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Pre-amp advice
AudioDuck
post Jan 8 2014, 00:49
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I want to digitize about 300 albums from the 70's. So I'm looking for a descent setup.
I have an old turntable: Dual CS-701 with a new cartridge (elliptical diamant needle), I don't know if this is a MM or MC cartridge. The next step is a phono pre-amp. I think I have two options: line-out or USB. When using line-out I also must have a soundcard.
What can you recommend? My budget is about $ 350.

When looking at the recomandation page of the NeedleDoctor I see the: Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp, what kind of soundcard do I have to use with that? The M-Audio Audiophile 2496?
And I see the: Pro-Ject Phono Box USB Phono Preamp, with this pre-amp I can choose to use USB or connect it with a soundcard. But is there a difference in quality between USB and line-out? I mean not only with the Pro-Ject pre-amp but also in general.

Rob
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pdq
post Jan 8 2014, 01:44
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QUOTE (AudioDuck @ Jan 7 2014, 18:49) *
When looking at the recomandation page of the NeedleDoctor I see the: Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp, what kind of soundcard do I have to use with that?

Fifty years ago I had a pretty nice tube preamp. I replaced it with a transistor model because the specs were significantly better.

Fifty years later transistors and integrated circuits have vastly improved, but you know what? Tubes haven't changed at all.
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DVDdoug
post Jan 8 2014, 02:28
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QUOTE
The next step is a phono pre-amp. I think I have two options: line-out or USB. When using line-out I also must have a soundcard.
What can you recommend? My budget is about $ 350.
I don't have a recommendation, but $350 for a phono preamp seems excessive. The internal electronics for a very-good solid state phono preamp should cost less than $20 USD. Of course the manufacturer has to put it in a case, and pay for engineering, marketing, distribution, and other overhead, so $100 might not be excessive. But, you might find a good one for quite a bit less.

QUOTE
When looking at the recomandation page of the NeedleDoctor I see the: Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp
I also don't see the point in choosing 1950's technology (tubes). You can build a good preamp with tubes, but it's more difficult, it costs more, and a tube's characteristics change as they age, and they eventually die. Guitar players often prefer tubes because they like the way they sound when they are over-driven (distorted). Some audiophiles prefer tubes because they like the "tube sound" (slight distortion), or because they are fooling themselves. wink.gif

QUOTE
what kind of soundcard do I have to use with that? The M-Audio Audiophile 2496?
The 2496 is not a bad choice. But if the electrical noise from your existing soundcard is not excessive, it may be perfectly adequate. Usually the other important specs (distortion and frequency response) are better than human hearing. Another option is to get an external interface (example).

QUOTE
And I see the: Pro-Ject Phono Box USB Phono Preamp, with this pre-amp I can choose to use USB or connect it with a soundcard.
That should also be a good option. But is there a gain control on that thing? It's nice to have a gain control to get a good strong signal and/or to reduce the gain to prevent clipping (distortion). Different cartridges have different output levels, and different records have different output levels.

QUOTE
But is there a difference in quality between USB and line-out? I mean not only with the Pro-Ject pre-amp but also in general.
With a good soundcard and a good interface, there shouldn't be much difference. The most critical thing is the phono preamp section, because that's where the gain is and that's where noise is likely to be generated. (Ignoring the BIGGEST source of noise, distortion, and frequency response variation, which is the vinyl record itself. wink.gif )

QUOTE
I don't know if this is a MM or MC cartridge.
99% of magnetic cartridges are moving magnet. So if you don't know, it's MM. The thing with MC is that they tend to have lower output, which translates to a worse signal-to-noise ratio. You might like the "sound" (frequency response) of a particular MM, but you may also like the sound of a particular MC cartridge. But again, records vary a LOT. Especially the older records, so you might want to use some EQ to fix-up the frequency response anyway. ...Back in the vinyl days, I was always upgrading or wanting to to upgrade my cartridge (or something else), but I gave-up on trying to perfect vinyl playback when I got my 1st CD player.


--------------------------------------------------------
Assuming you want to "clean up" the vinyl "snap", "crackle", and "pop", this page has lots of software suggestions, as well as tons of other information about digitizing vinyl. I use Wave Repair ($30 developed by the author of the above website). It does an amazing on most vinyl defects, but I use it in the manual mode where it only "touches" the audio where I identify a defect. It usually takes me a full weekend to fix-up an LP, so you'll want to choose a more automated approach and I believe there are better software choices for automated clean-up.

