The Turntable Saga Continues...

madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
edited December 2002 in 2 Channel Audio
I have been a little concerned over the sound coming from my new table. Some things seemed better than CD but overall the sound was only different, not better. The highs seemed lacking, the bass seemed quiet, the midbass overwhelmed the treble and the sounds of my new LP's were only OK. The final straw was changing to a pair of 2.3TL's and hearing a clear lack of treble. If I were going to show off my system I would have played a CD. It started out as a $1000 project which turned into a much more expensive money pit. I'll not say how much but I could have taken a cruise with the cash and had some left over to buy a new SACD player.

Last week I was asking myself these questions:
*Was it all for nothing?
*Why does it sound so... "boring, dull, noisey, lifeless etc ???"
*How much work would it be to dump this thing?
*$^^$%&%^@#$^%%&

Over the holiday I forgot about being serious and since I was playing through a bunch of old LP's to find out which ones were still quiet and playable I started thinking about upgrades that I had read about. They were simple so what the hell. As I played around I let the LP's keep playing.

This is what I tweaked:

*I took the cover off of my preamp. In a review I read they said it really made a difference even though in the manual they specificly say not to do it because of the high voltages inside. Off it came.

*I found my bubble level and re-leveled the platter, but this time I leveled the plinth first and then did the platter. The bounce was not quite right but the platter was level. I can play with that later.

* I loosened the screws which hold the tone arm to the table and re-tightened them finger tight only. I had them tighter but read somewhere that the sound is deadend by having them too tight.

*Inside the preamp there were switches to bypass the coupling capacitors. I'm not sure what it does but the manual states that they put in switches to keep people from physically removing the caps. I switched them.

*I left the little covers off of the plinth springs. I read of people doing this along with wrapping the springs with surgical cotton but I didn't have any. I just left the caps off.

*Since I was doing everything I could think of I went ahead and figured out where the transformer in the detached preamp power supply was and set a Magic Brick on top of it.

*I put the level on the turntable speed controller and used it's leveling foot to make it level.

*I placed Vibrapods under the preamp.


**************************************************

WOW!

Now this is the sound rlw has been telling me about!!! Forget any of my previous doubts about LP's. The midrange became extremely clear and much lighter, the bass went much lower and had plenty of authority and the treble seemed to push right through as it should. I have never heard a CD that sounded like this!


**************************************************

I'm sure there is a combination of tweaks which worked together to make this happen but the Vibrapods under the preamp was the straw that broke the sound barrier. I raised up the left side of the preamp and pushed one under the back and one under the front. When I raised up the right side the sound went from crappy to excellent! I was so shocked I kept picking it up and sitting it back down noting this huge change. I went ahead and slid the other two Vibrapods under there and I must have listened to about 10 LP's in a row! It was late by then so I went to bed. I almost couldn't sleep!


A few tweaks I still want to do is to:

*Wrap the springs with cotton
*Figure out a way to precisely measure the VTA, (I don't like eyeing it)
*Set up a mounting table for the whole mess which allows the tonearm cable to hang down freely and has an isolated portion to sit the motor on as well as another isolated section to sit the power supply on. MDF box filled with sand? I'm not sure.
*Try reversing polarity on the speakers
*Anything else I can think of...


madmax :D
Vinyl, the final frontier...

Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
Post edited by madmax on

Comments

  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited November 2002
    Hey Max,

    Glad to hear you are starting to get to your destination. As you know, you left me in the dust a long time ago. I am fighting the urge to start upgrading to the next analog level. I'll have to stay away from demoing gear so I can continue to remain content with my Rega.

    Keep us posted on any other improvements.

    Paul
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2002
    Paul,
    I'm thinking it is more about setup and tweaking rather than raw equipment. One thing I did a long time ago was to take home a bunch of packing foam from where I work and put a piece under every piece of equipment in my system. Talk about UGLY! The sound quality went through the roof, compared to with no isolation. Of course then I went on a vibrapod hunt...
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • rlwrlw Posts: 231
    edited November 2002
    Madmax, you've joined the club!

    Have fun!

    Paul, keep us posted on how fighting that urge thing works out for you.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2002
    I must say, I like spinning the black circle! Thanks to all for getting me into it!
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited November 2002
    Hey guys,

    I've been reading the tube thread. Need I say more? I have been thinking about selling my Suburban to finance some upgrades. Of course that will leave me driving a 77 Ford farm truck complete with rust and holes in the floorboard. Oh well. Gotta set priorities.

    Paul
  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited November 2002
    By the way. I spent most of yesterday with my father spinning vinyl. He turned 70 this year and is amazed at the sound of the SDA's. I wouldn't be surprised to see him with a pair some day.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2002
    Paul,
    It's worth whatever it takes to make an audio upgrade! Those SDA's seem to make people smile when they hear them. That is the coolest part of my system as far as I'm concerned! For that matter I'll be sitting here by myself listening to something new and when something cool happens I end up laughing. Is that cool or what. How many audiophile speakers can make you do that?

