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#1 2018-07-07 08:53:15

ohnonot
...again
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Audio Hardware

[MOD EDIT]
This thread split off from "What are you listening to right now?"
Please feel free to use it for general discussion of turntables, amps, speakers etc...

---
got me a turntable again.
a lot of research was involved, but i got a used Pioneer PL-445 (direct drive) cheaply.
It's good.
Absolutely no skipping even on my oldest, most mistreated records.
Using a normal Hi-fi amplifier from the same era (Onkyo TX-820) as preamp, because i have only active speakers.
The sound quality is good, but a little weak in bass and and too strong in treble.
Something is off; it's a little better when i use the headphone output.
or maybe the record player needs a new stylus.

Last edited by johnraff (2018-07-10 02:39:32)

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#2 2018-07-08 01:14:24

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

^ Taking the preamp out of the equation, I'd guess adjusting the tracking force would be the most obvious (and cheapest) route to increased low end. I'm assuming the turntable came with a stock Pioneer branded cart, which would probably mean it's an OEM Audio Technica unit (most probably AT70 series), and those usually have a recommended tracking force range of between 1.0 to 2.5g, depending on model (and tonearm they're paired with, obviously).

Last edited by johnraff (2018-07-10 02:39:49)

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#3 2018-07-08 08:22:46

ohnonot
...again
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Re: Audio Hardware

glittersloth wrote:

^ Taking the preamp out of the equation, I'd guess adjusting the tracking force would be the most obvious (and cheapest) route to increased low end.

you mean putting more weight on the needle, right?
by adjusting the weight that's on the other end of the arm?
am i assuming correctly that more weight should increase bass?

I'm assuming the turntable came with a stock Pioneer branded cart, which would probably mean it's an OEM Audio Technica unit (most probably AT70 series), and those usually have a recommended tracking force range of between 1.0 to 2.5g, depending on model (and tonearm they're paired with, obviously).

actually no, it's an Ortofon cartridge with a 5E stylus, together it reads "OMP 5E". so it's not exactly the same as this, but very close.
recommended tracking force is 1,5-2,0 g - i'm at 2.0 now according to what the wheel says, but still there's not much bass, and the trebles are decidedly hissy.
could a broken stylus behave like that? in other words, is it correct to assume that degradation in moveability reduces the bass, not treble?

Last edited by johnraff (2018-07-10 02:40:11)

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#4 2018-07-08 14:39:51

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

ohnonot wrote:

you mean putting more weight on the needle, right?
by adjusting the weight that's on the other end of the arm?
am i assuming correctly that more weight should increase bass?

Yes x3
Though never go too wild. The moment the increased bass response (if any) starts causing treble to deteriorate is your upper limit. Try playing with the tracking angle (your TT's manual is your friend) as well.

We don't know if your weakest link is the cartridge/stylus or the phono preamp on your Onkyo receiver, which is why I'm hesitant in recommending you go out and buy a new cartridge straight away. One thing I do know is that many "integrated" type amps and receivers tend to have rather compromised phono preamp stages.  Your observation of bass response being better via the headphone out is somewhat indicative of this, though it might simply be your headphones having a bassier signature to begin with. Also, in my experience, that series of Orto carts you're using does have a reputation of sounding a tad 'bright' to a lot of ears.

For starters, I guess it'd be best to do a web search on how to optimize a DD-TT for best performance. Here are a couple of examples - they do a far more eloquent job explaining than I can - found from a quick DDG search;
http://turntablebasics.com/advice.html
https://gizmodo.com/5216965/how-to-cali … ible-sound

Best to try getting the most out of what you currently have. Getting all the cartridge and tonearm settings right (VTA, VTF, alignment...) before you move on to other parts of your chain (preamp loads and gains, for example) helps narrow down the list of variables, and at the very least would help you get your prep steps sorted if/when you decide to purchase a new cart.

On the other hand, if the records you're playing are highly cherished or rare, then I would suggest a new cart and stylus regardless. Those can be replaced, while the record might be irreplaceable. Damaged styli can cut into platters. A change may or may not improve your sound, but it might prevent damaging your records.

