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Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby AndreaT » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:29 am

An Audiophile Grade Multi-curve RIAA Equalizer/De-emphaser for Microgroove 33 & 45 and old 78 RPM Vinyl Records Reproduction and/or Restoration

Is finally a great day for anybody willing to have a fully-programmable state of the art Digital Phono Preamp for perfect Vinil Restoration, or simply (like many I know) to get rid of the old vacuum-tube preamplifier, sounding good, but having only one, or just a few, RIAA presets and taking one hour to warm-up.

Finally the DSP technology and its related algorithms have made the so far expected leap-frong far away from the loved analog technology.
Phase coherent FIR and phase-corrected IIR, along with 64/80 bit computational accuracy, allow to listen today what was simply impossible before.
Better dynamic range and faster transients, along with capability to replicate any Phono Equalization (and correct it as needed by the wearing condition of the played record) get-out details never heard before (hidden among the vinyl groove and the analog phono equalizer).

All those make this "tool" a must-have for any True Audiophile and for anyone involved with Vinyl Recording Restoration/Archiving.


As of today (this post update and correct my previous one), the following Audiophile Grade implementation of Phono Equalizations / De-emphasis Curves are available:

Versions optimized for 44.1 kHz sampling (good also for 48 kHz sampling):
- Official Standard RIAA (1964)
- IEC RIAA (IEC 60098) (1974)
- AT IEC RIAA (2012) - Own optimized version to digitally reduce hum & rumble
- Official Standard NAB (1948)
- FFRR (1949), also called FFRR49, used in many 78 rpm
- FFRR LP (1953), also called FFRR53
- CCIR (1956), also called CCIR56

Versions optimized for 96 kHz sampling:
- eRIAA (1995), also called IEC RIAA with Neumann Correction (1995)
- AT eRIAA (2012) - Own optimized version to digitally reduce hum & rumble


For only 19 Euro you can have the basic 44.1 kHz RIAA listed EQs configurations and 1 year maintenance support (any optimization and or adjustment to new MOTU FW version release).
For additional 19 Euro you can have also the 96 kHz eRIAA listed EQs configurations and 1 year maintenance support (any optimization and or adjustment to new MOTU FW version release).
For additional 29 Euro you can have the 44.1 kHz NAB, FFRR and CCIR listed EQs configurations and 1 year maintenance support (any optimization and or adjustment to new MOTU FW version release).

The EQ settings are provided as XML configuration files to be imported or hand copied (the EQ section only) into your default/target configuration.

The current implementations have been done and tested using a new MOTU 896 mk3 Hybrid and can work with the MOTU devices that fully support the MOTU Vintage Parametric EQ (i.e.: the new 896 mk3, 828 mk3, UltraLite mk3 and all the legacy and older having the same parametric EQ).

In the coming weeks will be available on demand all the other known 44 different phono equalizations used so far worldwide for the 78 rpm recording.

For further details and purchase you can visit my personal web site https://sites.google.com/site/tarasconiprojects/ or write to me, Andrea Tarasconi (andrea dot tarasconi at gmail dot com).
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby rhythm_kitchen » Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:38 am

http://www.jasmineaudio.net/lp2.html

This unit is about $500 new. Note the external power supply!!!!!

Radioshack once sold just a step-up discrete metal box phono-pre to line level for about $60. It even had a ground to chassis connector. It opens with a single screw and is Faraday Shielded and may be a good bread board.

Why so many acoustical physicists built their own Dynaco kits!!!! You can't measure accurately resister values (matching channels or cross-overs per pair) when soldered to a pre existing circuit board... or make modifications as easily without the Dynaco supplied the schematics.

Also I am hearing Burr-Brown op amps.

Here's another roll your own with the old Grado phono pre schematics (which had been intentionally 'gooped' to hide their components).

Roll your own?

http://beavishifi.com/articles/phono-preamps/

Or another pre-built retail unit around 450 USD (Burr Brown op amps)
http://www.whiplashaudio.com/creek-obh- ... ifier.html

http://www.high-endaudio.com/RC-PhonoStages.html

Note: Dynaco and the Citation Series (Harmon Kardon) these were all designed by the genius A. Stewart Hegeman. NAD makes a 'discrete' module now you have to purchase separately for their 'over-seas' built receivers.

