The timing of my visit was perfect, I strolled into Alex DeTurk's studio at Masterdisk just as he was cutting an LP. DeTurk was moving to the music, totally engaged with the sound as the big record mastering lathe was literally cutting the groove into the disc. After the side was complete he examined the grooves with a microscope. DeTurk then said, "Vinyl is the most consumer-friendly high-resolution format around." Right, more people are buying LPs than true high-resolution 24 bit/192 kHz files, the ones that can sound better than CD-quality FLAC or Apple Lossless files. … Read more
Audioarts imports the Sperling Heavyweight Turntable L-1 from Germany, and even before you hear this incredible work of art your eyes tell you this is one serious machine. The Heavyweight Turntable L-1 can accommodate two tone arms, and that allows owners to instantly choose the sound they want for the LP they're going to play. With two arms they can enjoy two, very different-sounding phono cartridges, maybe a mellow Koetsu for 1950s jazz, and a state-of-the-art Lyra for the Black Keys. The Heavyweight Turntable L-1's flexibility makes this possible.
Ansgar Sperling, the company's founder, started out as … Read more
Rega may have started out as an audiophile turntable company in 1973, but it now offers a full line of amplifiers, CD players, digital converters, phono cartridges, and speakers.
They're all good, but to me Rega has always set the standard for affordable turntables. Most companies venturing into that market owe a lot to Rega's aesthetics and simple-is-better, functional design ethic. Take a look at the new U-Turn Orbit turntable reviewed just a few weeks ago and you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a clone, but the Rega … Read more
Peter Ledermann is one of just a handful of highly skilled people on the planet who designs and hand-builds phono cartridges. These tiny electro-mechanical devices are usually machine made, but Ledermann builds world-class cartridges with his hands and a microscope. His company, Soundsmith, also manufactures speakers and amplifiers, and services vintage Bang & Olufsen and Tandberg products.
Ledermann's resume is impressive: He was the director of Engineering for Bozak, one of America's leading speaker manufacturers in the 1960s. And for 10 years, starting in 1980, he was an IBM senior research engineer and is credited as the primary … Read more
Music and audio bling make terrific presents, so here's a nice assortment of goodies. While audiophile gear can be quite expensive, picking out a selection of terrific gift ideas that won't break the bank is still doable. Prices start at $10 and go up to $100. I'll trot out another list of $100+ gift ideas in a few days.
Most cheap turntables sound cheap -- they're rumbly, thin and distorted -- but the U-Turn Orbit Basic suffers no such faults. Before the $179 Orbit's debut, audiophile turntable prices started at around $400. And while used turntables might be a way to get into vinyl for less, turntables are rather delicate devices, so used buys can be risky. If you're ready to take the plunge and explore new vinyl frontiers, you need a decent turntable to hear what the fuss is all about. The Orbit Basic will take you there.
I first heard about the Orbit when … Read more
I know, times being what they are for the music business, it seems like a crazy, even contrarian thing to do. But Rough Trade just opened a 15,000-square-foot record store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in New York. The store only sells new CDs and LPs, no used stuff, along with various music-related merch like books and magazines.
Rough Trade NYC is a big, wide-open, converted warehouse space -- it feels like it's been there for a long, long time. Rough Trade has a similar, but much smaller, shop in London, which opened in 2007, and it's doing fine. … Read more
There's no sense denying vinyl's imperfections. First there are the noise issues -- pops, clicks, and rumble -- and they all get a little worse every time you play an LP. Then there are problems with speed stability, off-center pressings, warped records, less than accurate vinyl and phono cartridge frequency response curves, poor stereo separation, and limited dynamic range. That was all true back in 1983, and digital has only improved since then. So why are vinyl sales up year after year since the early 2000s?
Most formats wither and die soon after the replacement format takes over … Read more
I covered the best-sounding new digital recordings last Sunday; this time it's the choicest new vinyl.
'The White Stripes' Most tracks are stripped down to the basics, just Jack White on vocals and guitar, and Meg White's minimalist drum kit. An amazing debut record, not exactly an audiophile classic, but it wins points for emotional honesty. It feels right, and White's analog loving roots are on full display.
VPI has been making turntables in New Jersey since the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president, and everyone thought the CD would kill the LP in a few years. Well, VPI is still there and is currently experiencing a sales boom.
Harry Weisfeld has been at the helm since Day One, but he's about to step down and let his son Matt run the company. Harry will continue to design turntables and tonearms. He makes prototypes, listens to his handiwork, and then goes back and tweaks the design. I spotted lots of failed designs all over the factory, … Read more