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Could it be worthless to spend on highend turntables?


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Posted (edited)

I'm starting to think that spending lots on a turntable  is simply pissing in the wind. The format itself is so imperfect that the disc  quickly becomes the weakest link in the setup. I've got a Sansui PD30 in my linen closet, which has a noise floor of -72db. A record has a noise floor of -60db, Effectively making the Sansui perfectly silent. The PD30 claims w&f  of 0.03%, which this is surely completely inaudible, and less than the w&f that would occur from the hole in the record being stamped 0.1mm off centre (or the hole being enlarged over time)?

 

As for the tonearm and cartridge, I'm generally a believer of the importance of good mechanical devices (eg speakers) in a hifi setup, but it's worth remembering that Archimago did a needle drop blind test where he compared a $20k setup vs a SL1200 with a Denon DL110 cartridge and a shure M97xE cartridge. The result was A draw between the $20k setup and the SL1200 + DL110. (although the shure fared worse).

 

 

Looking at cartridge blind tests, people consistently seem to have no idea what cartridges they're listening to when blind, and show no preference to higher priced cartridges. Completely different adjectives are used to describe the cartridges than the often repeated descriptors of the cartridges

 

Edit: Archimago also did measurements of his SL-1200. The maximum deviation from 3150hz source that ir measured was 10hz. I challenge anyone to differential 3150hz vs 3160hz. I tested both my SL-1200 and Sansui with the software and found very similar results. Although the SL1200 was slightly better, the PD30 was so still impossibly good

Edited by gumptown
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Interesting topic for debate........   From a very personal view, I moved from a $3k turntable to a +$30k  TT in one shot without changing anything else (even the cart).  The difference was

I don't think it was a troll type question by the OP @gumptown, but rather I feel he may have been trying to justify to himself not spending much money on a vinyl rig. In the past, I've got into more

Over the (too) many decades I have been involved with music reproduction systems (note, I did not say 'hifi' systems) I have, at different stages of my audio journey, been a subjectivist, an objectivi

Posted (edited)

I think it all comes down to what you like and can be what other equipment you have. Phono Stage, turntable, speakers etc

If you can not hear it yourself, then no need to spend the money.

I definitely loved my stereo and thoroughly enjoyed my listening sessions when I spend quite a bit on my turntable setup. Garrad 401 turntable, Dynavector cartridge, Trilogy 907 & TE phono stages.

The best turntable setup I have had to date and loved it.

Sold it though and might be looking to maybe one day setup another. I will spend a bit again but not to the previous level.

I would buy it all back again if I could and had the money.

I have had a lot of turntables, phono stages and carts over the years.

 

I noticed in his test he was digitizing everything for the test. This possibly could change the sound and how it is finally played back?

Could just be that if you want to digitize everything for future digital playback, then you don't need to spend a lot.

Edited by rocky500
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The digitising of the samples in Archimago's test is the most obvious weakness. I wouldn't expect it to cause a problem, but it does "feel" a bit wrong. Nevertheless,  one would  expect a $20k setup to be night-and-day difference to a  mid-fi consumer turntable and $300 cartridge, even via a digital recording. Digitising analogue sounds (instruments. voices) and analogue recordings (original master tapes) is the backbone of our hobby, so it can't be that bad

 

There are reasons that people may have preferences for different vinyl setups, but from a technical point of view it seems possible that even mid-end turntables exceed the limits presented by the vinyl disc itself

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Compare the set ups as they are, not via a recorded impression of them.

 

Everything makes a difference, but a poorly set up and poorly chosen matching of pieces with 20k of gear will be poor. A 5k lot of gear chosen well and set up well will sound better for those reasons.

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Posted (edited)

Also unless everything else is the same in each setup, and comparable to the front end components in level of quality it is not an apples to apples comparison.

 

And if there are the pops and clicks that some go on about, forget it as the person has no idea on playing vinyl records.

 

IF the digitized recordings which is a mistake for comparisons anyway, are processed to remove pops and clicks and noise all the much worse. Edit: No...forget the digitized comparisons completely!

Edited by muon*
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I suggest, @gumptown, that you try and get around to a number of gtgs in Brissie where the hosts have high and medium level TT setups.  Unless your ears are totally shot ... you should be able to pick up what a $30k vinyl setup (by which I mean: TT, arm, cart & phono stage) can deliver - vs. a $3k vinyl setup.

 

But as Ian has stated ... the difference in the other components at each house will mean the vinyl setup comparisons are not necessarily apples to apples.

