CLASSICAl MUSIC WAS RECORDED with a bit more care than popular or rock albums. But they were meant to be played through the built-in phono stage inside most receivers. The speakers were often good at thumping out the bass lines and not so detailed in the midrange frequencies. I listened to a stock pressing of CSN&Y one day and realized how poorly the mixing job was done, and musicians were coming in slightly behind or ahead of the others, etc. If the front four were doing OK they didn't worry about the studio musicians as much. My James Taylor SBJ's record was also mixed kinda sloppy. These were not obscure groups, but what can you do? I always liked my Beatle records, but it seems many listeners are never quite satisfied with the sound no matter how many re-issues were offered. Blue Note (Jazz) records sounded really good (to me). Led Zeppelin on Atlantic was (much) better. Try playing the cassette if nothing else works- or buy a $30 re-master...
Welcome to the party my friend.
Good recording should sound amazing and poor recordings should sound enjoyable.
You’re right, and I still play (and enjoy) the “terrible” ones. Just never understood how much better a truly good recording can sound. The SQ gap between good and poor seems much larger now (to my ears).
You now have the gear. Avoid the darkside....REISSUES!
Discogs is your bible for original presses.
I have found that beyond the situation in which you now find yourself, there is a promised land where your system can find the "good" parts of a badly recorded LP. (Can't do much about bad musicianship.) Nowadays there are very few LPs that spur me to call a halt, get out of my chair and change to some other LP, just based on sonic nasties. But before now, I did go through that period where my system made the bad over-rule the good, but the good sounded great. I can't put my finger on what makes the difference, but it is not that I added a bit of euphonia to the mix. The right combination of cartridge and tonearm makes a big difference, but it is very difficult to predict what exactly goes with what, except by trial and error, unfortunately.
Funny sometimes it's your speakers connection came lose.People set up there stuff and forget about it....I may not be the pressing ,or your speakers, just a connection. It happens.
Welcome to the ever widening rabbit hole of audio bliss!
It gets dark in there.......
However to be serious......
I would tend to agree with Lewm that nothing I play truly makes me want to rip the offending record off the platter due to its SQ.
What I would say is my state of affairs right now is.....
The poor recordings sound ok, sometimes can grate in areas but generally more than acceptable to still be enjoyable.
But the good and great recordings?
These just sing with all the good attributes highlighted in sonic bliss.
Now I used to buy all sorts from bargain bins and sure there was some gems but a fair amount of dross to accompany it.
My advice would be to look for good original first pressings, white label promo and some MFSL albums.
I generally search using nothing lower than EX,NM and M record gradings now as most people's VG+ just about make my G+ grading.
Above all......have fun!
I am definitely experiencing the same newbie bliss as you. I have been listening to records my whole life (I'm 55) and after 40+ years I finally put together a great system. I bought a VPI Super Prime Scout from Upscale with a Soundsmith Othello cart, and found a Threshold NS10 and Parasound HCA-800II for a really good deals. I topped it off with a vintage pair of Snell J3's. I mean wow. Like you, I finally get it. Now get a copy of Hugh Masekala "Hope" and be ready for the neck hairs raising and the tears of joy from such great sound. I am a musician (Trumpet and Drums) and a have done quite a bit of home recording and mastering. I never really paid much attention to the end user aspect. Now I am more the end user. I get it. I am fully inside the rabbit hole. Just bought a Soundsmith Zephyr MK III cart to replace my Othello, though honestly I'm not sure my system can sound any better than it does now. Here's to the Rabbit hole. Cheers
Thank you everyone! Glad I’m not alone in the rabbit hole.
Yes but Alice has NOTHING on us!
People need to embrace streaming. It is the 21st century. However, I do like the look of a $20,000 turntable.
I think you will find that the majority of members here with a nice vinyl setup do also stream.... A lot....
Majority of members posting in what's on your turntable tonight thread absolutely do, myself included.
But there is still something other worldly magical about vinyl.
Call it distortion if it makes you happy but it has it and streaming just does not to the same extent.
And you can argue all day until the cows come home over that one.... Lol.
