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LP and System Synergy

Discussion in 'audio' started by Charlie_1, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Been thinking about this a while but I was unsure so postponed posted a long while. However, I'm more and more convinced that there's a synergy between the era in which an LP was recorded/produced/mastered and playback equipment.

    There's a commonly held belief that we just want the stereo to be 100% neutral and only convey what's on the LP. However, my 1970s LPs sound 'right' on this 70s system in a way that modern systems don't. This old setup (serviced) may be coloured but it seems to be pulling in the same direction as the LP production. Modern stereos are obviously superior in many ways but it's not necessarily how I want to enjoy music from this era. No doubt there's some nostalgia involved but I can't help thinking that all those 1970s production knobs and dials were very much optimised for a home stereo of that time period.

    Anyone else feel the same? What about 1950s and 1960s systems and LPs from those decades?
  2. jimpey

    jimpey pfm Member

    I don't disagree, but wonder if it isn't 'the other way round'.

    There is a well known anecdote isn't there, that members of the Beatles concerned themselves primarily with mono mixes because fans would listen on 'Dansette' type record players and left the stereo mixes to the engineers. Extrapolate that throughout the recording industry and recording / mastering engineers would surely produce a recording synergistic with equipment of the day.

    Equalisation and the loudness wars are perhaps another (more modern) example of the tendency.

    Charlie_1 likes this.
  3. wd40addict

    wd40addict pfm Member

    Definitely some truth in this: my 1920s Columbia is happiest with discs of its era, later ones have too much energy. The 1954 Pye Black Box sounds great with mono LPs and 78s of its era, less convincing with newer material even though cartridge is stereo compatible.
    Charlie_1 likes this.
  4. trick cyclist

    trick cyclist pfm Member

    I think that there is something in this, and related to this idea, I now try to buy music in the form that the mastering was aimed at, so 70s/80s stuff on vinyl if I can find it, more modern stuff on CD/ digital.
    I recently bought a recently half speed remastered Japan album on vinyl; other than the fact that it had an audible pressing error within the vinyl itself, it also sounded no better than my old budget pressing. It has gone back, and I will try the remaster on CD.
    I have yet to try any MoFi etc stuff in my system, finding the point of entry rather expensive!
    Charlie_1 likes this.
  5. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Never thought much of any modern re-issue compared to an early pressing, other than quieter vinyl of course.

    Bernie recons half-speed masters are no good for vinyl:
  6. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Yeah, you could well be right there.

    I'd definitely like to hear the Beatles on a 60s system, especially anything pre-Abbey Road which for me is a kind of line between typical 60s and 70s recordings.
  7. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    It might not be too hard to present an example of a 60's system (not too fancy) and a 2020's one and see what's occurring.

    About 1969/70 maybe a Thorens TD150, with Shure v15?
    Into what? Quad 33/303? Add speakers to taste. I'd suggest Celestions were around a lot. Say Ditton 44's to be about in line with the rest (tho the V15 is a bit pricey I think in this company, but).

    I can just hear that lot now and clean and clinical and every nuance showing it isn't.

    Now spend the modern + on a Rega system.

  8. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    I've had a few; in the latter sixties/early seventies. Most of these decks are still available but the deck wouldn't make a difference. Arms were a bit limited; Decca unipivots, SMEs, Ortofons etc.. Again can be replicated today (not that I'd want to). The Shure and Goldring cart's were in the ascendant, requiring a lower mass arm. The only available m/coil I can think of was the SPU which was an ungainly thing, having its own step-up.

    Poor combo. The TD150 (i had one in '66) was the bounciest of bouncy things and came without an arm and the V15 was the top cart., better suited to the SMEs. Most amplification then was valved or lower level germanium diode (?) trannie amps (Leak, Quad etc. Round about 1970, Revox and the Japanese started to bring out decent amplification. That was the start of cassette decks and John Peel on R2 to record onto open reel.

    Taking my rose-tinted glasses off, I really don't think that older v newer domestic replay kit would change anything. I currently have valves and ESLs; what's changed? Don't forget that recordings used valved amplification AT LEAST up to 1965 and in some cases into the seventies.

