Vinyl Help #2

polishdog90polishdog90 Road Warrior
edited February 2009 in History of Rock
Alright I have a few questions for you vinyl experts (I'm looking at you Fogey!).

First off, I made the Vinyl Help #1 topic some time ago, but I just finally got my 1st record player this week. It was a used 70s Panasonic turntable. The cartridge was junk so I bought a Shure one from a local dj store. It might not be the greatest setup, but I think it sounds good. I have been playing records non-stop for the couple of days I have had it.

To the questions:

#1: How do you clean vinyl (Vinyl Records. Not vinyl car seats) to help preserve its life? Are there any special brushes/fluids that I should buy?

#2: What makes audiophile players so much better than standard players? I'm planning on saving for a $500 player eventually, but I would like to understand why it is so great.

#3 What is a good quality RCA cable? I'm just using the standard yellow/white/red one (yellow obviously not plugged in) right now.

#4 Right now I'm using the built in pre-amp on my subwoofer to project my record player. Should I look into investing in a separate preamp or receiver?

Thanks everyone! I'm new to the whole vinyl business but I love it so far. I want to become more knowledgeable in the subject.

Comments

  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    #1 - First you should know there are two schools of thought - one is clean everything even vinyl that has never been played, the other is never clean at all unless a disc is otherwise unplayable. Either way you should always have a good record brush. Something like the AudioQuest record brush is a fairly affordable option just to dust off before you play. You just put the record on the platter and lightly hold the brush over the disc for a couple revolutions. If you want to go the full cleaning route there are plenty of vinyl solutions, I don't have a lot of experience with them and some are made specifically for cleaning machines which will cost you more than you have budgeted for your next table (Nitty Gritty are probably the cheapest machine option). Otherwise you're washing them in the sink and its quite the time consuming process.

    #2 - At the entry level price point a lot is about isolating the record surface from as much external noise as possible. The audiophile tables are almost always belt driven, which among other things allows the motor to be placed further away from the record itself. They're also highly adjustable so that you can make sure the table is level and set the tone arm and cartridge to the proper tracking weight and angle. This is important both for sound quality and for prolonging the life of your albums. Most of the entry level tables allow you to upgrade the tonearm if you want to as well.

    #3 - You don't want to run a cable with an empty video signal as it is probably introducing interference to the other cables. Ideally you want to get a heavier gauge cable that is properly shielded and that is gold plated or other high quality metal on the jacks. If your turntable has a ground you should also use it.

    #4 - You should use a dedicated phono stage for the best results. Your present turntable may have one built in if you are going through your subwoofer because I've never heard of a sub having one. Most modern consumer grade receivers don't even have them now. Something like the Pro-Ject Phono box is the minimum you should get when you upgrade to a more expensive table.
  • kwami42kwami42 Rising Star
    edited February 2009
    I have a quick question about record players. Right now I'm using an old Kenwood KD-26R, it's a part of a larger stereo set, made around 1985. I have it plugged into a much newer stereo I got for my birthday 7 or 8 years ago, a Sony MHC-BX2. Would it benefit me to get one of the newer, $100-$200 turntables, or should I not bother until I can get one of the $500+ ones?
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    Do you have a specific table in mind? Most $100-$200 tables I'd say don't bother.
  • seinmanseinman Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    While we're on the topic, what about isolation from vibration? I have a turntable already, but every now and then I get humming that stops when I turn down the volume, so i'm thinking it has something to do with the vibration from the speakers. What is the best way to isolate the turntable from vibrations? Alternatively, what's a cheap way to do it? I've heard of people putting sheets of all kinds of materials under their turntables, but I have no idea where to begin with something like that.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    You could try the Sorbothane stick on feet, that's under $10 for a set of 4. Are you sure it isn't your phono stage, cables or something else electrical causing the humming?
  • edited February 2009
    polishdog90;1945280 said:
    #1: How do you clean vinyl (Vinyl Records. Not vinyl car seats) to help preserve its life? Are there any special brushes/fluids that I should buy?
    As King_Nuthin pointed out, there are specific record brushed that you can pick up. Some use fluids and other are "dry". The dry ones look like chalkboard erasers, and I've found them to be the easiest to use.