I almost forgot... My 1st advice is always - If you are concerned about sound quality, buy the CD (or download the MP3/AAC) if it's available! biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 8 2014, 02:50
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Apesbrain
post Jan 8 2014, 02:55
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If your cartridge is a moving magnet or high-output moving coil*, this inexpensive device should do the job:
http://www.amazon.com/ART-USB-Phono-Plus/dp/B000BBGCCI
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may06/arti...rtphonoplus.htm

It has a gain control which as DVDdoug said can come in handy. Being USB 1.1 it is limited to 44/16 or 48/16 over that interface.

*Reply with brand/model and someone can confirm for you.
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kraut
post Jan 8 2014, 06:06
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"The 2496 is not a bad choice"

I use an m-audio soundcard fed from a phono preamp, and could not find any difference between recording in 16/44 or 24/96. I have so far transferred over 100Lp's without post processing, As it is a 1/1 process...I rather buy a CD if it is available.
24/96 seems to me a waste of space.
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cliveb
post Jan 8 2014, 10:06
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QUOTE (kraut @ Jan 8 2014, 05:06) *
"The 2496 is not a bad choice"

I use an m-audio soundcard fed from a phono preamp, and could not find any difference between recording in 16/44 or 24/96. I have so far transferred over 100Lp's without post processing, As it is a 1/1 process...I rather buy a CD if it is available.
24/96 seems to me a waste of space.

Amen to that. There are a few *theoretical* reasons why working at 24/96 could be an advantage, but when vinyl is your source, the intrinsic noise is so high that in practice you can record, edit and do tons of post-processing at 16/44 without losing anything.
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DVDdoug
post Jan 8 2014, 19:26
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Just to clarify - When I said, "the 2496 is not a bad choice", I was referring to the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard, which Rob is considering. I wasn't recommending 24-bit/96kHz resolution.


There's no harm in using 24-bits/96kHz.* It seems to be the current "studio standard", but it's total overkill for analog vinyl. (In fact, you can argue that 24/96 is overkill, period... since 44.1/16 is better than human hearing.)





* Except Wave Repair doesn't work with 24-bit/96kHz files.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 8 2014, 19:28
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jan 8 2014, 19:34
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 7 2014, 20:28) *
QUOTE
what kind of soundcard do I have to use with that? The M-Audio Audiophile 2496?
The 2496 is not a bad choice. But if the electrical noise from your existing soundcard is not excessive, it may be perfectly adequate. Usually the other important specs (distortion and frequency response) are better than human hearing. Another option is to get an external interface (example).


The Audiophile 2496 is very old school, as typified by its PCI interface. Some modern PC's can't ever host it!

Modern alternatives:

PCI-E Asus Xonar DG or DGX

USB Behringer UCA 202
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AudioDuck
post Jan 9 2014, 15:35
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First some questions:
- Is the PCI-E Asus Xonar D2X a better choise in stead of the DG or DGX? The D2X has 2 separate input jacks.
- I read that the USB Behringer UCA 202 has a sound that's ok, not good or very good.
- What if the Pro-Ject Phono Box USB Phono Preamp doeas have a gain? Pro-Ject Phono Box USB V
- With vinyl, 24/96 is overkill?

So, when reading all this I come to the following conclusion:

Option 1:
Bellari VP130 Tube Phono Preamp € 275,--
or
Cambridge Audio Azur 651P € 180,--
with
PCI-E Asus Xonar D2X € 135,--

Option 2:
Pro-Ject Phono Box USB V € 160,--

Option 3:
ART USB Phono Plus € 90,--

Option 4:
Terratec Phono PreAmp iVinyl € 80,--

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Juha
post Jan 9 2014, 16:07
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jan 8 2014, 22:34) *
QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 7 2014, 20:28) *
QUOTE
what kind of soundcard do I have to use with that? The M-Audio Audiophile 2496?
The 2496 is not a bad choice. But if the electrical noise from your existing soundcard is not excessive, it may be perfectly adequate. Usually the other important specs (distortion and frequency response) are better than human hearing. Another option is to get an external interface (example).
The Audiophile 2496 is very old school, as typified by its PCI interface. Some modern PC's can't ever host it! Modern alternatives: PCI-E Asus Xonar DG or DGX USB Behringer UCA 202





M-Audio 24/96 ... Dynamic range: 100.4dBA (inputs), 104dBA (outputs) --> 17 (~16.7)-bit/18 (~17.3)-bit card.