    I tried a few things tonight. I thought my VTA and forward/back setting on my arm was close but I've been wanting to double check it. What I ended up doing was playing an older lp which had this one really dull sounding song in which the highs still seemed to be low and a lot of other sounds seemed unnatural. I loosened all the setting set screws and adjusted both of these parameters while the lp was playing. The SME arm is very cool because you can grab the base, raise and lower it and move it fore and aft WHILE the lp is playing without missing a beat! Well, I kept playing around until I was confident the highs, lows, midrange were at their best. The cymbals on this lp really sucked but by the time I was done they were listenable. After I was all done I tightened the set screws and got out the templates to check positioning. Would you believe everything looked to be right on? Going by eye only is not very accurate. After going by sound and then checking by eye I was happier with the sound and much more confident everything is correct. I hope I'm not boring people with these new (to me) revelations.

    I ended up with the SME IV arm. For adjustments and sexy looks it can't be beat for a grand. I was going to get a modified (rega 250?) arm and modify it more but by the time you buy the mod pieces and all you can end up with $850 in it anyway. I am very happy I didn't go that route after tonights playing. The SME V arm adds an extra adjustment but I couldn't see the difference in price and the extra adjustment ends up at the standard location where the IV is fixed anyway on many applications. (acording to some review I read, I don't know personally).

    One other thing I am finding is that the Modulus 3A preamp needs to be on for a few hours before it really hits it's peak sound. Until it is the sound seems somewhat unfocused. After warmup it is right on. For the first 40 minutes it is absolutely horible. Gone are the days I could flip a switch and be happy. Now I tend to plan ahead.

    madmax

    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited December 2002
    You said it Max.

    My wife took the kids and their friends to the movies yesterday and I was able to listen to some music at full volume. First, of course, I listened to Zep IV. Then I pulled out Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out by the Stones. (One of my favorites) I have been listening to that album for about thirty years and yesterday I heard things in that recording that I have been missing all this time. The SDA's just make the experience fun.

    Here is a question for you and rlw. I may have asked this before, forgive me, but I left an album sitting out (****) and it got clipped by the sun before I realized it and it slightly curled the edge of the lp. Just enough to lose the first track. Do you guys know of any good methods to take a warp out of an lp?

    Paul
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2002
    I'm afraid I don't know. I just learned how to get them out of that pesky celophane they come in! I'm thinking maybe you heat them slightly and slowly while laying on something flat? rlw may know.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • rlwrlw Posts: 231
    edited December 2002
    Originally posted by Paul Connor
    Do you guys know of any good methods to take a warp out of an lp?

    Paul


    Nope, sorry.

    I have read some postings from folks who have had moderate degrees of success by using two pieces of tempered glass, cleaned very well, and a warm oven.

    The big problem you might have with any method is if the LP in question has a raised label.
  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited December 2002
    Dang the luck!
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2002
    If you had two pieces of glass (or aluminum?) with a hole cut out in the center where the label is and put it in the oven or in the sun?

    A few comments on equipment:

    The Orbitrac system is pretty nice. After about 20 lp's one of the pads is getting pretty dirty looking. Must be working.

    The Hunt EDA brush is awesome! Just don't use pressured air to clean it off!

    I've been using outer sleeves provided by Sleeve City which have an adhesive strip where the sleeve folds over to seal along with VRP record sleeves. I stick the cover in and then beside that I put in the lp in the VRP sleeve. Works Great! Makes you feel good when you open the package to play the lp and keeps out all dust!

    80 LP hard cases off of ebay. These cases hold 80 single lps and come in black, blue, red, silver and clear for about $65 each. Very good quality cases and work well if not over-packed.

    A LITTLE THOUGHT ON THE AUDIOPHOOL DISCS:
    I like the CDD discs offered at Acoustic Sounds. I got a couple of the Credence Clearwater Revival discs and they are awesome! Abosolutely quite backrounds and the mixes are great. I will buy more!

    Bullseye level from McMaster-Carr. Very precise bubble level for about $25. When it says level, it's level!

    Question on Last products? A friend really used to like Last record preservitive and cleaners. Any comments?

    Thanks,
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2002
    Im still looking at the Last products from my last post. Any opinions?
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • rlwrlw Posts: 231
    edited December 2002
    Never tried the Last stuff.

    Some folks whose ears I trust say that you can hear a difference, for the worse, with the record preservative. Jon Risch, who posts on another forum, used to work at DiscWasher, and tested LAST, and found that it definitely caused measureable decay to record grooves.

    Hence, I've never bothered.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2002
    Thanks rlw,
    That is what I was wondering. I am thinking of getting some and trying on a few older lps for the fun of it. I'll let you know if it does anything.

    So far the black disc has been spinning every night! I really like the sound and can sit there for hours watching the thing spin. Kinda like watching grass grow. I guess I don't get out often enough...
    madmax
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Paul ConnorPaul Connor Posts: 231
    edited December 2002
    Just listened to Can't Buy a Thrill by Steely Dan. A pristine older lp and the SDA's really bring it alive. You might try this one out. It seem as though this was very well recorded. If memory serves me right, I bought this album in 1973.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2002
    rlw,
    Just wondering,
    What exactly do you use to level your turntable with? I notice the more precise the leveling job the better the sound.
    Thanks,
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
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