What to expect from really good or high end turntables?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 4011021, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I had turntables all my life. I started to play with them still as a child with my portable player that would play story records for children, then with my father's Brazilian Polyvox TD5000:



    As a teenager my parents gave me one of those systems with tape decks, CD and turntable all in one piece. Then I had a few others until today.

    But I never had anything better than a good entry level turntable.

    What am I missing? What would a really good turntable provide in terms of sound quality? Why and how a better cartridge would sound better in a higher end turntable than what I already have?

    By "really good" I mean turntables in the level of RP8 or SL1200G (or GR?), not the really high end ones.

    And how about really high end, I mean, turntables that would cost in dollars anything over 5 digits? Why are they so much better than these "really good" ones?

    I'm not talking about durability. I understand I'm supposed to trust that a really good turntable will last many years. I'm asking about sound quality.

    Please educate me.
     
  2. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I just reported my own thread and asked a Gort to please move this thread to the Audio Hardware forum. I made a mistake and started it in the Musical Corrner. Thank you.
     
  3. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    A TT is largely a mechanical devise consisting of; the TT itself, the stand it sits on, the arm and the cartridge. Vibrational energy is coming from all sorts of directions, and no TT is inert, there will be acting forces, and similarly reacting forces.
    Objectively will this 'devise' be better if the fulcrum of the cantilever is perfectly still, or as still as possible; only the cantilever is vibrating exactly as the groove is cut.
    However there will never be a consensus on what sound and what TT resambles this scenario the best. One has to test and choose components that fit ones needs.
    Me I am a DD guy, has been for many years, for technical reasons.
     
  4. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire

    Location:
    Fenton, MI
    I compared my Sony PS-X45 to my Garrard 401. The difference was stunning. The Sony did not sound musical in the least. I believe I could hear the lack of consistent speed at a very small level, but the TT was functioning correctly, The Garrard 401 was very smooth and ridiculously musical. I would not believe I could hear the difference as the Sony has good specifications, but I could easily hear it.
     
  5. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    The differences I heard in my system when going from one high end turntable (Kuzma Reference, Triplanar arm) to an even more extravagant one (Kuzma XL with Airline arm), both using the same cartridge at the time (a Lyra Titan i):
    less sense of a record spinning around as a source of the music, what I would call a 'halo' of sound coming from the turntable that you really only noticed when it was missing-- that dead quietness that is often referred to (how can you 'hear' quiet?- by the absence of noise you otherwise accept as a given); far more depth to the bass- not more prominent or 'bass-heavy,' more of a bottomless quality where the bass doesn't seem to stop going down into the depths if it is there on the recording.
     
  6. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Turntables, as @missan pointed out, are mechanical in nature with a number of factors that may affect the sound. You'll need a good motor, whether it's belt, direct drive, or idler, that is quiet (i.e., low signal-to-noise ratio) with low speed deviance and low wow/flutter. And not to mention that the compliance between the tonearm and cartridge is also very influential to the sound quality, especially with respect to resonance traveling from the stylus through the tonearm. Turntable isolation is also key to prevent/mitigate outside resonance/interference.
     
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  7. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    The single biggest improvement to be made in and already average to great sound system.
     
  8. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    I am also of the opinion that carefully selected measurements are very helpful in knowing the quality of the 'devise' one has. These will go hand in hand with perceived SQ, and the total understanding of the SQ will increase.
     
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  9. Joey Kaspick

    Joey Kaspick Forum Resident

    You will only hear a difference if the rest of your system is up to the task.
     
    jfbar167, John, stereoguy and 9 others like this.
  10. dividebytube

    dividebytube Forum Resident

    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Going from an old VPI HW19 Mark III with Rega RB300 to a VPI Aries 1 with a JMW10.5 tonearm was a big improvement. It's something, as mentioned above, that requires a good system to hear but it was still apparent: deeper bass with more definition, "quieter" vinyl, blacker backgrounds, more detail, treble extension, dimensionality, depth, and lack of rumble/flutter which leads to more information being retrieved. The Aries, oddly enough, reminded me of CD/digital in a few ways - that rock steady bass, lack of mechanical noise.

    Of course bad recordings are well, still going to sound bad. You can hear recording / mastering imperfections a lot more which means your stable of demo recordings shrinks!
     
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  11. Newton John

    Newton John Going for the one

    Location:
    Tynedale, UK
    I agree up to point but, if the turntable does not do its job properly in the first instance, it doesn't matter how good the rest of the chain is.
     
  12. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    And vice versa.
     
  13. Joey Kaspick

    Joey Kaspick Forum Resident

    Very true like with anything, it is only as good as the weakest link.
     
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  14. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    A turntable only really has 2 tasks.
    Spin a platter and allow a cartridge/stylus to be installed correctly with as little outside disturbance as possible so that it may track optimally.

    I have yet to experience the big differences a better table can do for these aspects unless we compare to something really crap but I suggest to always audition anything you are interested in before buying.
     
    Socalguy, stereoguy, keiron99 and 7 others like this.
  15. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    Wait a minute. An RP8 isn't a high end turntable? It cost $3k without a cartridge. You're probably over $4K after you install a cartridge. Then you need to double the cost to actually get the most out of it with speakers and amplification. At this point we are close to $10K if you add cables and a good phono stage. Sounds high end to me. Granted this isn't an RP10 at $5500, but, it pretty high end.

