You are here

Log in or register to post comments
hollowman
hollowman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 55 min 21 sec ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
Review request for new (2010) ELP laser turntable 'High-End Model'

Disappointed that not much more happened with the orig. ELP LT. The company put out a new 'High-End Model' last year:

http://www.elpj.com/

It's worthy of review.

On a side note, does anyone know of any original research on a laser/optics-based analog format? This idea is not new, of course...

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=744893

The old Laserdisc was analog video with (antiquated) FM analog audio. (Digital audio came later for LD). [BTW ... as has been noted by a Stereophile reviewer (can't recall who), the CD (as well as, for that matter, DVD and SACD) are analog carrier formats (I'll let you folks dig out the Stereophile article for that ref!)]. Anyway, along that same "train of thought", coupled with the (ultimate) success of the ELP (i.e., it works and reasonably well; see Fremer's 2003 review), you'd think the audio industry could come up with a format that beats any present-day digital as well as 30ips master analog tapes and fragile&fidelity-limited vinyl. 

BTW2 ... we could wait for quantum computing to come to the rescue (still far off AFAIK). And that means there ain't no such thing as "analog" (continuous) -- never was, never will be if the Standard Model and other Modern Physics theories continue to hold true.

Drtrey3
Drtrey3's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
I think

the problem is error correction. Dust tracks as an annoying pop on those tables so far as I know. Some judicious air flow and reading the data into a buffer where the "pop" could be corrected to modulate between the preceeding and following data would work I bet. But reading that great vinyl data without touching it would be WAY cool.

Trey

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Well...........

From what I recall it was like using a blow torch to light a candle: Expensive, over engineered, no discernable added value and more finicky. Get yourself a good VPI and be done with it. Why add a laser to a physical medium that then has to translate it to an analogue wave? Dumb.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
No digitizing

According to the ELP site there is no A to D and consequently no D to A conversion of the analog signal. They say the signal stays analog from start to finish. I would buy one were it within my means. 

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Read the review

They did a t least one review way back in the 90's I believe and it was not exactly favorable. You actually got a lot more noise from the surface than standard needles and pickup. It didn't track all that well either and at the time, for 10 grand didn't any sound better than 'tables and cartridge combos costing a lot less money. The entire thing sounded like a guy's hobby idea allowed to go much too far.

WillWeber
WillWeber's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 1 week ago
Joined: Nov 11 2010 - 7:54am
evolution advantage
dbowker wrote:

They did a t least one review way back in the 90's I believe and it was not exactly favorable. You actually got a lot more noise from the surface than standard needles and pickup. It didn't track all that well either and at the time, for 10 grand didn't any sound better than 'tables and cartridge combos costing a lot less money.

That's my recollection too of the original reviews. Does this new generation design do any better (at twice the price)?

However, we must put into perspective that the amount of development and evolution into conventional phonography likely is at least 1000x (my guess) that of this laser approach; having benefitted from many product generations, among many competing companies, over many decades. The mechanical systems are really quite refined and it amazes me how well they perform.

The optical approach is not fundamentally flawed, and provides many advantages in principle. I suspect that if the amount of development effort were allowed to grow to just 10x the present, we’d see superior results. It is surprising that this machine works as well as it reportedly does, considering the novelty of it. The high cost has more to do with the low volumes andproduct immaturity, as would a CD player if only one company had expended the R&D and developed minimal generations. I think it would be exciting to see what continued evolution of optical vinyl pickup tech would bring to the arena. The basic patents should expire soon (hint, hint).

 

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
OK, maybe

"The optical approach is not fundamentally flawed, and provides many advantages in principle. I suspect that if the amount of development effort were allowed to grow to just 10x the present, we’d see superior results."

 

That might be true of course, though I'd say the ratio is more like needing 100x more research to get the idea viable. But from what I can see you really need to question the economics of all that money and effort.

For the owner you increase the likelihood of somehting breaking or going wrong about a 100x too. And how many companies could repair it? One, and you better hope they are around for a long time. While a truly great cartridge is expensive and complicated to make, once in place, barring actually breaking the cantilever, not a lot ever happens with it. In more than twenty years I've actually busted just one expensive cartridge, which they could replace the needle anyway, so it wasn't that bad. With laser you introduce all sorts of new issues, not the least of which is one more ultra sensitive thing to have to be powered.

I look at it by carison to some of the really cool ideas that have some around over the years for transportation. Hover cars, hubless motor cycles, hydrogen engines; all the things you see in Popular Science. Rarely do any of them make it to the real world for pretty much all the reasons the laser TT hasn't: Maybe reinventing the wheel isn't the best use of resources.

If, for instance, the sound quality and user experience was an unqualified stellar sucess, then you'd have a reason to keep going. But as the reviews have been far less than that, the motivation for doing more are still a bit on the theoritcal side for me.

WillWeber
WillWeber's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 1 week ago
Joined: Nov 11 2010 - 7:54am
Definately maybe

Hello dbowker,

I appreciate you insight and comments. Of course, anything new is full of maybe. My suggestion is that some competitve development might be possible and would likely lead to outstanding performance, being that the first product is not bad, and it seems there's lots of room for improvements. (What did the early phono cartidges sound like? I've listened to some Edison wax drums when younger, but could take it for only short durations). And would the cost become reasonable or really competitive as a result? Maybe.

My estimate of 1000x development in mechanical palyback is just a guess, I don't know how much effort has been expended on either side. But just looking a some gross factors: # of cartridge companies ~30x perhaps, times avg# of R&D employees at each ~3x to 5x maybe, times # of years in development ~4x roughly. Again, I can only guess. You may be right about 100x, though that is still a significant advantage.

It might be too late anyway, high res downloads might just overtake the audiophile market. I'm putting any new TT purchases on the back burner for a little while, and not jumping into downloadable files and hardware quite yet either.

Cheers,

WillW

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Wow!

Just looked further inot their new model. And to top it off, you need to buy a $4200 box to digitize your music into a buffer to declick the records?

Sorry, but that just beats it all.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading