What do you mean you “heard” the turntable


I don’t get it. Maybe I just don’t have the biological tool set, but I read all the time how someone heard this turntable or that turntable and they comment on how much better or worse it sounded than some other TT, presumably their own or one they are very familiar with. 

Thing is, they are most likely hearing this set up on a completely different system in a completely different environment. So how can they claim it was the TT that made the difference?  The way “synergy“ is espoused around here how can anybody be confident at all considering how interdependent system interactions are. 

Can someone illuminate me?
last_lemming
I think you're absolutely right. All that's missing is the system/room that made a difference.

If I would dare to say this I would say ''they are pretending'' to

hear whatever differences . But I don't dare.

What I’ve "heard" in comparing tables and arms in my system, using the same cartridge, was artifacts that went missing on the better set up. For example, when I went from a Kuzma Reference and Triplanar to the Kuzma XL and Airline, there was less of a ’halo’ and sense of a turntable spinning as the source of the sound. I didn’t appreciate that artifact was there until it was absent. Does that make sense?
Similarly, when I changed platter weights, from the factory screw down clamp to the Stillpoints some years ago, at first I thought the Stillpoints robbed the bass from the system, but after adjusting the woofers and tweaking the gain, it was pretty obvious that the factory clamp was adding something- a bump in the mid bass that gave the sound a more propulsive aspect; without it, and the Stillpoints in place (after adjusting other things mentioned), the Stillpoints made everything a little more relaxed, less frenetic. I prefer that.
These things weren’t something I had to strain to hear- they were apparent.
The difficulty in my estimation is getting the tables/arms, etc. in one system and being able to compare them directly without other variables.
@whart, 

You have a great gift my friend. I always enjoy reading your writings.

Your remarks about the Stillpoints LP-I, remind me of my current thoughts about what I'm hearing. I may have said it differently but, in the end, it all comes out to be the same meaning.
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Weird, i tagged @slaw and it showed up blank. Very kind of you to say that, Slaw. Thanks!
Something that use to amaze me in some of the UK mags' reviews of turntables is when the review included a comparison to a competing table, and the other table was fitted with a different arm and cartridge!

last_Lemming

Google .....Goldilocks and the three turntables

and for a visual....

click on the big, bad wolf, then go to Picture 8 on system details.

The TT's are not supposed to ''sound'' so if one hears sound

differences those should be ascribed to the records. Those

may detect what is wrong with the turntable.

nandric

The TT's are not supposed to ''sound'' so if one hears sound differences those should be ascribed to the records.

No audio component is completely transparent, and that's especially true with turntables, pickup arms and phono cartridges. Turntables most definitely have a "sound" to them, even if they're designed to be neutral.


@bdp24  I find most magazine reviews and reviewers to be next to useless for evaluation purposes, the UK ones doubly so. Poor methodology, watered down criticism, flavour of the month recommendations, editorial constraints etc leave them barely fit for entertainment purposes.

Online reviewers have many advantages. Here's one of the better ones, HiVinNiws channel.

https://youtu.be/ogiWnw5X0ZI

For me, the sitting of the deck is the most important factor. With good placement even a budget deck can yield good results, and then there's the old stylus assembly super glue trick. 

Amazing how seemingly large differences suddenly start closing up after a little care and attention. 

As for magazine reviewers, I would never trust them after leading us up so many blind alleys - the sorry speaker spikes fiasco being one of the worst. Talk about the blind leading the blind, these self appointed dabblers in pseudoscience are regularly corrected by the readership. At least those they dare to print.

It's good to see reason prevail and some manufacturers now also offering decoupling rubber cones in addition to the regular (but misguided) steel spikes.

Whart,

your experience is valid, but  only because you are comparing with in your system with all other variables being equal. 

