View Full Version : vinyl: where do you get the best bang per buck?


Andy1912
12-01-12, 10:58 AM
Hi,

I was just wondering of the following three, what is the order of importance re sound quality: a) cartridge; b) arm, and c) phono stage.

The reason that I am asking is that I keep toying with the idea of upgrading my cartridge, and I'd really like to give a koetsu a go. However, I currently have a SME V arm which costs new about 2300; a DV17D3 karat cartridge which costs new about 700 new, and a Dynavector P75 mk II which costs about 600 new.These all sit on a SME 20/2 and a naim set-up (200 and 202 etc).

You can see that already the P75 is the least costly of the three and if I were to go say bottom rung Koetsu then this would be about 1700, and about three times the cost of the phono stage.

What do people think?

Best wishes

Andy

Darth Vader
12-01-12, 11:17 AM
I don't know about the rest of your kit but a good phono stage gives a huge improvement in sound. Mind you they will be in the 2K+ range new and about half price second hand.

My phono stage is a Brinkmann Fein that has its own pre-amplification and volume control so I can now plug it straight into my power amps. Thus I no longer need a pre-amp and that released more funds. These cost circa 1K s/h ditto a TE Groove but without the volume control.

My DAC also has in-built preamp and volume control so again plugs straight into the power amps. I just use a two way switch to select which source to use.

Cheers,

DV

Nic P
12-01-12, 11:21 AM
There is no hard and fast rule IMO. In your system I would look for a second hand TE Groove.

Nic P

YNWOAN
12-01-12, 11:23 AM
Turntable, then arm, then cartridge

johncee
12-01-12, 12:18 PM
Turntable, then arm, then cartridge

Been fannying around with audio for the best part of 30 years, but only realised fairly recently that this old adage is in fact absolutely true.

Andy1912
12-01-12, 12:34 PM
Been fannying around with audio for the best part of 30 years, but only realised fairly recently that this old adage is in fact absolutely true.

Thanks for that but where would you slot in the phono stage? My TT and arm are probably permanent fixtures for the foreseeable....

ATB

Andy

Nic P
12-01-12, 12:52 PM
You have a top turntable, the top arm and a decent cartridge ... the phono stage is as important (possibly more so) than the cartridge. However even this is a simplification of the realities in any given vinyl replay system.

Nic P

roscoeiii
12-01-12, 12:54 PM
Well Andy,

The P75 may be the lowest cost component, but you likely have god synergy with the Dyna cart. I'd guess that you are using the P75 in Phono Enhancer (PE) mode [which is said to be even better with the lower impedance Dyna carts (XX-2, 20XL for example)]. So while in the abstract and based on prices, the P75 appears to be a weak link in the chain, the synergy between it and the Dyna cart, and the boost you get from PE mode may not be the case, or at least to the degree it may seem at first glance.

Are you able to audition any of this gear, either in your system or at a dealer (who may let you bring in your current P75 or 17D3 for comparison)? A lot of variables at play and how they interact will be crucial. Synergy is everything.

johncee
12-01-12, 12:59 PM
Thanks for that but where would you slot in the phono stage? My TT and arm are probably permanent fixtures for the foreseeable....

ATB

Andy

Sorry andy, didn't read your original post carefully enough........

paskinn
12-01-12, 01:06 PM
I use an all SME deck/arm system. I don't know the dynavector phonostage, but if it is first class then your best move (imo) would be a Koetsu. It is a natural partner to the SME combo, in every way, It will sound fabulous.
Or, just to be naughty, you could save up and buy a second hand SME20-12. If you like the 9inch 20 then the 12 inch deck will give you a real shock. Still, as I said, a bit naughty.
Finally, yes, deck, arm, cartridge. They all matter, but a great deck with a cheaper arm and cartridge will sound better than a great cartridge and arm on a cheaper deck. Sometimes the old advice is the best advice.

flapland
12-01-12, 01:22 PM
P75 is pretty good but a Whest PS30R blew it out of the water. OK I know its over twice or more the price list but if you call James at Whest direct you might be surprised what he can do. Of course other Phono Stages are available including Tom Evans Groove's at pretty good prices used.

uncl_nigel
12-01-12, 01:37 PM
It really depends on how much life is left in that Dynavector.
Personally I change cartridges when the diamond gets near the end of its life rather than retiring it in its prime.

The SME20/2 with SME V is a great turntable package (the best in my small collection) and I know the 17D3 works well in SME arms (I heard one being used to great effect in an SME 309).

Since my more modest DV20XL is far from spent, I put my cash into a better phonostage, replacing the Linto with an EAR834P deluxe then an Aesthetix Rhea. I got definite improvement with both phonostage changes and I am now ready to really take advantage of a better cartridge when the time comes.

Andy1912
12-01-12, 01:38 PM
P75 is pretty good but a Whest PS30R blew it out of the water. OK I know its over twice or more the price list but if you call James at Whest direct you might be surprised what he can do. Of course other Phono Stages are available including Tom Evans Groove's at pretty good prices used.

Thanks for that. It looks like I could get a Tom Evans Groove for about 1k, I guess a Whest PS30 would be quite a bit more?

BW

Andy

flapland
12-01-12, 03:31 PM
Thanks for that. It looks like I could get a Tom Evans Groove for about 1k, I guess a Whest PS30 would be quite a bit more?

BW

Andy

More I suspect so but perhaps not as much as you might think for B stock item. Give James a bell and see what he can do. This is what I did.

Elephantears
12-01-12, 03:42 PM
No one has mentioned synergy between phono stage and your amps. I can tell you that Tom Evans stages have a very good synergy with 202/200, although they don't match well with my other amps (UR Unico). However my tt, arm and art are all very different to yours.

