All my life I have been concerned with
exploring high quality music experience
I started with vinyl records, then came the
CD, and also the DAT recorder.
After that the music became “mediumless”,
meaning that the record shops in the cities disappeared and nowadays
buying music had become a online affair…
But there are exceptions, to my great surprise
when I visted a High-End show I saw the
analog gramophone records and players were
very popular, the gramophone records were sold as sweet cakes :-)
In fact record player has never really been
gone, and now they are getting more popular
turntables (still) so populair?
Many years ago when the cd player was
introduced I thought it was an huge improvement on the gramophone record
Now I know better, after having had many
years of experience with High-Resolution audio streaming, I have found
out that the gramophone still sounds better
sounds just more realistic, more pleasant to the ears than the digital
is because Live music is analogue, not digital
I am not the only one that thinks like this,
given the large increasing popularity of the analogue turntable market.
Apparently, the advantages of the record
player outweigh the disadvantages
When I was visiting
the XFi Show last week I was not I was not impressed with the sound
quality that I heard
Digital music was played in many rooms, and I
found that the music sounding rather dead, and also especially flat to
was no life in music
Then I entered a listening room (I forgot
which one) and the music sounded so organic, so fluid, it was perfect!
I tried to figure out were the music source
was coming from and I was this:
A old skool looking turntable named “Linn
Wow, this devices rocks, this is how music should sound, I thought
The question why turntables are still popular
these days has been answered.
When I was home I did some research about
this turntable, and how more I read about
how more I got
When I discused with another analogue
enthousiast, we both agreed that digital music has some side effects.
The first disadvantage is that the ease of
streaming digital music from a huge music collection makes you lazy.
The ease with which you can stream digital
music in combination with the excessive choice of albums in your music
library ensures that you no longer going to listen serious to music...
In my case music has become more of a
background wallpaper that has to match my mood
But this is not what I
want, I want the best music quality possible
I want to enjoy music attentively
Are there no good DAC’s?
Short answer: No,
Long answer: good sounding
Multibit DAC chips like the “Burr
Brown PCM1704-UK” comes close, but compaired with real analogue
turntable like LINN LP12, the LINN LP12 sounds better in my ears.
Unfortunately these “Burr Brown PCM1704-UK”
DAC chips are no longer produced…
are currently still
not able to make a DAC chip
that not only has good specifications, but also sounds realy like a
Personally I believe that the current
development of digital to analogue is still in its infancy (children's
shoes fase) and that perhaps in the future there will be developments
that really can convert digital audio well
but now this is not yet the case.
Ladder (R2R) DACs
for example, all these developments are still far from perfect, there
are too many disadvantages.
And the question is also is R2R DAC’s the
There are many ways to Rome...there are also FGPA developments that are
looking very promissing.
gate array) can be
reprogrammed to implement different logic functions, allowing flexible
reconfigurable computing as performed in computer software.
manufacturers are using this technique already, perhaps in the future
in the combination with a new
(standarlized?) audiophile/master quality
format, this could give great results
so that digital music finally becomes mature.
I think it would be
best if “analogue recorded music” just could be stored “analog” on the
computer instead of digital.
But today this is not possible without an
analogue to digital “conversion”.
My position is: with the current
state of technical developments, perfect conversion from digital to
analog is unfortunately not yet possible.
I write this article in 2019, so
maybe in the future there will come a audio format that is able to store
analogue music without loss, without conversion in a file that can be
stored on a computer.
Just like a .SVG graphic file
that can that can be enlarged indefinitely without the outline lines
We will see what the future will bring us,
but till that time luckily we can enjoy perfect music by playing
grammaphone records on a good turntable!
unfortunatelly also the turntable
manafactures have discovered that the turntable is becoming very
I am a bit tired of all that waisted time for
striving for better
quality rather than just enjoying my music
I am so happy that I
discovered the turntable, this product is already 45 years on
the market, and only recently my eyes (or better ears) have been opened!
Which turntable should I
You can see this in the prices and the quality of
My father had a nice Thorens TD 110 turntable in the 80's but
unfortunattely he sold it a couple years later.
A shame because it
was a nice sounding belt driven turntable with ortho-inertial suspension
system for the floating chassis and an improved Isotrack-tonearm with
fully shock protected jewel bearings.
If you look now what a new
generation Thorens turntables costs, you will discover
that the build
quality and the value for money are not
the same that it was in the 80's
The build quality now is much worse
than it was then, and the prices now are too high for what you get...
A sub-chassis belt driven turntable of the same quality that my
father had, costs now at least 4 till 5 times more!
I owned a limited
turntable, it was a good turntable, but it's black/gold
scheme didn't fit with the rest of my hi-fi equipment
I also found
that the turntable was too much designed for DJ's than for audiophiles
There were a lot of functions than I never needed, and later I found out
that the belt driven Thorens turntable of my father sounded still better
than my direct drive Technics turntable.
The Technics SL1200 direct
drive turntable has a
sound quality that you should like or not...
But the turntable
was very well made, it was build like a tank, nothing wrong about that,
Technics decided to stop producing them....
time I lost my love for that turntable, and I sold it for a good price,
because owning something
you don't like or use is a waste, better
make other people happy with it.
Now Technics have restarted
their production of SL1200 turntables, but again just like other manafactures
there is a catch.
First of all they are more
expensive than they were many years ago...
and they are not all build
anymore in Japan, but in other countries
is that the quality of the parts, and also the build quality are less
than it was then.
The turntables now are lighter, and for example if
you tab on the chassis while playing a record you can see the needle
move, this was not the case with the Technics turntables that were build
in the 80's
Because of all these disadvantages I lost my trust in
this brand, so I looked for other solutions...
