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Vinyl: Care - Turntables - Preamps

mobile homeless

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Some people, including Chris, have been interested in vinyl recently and question have been posed. Here are a few answers. I think vinyl playback is one of the most rewarding things about my system. Then again, I have a load of software that is not even available on CD. Still, I find that analog done properly sounds an order of magnitude better than average digital. To be honest, I think good vinyl actually is far more musical and real sounding than even GOOD digital, that is given the pops, ticks, etc that all complain of. There is actually more resolution to go along with that amazing sense of ease. I plan on adding here later.

1. What are the best methods for cleaning and maintaining vinyl?

First of all, some good advice above although I am now a bit leery of alcohol in the wrong dosage. Let me just say something very simple right off. And this is so basic... HANDLE YOU RECORDS CORRECTLY. NEVER touch the grooves while handling records, even when they are in the sleeves. Always observe how you are holding the disc. I used to train DJs in college and the amount of people that just pulled records out with the hands grabbing the disc...Christ, it would give you chills. So always hold on the edges and/or with your fingertips in the center label area. Basic, right? I STILL see people break this rule all the time.

As for deep cleaning used vinyl, occasional DEEP clean, I cant recommend a wet-vac highly enough. There are several competent models. I have the VPI 16.5 which is worth every penny if you have a lot of vinyl. This beast works like a industrial machine and is LOUD as a bastard...but damn, if it doesnt work like magic. You can make your own mix of cleaning fluid, which is usually an isopropyl alcohol - distilled water mix. Some actually add a few more ingredients such as Photoflo and other cleaners. There are many theories here. I have not experimented enough to decide which works the best. I usually err on the conservative side, however. I actually liked the standard VPI fluid but as always, it is overpriced.

As for the other liquid cleaners mentioned above, I really prefer not to use them as I feel they leave a residue and over time this is not advantageous. I used the vacuum clean method of the VPI 16.5, and stick in a clean sleeve if possible. Then, for every day cleaning, I opt for the HUNT/Decca dry brush to do the records for the before use cleaning. IF the records are always kept in their sleeves then you shouldnt have to clean with the VAC except once. And then do over if you have heavy use...every few months or so. Linn actually discourages the use of a record cleaning brush saying it pushes the dust DOWN into the grooves. They let the stylus do the cleaning. TO be honest, I went by this method for a while when I first got my Linn LP-12. But the purchase of the VPI 16.5 really pushed the cleaning to the next level.

If you really get into vinyl and especially since USE vinyl is now a great resource, a record-cleaning machine like the VPI 16.5 is really invaluable. No, it wont remove scratches but you will be amazed at what it DOES do.

2. What about storage? The paper inserts seem cheap and abrasive.

First of all, a good shelf is really needed. IF at all possible, try to have self supported shelf dividers every 15" or so. I realize this is rarely done but it worked so well at the radio station. You want your records to be completely vertical at all times as leaning will eventually cause warping. I usually get a new plastic sleeve to protect the record jacket. As for the sleeve, I have bought the rice paper sleeves and tried various aftermarket makes. They are expensive but worth it for bad inner sleeves. I admit I have not changed out all but after cleaning a record, I like to put it in one if possible. That is the ultimate that doesnt always work.

3. Turntable recs? Is "vintage" applicable here? Seems like you can spend all you want on a TT. Where does the law of diminishing return kick in?

Lordy. I dont know how many times I get asked this question. And each time I change my tune a bit. I have a Linn LP-12 with the Valhalla power supply. Do I recommend this table to new vinyl lovers? Actually, not that often as I find it is too finicky for some and when I have, the people have been left just wanting a device they dont have to worry about. IT has a three spring suspension that must be balanced properly. It helps to have a Linn dealer nearby. The Linn when set up properly is one of my favorite tables as it gets the rhythm right and has great soul. It is sort of like the tube amp of the turntables. Some do not like the Linn saying it is colored and outclassed by other tables these days. Granted, there are a lot easier turntables around. But I still have my old Linn and am actually listening to it right now.

Here is a list of turntables that I happen to like for various reasons. All will bring good sound if set up correctly. They DO sound different, however.

Rega Planar 3 OK deckway better arm. This Rega RB-300 arm can be upgraded with much better wiring and a better counterweight. Actually, this arm sounds good on many tables. I never have loved the Rega table that much but its ok. The Linn has more soul. No suspension so good stand and stable floor help

VPI Jr to MKIV These are all fine tables and can be upgraded to the next model. The Jr is the least expensive but a great deal and can sound good. Nice looking table and turnkey sound. Very solid. The Rega Arm works on these great. The Origin Live Rega RB-250 arm on the VPI Jr is a fine combo. The Mk II adds spring suspension (much stiffer type than Linn) and different chassis and armboard.. III has a much heavier platter I like all these tables and used can be good deals. Very LARGE though.

to be continued

4. How about reasonable phono stages (phono pre amp?).

to be continued


Phono Linn LP-12 Vahalla / Linn Basic Plus / Sumiko Blue Point

CD Player Rega Planet

Preamp Cary Audio SLP-70 w/Phono Modified

Amplifier Welborne Labs 2A3 Moondog Monoblocks

Cable DIYCable Superlative / Twisted Cross Connect

Speaker 1977 Klipsch Cornwall I w/Alnico & Type B Crossover

system one online / alternate components / Asylum Listing f>s>

This message has been edited by mobile homeless on 02-13-2002 at 10:06 AM

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Thanks ever so much for your response. Especially in light of the administrative duties that come with a real estate purchase (Congrats!).