 My problem is people on this form say they were here or there and they heard a turntable on a completely different system in a completely different place and they say how much more transparent or how much more clear or clean or better bass or whatever. How can they be sure of what they are hearing. To me they’re hearing what they wanna hear.  I’m not saying what they are hearing is not better than what they have heard but they can’t contribute, for sure, what aspect made the sound better so how can they so easily recommend something under these conditions? 
@last_lemming - I agree that it is very hard to find an opportunity at retail where you can make such comparisons. I don't read the magazines much any more, so I don't know what they are doing in terms of turntable evaluations.
There was a very good shoot-out a number of years ago in HiFi+ on line stages where Roy G. and Alan Sircom compared 5 or 6 units, did in-depth reviews and second opinions and that seemed pretty 'spot on' as the Brits say. I owned one of the units being tested -(not the actual unit under test but another serial number of the same model) and the review seemed to match my experience in terms of the unit's strengths and weaknesses.
As for turntable comparisons, I suppose the best resource for this may be that handful of well-heeled audiophiles who run multiple tables, arms and cartridges. There have been 'visits' by other audiophiles on the forums where they discussed what they heard and posted about it. And, to the extent there is some bias by one person, perhaps that gets ironed out when multiple listeners are involved.  

Unless the comparisons are done in a known system and lived with for a period of time with the ability to go back and forth between the tables being reviewed the comparisons really aren't vallid, another words what @whart  said. Also on the Stillpoints LPS he hit it on the head, I find myself going back and fourth between it an a BDR screw down clamp depending on the album I am playing. As a rule, when the upgrade bug bites and it is a piece I love, I never sell it till I have lived with the new piece and satisfied it is an upgrade.
I have a new Technics SL-1200G and vintage SL-MK1600 MK2.  With all things being equal except the tables, trust me, I can mostly certainly hear the difference.
I have some very nice recordings of Doug MacLeod , Terry Evans, and Sam McClain. They are all on the Audioquest label and recorded with all Audioquest wire in the recording chain. They all have a very discernible Audioquest signature. I have a whole slew of records recorded all over the place that were all mastered at The Mastering Lab by Doug Sax. Because they cover performers as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, Nelson Riddle and Jackson Browne I could play those all night long and unless you know Doug Sax if you were paying attention at all you would almost certainly assign the Doug Sax signature sound to some component in my system. Which flattering as that would be would be wrong.

The more transparent a system the less it imposes on the signal and the more it becomes whatever signal happens to be passing through. There's one record I could hardly stand to play through the first side. It made my system so unlistenable! Reading the jacket I discovered it was proudly recorded using all Mark Levinson electronics including some mixing panel he designed. So people who can't afford to have their lives ruined by his components can do it with his recordings, I guess.

The vast majority of recordings are of course nowhere near as distinctive as any of these. Which make it easy for us to be lulled into the illusion we are listening to the system we see, forgetting "the system" extends all the way back to the recording venue.

To pick any one component out from all of that, play a few cuts and know what it sounds like, man, them's some good ears.
bingo.You hear a system. With time and excprience you may be able to differentiate the individual contributions.I strain to understand each component when i match levels and use known components.  And i design this sh!t.  Its hard!  people who claim to hear differences with out a known basis oar deluding themselves.

G

The TT should provide optimal conditions for the records.

If this is not the case this can be only heard via records.

One can't test TT as an separate component without

records.

I share the same dismay when someone says they “heard” a given component at an audio show (or at most dealers, for that matter). 10 different people can “hear” 11 different individual components in the same system. 
I have a new Technics SL-1200G and vintage SL-MK1600 MK2.  With all things being equal except the tables, trust me, I can mostly certainly hear the difference.

Do you think the old Technics tonearm + old wiring and new Technics SL-1200G tonearm + new wiring are equal ?

I think the platter on the new Technics is much better damped, the DD motor is coreless compared to the old inferior motor, footers and the whole plinth are completely different etc. 

So which one do you like ? 
I was listening to my VPI Traveler w/Zu DL-103 MkII in my system, pulled that 'table and transferred my Garrard 301/Ortofon AS-309 into it's place using the same Zu cartridge. Everything else in the system was exactly the same. Immediately the idler drive 301 made its presence known. More slam, a much bigger impact, and a more precise speed were absolutely evident to begin with.

