I bought a Linn LP-12 way back in 1978, and used Linn turntables until five years ago, when I bought a VPI Classic. Turntables last practically forever, which is one of my favorite things about high-end audio gear: the best products have incredibly long lives. As I recall, the LP-12's initial claim to fame was conceptual; Linn promoted the idea that the "front-end," aka the source -- a turntable, CD player, or cassette deck -- would make or break the overall sound of a music system. If the source's sound quality was poor to start with, … Read more
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
Leaked from today's 404 episode:
- Sony MDR-R10: The world's best headphone?
- The top 10 reasons why music is compressed.
- Compare your favorite albums in the Dynamic Range Database.
I've heard the naysayers for years, the ones that say vinyl is a fad, or that kids buy records just because they think LPs are cool. But the fact is vinyl sales keep going up year after year. I'd be the first to admit that playing an LP is more of a hassle than listening to Spotify, so why do people who grew up listening to CDs and files invest in a turntable, and search out their favorite music on LP? Why do they do it?
Recently, I talked with a few music lovers who grew up in … Read more
DENVER--The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, held in Denver, was a must-see event for audiophiles young and old. The biggest change this year was a bonanza of affordable high-end products -- mixed in with the usual crazy expensive gear -- along with a good helping of midpriced goodies.
Music Hall had a rather plain-looking little monitor speaker, the Marimba ($349 a pair), that sounded big and truly powerful. I have never heard that level of bass "slam" coming out of such a diminutive speaker; I can't wait to get it in for review.
Face it, most of today's shiny new gizmos will be hopelessly out-of-date in a few years and taking up space in landfills not so long after that. The iPhone 5 may be a marvel of engineering and marketing genius, but like iPhones of years past it's doomed to be cast aside when legions of Apple fanboys and girls stand in line to buy the iPhone 6 sometime next year. And so it goes.
By the late 1960s everyone assumed solid-state gear would soon replace tube electronics, but here we are in 2011 and tubes are still here. Rock and blues guitar players still crave the sound of tube guitar amplifiers, and a significant number of audiophiles are die-hard tube fans.
While tube amps don't measure as well as their solid-state counterparts, some people feel tubes more faithfully reproduce the sound of voices and real instruments. As always, opinions about sound quality don't necessarily correlate with by-the-numbers assessments. We like what we like.
Panasonic Technics' direct-drive (no belt) turntables have been DJ favorites since the 1970s. The blogs are abuzz with the news that Panasonic will cease Technics production this year. If it's true that Panasonic is completely out of the turntable business, that would be a shame.
That said, direct-drive turntables never really caught on with the audiophile crowd; we prefer belt-drive models. You see, the direct-drive motor's high torque instantly gets the platter up to speed from a dead stop, which is why Technics 'tables were prized by DJs.
But the powerful motors transmit whatever noise and vibration they … Read more
You don't see the phrase "world-class" associated with American-made consumer goods. TVs, iPods, computers, and cameras are mostly designed and built in other countries. The U.S. may be the world's leading consumer state; we just don't make the very best products here anymore.
High-end audio may be one of the few remaining industries where America still designs and builds the very best products. I'm proposing an all-American hi-fi system that could be installed in the White House. It would be the sort of hi-fi the president could, after a hard day's work … Read more
Sound & Vision magazine's Michael Trei recently tested three turntables: the Rega Research P1 ($395), Music Hall mmf 2.2 ($449), and Technics SL-1200MK2 ($699). And guess what: the most expensive turntable wasn't the best-sounding one!
Mike's an old friend and a major turntable guru in his own right. His knowledge of all things analog runs deep, and he regularly sets up finicky high-end turntables for the rich and famous, including the president of a major record company, here in NYC. Mike set up the VPI Classic turntable I bought last year.
The three turntables covered in his report, the Rega, Music Hall, and Technics are all excellent, but I was more interested in the belt vs. direct-drive aspect of the reviews. The Technics is a long standing DJ favorite, for its powerful, direct-drive motor, which is a big plus when you're back cueing and scratching records. Direct-drive 'tables never wowed the high-end crowd, they favor belt-drive turntables. The appeal is mostly based on the fact that the belt "decouples" the motor from the platter. So whatever noise and vibration the motor makes as it spins aren't directly transmitted to the platter, and therefore to the record. No wonder the vast majority of turntables sold to audiophiles are belt-drive designs.
Mike may be a hard-core audiophile, but he's not closed-minded about direct-drive turntables, and in fact owns a Technics direct-drive turntable (and many belt-drives as well).… Read more