We all await further info. However, I have one more question.....

What the heck are the differences between moving coil and moving magnet cartridges? So far as my feeble mind can understand, they may require different types of phono stages (pre amps?). Any help here is greatly appreciated. This one has really got me.

Let's recap...

This is what I have so far:

1. Horns - good

2. Tubes - good (especially with horns)

3. SS amps - can be good, however see #2

4. Cables - need not cost mega bucks and can be fun to DIY

5. Tuners - "Vintage" is good. Do the math (inflation + yen problems + planned obsolescence = vintage better) $500 tuner in 1970 would cost $6,968.01 today.

6. Tweaks - can be good, don't have to cost much. For example 3/4" granite slab with Sorbothane underneath for $50-$60 is as good or better than $200-$1,000 "Voodoo" composites.

All I'm missing is vinyl...to be continued...


PS After seeing the time signature of your post, all I have to say is "Are you nuts?".


2 channel

Klipsch Cornwalls (1978)

Cary CAD 300SEI amp (WE 300B's, various NOS 6SN7's)

Arcam Alpha MCD cd player

Sony 5000F Tuner (1968)


Klipsch KG2.5 (front & rear)

Klipsch KV2 (center)

Klipsch SW12 (sub)

Marantz SR700 receiver

Toshiba DTS DVD


Sony Hi8 VCR

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In the simplest term, a moving magnet cartridge puts out far more output so it needs less of a step up in the phono stage. They are generally less expensive and are what you see in most low end cartridges. Good MM cartridges CAN be found though. As said, they are FAR easier to use in that they do not require near as much amplifiction in the phono stage. The MM cartridge uses little magnets between the wire coils. They do not, ultimately, have the same resolving power as the Moving Coil cartridge but are easier to drive and make (also much less expensive).

On the other hand, MC or Moving Coil cartridges use handwound little coils that get moved in a fixed magnetic field which causes current flow in the coils. As you can imagine, these are NOT easy to make...and are $$$. In addition, they take a much more powerful phono stage to amplify this VERY weak signals to high line level output in your preamp. The Cartridge costs more. And the phono stage usually costs more and is mor subceptable to HUM since it has to be so sensitive. So, why bother? Well, the good moving coil cartridge can sound SUBLIME! They can be very magical, indeed!!!

A GOOD compromise is what is know as the High Output moving coil cartridge. This type CAN be used via a moving magnet phono stage. While it is still lower output than the average MM, it is plenty. A good example of a HO moving coil would be the Sumiko Blue Point. This is one of my favorite cheaper High Output moving coils. Great sound from this beast.

So I hope this clears it up a bit. The proper phono stage that can do moving coil is going to run you more. In addition, one other thing I neglected to mention is the fact that some Moving Coils need better tonearms then some tables can provide. The Rega Arm does work with them, however. But my Linn Basik Plus arm is not really the best for the super low output moving coils. I would actually be better off upgrading to a better tonearm here as well.


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Thanks for the info Mobile - you helped my make up my mind. I am staying with SACD - this vinyl stuff is just too hard already!!!

I'll live with the poorer selection for now and see how it develops. At least classical is being covered quite well - I have over 30 classical recordings on SACD as I type - with 50 more to get. Along with the Jazz and rock/pop stuff I recon I can get to about 100 titles fairly easily. That is critical mass for me - enough to listen to something different every day for months.

Have you tried SACD mobile? I have a feeling you wont like it but I would be interested in your reactions. for me it is a sound quite distinct from either CD or vinyl but probably closer to vinyl.

No need for a signature methinks - you know what I have by now!! (LOL)

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I did analog a bit of an injustice in that last post on MM vs MC; it made it seem too esoteric and painful. Believe me, it is not as bad as it sounds. If, like maxg, you dont have much of a collection of vinyl and dont long for material that sounds poorly done on CD and or is not available, then it IS a tough call. CD sound takes some getting used to. And in all honesty, you CAN get used to it and even feel it is quite nice. Yet when you put on a good record, you suddenly are shocked back into the difference. Still, if you have ZERO LPs and have not felt you are missing anything, I would probably say dont bother.

As for SACD...well, I have to admit I have not even HEARD it yet. Of course, I have read about it - studied it rather in depth the first time it became known. Have seen all the raves. Have noticed the negatives. But as for personal experience, there is ZERO.

I hope to subject myself to a HIFI hell hole soon to hear what the hoopla is about. My buddy with the Wright 3.5 monos has had SACD in his system and liked it...but not enought to throw long ducats for a quality machine. He also has no analog setup.


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