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  1. #1

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    Cool Exotic-Wood SOTA Star Sapphire w/ rare tonearm (pics, 56K=>die)

    Yay, my first vinyl rig! The table is vintage late 80's, wood is Koa (which is now an endangered species, lol). The arm is a Fidelity Research FR-64fx. Phonostage (not pictured) is a Dynavector P75.

    I've got a few various used records on hand. First impressions - it sounds pretty good. For most of these records it's give/take vs. the CD versions on a high-end ($1K-$3K) digital player. The vinyl has much more liquid mids, soundstage is also a bit more expansive, but more notably instruments are placed more naturally within that space. Treble is smoother than digital, perhaps a bit rolled off though. Where the digital excels so far, is in microdynamics, PRaT, and bass slam. Digital is a bit more fatiguing though, and has a harder, more "glassy" feel to it. I think based on the qualities, vinyl might be the ideal medium for classical/opera. Rock will pose a tougher decision. Though I'd also think older rock recordings (with harsh, heavy-handed L/R spearation) might benefit greatly from the more natural imaging of vinyl. I do have one very clean, audiophile half-speed master Billy Joel record that just sounds stunning - definitely a cut above everything else. Wish everything sounded that good :D

    Pics:










    Oh, and here's a pic of the vacuum pump unit that hooks into the table:
    Last edited by mulveling; 05-03-2007 at 02:28 AM.
    Tannoy Dimension TD10, SOTA Star Sapphire, Heathkit W4A's, McIntosh MC2100, Eddie-Current Zana Deux, Singlepower SDS, Sennheiser HD650, Audio-Technica L3000, Sony Qualia 010

  2. #2
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    Nice snag!!! I remember Sota Sapphires, they were/are not only beautiful but had a nice rich, rounded sound to them. My buddy still has one.

    Too bad, I just recently gave Audiobliss my Sota record clamp, it would have been a perfect fit for you new gem of a table.

    I also remember that tonearm and I remember reading somewhere someone, probably one of the big rags TAS or Stereophile, mentioned removing the finger hook to get a cleaner sound from the arm. What the heck it's worth the try.

    I'm a little green with envy. . .that is one beauty!

    How do you like the Benz?

    I remember the vacuum pump being a little noisy and Sota making a an extension that allowed the pump and mechanism to be placed in a different room. . . does yours have that capability?

    Looking again and my goodness that is a beautiful piece of work!!!!
    Last edited by hearingimpared; 05-03-2007 at 03:05 AM.

  3. #3

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    Beautiful table!
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  4. #4

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    That's ssssswwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttt.
    engtaz

    I love how music can brighten up a bad day.

  5. #5

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    Very nice.

  6. #6
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    Beautiful -- enjoy!
    • Innersound Eros MK III hybrid ESL - Innersound Bass/Active Crossover amp - Sanders Sound ESL amp
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  7. #7

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    Well since posting this thread I've become a full fledged vinyl convert - the table/arm/cart/phono combo sounds sublime. Here's a rundown of the more noteworthy digital sources I've owned:
    Meridian G08
    Sony SCD-1
    Denon DVD-3910
    Jolida JD100a w/ NOS tubes
    Bel Canto DAC2

    I'll easily take the SOTA over any of them. Most of the music I like is 70's & 80's, and that's were he bulk of inexpensive used vinyl is. Most of this used vinyl I've bought ranges anywhere from slightly better than their CD counterparts, to significantly better.

    For example: Jethro Tull's Aqualung was much more engaging last night than I've ever heard it - a significant improvement over the CD "digitally remastered" counterpart. Missing Persons' Spring Sessions M was also a bit nicer than the same tracks on CD (Classic Masters) - not as striking as the difference with Aqaualung, but still very much appreciated. "Organic", "Warm", and "Enveloping" are the key words I'd use to describe the vinyl sound versus CD. Also, drums are especially "striking" on vinyl - CD just didn't render them with the same body & realism - actually percussion in general is much better on vinyl IMO. Also, it's worth noting that the above were CDs I'd listented to many times on the Meridian G08.
    Tannoy Dimension TD10, SOTA Star Sapphire, Heathkit W4A's, McIntosh MC2100, Eddie-Current Zana Deux, Singlepower SDS, Sennheiser HD650, Audio-Technica L3000, Sony Qualia 010

  8. #8

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    Gorgeous man.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  9. #9

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    Damn, I was thinking about saving up for a Thorens table cuz I like the wood look for most of them. But, yours is almost out of this world beautiful.