If you can't tell the difference between an idler drive 301 and a belt drive Traveler in an identical system perhaps there's something else going on.

I won't even begin to speculate on the reasons for some of the red herring distractions that have been offered up on this thread in opposition.
I agree with the general sentiment that most people are flippant in their rush to judgement of turntables, but not only turntables. Most statements of audio preference would not stand up to even pseudo-"scientific" scrutiny. I try to grin and bear it. In the end, we all have to please our private selves. Problems arise when we try for communal agreement. One common complaint that irks me is the contention that this or that turntable "hums".

On the other hand, I also agree with those who note that there is a set of sonic characteristics one could associate with the various types of drive systems. In my opinion, the best of each type of drive will at least strive to eradicate those boundaries.
I think maybe you didn’t read the original post. Nobody questions that one can hear differences. We are questioning how one can say they hear a new component in a new system and in a new room and contribute the qualities they are hearing specifically to that component and only that component and then recommended that component based on that unique situation. There’s no way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The only true way to compare a component to another component is to have it done in the same room at the same time all other variables being equal.

When it comes to high-end audio we’re talking about the differences between a mearly great component and an outstanding component is only about 1%. That 1% is all based on nuances, so hearing a component in one room with a certain system and then trying to compare it to something in your room to your specific system makes no sense, there’s way too many variables at play to say this component is better in any significant way or worse in any significant way.

The only component you could begin to get any real sense of, in any meaningful way are speakers, because the differences are way grater between speakers than in any other component. But even then the room is 50% of the equation, so unless you hear a speaker in the same room, driven by the same electronics your thoughts about what you are hearing or greatly skewed.
@chakster Do you think the old Technics tonearm + old wiring and new Technics SL-1200G tonearm + new wiring are equal ?
The fit and finish of the 1200G is far superior to the 1600 and older 1200. The 1200G is also much heavier and solidly built.

Unlike the old 1200, the 1600 was not a DJ table. I purchased my 1600 in 1985 while stationed in Germany for $249. It’s still going strong in my rec room system. The 1200G is in my music listening room. The 1200G’s SQ is in a completely different class.

I think the platter on the new Technics is much better damped, the DD motor is coreless compared to the old inferior motor, footers and the whole plinth are completely different etc
Agreed. I’m quite happy with the 1200G. So far I’ve added a "better" power cord and a Funk Firm Achromat 1200 mat. I just ordered the KAB tonearm damping system. Not sure if I’ll want anything more.
I don't understand the attraction of vinyl.  Compared to digital, you only hear a fraction of the detail.  I also can't believe you can hear any difference between a $500 turn table verses a $20,000 turn table.  I thought the difference is in the quality of the cartridge.  However, even if you buy the most expensive cartridge, digital is always going to sound better.
The room is 50% of the equation????  Where did that number come from???  I thought your original post was rhetorical but maybe it was not.

Enjoy the ride
Tom
Really? We’re gonna bicker about exact %’s in a subjective context? Audiogon in true fashion. Fine, replace “50%” with “significant” if that makes you feel better.

The point, which should be obvious by the original statement, is the room contributes “significantly” to the speakers sound, so comparing in different rooms could give different presentations.

And the question wasn’t rhetorical, I asked for responses. 
I totally agree about the room impact, in the past 4 years i have moved with my system in 3 different rooms, they are all different size and different shape.

 The sound is different in every room with the same speakers and the same turntables. Now in my own room i can make serious acoustic treatment after i have received the actual acoustic analysis and 3D model of my room from the specialists.

Here is the interesting article, just the basics for everyone.

What i’ve immediately noticed in my room is standing waves. I’m working on acoustic treatment, my thread about it didn’t get much attention.




I don't understand the attraction of vinyl. Compared to digital, you only hear a fraction of the detail. I also can't believe you can hear any difference between a $500 turn table verses a $20,000 turn table. I thought the difference is in the quality of the cartridge. However, even if you buy the most expensive cartridge, digital is always going to sound better
.
The attraction to vinyl is love of music. This essence of this is distilled down into Michael Fremer's iconic comment that, "There's more there there."