Andy1912
12-01-12, 04:11 PM
Well Andy,

The P75 may be the lowest cost component, but you likely have god synergy with the Dyna cart. I'd guess that you are using the P75 in Phono Enhancer (PE) mode [which is said to be even better with the lower impedance Dyna carts (XX-2, 20XL for example)]. So while in the abstract and based on prices, the P75 appears to be a weak link in the chain, the synergy between it and the Dyna cart, and the boost you get from PE mode may not be the case, or at least to the degree it may seem at first glance.

Are you able to audition any of this gear, either in your system or at a dealer (who may let you bring in your current P75 or 17D3 for comparison)? A lot of variables at play and how they interact will be crucial. Synergy is everything.

Yes I have the P75 in Dr T mode and that does seem a bit of a boost compared to other configurations. I'd probably buy second hand so a demo is unlikely, I guess. Thanks for your thoughts.

Andy1912
12-01-12, 04:12 PM
More I suspect so but perhaps not as much as you might think for B stock item. Give James a bell and see what he can do. This is what I did.

That's interesting, do they work well with Naim?

Andy1912
12-01-12, 04:15 PM
No one has mentioned synergy between phono stage and your amps. I can tell you that Tom Evans stages have a very good synergy with 202/200, although they don't match well with my other amps (UR Unico). However my tt, arm and art are all very different to yours.

Thanks for that.

MVV
12-01-12, 05:01 PM
FWIW. I'm with the TT,arm, cart crew. Had LP12, Ekos, Akiva into TE microgrove plus into NAP 52 and upgraded to WTA GTA, Ortofon Cadenza Blue into 32.5 with K boards.

Mattdcb
12-01-12, 05:17 PM
I'll second the Whest...

I had a Benz PP1, demo'd a Whest PS30RDT SE, it didn't go back to the dealer and the PP1 went straight on ebay. It was bloody expensive, but it's a 'lifer' component for sure (well, for the time being anyway :))

Deck is a DPS2, Schroder arm with a Benz SL Wood cartridge.

John James
12-01-12, 05:46 PM
Another Whest user here, bottom of the range Whest Two, but was a revelation when I bought it, so much more detail and clarity. Makes me want to move up the range unfortunately for the bank balance :D

paskinn
13-01-12, 01:56 AM
I'd be a tiny bit wary of all the 'whest' stuff. Not because it is poor, no doubt it is excellent. But the SME 20 is a touch on the 'analytic' side of life. Unless you want a hyper-analytic sound you might be wise to think of a somewhat more 'romantic' phonostage.That's why a Koetsu works so well with the SME, it adds a bit of 'humanity' to what could become a bit sterile. Still, your ears........

Andy1912
13-01-12, 02:04 AM
I'd be a tiny bit wary of all the 'whest' stuff. Not because it is poor, no doubt it is excellent. But the SME 20 is a touch on the 'analytic' side of life. Unless you want a hyper-analytic sound you might be wise to think of a somewhat more 'romantic' phonostage.That's why a Koetsu works so well with the SME, it adds a bit of 'humanity' to what could become a bit sterile. Still, your ears........

Thanks. Im aware that the whest is in second hand superline territory too and i would assume a natural synergy with the rest of my system. What would you consider "romantic" phono stages??

Cheers

Andy

bottleneck
13-01-12, 02:55 AM
Just a personal whinge.

I've never liked the term ''phono stage''. It detracts and denies the purpose of the item.

I prefer " An amplifier for record players " - or similar.

For some reason, people seem happy to pay huge sums for amplifiers for audio, but are happy with cheap solutions for their record player.

I don't count the original poster in this camp - he has a 600 dynavector 'amplifier for his record player'.

However, going from retail<distributor<manufacturer - 600 is going to translate to about 100 in parts. I'd look at phono stages as an option if I had a big budget and a very high end turntable.

I resent (personally) blowing huge chunks on carts - simply because they ''wear out''. Phono stages, record players, tonearms - dont. If money isn't an option I'd change my buying criteria and spend 3000 every 2 years on a new cartridge, but until then , no bloody way.

James
13-01-12, 03:24 AM
I don't count the original poster in this camp - he has a 600 dynavector 'amplifier for his record player'.

However, going from retail<distributor<manufacturer - 600 is going to translate to about 100 in parts.
Actually it's a lot less than that. But I don't think the cost of its bits bear any relation to its performance relative to more expensive phono amps.

Andy1912
13-01-12, 06:04 AM
Actually it's a lot less than that. But I don't think the cost of its bits bear any relation to its performance relative to more expensive phono amps.

Hmmm thats interesting. So a 3k amp would have about 500 worth of components. I used to be once an electrinic engineer so could easily enough sder and screw stuff together. Now and then i look at the k&k website but the customs charges put me off....

JTC
13-01-12, 06:48 AM
Not on your original list of choices, but I'd go for d) proper setup.

The best turntable in the world (whatever that is) poorly setup will sound worse than a cheap turntable setup optimally. Within reason (i.e. that plastic Alba job may never be capable of running optimally) - but I'm thinking of things like entry Regas, Linn Basiks and the like.

Andy1912
13-01-12, 07:02 AM
I think ive done the best i can and in fact i was very much thinking that a few hundred to a dealer to check my set up would be worthwhile. No SME dealer for many hours though - thats life in the wild highlands of scotland for you....

GTM
13-01-12, 07:07 AM
As far as carts go, law of diminishing returns definitely applies. I moved up from a 500 AT cart to a 1k Lyra (talking 15 years back) and whist it was a significant improvement there is no way it could be called twice as good. The Audio Technica clearly did 95% of what the Lyra could but that last 5% was the difference between the feeling of listening to a recording and a real sense of a person playing an instrument, (with suitable recordings of course). That said, I think amps have an even steeper law of diminishing returns curve than carts. Especially when talking about non power amps. Low level amps like phono stages area all about low noise electronics, there is a certain level of component quality required to achieve decent s/n with MC inputs but once your past that the extra money is pretty much wasted IMO. I've heard plenty of top end vinyl front end systems in my time, (I come from an era that pre-dates CD), and I can't say with hand on heart that any of them were leaps and bounds better than my Xerxes/SME IV/Lyra Clavis/Michel ISO + Hera combo. Most were different, not better overall.

chainrule
13-01-12, 07:28 AM
paskinn etal,

a different point of view here, not a rebuttal...i had a SME20/DV XV1-s/whest .20 and didn't find it analytical. but then again, i didn't find the SME analytical compared to an LP12. the whest replaced an exposure 13, and i found the whest had much better resolution and clarity than the expo. the music also flowed much better via the whest too.

when i upgraded my pre to a crimson 710, i found the phono in the crimson as good as the whest, so i sold the whest, but if i were in the market for a phono pre, whest would be on the short list.

Pani
13-01-12, 07:37 AM
You could look at phonostages like ARC PH5 or RCM Audio Prelude for something much higher resolution than your current phono and also romantic.

sonddek
13-01-12, 08:21 AM
FWIW. I'm with the TT,arm, cart crew. Had LP12, Ekos, Akiva into TE microgrove plus into NAP 52 and upgraded to WTA GTA, Ortofon Cadenza Blue into 32.5 with K boards.

I thoroughly agree with this. I have also upgraded to a WTA. I'ld rather listen to a WTA into a budget 80's Rotel than certain other decks into any amps money can buy. It's the difference between revealing and tuneful. Tuneful should be a much higher priority than revealing. Spend your money on the motor unit. 0.08% wow isn't good enough. Get a deck in the 0.04% - 0.02% range or better and you will stop worrying about upgrading, and start worrying about how many times you will be able to listen to Beethoven's piano sonatas before you die.

That said, my current cartridge cost me 230 quid and my gramophone amp cost me nearly two grand.

ZK
13-01-12, 08:24 AM
Turntable, then arm, then cartridge

How significant is tonearm cable in the scheme of things and for that matter internal wiring?

I've been pondering what next - a cable for my Ittok or a Trampolin.

bottleneck
13-01-12, 10:46 AM
Hmmm thats interesting. So a 3k amp would have about 500 worth of components. I used to be once an electrinic engineer so could easily enough sder and screw stuff together. Now and then i look at the k&k website but the customs charges put me off....

I firmly believe this to be the case, and the more DIY stuff I've done, the more apparent it's been.

The problem with DIY is whether the actual design is as good as a production model (sometimes worse , sometimes better), and residual values when you sell.

Taking loudspeakers as an example, it's always an eye opener to take a 3k loudspeaker and google the drive unit prices at Maddison. Typically they are about 25 each.

bottleneck
13-01-12, 10:49 AM
NB DIY-wise, there's always something fun going on at DIY hifi supply.

Follow the site about this phono stage.

http://diyhifisupply.com/node/669

Warren Day
13-01-12, 06:18 PM
Turntable, power supply, arm, cart, phono-stage.

One key thing is, is arm good enough for cartridge? so tracking is all good.

sm1907
14-01-12, 10:55 AM
Phono stage if your DV17 has plenty of hours left in it, then cartridge.

sq225917
14-01-12, 11:40 AM
How significant is tonearm cable in the scheme of things and for that matter internal wiring?

I've been pondering what next - a cable for my Ittok or a Trampolin.

If there's no hiss, and the specs say below 100pf a foot for capacitance there's little point doing anything with the cables, good cable need not be expensive.

Warren Day
15-01-12, 04:12 PM
From extensively ABing the Trampolin, I discovered it reproduced many things with a non-metronome or non-drum-machine-like sense of timing. Drum machines are still drum machines, however live drummers and other instruments are played with syncopation and phrasing.

That said, getting a T-Kable off the back of my Akito let more of what the LP12 was doing out of the box.

sonddek
15-01-12, 05:37 PM
...live drummers and other instruments are played with syncopation and phrasing.

Linnspeak for wow IMO. Compare it to CD, SACD, low-wow belt drive decks (Avid, Amadeus etc.), quartz direct drives, (Technics etc.) and good idlers, and Sondek tends to be the odd one out when it comes to 'phrasing', as well as tune and measured wow.

Music starts from a low wow motor unit.

maccavelli
18-01-12, 02:17 AM
TT / Arm the cartridge yes. But having bought/played with and heard an awful lot of stuff ultimately I'd say, each component is as important as the next and the one before.

Cable Monkey
18-01-12, 03:19 AM
You have to get the platform right. If you don't have acceptable speed stability and isolation then anything you do down stream will be compromised. Of course "acceptable" is very subjective. Once that is sorted then the arm has to be able to work with the deck. Finally your cartridge has to suit the arm while not objecting to any aspect of the deck such as a ferrous platter or hum from a motor. Thus for me you can't specify best bang for buck in any one component, it is only achieved if all 3 work well together.

paskinn
18-01-12, 05:22 AM
Thanks. Im aware that the whest is in second hand superline territory too and i would assume a natural synergy with the rest of my system. What would you consider "romantic" phono stages??

