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About StephenJK

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  1. Bryston BCD-3, without question. I had a BCD-1, and if you can find one of those used that would truly be a bargoon. https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/bryston-bcd-3-cd-player/ The best CD player that's ever been built, and ever will be. Leaving out the glass portholes, blue LEDs, $5,000 milled aluminum cases whataya got? A transport - bought from people who do that sort of thing. A Digital to Analog converter on a chip - bought from people who make those by the gazillions. And - the knowledge, experience and expertise to design and tweak the analog stage to be something truly special. Any more questions? Stephen
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  3. In looking through my files I realized that I had written a long winded article on this very topic a number of years ago. I just posted it up on the Canuck Audio Mart, being Canadian, but it may be of interest here as well. The photo is outdated, but I'm reluctant to do any edits - just because. The Pros and Cons of Buying New LPs TL; DR: If you want great sound, maybe buy a CD. If you like LPs just because, that’s OK. A bit of background – I’ve been buying and playing LPs since the late 70’s. I consider myself an audiophile and have a system that is highly revealing, very neutral and with a deep and accurate soundstage. I currently have around 1,500 LP titles and play them on a regular basis. I’ve recorded over 1,200 LP’s to high resolution 24/96 FLAC files and playback from a dedicated music server. The sound from the LP or the digital playback is virtually identical. I also have close to 1,000 CDs that have been ripped and added to the music server. I’ve posted details about my system under a slightly different user name – you can see that here: Onto the topic at hand - I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but here are the facts. With new LPs, you sometimes may be better off just buying a digital download or the CD. Recording LPs went digital in the mid-80’s. LPs from that era will have a three letter code on them to indicate the Recording/Mixing/Mastering process as either Analog or Digital. For more information, Google SPARS code (Society of Professional Recording Services). People used to look for the AAA code, believing that without the digital process it was a better recording. Conversely, something with a DDD was to be avoided. And, in some cases they may have been correct – digital back in the day wasn’t always well done – but of course the same thing can be said about any analog recording as well. This brings us to the present day. There may be a few bands that use an analog board to record with but mixing and mastering will likely be with a Digital Audio Workshop (DAW) and all the tools that provides – that would give you the ADD code. In other words, any LP that you buy today was recorded, mixed and mastered digitally to create, hopefully, a high resolution digital file – likely 24 bit and at either 96 kHz or 192 kHz frequency. Note that many people, including myself, believe that a 24/96 digital signal is capable of capturing the full detail of an analog recording. That 24/96 or 24/192 file is converted to a lower level signal of 16/44.1 to make a CD. Note: to calculate the bit rate for digital audio, multiply the sample rate (44,100) by 2 (for stereo) and by 16 (the number of bits in our digital numbers): 44,100 x 2 x 16 = 1,411,200 bits per second (bps) = 1,411 kbps This is the bit rate for the standard CD. A lot of digital music will be much less than this. The maximum level of information from an MP3 is 320 kbps. Of course, if you’re listening to your music with earbuds then it doesn’t matter anyway. If you buy high resolution downloads instead of CDs that may not be what you’re getting. Many are simply up sampled CD signals that are sold for a premium. You can tell with a sonic analyzer, but that’s a different topic. The Crossroads You reach the crossroads when you make a decision as to which musical format you should buy. The LP or the CD? Part of that decision should be the type and quality of hardware you have available for playback. LP Playback Let’s say you decide you want to buy LPs. We’ll ignore the quality of the original recording session and presume that whoever did it actually had a clue. Now you need a turntable, a phono stage, a preamp/amplifier or an integrated amplifier or a receiver, which is an integrated amplifier with a tuner built into it – that for when people used to listen to radio. The preamp/integrated/receiver may or may not have a phono stage built-in. Obviously, you need speakers as well, but we’ll ignore that because you can always use headphones. Now, with an LP you theoretically have an advantage over the CD. The resolution of the analog signal is infinite, whereas from the CD there is a brick wall at 22.05 kHz – above that there’s no more musical signal. Some people say that once you get into the “dog whistle” range it doesn’t matter; our ears can’t hear it anyways. Others say that the analog artifacts and blend of a full musical spectrum is appealing and more “life like”. But, and a big but – if your LP was made from the same signal used to make the