Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $1,699 AT A GLANCE Plus Newly engineered from the ground up Exceptional pitch stability Includes 78 rpm speed Minus DJ features are irrelevant for most users Detachable headshell may limit tonearm performance No factory-installed cartridge option THE VERDICT Technics&rsquo;s reborn legendary DJ turntable is now a better bet than ever for home audiophile use, but no longer quite the bargain it once was. Way back in the May 2010 issue of Sound &amp; Vision, I compared three sub-$1,000 turntables, including one that I felt was a bit of a rebellious choice for the audiophile listener. Over its nearly 40 years of production, the Technics SL-1200 series had morphed from one of the top models in the company&rsquo;s industry-leading range of audiophile direct-drive turntables into a deck that was aimed squarely at the club and DJ market.
Those who grew up in the age of vinyl LP records remember that preparing for the listening experience was an artform in itself. Ceremoniously removing the LP from the sleeve, while gently grasping the edge of the album, fingertips kept oh-so-carefully away from the surface lest a fingerprint mar the surface. The precise application of disc-washing solution to the luxurious velvet of the cleaning pad, followed by the virtuoso swipe of the pad across the grooves. The placement of the stylus on the record required finesse - a person was judged by how silently and gently the needle was placed on the disc.
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $599 AT A GLANCE Plus Good-quality manual belt-drive turntable Built-in hi-res analog-to-digital converter Built-in phono preamp Simple user setup Minus Additional software needed to play recorded files Manual metadata collection for recorded files THE VERDICT With analog and hi-res digital outputs, and a built-in phono preamp, the Sony PS-HX500 has what you need to bring your vinyl collection into the 21st century digital world. Detractors love to say that the current resurgence of vinyl is nothing but a bunch of bearded hipsters with Crosley Cruisers, trying to look cool in their mid-century bachelor pads. There is, however, one surefire way to tell the difference between a fad and a real movement, and that&rsquo;s when the big boys stop snickering from the sidelines and decide to start playing along.
ACROSS THE CONTINENT, thousands are taking part in an almost-forgotten rite. It melds advanced technology, knowledge handed down through the decades, and a little dose of black magic. As most rituals do, it appalls many nonbelievers, but that fact only makes its practitioners relish it more.
Carbon fiber is included in all sorts of products, sometimes for absurd and cynical reasons. My Philips Arcitec electric razor, for example, has carbon fiber trim on its sides. The carbon fiber doesn’t lighten or stiffen the razor, much less improve my shave. It merely adds cachet. Call me unromantic, but I don’t need my razor to evoke images of F1 cars and high-tech jets.So why should you care that Pro-Ject dolled up its new Debut Carbon turntable with a carbon fiber tonearm?
It’s a ritual. You hear audiophiles claim how great vinyl sounds, but you never quite buy into it. Then you finally hear your first good turntable, and you’re hooked. In my case, it was a Rega Planar 3, demo’d by Sound+Vision contributing writer Ken Korman. Back in 1991, I spent an evening at Ken’s checking out old sides by the likes of Miles Davis and Todd Rundgren, in each case marveling at how different the sound was from the CD.The reason many audiophiles get their start with a Rega is that Regas deliver above-average performance at below-average prices. The new RP6 is a great example.
There’s some debate among vinylphiles about whether USB phono preamps need to exist, but I for one am glad they do. When I bring home my latest haul of vinyl from Amoeba Records, I love being able to plug a laptop straight into my NAD PP 3 to make quick MP3s of albums I like so I can listen to them on my smartphone. (Sacrilege!) It’s easier than making an analog connection, and it bypasses the lousy analog-to-digital converter built into my laptop.With the Zphono-USB, Parasound brings new versatility and features to the USB phono pre concept.
After having been declared dead sometime back in the 1990s, analog turntables and vinyl records have made a strong comeback in recent years. That's great, but for people who come from the CD or iPod generations, it's hard to comprehend just how tweaky the world of analog playback can be. Unlike a CD player or iPod which you simply connect and play, most turntables require careful optimization to deliver the best possible sound.
I’d had my AR ES-1 turntable for about 20 years when a tenant burned my house — and the turntable and about 3,000 records — to the ground the one time I decided to rent it. If this sad story has a silver lining, it’s that it sent me back into the world of vinyl and turntables.
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest&nbsp;is growing up. A few years ago, it was known as a gathering of small (sometimes one-man) companies demonstrating exotic (sometimes downright wacky) audio products. Some of those guys are still there, but so now are most of the better-known high-end audio companies.