Getting Into Vinyl, Basic Turntable Setup Questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
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So I am considering getting into Vinyl for a couple very basic reasons: love of collecting things, and love of music. I'm considering my budget, and taking some time to learn different terminology, equipment, brands, what's out there, etc.. etc ...

Right now I have a really good set of surround sound speakers (Polk Audio), and a nice receiver. I realize I'll need a pre-amp for that, but I am wondering if I should get a separate pair of speakers for the turntable (i.e., will the output/sound be 'blemished' by surround sound speakers) and a separate receiver, or can I hook it into my current entertainment center?

Also, if I do hook it into my current entertainment center receiver, I did see in ONE article I read to make sure that the audio cables from the turntable to the receiver were as short as possible; does length of audio cord diminish sound as well? My reason for asking this is I would be getting a stand-alone table for the turntable itself, and would be running probably a six foot or so cord from the side of the room to the entertainment center, I wouldn't want it to sit on top with my TV, and such.

Just trying to get a basic idea for the investment, and what I'd need to do to be happy with my setup.

Thanks for your time.
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post #2 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 05:35 PM
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6 FT interconnects should be fine. I like them shorter basically because of cost but the quality of sound should not diminish the sound quality, I would hook them up to the main speakers for a fuller sound. Just curious what is your budget for the analog setup??smile.gif
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post #3 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking at setting up everything for around $1000 or less, to begin with. And, likely may upgrade in time to come. But, I don't want to pour a ton of money into something initially. I'd rather get over the learning curve before/if I choose to go the route with the very expensive systems.

From various pages I've been looking at, I think I'm going with the Pro-ject Debut Carbon as my entry-level TT, probably a $100-$200 pre-amp (haven't researched those at all), possibly a speed changer, and then whatever else I might need, wires, cabinet/furniture for the TT & albums, etc...

But if I can keep my current entertainment setup and play the TT through my surround sound speakers, I might be willing to spend another $100 or $200 on a TT, but I'm still looking at options.

Recently I've been reading some other articles where people prefer vintage TT's, but I think I'd feel more comfortable buying something new.
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post #4 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 06:11 PM
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Hi Dan,

Welcome to the forum.
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Originally Posted by Danroth View Post

I'm looking at setting up everything for around $1000 or less, to begin with..
I think $1000 is more than enough. In my opinion, all you need is the table and a preamp. Well, maybe some albums.

Quote:
From various pages I've been looking at, I think I'm going with the Pro-ject Debut Carbon as my entry-level TT, probably a $100-$200 pre-amp (haven't researched those at all), possibly a speed changer, and then whatever else I might need, wires, cabinet/furniture for the TT & albums, etc....
I've never used a Pro-ject table, but I hear they are good tables. But $100 to $200 seems expensive for a preamp (they are pretty simple devices). Others here have recommended good preamps for under $100, but I have never used one. Hopefully, they will chime in. I don't know what a "speed changer" is - is that some Pro-ject thing?

Quote:
But if I can keep my current entertainment setup and play the TT through my surround sound speakers, I might be willing to spend another $100 or $200 on a TT, but I'm still looking at options.
Use your current setup. It will be more than fine. I'm sure it has a "stereo only" mode that will accommodate your turntable nicely. And you always have the option to use one of the emulated "surround" modes.

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Recently I've been reading some other articles where people prefer vintage TT's, but I think I'd feel more comfortable buying something new.
I'm one of those that prefers vintage turntables, but I'm a vintage guy. I was using vintage tables when they were new. But it would be better for you to have more experience before venturing back in time.
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post #5 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 06:52 PM
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That's a nice budget. Project, Rega and Sota would make some starting points. Remember when you upgrade speed and accuracy are the first factors in upgrading a TT. Both Rega and Project have outboard PSU's to improve your sound, Follow the upgrade path w/tonearm, cart and phono last. Enjoy and don't forget to budget for cleaning supplies.smile.gif
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post #6 of 24 Old 06-18-2013, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Enjoy and don't forget to budget for cleaning supplies.