Cheers

Andy

I probably can't help you with phonostages, because I only use valve ones, and I don't think that is what you are looking for. But if you got the chance, it might be fun to hear something like an Audio Research phonostage, as that treads the line between solid state and valve sound. But, in the end, only your ears can tell you what is right for you. Shame it is so hard to get the right demos.

maccavelli
18-01-12, 12:00 PM
Environment and set up can often make or break a system sonically

Andy1912
18-01-12, 02:22 PM
More I suspect so but perhaps not as much as you might think for B stock item. Give James a bell and see what he can do. This is what I did.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I did get in touch with James at Whest and I think I've got a pretty decent deal - a 2011 30R with a 5 year warranty, and he gave me a decent trade-in for my P75 too. In view of the fact that the karat cart is about 6 months old, probably that was the way to go. A Koetsu perhaps when the current cart has had it...

I'm really looking forward to hearing this Whest phono in my set-up. Only ever had the P75 which moved with me from the naim 5i integrated and gyro to what I have now....

Thanks again

Andy

tenpercenter
19-01-12, 03:17 AM
Hi,

I was just wondering of the following three, what is the order of importance re sound quality: a) cartridge; b) arm, and c) phono stage.

The reason that I am asking is that I keep toying with the idea of upgrading my cartridge, and I'd really like to give a koetsu a go. However, I currently have a SME V arm which costs new about 2300; a DV17D3 karat cartridge which costs new about 700 new, and a Dynavector P75 mk II which costs about 600 new.These all sit on a SME 20/2 and a naim set-up (200 and 202 etc).

You can see that already the P75 is the least costly of the three and if I were to go say bottom rung Koetsu then this would be about 1700, and about three times the cost of the phono stage.

What do people think?

Best wishes

Andy
Best bang for your buck is an nice used LP12. Great second hand buy, as the LP12 is a collection of engineered parts that can all be changed and swapped from plinths to power supplies, sub chassis, arms etc. A well set-up one also sounds good too.

Turntable, arm and cartridge in order of importance, though cartridges have a big influence on tonality. Phono stage also very important.

sonddek
19-01-12, 08:37 AM
Best bang for your buck is an nice used LP12. Great second hand buy, as the LP12 is a collection of engineered parts that can all be changed and swapped from plinths to power supplies, sub chassis, arms etc. A well set-up one also sounds good too.

The original poster has an SME 20. Even if he had never used a turntable I wouldn't agree with your advice as there are many motor units which have better speed stability and are much easier to set up and maintain, but suggesting a used LP12 to an SME 20 user on the strength of its "engineered parts" seems to be something of an unintended irony.

topoxforddoc
19-01-12, 10:23 AM
A wet record cleaner is the best upgrade for vinyl. I doesn't matter how good your set up is, if the grooves are full of cr*p!

sonddek
19-01-12, 10:49 AM
A wet record cleaner is the best upgrade for vinyl. I doesn't matter how good your set up is, if the grooves are full of cr*p!

Depending on how many records you have, PVA might give you more bang for buck than a wetvac. A one gallon can of PVA costs 12 quid and I estimate it would clean about a thousand records: http://www.thetoolvault.com/product.php/site/froogle/sn/EVOEBPVA5L

topoxforddoc
19-01-12, 01:01 PM
Depending on how many records you have, PVA might give you more bang for buck than a wetvac. A one gallon can of PVA costs 12 quid and I estimate it would clean about a thousand records: http://www.thetoolvault.com/product.php/site/froogle/sn/EVOEBPVA5L

PVA is cheap, but my time is more valuable. I can clean a LP every 2 minutes on a wet rcm and have it to play 30 mins later (when everything has evaporated completely). A wet rcm is also less messy (but a bit noisier, I would admit)

sonddek
19-01-12, 01:15 PM
PVA is cheap, but my time is more valuable...
...A wet rcm is also less messy...

Have you actually used the PVA method? There's no mess, and it takes up no more of your time than a wetvac. That is, if you have the intelligence not to sit there watching the glue dry.

flapland
19-01-12, 04:02 PM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I did get in touch with James at Whest and I think I've got a pretty decent deal - a 2011 30R with a 5 year warranty, and he gave me a decent trade-in for my P75 too. In view of the fact that the karat cart is about 6 months old, probably that was the way to go. A Koetsu perhaps when the current cart has had it...

I'm really looking forward to hearing this Whest phono in my set-up. Only ever had the P75 which moved with me from the naim 5i integrated and gyro to what I have now....

Thanks again

Andy

This almost exactly the same as what I did except my PS30r is a little older not that you can tell as it looks mint. I also p/x a P75.

yeti42
19-01-12, 04:36 PM
Strange no one's mentioned the Superline if you have a Naim pre, power it from the preamp, you want loading plugs of 470 Ohms and 470pF for a 17D3 but the 500 Ohm one that comes as standard will do for a demo. Don't put it on a steel rack.

Andy1912
20-01-12, 01:34 AM
Strange no one's mentioned the Superline if you have a Naim pre, power it from the preamp, you want loading plugs of 470 Ohms and 470pF for a 17D3 but the 500 Ohm one that comes as standard will do for a demo. Don't put it on a steel rack.

Yes i did ask about how the superline compared to the whest but no one commented...

Best wishes

Andy

YNWOAN
20-01-12, 01:47 AM
I've compared the Superline in the past; I think I did some needle-drops (I've never even seen a Whest in the flesh though).

I would definitely place the deck first, the arm second and the cartridge and phono-stage a joint third.

Andy1912
20-01-12, 02:14 AM
I've compared the Superline in the past; I think I did some needle-drops (I've never even seen a Whest in the flesh though).