    You can get all sorts of anti static air guns as well, since dry vinyl builds up static pretty quickly, especially while brushing. Some other tips that fall more into the common sense category would be to brush away from the label, store vinyl in plastic sleeves and clean paper jackets to avoid dust in the future, and try to avoid handling the vinyl whenever possible.

    As for #2 through #4, I have no idea. I'm willing to bet you'll get different answers from every hardcore audiophile you ask. They are a hardcore bunch.
    seinman;1947051 said:
    While we're on the topic, what about isolation from vibration? What is the best way to isolate the turntable from vibrations? Alternatively, what's a cheap way to do it? I've heard of people putting sheets of all kinds of materials under their turntables, but I have no idea where to begin with something like that.
    I've heard that glass is the ideal base for a turntable, as it is more likely to absorb the vibrations (as opposed to a wood or metal base). The two most hardcore audiophiles I know swear by glass. One of them had his turntable mounted on a 2" thick slab of glass on a countertop and the other one has his turntable set on a glass platter that he suspended from the ceiling of his bedroom (!!!) to reduce any possible vibrations.
  • kwami42kwami42 Rising Star
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1946997 said:
    Do you have a specific table in mind? Most $100-$200 tables I'd say don't bother.
    No specific table, I was just wondering. Do you think I could benefit from a new stereo system? This is what I'm rolling with right now.

    http://www.hifisystem.org.uk/sony/sony-mhc-bx2-hi-fi-system/
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    HMXHenry;1947139 said:
    the other one has his turntable set on a glass platter that he suspended from the ceiling of his bedroom (!!!) to reduce any possible vibrations.
    I hear about things like this from time to time, it sounds cool but almost every house I live in has walls or ceilings that vibrate regularly.

    I actually have my turntable in a different room from my speakers. Kind of a pain in the butt when flipping sides but it keeps it isolated. Its also on a glass shelf.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    kwami42;1947193 said:
    No specific table, I was just wondering. Do you think I could benefit from a new stereo system? This is what I'm rolling with right now.
    I'd upgrade that before the table. A receiver that can drive a decent set of bookshelf speakers would be a definite step up.
  • kwami42kwami42 Rising Star
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1947246 said:
    I'd upgrade that before the table. A receiver that can drive a decent set of bookshelf speakers would be a definite step up.
    Any suggestions on something nice and affordable?
  • seinmanseinman Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1947106 said:
    You could try the Sorbothane stick on feet, that's under $10 for a set of 4. Are you sure it isn't your phono stage, cables or something else electrical causing the humming?
    That's a good point. I'm assuming it's vibration, because it started when I moved to a place not quite as well built as my old place. I used to be able to walk past the turntable with no problems, now if I walk too close it skips. And it creaks a lot when I walk around. Stuff like that. I'm using the same setup I was using before: same receiver, turntable, speakers, shelf, cables. I suppose it could be something in the electrical system of the house, but i'm not sure how i'd go about testing that to be honest.
    HMXHenry;1947139 said:
    I've heard that glass is the ideal base for a turntable, as it is more likely to absorb the vibrations (as opposed to a wood or metal base). The two most hardcore audiophiles I know swear by glass. One of them had his turntable mounted on a 2" thick slab of glass on a countertop and the other one has his turntable set on a glass platter that he suspended from the ceiling of his bedroom (!!!) to reduce any possible vibrations.
    Wow, that is hardcore. I thought I knew some pretty nerdy audiophiles, the suspended platter takes the cake. Any chance you could get a picture of this setup? I'm curious as hell now. :)
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    kwami42;1947279 said:
    Any suggestions on something nice and affordable?
    What's your budget.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    seinman;1947390 said:
    That's a good point. I'm assuming it's vibration, because it started when I moved to a place not quite as well built as my old place. I used to be able to walk past the turntable with no problems, now if I walk too close it skips. And it creaks a lot when I walk around. Stuff like that. I'm using the same setup I was using before: same receiver, turntable, speakers, shelf, cables. I suppose it could be something in the electrical system of the house, but i'm not sure how i'd go about testing that to be honest.
    You could try a power conditioner, or even just moving to another room or outlet to see if it changes anything. I didn't realize you had the same set up working satisfactory until recently, so it could be vibration induced. Is there a less creaky area to move to? Are they hardwood floors? Is everything level and the stand itself solid? You could always try beefing up that area before moving to vibration isolation at the turntable itself.
  • kwami42kwami42 Rising Star
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1947407 said:
    What's your budget.
    We'll say around $200, $300 max.
  • seinmanseinman Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1947448 said:
    You could try a power conditioner, or even just moving to another room or outlet to see if it changes anything. I didn't realize you had the same set up working satisfactory until recently, so it could be vibration induced. Is there a less creaky area to move to? Are they hardwood floors? Is everything level and the stand itself solid? You could always try beefing up that area before moving to vibration isolation at the turntable itself.
    Interestingly, my old apartment was hardwood, and my new place is carpet. This is a really crappy house, EVERYTHING is creaky as hell here. Hell, we have some floors that aren't level. It's bad. My shelf is from the 70s, but I don't think that's the problem because it's sturdy as hell.