Its easy to hear the difference a better turntable makes. Not only the turntable as a whole, but each individual component of the turntable. This is especially obvious if, like me, you would change just one part at a time. I've heard the exact same turntable with only the motor changed. Simply going to a more steady drive you hear greater bass authority, improved harmonic development, an overall much more involving sound. Changing only the platter, I once heard Chris Brady demo two platters on the same table. Huge, obvious difference everyone in the room heard it easily. Even something as seemingly minor as the thrust bearing, the piece at the bottom of the bearing on which the bearing turns. I've replaced that and the ball bearing that turns on it. Just that one little piece within the bearing and it was easy to hear the difference.

All this is because a turntable is not just a turntable. It is a bearing, platter, motor, base, suspension, arm, and cartridge. The arm itself is not just an arm either. The arm is comprised of a head shell, arm tube, a housing with bearings that varies tremendously by design, some sort of anti-skate mechanism, mount, and internal wiring. Then there is the cartridge, which itself is made of a stylus, cantilever, suspension, coils, magnets, body, and terminals. The job of all this is to transform microscopic undulations in vinyl into a voltage that varies as the precise analog of the squiggles. How microscopic? The smallest squiggles on a vinyl record are on the order of the size of an organic molecule. 

The problem is the instant the platter starts spinning the whole kit and kaboodle starts vibrating. Which is nothing compared to when the stylus starts squiggling back and forth, with forces acting on it the equivalent of nearly a ton per square inch. 

Of course the quality and precision of each and every component involved affects the resulting sound. For certain the better and more perfectly executed the design of these components the better this will work. All this precision and perfection, does anyone really doubt it costs more to do it better? Really?

And if digital is always going to sound better, then how come no one who has actually heard the same recording compared in my presence has said so?
I think all too often digital proponents confuse ultimate accuracy with sound quality.
I was listening to my VPI Traveler w/Zu DL-103 MkII in my system, pulled that ’table and transferred my Garrard 301/Ortofon AS-309 into it’s place using the same Zu cartridge. Everything else in the system was exactly the same. Immediately the idler drive 301 made its presence known. More slam, a much bigger impact, and a more precise speed were absolutely evident to begin with.

If you can’t tell the difference between an idler drive 301 and a belt drive Traveler in an identical system perhaps there’s something else going on.

I won’t even begin to speculate on the reasons for some of the red herring distractions that have been offered up on this thread in opposition.

I’m curious; why were you using a Traveler when you have a 301?
Hello I understand what you're saying when you hear somebody else's system with entirely different components how do you know which one is making the system sound better or worse but to say the turntable you can't hear the difference I bought a new turntable and upgraded in the same line and I had replaced it in my system with the same arm in the same cartridge and I heard a significant Improvement in the detail microdynamics soundstage quietness bass weight big Improvement in sound just buy the turntable itself so yes you can hear a difference in turntables I don't know if that was your question but everything makes a difference

Those digital admirer should either consult an ear specialist or

write for digital forum.

@ rockinroni

 I’m not saying you can’t hear the difference, I absolutely believe you can hear the difference, but only if the change of turntable is within the same system otherwise I’ll bets are off. 
It's what you don't hear other than the music that makes a good TT.
I have a difficult time believing you can hear a significant difference between a $500 turntable and turntables costing $10,000 to #20,000.  All turn tables do is turn a vinyl disk at a constant speed.  As long as their is no feedback they should sound the same.  I thought the difference was the quality of the cartridge.  So, let's say you install an $1,800 cartridge on a $500 turntable, I will bet it will sound great.