I would definitely place the deck first, the arm second and the cartridge and phono-stage a joint third.

OK thanks-the phono is probably slightly weak relatively speaking which was the general consensus. Id like to try a koetsu when the 17d3 runs down (unless i can get a swap) so the phono would be some distance behind then...

tenpercenter
20-01-12, 05:28 AM
The original poster has an SME 20. Even if he had never used a turntable I wouldn't agree with your advice as there are many motor units which have better speed stability and are much easier to set up and maintain, but suggesting a used LP12 to an SME 20 user on the strength of its "engineered parts" seems to be something of an unintended irony.
Exactly. Sell the SME gear, nice used LP12. Best bang for your buck.

Enjoy music and not hifi.

Darth Vader
20-01-12, 06:30 AM
OK thanks-the phono is probably slightly weak relatively speaking which was the general consensus. Id like to try a koetsu when the 17d3 runs down (unless i can get a swap) so the phono would be some distance behind then...

I really would suggest that you get a loan/audition of a quality phono stage at the 2K+ new price arena. When I did this it was like a complete TT/arm/cart upgrade and gave me 3 more years before I upgraded the vinyl front end from an LP12/Ittok/Troika to a hideously expensive set-up.

If you get a phono with in-built pre-amplification then you can get rid of the NAC202. I haven't heard that preamp but guess that it may be similar to the 102 and that wasn't very good IMO.

Think of it this way no matter how good and clear the light coming through a window is if that window is partially obscured then you wont see all that light. So open the window wide and let the light shine through.

Cheers,

DV

sonddek
20-01-12, 08:25 AM
Exactly. Sell the SME gear, nice used LP12. Best bang for your buck.

Enjoy music and not hifi.

Do you mean Musik™. To be honest, as a Sondek user of twenty-six years, I've never enjoyed music more than the last year, since I stopped using my Sondek. I had given up buying records. Now I'm buying more vinyl than ever and enjoying it more than ever. I have arrived at the opinion that the Sondek is a great deck for sound, a hi-fi commodity, but other decks are better at music. To my ear a Sondek always wins the timbre-dem but loses the tune-dem against some fairly modest competition. Perhaps one need look no further than wow/flutter measurements of 0.08%, when a well-known DJ deck is allegedly down at 0.025%. In other words, I believe the opposite. Don't get a Sondek if your primary concern is the music, not the hi-fi.

Just my minority opinion, not an invitation to a flame-war.

tenpercenter
20-01-12, 01:22 PM
Do you mean Musik™. To be honest, as a Sondek user of twenty-six years, I've never enjoyed music more than the last year, since I stopped using my Sondek. I had given up buying records. Now I'm buying more vinyl than ever and enjoying it more than ever. I have arrived at the opinion that the Sondek is a great deck for sound, a hi-fi commodity, but other decks are better at music. To my ear a Sondek always wins the timbre-dem but loses the tune-dem against some fairly modest competition. Perhaps one need look no further than wow/flutter measurements of 0.08%, when a well-known DJ deck is allegedly down at 0.025%. In other words, I believe the opposite. Don't get a Sondek if your primary concern is the music, not the hi-fi.

Just my minority opinion, not an invitation to a flame-war.
If it works for you then that is great - especially if you are buying lots more vinyl. As you say, your opnion is valid expressed from your experience and perspective which is partly why discussion forums exist. Therefore, there was no real need for you to quote "alleged" wow and flutter values as some kind of justification for your position and to also have a swipe at the LP12 - utterly pointless and totally meaningless.

Not an invitation to a flame war, enjoy your new vinyl.

sonddek
20-01-12, 02:52 PM
If it works for you then that is great - especially if you are buying lots more vinyl. As you say, your opnion is valid expressed from your experience and perspective which is partly why discussion forums exist. Therefore, there was no real need for you to quote "alleged" wow and flutter values as some kind of justification for your position and to also have a swipe at the LP12 - utterly pointless and totally meaningless.

Not an invitation to a flame war, enjoy your new vinyl.

The wow/flutter percentages I quote come from a recent magazine test of Sondek, and from the manufacturer's published spec for the Technics. I quite accept that they may both be anomalous or misleading, hence the use of "allegedly". I suspect that the recent magazine test was quite good. I also think that Panasonic put quite a lot of engineering effort into their decks' wow performance back in the 70's, so I don't have any reason to doubt their figures. On top of all this, I imagine that I can sometimes hear pianos going out of tune from one second to the next on standard Radikal and Lingo Sondeks. Perhaps that's what 0.08% wow sounds like, or perhaps I just imagine it. Before anyone asks, I haven't done a proper abx test to prove to myself that I can hear 0.08% wow, but I have posted needledrops on several threads about this, including methods to stabilise the Sondek subchassis in a way that, to my ear, overcomes what I hear as a pitch stability problem. There is some research cited on the Well Tempered Labs web site which suggests that listeners are able to distinguish wow down to about 0.06%, so that would put recently measured Sondek wow in the just audible band.

Darth Vader
20-01-12, 03:06 PM
The wow/flutter percentages I quote come from a recent magazine test of Sondek, and from the manufacturer's published spec for the Technics. I quite accept that they may both be anomalous or misleading, hence the use of "allegedly". I suspect that the recent magazine test was quite good. I also think that Panasonic put quite a lot of engineering effort into their decks' wow performance back in the 70's, so I don't have any reason to doubt their figures. On top of all this, I imagine that I can sometimes hear pianos going out of tune from one second to the next on standard Radikal and Lingo Sondeks. Perhaps that's what 0.08% wow sounds like, or perhaps I just imagine it. Before anyone asks, I haven't done a proper abx test to prove to myself that I can hear 0.08% wow, but I have posted needledrops on several threads about this, including methods to stabilise the Sondek subchassis in a way that, to my ear, overcomes what I hear as a pitch stability problem. There is some research cited on the Well Tempered Labs web site which suggests that listeners are able to distinguish wow down to about 0.06%, so that would put recently measured Sondek wow in the just audible band.