    I'm going to try some things with the power, and see if it helps. If not, I guess i'll go from there. I read that someone (forget which username and too lazy to check) has their turntable in a different room, that could be something to try. I already have a 25 foot long, high quality stereo RCA cable from a previous setup where my computer was in another room from my receiver.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    kwami42;1947472 said:
    We'll say around $200, $300 max.
    Hmm, that's tough because I don't want to recommend plastic junk. Consider buying used.

    I have no idea if they are any good, but elemental designs has a $150 set of bookshelf speakers. I own one of their subs and it is great bang for the buck, hopefully their speakers are the same.
    www.edesignaudio.com

    Then try to score a used receiver from someone upgrading their system. I'd personally avoid Sony. Yamaha and Onkyo are better bets, you might even find someone unloading Denon or HK stuff if you're lucky. If you get those speakers make sure it can handle 6Ω.
  • OldFogeyOldFogey Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    polishdog90;1945280 said:
    Alright I have a few questions for you vinyl experts (I'm looking at you Fogey!).

    First off, I made the Vinyl Help #1 topic some time ago, but I just finally got my 1st record player this week. It was a used 70s Panasonic turntable. The cartridge was junk so I bought a Shure one from a local dj store. It might not be the greatest setup, but I think it sounds good. I have been playing records non-stop for the couple of days I have had it.

    To the questions:

    #1: How do you clean vinyl (Vinyl Records. Not vinyl car seats) to help preserve its life? Are there any special brushes/fluids that I should buy?

    #2: What makes audiophile players so much better than standard players? I'm planning on saving for a $500 player eventually, but I would like to understand why it is so great.

    #3 What is a good quality RCA cable? I'm just using the standard yellow/white/red one (yellow obviously not plugged in) right now.

    #4 Right now I'm using the built in pre-amp on my subwoofer to project my record player. Should I look into investing in a separate preamp or receiver?

    Thanks everyone! I'm new to the whole vinyl business but I love it so far. I want to become more knowledgeable in the subject.

    I think you're getting some really good advice, PD. I'd just add a couple of points --

    Cleaners. For simple stuff I use a Hunt dry cleaner. I've been very happy in the past with cleaners from Last. I'd really like one day to get one of the vacuum systems, but just haven't had the disposable cash to do it.

    This site has some good stuff:

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/products.asp?dept=79&sort_on=title&sort_by=&view_all=true

    Regarding #2 -- King_Nuthin got it basically right. But really the difference is the separate components -- separate tone arms and even tone arm cables, very high end cartridges, and so forth. The table itself will be as heavy as possible, and yes belt-driven. Not sure about the being made out of glass stuff. All the stuff I've seen uses acrylic. But inch or more thick platters are very common on high end stuff -- the weight shields from vibrations.

    Regarding #3 -- The advice you've gotten is good. Definitely ground the table. The other guy who was asking about hum -- it probably comes from not having a ground or from the next item.

    Regarding #4 -- On your subwoofer? That doesn't sound like a great idea to me.

