Vinyl!

Hello. Yes I know it’s been awhile since my last post yet again. It was my birthday yesterday and it was pretty nice – I went out for a great dinner with my family and got tons of new vinyl. Which leads me to the topic for the day.  Yes, I am now officially a hipster  – vinyl is definitely better.  Which is a volatile statement in itself.

Here’s the deal.  Awhile ago I hooked up my old Technics SL 1700 turntable to my pretty decent home theater system and was soundly (ahem) disappointed –  no high end.  No, it wasn’t due to my age related hearing loss; I am now bionic.  So I replaced the ancient Micro-Acoustics cartridge with a Grado Black – no good. My son had given me a pretty high-end phono preamp, a Lehman Audio Black Cube so I was pretty bummed. Could my NAD T 748 receiver, Sonus faber Venere 2.5 speakers and REL T5 subwoofer be calibrated in some way for digital sources? Logic would say no and  that a good receiver would amplify the sound as close to transparently as possible, and that a high-end speaker system, while offering some inherent coloration as all speakers do, would not contribute to significant high end and high mid-range frequency roll off.

So, after a long period of procrastination fearing it would make no difference, I replaced the table with a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable with a built in Ortofon 2M Red cartridge.

The difference was astounding! The high end was back and then some!  And interestingly enough the “brittle” high end of theCDs was gone! (For reference I’m using a Sony BDP S-790 Blu-ray player.)  I won’t get into the argument about analog vs. digital and the fact that from a purely “scientific” analysis at a high enough resolution people can’t hear the difference between digital and analog (vinyl record) playback.  I also won’t get into a discussion of bit rate and sample rate.

What I will do is tell you that after A/B ing several albums between CD and vinyl the difference is immediately obvious.  Not only (and I realize I’m using subjective language here) do the LPs sound “warmer” (or as I like to say less “brittle” than CDs – I think that term is more descriptive for me than saying CDs sound too “bright” for example) but the bass is smoother and the listening experience is less fatiguing.

But was really eye -opening was when I was comparing the Eric Clapton album from 1989 “Journeyman”.  The comparison was between an Audio Fidelity SACD and a new double 33 1/3 180 g pressing from the original analog master.  Not only did the vinyl sound “better” but I HEARD MORE DETAIL and in fact HEARD THINGS I HAD NEVER HEARD BEFORE on the tracks.

I should point out that it could be argued that the Blu-ray player I’m using is fairly high-end and that the turntable I used is considered by audiophiles as an entry level table into higher-end audio – the Ortofon 2M Red is the lowest end of the 2M series.

As far as the SL 1700 – my son took it and is using it as a science project.  He thinks a resistor or capacitor may have drifted.

So there you have it.  My totally unscientific test of digital versus analog.  Comments welcome and…

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

-Barry