CD, then essentially you have an LP recording of a CD. Meaning – you may as well buy the CD. OK, you don’t get the 12 x 12 format with the artwork, and whatever poster/lyric sheet is thrown in but you’re also not paying a premium for the LP. How do you know what level of digital recording was used to make the two track mixdown for your LP? You don’t. You don’t, and you never will. In fact, many of the premium reissues from top bands like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin are known to have been made from 24/96 digital signals. As I mentioned earlier, many believe that 24/96 can fully capture the analog signal. OK, let’s say that’s true – but if so then why not just buy the high resolution digital files? I don’t and I don’t buy the LPs either because I can’t justify the cost. The labels have people believing that the 24/96 album is worth $25 dollars because it’s better than the 16/44.1 at $12 to $16. You just need to remind yourself that no music label will ever do anything to benefit you, only themselves. That’s why I’ll buy the CD and pay the same or less than the digital download for a 16/44.1 - because I know what I’m getting and I like the savings – I can buy more music with the same budget. That being said, then what advantage could there be in buying the LP as opposed to that digital file or the CD? Technically speaking, there’s one big advantage. The accuracy and quality of the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) used to make that two track tape master for the pressing plant. For example, if you buy a MOFI album at a premium that was made from a high resolution digital signal, you know that they’re going to use a DAC that you very likely can’t afford. But you can afford the album. But how did you win? Now you’ve placed the emphasis on a quality sound playback onto your turntable, cartridge and phono stage. For high quality sound you’re talking about thousands of dollars, not hundreds. Yeah, I know, you can get an old direct drive turntable and a cartridge for a few hundred dollars and it will play and it will make sound through your system. But, here’s the key question. If you had bought a decent CD player or a laptop and an external DAC for the same money, would you have a better sound? Before we move on, you need to answer that question. Is your goal to have the best sound playback system that you can afford? If your answer is yes, then stick with digital files or CDs. If the answer is no, I just like LPs because they’re cool and I find it interesting, then let that be the deciding factor. CD or Digital Playback If you play a CD at home, you’re using the DAC built into your CD player. How good is it? It depends on how much your CD player cost. If you use a digital player (or even a laptop) and a separate DAC like I do, then you have a better idea of what those components can do and where improvements can be made. Plus, you have a huge support community of people who have gone through a lengthy evolutionary process. And, used CDs can be found in many stores for a very reasonable price. With digital components you do have an advantage in that high end CD players are available for a fraction of their original cost as everyone moves onto digital players and outboard DACs. USB powered DACs costing only a couple of hundred dollars will have a sound that will, in my opinion, be greater than what you could expect from the same money spent on a turntable and cartridge that may or may not be properly setup or even compatible with each other. And, let’s not forget that CDs became popular for very good reason. You didn’t have to worry about how to setup a turntable or scratching expensive records. You could play CDs anywhere and they didn’t wear out. All of that is still true. Conclusion I continue to buy LPs, but in a very limited and specific fashion. That’s either for music I never had but that now interests me, or with titles I need to fill a gap in the collection. But the deciding factor is always pre or post digital era. If before, LP is what I want - if after, I don’t care so much. I will never buy a new title on LP but will buy a CD of that title. If I’m missing an LP to fill out a certain group, such as the Big Six from Black Sabbath, I will buy a reissue, begrudgingly, but only from a known and reputable label. That’s with the understanding that it will either be from a master tape or a safety tape made from the master, or a high resolution digital file. If the latter, I’m not happy about it but there’s nothing I can do. For example, I was missing Black Sabbath – Sabotage and with originals for the first five had to fill it out with a reissue. Unfortunately, where I live shipping original albums from a site like Discogs is just too expensive. You do need to be careful with some of the reissue labels – some are known to make LPs from a CD! It’s like the early days of DVD reissues where you can tell some were made from a VHS tape. You can’t replace content that wasn’t there in the first place. For any new music that interests me, I buy CDs. I never play them, not even once. I rip them to my music library and then once a bunch has piled up I send them on to my brother. He still likes to use a CD player. Best of luck with your musical adventure! Above all, whether LP or CD, enjoy the music.
