PC Rules

I conducted a test which compared playing an LP, and listening to the same LP on PC playback. The PC play back was a clear winner, it was equivalent to a cartridge upgrade. I attribute this to my rebuilt vinyl computer interface.

After buying a new interface, I removed and replaced all of the capacitors with superior caps; this would be the same as having a superior phono pre between you and the computer.

If you're not getting the same results, don't blame it on the computer.
So you're telling us that your LP's sound better when you convert them to digital, and then back to analog via your computer, and then put the signal through your amplifier to your speakers, versus when you send the analog LP signal through your (phono) preamp, and then through your amplifier to your speakers. Do I have that right?

Interesting results.

However, it would help us determine what to make of this finding of yours if you could provide us with a list of your system components, particularly:

Your turntable;
Tone arm;
Preamp, (including phono preamp, if any);

Without knowing all of the key components of your experiment, we can't examine the reasons for why your results are what they are.
Kurt_tank,your first paragraph is 100% correct. The only thing that's relevant to this discussion is the computer interface. With this interface, you would get the same results. When there is a demand for this product, it will appear.

What I did, is not rocket science; upgrading components by replacing capacitors isn't new.

Please believe me, I'm not trying to be brash; when you think about your question, and my answer, you'll realize this.
So exactly how did you A/B your testing? How were you set up to be able to switch back and forth so you could at least directly compare your direct-analog-to-analog vs. analog-to-PC-and-back? And how did you handle or control for temporal variations, stuff like that?

Sorry for all the questions, but I was always taught that human perception and associated memories - visual or auditory - followed certain approximately equal patterns. And yes, that does ultimately equate "ear-witness" testimony with eye witness testimony (which is now one of the worst bits of evidence to have to use for a conviction...). I'm guess I'm just curious about how folks reach conclusions such as you've described and the processes and testing used to get there. Thanks!
"if you're not getting the same results..." I guess i wouldn't if i had a decent Phono box for the stereo.
Which I do. end of story.
Funny how folks think they have a lock on the world in thier own backyard.
Now if you said this is what happened to you, and upgrading the caps is a good idea, Fine. But to say this is the better solution and is THE solution for everyone, LOL.
04-20-11: Orpheus10

"The only thing that's relevant to this discussion is the computer interface."

What? So, you are saying that the computer interface is making the LP sound better than the LP itself? Not on this planet.
Maybe his new interface is a "hot stamper".

Mr._Hosehead, the computer is in the basement, and the listening room is upstairs. I recorded the LP through an Audiolab 8000-C pre to line in of computer interface. I added this to my playlist. After that, I took the TT upstairs to phono of Audible Illusions. The computer comes to tape in of Audible Illusions. The TT was cued in at the beginning of the same LP that was being played back from the playlist. I could switch back and forth between the phono and tape, this allowed me to make a very good comparison. The difference was striking; record noise was audible from the TT, but none from the playback. Now that my records are on hardrive, I no longer use the TT.

It is unlikely that this product will ever reach the market: A- you don't believe it, B- computer people don't need it, C- no one is going to put money into something without a market.
There are A/D converters and software for transferring lps to computers and servers and I'm sure there will be more and better ones as time goes on. I think that one day most audiophiles will think that digital (not cd) sounds better than vinyl. Digital is improving rapidly.

I have read quite a few posts from people who think their cds converted to WAV or Flac files sound better than the original cds, same goes for lps. Don't be surprised if some of the vinyl enthusiasts around here don't receive this possibility enthusiastically though.
Few, if any, people know how to conduct a true A/B test, especially since it must include 'others' who will make the determination, not the person who sets it up.

Tomcy6, I'm glad someone else beside me, is aware of this phenomenon.

The LP I used was pristine and washed. If you played it on your "high end rig", you would say there was no noise; however, if you made a side by side comparison with a "blacker" background, you would discover there was noise you were unaware of.

Reviewers who reviewed FM Acoustics phono pre's described this phenomenon; they called it "outer space black".
Rather than comparing vinyl to a hard drive recording of that vinyl you actually may have compared the line stages of a solid state preamp to a solid state preamp running through a tube buffer stage and differences in turntable stands/supports. What you should have done was make recordings of the stock interface and then recordings of the upgraded interface and then compared.

I also have a problem with your declaration that one sounds better. A recording can only sound faithful to its original or not. If the recording doesn't sound like the original, then by definition there is distortion in the recording chain. For any number of reasons you make like the sound of those distortions better than the undistorted original, but you are listening to a distorted version.
The original recording is those "squigly" things on black vinyl. The quality of the components between those "squigly" things and your ear determine how good the sound is. Each time the signal goes from one stage to the next, a new signal is born; consequently, by the time it gets to your ear, it has been reborn many times.
Unless your squigly things generates some sort of immaculate conception the rebirth process must involve the passage of data from one generation to the next. The issue then becomes whether that data is passed unaltered, or does some distortion creep in?

BTW, none of this will matter after 8:11pm.
isn't this really about the sonic signature of whatever DAC is being used? perhaps the OP simply prefers his DAC's sound over the 'un-digitized' version. when I make CDs of my LPs, there's a noticeable increase in the bass, and the amount of increase is different depending on whether I'm playing through my CDP or through a different CDP using a DAC.
So if your theory is correct you should be able to loop the recording through your PC and continuously improve the sound on each loop? This is a fantastic breakthrough that could be the sonic equivalent of perpetual motion. My hat is off to you sir!
I'm guessing you must really like the new coloration you receive from your computer A/D-D/A, and whatever else involved, in comparison to the original source.

ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

I don't think anyone despises it, it just doesn't make any sense to some. On the surface of it it sounds like you're just putting a bigass EQ in the circuit.
Read the fable about the wager between the North Wind and the Sun. It might help you better reframe your arguments.
It's much more fun this way.

Onhwy61, your statement in regard to the solid state preamp is valid. The stock interface was "crap". After you get a better cartridge, do you say the sound from the lesser cartridge was the true sound, since it was the first one you heard?
Unless you where in the mastering room at the time the final mixes were approved you can never know the true sound of a recording. What I can determine is whether a recording of a vinyl, CD or tape recording sounds like the original recording when played back on the same systems in the same room. In other words a copy of a copy should be indistinguishable from the "original" copy. If I want to remaster the copy that's a whole other thing.
04-20-11: Orpheus10
The computer is in the basement, and the listening room is upstairs. I recorded the LP through an Audiolab 8000-C pre to line in of computer interface. I added this to my playlist. After that, I took the TT upstairs to phono of Audible Illusions. The computer comes to tape in of Audible Illusions. The TT was cued in at the beginning of the same LP that was being played back from the playlist. I could switch back and forth between the phono and tape, this allowed me to make a very good comparison. The difference was striking; record noise was audible from the TT, but none from the playback.
The obvious interpretation of all of this seems to me to be that you've proven (at most) that by changing phono stages (and perhaps cartridge loading as well), and simultaneously introducing a particular a/d converter circuit and a particular d/a converter circuit into the signal path, you've modified the sound so as to reduce "record noise" and make the overall sound quality subjectively preferable to you, in your particular system.

Nothing more.

But perhaps less, considering that the turntable was not only moved, but was exposed to the sound from your main speakers during the A/B comparison while not being similarly exposed during the ripping process; there may have been differences in its support and leveling, as Onhwy61 noted; and there conceivably could have been other relevant differences in rfi/emi, cabling, ground-loop related noise, power distribution, etc.

As I see it, the changed phono stage in itself invalidates the "PC Rules" conclusion, not to mention all of the other variables that were involved.

-- Al
Onhwy61, if you use noise reduction equipment, the copy is better. If you record to 1/2 track tape, the copy is better.
When you use a phono pre, the pre is making a new copy from the cartridge; each phono pre is different, what sound is the original sound? Every time you change equipment, you get a different sound, which sound is the original sound?
Actually for some its easier to argue what you cannot and will not prove than it is to accept the fault in your logic.

The fox had the perception of sour grapes in your story, although he could not proove it. Where as the vinyard took those grapes and put them thru a first pressing and the community drank wine.

I encountered a hum problem when I went "phono in". That will require complete disassembly and a new modification. This will take a day.