I get that on certain records and it is the recording for whatever reason as all other records are fine.

So if it can be reproduced its the recording if its random its the deck.

Cheers,

DV

sonddek
20-01-12, 03:30 PM
I get that on certain records and it is the recording for whatever reason as all other records are fine.

So if it can be reproduced its the recording if its random its the deck.

I'm actually talking about a phenomenon that I have heard on five different Sondeks but not when I play the very same record on several other turntables including Technics SL-1200, Well Tempered Amadeus, Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace, Avid Volvere and Origin Live Calypso. I also find the phenomenon absent on CD. I can rule out wow in the vinyl recording because none of those decks disagree in this respect with the CD, and I can rule out variety of presentation because I don't find any disagreement between all these other turntables in their presentation of said piano notes. I find the Sondek the odd one out for several specific instances of piano music. I am also able completely to remedy what I hear as a pitch stability problem on the Sondek by tethering the subchassis so that it is less free to move horizontally. I claim not that tethering is an overall improvement, but simply that it cures the wandering pitch problem that I hear. Some have corroborated this finding, and others have dismissed it, so I accept it is controversial. Putting all that together, I'm satisfied that it is a form of wow inherent in the drive/suspension design of the Sondek, and that's why I find the suggestion of cross-grading from SME 20 to Sondek questionable. Just my point of view, of course.

jaz9706
20-01-12, 03:39 PM
I too have heard this pitch instability on a friends LP12, something he cannot , I have noted and corroborate your findings as I donot get it on the same recording on either of my AVIDS (diva2 or volvere).




I'm actually talking about a phenomenon that I have heard on five different Sondeks but not when I play the very same record on several other turntables including Technics SL-1200, Well Tempered Amadeus, Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace, Avid Volvere and Origin Live Calypso. I also find the phenomenon absent on CD. I can rule out wow in the vinyl recording because none of those decks disagree in this respect with the CD, and I can rule out variety of presentation because I don't find any disagreement between all these other turntables in their presentation of said piano notes. I find the Sondek the odd one out for several specific instances of piano music. I am also able completely to remedy what I hear as a pitch stability problem on the Sondek by tethering the subchassis so that it is less free to move horizontally. I claim not that tethering is an overall improvement, but simply that it cures the wandering pitch problem that I hear. Some have corroborated this finding, and others have dismissed it, so I accept it is controversial. Putting all that together, I'm satisfied that it is a form of wow inherent in the drive/suspension design of the Sondek, and that's why I find the suggestion of cross-grading from SME 20 to Sondek questionable. Just my point of view, of course.

Darth Vader
20-01-12, 05:21 PM
I'm actually talking about a phenomenon that I have heard on five different Sondeks but not when I play the very same record on several other turntables including Technics SL-1200, Well Tempered Amadeus, Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace, Avid Volvere and Origin Live Calypso. I also find the phenomenon absent on CD. I can rule out wow in the vinyl recording because none of those decks disagree in this respect with the CD, and I can rule out variety of presentation because I don't find any disagreement between all these other turntables in their presentation of said piano notes. I find the Sondek the odd one out for several specific instances of piano music. I am also able completely to remedy what I hear as a pitch stability problem on the Sondek by tethering the subchassis so that it is less free to move horizontally. I claim not that tethering is an overall improvement, but simply that it cures the wandering pitch problem that I hear. Some have corroborated this finding, and others have dismissed it, so I accept it is controversial. Putting all that together, I'm satisfied that it is a form of wow inherent in the drive/suspension design of the Sondek, and that's why I find the suggestion of cross-grading from SME 20 to Sondek questionable. Just my point of view, of course.

This is an interesting discussion and its not necessarily an LP12 knocking discussion. Is the pitch variation random or at a specific passage in the music? This is the scientist in me asking the question.

When I had an LP12 I sometimes heard this to a minor degree and just ignored it. But now I have an uber quality and expensive vinyl playing system I can hear this pitch change quite dramatically so much so that I checked everything out in case something was broken but only occurred on specific records. So I think that some records do have this recorded on them if and only if it is always in the same place. Another conclusion might be that the LP12 is better than the other decks because it actually shows whats on the record. However there could be other conclusions and I have some in mind but that would need more experiments before a reliable conclusion can be reached.

Cheers and enjoy,

DV

sonddek
20-01-12, 06:03 PM
When I had an LP12 I sometimes heard this to a minor degree and just ignored it. But now I have an uber quality and expensive vinyl playing system I can hear this pitch change quite dramatically so much so that I checked everything out in case something was broken but only occurred on specific records. So I think that some records do have this recorded on them if and only if it is always in the same place. Another conclusion might be that the LP12 is better than the other decks because it actually shows whats on the record. However there could be other conclusions and I have some in mind but that would need more experiments before a reliable conclusion can be reached.

I'm talking about subtle pitch variation which is not evident on all those other machines. It's not just that they disagree with the Sondek on whether it's in the recording, it's more that they all agree that it isn't there. The Sondek suggests the piano is being de-tuned repeatedly during the performance whereas all those other machines somehow agree that it was not de-tuned during the performance. The odd-one-out reports bizarre goings on in a recording studio, consistent either with playback wow, or someone de-tuning a piano as it's being played. The others all agree there was no de-tuning. I have given up believing that the Sondek reveals what others don't, and have reached the conclusion that it has audible wow, fixable by tethering the subchassis.