  4. It's a tenuous connection, so please bear with me but in this case I vote for Brigadoon, from 1954. My wife loves musicals, even better if there's lots of dancing involved. I was listening to The Waterboys, The Whole of the Moon from This Is The Sea - released in 1985.. "I saw a rain dirty valley, You saw Brigadoon...." Turning to my wife I asked her what's Brigadoon? Well, nothing would do but that was quickly ordered and then cued up for Friday night at the movies. It was a good movie, if you like that sort of thing. Lots of singing and dancing.
  5. You know, I can't say that I blame most folks for getting rid of their turntable. And I've always wondered how many of them were ever setup correctly in the first place. Over the years I've accumulated all of the test and setup tools that I need to do a proper setup, but it takes time, skill and patience - and a budget. I despair at the kids buying those cheap $100 turntables and playing their $30 records on them. One play, and it's likely ruined. For me, even with all the albums recorded I can't think of why I would want to get rid of my turntable. It's still a marketable item but as bluesman stated, there's nothing quite like playing a high quality recording while enjoying your favorite beverage. Why, I might even pull out the single malt instead of the everyday blended stuff.
  6. I suppose we all came at things from a different angle. My motivation for recording all of my LPs (about 1,500) was twofold. First, as part of a downsizing exercise I didn't want to move them ever again. Secondly, sometimes being a bit lazy and not wanting to play an LP I found the convenience of a music server and remote control a highly attractive option. I also found that the sound quality from the LPs was better or certainly no worse than a CD of the same title. From a cost savings perspective, being able to record an LP I already had as opposed to buying the CD or a download just made a lot of sense. As an aside, some of my father's 10" Jazz LPs that had been heavily played were made listenable by being able to run a crackle filter to clean them up once they were recorded. And, of course, a lot of those would not be available as a CD or download. I do think that anyone contemplating digitizing their LPs should start with how many they need to do and what level of quality they hope to achieve. That decision making process will determine the budget needed to accomplish that goal. I've always had a much better than average turntable and cartridge and have all the tools to do a proper setup. For me the issue was finding a good recorder - I ended up with a Korg MR-2000S, which was intended for use as a final two-track digitizer in a studio for the plant ready recording. That being said, I think it took over 5 years to record everything with a "normal" play schedule. I did learn not to record everything from the same artist sequentially - after 7 Lou Reed records in a row it wears a bit thin. I kept track of what was recorded with another field in my LP database, and also did an old school inventory sticker on the LP outer sleeve. Blue dot? Already been done.
  7. StephenJK

    The Quest

    If you use Roon on occasion, then you might want to consider going to a NUC and storing your music on an external USB drive rather than using a NAS. It's a simple and direct way of accessing your music without a lot of network jumps for the music to get from a server to your DAC. If you have hardware that is Roon Ready that will certainly optimize the sound quality, particularly if you have Roon Ready hardware. Let us know how it works out for you!
  8. Edit: Sorry, the Monitor Out jacks are for video, no audio. For audio, use the CDR/Tape Out jacks. What you may want to do is pick up something like this NAD unit: https://www.amazon.com/NAD-PP4-Digital-Phono-Preamplifier/dp/B00DUJRGNC/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 It's designed specifically for what you want to do.
