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Should your cartridge have a sound?

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Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby lenjack » 19 Jul 2018 01:46

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I see so many posts with folks describing the sound they want from their pickup, such as--choose one, or more-- more open, lively, forward, laid back, alive, punchy, brighter, wider soundstage, rythmic, ballsier, stronger, faster, airier, focused, detailed, dynamic, tighter, sweeter, jazzier...I could go on. And maybe different pickups for different types of music.

I have no quarrel with these folks, but I harken back to the old phrase "high fidelity", which to me means neutrality. I want my pickup to translate whatever is cut into the groove(s) into sound without altering it. I want to hear whatever is cut onto the disk the way it was put there. I don't want my pickup to act as a musical instrument. I don't want it to have any sound of it's own. As I said at the onset, color me old fashioned. I do admit to some judicial bass and treble tweaking in instances where the engineers clearly weren't paying attention or didn't care. I think there are others here that agree with me.

Please know, I do NOT look down on those who do not agree with me on this, so kindly don't flame me for my honest opinion. :-k
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby billshurv » 19 Jul 2018 02:27

I'm with you. I have no issue with people liking their only particular blend of euphonic colourations but feel they should admit to it. To me tone controls should be defeatable.

In the same vein I find it odd where some people will defend their particular preferred colourations but would not accept even a basic QUAD style tilt control in their system. This is a little sad as there is a lot that could be done that is never discussed as tone controls are taboo since the flat earth movement of the early 90s. But still fun to play with.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby Alec124c41 » 19 Jul 2018 02:41

The best equipment is that which disappears.
How much money do you have?
Each and every piece of equipment has specific things to overcome. A cartridge has to track the microscopic ripples in the walls of the groove, and deliver an electrical signal. Resonances in the cartridge, and with the tonearm, accuracy of conversion of the movement of the stylus to that signal, separation of the channels, etc., are the start. Different cartridges inevitably have different degrees of neutrality, particularly in the lower price ranges.
I classify cartridges by the spaciousness they can render, above a requirement for balanced and extended tonal reproduction. I have heard cartridges that sound as if the performers were locked in a closet down the corridor. Others put you in the next room with an open door, or in the venue looking for a waitress to buy a round for the band.
I have to admit, it has taken me decades to learn to distinguish better sound, and how to set things up to get it. And that there many ways to do that.

Cheers,
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby lenjack » 19 Jul 2018 03:54

"The best equipment is that which disappears."
That's basically what I was trying to say.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby Spinner45 » 19 Jul 2018 04:10

High Fidelity in the general sense means being "faithful" in reproduction of sound.
Faithful reproduction is relatively easy to do, for most people.
I say "most", because there is of course that small part of the population that is never satisfied with things... an obsession to reach some form of "magical plateau" who knows what.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby ammarmariti » 19 Jul 2018 04:25

How do we know what does the groove sound like? We only know how each component sound like relative to others. Maybe it sounds neutral and transparent to me, but my friend could say it is bass light, or maybe a little warm, compared to his setup which is neutral and transparent to him.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby patient_ot » 19 Jul 2018 04:26

Human ears and brains aren't all the same. Neither are the systems we are putting the cartridge into. A lot of folks might be trying to compensate for this or that when choosing a cartridge. It could be a hearing anomaly, preference for sound coloration, bad speakers, or a room that is less than ideal for a stereo system. It's just the way it is.

In general I'm not a fan of heavily colored sound from cartridges and other gear. It can be fun to use here and there but not something I want all the time. It's the same reason I don't like overly compressed CD remasters with jacked up bass and such.

That said, many people feel the opposite way.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby goatbreath » 19 Jul 2018 06:26

In an ideal World,everything would be perfect.
Truth is,that nothing is perfect.
Cartridges,Tonearms,the list goes on become all about synergy because of this..
Amplifiers are all supposed to sound the same according to the old view,
they are supposed to,but don't..Even if the specs are the same.
All speakers are coloured,as are the rooms they are in..
Engineers and producers mixed and cut vinyl so the tracks would come across better
on your favourite Rock records..Classical was messed with too..
Valves compress or soft clip rather than hard clip like transistors when mildly overloaded..
Everything is coloured and that includes before it even hits the microphone often..
You could say that the Master tape is the reference,
but even tape machines have a sound..
Then there is getting it to vinyl..
Or whatever Format.Experienced engineers knew how to mix,EQ and cut to get better bass etc..
They knew how to take advantage of the vinyl medium..
They did this by emphasising frequencies to take advantage/compensate for the weaknesses of the vinyl medium..Even the RIAA curve does that..
For some reason vinyl can often sound great at the end of all that... :D :D

After this stuff,cartridges are built to a price..
You can chase low colouration etc.
This comes at a price and often can end up being unflattering to the music you love
as it is often mixed to be flattering across as many systems as possible,
not just ultra expensive accurate ones....
I am a realist..All I can do is hope for synergy..
If we can pass on what items are synergistic on here,
that's brilliant.It saves us money and work/time..
Hopefully if the products are consistent enough,this will Help people.