Edit:
Sorry, I forgot to reply the second part of your post.

but still there's not much bass, and the trebles are decidedly hissy.
could a broken stylus behave like that? in other words, is it correct to assume that degradation in moveability reduces the bass, not treble?

It's usually more towards the opposite end in my experience, meaning it's the upper mid and high frequency detail that's affected first. Some instances, you get everything in those frequencies sounding veiled, highlighted by particularly muddled note attacks. Other times, it's plain sibilance due to mistracking. Either way, a clear giveaway would probably be increased surface noise in most cases.

Last edited by glittersloth (2018-07-08 17:46:45)

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#5 2018-07-09 00:49:57

johnraff
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From: Nagoya, Japan
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Re: Audio Hardware

@ohnonot and @glitterslob this valuable info could easily just be lost in the "listening" thread - how about splitting it off into something specific to this turntable, or alternatively, a generic "audio" thread?


John
--------------------
( a boring Japan blog , Japan Links, idle twitterings  and GitStuff )
In case you forget, the rules.

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#6 2018-07-09 10:46:05

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

^ I figure you can just delete the posts altogether (once you've made sure @notinen has read them). Making another thread just for this would probably result in more cobwebs for you to spring clean at a later date anyway. Either way do what you need to do.

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#7 2018-07-09 11:29:23

earlybird
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Re: Audio Hardware

glittersloth wrote:

^ I figure you can just delete the posts altogether (once you've made sure @notinen has read them). Making another thread just for this would probably result in more cobwebs for you to spring clean at a later date anyway. Either way do what you need to do.

It's fine. A nice YT channel with lots of info on turntables and styli is vwestlife (https://www.youtube.com/user/vwestlife). He's also big on DCCs.

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#8 2018-07-09 14:32:27

ohnonot
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Re: Audio Hardware

glittersloth wrote:

Try playing with the tracking angle (your TT's manual is your friend) as well.

can't! it's not the worst turntable, but the arm's height can't be adjusted.

We don't know if your weakest link is the cartridge/stylus or the phono preamp on your Onkyo receiver, which is why I'm hesitant in recommending you go out and buy a new cartridge straight away. One thing I do know is that many "integrated" type amps and receivers tend to have rather compromised phono preamp stages.

it can't be that bad!
i'm not talking about a hi-fi experience here, just low frequencies.
or do you mean it could get compromised over time?

Your observation of bass response being better via the headphone out is somewhat indicative of this, though it might simply be your headphones having a bassier signature to begin with.

no, i meant plugging the headphone out into the same active speakers.
i think it's better only because i have more options to boost the sound, chnaging the bass, adding loudness etc.

Also, in my experience, that series of Orto carts you're using does have a reputation of sounding a tad 'bright' to a lot of ears.

hmmm...
please have a lookt this image:
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f … &mode=view
would you say the angle is wrong? the tail end is hanging too low?
which means it's not the right cartridge for this arm/player?

For starters, I guess it'd be best to do a web search on how to optimize a DD-TT for best performance.
(...)
Best to try getting the most out of what you currently have. Getting all the cartridge and tonearm settings right (VTA, VTF, alignment...)

i did so many of those!
i'm pretty sure i did what i can in that respect.

It's usually more towards the opposite end in my experience, meaning it's the upper mid and high frequency detail that's affected first.

that's what baffles me.

thanks for all the helpful replies.

@mods: i don't care if you move this or not, just don't delete it!

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#9 2018-07-09 15:00:16

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

^ could you post a photo of the underside of the cart/stylus? I suspect your cantilever is whack, which would indeed explain lowered EQ (or complete loss) of certain frequencies. If that's the case, it's time for a change, preferably to a cart that isn't as tall.

Last edited by johnraff (2018-07-10 02:41:08)

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#10 2018-07-10 10:36:38

ohnonot
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Re: Audio Hardware

thanks for the confirmation, glittersloth. it tallies well with the answers i received here (there's also a picture of the underside).
did you see that thread, or did you come up with this analysis by yourself?

i think i'm down to asking for recommendations for a new cartridge now:

I was wondering if something more suitable for - let's call it Rock music, heavy on bass and fuzzy guitars - exists, and something that's more forgiving to the scratches in my records.
Unfortunately I couldn't find any information on cartridge/mount height...
so, i'm hoping for some recommendations.
I'd still like to stay in the budget class though.