Yep, looking at cleaning supplies too ...

I was actually looking at getting this: http://store.acousticsounds.com/d/70571/Spin-Clean-Record_Washer_System_MKII-Record_Cleaning_Machine as it seems it would be a time saver; a larger initial investment, but I think I'd get a good return on investment in the way of saved time/effort.
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I've never used a Pro-ject table, but I hear they are good tables. But $100 to $200 seems expensive for a preamp (they are pretty simple devices). Others here have recommended good preamps for under $100, but I have never used one. Hopefully, they will chime in. I don't know what a "speed changer" is - is that some Pro-ject thing?

Can anyone recommend a good pre-amp that is reliable, then, that's not so expensive? I don't mind paying for quality - you usually get what you pay for, so I tend to shy away from generics or 'cheaper' products as a rule, but I know there's exceptions to every rule, too.
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I don't know what a "speed changer" is - is that some Pro-ject thing?

A speed changer seems to be a Project exclusive accessory, that allows you to button press (instead of manual belt-change) between 33pm & 45rpm .. Here's the item description:

A very useful accessory for most Pro-Ject turntables (excluding turntables listed below), that do not have built-in electronic speed change. The Speed Box II performs this change by the push of a button between 33 and 45 rpm. The quartz regulation and fi lter circuit gives a stable speed reference.
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post #7 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 07:54 AM
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That Pro-ject looks good. The cartridge supplied with it, an Ortofon 2M Red, is a very good cartridge.

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Originally Posted by Danroth View Post

Also, if I do hook it into my current entertainment center receiver, I did see in ONE article I read to make sure that the audio cables from the turntable to the receiver were as short as possible; does length of audio cord diminish sound as well? My reason for asking this is I would be getting a stand-alone table for the turntable itself, and would be running probably a six foot or so cord from the side of the room to the entertainment center, I wouldn't want it to sit on top with my TV, and such.

With a moving magnet cartridge, the output is about 5 mV, at least 20 times lower than the signal from any other sound source, such as a CD or DVD player. A phono preamp boosts that signal to "line level", about 100 mV. Because the cartridge output is so low, it can be prone to interference. Using a cable longer than 4 feet can allow picking up RF or EM interference, and can loose some high frequency signal due to cable capacitance. That's why, in the past, most turntables came with RCA cables hard wired to them. It made sure those cables, and nothing longer, were used.

I noticed that Pro-ject now sells this turntable with "plinth mounted RCA output jacks allow for the use of higher quality interconnects for even better sonic performance". They also supply a 4 foot long RCA cable. Use nothing longer than that 4 foot cable. You said that your turntable will sit about 6 feet away. Because you will be using a separate phono preamp, use that 4 foot cable between the turntable and the phono preamp, and then use another RCA cable between the phono preamp, and your receiver. That second cable will carry line level signal (roughly 100 to 150 mV), and can be much longer without affecting sound.

I have been happy with an Audio Technica PEQ-3 phono preamp I got several years ago, but they do not seem to be available anymore. Amazon does sell used and Japanese import PEQ-3s at various prices under $100 http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00008B5PC/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all.

But there are many phono preamps available in your price range. http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-Store/Budget-Phono-Preamps

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Originally Posted by Danroth View Post

A speed changer seems to be a Project exclusive accessory, that allows you to button press (instead of manual belt-change) between 33pm & 45rpm…

Do you have any 45 rpm records? I doubt if they are worth having, as the sound quality of 45 rpm singles, in the past, was extremely poor.
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post #8 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danroth View Post

Yep, looking at cleaning supplies too ...

I was actually looking at getting this: http://store.acousticsounds.com/d/70571/Spin-Clean-Record_Washer_System_MKII-Record_Cleaning_Machine as it seems it would be a time saver; a larger initial investment, but I think I'd get a good return on investment in the way of saved time/effort.