As a result of Onhwy61's comment, I went "phono in" on the interface. After encountering a "hum" problem that required a complete disassembly and new modification, I'm back.

"Santana Abraxas" is the test record. I bought this record in 1971, this is my third copy; the record I'm using is new. To say I'm familiar with this record is an understatement. I played this at a high end emporium using Sota, Arc electronics and top of the line Thiel speakers, that's what I'm going to be comparing today's results with. The cover on this album is the most provocative I've ever seen, you can check it out online.

"Singing Winds, Crying Beasts" is the first cut, it's also my favorite. These "tinkly" chimes test a systems resolution like you wouldn't believe. I'm going to enjoy the music and give you my conclusion later.

While listening to Santana I could see faces and places flash before my eyes; head shops in Chicago, events that lasted for three straight days in the park. That was a time when everything was "cool and groovy"; it was "The Age of Aquarius", those were the days my friend, I thought they would never end. This is what I call "the flashback factor", it's got to be good when that happens.

In the comparison with Sota, Arc, and Thiel, you could see the music; no such luck, but this was better than I have ever heard on my rig which includes: Grado Sonata, Rega P3-24, incognito tone arm wire, heavyweight for tonearm, Sheer Audio Platter, Groove Tracer sub platter; those tweaks help a lot.

with the stock new interface, I got the best results going "line in". It's an excellent product for "non audiophiles". After the mods, going "line in" had become a habit. Not until Onhwy61's comments did I go "phono in". The sonics were so improved over going straight into the listening room pre, that there was no need to haul the TT upstairs. While the most dramatic improvement was in dynamic range, there was improvement across the entire spectrum, similar to a big upgrade in cartridge.

I don't believe an audiophile PC interface for analog will ever be available. When you say "analog", PC people give you a blank look, and when you say "PC", analog people don't believe what's possible. But it's all about "whatever floats your boat". My mission is accomplished, enjoy the music.
You must of been into that west coast canadian hydro again eh!
In regard to audio, PC is 100% unlimited; the only limitations are the input and output audio devices.
Isn't that what we were made to beleive when digital CD's were introduced?
Redbook CD is a single digital format and should not be used to judge the capabilities of digital recording. Unless someone starts engineering new vinyl mastering lathes or tape recorders, and that ain't happening, then the future of digital is virtually unlimited when compared to analog. Will digital's potential ever be commercially realized? That's another issue.

Imagine if you will, a square wave, as opposed to music on the record. My rig will slightly round off the corners, while a much more expensive rig would do a better job. This square goes to the 1st stage of the interface where it is reproduced as a better square due to the upgraded capacitors. That stage gives the signal to a 2nd stage before it enters the computer and is transformed into digits. The 2nd stage makes a larger improved square as a result of the capacitors.

After the signal is changed to digits it goes to the hardrive. Square, triangle, or circle are all the same to the computer and it's digits. Those digits are stored on the hardrive where I can select them for my "playlist". On playback, the digits go to a Music Streamer II where they are transformed back into analog and sent to the preamp.

All of this enables me to hear my 40 year old LP's in a fashion that I never heard them before I posted on the "hum" problem. What I hear now, is a quality of sound that reviewer's describe when relating their first listen to a very expensive analog rig. "My old music sounds brand new, it was almost like hearing it for the first time". Of course, if you can afford that type of analog rig; why not skip the digits.

Enjoy the music.
Orpheus10, I think you're on the wrong track about what's going on. In analog every stage loses some fidelity, whereas in digital that doesn't have to be the case. In your example the square wave single isn't getting improved as it passes through your upgraded device. The best that can happen is that it doesn't get degraded as much as previously done with your non-upgraded device.
Onhwy61, what are the purposes of stage 1 and stage 2 ?

Think of this as you would a DTI; a digital transmission interface which functions between the transport and the DAC. Almost any transport DAC combination will sound better with a good DTI.

This is a phono computer interface. The better the TT rig, the better the end result. While there are high quality DTI's, there seem to be no high quality "phono computer interfaces". The best results in downloading vinyl to hardrive are impossible without one, which is why I purchased what was available and replaced parts.