    Aside from the sub woofer bit, what you will get out of a phono pre amp is mostly driven by the cartridge you use. The better the cartridge the more you'll get out of a separate pre amp. And there are differences between cartridges that only a phono preamp will handle properly. I use very low output cartridges and there's no way you can use them without a special purpose phono pre amp. With a phono preamp your phono section should be hotter (higher output) than your CDs. One test is to find a piece of music that you have on vinyl and CD then do an A-B to see if you hear a volume difference. If vinyl isn't louder you probably could gain from a phono pre amp. And it's quiet hum. too. If you don't have a phono pre amp there's a good chance your preamp will pick up noise and amplify it, too -- giving you hum.

    If you're going to invest, send me a PM -- might have an option for you.

    Cheers, Fogey
  • kwami42kwami42 Rising Star
    edited February 2009
    King_Nuthin;1947665 said:
    Hmm, that's tough because I don't want to recommend plastic junk. Consider buying used.

    I have no idea if they are any good, but elemental designs has a $150 set of bookshelf speakers. I own one of their subs and it is great bang for the buck, hopefully their speakers are the same.
    www.edesignaudio.com

    Then try to score a used receiver from someone upgrading their system. I'd personally avoid Sony. Yamaha and Onkyo are better bets, you might even find someone unloading Denon or HK stuff if you're lucky. If you get those speakers make sure it can handle 6Ω.
    I'm a total novice to audio equipment in general, I've never really bought my own stuff before, outside of things like computer speakers. Does this look like a decent receiver to you? Thanks a lot for all the help.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Onkyo-TX-8211-Home-Audio-Stereo-Receiver-w-remote_W0QQitemZ320336301213QQcmdZViewItemQQptZReceivers_Tuners?hash=item320336301213&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A0|293%3A1|294%3A50

    Edit: Argh, I just realized that receiver isn't 6ohm capable.
  • King_NuthinKing_Nuthin Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    kwami42;1948026 said:
    I'm a total novice to audio equipment in general, I've never really bought my own stuff before, outside of things like computer speakers. Does this look like a decent receiver to you? Thanks a lot for all the help.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Onkyo-TX-8211-Home-Audio-Stereo-Receiver-w-remote_W0QQitemZ320336301213QQcmdZViewItemQQptZReceivers_Tuners?hash=item320336301213&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318|301%3A0|293%3A1|294%3A50

    Edit: Argh, I just realized that receiver isn't 6ohm capable.
    That Onkyo has a phono input which is a plus and you could probably get away with 6ohm on that but there's some better Harman Kardon deals on Ebay right now after poking around. They are mostly home theater receivers, but HK is one of the more musical HT brands at lower price points. Just make sure you give it room to breathe, I had an HK that ran hot and eventually overheated.
  • polishdog90polishdog90 Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    Thanks for the replies!

    I'm going to look into some new cables asap. I just sold my old guitar so I'm going to spend some of that money on records/record gear. I'm not sure if I explained my speaker system correctly. I think the sub is a receiver/sub. The sub has outputs for speakers and a connector to a volume control/input for whatever you want to play music on. The output is a bit low so I should probably upgrade my preamp, but then I'm not sure if I can use my sub since it has a built in preamp.
  • idiotecidiotec Road Warrior
    edited February 2009
    polishdog90;1949512 said:
    Thanks for the replies!

    I'm going to look into some new cables asap. I just sold my old guitar so I'm going to spend some of that money on records/record gear. I'm not sure if I explained my speaker system correctly. I think the sub is a receiver/sub. The sub has outputs for speakers and a connector to a volume control/input for whatever you want to play music on. The output is a bit low so I should probably upgrade my preamp, but then I'm not sure if I can use my sub since it has a built in preamp.
    Does your 'table have a built in phono pre in it? Or, is the input on your 'sub' specifically labeled 'phono?'

    I have a feeling you are hooked up without a phono preamp which will result in records sounding like ****. The phono preamp plays two rolls: 1) is additional gain needed as others pointed out, this is why the records will play softer than other sources 2) it provides RIAA equalization which is essential for proper playback.

    Find out for sure if you have a phono pre in the mix, because if not, that is definitely your first step to proper vinyl playback. Perhaps post links to the gear you're using.
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