 

Andy

 

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It's unnecessary to question my hearing or experience. I'm basing my hypothesis purely on blind tests that have been performed by others, and that the specifications of consumer turntables exceed the specifications of vinyl records. This thread has nothing to do with my experiences

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Posted (edited)

So do you have a turntable?

 

Or are you just questioning other peoples choices?

 

Edit: for someone that states they don't care about the gear in your sig, you seem to care an awful lot about the gear going off this thread :D

Edited by muon*
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I have a turntable, though it is not my preferred format. I'm not questioning anyone's choices. Just proposing a hypothesis in the Great Audio Debate subforum.

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Just now, gumptown said:

I have a turntable, though it is not my preferred format. I'm not questioning anyone's choices. Just proposing a hypothesis in the Great Audio Debate subforum.

OK.

 

A hypothesis is usually followed by experimentation and the results peer reviewed and those results replicated but a number of them.

 

No for me, but wish you all the best especially in doing it all where none of it can be called into question from a scientific point of view.

 

Cheers

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, gumptown said:

I have a turntable, though it is not my preferred format. I'm not questioning anyone's choices. Just proposing a hypothesis in the Great Audio Debate subforum.

 

A very good place to posit such a hypothesis, gt.  :thumb:

 

(I apologise for slapping you down - given, as you say, it's in the "Great Audio Debate" section.)

 

I guess I reacted to your endorsement of some random "dog on the Internet" named 'Archimago'.  To my way of thinking, you compare how different TT setups sound ... by actually listening to them in real time - not by listening to digitised recordings of the sound downloaded from the 'Net.

 

And re. your mention of Archimago's findings of a max 10Hz difference at 3150Hz - that is an almost irrelevant measure of TT reproduction, in my view.  The comparison between vinyl setups need to take into account at least the following, in my opinion:

  • speed - is the sound flat ... sharp ... or correct (your 10Hz issue)?  Humans are actually not very sensitive to this ... given so many people buy Rega TTs ... which are designed to run slightly fast.  :lol: 
  • noise-floor - what is the residual noise when no instrument/voice is present?
  • what is the depth of the low-level information that's reproduced?  (A 'Keeled' LP12 delivers a much lower level of information than an LP12 having the pressed-steel subchassis.)
  • does the FR emphasise - or diminish - any frequency ranges?
  • soundstage width - is it limited by the distance apart of the spkrs?
  • soundstage depth - how much forwards or behind the plane of the spkrs does the soundstage project?
  • how 'alive' does the music sound (do the dynamics of the instruments approach a live performance ... are the musicians in your room)?
  • how much of the room echo can you hear, in LPs recorded in a church or a concert hall?

I'm sure others will be able to add additional factors - this is merely what I've been able to come up with, right now.

 

Andy

 

 

Edited by andyr
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Interesting topic for debate........

 

From a very personal view, I moved from a $3k turntable to a +$30k  TT in one shot without changing anything else (even the cart).  The difference was night and day.  I have not a shred of doubt I'd be able to pick the difference blindfolded.

 

When it comes to analogue instrumentation, there's often qualities which can't be measured when comparing.  Yes your ears may not pick a 10hz difference, but the elements Andy refers to above are 100% correct.  In my setup it was the how much more alive the sound became, although every other element improved too (other than my sorry wallet hahahaha).

 

I guess other equipment the chain could impact ultimate performance too.  An extreme example, but a bluetooth speaker playing a $20k TT is never going to show it's true capability.

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There's something of a misunderstanding that comes through with some of these posts.

So let's start with a couple of those numbers.

The 60dB noise floor for LPs is, I suspect, an understatement. To be sure, it ain't digital. The best LPs I've read of in this regard would  be the most recent Beatles remasters which reached 89dB, but a lot of good pressings will be quieter than 70dB, and those who keep records scrupulously clean will be meeting that.
On the other hand, you probably can't take a run of the mill 20th century turntable and claim it has the standards it met when new any more. Only the best mechanical engineering will keep its quality (if well maintained of course) across thirty or forty years or more of use or even of sitting around for some of the parts. So, it's not impossible that a your turntable is in fact noisier than the discs you might now play.

 

Reading the Archimago test, he doesn't specify what was going on in the room when he took those vinyl rips. He's digitising the electrical signal, and does not say that for example whether he had the rest of the system playing at a realistic level when doing that. So I would guess that isolation and feedback rejection, two of the most important aspects of any turntable design, were most likely excluded from this test as they often are from tests of this type. In fact I've heard this twice - a digital rip from a turntable with the volume at zero, can sound better than playing the actual record at a fairly high volume.

 

One thing that separates turntable setup and design from the more nebulous digital setup, is that for the most basic aspects of turntable design, and certainly for setup, the particular distortions are well known and recognisable. There's much less of the "confirmation bias" business until you get to very fine differences with good turntables where everything's right. So we do know that the differences exist and are real.

 

While I always preferred the sound of a good moving magnet cartridge, the cartridge is the least likely part of the system to make a difference to the sound, unless you buy something that is actually designed to sound different, or something that doesn't match the rest of the turntable mechanically or the amplification electrically.

Isolation from feedback and resonance control was always the thing I found made the most difference, especially as I only had one short period with a really good TT (still the case - the Rega wall shelf can make a difference bigger than moving a couple of models up the range, even now!)

 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, gumptown said:

It's unnecessary to question my hearing or experience. I'm basing my hypothesis purely on blind tests that have been performed by others, and that the specifications of consumer turntables exceed the specifications of vinyl records. This thread has nothing to do with my experiences

Not sure if anyone else have slight doubts about all the DBT's posted everywhere.

But the outcome is pretty well always the same no matter what is in test if they are supposedly subtle heard differences sighted. The results always show no one can reliably pick the one playing.

 

Even professionals trying to pick a brand of instruments playing somewhere. Amplifiers are the same, Dacs seem to fit this too. Cartridges are another. List goes on.

There seems to be a very strong pattern that they all pretty well end the same way.

 

I did them here for over 6 months continuously on lots and lots of gear and pretty well everything to me sounded the same or not reliably pick which one when I thought there where differences before the tests.

Expensive well reviewed components against budget ones.

Looked online and the results seemed from others mirrored mine everywhere! That is always the likely outcome. It seems these tests have a 99.99% the same outcome. :)

Just seems strange to me as results like this don't normally seem to happen in anything like this.

Not sure if anyone else notices these patterns but just seems something else might be going on here.

 

Edited by rocky500
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@rocky500

 

My view is that a number of factors associated with this kind of testing is that it is a leveler, in that under those conditions the brain levels things, compensates for variations when the differences are not huge. The brain works differently under test conditions, on different wave lengths.

 

If adding to that the multitude of variables if the tests are recorded and then played back for a test, well that's just a huge amount of confounding variables to be dealing with.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, muon* said:

@rocky500

 

My view is that a number of factors associated with this kind of testing is that it is a leveler, in that under those conditions the brain levels things, compensates for variations when the differences are not huge. The brain works differently under test conditions, on different wave lengths.

 

Lets for one instance/hypothesise this is true. It pretty well fits with all the DBT tests posted that I keep reading online everywhere. I mean pretty well all of them.

Something could be happening here and if so, I don't think anyone knows why yet.

I see so many posts of something like this  "I saw this DBT test online, no one can reliably pick the component, so I now I am basing my buying decisions of what to buy from now on."

Nothing wrong with that.

 

But if say as muon mentioned it is a leveller, it could explain why others who spend the money on upgrades do find they get so much more enjoyment out of this hobby for themselves that do not look at DBT tests, maybe just listen sighted over time.

And it could possibly mean people who do these DBT tests and rellie on them could possibly be missing out in possible more enjoyment?

 

I know I could be far off base here but it does fit when you look at it all online.

Edited by rocky500
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In this thread a "night and day" difference between a mid-fi and hi-fi turntable. One would expect there to be a "night and day" difference between the TTs in archimago's test, right? If blind tests level out "subtle" and "not huge" differences, the "night and day" setups used by Archimago should not have been indistinguishable, right? Of course, his test does have the restrictions of being a needle drop test (digital files, turntable isolation not being taken into account).

 

I got thinking about this primarily  by the observation that even consumer TTs have specs that outperform the spinning black disc. -70db SNR and a fraction of a percent of w&f and speed inaccuracy  seems like it should be inaudible compared to even a good record. Even good records have a (relatively) high noise floor, and distortion is inevitable due to tracking error and the decreasing linear velocity.

 

For what it's worth, longer tonearms do have less tracking error

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Posted (edited)

 

26 minutes ago, gumptown said:

In this thread a "night and day" difference between a mid-fi and hi-fi turntable. One would expect there to be a "night and day" difference between the TTs in archimago's test, right?

Not when the testing method is terribly flawed.

 

Edit: that test is a joke IMO.

I strongly advise you to take Andy's advice and get out to some GTGs and listen to some very good analogue front ends members here have for yourself.

 

That test is just one TT with specific accessories being tested, and we don't even know how good or bad that guy is in setting up a TT much less a cart.

 

It's a needle drop using a AD system into a laptop using audacity then processed in another program, and then listened back to on god knows what sort of system in the small respondent group.

It's so not a measure of how a high end system compares to a lower end one.

Edited by muon*
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Posted (edited)

Depending on how the vinyl recording was done I can think of a possible factor that may have “levelled” the sound: as I see it,a big part of what a TT needs to do is isolate vibrations. 

Is it possible that when recording a TT, there are factors at play that reduce vibration? For example, you may play at a much quieter level when recording and therefore reduce vibrations coming from the speakers back to the TT. 
 

Part of the difference in sound between turntables must be related to their ability to isolate vibration. If you have reduced vibrations then it follows that you have reduced part of that difference and so your recorded TTs will sound more similar than if compared side by side “live”. 
 

Just a theory

Edited by sir sanders zingmore
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3 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Is it possible that when recording a TT, there are factors at play that reduce vibration? For example, you may play at a much quieter level when recording and therefore reduce vibrations coming from the speakers back to the TT. 

 

Yes, 100%.

 

When a "needle drop" recording is done, generally the output of the phono preamp is connected to the input of the sound card. The amplifier and speaker are not plugged in at all.

 

Thus, the "vibration isolation" factor is not taken into account

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It also imparts the sonic signature of the AD converter, and the software used to process it. This is not a scientific comparison, so lets not pretend it is at all conclusive in any way shape or form.

 

It's a blogger doing a very flawed test that suits him and his objectives.

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9 minutes ago, gumptown said:

 

Yes, 100%.

 

When a "needle drop" recording is done, generally the output of the phono preamp is connected to the input of the sound card. The amplifier and speaker are not plugged in at all.

 

Thus, the "vibration isolation" factor is not taken into account


That makes me think it’s not a great way to compare turntables, but it might be useful for choosing carts. 
 

Given that a cartridge is a transducer, it doesn’t surprise me that peoples’ opinions vary. Nor does it surprise me that expensive carts aren’t necessarily “better”. As with any transducer (eg speakers) personal preference will vary. 

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1 minute ago, muon* said:

 

It's a blogger doing a very flawed test that suits him and his objectives.

 

 

Gosh, Ian - you can't say that.  :winky:  There he is ... a poor blogger trying to drum up followers and get payment from sponsors, so he doesn't have to do what others might call 'actual work' ... and you call him a flawed!  :lol:

 

Andy

 

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I'd offer a different perspective to the question posed in the TT, as to why it can be worth it to spend money on a high-end machine for all sorts of other reasons.   

 

For example, some of the high-end machines look fantastic, and that's for a good reason - it makes them a pleasure to own.  I am not knocking it.  We do this all the time with other goods, especially things like cars.  Nothing wrong with the prestige factor either.  Easier to feel pride in an expensive luxury car, than a cheapy made in China.

 

Lastly,  you mention the "night & day" comment.  People often describe what they have heard in this, or in a similar manner.  It actually is not a very good measure of the difference, as it is very subjective thing.  It might well show up as easily discernable in a good test, or it equally likey, may not.  As others have said, listen for yourself.

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:


That makes me think it’s not a great way to compare turntables, but it might be useful for choosing carts. 
 

Given that a cartridge is a transducer, it doesn’t surprise me that peoples’ opinions vary. Nor does it surprise me that expensive carts aren’t necessarily “better”. As with any transducer (eg speakers) personal preference will vary. 

 

A while ago, I listened to a series of needle drops on a bunch of carts that I mostly knew quite well, and found what I heard (on Youtube) was a pretty good representation of what I expect from each cart.  So yes,  it is one of tools that are worth using in making a selection.

Edited by aussievintage
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3 hours ago, rocky500 said:

Not sure if anyone else have slight doubts about all the DBT's posted everywhere.

But the outcome is pretty well always the same no matter what is in test if they are supposedly subtle heard differences sighted. The results always show no one can reliably pick the one playing.

 

Even professionals trying to pick a brand of instruments playing somewhere. Amplifiers are the same, Dacs seem to fit this too. Cartridges are another. List goes on.

There seems to be a very strong pattern that they all pretty well end the same way.

 

I did them here for over 6 months continuously on lots and lots of gear and pretty well everything to me sounded the same or not reliably pick which one when I thought there where differences before the tests.

Expensive well reviewed components against budget ones.

Looked online and the results seemed from others mirrored mine everywhere! That is always the likely outcome. It seems these tests have a 99.99% the same outcome. :)

Just seems strange to me as results like this don't normally seem to happen in anything like this.

Not sure if anyone else notices these patterns but just seems something else might be going on here.