I re-read what I wrote above, and I realize it's possibly confusing, so kudos to Uber for more or less getting my idea. Here's a better way to say it: Over the decades, I have developed some biases regarding record labels. For example, I don't expect much in the way of top notch SQ from Atlantic jazz LPs. The sound tends toward the muddy and dull. Roulette LPs are usually unlistenable, shrill and tinny sounding. Tragic that much of Sarah Vaughn's ouvre is recorded on Roulette. I've always also felt that Blue Note is over-rated, sort of like the Atlantic sound with muddy bass, at least sometimes. In my current set-up, I have 3 cartridges on 3 different tonearms feeding two different systems, on which all those labels are not only tolerable, in some cases I sit there thinking why is this sounding so great? A fourth tonearm/cartridge combination does not give me such a thrill, although on well recorded LPs it sounds fine enough. In the preceding several months I was running the very same set of 4 cartridges but mated differently to the same 4 tonearms, with much less "magic". My personal oddysey with all this equipment seems to be telling me that one should think of the tonearm and cartridge as a closed system. If you can find a pairing that interact synergistically there can be a sort of magic that does not necessarily happen if you just mate an "expensive" tonearm with an expensive cartridge, which if done blindly can be very underwhelming.
Guys, I appreciate your thoughtful responses. I think in my original post I should have flipped the narrative to say that I am amazed about just how awesome some of my records sound. With my new set-up I am astounded about how some of my albums just make me go "Holy S***!" While the others, most often the reissue 180 gram "audiophile pressings", are enjoyable but sound less alive. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I think you all understand. In other words, I now finally get the value of consideration paid in searching out really good vinyl. Steve Hoffman forums have become my friend when looking for these reviews. YMMV. Am I having fun? Heck yes!
Did you mention which speakers you use?
I too recently bought the same amp but at the
same time started a remodel of my listening room
so all the gear is packed into my office. Nearly done
with the work and can't wait to get it hooked up again.
Congrats on the new system!!
Jerry, I am an analog guy since the early 1970s. I play CD in my car (and I do have a bad-ass car audio system) but probably will get streaming and a quality DAC next year. I have bought a variety of high quality audio systems over the years and for the past 1 1/2 years have been creating the best system of my life. I recently added a new Rega Planar 10 and a Lyra Delos phono cartridge (rather then the Rega cartridge) and it far surpasses the performance of my last deck. I am quite certain the Manley Chinook phono stage and my BAT preamp & amp play a tremendous role in it all, as does the upper-end Audioquest signal cables, power cables, speaker cable, and power conditioner. A system is just that, a system. Mating some nicely matched components delivers a wonderful experience. The joy of vinyl is really quite something special. When you sit in "the sweet spot" and just about fall into the music, and it's very 3-dimensional, almost holographic, there is nothing like it. I have never heard streaming music do that. Maybe it is capable, but I have not yet received that demonstration. Steve Hoffman forums are very helpful on the subject of SQ for your particular albums of search, no doubt. I will disagree with tablejocky, though, about avoiding reissues. There are plenty that are a waste of money, no doubt about that. But, there are so many that are spectacular and will provide that magical moment for you. Just a few examples; Stevie Ray Vaughan, In Step (Analogue Productions and Quality Record Pressings), Paul Simon, Graceland (25th Anniversary Edition and RTI pressing), Carole King, Tapestry (Mobile fidelity Original Master Recording), Joni Mitchel, Blue, Jeff Beck, Blow By Blow (Analogue Productions and Quality Record Pressings, 45 RPM).
There are so many more that sound so incredible, they can bring tears to your eyes.
Enjoy the journey and welcome to the wonderful world of vinyl.
Sometimes bad recordings can have endearing qualities that you will eventually recognize.
I wonder if you can purchase a more forgiving “musical” cartridge for poorer recordings?
Consider ultrasonic cleaner if you have not already. Especially if you bargain bin and listen to older records. You'd be surprised how much ground dust accumulates in 40-60 years. Though that dust could tell some pretty cool party stories.
I have done the same thing resently. But in a much smaller scale. And it goes in waves.
I have done most of the things I could do in the vinyl playback chain. And that is a lot over several years (!).
I almost gave up. The magic were there and were gone and now it is back in full effect.
To illustrate what I have done to get there:
Löfgren B Arc protractor
Dynamic adjustment and by ear SRA
Peter S anti-scating procedure
Speed adjustment while playing
Good ML stylus and cartridge(s)
Redraw tonearm cables with pure silver wire
Replaced RCA cables with known uF fully shielded
Upgrading dedicated power supplies
3 different RIAA Amps tested
Passive pre amp with coils
Build my own power amplifiers (driven by car battery)
Pure silver dual shielded ala chord DYI speaker wire
Bookshelves upgraded with top of the line crossover components
And dual 8" sealed sub
Dedicated room with sub 300ms decay times
Treated reflections points
All lined up perfectly to the wall boundaries
Now I lend my RIAA to a friend. I had another RIAA in the meantime that the op-amps I had upgraded to audiophile grade developed for hi-fi MUSES 01. That were superior too the original
But here is the catch.. I ordered fully descret op-amps to try them out. And surprise they were better than the MUSES! And the they played one octave lower than the MUSES couldn't.