Not all vinyl is perfect condition,or indeed is nasty from the start..
If I returned every non perfect new piece of vinyl,
about a third or more would go back,new stuff these days is worse..
Why I always have one turntable running with a conical..
I am being a realist..I use different stylus profiles for different vinyl..
To censor the nasties..
I think 45 RPM 7 inch singles often sound great with a Shure M44 7..Which is coloured..
It sounds like it is coming from a Juke Box almost..
it seems to work great with the 7 inch single format..
Then I think it isn't just compliance to mass when you are matching Cartridges and tonearms..You are looking for frequency balance ending up being as flat as possible,
or maybe at least sounding acceptable and making what you hear as good music..
In a perfect world this would not have to happen..
I think the best we can hope for is synergy..
Getting it as the master tape is? Well that is a difficult and expensive task..
They may market equipment that says it does that..
Marketing and Lies,same thing unfortunately..
Everything is coloured,some things less so that others..
If we can put these things together in a synergistic way..
Hopefully we get Sweet Music..

I use more advanced tips too..
3x7 ellipticals then conicals get the most use though..
Everything is a compromise and perfection is the most difficult goal in the world..
I gave up torturing myself a long time ago and accepted recorded music for what it is..
I still seem to play way more vinyl than CD or Digital Music though..
Some might say I like the colouration..
That might be true,I'm not going to beat myself up over it though..

I would rather listen to Classical Music in my own house,with no one coughing or making noise shuffling around..Or indeed not have to be scared to let a fart rip if necessary..
Sorry,I had to lower the tone as usual.. :D
Recorded music is amazing,but different from the original thing..
Even if it is a live recording..

Everything is imperfect,we just find ways and compromises to love the people and things
around us in a way that works for us..That includes finding Cartridges and tonearms that work together etc...
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby raphaelmabo » 19 Jul 2018 09:28

There is no 100 percent neutral cartridge nor turntable nor phono pre-amp and so on. All equipment adds colouration more or less. And then we have the aspect of the room that adds colouration and tunes the sound.
We all listen in a system combined of different parts, it all comes down to synergy - to mix and match components that works together and in the room, and with the music one listens to. There is no "do it all" equipment, but some may be more "allround" than others.

In the end, it is all about what makes ju smile and captures the emotion. :) I search for equipment that transforms my room, transports me close to the artists stage and seduces me into listening to the music rather than the equipment or errors and wrongs in the recordings.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby cafe latte » 19 Jul 2018 12:44

Every cart has a sound which is part of the charm, not everything is recorded well anyway. If you want close to how it is recorded then buy a digital front end which will always be closer to perfect recording..A very good departed hifi friend once said when I said similar that he did not care if the sound was correct as long as he liked it. I have come to understand this much more over the years they were very wise words..
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby billshurv » 19 Jul 2018 14:17

The concept of 'I like it' is fine* BUT this is not hifi and people who have carefully curated a system to give their interpretation of 'pleasing sound' should refrain from giving advice to others without a giant caveat!

*As Nelson Pass says 'It's entertainment, not dialysis'. If you are having fun then all is good for you.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby goatbreath » 19 Jul 2018 14:54

In that case,nothing is Hifi as nothing is perfect.
Even if the advertising claims it is..
Remember "Perfect Sound Forever" ?
Then why did CD Improve after ,,was it 1983 ?
Because it is all marketing.
Even perfect specifications of a product are selective.
The best we can hope for is synergy.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby billshurv » 19 Jul 2018 15:16

You have only 2 channels to create a 3D soundfield, so yes, you are fscked before you start, but within the limitations of that you can at least try and minimise the errors and stay as close to the input signal as possible. non-defeatable tone controls are a bad thing in my book, but some people love them.

I fear 'Synergy' is being used as a cop-out by some people who believe their ears are magic and golden and that, by sprinking magic fairy dust they can get a right out of 3 wrongs.

Advertising can be ignored as BS. However the Engineers who developed redbook in the 70s did a pretty good job on the specs, its just that converter technology needed to catch up. There are still people who swear by non-oversamping TDA1541s, go figure.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby denvertrakker » 19 Jul 2018 16:26

I've been saying this for years: Coloration is present, to a greater or lesser degree, in any transducer. That is, a device that changes mechanical energy to electrical (i.e., a cartridge), or a device that does the opposite - electrical energy to mechanical (a speaker). An electronic device such as an amplifier can come much closer to perfection.

@billshurv: Although I've moved on, I can't say I found any grievous fault with my Philips/Marantz CD80 with its TDA1541. Still one of the best CD players I've ever heard.
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Re: Should your cartridge have a sound?

Postby billshurv » 19 Jul 2018 16:33

I only decomissioned my CD80 when it was too big to put on the new shelf. About 25 years I used it. I liked the solidity. But it was a heavy SOB.

Yes colouration is present on any transducer, but we can at least try to minimise it. Amplifiers we can get to single digit PPM distortion easily enough these days.
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