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TheEldestBoy
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Which is easier on the ears, Vinyl or Digital (tinnitus)?

Hi All,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post.

I have tinnitus (noise-induced) and can't listen to music too loud (65db max).

I recently purchased a Peachtree Audio Musicbox, through which I play my lossless digital music files.  Sounds great.

I'm thinking of adding a Pro-Ject Debut III to the mix and purchasing some vinyl.  (I know that I'll need to purchase a phono pre-amp as well).

My question is this: will the vinyl be easier on my ears than the digital?  I've heard people mention that vinyl is "less fatiguing" than digital...  Keep in mind, the Musixbox employs a quality DAC as well as a tube in the pre-amp.  So the digital files that I'm listening to are already "warmed-up" a fair bit.  

Because of the tinnitus, I need to listen at a relatively low volume (65db max).  Will the vinyl be able to give me the clarity and detail that the lossless digital is giving me at this low of a volume? 

FYI - I'm using the single-driver speakers that come with the Musicbox (70Hz - 17kHz, 92db 1w 1m).

 

Any feedback is great apprecited!

jackfish
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The MB3 speakers are the limiting factor...

and I would believe you would be better served by getting better loudspeakers.  Then you could look at expanding your sources. Vinyl is sublime for us with ringing ears.

commsysman
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Distortion

Everything sounds wonderful when there is no distortion; ALL music signals accumulate some distortion in processing and reproduction. The trick is to use techniques and equipment that minimize it. The thing to realize is that the distortion is compounded and cumulative. The recording process puts in a tiny bit, the reproducing device (CD player, turntable/cartridge) adds some, the amplifier adds some (often quite a lot), the speakers add some etc. 

Research has shown that people intially sense the degradation in quality when total distortion reaches around 2%. When we listen to an audio system and it sounds like crap to us, we are probably hearing distortion on the order of 5-10%...or more.

Amplifier specs tell us that the amplifier is capable of .01% distortion or something similar with a 1000 HZ tone and a resistive load. Have you spent much time with your amplifier hooked to resistors with a tone through it?

A real amplifier playing real music and hooked to real speakers will often produce from 1 to 10% distortion, folks; the specs tell you NOTHING about the actual amplfier peformance in a realistic situation. Amplifiers are one of the main sources of distortion in a typical system unless you spend some serious money on a very good one. (the cheapest amplifier I know of that I consider to have very low distortion is the Musical Fidelity M3i...but I haven't heard every one out there...just some of them).

A good CD player is quite capable of putting out a relatively low distortion level if the recording itself was done properly...which does vary considerably.

Vinyl LP records also can give good sound when a good turntable and cartridge are used. The devil is in the details (and the quality and condition of the record).

The turntable you are talking about is not too bad, but plan on spending at least $300 for a better cartridge than the one it comes with.

My take on things is that it currently costs about $700-1000 to get a CD player that does not offend MY ears seriously with its distortion, and about the same to get a minimally decent turntable and cartridge.

I currently have a $6000 CD player and a $2500 turntable/cartridge with a $150 Musical Fidelity phono preamp (which is an absolute STEAL...very very good). These give sound that is excellent!

Those speakers...sound GOOD to you? Hmmmmm. Maybe the hearing damage is...bad. 

 

 

 

 

TheEldestBoy wrote:

Hi All,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post.

I have tinnitus (noise-induced) and can't listen to music too loud (65db max).

I recently purchased a Peachtree Audio Musicbox, through which I play my lossless digital music files.  Sounds great.

I'm thinking of adding a Pro-Ject Debut III to the mix and purchasing some vinyl.  (I know that I'll need to purchase a phono pre-amp as well).

My question is this: will the vinyl be easier on my ears than the digital?  I've heard people mention that vinyl is "less fatiguing" than digital...  Keep in mind, the Musixbox employs a quality DAC as well as a tube in the pre-amp.  So the digital files that I'm listening to are already "warmed-up" a fair bit.  

Because of the tinnitus, I need to listen at a relatively low volume (65db max).  Will the vinyl be able to give me the clarity and detail that the lossless digital is giving me at this low of a volume? 

FYI - I'm using the single-driver speakers that come with the Musicbox (70Hz - 17kHz, 92db 1w 1m).

