Anyone into Record decks and amps? | PCSPECIALIST

Anyone into Record decks and amps?

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Hi all

Realise there are other forums more suited to this, but thought I'd post just to see if anyone had any opinions...

I've been collecting records since 2000 when I inherited a lovely collection of old 60's albums. I've got quite a varied mix of 60's and dance music, world music, plus some classical and pop.

Over those years, I've only had pretty poor equipment to play them on and it's never done them any justice, so this year for christmas, I've picked up a really nice entry level record player and hopefully a suitable phono amp with the view of rigging that then through my soundcard and the Macbook pro, then listening on some decent 100ohm headphones.

I've procured all these stages by extensive reviews on google and various forums, but wanted to see what others thought of the setup:

2016 Rega Planar 2 Record deck with upgraded Ortofon 2m Blue cartridge going into
Pro-ject Tube Amp S phono stage (with stock tubes at present, but considering upgrading to Psvane 12AX7-T-MII/2 (ecc83) Matched Pair) routing into
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 soundcard installed on Late 2010 MacBook Pro
Listening on Shure SRH840 closed back 100Ohm headphones.

Anyone got any views on this setup and any advice on little mods I could do to improve overall sound?
I'm particularly interested in which valves people think are best (not too bothered about cost), and things like improved deck mats etc.

Thanks all.
 

jerpers

Master
My Dad was a complete nut on this and has an amazing Linn and Cambridge Audio setup. When I dabbled years ago, his biggest reccomendations were putting rubber feet under the record deck and upgrading all the connecting cables. Richer Sounds used to do a trial pack with samples of varios levels of cables you could test to see which had the best price per performance ratio for your own setup.
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
My Dad was a complete nut on this and has an amazing Linn and Cambridge Audio setup. When I dabbled years ago, his biggest reccomendations were putting rubber feet under the record deck and upgrading all the connecting cables. Richer Sounds used to do a trial pack with samples of varios levels of cables you could test to see which had the best price per performance ratio for your own setup.
A while later, @Jerpers, but I've come across these which are just expensive versions of what you described to help isolate vibrations and hence reduce surplus noise on the system.

http://www.isoacoustics.com/orea-series/

I've just ordered 3 of the Bronze range for my Record Deck. The reviews are amazing, supposed to make a huge improvement to general performance. Very excited to hear it in my system.

If they do improve as they claim, then I'll probably kit out my amps and pre amps also a bit later on.

Analogue audio has me distinctly hooked.... no wonder they call vinyl "the black crack"
 

Tony1044

Godlike
Funnily enough my wife bought me a record deck and amp for Christmas.

Although the amp is not valve based it is hand made.

She spent quite a bit of time apparently with the guy who makes the stuff and he was very friendly and gave great advice, which included "Don't spend a fortune from the get-go - buy decent but don't spend for the sake of it".

I'll never be what you'd call an audiophile, although of course with my electronics engineering background, I would at some point seriously consider a valve-based amp.

On a related note - on the site you linked to was another link to "HiFi Pig Magazine". What a great name for a magazine!!

Edit: I just remembered seeing an advert when iPod's were quite new for valve-based docks. Apparently, they were really popular with the people who didn't understand that their devices played compressed audio.
 

polycrac

Bright Spark
I'm just getting into vinyl, not got anything like your kit though. Last month I upgraded from an old £50 record play with built in tinny speaker to a project jukebox E and decent speakers. Loving it so far, amazed by the difference!
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Funnily enough my wife bought me a record deck and amp for Christmas.

Although the amp is not valve based it is hand made.

She spent quite a bit of time apparently with the guy who makes the stuff and he was very friendly and gave great advice, which included "Don't spend a fortune from the get-go - buy decent but don't spend for the sake of it".

I'll never be what you'd call an audiophile, although of course with my electronics engineering background, I would at some point seriously consider a valve-based amp.

On a related note - on the site you linked to was another link to "HiFi Pig Magazine". What a great name for a magazine!!

Edit: I just remembered seeing an advert when iPod's were quite new for valve-based docks. Apparently, they were really popular with the people who didn't understand that their devices played compressed audio.
I'm just getting into vinyl, not got anything like your kit though. Last month I upgraded from an old £50 record play with built in tinny speaker to a project jukebox E and decent speakers. Loving it so far, amazed by the difference!
I’d hugely recommend valve stuff if you’re not worried about truly “accurate” sound. Valves just offer a much warmer depth, personally I’m a huge fan. I like the fact also that you can alter the sound with different valves and there are thousands to choose from, makes it quite fun finding ones you like (albeit quite an expensive endeavour).

I actually upgraded most of my system since then. After getting the Rega 2, I decided the 3 was more what I was after so swapped it out for the planar 3, very worthwhile upgrade if you can afford it. One of the main reasons I went with Rega is that you can mod them easily so I got a groovetracer reference sub platter and will be getting the Delrin platter in white this summer.

