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Comparing Elements of Turntable Construction, Kindly requesting your help in building a turntable comparison chart.
Knowzy
post Aug 19 2008, 03:06
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Joined: 15-July 08
Member No.: 55856



Greetings HydrogenAudio.

USB turntables, as many around here are aware, range in quality from poor to decent. I'm setting out to create comparison charts detailed enough to find the gems in a sea of lightweight plastic and ceramic carts. Once the guide is more presentable, I plan to give HA an exclusive sneak preview.

What follows are the elements I'm considering for chart #3, "Turntable Construction," along with the possible values.

Is there anything else I should be considering? Are there any elements not worth comparing or combinable with other elements? Am I using correct terminology?

I greatly appreciate your informed input.
  • Drive
    • Belt
    • Direct
  • Cartridge Type
    • Ceramic
    • Moving Magnet
    • Moving Coil (no USB TT's feature these)
  • Plinth/Body (really having trouble succinctly comparing this)
    • Lightweight plastic/No isolation
    • Heavy plastic/Rubber
    • Metal/Rubber
    • Wood/Rubber
  • Anti-skate/Counterweight
    • Yes
    • No
  • Edit: Removed tonearm shape, combined counterweight with anti-skate (thanks for setting me straight Axon)
  • Mount Type
    • Half-inch
    • P-Type
    • Edit: Bayonet (thanks Axon)
    • Edit: Universal (thanks Axon)
    • Edit: Proprietary (thanks Axon)
  • Stylus Type Edit: Added more types
    • Conical
    • Elliptical
    • Spherical
    • Linear Contact
    • MicroLine
    • MicroRidge
  • Dustcover
    • Plastic
    • Cloth
    • None
  • Adjustable Feet for Leveling?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Tonearm cue?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Tonearm Auto return?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Edit: Specs (If Available) (Chart #4: Specifications)
    • Wow and Flutter
    • Signal to Noise Ratio
    • Rumble
    • Dimensions
    • Weight
    Edit: Pitch Control (chart #2) (thanks Axon)
    • +/- X%


This post has been edited by Knowzy: Aug 21 2008, 07:03
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Knowzy
post Aug 21 2008, 03:50
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Member No.: 55856



We're getting way off topic on defining the turntable construction chart but I'm thoroughly enjoying the conversation!

QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 19 2008, 23:13) *
The DL110 is what, a $130 cartridge? That's more than the cost of some USB turntables.


~$150 is where you start finding USB TT's where some manufacturers give you their blessing to BYOC (bring your own cartridge). Forget about it on the likes of the sub-$100 Ion TTUSB05.


QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 19 2008, 23:13) *
3. Doesn't sound completely obviously bad (low ground hum, acceptable wow/flutter, doesn't skip under reasonable conditions).


I'm curious what you all would consider an "acceptable" wow/flutter. Here's what the better USB TT's have to offer:
  • Pro-Ject Debut III USB: 0.12%
  • Numark TTXUSB: 0.15%
  • Stanton T.90 USB: 0.15%
  • Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB: 0.25%

QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 19 2008, 23:13) *
So I guess the executive summary of your article needs to be: For the love of God, buy a turntable with a magnetic cartridge, antiskate, and an offset arm.

I think that alone is going to wipe out >50% of the USB TTs on the market, isn't it?


Using that standard, it wipes out 64% of the market as I know it and leaves only three manufacturers.

Here's what we're left with:
QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 20 2008, 12:25) *
...if one is buying a turntable solely for transcription...the lack of antiskate - and potentially even the use of a straight arm - become a lot less objectionable if one is only going to play the record once or twice before putting it back on the shelf.


Using that standard, the following have straight arms/no anti-skate but do have MM carts:
QUOTE (WmAx @ Aug 20 2008, 00:20) *
Because it is a completely mechanical process, I tend to increase the acceptable budget expense on this particular format for playback hardware.

QUOTE (cliveb @ Aug 20 2008, 03:44) *
The bottom line is this: good turntables cost a lot of money. There is no guarantee that an expensive turntable will be good, but it's a pretty safe bet that a cheap turntable will be bad.

Excellent points. Thanks for putting them in those terms.

Certainly I will tell my readers to expect decent sound quality at best.

I think most people don't want bad sound quality or to destroy their vinyl. But I expect only a small percentage are willing to invest the extra time, money and education to achieve great sound quality.

While I'm quoting Clive, I just want to say I've read your LP to CDR Tips from beginning to end and will prominently link it in the "Use Your Own Turntable" section of the guide.

QUOTE (uart @ Aug 20 2008, 06:51) *
The only thing I can think of is that they are just too lazy (or inept) to connect up an analog input.

I have had only challenging experiences getting a clean signal when hooking up any analog input directly to my PC. When I started doing this 15+ years ago, even with nothing connected, the hum and noise would hit -10. I'd hear the hard drive in the signal when it was active and on and on.

Over the years, both PCs and myself have gotten better at keeping unwanted interference to a minimum. But it still takes good equipment and precautions, in my experience, to get an acceptably clean signal even today.

I would much prefer to have the A/D conversion done outside of the PC. USB TT's (and other external soundcards) have that advantage.

QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 20 2008, 12:25) *
Of course, ceramics/crystals are still a crime against music.

Agreed. Any you can't go more than a page in the guide without reading that sentiment in one form or another.
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