But what should I
do? all the modern brands I listened to were too expensive for what you
get, I didn't like this, it feels that you have missed the boat...
Most turntables you can buy now are in my opinion
overpriced and they don't have the high level of quality anymore...
The LINN LP12 is a very nice and good sounding turntable but too
expensive for my budget.
Also the upgrade costs are so high, that I'm
afraid that the player becomes a "black hole" for my wallet...
Then I visited a company that restored older Thorens TD124
turntables and sold them, they were too expensive for me, but I liked
the idea of restoring the good old turntables
So I went looking for a
good turntable that was not too expensive, but had a quality that was
worth restoring and of course sounds very good.
Then I found the
turntable I was looking for!
It was a custom DIY project of somebody
else, that was
offered for sale on the Dutch Ebay like website called "Marktplaats.nl"
It was a custom build "Gerrard 401" turntable with a "12" inch Japanese Jelco
SA 750L tone arm
The Japanse Jelco
arm was my first choice, luckilly the person
that build this turntable also liked Jelco
The Gerrard motor in
I like this build from the beginning, I liked the
robust, modern look of the Gerrard 401 and I always wanted a Japanese
Jelco tone arm, because the way it was build but also how it sounded.
And this was even better, because it is a 12 inch version, 3 inches
longer than normal
Why 12 inch instead of 9?
A longer tonearm
is better at maintaining the right tracking angle for the needle as it
tracks across the record. Theoretically, the longer the tonearm the
longer it will maintain the correct angle
The first thing I changed
was the cartridge
Real Neon light! no over bright cheap LED's...
Of course every part on the turntable is important but in the
end the cartridge is
the part that makes
contact with your valuable records, and
determines for a large part
of your turntable
Before I decided which cartridge I wanted to
buy, I first had to decide if I wanted a Moving Coil or Moving Magnet
type of cartridge.
My turntable came with a Audio Technica AT95E
cartridge which is considered one of the best MM cartridges
available, but I didn't like it's sound character
It sounded too
bright for me, no warmth, no life...
I also had experience with a
Yamaha MC11 cardridge many years ago,
but I had no
positive experiences with it.
I found the MC11
too analytically and there was also
too much emphasis
on the treble
of your record became immediately audible...
For my new
I would like
specialized for Jazz and Classical music,
where the music sounds warm and pleasant, but not too warm,
the sound must also be dynamic and sparkling
When I visted
some audio expo's I listened to many different turntable cartridges
I found the entry level Ortofon Red MM
The sound quality was very pleasant, nice warm but I still
missed a little bit detail and the sound image was a bit too flat for my
I also listend to a "Grado" cartridge that I like very much
but it was too expensive, and I found out that I liked the sound
character of MM cartridges more than the analytical sound of the MC
Then my colleaque at work attented me on a video on
Youtube on the "HiViNyws channel"
The video is about a budget series
of turntable cartridges where one brand clearly stands out above the
and sounds even better than cartridges that are more expensive.
This brand is the Japanese "Nagaoka"
When I did more research on this
brand, I got a positive feeling about it,
I thought yes! this
brand seemed for me a good candidate for my Japanese Jelco tone arm.
So I ordered the Nagaoka MP200 which is positioned in the middle class
between de MP110, 150 and the MP300 and MP500.
The MP200 is also
advertised as a premium "Jazz" and "Classical" music cartridge, just
what I was looking for!
MP200 review -
Can I play
amplifier was the Rotel 840 BX III, this was a nice sounding amplifier
that played it's first watt in Class A.
Therefore the amplifier got pretty hot.
This amplifier had a "Phono" function
selector so that you can detach your turntable directly on the phono
input of the amplifier.
Unfortunattely I sold this litte gem of
On my new Audio-Gd Master 10 amplifier, there
is no dedicated "Phono" input
So how do I attach my turntable to my
The answer is to buy a seperate phono pre amp
like this one:
I did some research
about phono preamp and I also found that these needed devices are highly
The best deal for me was to buy a very nice "EAR834" clone from
but the delivery time was too long for me, because I wanted to listen
So I decided to first try a little phono pre-amp that was on stock in my
local hi-fi shop.
After a lot of reading I ordered the NAD PP4
phono preamp, that also works as a digitizer (till 48 kHz)
This pre-amp has RIAA filter build in.
Because I have no
other phono pre-amp in my house, it's difficult so write something about
can only write about the
final result or outcome when I play a record...
After adjusting the arm and calibrating the cartridge it was time
ordered several records:
This nice one that
is recorded "direct to disc" in Artone Studio in Haarlem, the
and of course some
records from Rhapsody Analog Recordings
Carmen Gomes Inc. “Sings Belafonte”
Denise Jannah & Atzko Kohashi “Lost & Found”
and also this nice
one from "AC Records' label from Poland
MAP Grooveoberek – Limited
When I listened to
these records one thing became clear to me,
these records in
combination with a good arm and cartridge generates a sound quality
that surpases my Roon streaming solution with
music sounds much more defined, better definition, more details, and
music sounds just more real
I was really impressed by the sound quality
For me personally
the situation is now clear, when I want to enjoy music I will play vinyl
when I just want to listen to some background music I will switch
to digital audio streaming
I am conviced that
the sound quality will even improve because my cartridge is just new,
they say it
will sounds better after some hours
I am very happy with the sound of this
turntable, the Nagaoka MP200 cartridge it's a bit expensive but it
I made the right
choice, I finally can enjoy music!
(Maarten van Druten)