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#11 2018-07-10 17:49:02

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

^ No, didn't read that thread. Shortening your original image link only took me to the main forum, and I didn't see any threads with your Pioneer model listed on the first pages in the TT or cart sections (I didn't know your forum name either, Mr. Groovish) at the time.

I just did some checking on the family your Pioneer* falls under, and figured the low mass arm paired with the rather tall profile of your P-mount (T4P) cart plus adapter/spacer combo would've lead to some "LeBron James riding monkey bike" complexities. Past experience told me your cantilever rigidity (or lack thereof, because the Ortofon 5 range isn't priced to include beryllium cantilevers) would be first casualty, though I must say the second pic you posted in your thread makes it seem like it twisted from really overforced tracking** or a logistical fault of some sort, not some mod as stated in one of the replies. Also, fwiw now that my memory has been re-jigged, the 'thin' sound you experienced could've well been hardened stylus suspension due to aging, which would in turn compromise the compliance levels, made particular worse with low mass tonearms.

As for carts; while I consider the P-Mount one of the greatest inventions in vinyl playback (and a bit of a missed opportunity), I'd say the path of least resistance would be to go with the half-inch type your tonearm was designed for. I'm a bit outdated on my cart knowledge, plus I have different TT+cart demands, since my vinyl rig is strictly for ripping these days. The "OEM" Audio Technica series 70 (or 90 series currently - 91/91r for conical stylus**, 95e/95ex for elliptical stylus - all under $50) half-inch mount carts would be considered "standard issue" replacements for your stock Pioneer cart today, though in my experience, low mass arms usually require low tracking force range of 0.75 - 1.5g, yet the suggested tracking force range for most of the supposedly "stock replacement" Audio Technica units are in the 1.5 - 2.5g range. Maybe your TT's manual can shed more light on this.

There should be equivalents from Shure, Grado, and maybe even some "vintage" style high-compliance models from Stanton. I think it'd be better to wait for some recs from that forum you asked the initial question at. That chap from Munich sounds like he could point you towards some decent choices.

* There's a PDF service manual available at the site for your PL-445. Mights want to check it out if you haven't already. Maybe you'll find extra info on your tonearm, which would help in your search for a cart.

** Basic rule of thumb - Low tracking force mates best with low mass arm. Low mass arms mate well with very high compliance cartridges. Compliance is basically a cartridge's ability to react to the tonearm's mass. Sadly, not even many manufacturers seem to remember the basics anymore.

*** do a web search for some basic knowledge on conical and elliptical styli, but don't go too deep. This subject is steeped in folklore, black-arts, placebo and all sorts of pseudo-scientific molecular weaselhogwash. My 2 cents; conicals would be more forgiving on worn records. Many would say I'm wrong and bring all sorts of evidence involving nude elliptical and Shibata type styli to prove it, and I'll simply reply with, "Dude, believe me, I tried, really really hard, but I just can't bring myself to give a flying fuck anymore." The end. Fin.

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#12 2018-07-11 09:13:36

ohnonot
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 3,895
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Re: Audio Hardware

glittersloth wrote:

I didn't know your forum name either, Mr. Groovish

yeah i like to change that around for different forums.

Thanks again for the detailed info and basically confirming it: i need a new cartridge.

The "OEM" Audio Technica series 70 (or 90 series currently - 91/91r for conical stylus**, 95e/95ex for elliptical stylus - all under $50) half-inch mount carts would be considered "standard issue" replacements for your stock Pioneer cart today

I've seen the AT 95E mentioned a few times as "being much better than the price suggests".

low mass arms usually require low tracking force range of 0.75 - 1.5g, yet the suggested tracking force range for most of the supposedly "stock replacement" Audio Technica units are in the 1.5 - 2.5g range. Maybe your TT's manual can shed more light on this.

the manual says 1.5 - 2.5g (and cartridge weight 3 - 8g), so i guess the audio technica cartridge fits perfectly.

how do you know it's a low mass arm? doesn't say in the manual.