In other words, don't cross-grade the SME for a Sondek if you like tunes, spend the money on a nice phono stage.

Bartman
21-01-12, 12:40 AM
P75 is pretty good but a Whest PS30R blew it out of the water.

+1 for the ps.30r.

tenpercenter
21-01-12, 09:44 AM
I'm talking about subtle pitch variation which is not evident on all those other machines. It's not just that they disagree with the Sondek on whether it's in the recording, it's more that they all agree that it isn't there. The Sondek suggests the piano is being de-tuned repeatedly during the performance whereas all those other machines somehow agree that it was not de-tuned during the performance. The odd-one-out reports bizarre goings on in a recording studio, consistent either with playback wow, or someone de-tuning a piano as it's being played. The others all agree there was no de-tuning. I have given up believing that the Sondek reveals what others don't, and have reached the conclusion that it has audible wow, fixable by tethering the subchassis.

In other words, don't cross-grade the SME for a Sondek if you like tunes, spend the money on a nice phono stage.
I really should know better than reply to these unresolvable threads, but this particular thread has made me wonder about several factors:
1) if you have been listening to modified non-standard LP12's and how well these have been set-up?
2) Have you compared using the same arm and cartridge combinations
3) Have you actually listened to sound of a real piano, played by a real human? The way notes are played / the keys struck can influence how they sound significantly.
4) How do different people actually listen to music and what do they think is important ?

The notion of perfect pitch when I play guitar is not something that I hear or care about.

It's all about the muse, man.

A nice used LP12 is still the best bang per buck in the hifi world.

sonddek
21-01-12, 01:55 PM
1) if you have been listening to modified non-standard LP12's and how well these have been set-up?

I include demonstration decks set up by Colin Macey and Derek Jenkins in my recent experience. One thing that strikes me is the consistency with which the LP12 can pull off this trick of very subtle pitch-bending acoustic piano. It doesn't seem to matter which power supply, subchassis or downstream kit is used. That is what makes me think it is a feature of the suspension/drive design. I have not listened to a funk-vectored or spoked LP12 as a cross-reference, but it would not surprise me if those modifications went some way toward solving this particular bug-bear.

2) Have you compared using the same arm and cartridge combinations

I have compared full-spec Klimax SE Sondeks to Technics/Ekos II/Arkiv Boron and Technics/Ekos II/XX-2 and Amadeus/XX-2. I have also compared LP12/Lingo/Greenstreet/EkosII with various cartridges against Technics/EkosII by rapidly switching the arm from Sondek to Technics. I have also compared LP12/Lingo/Greenstreet/EkosII to Amadeus using the very same cartridges.

3) Have you actually listened to sound of a real piano, played by a real human? The way notes are played / the keys struck can influence how they sound significantly.

I listen to real pianos being played fairly often, and I am familiar with the sound they make.

4) How do different people actually listen to music and what do they think is important?

Unfortunately, it seems to me that in comparisons and dem rooms people often resort to listening to less important things like frequency response, and imaging. Accurate tunefulness isn't always a priority. Maybe it shouldn't be.

The notion of perfect pitch when I play guitar is not something that I hear or care about.

Nevertheless, it is very fundamental to the accurate reproduction of musical intent. You would prefer a guitar which stayed accurately in tune from one second to the next, even if you didn't know why it sounded better.

A nice used LP12 is still the best bang per buck in the hifi world.

I used to think that until I bothered to compare it rigorously. I now think that a Technics SL1200 is better bang for buck. With 3.5 million of them in the world, it took the onset of middle-age and a more enquiring approach for me to realise that the market had a point after all.

However, I accept that this level of pitch stability is not important to all listeners, and the Sondek is an exceptional deck in many many other ways.

PsB
21-01-12, 03:17 PM
i noticed the same phenomenon on some of the LP12 needle drops posted on here: a very slight wobbliness in the pitch of some notes that was not to be heard with the exact same record played on other decks (the Talking Heads' "And She Was" was the tune). It is very slight and it took me a while to notice it. The SME20 in that particular comparison was very pitch accurate.

flatpopely
21-01-12, 06:32 PM
Oh no here we go again.

Show me the evidence for dynamic wow on the lp12.......none I have seen so far.

You may not like what it does but come on, the stylus slowing the platter when driven by a motor, not heard this.

ZK
22-01-12, 02:43 AM
I thought I'd search for Linn LP12 and wow on the net and it came back with a number of articles saying Wow! :)

I then changed the search to look for dynamic wow and found something more interesting (from SRM/Tech's website)

"If the drive system of the turntable is contaminated it will cause belt slippage which manifests itself as dynamic wow. This type of wow is not noticeable as pitch instability, but it causes 'smearing' of transient detail, making the deck sound lifeless and lacklustre. Grease can get on to the belt every time you handle it, building up around the motor pulley and the sub-platter or platter rim."

Belt and Drive System Cleaning Fluid (http://srm-tech.co.uk/shop/article_BCF1/Belt-and-Drive-System-Cleaning-Fluid.html)

I have on a occasion used isopropyl alcohol and a cotton bud to clean the belt's path on my LP12, though I don't recall a notable difference.

I read elsewhere that a stretched belt can cause such problems as can a mat that slips.

If this is the cause, I wonder how other belt drive TT manufacturers have solved this issue. I know that Rega produced a white belt.