    Not looking for specific numbers, but, generally, how much would a table of this caliber cost? I got the MF A3.2 because it came with a phono input just so I could get a decent table one day. I might just get a junker to start learning about vinyl and experimenting while I save for something nicer.
    Stereo Rig: Hales Revelation 3, Musical Fidelity CD-Pre 24, Forte Model 3 amp, Lexicon RT-10 SACD, MMF-5 w/speedbox, Forte Model 2 Phono Pre, Cardas Crosslink, APC H15, URC MX-950, Lovan Stand
    Bedroom: Samsung HPR-4252, Toshiba HD-A2, HK 3480, Signal Cable, AQ speaker cable, Totem Dreamcatchers, SVS PB10-NSD, URC MX-850

  10. #10

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    Yeah.. I'm going to have to side with Andy on this one. That table is flat-out gorgeous. Congrats!
    I never had it like this where I grew up. But I send my kids here because the fact is you go to one of the best schools in the country: Rushmore. Now, for some of you it doesn't matter. You were born rich and you're going to stay rich. But here's my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it. Thank you.Herman Blume - Rushmore

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveling View Post
    Well since posting this thread I've become a full fledged vinyl convert - the table/arm/cart/phono combo sounds sublime. Here's a rundown of the more noteworthy digital sources I've owned:
    Meridian G08
    Sony SCD-1
    Denon DVD-3910
    Jolida JD100a w/ NOS tubes
    Bel Canto DAC2

    I'll easily take the SOTA over any of them. Most of the music I like is 70's & 80's, and that's were he bulk of inexpensive used vinyl is. Most of this used vinyl I've bought ranges anywhere from slightly better than their CD counterparts, to significantly better.

    EDIT: I forgot your friggin table is absolutely gorgeous. . .
    For example: Jethro Tull's Aqualung was much more engaging last night than I've ever heard it - a significant improvement over the CD "digitally remastered" counterpart. Missing Persons' Spring Sessions M was also a bit nicer than the same tracks on CD (Classic Masters) - not as striking as the difference with Aqaualung, but still very much appreciated. "Organic", "Warm", and "Enveloping" are the key words I'd use to describe the vinyl sound versus CD. Also, drums are especially "striking" on vinyl - CD just didn't render them with the same body & realism - actually percussion in general is much better on vinyl IMO. Also, it's worth noting that the above were CDs I'd listented to many times on the Meridian G08.

    You are definitely hooked!!! and you are sooooo right on about Aqualung. The thing I get for more realistic sounding on vinyl is on drums, when the drummer is strumming or rolling the sound coming off the drums is like shaking a box of rock salt.
    Last edited by hearingimpared; 05-09-2007 at 04:11 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyGwis View Post
    Damn, I was thinking about saving up for a Thorens table cuz I like the wood look for most of them. But, yours is almost out of this world beautiful.

    Not looking for specific numbers, but, generally, how much would a table of this caliber cost? I got the MF A3.2 because it came with a phono input just so I could get a decent table one day. I might just get a junker to start learning about vinyl and experimenting while I save for something nicer.
    To hell with the junker, get a good entry level table and continue saving for the good table. When you're ready, you will be able to sell the entry level table. . . from what I've read recently, Rega's P1 is a new $350 entry table with tonearm and cartridge. I'm not home right now so I don't have access to my mags. . . but I did post this infor in the 2 ch thread somewhere.

  13. #13

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    My Pro-ject Debut III has done me right as a starter table $300 new. Andy... you spend more than that on hookers and blow in a night:D

    Mul and/or HI
    Pardon my ignorance of all things "turntable", but what is the point of that vacuum pump unit?

  14. #14

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    Andy... you spend more than that on hookers and blow in a night
    If that was true, it would still mean I'd have to give up said hookers and blow for a whole night to afford the Project III.