PS:
i made some extensive comparisons of songs that i have on vinyl & could also find on youtube. some of them were ripped from vinyl. in one case i also downloaded a .flac track.
the bass is lacking, yes, but the effect is less pronounced than i originally felt. i might need new speakers, too...
it would seem now that the lack in bass is about equal in strength to the hissy trebles, so a new cartridge is still in order.

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#13 2018-07-11 17:55:05

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

ohnonot wrote:

the manual says 1.5 - 2.5g (and cartridge weight 3 - 8g), so i guess the audio technica cartridge fits perfectly.
how do you know it's a low mass arm? doesn't say in the manual.

Judged low mass based on web searches. Most forum threads that had your TT (or close siblings) mentioned low mass tonearms. Was just a bit thrown off by the tracking force since my own knowledge says low mass arms usuually pair with carts with recommended tracking force of 0.75-1.5g. Actually wanted to recommend a Shure M92e for that very reason (that and Shure carts are generally are a touch warmer sounding) over the Audio Technica, but if your manual states 1.5 -2.5g, I won't argue.

Now, to put a damper on things - I found this in the Q&A section of the Audio Technica site relating to the AT95E cart paired with Onkyo gear;

Hi, I bought this to replace a cartridge on my vintage Onkyo Dynamic Four 700 system and the output to the speakers is extremely low, very "tin-y" and lacking any bottom end. Switching back to the vintage cartridge seems to work fine.

The cartridge is being amplified through phono stage.

To be frank, your situation is a bit perplexing to me, mainly because I don't quite know your preamp. It is normal to experience slightly lower output from your phono stage relative to a line stage device. While we're talking phono stages, I think it would be a good idea to check your Onkyo TX-820 service manual as well to figure out the type of phono input you have. From the pics of the back I found online, I see only one phono input, but am unsure if it's for moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) type phono inputs. If it's a MC type stage, it would partially (though not definitively) compromise the final presentation, in which case it'd be better to avoid MM type carts like the AT95e or similar alternatives and go for a MC or MI (moving iron) type cart like this one. Thing is, the compromise should happen in the opposite direction - MC and MI carts tend to output lower than MM carts, so if your amp has a MC input, you'd technically get sound that's louder and even distorted from a MM cart setup, not the thin sound mentioned. Like I said, perplexing. Wish @pvsage were still here, since he was the resident wire-with-gain guy.

ohnonot wrote:

PS:
i made some extensive comparisons of songs that i have on vinyl & could also find on youtube. some of them were ripped from vinyl. in one case i also downloaded a .flac track.
the bass is lacking, yes, but the effect is less pronounced than i originally felt. i might need new speakers, too...
it would seem now that the lack in bass is about equal in strength to the hissy trebles, so a new cartridge is still in order.

Things is, I'm still not sure if your "weak" definition of bass is simply lowered volume of bass relative to mids and highs, or a complete loss of certain lower frequencies, or a loss of certain low frequencies in only one channel (either left or right). If it's the latter, then it simply might be down to the weird tracking angle your stylus is at thanks to the unsuited cart height and damaged cantilever. It's important to know how records are cut to understand this*. Think of each groove as a valley of sorts. One side is left, while the other right (assuming it's not a mono record, of course). If your tracking angle is compromised, then the stylus is probably covering more of one side than the other. If that alone was the cause, then a cart change would sort you out.

* best layman diagrams I found: http://www.vinylrecorder.com/stereo.html
Scroll down a bit and look at the animated diagrams after the part that says "the compromise", particularly the peft, right and stereo bits. That's basically how records have been recorded for the last few decades. Should give you an idea how your stylus "reads" the info in the grooves.

But if it's the former where the bass is simply less loud, resulting in the "tin-y" sound mentioned by you and that Q&A comment, then we might (but I hope not) be having a combination of damaged cart/cantilever + bad tracking angle thanks to unsuited cartridge height + some sort of gain mismatch between TT and phono stage. Yeah, -_-" *crosses fingers*

Edit:
Apologies if it's a bit messy. I've been busy and am a bit scatterbrained as a result.
I will not apologize for the pessimism though, since it defines me.