I bought the $80 Spin Clean works great. When I first bought it I cleaned all the lp's I had cleaned with Discwasher and most a sounded better after. Now that's all I use. But I will say you do need more drying cloths & fluid so maybe might as well get the Limited Edition Clear Album Cleaning System.

mark
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post #9 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Swerdlow View Post

That Pro-ject looks good. The cartridge supplied with it, an Ortofon 2M Red, is a very good cartridge.
With a moving magnet cartridge, the output is about 5 mV, at least 20 times lower than the signal from any other sound source, such as a CD or DVD player. A phono preamp boosts that signal to "line level", about 100 mV. Because the cartridge output is so low, it can be prone to interference. Using a cable longer than 4 feet can allow picking up RF or EM interference, and can loose some high frequency signal due to cable capacitance. That's why, in the past, most turntables came with RCA cables hard wired to them. It made sure those cables, and nothing longer, were used.

I noticed that Pro-ject now sells this turntable with "plinth mounted RCA output jacks allow for the use of higher quality interconnects for even better sonic performance". They also supply a 4 foot long RCA cable. Use nothing longer than that 4 foot cable. You said that your turntable will sit about 6 feet away. Because you will be using a separate phono preamp, use that 4 foot cable between the turntable and the phono preamp, and then use another RCA cable between the phono preamp, and your receiver. That second cable will carry line level signal (roughly 100 to 150 mV), and can be much longer without affecting sound.

I have been happy with an Audio Technica PEQ-3 phono preamp I got several years ago, but they do not seem to be available anymore. Amazon does sell used and Japanese import PEQ-3s at various prices under $100 http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00008B5PC/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all.

But there are many phono preamps available in your price range. http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-Store/Budget-Phono-Preamps

Do you have any 45 rpm records? I doubt if they are worth having, as the sound quality of 45 rpm singles, in the past, was extremely poor.

I actually don't have any records at all, yet. Played a few of my dad's jazz records on his player, he has a Pioneer turntable that was made in the 90's that kind of inspired me in this, though. I seem to remember having quite a few that played @ 45 rpm when I was a kid though, so figured it'd be better to have something like that in case I do need it ... Since I posted that, I've also heard that the Speed Box can help with sound output, though I'm not sure how. A lot of Pro-ject owners seem to have stated that it assisted in improving sound, but that was with the Debut III, not the Carbon.

Thanks for the info, that makes a lot of sense then as to the length of cabling, because it wasn't making sense in my head when I read that, but that makes it quite clear. I was planning on setting up the Pre-Amp near the TT anyways, so that will definitely work for me, and help me save $$$ that I was wondering if I needed to spend or not. I really appreciate all the information and help.
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post #10 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 01:03 PM
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Proper speed will give you the accurate sound that your record can deliver. It's like a building block if the speed is off the rest of the system will be off. Work your way out from a TT. Proper speed is first then you can work on the rest.smile.gif
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post #11 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Swerdlow View Post

Do you have any 45 rpm records? I doubt if they are worth having, as the sound quality of 45 rpm singles, in the past, was extremely poor.
I agree. My turntable can do 45rpm very well, yet I've never used it at that speed. There really isn't any 45s worth having - Any music put on a 45 had a better version on the album.

Plus, do you really want to get up the change the record every three minutes?

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Originally Posted by Danroth View Post

... Since I posted that, I've also heard that the Speed Box can help with sound output, though I'm not sure how. A lot of Pro-ject owners seem to have stated that it assisted in improving sound, but that was with the Debut III, not the Carbon.
When others have stated that the speed box improved the sound, I suspect that they are hearing a placebo effect. Otherwise, the Pro-Ject's standard speed control would need to be crap, and that doesn't sound like a Pro-Ject.
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post #12 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 02:39 PM
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Not a placebo effect. The difference is not like your hearing Alvin & the Chipmunks and normal voices. You'll usually get a tighter bass and more realistic piano. A few weeks ago w/a few other audio guys I know were working on a 12yr old VPI TT. The motor alone weighed about 20lbs. It really sounded excellent. One of the guys added a Walker Audio speed controller and it picked up the sound quality quite a few notches. Tighter bass, more bite on the guitar and a deeper soundstage. Now the VPI did sound nice w/out the Walker add on but the addition of the controller took it to another level. Remember a motor on a $399 TT is not going to be 100% accurate. A little help from a decent speed box will pick improve the sound.smile.gif
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post #13 of 24 Old 06-19-2013, 05:16 PM
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Hi ClassA,
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Originally Posted by Class A View Post