 

As it turns out, differences were heard in the Archimago test- a group of users clearly preferred the CD rip to vinyl, and the difference between cartridges was widely noticed so we can’t put this in the  no difference heard bracket overall.

 

Cartridges can have wide tonal differences of achieve a better or worse match to the other equipment so we can expect that without invalidating your overall point.

 

Don’t forget that not hearing the difference does not equate to there being no difference to be found!

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7 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

A while ago, I listened to a series of needle drops on a bunch of carts that I mostly new quite well, and found what I heard (on Youtube) was a pretty good representation of what I expect from each cart.  So yes,  it is one of tools that are worth using in making a selection.

Did you know what the carts were beforehand when listening to them?

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 Dismissing archimago as a blogger is a bit unfair. He's currently used as a primary source on 2 threads on the front page of The Great debate right now.

 

The Director of Marketing Research at MQA angrily interjected from the audience at RMAF 2018 to dismiss Archimago as a nameless blogger when some of his research on MQA was being presented.

 

I'm not going to try to argue in favour of needle drops as an infallible method to perform a blind test.

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5 minutes ago, gumptown said:

Dismissing archimago as a blogger is a bit unfair.

Perhaps, but it’s much easier than addressing his arguments. 

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16 minutes ago, muon* said:

Did you know what the carts were beforehand when listening to them?

 

Of course, as I said it's Youtube, there's a video of them playing.  This isn't about hearing a difference or not.  Just the tonal character of each cartridge, to borrow someone else's term,  was in keeping with what I hear at home on my own system.

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20 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

I'd offer a different perspective to the question posed in the TT, as to why it can be worth it to spend money on a high-end machine for all sorts of other reasons.   

 

For example, some of the high-end machines look fantastic, and that's for a good reason - it makes them a pleasure to own.  I am not knocking it.  We do this all the time with other goods, especially things like cars.  Nothing wrong with the prestige factor either.  Easier to feel pride in an expensive luxury car, than a cheapy made in China.

 

I cannot disagree with this at all. I enjoy looking at photos of turntables online because they're beautiful machines. Even as I write a thread about them possibly sounding the same, I have an ebay tab open searching for tonearms, because they sure are pretty.

 

I have a high-end espresso machine in my kitchen and I have no doubt that a machine 1/3 of the cost would make equally good coffee- but my machine is beautiful and a damn pleasure to use. I actually enjoy making myself a coffee with it, which use to be a chore on my "consumer" machine.

 

High-end gear is nice to have, no doubt

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22 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

This damn DBT debate is leaking into other threads :)  

This is the great debate section after all. All threads in this section are just variations of DBT threads 🙂

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1 hour ago, muon* said:

It also imparts the sonic signature of the AD converter, and the software used to process it. This is not a scientific comparison,

The sonic signature from the process of capturing bit-for-bit the bitstream from an ADC operating at 96/24, and then later playing back that stream bit-for-bit on a DAC, should be negligible to inaudible.

 

Today's ADCs and DACs can be that good.

 

The often-cited argument about supposed deleterious "sonic signatures" of ADCs and DACs making it impossible to rely on digital recordings for sound comparisons of analogue sources had much more traction in the 1980s . That was a time when consumer access to highly linear, high  sample rate, high bit-depth ADCs and DACs, with highly stable clocks, was limited or impossible.

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The "sonic signature" would also be applied to both turntable setups equally, so it shouldn't really impact the result

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4 hours ago, gumptown said:

The "sonic signature" would also be applied to both turntable setups equally, so it shouldn't really impact the result

 

You sure seem to be convinced that there's no point spending money on a TT, gt.

 

So I say again ... rather than reading internet comments ... why not simply go to a few Brissie gtgs with people that have high-end vinyl setups - and listen for yourself?

 

Of course ... that takes effort - much more so than reading internet comments.  :lol:

 

Andy

 

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6 hours ago, gumptown said:

The Director of Marketing Research at MQA angrily interjected from the audience at RMAF 2018 to dismiss Archimago as a nameless blogger when some of his research on MQA was being presented.

Yes, they interjected angrily at that presentation, but they did not dismiss Archimago. They just want to know his true identity. 

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No need for backhanded comments again andy. I'm largely homebound due to illness. so I probably won't be able to attend get togethers

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Posted (edited)

(some problems with notifications?)

Edited by LHC
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1 minute ago, gumptown said:

 

I'm largely homebound due to illness. so I probably won't be able to attend get togethers

 

 

Aah, OK gt ... that being the case ... you need to rely on reviewers comments.

 

So you have to choose well, the reviewers you listen to.  :)

 

Andy

 

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