Last edited by glittersloth (2018-07-12 00:55:26)

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#14 2018-07-12 06:51:50

ohnonot
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Registered: 2015-09-29
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Re: Audio Hardware

glittersloth wrote:

Actually wanted to recommend a Shure M92e for that very reason (that and Shure carts are generally are a touch warmer sounding) over the Audio Technica, but if your manual states 1.5 -2.5g, I won't argue.

ok, thanks for the tip about shure carts anyhow.
i looked that one up and it's definitely inside my budget. but i fear the "universal mount" would be just as high as the p-mount i have now.

Now, to put a damper on things - I found this in the Q&A section of the Audio Technica site relating to the AT95E cart paired with Onkyo gear; ... vintage Onkyo Dynamic Four 700 system

i appreciate the effort, but that's a home stereo combination from 1970, i just don't see how that applies...

To be frank, your situation is a bit perplexing to me, mainly because I don't quite know your preamp.

I'm pretty sure it's a standard retail model from the late 80s or early 90s, and i'm guessing MM was (and still is) a de-facto standard for that. i.e., if nothing is mentioned otherwise, it's MM.
it's not mentioned in the manual.
and the output is neither too loud nor too quiet, and not distorted as such.
i remember testing the turntable once on a different (though same era) amp, when i was about to buy it, and noticed the same thing with the sound, but i was so stoked about the otherwise perfect performance that i was ready to attribute it to the sellers crappy speakers.

Things is, I'm still not sure if your "weak" definition of bass is simply lowered volume of bass relative to mids and highs, or a complete loss of certain lower frequencies, or a loss of certain low frequencies in only one channel (either left or right).

The effect is such that I can turn the bass up fully on my active speakers (*) (and slightly turn dowwn the treble), and the lowest bit of the low frequencies (that which for example gives the proper oomph to a bass drum) is just not there, or very weak.
it has nothing to do with general volume.

in-depth testing has now revealed that the effect is less pronounced. older records were simply mastered that way, and my speakers really aren't any measure by themselves, but the comparison with youtube stuff shows it clearly nevertheless.

however i have not considered that it might be happening on one channel only, will test more.

But if it's the former where the bass is simply less loud, resulting in the "tin-y" sound mentioned by you and that Q&A comment, then we might (but I hope not) be having a combination of damaged cart/cantilever + bad tracking angle thanks to unsuited cartridge height + some sort of gain mismatch between TT and phono stage. Yeah, -_-" crosses fingers

this p-mount definitely seems the wrong thing here.
the seller of the turntable also admitted that the cartridge is
a) something he put there and
b) anything but new (but stayed professionally vague on that matter...).

I will not apologize for the pessimism though, since it defines me.

no, that's not pessimistic, just realistic.

(*) they have actual bass & treble knobs (one reason i bought them).

anyhow, thanks a lot for taking the time to go through it with me!
i'll just wait a little longer for a reply to the other thread on vinylengine forums, then i'll make a decision about which cartridge to buy.

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#15 2018-07-13 20:14:00

glittersloth
...always giving it to you straight
Registered: 2015-09-30
Posts: 828

Re: Audio Hardware

ohnonot wrote:

i looked that one up and it's definitely inside my budget. but i fear the "universal mount" would be just as high as the p-mount i have now.

In my (albeit dated) experience, Shure adapters don't sit anywhere as tall as what's in your photo, but yeah, I suppose your fear is well justified considering your tonearm doesn't offer much adjustability.


i appreciate the effort, but that's a home stereo combination from 1970, i just don't see how that applies...

Didn't realize that system was that old. Anyway, I just wanted to put it out there for your consideration, if needed.


I'm pretty sure it's a standard retail model from the late 80s or early 90s, and i'm guessing MM was (and still is) a de-facto standard for that. i.e., if nothing is mentioned otherwise, it's MM.

If it's from that period, then yes, the usual default would be MM, since integrated preamp/amp/receiver systems are more consumer orientated (as opposed to enthusiast/audiophile oriented) and low maintenance MM carts are the more consumer-centric choice. That and MC compatible preamp circuitry is probably too complex (requires a front-end amplifier prior to the RIAA-compensated preamp) and expensive to include inside an integrated unit.