This post has been edited by Juha: Jan 9 2014, 16:12
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mzil
post Jan 9 2014, 16:40
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When I bought my UCA-202 I was tempted to buy the slightly more expensive UFO-202 version which includes an on board phono preamp which can be engaged with a switch. Just thought to mention that option for the OP's consideration.

This post has been edited by mzil: Jan 9 2014, 16:41
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DVDdoug
post Jan 9 2014, 21:59
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QUOTE
- With vinyl, 24/96 is overkill?
Take any normal* 24/96 file and downsample it to 44.1/16. You won't hear a difference.

Listen to the silence between tracks (or during quiet parts) on a CD (44.1/16) and then listen to the noise between tracks on an LP. That pretty-much tells you all you need to know about the dynamic range of analog vs. digital.

And don't be fooled if someone tells you that analog has "infinite resolution". The actual (usable) resolution is limited by noise.






* The most important thing is that you have "normal" volume. If you have a super-quiet file, you may hear the loss of resolution if you re-boost the volume to listening normal levels.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 9 2014, 22:02
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Juha
post Jan 11 2014, 13:01
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http://www.analogplanet.com/content/five-p...ed-you-be-judge







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antz
post Jan 15 2014, 02:55
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QUOTE (Juha @ Jan 11 2014, 12:01) *

A quick glance down the comment tells you all you need to know about the validity of the results - or was that your point?
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markanini
post Jan 15 2014, 05:00
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QUOTE (Juha @ Jan 11 2014, 13:01) *

Reading the comments made my brain hurt.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 18 2014, 01:49
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QUOTE (markanini @ Jan 14 2014, 23:00) *
QUOTE (Juha @ Jan 11 2014, 13:01) *

Reading the comments made my brain hurt.



I got a big kick out of Mike Fremer's comments, in particular.

"
Frankly I think ABX testing has its uses but overall it is a trap. Basically the believers say "the ear is easily fooled. We hear what we want to hear, we see a gold face plate on a piece of gear and think it sounds "warmer" than a sliver one and blah blah blah.

Yes there is some truth to that of course. But we've evolved surviving on those same "easily fooled" senses, not ABX tests to determine if a tiger is behind us or not.

So the ABX testers say that long listens done "not blind" are not reliable because we are fooled, but what is reliable is rapid blind back and forth switching? I think that kind of test fools us more than long deliberate listens.

I took part in a "blind" amplifier test at an AES designed by someone who insisted that all amplifiers that measure the same sound the same. For some reason he threw in a warm sounding VTL 300 tube amp along with a bunch of solid state amps including an ear-bleeder Crown DC-300 which is the sonic polar opposite of the VTL.

Now, aside from the fact that I got all five identifications correct about which was which and my editor at Stereophile got four of five correct, the results among ENGINEERS AT AN AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY MEETING was a statistical 50-50 "chance" result.

In other words recording engineers were unable to hear the difference between a Crown DC-300 and a VTL 300. Now that is absolutely RIDICULOUS as those amps obviously sound (and measure) very differently!

The test results tell me, blind testing of this sort produces ridiculous results and therefore is not necessarily as useful as its proponents seem to think. I did well because I am very experienced at these sorts of things whereas most engineers are not. And I had the most to lose since I was the one being challenged....

So listen 'blind" ABX, however you wish but be wary of the conclusions you draw.
"

My technical analysis shows that the tracks are not well enough level-matched to be unambigiously free of bias for that reason.
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mzil
post Feb 18 2014, 06:25
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^I'd like to read about that AES amp test by the test administrators rather than individual subjects self-reporting on how they claim they did. For all we know, he might have scored 2/5 correct [2 correct out of 5 trials] for amps A vs. B, 1/5 for C vs. D, 3/5 for amps E vs F, and indeed 5/5 for the VTL vs Crown. Big deal. If you toss a coin 5 times in a row, over and over again, if you don't occasionally get 5/5 "heads", then there's something wrong with your coin!

Also, by their own account [Stereophile's], the VTL tube amp, when driving those particular speakers they described as a "difficult load", had a response deviation of several dB. That's enough reason alone as to why he heard differences, on at least some material, even without having to worry about how well they level matched the two amps.

This post has been edited by mzil: Feb 18 2014, 06:51
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