I also don't know what the attraction is for vinyl.  Vinyl can only reproduce a fraction of the sample rate compared to 16 bit and 24 bit CD's.  Why would you want to starve yourself of the detail.  I heard vinyl sounds warmer.  However, I would rather hear the highs and mid's in a crisper sound.
There is a very noticeable difference between tables based on the build quality. If you think about from a practical, logical standpoint, manufacturers make tables from different material. There is no way an aluminum table will sound the same as a veneered MDF table which won't sound the same as a hardwood table or a delrin table. This goes the same for the platter material and weight.
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 Though I have not done the test I would be willing to bet that a $2000 cartridge on a $500 turntable with sound just as good  if not better  Than $10,000 turntable with an $200 cartridge.  But you would never really be able to tell unless they were in the same system   
The law of diminishing returns will be where the line blurs. 
@larry5729

  I have a difficult time believing you can hear a significant difference between a $500 turntable and turntables costing $10,000 to #20,000. All turn tables do is turn a vinyl disk at a constant speed. As long as their is no feedback they should sound the same. I thought the difference was the quality of the cartridge. So, let's say you install an $1,800 cartridge on a $500 turntable, I will bet it will sound great.

I also don't know what the attraction is for vinyl. Vinyl can only reproduce a fraction of the sample rate compared to 16 bit and 24 bit CD's. Why would you want to starve yourself of the detail. I heard vinyl sounds warmer. However, I would rather hear the highs and mid's in a crisper sound.

With a simplistic belief such as the above, which, either through ignorance or on purpose, ignores all the variances of material and how different materials and costlier designs and uses of different materials combined remove self noise without harm, defend against external noise , built to tighter specs to do as little harm as possible to a signal significantly smaller than any other. Ergo , the more a signal needs amplified , so will its external and internal noise.
Better Tables , simply are better reproducers of only the stylus's vibrations reading the grooves. The better the arm , the less harm done to that quieter signal seen from better table design, the better the cartridge will magnify how all these efforts have been more successful and how much the phono pre has to work with. 
It may be too complicated, too difficult or too much work for the overly critical digital crowd, but....the results can't be argued for the music lover who isn't just vinyl because of choice of medium bias, but because the music long ago dictated it simply isn't available for every  recording since the 12 inch 33 lp came about and even when available digital as a reissue is absolutely no guarantee it will beat let alone come close to the originals capturing of a good original recording. Funny , I find most of the people I know critical of my quite large vinyl collection and  turntable/arm  costs ,...... seem to at the same time champion the "better" more expensive digital players , dac's and transports for many of the same reasons needed to eliminate noise as well. I'm glad to have both mediums and find owning both a blessing for less restriction to acquiring  the music
wanted. 
Don't waste your time arguing with someone who writes this sentence: "Vinyl can only reproduce a fraction of the sample rate compared to 16 bit and 24 bit CD's."
He doesn't even understand the fundamental difference between analog and digital reproduction.
As I said before a great TT can spin the platter at a regulated speed, not inject any mechanical or electrical noise into system that might be picked up by the cartridge and be impervious to external vibrations. Only then will you just hear the music not the table.
I have the outter ring and 2 pound center clamp on a mystic carbon Mat . Music sounds like a cd , same set-up except this time on my bare platter.  So much better.
I found a significant difference in the musical presentation between two quality direct drive turntables. One, a Technics SP10 had a very metronmic effect on music that had me questioning if the albums I was so familiar with, had really been recorded in this fashion. The other, a Teac TN400 had a more flowing presentation, more akin to a belt drive. These turntables were both mounted in identical and substantial home made plinths and compared in the same room using the same equipment and supports, only the arms, cartridges and tonearm wires were different. Idler drives also have characteristics that distinguish them from other turntables, so YES, you can "hear the turntable".    
 People keep running to “of course you can hear a turntable.” That’s not the question, the question is how can someone go to some other system and talk about how that specific turntable sounds better or worse than a completely different TT in a completely different system and make overreaching statements about how and why it is better sounding. 
You already know the answer.  It is impossible.  Just changing the rack and or feet makes a difference.  All the rest of the variables just complicates the matter further.

Enjoy the ride
Tom
+1 Millercarbon, will said and on point. +1 Has2be ditto. Lew, if Larry isn’t open minded to new points of view that are experianced based, and on facts, he’s not going to maximize enjoyment of this hobby and the great knowledge this community has to offer. Unfortunate really.