____________________________________________

Edit...
Checked your vinyl engine thread just now and looks like nobody has posted anything new. If so, then I guess the most pragmatic choice - in terms of compatibility and price - would be the Audio Technica offerings. Either that or one of the stock Pioneer branded replacements (which might be an even safer bet considering the AT95e doesn't have particular high compliance for a MM) we see on eBay or Amazon. Just a note: many of the Audio Technica entry-level MM carts tend to sound a tad brittle/bright when new, so you'll probably need to give em some 'bed-in' time before they sound their best.

If the sound is still anemic after the new cart install, we probably might need to play with load capacitance and shit.
Better be ready for some DIY if that happens.

* From all I've read online, the stock Pioneer branded replacement for your TT seems to be part of the (now discontinued) AT71 variant, which (unless I'm mistaken) comes with a recommend load resistance of 47kΩ and optimum load capacitance of 250pF (picofarads) for, while the 91 and 95 series recommends 47kΩ and 100-200pF. Obviously the optimum load capacitance will vary in the real world depending on many factors, but the difference in recommended loads may point to a small difference in the compliance levels between the stock Pioneer and AT95e carts.

Good luck.

Last edited by glittersloth (2018-07-13 20:17:55)

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#16 2018-08-02 01:09:40

gringo
Member
Registered: 2015-10-01
Posts: 8

Re: Audio Hardware

Love this thread-makes me miss my old home hi-fi setup for listening to music.
Due to my lifestyle over the past few years I have had to go mobile with laptop,portable dac amp,and headphones rather than a full sound system with speakers.
Fortunately Linux is brilliant for music reproduction,and after spending many hours downloading my cds and vinyl to flac format I can have all of my music wherever I am to a reasonable standard.
For anyone interested the portable dac amps I have used that work without a hitch with Linux are the Audioquest Dragonflys,Hrt Microstreamer,and Topping nx4.
Past headphones Audio Technica ath-mx50,AKG K550 mk2,now with Soundmagic hp200.
For a speaker I use a JBL Flip3,but looking at getting a Dali Katch as a compromise for a hi-fi sound.

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#17 2018-08-03 08:38:13

ohnonot
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 3,895
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Re: Audio Hardware

I did decide on the Audio-Technica AT95EBL in the end.
To my chagrin I must admit that the improvement is less pronounced than I hoped for.
My way of hearing music must have changed during the last decade or so of listening to digital only...

Thanks to gliitersloth for all the help.

I will now just listen to music, not analyze the sound too much - it is enjoyable.

currently: The Chills - Brave Words

aside: my ALSA-only system is capable of mixing in the Line input, ootb, so i can listen to the vinyl through my computer! i never knew this was possible without pulse- or jackaudio. i assume this will also make it easy to record some of it.

Last edited by ohnonot (2018-08-03 08:45:07)

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#18 2018-08-03 08:46:08

hhh
Meep!
Registered: 2015-09-17
Posts: 8,309
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Re: Audio Hardware

^ Those A-T cartridges were awesome when I used them in the eighties! smile

I'm amazed at the quality I get out of a Chinese $11 USD mono-output speaker and a laptop. Amazed.

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#19 2018-08-03 09:17:53

ohnonot
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Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 3,895
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Re: Audio Hardware

hhh wrote:

I'm amazed at the quality I get out of a Chinese $11 USD mono-output speaker and a laptop. Amazed.

me too, i have a tiny music angel (not my main speakers). only slightly more expensive, but amazing quality.

but surely not with vinyl?

i think both the recordings and the hardware were designed/mastered differently then.
very difficult to get a fluid listening transition from modern digital recording with all the compression and dynamic bass boost and whatnot, to an all-80s vinyl+amp experience.
i suspect my (fairly good & bulky) creative speakers are simply not designed to be connected to a record player + 80s amp. they expect digitally mastered & enhanced music.

nevertheless, I enjoy my current setup, and if nothing else the new needle won't destroy my records any further...

Last edited by ohnonot (2018-08-03 09:20:38)

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