I have a NAD hand-built but the dang pots need replacing as it is illegal to sell Carbon tetra-chloride. Deoxite didn't last long. And I have both a Thorens and Technics neither of which play 78s. Anyone want an perfect condition Al Jolson 78 acetate? Nah, it's not the very rare collectors label but still unscratched... heck looks to be unplayed... in brown manilla sleeve. So sleeve art when did that begin? Just a punched hole to view the paste on round label.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby rhythm_kitchen » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:55 am

http://www.phonopreamps.com/index.html

TC-760LC; = to the NAD PP-2?

BTW- the Jasmine unit looks exactly like that other Burr-Brown op-amp unit I had lost the bookmark. Designed or built in Taiwan but in black w/ exactly the same external DC power unit. I haven't heard it, but I may have a reason now to send my NAD hand-built receiver back in a second time this time for new pots (after I had replaced caps and a burned resistor). Then ditch the Technics for the old Thorens. TEAC heavy platter CD players DO sound better. Less bit errors and faster CRC (I'm certain the Mark Levinson amp helped, or the better DAC). How many turntables out there that can still play 78s? My Thorens is old, as in the '70s. If Puigchild is vintage with a 24/96k S/DIF then this is an antique. Watch WAVES release a plugin if they haven't already for RIAA curves?
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby rhythm_kitchen » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:46 am

...speaking of WAVES anyone buy inphase? Cause 'shift' happens? Curious how these so-called stereo audiophile records look? Anyone?

http://www.lpgear.com/product/ATPEQ3.html (AT phono-pre $99 USD list)
or this
http://www.phonopreamps.com/TC-760LCpp.html

Maybe I could 'score' some Carbon Tetra-Chloride on the QUE-T?

I love the Beavis link two up, re DIY el cheapo phono pre. And my French ain't beaucoup so I can't find the Grado schematics. I do remember using Grado cartridges as well as AKG. But dang it is or was hard to find the proper stylus year ago. Almost as hard as a Rhodes Piano tine... or Wurly reed.

Now my Technics table (I noticed another poster mentioned this unit) has a Pickering cartridge, but it is tiny compared to the AKG (but no mention of MM, or MC. Need a Shure stylus too.

Just to say, compared to a tube Scott/Fisher/Dynaco tube phono pre my supposedly hi-end 'audiophile' Technics Integrated Amp and onboard phono pre truly sucks.

Why would waiting an hour to warm up tubes be a hassle compared to the harsh edge these old school transistor designs add? Not like CMOS of today.

This is not an EQ problem as another poster stated correctly (which if incorrect adds phase distortion). In Ken Hamann's learned opinion these early discrete designs added enharmonic distortion. Ck the AES archives of 'White Papers'... again search string: Harmoni Mundi Acoustica Society.

Oh FWIW: Tonelux is using Burr-Brown Op-Amps.

...and I have a real vintage tube mono amp with phono pre. Not like the Puigchild, the phono settings are:

Lp, RIAA, Eur (Europe) can anyone decipher these settings?
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat May 12, 2012 4:47 pm

I bought the Radial J33 last month and just got around to testing it today. Unless someone can find a way out of my dilemma, I am going to have to sell it and then go ahead and buy the Graham Slee GramAmp Communicator after all.

The problem is that the output is WAY too hot. I don't own any in-line microphone attenuators as I prefer to use the cut switch on the microphone itself (when available) or apply in-line attenuation at the output stage going from the mic pre-amp to the ADDA, but even with a -15 dB attenuator in-line at the output stage, I am in the red non-stop.

The True Precision 8 can't go to zero gain and starts around 10-15 dB gain, as do most pro units (I'm pretty sure this is a design limitation when providing over 60 dB of gain as the dynamic range is more of a limiting factor than the maximum output gain, other than of course for how far you can push it with clean gain before it breaks up).

I have a couple of other pre-amps that can bypass that initial gain stage, but only if coming in with 1/4" unbalanced, and the J33 uses XLR balanced outs so it's not a recommended conversion going into the interface or pre-amp stage.

I am convinced that buying some in-line input attenuators won't solve the problem, even with the output attenuators also engaged -- it is clear that the J33 is pumping out levels that are more than 45 dB too hot for ADDA input. Not to mention that anything I do is going to be less than ideal from a gain staging point of view.

Having said that, I was blown away by how much better things sounded through the J33 than on CD or through my older Bryston .5B audio pre-amp that I sold last year (it was almost 25 years old, but still very hi-fi).

I deliberately chose a second-hand American pressing (Gang of Four's album with "I Love a Man in a Uniform"), for what I thought would be the least flattering comparison, as my starting point. Night and day: the vinyl has way more musical a sound image, dynamic range, etc. Too much sibilance due to a budget phonograph needle and the distortion in the signal path, of course. But otherwise, an eye-opener.