(I should add I have no connection with SRM/tech and have never used any their products. :D )

John R
22-01-12, 03:42 AM
There's also the issue of belt "creep" - as the belt enters and leaves the pulleys it creeps - it is this that causes the phenomenon of dynamic "wow" and this will affect all belt drive turntables, by nature of the application, not just the LP12.

Factors to be mindful of.. In the manufacturers control: belt quality, (in Rega's case they now offer the white belt) Linn's belt is very good indeed and their pulley accuracy is top drawer.

Factors in the owners control; belt stretch, cleanliness of belt and pulleys as stated in ZK's post above, so don't be a skin flint when buying a new belt - always buy genuine.

If one is concentrating so much on listening for the slightest issues with pitch stability, is one really enjoying the music or just getting hung up on issues that just do not irritate many music enthusiasts?

If we wished for better speed accuracy with belt drive systems surely synchronous (timing) belts could be adopted - so why haven't they? Quite simply this is due to a little issue called noise.

Regards

John R.

topoxforddoc
22-01-12, 03:55 AM
The most noticeable difference is always the transducer, be that at the front or back end of the system. So, in respect of the OP’s post, change the cartridge or cart/arm (as they need to work as a combo).

Elephantears
22-01-12, 04:34 AM
I'm coming to this late, so a clarification question; Sondek, have you heard the wow on specific recordings repeatedly or is it an entirely random effect. I mean, do you have to sit there and catch the Lp12 with its pants down, then cry Eureka when it pisses, or are you able to reliably demonstrate that it gets the tuning wrong on certain passages of music? If its the latter could you give some examples that we can try at home.

sonddek
22-01-12, 06:31 AM
To be honest, I don't want to derail the thread any further than I already have, so this is best discussed in the previous threads on this subject. Unfortunately I can't find the PFM threads where I last discussed this issue, but here's one on the Linn forum:
http://forums.linn.co.uk/bb/showthread.php?tid=12841

I have made my assessment of this issue using several records, but primarily a single pressing of American Pie by Don Maclean. I don't have special affection for this record, so that's why I chose to use it as a repetitive test track - it's no tragedy if I end up hating it. At the beginning of the song before the throng joins in there are several sustained piano chords delivered alongside the singing. I have found five separate Sondeks to fail in keeping those chords in tune over several seconds, in more or less the same fashion, whereas no other source I've listened to recently has struggled to keep that piano in tune. For that reason, I am very skeptical that this phenomenon is down to a greasy belt or other slippery excuse. Moreover, I find that tethering the Sondek's subchassis to the plinth completely cures the problem while unfortunately introducing other demerits.

I'm sorry to bore those who have already listened to this and who disagree with my opinion, but some listeners have agreed that they hear what I hear, so I accept that it is inconclusive. Each of us must make up his own mind. I hear some of the piano chords getting sharper during sustain in a way that a piano doesn't. Other sources play the chords as I would expect to hear them.

In the end this is a subtle effect, and if the Sondek's wow spec really is 0.08% then it is close to inaudible. Some listeners may not notice the effect or care about it. It's a great deck, but IMO it's outclassed in the wow department by several other decks. That may not be an issue for you. For me it makes the suggestion of cross-grading from SME20 to Sondek highly scrutable.

If you want to continue this discussion, let's take it to another thread. I think a later stage in the spoke thread here on PFM dealt with this issue, for example.

Andy1912
01-02-12, 01:08 PM
Just to complete this thread.... I did eventually opt for a new phono stage and special thanks to flapland for his suggestion, as I ended up buying a Whest 30R at what I thought was a very reasonable cost (included a trade-in of my P75). As you would expect the difference is substantial in the usual ways (more sophisticated, wider and deeper soundstage; greater clarity, unearthing of previously unnoticed aspects of LPs and so on). I guess you would expect that in view of the retail prices of the P75 and 30R.

Whether I would have got more bang for the buck elsewhere is impossible to say, but for sure the SME 20 sounds like a considerably better TT now, and I thought it was great beforehand. Right now I'm enjoying putting on my favourite LPs and hearing them afresh :)

Best wishes

Andy

the caretaker
01-02-12, 03:33 PM
heres my 2ps worth..turntable, arm, cart...none of these..if you have a pre amp and a power amp..the greatest change is the interconnects between amp and pre amp...in my humble opinion..spend the money here..my interconnects cost more than my hi fi eqpt..most reviewers say..if your eqpt is good enough, use these expensive interconnects..the assumption being that super duper hifi can only show super duper interconnects in their best light..it made my average hifi sound super duper..example..my mate came round to have a listen.i put on a well recorded jazz lp, he said it was the best that he had heard..! the thing was..the pre amp and power amp used to be his..the only difference were the interconnects?

flapland
01-02-12, 04:24 PM
Andy1912

Really glad James was able to sort you out and even more your delighted with the outcome. Did you visit him, if so you have to agree its a nice office system and some great vinyl as well.

sq225917
01-02-12, 04:29 PM
Andy glad you got sorted in the end, I'm still very tempted by the W30. Has anyone heard it against a TE Groove? (even using cheap cables, lol)

Andy1912
01-02-12, 05:14 PM
No I couldn't visit him sadly as I'm located up in Aberdeen. He certainly was very helpful though and I'd definitely do business with him again. To be frank, the deal I got was so good that even if I didn't like it, then I could re-sell and probably lose nothing. The 30R is quite shockingly large, I have to say - I was taken aback especially as the P75 is so small. It only just fits in my isoblue rack and is pretty much the size of my naim 200 power amp!! I've not heard the TE so sorry can't comment. I was always planning a superline, I guess (I have an all naim amp system), but to be honest I'm pleased to not be caught up in the whole power supply thing....

Best wishes

Andy