  9. It would be better if you used the Monitor Out jacks, that's what they're for - to record anything that's being played without the volume control and other processing having any effect. Without getting into the technical stuff of things, how many LP's do you have and what condition are they in? At the end of the day, the quality of your recording is dependent on your turntable, cartridge and phono stage. There's nothing wrong with your turntable or receiver, but there's nothing magical about 24 bit digital either. Going back to before the Netscape and Mosaic days, remember that sign in every computer room. GIGO
  10. You can be as insulting as you like, it makes little difference to me and unfortunately is becoming only too common here. Disagree with someone? Insult them. It's cheap and it's poorly done. As I mentioned to others, my bona fides and experience with design/build of anything was never intended to be a topic of discussion and won't be. Case closed, because it just doesn't matter. If you, and so many others actually went back and read the OP, it was with a detailed and specific focus on outboard linear power supplies only, not that you seem to know or care. And, how any linear power supply based on an old school breadboard diode/filter network could or would compare to some overpriced boutique variation that does the same thing for tens or hundreds the cost. And, because this is supposedly an audiophile forum, and not an Electrical Engineering association, how that could possibly affect the sound. The fact that some decided to migrate into software modelling and switch mode power supplies has nothing to do with the original topic. Stick to the topic, or start one of your own choice. Cheap shots, ignorant remarks - too much of that here lately.
  11. I'm guessing pedantic is your middle name. Whether ferrite core or bead for RF filtering, there is also a choke coil as part of an RC network to filter the output of a power supply. Edit: It took some doing, as I've never done it before, but i managed to add you to something called an ignore list. Ah. Peace, blissful silence. The birds twittering, the chipmunks chirping, not a care in the world.
  12. Gentlemen, I think we're talking about two different things. A ferrite bead is a passive device installed on the outside of an interconnect and that will absorb RF interference. A choke, or choke coil is part of an active RC circuit generally used in power supplies.
  13. I threw mine away, had about 1,000 of them and didn't want to move them yet again. I'm in Canada and the laws are a bit different but along the same lines. However, my thought is what was the intent of that law in the first place? I rip the CDs that I bought, throw them away and keep the music. Who's been harmed? The record labels, who lobbied to have a blank cassette tape tax and a VHS tape tax, and laws that "if you don't own the physical copy you can't keep the music?" Those guys? I couldn't care less about them or their protectionist self interest groups. When people say "But Stephen, you can't keep a recording of the music if you don't have a physical copy" my answer is "Thank you for your thoughts." Laws are written for a reason, but too often seem to be to support a specific group like the Disney Corporation with a copyright on Mickey Mouse that should have expired in 1984. For anyone interested here's an interesting link: https://lucentem.com/2018/12/05/disney-vs-the-public-domain-how-mickey-mouse-continues-to-protect-his-copyright/#:~:text=When%20Mickey%20Mouse's%20copyright%20protections,symbols%20used%20to%20identify%20the Many of the oldtimers here will remember how Microsoft, Lotus 123, Adobe, Autodesk and other software developers would get up on their hind legs every year and bleat about how "piracy" was costing them incredible harm and surely any right thinking government would pass laws to make this kind of behavior subject to some stern penalties and jail time to discourage other miscreants. Their projections on revenue lost were based on supposedly how many people had a pirated copy. What nobody ever questioned was if anyone with a pirated copy would have ever bought it in the first place. If the answer is no, then you haven't lost anything.
  14. Alex, Max and Jax have been on a raw meat diet since about a year old. Pork tenderloin and chicken breast, cut and frozen with Performatrin Ultra can in the mornings to make up for what not eating a mouse doesn't provide. Maybe we should start a thread about suitable diets for cats? Be well, Stephen
  15. John, Always appreciate your thoughts. My father was a Mining Engineer and retired as a Mine Manager. The most telling point that he ever said and that I remember is that "An engineer is someone who can do for 10 cents that anyone else can do for a dollar". Know your materials, do your calculations, extrapolate a finite lifespan, determine a cost and then work out a build plan. A designer essentially can be the same person without the legal liability. Stephen
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