I upgraded the stylus to an Ortofon Quintet S Black which is a moving coil cartridge, the difference between a good moving magnet and moving coil cartridge has to be heard to be believed, it’s like night and day!

I also upgraded the phono amp to a Trichord Dino mk 3 with the Dino+ PSU

Then I bought a lovely headphone amp, the Schiit Lyr 2 which is a hybrid tube amp with some original brand new 1960’s Millard tubes.

Then I got a bit carried away with headphones and got a pair of Shure SRH 1840’s for acoustic and classical albums and some 1540’s for general listening.

But it really sings now, I’m extremely happy with it.

It’s a wonderful past time, brings me so much satisfaction and there really is something very special about vinyl as a medium.
 

Tony1044

Godlike
I’d hugely recommend valve stuff if you’re not worried about truly “accurate” sound. Valves just offer a much warmer depth, personally I’m a huge fan. I like the fact also that you can alter the sound with different valves and there are thousands to choose from, makes it quite fun finding ones you like (albeit quite an expensive endeavour).

I actually upgraded most of my system since then. After getting the Rega 2, I decided the 3 was more what I was after so swapped it out for the planar 3, very worthwhile upgrade if you can afford it. One of the main reasons I went with Rega is that you can mod them easily so I got a groovetracer reference sub platter and will be getting the Delrin platter in white this summer.

I upgraded the stylus to an Ortofon Quintet S Black which is a moving coil cartridge, the difference between a good moving magnet and moving coil cartridge has to be heard to be believed, it’s like night and day!

I also upgraded the phono amp to a Trichord Dino mk 3 with the Dino+ PSU

Then I bought a lovely headphone amp, the Schiit Lyr 2 which is a hybrid tube amp with some original brand new 1960’s Millard tubes.

Then I got a bit carried away with headphones and got a pair of Shure SRH 1840’s for acoustic and classical albums and some 1540’s for general listening.

But it really sings now, I’m extremely happy with it.

It’s a wonderful past time, brings me so much satisfaction and there really is something very special about vinyl as a medium.
You're preaching to the converted when it comes to valves. The problems with even the best silicon based amplifiers is clipping.

If you imagine a nice sine wave, chip-based amplifiers will always flatten the top and bottom of the wave to a greater or lesser extent.

Valves don't do this which is why you get that richer, fuller, sound.

This is the turntable my wife bought me - http://www.inspirehifi.co.uk/quest.html - actually I just stumbled on their pricing and not half as "budget" as the guy there lead me to think. I mean it might be when you compare the £15k stuff they had on show, but still...also, from what he was telling me, they only do floating coil heads and they specifically choose components like the needles and balance them properly so they don't scratch into the vinyl.

I suddenly feel the need to find a battered old valve amp to restore. Damn you, Spyder...

By the way, I ought to put my usual caveat in when talking about electronics to say I'm not up to date with modern amps so the clipping problem could well have been sorted in the last 30 or so years ;-)
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
You're preaching to the converted when it comes to valves. The problems with even the best silicon based amplifiers is clipping.

If you imagine a nice sine wave, chip-based amplifiers will always flatten the top and bottom of the wave to a greater or lesser extent.

Valves don't do this which is why you get that richer, fuller, sound.

This is the turntable my wife bought me - http://www.inspirehifi.co.uk/quest.html - actually I just stumbled on their pricing and not half as "budget" as the guy there lead me to think. I mean it might be when you compare the £15k stuff they had on show, but still...also, from what he was telling me, they only do floating coil heads and they specifically choose components like the needles and balance them properly so they don't scratch into the vinyl.

I suddenly feel the need to find a battered old valve amp to restore. Damn you, Spyder...

By the way, I ought to put my usual caveat in when talking about electronics to say I'm not up to date with modern amps so the clipping problem could well have been sorted in the last 30 or so years ;-)
That’s good to know about valve vs silicon, thanks.

That’s a very nice turntable, looks more mid range to me.

If you want something cheap and cheerful, the Little Bear is a very entry level tube ‘mod’ kit that you can pick up from amazon for almost nothing. They’re extremely highly regarded and would give you a chance to play around with some tubes to find ones you like. There are a few different models ranging from about £30 upwards, they’re great fun.
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Ahh I've just spent a little bit of time in between working re-acquainting myself with amplifiers and their schematics and classes - A, B, AB and push, push-pull

Sometimes I forget how much I miss being an engineer.

I am quite tempted by one of these now: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/6N2-Push-6P14-DIY-Tube-Amplifier-Kit-Dual-6Z4-Tube-Rectifier-HIFI-Amplifier-KIT/272300433435
Oooo, that looks much meatier!

That’s my dream when I get a bigger place is to have a proper valve amp.
 

