PLX-1000 vs Denon VL12 vs SL 1200 MK7

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by curiousgeorge, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. curiousgeorge

    curiousgeorge Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    BELLEVUE, WA
    Its been a long time since I've had a turntable, probably over 25 years since I've had one. Even then, I had el-cheapo turntables like an Akai or a low-end Technics. I recently purchased a PLX-1000 and Denon Vl12 as I wanted to start listening to records again. The cartridge I have for testing is an Ortofon 2m Blue. My gear is currently hooked up to a Pioneer Elite receiver SC-35 and Martin Logan Source speakers and a Martin Logan center channel. I have a Schiit Mani pre-amp on order that I plan to hookup to the system to thoroughly test the turntables and then choose the best one. In addition, I ordered a SL1200 MK7 to throw into the comparison which should arrive next week.

    So far from a build perspective, I think the PLX-1000 just feels more substantial to the VL12 as its heavier and the tone arm just looks better built. Cosmetically, in my personal opinion, the VL12 looks a little garish with all its logos and shiny looking platter and chrome tone arm. The PLX-1000 looks more refined, especially with its logo-less front chassis and dark smoke dust cover.

    I don't have the Schiit Mani yet and listening to the PLX-1000 and the VL12 directly hooked up to my receiver with the Ortofon 2m Blue has been very interesting and overall positive experience. I set the tracking force to the recommended 1.8 grams for the 2m Blue and started listening to a wide variety of music, from Brubeck to Depeche Mode, Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. Its been over 25 years since my last turntables and I use to remember many cracks, pops and background hissing when listening to records. To my surprise, the cracks, pops and background hissing was almost absent with this current setup, which is a very nice surprise. My initial impressions of the music was it was more "CD" like in its clarity and absence of background noise than I remember.

    When using my current setup to listen to CDs or SACDs, the Martin Logan's tend to be crystal clear on highs and on female vocals like Norah Jones, the highs just sound distinct and silky smooth. However, with both the PLX-1000 and VL12, the highs were not so distinct compared to listening to SACDs and in voices where there are lot of "S's", the sound seemed a little shrill or distorted somewhat. The PLX-1000 seemed to do this more than the VL12, but this is just my initial thoughts and I am a newbie when it comes to dialing this gear in.

    Please let me know if anyone has any feedback on getting the best from my testing so I can choose the best turntable for my setup.

    more impressions to come....

    thanks!
     
  2. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    To compre the tables you should of course use the same cartridge for them all.

    As for the missing highs, Im unsure of your current phono stages capability so Id say hold off on that until you get the Mani. Remember that masterings for vinyl and CD are never identical so differences in the EQ may be at play as well. You can likely find a pressing with more highs focused in the mastering.
    Nora Jones debut has 2 audiophile pressing for example, by Classic Records cut by Burnie Grundman and Analog Productions cut by Kevin Gray, these will surely sound really great like your SACD.

    The S's will possibly stay on most demanding records however. Its called sibilance and it can be caused by a few things.
    Most likely its the 2M Blue stylus however.
    Its an Eliptical and will have trouble tracking very intensive passages as well as inner grooves on a record.
    If this is a concern then my suggestion would be to get the 2M Bronze or Black if you like Ortofon. They feature finer stylus profiles that track much better, will last you longer and be more gentle on your vinyl grooves as well. Although installation is more precision demanding.

    Hope that helps, welcome to the forum ;^)
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  3. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    This might be due to phono stage, stylus alignment, or compatibility between cartridge and phono stage.

    2M Blue is a nice cartridge and should sound fine. I had it in my Pioneer PLX-1000 and I don't recall distorted highs or sibilance. However, it has high output and might sound distorted if your phono stage has high gain and the system can't deal with that being overloaded. This distortion due to too much gain, in my experience, sounds like shrill highs, just like you described.

    I'm curious to see how you compare the PLX-1000 with the MK7. Haven't seen a direct comparison yet.
     
    zombiemodernist likes this.
  4. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    I have a PLX 1000 and comparing it to SACD through an Oppo 205 it lacks highs and that hi-fi leading edge detail. However to me it still sounds a little more musically satisfying while having a more limited pallet. If you want a deck that does 'hi-res digital' detail with the superior vinyl analogue presentation you need to start at Gyrodec or Rega P6 level and with a better cartridge. Probably a better phono stage as well. Certainly around £1500 ($2000) and at least £300 for cartridge and £500 phono stage.

    Question for OP. Are you getting these decks on a trial basis only? If you bought all three you could buy one really superior deck for the same money!
     
  5. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    It may be because of high gain in this case. But an Eliptical stylus will noticably distort on certain records though.
     
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  6. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    Any cartridge will distort depending on set up, record condition. arm quality etc. It's not a given that an elliptical will distort unless a record is damaged or mispressed. In fact it should not if correctly aligned.
     
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  7. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    It actually will, it doesnt have to do with any alignment or other. You can have the best setup in the world beyond the stylus and it will still distort audibly on some records while a finer stylus wont. It has to do with geometry, and theres no getting around it without changing the shape.
    And Im not talking about worn grooves.
     
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  8. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    That has been my experience with ellipticals. It doesn't matter how well they're aligned, they're prone to IGD.
     
