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Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

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Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby BMRR » 12 Feb 2017 04:23

It's currently snowing here in Maine for the second day in a row, and we're due to get another 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) of snow tomorrow and Monday. Fortunately my pantry is stocked and there's nowhere else I need to be!

To keep myself entertained, I thought it would be fun to put together another "Blind Taste Test" of phono cartridges and styli. I gathered seven cartridges from my collection, ranging from heavy-tracking DJ carts to light-tracking audiophile carts; mounted and aligned them; made sure the styli are perfectly clean; and recorded the same track with each of them.

The files are currently uploading to YouTube and will be available for listening sometime tomorrow.

But there's a twist! :lol:

To make it more fun and a bit more challenging, I will list 8 cartridges for you to choose from, even though I only recorded 7. That makes it more difficult to solve the mystery by using the process of elimination. :wink:

Your job is to look at this list of 8 cartridges, listen to the recordings, and match the recordings with the cartridges.

This is JUST FOR FUN and is not meant to be a perfect scientific test! I'm not trying to prove a point about which cartridge is "the best." I simply thought it would be interesting to listen and compare. The results may surprise you! (I was rather surprised myself!)

I did not post-process these recordings in any way. I did adjust the input gain of my audio interface so that each cartridge would have roughly the same volume (which makes the comparison more fair and makes the challenge more challenging!), but doing so is lossless and does not effect the quality of the recordings.

You will be able to hear basic differences such as how narrow or wide the soundstage is, distortion or lack thereof, and tonal balance (e.g., boosted midrange, rolled-off treble, etc).

Here are your choices, listed in alphabetical order:

• Audio-Technica AT95E
• Audio-Technica AT130E with ATN440MLb stylus
• Numark CS-1
• Ortofon 2M Blue
• Ortofon Omega
• Shure SC35C
• Stanton 500 MkIII with TEI spherical stylus
• Stanton 681 EEE MkIII with EVG elliptical stylus


I hope you have fun and I look forward to your responses! :D Come back in about 12 hours for the recordings!

And, of course, be sure to mention which one is your favorite. =D>

blindtastetest.jpg
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby FileFixer » 12 Feb 2017 12:34

Nice job BMMR. Get us that video... I`m waiting... ;)
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby needlestein » 12 Feb 2017 13:50

This looks fun! Don't give the answer away too fast. I can't get to this right away, but I'm off this week so it's possible I can get to it.
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby BMRR » 12 Feb 2017 15:46

OK my friends, here we go!

A quick reminder before we begin: please be sure to set the YouTube quality to HD in order to get the best audio quality. Here's how to do that:

hd1.jpg

hd2.jpg

hd3.jpg


If anyone is curious about why I chose this particular song, it is because the song features a wide array of instruments — strings, horns, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, keyboards, percussion — as well as a strong female vocal (always a good sibilance test) and some interesting stereo effects. It's also one of my favorite songs, although I wouldn't normally listen to it seven times in a row. #-o :lol:

Last but not least, don't attempt to solve the mystery by listening through small computer speakers or a smartphone speaker. Listen with headphones — preferably the best ones you own — or run a wire from your computer to your stereo. \:D/
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby FileFixer » 12 Feb 2017 15:49

Dont worry, mine is always set on HD quality. ;)
Where is link?
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby BMRR » 12 Feb 2017 15:53

What do dance clubs and classical radio stations have in common? Technics Direct Drive.™
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby FileFixer » 12 Feb 2017 16:08

For my ears Cartridge #3 have best sound. I debated between Cartridge #2 and Cartridge #3 but 3 have slightly better details.
This is opinion from first listening. ;)
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby Thomas_A » 12 Feb 2017 19:52

Track 3 is brightest and guess either AT with 440mlb stylus or perhaps the Ortofon 2M.
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby Thomas_A » 12 Feb 2017 20:00

Track 2 seems darkest, perhaps the SC35
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby nat » 12 Feb 2017 21:42

Interesting and difficult to keep audio memories clear, but of the first five, #2 seemed to have the clearest bass. If you can call what come out of a Powerbook speakers bass...
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby BMRR » 12 Feb 2017 21:53

I highly recommend listening with headphones if possible. :) And one way to compare the recordings more easily is to load each of them into a separate "tab" in your web browser; then you can pause one recording, switch to a different tab, listen to that one for a few seconds, then go back and listen to the previous one, and compare them back and forth like that. I've been doing that a lot and have found it useful to catch subtle differences. Headphones are pretty much essential, though.
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby Vanni » 12 Feb 2017 21:57

Good job BMRR!

Just listened to a snippet from each one, and I think Track 7 is the best sounding one, possibly followed by 3. Tracks 2 and 6 least favourite so far, but I'll listen again tomorrow afternoon with a better set of headphones and much more closely.

So, I may well change my mind! I'll try to guess which cart is which too.
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby FileFixer » 12 Feb 2017 22:12

BMRR wrote:I highly recommend listening with headphones if possible. :) And one way to compare the recordings more easily is to load each of them into a separate "tab" in your web browser; then you can pause one recording, switch to a different tab, listen to that one for a few seconds, then go back and listen to the previous one, and compare them back and forth like that. I've been doing that a lot and have found it useful to catch subtle differences. Headphones are pretty much essential, though.


Now I`m goes to listen all 7 tracks with my best headphones and audio card. Today I was listening on laptop with another headphones.
This is my second chance. :D
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby FileFixer » 12 Feb 2017 23:18

Finally over. I'm tired... :D I`m listening all tracks separate and with A/B testing.
After all I think that is my choice Cartridge #3. It have very open and transparent sound, vocals are best of all other and on the vocal shhhhh is going to the end and it is very clear.
Cartridge #2 is very close but it have little darker closer sound then Cartridge #3. Very good cartridge but it does not my choice.
And cartridge number 7 is also very good and it have also clear sound but it seems that this sound somehow float over all track. It have very good stereo separation but that floating sound make me nervous. That sounding like wow, more unstable then others.
After all my choice is Cartridge #3.
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Re: Just for fun: another "Blind Taste Test"

Postby BMRR » 12 Feb 2017 23:37

To everyone who has answered so far: thank you! :D

Keep those guesses and comments coming!

I listened to all of the files again, but this time I listened through my Yamaha integrated amp and BIC speakers instead of my Sennheiser headphones. I heard some additional differences that I didn't notice while listening with the headphones. Likewise, some of the differences I heard through the headphones were barely noticeable (or not noticeable at all) through my big floorstanding speakers.

I'll have to switch back to the headphones for a while because my downstairs neighbor is probably tired of hearing this song. :oops: :lol:
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