. . . Remember a motor on a $399 TT is not going to be 100% accurate. A little help from a decent speed box will pick improve the sound.smile.gif
There is no reason that any turntable should not be close to 100% accurate at any price. Having designed dozens of motor controls over the years, I can safely say that a near-perfect drive system should not cost more than $100, including motor. I can build quartz-accurate phase-locked electronics for $20 in moderate quantities (just add motor and encoder). If any turntable does not have near-perfect speed control, it is because the manufacturer just doesn't care. I don't think that applies to Pro-Ject.

But lets look at the horses mouth. Pro-Ject makes no claim for improved sound - If it could improve sound, wouldn't they say as much? They just claim it changes the speed reference (the frequency of the AC power driving the motor) So it couldn't improve the actual performance of the motor by simply generating a different frequency AC.

Placebo.
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post #14 of 24 Old 06-20-2013, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHotchkiss View Post

Hi ClassA,
There is no reason that any turntable should not be close to 100% accurate at any price. Having designed dozens of motor controls over the years, I can safely say that a near-perfect drive system should not cost more than $100, including motor. I can build quartz-accurate phase-locked electronics for $20 in moderate quantities (just add motor and encoder). If any turntable does not have near-perfect speed control, it is because the manufacturer just doesn't care. I don't think that applies to Pro-Ject.

But lets look at the horses mouth. Pro-Ject makes no claim for improved sound - If it could improve sound, wouldn't they say as much? They just claim it changes the speed reference (the frequency of the AC power driving the motor) So it couldn't improve the actual performance of the motor by simply generating a different frequency AC.

Placebo.
Agreed. Likewise I have done several motor controllers over the years including digitally generated sines clocked out at 16/44, filtered post DAC driving a pair of small amplifiers through Tx's to step up to line voltage. Couldn't get any cleaner and it made no discernible difference. Motor was a single phase and I could easily adjust phases angles etc and used a stethescope the listen to the motor and minimise vibration. Having precise contol of a TT motor is not that important, especially when connected to a relatively light weight platter by a poorly damped spring (belt).

If speed accuracy is critical, get a good DD like a Technics SL1200 and be done with it. Probably cheaper than a BD with additional motor controller anyway.

One last point. For the last few years I've done test and measurement in power systems, so for several hours most days I have my test rig connected across local mains here and I have never seen the mains vary more than 2/100th of a Hz and changes are usually slow, over a couple of minutes or more. This is with a lab calibrated 6 digit frequency meter.
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post #15 of 24 Old 06-20-2013, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
But lets look at the horses mouth. Pro-Ject makes no claim for improved sound - If it could improve sound, wouldn't they say as much? They just claim it changes the speed reference (the frequency of the AC power driving the motor) So it couldn't improve the actual performance of the motor by simply generating a different frequency AC.

 

I have a Project RPM-9.1 with the Project Speed Box. This device is only for convenience purposes in order to avoid changing the belt every time you change 45 and 33rpm records. That's all.

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post #16 of 24 Old 06-20-2013, 12:27 PM
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There are 45 rpm albums also, some "audiophile" pressings.
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post #17 of 24 Old 06-21-2013, 04:24 PM
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There are 45 rpm albums also, some "audiophile" pressings.
True, but thir numbers are miniscule compared to conventional pressing numbers.
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post #18 of 24 Old 06-23-2013, 07:28 AM
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Before I'd invest in a Speedbox I'd put that money towards a better phonostage. I've listened to ones costing $100 and those costing thousands and there is definitely an improvement in quality as you move up the chain. There should be little concern with new TT's about speed accuracy, but their use as an automatic switcher for 33 to 45 is nice and certainly convenient.