    I've never had reason to try the vaccuum pump unit myself, but I'd guess most of those enlargements methods are pretty ineffective.
    Stereo Rig: Hales Revelation 3, Musical Fidelity CD-Pre 24, Forte Model 3 amp, Lexicon RT-10 SACD, MMF-5 w/speedbox, Forte Model 2 Phono Pre, Cardas Crosslink, APC H15, URC MX-950, Lovan Stand
    Bedroom: Samsung HPR-4252, Toshiba HD-A2, HK 3480, Signal Cable, AQ speaker cable, Totem Dreamcatchers, SVS PB10-NSD, URC MX-850

  15. #15

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    That SOTA gives ME wood.

    The vacuum sucks the vinyl onto the platter.

    Just a note to you guys who may be thinking about purchasing one, the original box/packing isn't optional. There is an integral suspension lock and without it the chances are good you will wind up in deep shiite.

    Personally, and I've said this before, if you want to go vinyl and are serious about having it be a high quality format....you will not get out of it cheap.

    Nothing inherently 'wrong' with an entry level table and they give you an idea of what vinyl is all about but, honestly, for 350....it doesn't compete with good digital. The there is the whole 'clean' vinyl issue.]

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  16. #16

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    The wood looks like it matches your Grados, too!

  17. #17

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    Congrats you rat bastard!!!:D

    Looking good my man...looking way good!:D

  18. #18

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    Now that is a piece of gear worth displaying. Congrats.
    Michael ;)
    In the beginning, all knowledge was new!

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD View Post
    The there is the whole 'clean' vinyl issue.]

    BDT
    . . . and if you are the least bit serious about vinyl the "whole clean vinyl issue" will cost more than a $350 Rega!!! You should never, ever play a dirty record. Doing so will weld the dirt to the grooves and also fuse to the stylus thus really making things sound like muddified dog ****.
    Last edited by hearingimpared; 05-09-2007 at 09:26 PM.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveling View Post
    Yay, my first vinyl rig! The table is vintage late 80's, wood is Koa (which is now an endangered species, lol). The arm is a Fidelity Research FR-64fx. Phonostage (not pictured) is a Dynavector P75.

    I've got a few various used records on hand. First impressions - it sounds pretty good. For most of these records it's give/take vs. the CD versions on a high-end ($1K-$3K) digital player. The vinyl has much more liquid mids, soundstage is also a bit more expansive, but more notably instruments are placed more naturally within that space. Treble is smoother than digital, perhaps a bit rolled off though. Where the digital excels so far, is in microdynamics, PRaT, and bass slam. Digital is a bit more fatiguing though, and has a harder, more "glassy" feel to it. I think based on the qualities, vinyl might be the ideal medium for classical/opera. Rock will pose a tougher decision. Though I'd also think older rock recordings (with harsh, heavy-handed L/R spearation) might benefit greatly from the more natural imaging of vinyl. I do have one very clean, audiophile half-speed master Billy Joel record that just sounds stunning - definitely a cut above everything else. Wish everything sounded that good :D
    ]
    Probably the best description I have seen written on the differences between vinyl and digital media. It is so hard to desribe the differences. It's is like something that is refreshing but you can't descibe it exactly.

    Thanks
    engtaz

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    Quote Originally Posted by engtaz View Post
    Probably the best description I have seen written on the differences between vinyl and digital media. It is so hard to desribe the differences. It's is like something that is refreshing but you can't descibe it exactly.

    Thanks
    engtaz
    I can simplify this even further for you . . . digital sucks, vinyl rules!!!:D

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by hearingimpared View Post
    I can simplify this even further for you . . . digital sucks, vinyl rules!!!:D
    PM'd my address; I just want the DAC and the really well recorded CD's.

    Thanks.
    _________________________________________________
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  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by hearingimpared View Post
    I can simplify this even further for you . . . digital sucks, vinyl rules!!!:D
    Not elegant enough.:D LOL

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by HTrookie View Post
    PM'd my address; I just want the DAC and the really well recorded CD's.

