Why so much variation on how LPs sound?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 12" 45rpm, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Because records are a material, and are not uniform in quality, so the "sound" is not uniform either. "Awesome sounding" is not a constant. Hope that answers your question.
     
  2. BrentB

    BrentB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    I would be most suspect of the tape itself. Like LP's the quality of manufacture can vary. Honestly of my 5000 plus LP's they all pretty much sound great. I made mixed tapes for 25 years and never had this issue unless I was using a lower quality tape.
     
  3. Try1256

    Try1256 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Winter Springs, Fl
    From personal experience, YMMV. For quite a while, I felt the same way. A few of my albums sounded very good, but most of them were mediocre at best. I had a completely restored Thorens TD-160 with an SME tonearm and the above mentioned cartridges. A nice table by most anyones definition but I found myself listening to the same records most of the time because they sounded good. I avoided those that didnt sound good and just figured that the were not recorded or mastered well or were maybe just worn out. I recently acquired a Sota Star turntable. I moved the SME and cart from the 160 to the Sota and the improvement was astonishing. Specifically, records that I could barely tolerate listening to on the Thorens, now sound very good played on the Sota. I used the same tools and process for aligning the cartridge on both tables. I cant say if the same would apply to your situation but it convinced me that the deck makes a huge difference.
     
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  4. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Absolutely. OP seems to equate audiophile sound with a relatively trebly pressing. If that's your preference, why go with Grado? Their reputation is for manufacturing relatively warm, dark cartridges.
     
  5. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    A better system would give you the answer as to whether you can expect the same LPs to sound better. If there is no potential for better SQ, then it's not an equipment issue or limitation. Unless that is tried however, I wouldn't dismiss the equipment as being potentially involved in the result you're hearing.

    As @nosliw stated, specific examples of pressings you have (along with matrices) would give us more to go on. Right now, it's far too much of an ambiguous situation with far too many possibilities to bother going into. You've got an audience. You just need to supply the details.

    May I also ask why you're running the Grado when a cart came with the turntable you purchased?
     
    Matt I and nosliw like this.
  6. ghost rider

    ghost rider Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Well its unfortunate that 80% of your records sound bad. 90% of mine sound great! Name some titles that are bad. I'm wondering if your alignment is off or your needle is worn or both. Judging from my limited experience before I figured out how to set mine up many records sounded great but some didn't. There was subtle distortion in how some instruments sounded. That's what I'm talking about when I say it wasn't tracking well, not that it was skipping or something. Other records vocals were less clear. Once I figured out how to do a complete setup like I listed last night that all went away. Now when I have a poor sounding record I know it's mostly because it was used and may have been over played on bad equipment at some point, bad recording bad pressing (Chuck Berry's greatest hits got recently) It sounded so thin I may post a before and after sample after I work on it.
     
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  7. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I prefer a "bright" cart because I can ease that with a tone control, and still have the detail. Detail cannot be raised with a tone control for a "warm" cart, it's not being presented to begin with.
     
  8. Shak Cohen

    Shak Cohen Forum Resident

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    The 2-track masters are equalised/compressed during mixdown, and equalised/compressed again during mastering, so that they sound consistent in tone and volume.
     
  9. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    No, they are two channel Stereo receiver/amplifiers. For music.
     
  10. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Other issue which sometimes makes digital in the chain necessary. Condition of the original master tapes. To cut a record lacquer, the tapes need to be in good technical condition, must not have azimuth issues from song to song, must be consistent enough from song to song, and not suffer from dropouts or tape damage, and this master reel must be in sufficiently good condition to play from start to finish to permit an analog lacquer mastering to be done. Not all master tapes will meet these criteria for an analog lacquer mastering. Once the side is started cutting, it can't stop or be interrupted to the end of mastering that LP side to lacquer.

    Also, there are records mastered from 1s and 0s which are even audiophile beloved classics, Dire Straits/Brothers In Arms and Donald Fagen/The Nightfly being a few. While I prefer AAA mastering, sometimes, digital in the chain is a reality (and OK if from high res flat sources like a good 24/96 or higher source). Also, many tapes are in storage facilities like Iron Mountain, some labels won't let out their tapes for mastering (or will charge studio time and higher fees to do so, if a new safety analog master must be made) and some labels if licensing happens will only allow that tape to be mastered at an approved studio facility on that end of the country.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  11. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Here's a video I created today of one of my good sounding LPs recorded to tape:

     
  12. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    Sweet VA.

    What are some examples of the bad (no need for a video) sounding LP's? Sometimes it' just comes down to ones definition of audiophile?
     
  13. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Again, please list some of the "bad sounding" LP's and include specific matrix runout information, what country it was pressed at, etc.
     
  14. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Are these new records that "sound bad", or used. Or records you have played with a worn cart, perhaps?
     
  15. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    As mentioned, Eric Clapton's Layla would be an example of bad sounding. Average sounding would be lp's that sound in between these two extremes ( layla and La isla bonita )..
     
  16. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    But we would need specific examples of a pressing which sounds *bad* along with matrices. Layla isn't a good candidate because there isn't a version that sounds fantastic.

    An album that sounds great on CD but doesn't sound great when you listen to it via your turntable is what we're looking for. Matrix info as well, please.

    The more detail you give, the more potential there is for you to get a real answer. Up to you to provide what we need.

    Layla will never sound amazing regardless of setup or gear. Best you can hope for is the pressing you have has slightly boosted highs to eliminate some of the mud. Apparently, the MFSL pressing has that so you can look into possibly acquiring that one.
     
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  17. Matt I

    Matt I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Alabama
    I would look at your receiver, it can and will make a huge difference. What do you have for interconnects and are you using the built in phono stage? Also, are you adjusting the levels on your cassette deck while recording because there didn't look like much movement on the vu meters during your showcase recording.

    Personally, I'd get away from tapes too, a computer recording at 24/96 sounds great.
     
  18. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Layla was not a great recording to begin with. It's like Exile On Main St. - perhaps coke dust messed up the recording heads, who knows...
     
  19. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Good idea to check the CD. I didn't think of that . I will work on compiling a list of albums.
     
  20. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Not just album titles. We need the matrices of the LPs you are playing. Without that info, it won't do us much good to have titles... unless they're just badly recorded/mixed albums like Layla.
     
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  22. Matt I

    Matt I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Alabama
    Are the 10% awesome sounding records from that same digital age as La Isla Bonita?
     
  23. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Nope. I have awesome LPs from every decade going to back to the 50's! Although 80% of what I own is from the 70s/80s..
     
  24. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Stay away from Asia-Alpha :winkgrin:
     
  25. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Up in TO, keepin jive alive

    Some albums will never sound great. It's just how they were recorded. Layla is a good example. So is Springsteen's Born To Run. Our host has stated BTR is no sonic gem. He also detailed the many different versions, pointing out which is the lesser of evils of BTR. In this case, he stated, words to the effect: " It's all about the voice here" and you need to look for the best vocal midrange reproduction. Conversely, the worst version of Steely Dan's "Aja" will still sound pretty good.
     
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