Monster Cables tests anyone? I remember the display showing the difference between the stock composite connection (that yellow analog plug) vs HDMI… anyway.


    Most people I know who like Vinyl will concede that it’s more about the ceremony of it all, taking the time to pull out a record, dust it off and load it up. The nostalgia of doing so when younger and the experience of having to flip the record as well as no temptation to just hit skip. For all of those reasons I like it… just not enough to replace my streaming audio players. On a side note, I love the idea of tube amps with their old school glow and warm sound, not quite enough to actually buy one just yet… but maybe one day when I have some excess space to dedicate to these things after the kids move out!

    /runs away before the fights start...
     
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  4. Hater

    Hater Member

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    Look into rearranging your room first. I'm not saying the room is the most important factor (not saying it isn't, either) but it's something that can be done for free.

    Get that right before spending dollars.
     
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  5. Professor Chaos

    Professor Chaos Member

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    Turntables are like boats.

    They can be endless money pits.
    Friend of mine has spent well into 5 digit sums of money and he's still not happy.
    Guess that's why he has three TT running, 3 more in parts, and probably enough parts to make another one.

    But if your serious your options to choose from are;
    Belt drive, direct drive, moving magnet, moving coil, cork/rubber/plastic mats, centre/rim/vacuum clamps, tangential/linear tracking, air or floating arms, etc and so on.
    Then you need need to worry about a pre pre-amp. A unit dedicated to the cartridge of your choice be it moving magnet or moving coil, and whether it's a low or high output one at that.

    Of course you can skip all that if you buy a laser turntable. Yes they exist. Yes their expensive.

    Don't forget the care and cleaning of the lp's themselves.

    Yes they can sound good. Very good.
    But I'd rather drop in a cd and have it play the same way in 30 years as it does now without having to worry about if the lp or cartridge need replacing...

    Edit.
    I grew up in the days of vinyl and I still don't understand the obsession with the black and easily damaged things.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  6. oohms

    oohms Member

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    Vinyl doesn't sound the best, it's just more fun to play with. Last time i went to a hifi expo i had to ask a couple of exhibitors to play something from a digital source as the vinyl setups were all over the place -most of them not very good

    Something like a technics 1200 was the pinnacle of record player engineering, the modern ones are all very simple in comparison (just very heavy and shiny)
     
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  7. neRok

    neRok Member

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    Vinyl is a joke if you ask me. Most of the music put onto vinyl these days is coming from digital sources anyway. So unless you source original vinyl from the analogue era (80's and earlier mostly), it's garbage in - garbage out. But even then, you probably aren't getting the "correct" sound anyway, because it's likely an old record has physically worn down from being used. Theoretically, every record will sound different each time you listen to it.

    But the other side of the joke is how piss poor some records get mastered for digital release. There is no need for them to be this way. It is called the loudness war.

    Here's a good start for reading up on all the above topics: http://www.soundmattersblog.com/measuring-vinyl-dynamic-range-complicated/

    As other posters mention, there are probably cheaper and more efficient ways for you to get better audio;
    - Lossless music files (ie flac) are a must. No more mp3!
    - Nice speakers and suitable amp are required. Note, home theater receivers aren't ideal for music. They are a "jack of all trades" kind of deal. You are better off with a nice DAC, and amp. Don't know what a DAC is? You better look that up ASAP.
    - Room setup and speaker positioning. I've yet to delve into this myself, but from my research, apparently a bit of reading, and maybe buy a book or 2, and you can make a real difference to your audio quality.

    Headphones is an option. You should be able to get entry level headphones, amp, dac, for a cheaper starting point. You don't get the sensation of bone rattling bass and stuff though (you really need a house for that too).

    And regarding Dream Theater, their regular CD releases are low quality IMO (I'm talking sound quality and dynamic range, not the content). BUT, they have higher quality releases available from various sources, which judging by the dynamic range numbers I've seen, must have better/different masterings. So you can look into them too.

    Edit: Or, don't look into anything I posted, remain in blissful ignorance, and buy some vinyl equipment. It does make different sound, and even if it didn't, placebo is real. So you should like it :p

    PS- not having a dig with that last comment, it's a legitimate strategy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  8. Slug69

    Slug69 Member

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    I get the vinyl experience. Totally.

    The opening of shrink wrapped record. The large artwork. The smell. Everything. The sound is different. Better? No. Different.
     
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  9. OP
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    breno

    breno Member

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    Thanks for all the great replies everyone.
    Trying vinyl is now no longer a thing I'm going to do :D
    I'll look more into loseless file types and better modern equipment.

    Also I want to try and find those higher quality DT releases...
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  10. neRok

    neRok Member

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    There is a fair bit of evidence that people can't tell the difference between a lossless file and a high bitrate lossy file (eg 320kbps mp3), but storage is cheap these days, so who cares?! And flac support is everywhere these days. I've been using lossless files for about 10 years, and it was hard at the start (biggest problem was fitting enough music on portable music player), but it's a breeze now.