    Thanks.
    There's such a thing as a really well recorded CD? Coulda fooled me.
    Lots of Carver stuff and a pair of LSi9's

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    Quote Originally Posted by HTrookie View Post
    PM'd my address; I just want the DAC and the really well recorded CD's.

    Thanks.
    Sorry, the DAC makes the digital mildly tolerable!!!:p

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    Oh please..................

    always good for a chuckle.

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  27. #27

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    Default Update and Benz Lukaschek PP-1 review

    It's been 3 months, and in that time I've hardly listened to a full CD at home :D

    I've been slowy but steadily building up the LP collection - buying only stuff I know I'll cherish, rather than buying bins and sifting through the junk. So, the LP collection count is at about 125 now.

    I've only made one change to the TT rig itself - I bought a Benz Lukaschek PP1 phono stage and sold off my Dynavector P75.The Benz is an interesting looker; it looks like a solid flat bar, less than 1" tall, of polished chrome. The input/output RCA jacks and grounding terminal are all mounted on the top of the unit (I might try to take pics tonight).

    I didn't have any quibbles with the P75's performance; I snagged the PP1 off audiogon in the hope that it might yield some sort of special synergy with my Benz Glider (low-output version) cart.

    Subbing the PP1 into my system was no huge reveleation, but it was a pleasant surprise. The system is now incrementally smoother than before. I didn't even know this was possible to improve upon; it was already so much smoother and cleaner than any of the digital sources I've owned. Yet, here it is, another thin layer of gritty haze - one that I wasn't even aware of - has been removed from the music with this latest upgrade. The absence of this haze means transients are more crisply defined and hit harder. This gives notes a greater sense of weight and palpability and improves the sense of space, or "air", around each instrument.

    This haze, BTW, is something I've long noticed in various intensities from various gear. I hate hearing this haze. Obviously CD audio wasn't satisfying me in this area, hence the flight to vinyl. In my experience, the worst offenders in this area are components (not just sources) that use op-amps in the signal path. Well designed tube gear is the smoothest, but very well designed SS with all *discrete* transistors can be just about as smooth as tubes. This kind of SS gear can be great stuff, but what tubes still do better, IMO, is to render music with an organic, lush & natural tone, better convey sonic textures, and to more naturally portray spacial information. The tone of the good SS gear I've heard is a bit cooler/colder and has a more clinical/analytical feel to it. Some opamps can give a warmer tone (not like tubes though), but the you have that damned haze to contend with.

    The Benz PP1 phono sounds exactly like good, discrete SS. As well it should, as when I popped the hood I could only see discrete transistors in what looked to be the output stage, not an opamp in sight. The P75, in comparison, appears to employ 2 opamps in the output stage. This is perfectly in line with my observations of other gear. In this case, the difference is incremental, meaning either the P75 is a good implementation of opamps (and it does sound quite good overall) or that the overall impact of the phono stage is somewhat minor once all calibration/setup issues have been addressed. To be fair, the P75 Mk I retailed at $595 and the PP1 at $1350, not an insignificant difference. Another point is that I'm using a Benz cart, not a Dynavector. For sure, the P75 is easily good enough to be part of an *excellent* sounding TT rig.

    So in summary - the Benz Glider L2 and PP1 combo is super! It'll easily take down digital in the sub-$5K range, IMO and IME. At a combined MSRP of about $1795 (they give you a $350 price break when you buy them together), you could spend another $2K-$3K on the TT/arm and have a rig that should spank any digital in that price range :D
    I'm very happy to have pushed my TT rig to an even higher level of performance with a modest additional cash outlay :)
    Last edited by mulveling; 08-02-2007 at 04:59 PM.
    Tannoy Dimension TD10, SOTA Star Sapphire, Heathkit W4A's, McIntosh MC2100, Eddie-Current Zana Deux, Singlepower SDS, Sennheiser HD650, Audio-Technica L3000, Sony Qualia 010

  28. #28
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    Great write up! Thanks.

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    this is what happens
    Last edited by george daniel; 03-17-2008 at 06:47 PM.
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  30. #30

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    Wow, REALLY nice table! Vinyl rules.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

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