Old_Timer

Bronze Level Poster
Ah record decks, I remember those.

Back in 89 I bought a Linn Sondek [black ash]/Ittok/Troika with Linn LK1/LK2 Pre/power amp set up and it literally blew CD off the planet. The turntable was mounted on a tripod skyline platform, which I've still got. I sold the turntable approx 8-9 years ago and regret that more than most things i've done. The convenience of FLAC delivery and HD sound these days is good, but it still doesn't compare...

I used to have this "linn green stuff" like a very fine green emery paper that I used to scrape across the stylus every few days [nerve racking]

My advice is never sell your deck, the Rega. The company I worked for, years ago, tendered for the job of manufacturing the tonearm for it. It's a most excellent turntable.
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Ah record decks, I remember those.

Back in 89 I bought a Linn Sondek [black ash]/Ittok/Troika with Linn LK1/LK2 Pre/power amp set up and it literally blew CD off the planet. The turntable was mounted on a tripod skyline platform, which I've still got. I sold the turntable approx 8-9 years ago and regret that more than most things i've done. The convenience of FLAC delivery and HD sound these days is good, but it still doesn't compare...

I used to have this "linn green stuff" like a very fine green emery paper that I used to scrape across the stylus every few days [nerve racking]

My advice is never sell your deck, the Rega. The company I worked for, years ago, tendered for the job of manufacturing the tonearm for it. It's a most excellent turntable.
Man, that Linn must have been gorgeous! Great decks. I’ve heard so many people saying how they regret selling their systems. There was something about vinyl that always appealed to me over cd or digital, the tangible product (as well as the warm sound) makes it a much more enjoyable experience than I never found with digital. When I sold my CD collection to move to digital, I didn't blink an eye.

I actually upgraded my setup quite extensively since originally posting...

Upgraded the deck to a planar 3 2016
Upgraded the sub platter to a GrooveTracer Reference https://www.groovetracer.com/subplatter_groovetracer.htm
Upgraded the Phono Stage to a Trichord Dino Mk 3 with Dino+ PSU https://www.trichordresearch.co.uk/dino-mk3/
Ortofon Quintet Black S MC cartridge https://www.ortofon.com/mc-quintet-black-s-p-549
Also added a Schiit Lyr 2 Headphone amp https://hifipig.com/schiit-lyr2-preheadphone-amplifier-and-bifrost-dac/
A Schiit Loki tone control (sacriledge to some I know, but 80's records suck at the lower end) https://www.schiit.com/products/loki
And then upgraded my headphones to Shure SRH1840 open backs for live/orchestral and SRH1540's for the rest http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/reviews/shure-srh1540-srh1840-shures-flagship-showdown/

I've got one last upgrade I'd like to make, hopefully this summer which is the GrooveTracer Delrin Platter https://www.groovetracer.com/DelrinPlatter.htm

Currently it's all playing through a Naim MuSo digital speaker which holds it back slightly, but space is an issue for the next couple of years, and given it's size, it's a very good speaker https://www.naimaudio.com/mu-so

The bug caught me quick. My vinyl collection went up in the last 2 years from 100ish records to 600.

I've enjoyed every single penny and every single second of this addiction so far, not one purchase has been unwanted. Each piece of vinyl is like having a childs birthday again. I can't get enough of it!

It's an expensive hobby, but the rewards are so worth it. Do you think you'd consider getting back into it?
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Are you also using valve amps?
At the moment, my Schiit Lyr 2 headphone amp is a hybrid tube amp.
It's actually kind of a hybrid headphone amp cum power amp actually, it's so powerful that it can happily run a pair of speakers.
I'm a huge fan of the Tube sound and my plan is when I move to a larger space in a couple of years, I'll get a full tube power amp with some very nice speakers
 

ubuysa

Moderator
Moderator
Ah, so valves are called tubes these days then? Is this because you can hear the quantization distortion of digital media and you prefer the pure analogue sound from vinyl and valves, sorry - tubes? Or some other reason...?

I grew up with valve based kit, for a time I worked on a valve based stored program control device that used magnetic drum storage - it was used for early international direct dialing (something you take for granted now) to translate the country code you'd dialed into the digits necessary to do the actual routing. Values were great, if you had a failure you could hit the valve with a rubber mallet to shake off some of the crud that built up on the anode and it would work again for a few hours. The early morning routine was to plug in the oscilloscope into the faulty translator, locate the failing valve, make a note of it, hit it with the mallet to get the thing working again, and then move on to the next faulty translator. After a leisurely cup of coffee we could take our time taking each faulty translator offline one at a time to change the failing valve. They were soldered back in those days so it took ten minutes or so to change one.
 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
Ah, so valves are called tubes these days then? Is this because you can hear the quantization distortion of digital media and you prefer the pure analogue sound from vinyl and valves, sorry - tubes? Or some other reason...?