    Take a look at http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/album?artist=dream+theater
    Ignore the vinyl sources, because as spelled out in the link I provided before, the numbers are misleading.

    Looking at A Dramatic Turn of Events for example (because it's at the top), you can see the regular CD release averages DR7, whereas there are downloadable options averaging DR11. That will make a difference, and really open up the music.

    One thing to be aware of with high DR music - it is often quieter. This is because low DR music effectively has all the instruments turned up to max volume, and spends a lot of the time in the 90% volume range. So there is no "breathing room". High DR music on the other hand will be sitting in the 60-70% range, but because it has that extra capacity, it can really increase the impact of certain sections.
    (note, I invented the percentage numbers to illustrate the point)

    Actually, in my experience, it can be a bit strange when you first hear a high DR album. One that always gets me is Judas Priests Stained Glass, which has an average DR of ~12. If I'm having a listening session and have been hearing a lot of ~DR7 music, and then that album comes on, at first it sounds quite flat and hollow. But after a few minutes, my hearing changes and get's accustomed, and then it is fantastic. The way they can increase the impact of certain screams and cymbal crashes by utilising the DR headroom they have gives me goosebumps listening to it!

    There is a way to combat the mismatched volumes of various records though, and that is with replay gain. It lowers the volume on loud music for you, so you don't have to keep adjusting the volume dial to maintain the same sound level. Note this doesn't fix the DR.

    For music player, these days I use MusicBee on windows pc, and foobar2000 app on my android phone (which is also on pc). Both do everything you need.

    There is another critical feature of the music player that I haven't mentioned, and that is gapless playback. This ensures that if you have an album split into individual track files, then the player will play the back with no gaps/pauses/clicks in between the files, so you get the same result as the CD. I'm pretty sure both of the aforementioned players have it. The other alternative is to store the CD rip as 1 big file, so from the players perspective, there is effectively only 1 track.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
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  11. th3_hawk

    th3_hawk Member

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    Are you actually going to source, buy and store lots of music?
    Are you going to buy a special player to listen to this stuff on the go?
    Or are you just going to stream stuff from Apple/Google/Spotify/Etc?
     
  12. Slug69

    Slug69 Member

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    The best recorded and ripped music presented in a lossless format is typically only found by illegal means. Seriously. The people who have been torrenting their rips are right proper audiophile nutjobs. Typically posting their methods used for each track as well. Japanese album SACD rips, 24 bit vinyl et al.
     
  13. OP
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    breno

    breno Member

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    I was just planning on setting up in my shed for occasional listening, if I was to go thru with it.
     
  14. mtw

    mtw Member

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    The best place was taken down a few years ago. RIP. I miss it still.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  15. mtma

    mtma Member

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    I'm taken by a bug I never thought would ever occur, which is cassette tape. Plenty of fiddling and opportunities to discover something new/old, audio reproduction perfection need not apply.
     
  16. Ratzz

    Ratzz Member

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    FLAC is good but wasted on mainstream equipment. If you want to run FLAC you really need to invest in decent gear to appreciate the difference.
    With more affordable equipment there is nothing wrong with 320 MP3. Most of what it chops is out of the hearing range of most people anyway, especially anyone over 30.

    My equipment is all upper mid range.. certainly not true audiophile gear but pretty high end consumer stuff.. and I can't tell the difference between FLAC and 320 MP3. Mind you, I do most of my listening in the car, which although has some pretty decent equipment is hardly an ideal staging environment..

    Most of my music is in FLAC but some stuff I can't find in FLAC so I go with 320 MP3. Play one back to back against the other and there is little to choose between them. Choose any lower bitrate than 320 though and the loss of quality is very evident.

    Vinyl has a nice warm sound to it, but it's nostalgia that appeals, not music quality. Cassette lost its appeal for me the day car CD players became an affordable alternative.
     
  17. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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    It all comes down to the source and mastering of the source. There is no such thing as best, just what sounds right to you. Don't let the audiophoolery snobs get to you. Listen with your own ears.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  18. power

    power Member

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    vinyl is like a well worn pair of jeans, it's more than just the bitrate or whatever.

    don't underestimate the joy of pulling the record from the beautiful sleeve, dropping it on the turntable then hearing the pop and crackle as the needle seeks out the first track.

    super high bitrate digitial will always produce a cleaner sound but the warm tones from vinyl can sometimes be desirable.

    there's nothing wrong with having a turntable to compliment your day to day digital stuff.
     
  19. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    vinyl-new-yorker.jpg

    I collect old video games. My wife collects vinyl records. We love the physical nature of these things - the art work, the covers, the way they force you to use one bit of media at a time and not skip around all over the place. It's rarely about the "extra quality" they offer, although there is a nostalgic love for the analogue nature of old things.

    But yeah, they're inconvenient and expensive compared to modern options.
     
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