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LP digital archiving for a newbie

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LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby andoru » 12 Sep 2017 23:30

I'm pretty new to LPs and playback devices for them, so please excuse my lack of knowledge and/or silly questions. Also sorry if this is the wrong subforum to ask these questions.
This is more a thread asking you guys for recommendations.

I want to start collecting and digitally archiving LPs and singles that I have and that I'm going to buy in the future, and so I would like to know what sort of audiophile-grade equipment I could buy or look out for that wouldn't break the bank (too much...). I would like to record those at high resolution (192kHz/24bit), but could settle for lower rates too if the budget/hardware doesn't allow.

For a turntable, I would be looking for a direct drive model (so I don't have to faff about with wow and flutter, and disintegrating/loose belts) with S-type tone arm, and probably something from the previous decades. The Technics SL-1200 series of turntables would've been perfect for me as they're quite revered, easy to find parts for them and I really like their designs (sleek with quite a few controls). The only problem is that where I'm from, they're crazy expensive (up to 600€) they don't look like they've been handled properly having a lot of visible wear, and pretty rare. So I would like to hear from you guys if you know of any other good turntable models, if you know any company or individual who sells used/refurbished turntables and could ship to Europe. Speaking of which, I would prefer everything to have europlugs, as I wouldn't want to spend extra cash on adapters.

I would also like to get a decent cartridge that delivers a balanced sound that doesn't sound too tinny, with as little sibilance as possible.

Also I would like to hear some suggestions on what preamp to get, if I also need an regular amplifier. Could I settle for the integrated soundcard of my PC (Intel-based machine with Intel HDA), or if I should really consider an external audio interface?

Aside from archiving, I would like to use the the equipment for listening from time to time, but I only intend on using it with headphones. Would that affect the above choices?

I'm was thinking of setting a 800€ maximum budget for everything.
Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions!
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Re: LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby macnoob » 13 Sep 2017 02:02

There are a lot of other Japanese direct drive tables comparable to the 1200, for which you don't pay the 1200 premium. Other Technics models in the line have similar specs but can be way less expensive. Something like an SL-1800 for example.

If it sounds good for digitizing, it will sound good with headphones as long as you have a decent amplifier for the headphones.

I would use an external pre amp just to get away from the noisy PC electronics.

My low-budget approach is a Technics SL-1700 TT connected to a vintage integrated amp, with a USB sound card (Behringer UCA-222) connected in the tape loop. USB from the UCA-222 into my Dell laptop running Audacity. I use either a pair of vintage speakers or my Sennheiser phones with this.

This gets me CD quality sound easily, which is fine for my purpose (iPhone connected to car stereo or other portable sound system) but won't support high res due to limitations of the ADC in the UCA-222.
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Re: LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby andoru » 13 Sep 2017 13:13

macnoob wrote:There are a lot of other Japanese direct drive tables comparable to the 1200, for which you don't pay the 1200 premium. Other Technics models in the line have similar specs but can be way less expensive. Something like an SL-1800 for example.


Well, I've broadened my search therms, I wasn't able to find anything in the SL-1* series, but I was able to find a Technics SL-D202, SL-3310 and a Sony PS-T15. Would you recommend these?

macnoob wrote:My low-budget approach is a Technics SL-1700 TT connected to a vintage integrated amp, with a USB sound card (Behringer UCA-222) connected in the tape loop.


Sorry, but I'm unfamiliar with this lingo: integrated amp? As in the preamp in the turntable? Tape loop?

macnoob wrote:This gets me CD quality sound easily, which is fine for my purpose (iPhone connected to car stereo or other portable sound system) but won't support high res due to limitations of the ADC in the UCA-222.


So then I guess in that case I should be looking for a different device. If anyone has suggestions, let me know!

Also, could you let me know of any good phono cartridges?
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Re: LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby macnoob » 13 Sep 2017 14:15

andoru wrote:Well, I've broadened my search therms, I wasn't able to find anything in the SL-1* series, but I was able to find a Technics SL-D202, SL-3310 and a Sony PS-T15. Would you recommend these?


Great info on all the Technics tables at http://www.vintagetechnics.audio/turntables.php

Unfamiliar with the Sony but it doesn't look like it would be junk. I had an SL-3200 (3310 should be a full-auto, black version of the same table) and liked it a lot.