 

Any feedback is great apprecited!

jackfish
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No need to replace the Ortofon OM5e cartridge

on the Pro-Ject Debut III, and certainly not for $300.  An LP Gear Shibata replacement stylus for the Ortofon 40 for $200 will give more sound quality improvement than buying a $300 cartridge.

commsysman
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Cartridge/stylus

You may be quite right about that; my experience there is probably less than yours. I am partial to the Benz cartridges, but there are a lot of pretty good ones out there in the $150-$300 range.

quote=jackfish]

on the Pro-Ject Debut III, and certainly not for $300.  An LP Gear Shibata replacement stylus for the Ortofon 40 for $200 will give more sound quality improvement than buying a $300 cartridge.

[/quote]

TheEldestBoy
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Thanks for the reply jackfish

Thanks for the reply jackfish - much appreciated.  

***Speaker upgrade aside, do you feel that Vinyl is easier on the ears than Digital (speaking as someone who has some ringing)?***

I'm sure that I'll look into upgrading my speakers at some point down the line... the Musicbox is my first foray into Audiophile territory, the attraction being that it's a nice little all-in-one solution to get me started.  

I think I'll add the turntable next and then upgrade the speakers after that.  Any suggestions for speakers that would be a good match for the Musicbox?  Keep in mind that I'm listening at low volumes...

 

Thanks again!

jackfish
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You know it often depends on the recording.

I have some CDs when played on my Emotiva ERC-1 sound much better than some of my vinyl (ProJect Xpression III and AT440MLa) , yet most of the vinyl sounds better than most of my CDs.  But in general with the right equipment I think vinyl can be better for those of us with tinnitus.  However, you made the right move in getting tubes in the mix because those can help tame the digital realm.

If you get the ProJect Debut III consider upgrading the stylus to an LP Gear replacement for the Ortofon 20, 30 or the Shibata for the 40, and the platter with the AcrylIT platter.  For a phono preamp, I recently listened to the TCC TC-760LC and was impressed.  Performance on par with the ProJect Phono Box II and when you replace the stock wall wart power supply with a good regulated power supply (12V to 13.8V) it far exceeds its price in performance.

http://www.phonopreamps.com/TC-760LCpp.html

For speakers since you are listening at low levels you can get by with a little less sensitivity.  The Epos ELS-8s are on sale right now for $250 (half price) and would make a wonderful companion for your other gear.  If at all possible try to listen to them and pull the trigger on them soon before they are gone at that price. 

http://www.avguide.com/review/tas-196-epos-els8-loudspeaker

TheEldestBoy
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Thanks again jackfish. I'll

Thanks again jackfish.

I'll look into the Epos ELS -8's for sure, although I may not be able to snatch them up in time for the sale price...

My budget may restrict me to something more entry level.  PSB Alpha B1's seem to be the go-to entry-level speaker for the budget-conscious.  Would even these be a decent upgrade above the MB3 speakers?

 

commsysman
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SPEAKERS

The Epos speakers are unquestionably good, but the PSB Alphas sound better to me, and so do the Monitor Audio M2s (and they are both less expensive).

Those both cost around $300, according to the listing on Audio Advisor, and I think you get some great bang for your buck with either one.

The next step up in performance, for me, would be either the PSB Image T6 (which I have and love), or the PSB Imagine B. Now we are talking a bit more money, however (over $1000).

 

 

 

TheEldestBoy wrote:

Thanks again jackfish.

I'll look into the Epos ELS -8's for sure, although I may not be able to snatch them up in time for the sale price...

My budget may restrict me to something more entry level.  PSB Alpha B1's seem to be the go-to entry-level speaker for the budget-conscious.  Would even these be a decent upgrade above the MB3 speakers?

 

TheEldestBoy
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Thanks guys.  I know that my

Thanks guys. 

I know that my requirements are maybe a little unique (needs to sound great at low volumes [65db max], is easy on the ears, etc...), so it's infinitely helpful to hear feedback from those with experience...

It looks like my set-up is shaping up as follows:

  • Peachtree Musicbox (which is a 20 watt per channel combo of pre-amp [with a tube], amp, dac, pure digital ipod doc)
  • PSB Alpha B1 speakers
  • Pro-Ject Debut III turntable (with upgraded stylus and upgraded platter)
  • Pro-Ject Phono Box II pre-amp

It sounds like this set-up should allow me to get some very pleasing sounds out of my lossless digital files and my vinyl records.

Catch22
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I'm thinking you might enjoy a tube buffer

I get the ringing in my ears once or twice a year that lasts for a week or two and then returns to normal. I'm guessing it's allergies, but who knows?

Tube buffers are inexpensive and can really take the edge off of digital sources. They add a little texture and bloom to the music. Audiogon has them almost all the time.

jackfish
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The Peachtree Musicbox has a 12AX7B vacuum tube

in its preamp section. A tube buffer perhaps would be superfluous.

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