I grew up with valve based kit, for a time I worked on a valve based stored program control device that used magnetic drum storage - it was used for early international direct dialing (something you take for granted now) to translate the country code you'd dialed into the digits necessary to do the actual routing. Values were great, if you had a failure you could hit the valve with a rubber mallet to shake off some of the crud that built up on the anode and it would work again for a few hours. The early morning routine was to plug in the oscilloscope into the faulty translator, locate the failing valve, make a note of it, hit it with the mallet to get the thing working again, and then move on to the next faulty translator. After a leisurely cup of coffee we could take our time taking each faulty translator offline one at a time to change the failing valve. They were soldered back in those days so it took ten minutes or so to change one.
For me, there's a huge difference in sound quality between digital and analogue. Digital just feels a bit shallow and cold or clinical. And tubes/valves just add another layer of warmth to the already sumptuous analogue sound.

Valves have always fascinated me, their technology and capabilities were way ahead of it's time imho
 

Old_Timer

Bronze Level Poster
@SpyderTracks

The bug caught me quick. My vinyl collection went up in the last 2 years from 100ish records to 600.
Yes indeedy. I'm not sure if you're an early bird but it may be worth you trekking around local boot sales, that's unless you already do it, for vinyl. I see a TON of it every week. Bargains can be had, and gambles can be taken.

I did an apprenticeship in Chelmsford, problem was I had to wait for the bus home for a good 45 minutes every day. Luckily "Parrot Records" were just around the corner, so I used to hang out in there every day. I bought a load of albums there. Another good shop was "Adrians" at Wickford. Alas both have gone now...

I never have and never will sell my vinyl collection. I have over a 1000 albums, all in Nagaoka anti static sleeves [<--- Highly recommended]

I've enjoyed every single penny and every single second of this addiction so far, not one purchase has been unwanted. Each piece of vinyl is like having a childs birthday again. I can't get enough of it!
Yes, holding a proper album, with lyrics inner sleeve, is an event. Digital has ruined that completely. Digital is cold and lifeless...and don't mention "The loudness war" [For those who aren't familiar with that war, take a watch of the youtube video linked below]. CD/Digital has ruined audio completely.

 

SpyderTracks

Huntsman
Moderator
@SpyderTracks
Yes indeedy. I'm not sure if you're an early bird but it may be worth you trekking around local boot sales, that's unless you already do it, for vinyl. I see a TON of it every week. Bargains can be had, and gambles can be taken.

I did an apprenticeship in Chelmsford, problem was I had to wait for the bus home for a good 45 minutes every day. Luckily "Parrot Records" were just around the corner, so I used to hang out in there every day. I bought a load of albums there. Another good shop was "Adrians" at Wickford. Alas both have gone now...

I never have and never will sell my vinyl collection. I have over a 1000 albums, all in Nagaoka anti static sleeves [<--- Highly recommended]
Funny you should mentioned it but a friend has moved to a new house in the country and in the field right next door they hold a boot sale every sunday, so we're going this weekend. My sole aim is for vinyl.

The last time I boot saled was a good 5 years ago or so and picked up quite a rare old 72rpm Shellac copy of an His Masters Voice pressing of Holst The Planets. It was roughly a 1910 pressing or so and quite rare. I picked it up from some guy for £1. I loved the content and it was an interesting boxset of 7 or so records in a leatherbound almost briefcase-like case, but when I found out it was shellac I never wanted to play it on my kit and didn't have anything that would do 72rpm anyway so I ended up putting it in storage until I came across it again when I moved a couple of years ago. Rather than keep it in storage, I thought I'd list it on eBay. It went for around £150 after a bidding war!!! Not a bad return.

This time though, I'll be there solely to add to my own collection. Holding out for some good rock and maybe a few 80's pop records.

I'm so pleased you held on to the records! Never let them go! It's fairly easy for you then to get back into it with deck.

And yes, I'm an avid fan of the Nagaoka sleeves also, all my collection are in them also. They make such a huge job of keeping records clean and sounding great an easy task.
 

Old_Timer

Bronze Level Poster
@SpyderTracks

Good to hear that you're off to the boot sales to get vinyl. It is a relative gold mine. Most vinyl hunters are usually only after rare stuff at boot sales [for re-sale], so you stand a good chance at finding some stuff for personal use. I wish you all the luck, be patient. It goes without saying that inner sleeves are a good indicator as to how the LP has been cared for.

Any albums you get from the 80's & 90's will sound good, better than CD anyway. Just a tip, if you can get anything by T.Rex [Marc Bolan] grab it. Some of those albums just sound spectacular on vinyl.

If money is no object, and it's something I would consider now if booting for LPs, is to potentially buy a "Nitty Gritty" style LP cleaner. I almost bought one many years ago then decided against it as all my purchased LP's were/are pristine.

Good luck !
 
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