  9. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    IMO in this case everyone is right, so OP really should go through the whole list of suspects rather than getting partisan about it. That said I find the constant denial of the role of stylus shape is a frustrating quirk of this forum...

    Distortion in the sound can be an overload of gain (which is made possible thanks to the high output of the Ortofon matched with an unknown phono stage), alignment issue (possible if OP is just now getting back into the swing of things), tonearm compatibility issues (unlikely here) and finally as @Leonthepro mentions, just the physical nature of a nude elliptical cart with an average cut.

    In my experience, inner groove distortion and handling of harsh sibilants (esses, etc) is mitigated but not fully managed by proper matching, alignment and phono stage selection. The only way to really prevent such mistracking is to use an advanced profile stylus like the 2M Black in that range. Even if your elliptical is tracking right you should hear coarseness on the harsh parts of the song, especially in comparison to the smooth HF of a well mastered SACD. It's a physical drawback of the medium you either have to accept or pony up to replace. This doesn't mean that elliptical are bad by any means, it just means they don't track as well as some other profiles.

    As for the two tables OP is running, they should both be fairly comparable as Hanpin OEM units. I would go with the one with better specs and build quality.
     
  10. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I'd argue it is a given if the elliptical is a common .3 x .7 or .4 x .7 profile and the record is cut hot with narrow inner grooves. You can set up until you're blue in the face and it won't make a whit of difference on certain records.

    If OP is playing new pressings it's quite possible that some of the cuts are just badly done. I've got one of those newer DM reissues and the cut is bad, straight up. The mastering is a little hot on the digital versions that were used to cut the LP as well. The common pressing of Norah Jones' first LP is also a known bad cut/bad pressing.
     
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  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The motor units are probably the same or very similar, and that's the issue with Hanpin direct drive. The motors are high torque and use a different method of regulating speed than a classic Japanese DD or something like a new G/GR or MK7. The levels of wow and flutter will be an order of magnitude higher on a Hanpin deck as well.
     
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  12. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Totally agreed. The mastering on some LPs is just horrible as you point out, and will distort no matter what cart, tonearm, phono stage etc. And looking at OPs list again that is something to keep in mind.
     
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  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Yep, OP would need to look of specs of the receiver phono if available. If not, wait for the Mani and try the 30dB gain setting. That should give more headroom with a hotter cartridge than many phono preamps. Downside is OP will have to increase the volume and may run into the noise floor of the receiver sooner that way. I would still try it if I were OP.
     
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  14. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    What supreme technical knowledge do you base that statement then like your confidence that all elliptical cartridges distort? Yet again speculation and assumptions not based on measurement or experience being presented as facts.
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    A great deal of personal experience with hotly cut records and technical research that was done in the late 70s and onward that you can read for yourself.
     
    nosliw likes this.
  16. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Read this:
    Stylus Shape Information | Soundsmith

    [​IMG]
     
  17. bluenosens

    bluenosens Active Member

    Location:
    malagash centre
    I don't think the Denon vl12 Prime is a Hanpin. Isn't it built by the other Taiwan TT manufacturer whose name escapes me. I do know the Denon vl12 is a Quartz locked design motor. Wouldn't this give it a edge at least, on paper? I respect ZuAudios opinion of this TT[Denon vl12] as they actually sell it along with their cable upgrades. It must have something going for it. :) Just saying. :) It's too bad that Vl12 didn't have a Technics 1200 arm. That would be something.
     
  18. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    Here we go again diagrams to prove what? I've had numerous elliptical cartridges at various price points as well as line contact. Never suffered from audible IGD. Been playing Lp records seriously for nearly 50 years. Line contact can be better sounding but not by that much. Mainly in the area of extracting more detail than significantly lower distortion. Don't think I've used a conical old nail since the mid 70s.
     
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  19. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    For some it can be hard to hear sibilance and IGD. Youre a lucky guy.
     
  20. Lucca90

    Lucca90 Forum Resident

    Location:
    SouthAmerica
    I have been actively looking for a new turntable to play mono records exclusively. And a few months ago I had the chance to listen to both turntables in a store. Same Ortofon cartridge was used and between the Denon VL12 and the PLX-1000, I would definitely choose the Denon. Superior sound quality, less distortion, more detail, more precise imaging. The Panasonic does not sound bad at all IMO but compared with the Denon the difference is easy to hear. The Denon looks really ugly though, even for DJs standards. The Technics deck seems like an interesting option but isn't available locally yet so I can't comment.
     
  21. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    I had IGD with a 2M Blue exactly twice but I found out it was a matter of alignment in both cases.
     
  22. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brazil
    ?
     
  23. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Pretty much my experience as well.
    .
     
  24. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Or, by the same token, perhaps some ppl are extremely sensitive to it, aka are ‘unlucky guys’.

    My guess is that it’s a bell curve response, overall.

    For myself, IGD and sib on ellipticals has never been a problem.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  25. zombiemodernist

    zombiemodernist Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeastern USA
    Not mine, but as said above different strokes for different folks. All I am going to put out there is that there’s a reason these profiles exist. And there’s a reason advanced profiles are used as reference in many mastering studios. Your mileage may vary in sensitivity and priority.
     
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