But they also made vinyl playback so much more enjoyable like your experience.
So I have not powered on my new streamer and DAC yet since then.. and just enjoy my vinyl collection for the moment.
And it took all those years as in a roller coaster to get too this point..
Congratulations on your sonic breakthrough!! In my experience the most common reason for a recording to sound bad is that it is not a first pressing. That is not to say that bad recordings don't exist-there are a lot of them. But, the least crummy sounding will be a first press, and sometimes the differences are astounding. Discogs is a great site to determine true first pressings. I truly enjoy "the hunt" in finding replacement vinyl for my non-first presses. I agree with Uberwaltz that you need to stick to EX/ NM grading when purchasing used records on line, and even so, most grading is visual and doesn't always translate into a quiet record. I agree with the advice to largely avoid reissues. With tape degradation many have lost the magic. The Beatles reissues however are glorious! Ultra clean records are also a must. Besides removing a lot of noise, a veil is usually lifted revealing more detail and a better sense of "being there". Having gone trough the entire spectrum of cleaning options, I feel comfortable stating that Ultrasonic cleaning seems to work the best, but that is a topic for another thread. Enjoy!!
With my new set-up I am astounded about how some of my albums just make me go "Holy S***!" While the others, most often the reissue 180 gram "audiophile pressings", are enjoyable but sound less alive. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I think you all understand. In other words, I now finally get the value of consideration paid in searching out really good vinyl.
How right you are. You will know when you have a really fine system because everything will sound better than you ever imagined, and some really good recordings will sound better than you ever even imagined was possible. If you want to know what I mean, I highly recommend spending some time searching around Better-Records.com It takes some time to search around and you might have to wait a while for a record you really want to come up but when you do it will be worth every penny. I have several and every one of them is on a whole other level even compared to some of the best ones I had before. Or if you disagree, send it back. But I doubt you will be able to do that. I never can.
My first was Fleetwood Mac Rumours. I have an early issue original, Nautilus half speed remastered, and the 45 reissue. Tom Port’s White Hot Stamper blows them all away. Its not even close. Played the 45 for a guy one time he said, "That’s gonna be hard to beat" and then could not believe how much better the White Hot Stamper was. Its laugh out loud silly how good some of these are. Tom Petty, never even knew he had genuine demo disc quality material until I heard the WHS of Southern Accents. Nilsson Coconut is another one. Freaking insane sound quality! Hot Stampers- best kept secret in audio!
Hi @millercarbon, funny you should bring that up! I just ordered my first LP from Better-Records, an early release White Hot Stamper of Black Sabbath's self-titled debut. I am so excited to hear it, especially after your comments above. Will report back once received (should be here next week).
@mammothguy54, my copy of SRV's In Step from Analogue Productions is on the way!
To everyone else who has been responding to this post... THANK YOU! I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights.
White Hot Stampers (A+++) cost a small fortune but to me are totally worth it. This is just me, but I've had enough now to be able to do a fairly good comparison. Which is hard, because ultimately its never just the pressing being compared, you are also to some extent comparing the recordings. Which are all different. Many times you have no way of knowing how good the recording really was until you find that one special A+++. Like happened to me with Southern Accents.
All of these Stampers are of course nothing more than the same records you could find at your local store or garage sale. Nothing special other than Tom has culled through who knows how many record store records and compared them side by side and found the very best examples. So you could do the same. Probably if you bought 20 to 50 one of them might be A+. Logically then if you have a couple hundred records in your collection it stands to reason one or two, maybe a few, are this good.
In my experience though none of my records sounds as good as the lowest A+ Hot Stamper I've bought from Better-Records.com The White Hots are way above that in a class of their own. They sound so much better that to me the exorbitant price is well worth it. Many times a mailer comes out and a White Hot I'm interested in is there and as fast as I can go look its gone.
Incidentally, Tom recommends the Walker Enzyme cleaning method. This one uses dry enzyme you mix (and use within 24 hours) followed by a more conventional detergent cleaning followed by 2 rinses. The whole kit is kind of spendy so I bought just the enzyme and cleaner. Haven't compared many cleaners but Walker is way better than the Disc Doctor solution I was using before. My Walker Enzyme cleaned records sound similar to Toms, just not quite as good of course.
I've never heard that Black Sabbath so interested to know what you think. Got a hunch you didn't fork that much dough for music you don't love to death, and so my bet is your jaw drops when you hear what it sounds like now.