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post #19 of 24 Old 06-23-2013, 08:16 AM
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I have an old pioneer direct drive tt I got at a church rummage sale for ten bucks years ago. I have a couple of belt drives, also, but since I got the dd # , I only use it. I still have lp's I bought back in the late '60's. I got a lot from thrift stores (lp's). I would load a bunch of 'em in the dishwasher, go under the sink & turn OFF the hot water & run 'em through the cycle. Worked quite well. Then, when they got/get dusty, I (still) have my "Parostatik" disk preener to clean lp's on the turning table. Radio Shack had (in the early '90's) a sale on some magnetic cartridges with 'good' needles, which turned out to be Stanton rebranded to RS,
the same ones the radio DJ's used for over the air. They were about $50. I still have one unused one left. (I bought a bunch of 'em). I used to rip tracks to my computer using an old stereo amp which had phono in & line out to computer as wav files & burned to/as cd's, before they started converting lp's to cd's
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post #20 of 24 Old 07-03-2013, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Got the system set up, today.

I went with a Bellari VP130 for my phono pre-amp. So far, listened to the Classic Records 200gram of The Who's Quadrophenia, the Quadrophonic Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, original US pressing of Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and am currently listening to David Bowie's The Next Day.

I'm amazed at how much more vibrant the music is, some recordings/songs almost entirely new. This is exactly what I was hoping for, when I decided to get into vinyl. So, I just wanted to toss out a huge 'Thank You' to everyone whose answered my questions in this thread or others, for their input and help.

One thing I did want to touch on was the discussion here previously in regards to the Speed Box. I did some more looking into it, and it seems that the theory behind why it helps things sound better on the Carbon Debut is because it helps to regulate the 33 rpm setting, and supposedly there can be minor fluctuations in the TT to dip slightly below or slightly above that speed, and purportedly the Speed Box improves the sound quality by fixating this at the proper speed. Before I invest the $130+ dollars in this, wondering what people's opinion on that theory/idea was.

Also debating if I want to invest in the Acrylic Platter, or just go with a cork or leather mat instead for the metal platter that I have, as my first 'upgrades'. Any thoughts?
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post #21 of 24 Old 11-06-2013, 02:50 PM
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Can anyone please tell me how to change the pulley on the Debut Carbon?

Thanks!
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post #22 of 24 Old 11-28-2013, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Class A View Post

Not a placebo effect. The difference is not like your hearing Alvin & the Chipmunks and normal voices. You'll usually get a tighter bass and more realistic piano. A few weeks ago w/a few other audio guys I know were working on a 12yr old VPI TT. The motor alone weighed about 20lbs. It really sounded excellent. One of the guys added a Walker Audio speed controller and it picked up the sound quality quite a few notches. Tighter bass, more bite on the guitar and a deeper soundstage. Now the VPI did sound nice w/out the Walker add on but the addition of the controller took it to another level. Remember a motor on a $399 TT is not going to be 100% accurate. A little help from a decent speed box will pick improve the sound.smile.gif

Agreed, it's not a placebo effect as many can hear the difference (present company included), and there is solid reasoning for the improvement in sound by using a speed box.

I have yet to see anyone give an explanation of how the "speed box" units work. While they do allow you to change the speed, the real work that these units do is generate a new 60Hz signal. For the synchronous AC motors that many belt drive turntables use, the frequency of the incoming AC power, and the number of poles in the motor, are what determine the motor's speed, not the voltage. That 60Hz we receive from the utility company is a nominal value, and that is definitely not a "clean" sine wave! All sorts of crud comes over our power lines, and we're feeding that crud into a simple AC motor that knows no better than to follow whatever type of power is fed to it.

These speed control units generate a new, dead-accurate, quartz controlled, and very clean 60Hz power output to feed to the motor. To "magically" change the speed to 45RPM, the speed box simply switches to a higher output frequency.