    I own a Rega P5 and it's a lot better than my P3. My P3 sounds better than my old Music Hall MMF 2.1. And that MMF 2.1 with the Grado Red I installed on it would trounce any entry level deck. Why is the Music Hall better than an entry level? It's musical. It sounds like a band is playing in your living room. With each of my upgrades, there has not been as dramatic a revelation in sound quality from my passage from entry level gear to when I got the Music Hall. The upgrades after that were significant, but not dramatic. I would say subtle. The sound was more refined. I don't think you have to spend $3K on a turntable to hear what you are missing. At the $500 range, you will hear the difference. It's kind of like getting a faster car, you'll spend $20K to get one that is 1/10 of second faster in quarter mile if you own a $50K vehicle. If you own a $20K vehicle and spend $5000 more, you could shave full seconds off your quarter mile time.
     
  16. ralf11

    ralf11 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Earth
    ok, the aspect of the sound that will improve are hard to describe - basically, female vocals will have more air & space around them along with the harmonics coming thru better; the initial attack of a dum hit will sound like a real drum (not just something making a tud at the right time)

    in essence a high end analog LP setup will sound like a good digital setup but you will hear snap, crackle, and pop - AND will be able to play LPs many of which are not available in digital

    you are probably already there if you have an RP8 - what arm/cartridge is on the RP-8 or whatever you do have?

    and... what have you done for acoustic isolation?
     
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  17. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    It seems my post disappeared. I will try to answer how I look at weak links anyway. Firstly there isn´t any chain where the weak link will brake. Our system consists of an enormous amount of components; knowing what would be the weakest link would be really tricky, it can in principle be anything: a power supply in the pre-amp, a capacitor in the power-amp, or the transformer, the needle cut on the cartridge, arm vibrations, the cross-over in the speakers; it´s not really easy to know.

    A 'weak-link' scenario in audio would in principle be possible if we knew we can only improve one thing, but that is never the case; we can improve on so many components. The sound we hear is always a complex sum of these different components´inherent distortion..
     
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  18. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I would agree in a sense because I always find it funny when people review their own setup and describe the sound characteristics of each component. Thats just absurd.
    But Im quite sure that the fact still stands, if you have computer speakers in your chain of output it doesnt matter if you play your records on the Continum Caliburn table, it wont sound much better than if you just use a cheap vintage player.
     
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  19. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    There can of course be situations where one component is so overwhelmingly bad; so the bad component can be found rather easily. I would still say that the SQ of really good components will still be heard on not that top quality e.g. speakers.
    It can´t really work in any other way, if You think about it; if not we couldn´t really hear if our music sounded different, as a whole; as we always listening though some speakers.
    The key is to think of music as sines, and if these have lower distortion, the sound as a whole will be better; better sound equals lower distortion, and it´s so arranged we can lower distortion on any component.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  20. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Makes sense.

    This is exactly what I'm talking about. Right now I have a $700 turntable with some great reviews that I like a lot and was a considerable and clearly listenable improvement over what I had before. I use $200-250 cartridges, a $200 phono, very good amp and very good speakers / headphones. I'm satisfied so far.

    But I keep wondering. What if I swap this turntable for one that is three or four times the price? Or eight, ten times? I'm surely not gonna have a sound quality three, four or ten times better. But still much better I suppose. This "better" is what I'm trying to understand. I suppose that if I upgrade the cartridge, I would have some improvement with the same turntable and phono stage, but I wonder.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  21. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I think it is hard to put a percentage number on an audio component and sound reproduction.

    In my experience better is what many on here have already mentioned. Lower noise floor, better bass presentation, better soundstage, instruments and voices sound more natural, better detail, and just better musicality.

    Of course system matching is important including having a cartridge that is up to the task.
     
  22. Newton John

    Newton John Going for the one

    Location:
    Tynedale, UK
    I agree with what you say. However, once we're past a fairly basic level of amp and speakers, I would much rather combine a top notch turntable with a modest amp and speaker system than the other way round.

    In other words, I don't really buy the weakest link argument. I consider it's more important to start with a good source. If musicality isn't there to start with it can't be added later in the chain.

    Of course, this is only my opinion - others may look for different things in an audio system and there's no right or wrong way.
     
  23. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Assuming good equipment, properly set up, there is no direct correlation between price and X times better (something that I think is impossible to quantify regardless of price).
    You said you are satisfied with your current set up. That's good, since many people get trapped into endless upgrade-itis, and can't seem to enjoy what they have (even though it may be very good in objective terms, or simply require a different set up within the room).
    But, to satisfy your curiosity, rather than spending money, why don't you seek out some audiophiles where you live? Are there audio clubs where you can meet people involved in the hobby? Are there any dealers who would be willing to demonstrate what a high end system can do?
    I think it is hard to extrapolate what each piece of gear contributes to the overall presentation without spending the time to swap out components and spend time in a controlled setting. But, it may still be informative or at least satisfy your curiosity. Reading, no matter how much, is no substitute for listening. It's like describing a restaurant experience without eating the food. :)
     
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  24. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Unfortunately I have the best system among my friends and no dealer where I live. However, I'll be in Toronto in July and some Canadian members of this forum had suggested me some places to visit. So I'll follow your advice soon!
     
  25. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Then I suggest you also buy audiophile pressings. I agree that the table probably makes a bigger difference than amp and speakers, not sure about pre amp though.
     
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