I am sure the Graham Slee product sounds even better. I just thought the Radial would be great (it is, except for levels), and it's something I could easily rack. Plus, I'm no longer an audiophile and just want reasonable quality when archiving vinyl-only material that never made it to the digital domain (especially obscure artists, local talent from various residences, and stuff members of my own family recorded back in the day).

I'll check now to see if the Graham Slee products even have an attenuator knob or not. It just didn't occur to me the Radial would be so hot (though their FAQ does mention it's a hot output). I think the J33 is targeted primarily towards DJ's, so maybe with the type of gear DJ's use this is an acceptable output level.

I'm aware of the Little Labs product but would rather not go that route. I'm wondering more about people's experience with in-line input attenuators used before the mic gain stage and whether they degrade quality as well as which ones are best and what the largest practical or acceptable quality attenuation level is that is available currently.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat May 12, 2012 6:05 pm

The Graham Slee Communicator has no trim knob either. I thought it might as it is hi-fi vs. pro audio oriented.

Looks like in-line attenuators are the way to go.

Whirlwind is the only one that make any that go to 40 dB and higher, as far as I can tell.

But this one from Audio-Technica, with switchability between -10 dB, -20 dB and -30 dB has my vote:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/68085-REG/Audio_Technica_AT8202_AT8202_In_Line_Attenuator.html

I just have a bit more faith in the audio quality of the Audio Technica unit, even though Whirlwind is a brand that I trust for cables and some other categories of accessories.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat May 12, 2012 6:10 pm

The only attenuators I see that might be higher quality are the ones from Earthworks:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/491922-REG/Earthworks_LP1530_LP1530_In_Line_Attenuator.html

Given the similarity in the range from Audio Technica, Shure, and Whirlwind, I would go with Audio Technica, but I did confirm that only Whirlwind goes up to -40 dB attenuation.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat May 12, 2012 7:19 pm

I ordered two of the Audio Technica attenuators from B+H Photo Video just as the 24 hours Jewish holiday came to an end tonight, so they should arrive by Friday of this coming week.

If this solves my gain staging problem with the Radial J33, I'll go ahead and buy the Radial JPC for restoration of my cassettes and also for live theatrical stage shows where we use an iPod.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat May 26, 2012 11:47 am

My AT attenuators arrived earlier this week and I finally found a chance to test them out today.

These do the trick. In fact, I only really need to go to the -20 dB setting vs. the full -30 dB setting, for best gain-matching with the audio interface after the mic pre-amp stage (which is set at minimum, +16 dB).

I may look into more ideal gain-staging later on, as I always hate the idea of trim+gain, but right now this seems more transparent than going through a DI box after the Radial J33 phono pre-amp stage.

I used The The's 12" mix of "Uncertain Smile" at 45 rpm, as I knew that would be hotter than a standard American 33-1/3 rpm vinyl album. I next tried Public Image Ltd's long 12" mix of "Seattle" (also at 45 rpm, and a super-hot 12" import single), with levels always staying below -6 dBFS in Digital Performer.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby rhythm_kitchen » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:02 pm

I know you tried XLR to t/r/s, but what about plugging t/s half way in the mic pre at its insert? That would be unbalanced but still low-z line level.

Curious what cartridge are you using? Can one still buy needles for the old Shures?
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby mhschmieder » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:51 pm

Well, I foolishly sold my glass Rega turntable with Grado cartridge when I moved to the West Coast in late '91, thinking earthquakes would make vinyl playing impractical (I actually thought the region was constantly experiencing tremors), along with giving my entire vinyl collection to my sisters.

After it became clear most under-appreciated (or local) music would never make it to the digital realm, I bought a cheap turntable and cartridge without worrying about the audiophile aspects, but am impressed by the quality. It's just a Stanton turntable and cartridge combo, bought in the mid-90's. Nothing special, really. Better than most 70's budget systems though.
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Re: Affordable phono preamps for vinyl restoration?

Postby rhythm_kitchen » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:38 pm

You'd need line level t/s to use the insert method. So that means unbalanced :(

Seems odd that this was so common place?

Speaking of,

I have "Escalator Over the Hill" in the stack: Jack Bruce and Carla Bley. Maybe it's time to have another listen!

(added) Thorens drive belts, etc http://www.audioadvisor.com/products.asp?dept=325
http://www.edsaunders.com/shurestylus.htm
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