What's your analog story?

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What's your analog story?

Postby Chaucer » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:03 pm

I started to appreciate vinyl records in 2011. My first turntable was a Dual 1229 (bought for $80) and came with a Shure M91ED. I had to manually trigger the switch underneath the plinth to make it work and after few days of using it, I realized that I'm not happy with the sound I'm getting. So, I searched for my second turntable and found a guy giving away his Thorens TD160 for free. I was the first person to contact the seller and setup an appointment to pick up the table first thing in the morning. It was a 70 mile drive one way, but was worth it. There were some other people offering top dollar for the table, but the owner was kind enough to keep his word with me. It came with a Shure Me97HE and the original box. Arrived home very excited only to find out that my Dual sounded better. I realized that it needs a new stylus.

I searched online and found out that it cost $65 just for the stylus. I thought maybe it's better to just get a new cartridge and just save the Me97HE as a spare. So I ordered the Audio-Technica AT110e for $70. After 35 hours of breaking in, I could hear the difference. It was a very pleasing sound indeed. After few months, I acquired an Acoustic Research AR77XB with Signet TK7EA for $40. I used both for few months without knowing that the Signet was a higher end Audio Technica. That's only when I realized why it sounded a little bit better than the AT110e.

Third table was a Yamaha YP-D6 that came with a Stanton DJ cartridge which I didn't really use at all. It sounded dull and much less detailed compared to AT110e and TK7EA. So I searched on eBay and found and AT96e for $20. Cart was used, but seller included a NOS stylus. Installed it to the YP-D6 and it was a very good combination. I put it aside as my third and spare table.

There's a swap meet in our area every weekend. I tried to be there every week to try my luck in finding some vintage stereo gears. And there was a turntable lying on the floor. No one was interested with it, so I asked the seller. It was a Denon DP-30L and has a Grace F9 cart installed and looked to be in great condition. Paid $45 for it. And to my surprise, it sounded better than the Thorens, AR, and Yamaha. It must be the positioning of my turntables as I put them between the speakers and when I crank the volume, the bass is bouncing back to the table, especially with the AR. But with the Denon, I never experienced such a problem.

And like the Signet story, I didn't know that the Grace cartridge was highly sought after and a little bit hard to find these days. I saved it and replaced it with a Denon DL-110. My Yamaha CA-1010 has MM and MC input, but since it's a little bit old, I'm not sure if the phono stage is still "that" good, so I bought a Cambridge Audio Azur 651p for $250.

Spent some time breaking in the DL-110 with the 651p and even on the first few hours, I could tell the difference between all the carts I had. It has more detail, depth, warmth, and balance between the highs, mids, and lows. It just sounds perfect to my ears. Since then, I've been using it as a daily driver and very impressed with its performance.

Just recently, I found a Technics SL-1700 (MK1) in my local thrift store for $15. It has a Shure V15 (version 1) and overall condition looks to be excellent. I quickly paid for it and took it home. The Shure needs a new stylus as the original one was bent. I then remembered that I have a Shure M91ed that came with my Dual 1229. I installed it and used it for few days. Since the Technics is placed just beside the Denon, I was intrigued to do a comparison between the two. I played Jackson Brown's Running on Empty and my ears were right. The Shure was brighter on the mid section and less on the high section. The DL-110 was very balanced and sounded more musical to my ears. I put the Shure aside and looked for a new cartridge.

I came back to the swap meet where I bought my Denon DP-30L and found this Korean guy selling some good audiophile stuffs. On his table, I found a small box that contains several cartridges. There were two that caught my attention, an Audio-Technica AT125LC and a Grado MF3 - both are used. I looked up on eBay and learned that the 125lc is going for $100+. Seller wants $35 for the AT and $40 for the Grado. And since I've tried to use an AT110e, I picked the AT125LC over the Grado since it's cheaper and comes with a headshell while the Grado is bare cartridge.

I installed it on the SL-1700 and realized that it's very different from my AT110E. It has more detail, but not in a good way. It sounded more brighter and hurts my ears the more I listen to it. I stopped listening and went back to the swap meet the following week. I inquired the Grado MF3 and seller still wants $40 for it. The reason I couldn't pay $40 for it is because I've read a lot of bad stories about Grado. A lot of people claimed that it has tracking problems. I then explained that to the seller and he gave it to me for $25.

I tried it on together with the SL-1700 and it sounded fine. No tracking problems at all. I think those people claiming Grado's have tracking issues have something wrong with their turntable. It just worked fine with me. And with a little more tweaking, it sounded better. Sounds very close to my DL-110 with a silkier mids and wider sound stage.

Today, I couldn't stop playing records. I listen to rock, pop, jazz, country, vocals, etc.. and they all sounded great on the Grado. Given the fact that this is not an expensive MM cart, comparing it with the DL-110 is a no brainer. But with what I'm hearing right now, they're very close to each other. Some of you might not believe what I'm saying here, but one thing I learned here:

Reviews you read online might be 99% accurate, but you'll never know until you hear it yourself. Our ears have their own specific definition of music that differs with other people so just let yourself decide. If it sounds good to you, you're all good. No need to spend more just for a cartridge. Enjoy music and keep playing vinyl!

Just my two cents.

I apologize for the lengthy post. Please share yours too.
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby kabubi » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:33 am

your 2 cents worth of a story reads more like 2 Million worth of a read.
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby dimfer » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:42 am

kabubi wrote:your 2 cents worth of a story reads more like 2 Million worth of a read.


share ka na Kabubs
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby kabubi » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:55 am

dimfer wrote:
kabubi wrote:your 2 cents worth of a story reads more like 2 Million worth of a read.


share ka na Kabubs


baka mawalang gana sa audio mga members, Ding :(
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby Conrad3 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:15 pm

Nice post!
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby Jon Agner » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:20 pm

kabubi wrote:
dimfer wrote:
kabubi wrote:your 2 cents worth of a story reads more like 2 Million worth of a read.


share ka na Kabubs


baka mawalang gana sa audio mga members, Ding :(


Ows :geek: :geek: :geek: :geek: ;) :D :D :D :D
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby Jon Agner » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:23 pm

Chaucer,

Nice share :) My analog story is somewhere in the archives, in the member's system forum :D
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Re: What's your analog story?

Postby Mamimili » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:51 pm

I think the first system i almost purchased had a Thorens TD160, i cannot remember the amp apart from it was integrated, and the speakers were SF Concertino's.
The sound was sublime, the conversation stimulating and during the course of the session the seller told me he had changed his mind and was not selling that particular system, that i should come back and listen to something better in a few months time.
That was the first and last time i met with Mang Dima.
I still cannot tie a flat knot in dental floss but i do remember the sound and the cigarettes...
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