Is a motor in a cheaper turntable any less "accurate" than in an expensive 'table? Not necessarily. Simple fact is, AC motors rotate at a speed based on the incoming line frequency and the number of "poles" in the motor. Discrepancies in final rotation speed of the turntable platter may come from an improper pulley size, a slipping belt, drag on the motor or spindle bearings, an out-of-balance platter, or (on much smaller scale) the "crud" coming off the power line. Better AC motors will indeed run smoother than cheaper ones, through better materials and build tolerances used to manufacture the motor (especially the bearings used). Another factor in smoothing out speed variations is the weight of the rotating mass (the mass of the platter, subplatter and spindle); a heavier platter creates a larger flywheel effect, whereas a lighter platter will be more susceptible to variations in speed.

-= N =-
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post #23 of 24 Old 11-29-2013, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Class A View Post

Not a placebo effect. The difference is not like your hearing Alvin & the Chipmunks and normal voices. You'll usually get a tighter bass and more realistic piano. A few weeks ago w/a few other audio guys I know were working on a 12yr old VPI TT. The motor alone weighed about 20lbs. It really sounded excellent. One of the guys added a Walker Audio speed controller and it picked up the sound quality quite a few notches. Tighter bass, more bite on the guitar and a deeper soundstage. Now the VPI did sound nice w/out the Walker add on but the addition of the controller took it to another level. Remember a motor on a $399 TT is not going to be 100% accurate. A little help from a decent speed box will pick improve the sound.smile.gif

Agreed, it's not a placebo effect as many can hear the difference (present company included), and there is solid reasoning for the improvement in sound by using a speed box.

You do realize that your next sentence demolishes the statement above? If there is no explanation, then there is no reasoning, let alone solid reasoning.
Quote:
I have yet to see anyone give an explanation of how the "speed box" units work. While they do allow you to change the speed, the real work that these units do is generate a new 60Hz signal. For the synchronous AC motors that many belt drive turntables use, the frequency of the incoming AC power, and the number of poles in the motor, are what determine the motor's speed, not the voltage. That 60Hz we receive from the utility company is a nominal value, and that is definitely not a "clean" sine wave! All sorts of crud comes over our power lines, and we're feeding that crud into a simple AC motor that knows no better than to follow whatever type of power is fed to it.

These speed control units generate a new, dead-accurate, quartz controlled, and very clean 60Hz power output to feed to the motor. To "magically" change the speed to 45RPM, the speed box simply switches to a higher output frequency.

Is a motor in a cheaper turntable any less "accurate" than in an expensive 'table? Not necessarily. Simple fact is, AC motors rotate at a speed based on the incoming line frequency and the number of "poles" in the motor. Discrepancies in final rotation speed of the turntable platter may come from an improper pulley size, a slipping belt, drag on the motor or spindle bearings, an out-of-balance platter, or (on much smaller scale) the "crud" coming off the power line. Better AC motors will indeed run smoother than cheaper ones, through better materials and build tolerances used to manufacture the motor (especially the bearings used). Another factor in smoothing out speed variations is the weight of the rotating mass (the mass of the platter, subplatter and spindle); a heavier platter creates a larger flywheel effect, whereas a lighter platter will be more susceptible to variations in speed.

The above explanation is firmly rooted in old school beliefs. In the 1960s first Weathers and then Acoustic Research built highly effective turntables with admirable low speed variations and speed accuracy using some of the cheapest and lightest electric motors that were on the market - clock motors,
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post #24 of 24 Old 11-29-2013, 11:25 PM
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Bought a vintage turnable for my son recently. A Pioneer PL - 10 that was cleaned and I changed the old signalcable for a new and a new belt and a new picup (Ortofon OM-20 demoex.). The total was about £ 120. Then I bought Cambridge Audios cheapest riaa for MM (about £ 100), and it sounds just beautiful! He has a warm, musically flowing, dynamic and much better sound fom his vinyls than I had when I was 20 YO!
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