    I've records going back to 1958 and, like any other era, they differ in s.q. My 1957 ('58?) LP of High Society is, apart from the first track, stunning on any kit I've had this past decade.

    Gosh but I feel old, having written that !!!!!! Halcyon days, however.
    Nigel likes this.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It is a key reason there are a massive pair of Lockwood studio monitors plonked in the front room. They and very similar Tannoys were the main reference point in the vast majority of UK studios from the 1950s through to the late 80s and beyond both for recording and mastering/cutting. As such a lot of stuff really does sound ‘right’ to my ears. As a contrast I have BBC related mini-monitors (LS3/5As & JR149s) upstairs which sound great on most things, but are kinder to stuff engineered deliberately for small speakers than the Tannoys (which do point out boosted or exaggerated bass in a mix!).

    I am very far from convinced modern stereos are superior. To my mind they are usually more compromised, more designed for ‘lifestyle’, though there is a lot of good stuff in there too. Obviously digital is the big advance of the past 40 years or so and one I enjoy hugely.

    PS FWIW I set my system up using CD and then balance the record deck to that as much as I can. It is a huge mistake to try and do things the other way round! I’m no vinyl evangelist despite being a record dealer, I enjoy all sources and always prioritise good mastering over format.
  10. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    My system is set up to sound best with Vinyl. This makes sense to me as my record player is a lot better than my digital source.
    I think there are a fair few newer speakers that would reduce the gulf between the two, by making the LP sound worse, not by making the digital sound better.
  11. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I find this quite hard to credit. I can listen to music of all eras on vinyl & cd on my current system. Some modern recordings are blighted by compression but I can still enjoy them.

    I am not about to have 8-10 systems matched to each decade. Some eras just sound better regardless of format.
  12. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    It's not that 70s recordings sound bad on modern systems. In many ways they sound better. It's just that there's a 'rightness' about them on a 70s system - something that I didn't know I was missing until I experienced it.

    Someone with an old red button LP12 once said on the Linn forum that they want their 70s LPs to sound like they did in the 70s. That seemed a very strange idea to me at the time - a modern system is more tuneful, clearer, tighter, etc., etc., so what possible benefit would there be in listening on a 50-year old system. But now I think I know what he was getting at.

    It's not a big thing - I just find it surprising and interesting that's all.
  13. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Unfortunately the 70s was where it started to go wrong, poor quality vinyl etc. I think the old pre cirkus LP12 had a certain warmth & flow about it that was very beguiling, I don’t think this just worked on certain decades though.
  14. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Interesting - thanks Tony.

    Only heard Lockwoods once but really liked them.
  15. wylton

    wylton Naim and Mana member

    I think it's a bit more than just music of different eras though, because now, a system has to contend with a multiplicity of source material (LPs, CDs, Tapes, Downloads, Streaming etc). I think it was easier for designers when they only had records to work with! I certainly remember being beguiled by an LP12Grace/Supex/Naim NAC12/NAP 250 /Isobariks system in the Naim room at a hi-fi show many moons ago and being in that room for over an hour just listening to records! Those moments are difficult to capture at home and I often wonder if my system is really any better than it used to be.
  16. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Kind of what I'm using now, albeit with bolt down 160 and Valhalla/Ittok/Adikt instead of original motor/Grace/Supex, but I get a similar impression of synergy when using an old 70s Akai system.

    The 70s synergy thing is lost with my 32.5/CB160 amp or Lingo/Ekos/Adikt deck though.

    Heard mention of a particular capacitor in the bolt down that gives it its character - Elcaps perhaps? Maybe the Akai uses something similar.
  17. wylton

    wylton Naim and Mana member

    I also think it's down to admitting when you made a mistake when you changed a component, rather than trying to make yourself like it. I certainly think, looking back when I had my active Linn Sara system, changing bits that didn't really improve the sound. Right now, I'm trying to get the best out of an active Linn Kans system, with three turntables from the 1960's!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021

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