All those are servo controlled tables.

A basic difference on many of these direct drive tables is servo controlled vs quartz locked. Servo control is the older technique, where you dial in speed with an adjustment knob. Quartz locked the speed is set automatically. Quartz can be slightly more stable but not enough that you can hear the difference. Compare the specs in the table linked.

andoru wrote:Sorry, but I'm unfamiliar with this lingo: integrated amp? As in the preamp in the turntable? Tape loop?


Integrated amp is a phono preamp (to amplify/equalize the signal from a turntable), audio control preamp (to select and control signals from any audio source), and power amp (to amplify the signal to send to speakers or phones) all in the same chassis:

Image

If you add an FM tuner to that, then you have a receiver.

Tape loop is the tape in/out jacks on the back of the integrated amp or receiver. You can connect this to your analog/digital converter (ADC) which is connected to your computer.

macnoob wrote:This gets me CD quality sound easily, which is fine for my purpose (iPhone connected to car stereo or other portable sound system) but won't support high res due to limitations of the ADC in the UCA-222.


andoru wrote:So then I guess in that case I should be looking for a different device. If anyone has suggestions, let me know!

Also, could you let me know of any good phono cartridges?


Many vintage turntables will come with a very good cartridge (I've never bought one separately) - a good quality stylus and you're up and running.
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Re: LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby andoru » 13 Sep 2017 17:30

macnoob wrote:Great info on all the Technics tables at http://www.vintagetechnics.audio/turntables.php


Thanks for the link, though I asked for your opinions mostly because I don't know much about what makes a good turntable nor what a good cartridge/stylus is.
Like for example, is a lower or higher rumble rate better or worse? (I assume better). Is the difference between wow and flutter rate of 0.025 and 0.03 very noticeable? Does the fact that the turntables are automatic really affect the sound quality?

macnoob wrote:A basic difference on many of these direct drive tables is servo controlled vs quartz locked. Servo control is the older technique, where you dial in speed with an adjustment knob. Quartz locked the speed is set automatically. Quartz can be slightly more stable but not enough that you can hear the difference.

Integrated amp is a phono preamp (to amplify/equalize the signal from a turntable), audio control preamp (to select and control signals from any audio source), and power amp (to amplify the signal to send to speakers or phones) all in the same chassis.

If you add an FM tuner to that, then you have a receiver.

Tape loop is the tape in/out jacks on the back of the integrated amp or receiver. You can connect this to your analog/digital converter (ADC) which is connected to your computer.


Thanks! That's good to know.

macnoob wrote:Many vintage turntables will come with a very good cartridge (I've never bought one separately) - a good quality stylus and you're up and running.


I'm asking because I've seen many turntables sold without cartridges, or even headshells. What would a good quality stylus be, and which type would be best to avoid misstracking/tinny sound?
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Re: LP digital archiving for a newbie

Postby macnoob » 13 Sep 2017 18:31

andoru wrote:Thanks for the link, though I asked for your opinions mostly because I don't know much about what makes a good turntable nor what a good cartridge/stylus is.
Like for example, is a lower or higher rumble rate better or worse? (I assume better). Is the difference between wow and flutter rate of 0.025 and 0.03 very noticeable? Does the fact that the turntables are automatic really affect the sound quality?


Rumble is background mechanical noise. Lower rumble (more negative number) is quieter. -70db is better than -50db.
W&F is speed variation. Less is better. Rule of thumb is anything less than .1% will be inaudible to most people.
Any decent quality table the tonearm is completely disconnected from the auto mechanism while it's running. So no effect on sound at all.

andoru wrote:I'm asking because I've seen many turntables sold without cartridges, or even headshells. What would a good quality stylus be, and which type would be best to avoid misstracking/tinny sound?


Lots of options for complete cartridges if you need one (I lied, I have bought new carts - in 1978 and 1981). Usually the best replacement stylus for whatever cartridge you have is the one made by the cartridge manufacturer. These are usually hard to find for vintage carts. Jico (Japan) makes good quality replacement stylii for many carts. There are various shapes of diamond used - conical is cheapest, elliptical next, hyperelliptical and exotic shapes more.

Mistracking and tinny sound is due more to adjustment, too much wear, and quality rather than the shape of the diamond.
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