Gramophone Dreams#18: AMG Giro turntable Page 2

To me, 9" tonearms have always seemed more lively and responsive than their longer, lazier-sounding counterparts. I imagine that short tonearms handle like short-wheelbase sports cars. I could tell just by looking at it that the 9W2 would handle like a very fast and expensive Bayerische Rennvagen. According to my eyes and ears and Shure's An Audio Obstacle Course: Era IV test record (LP, Shure Brothers TTR115), the 9W2 tonearm in combination with the higher-compliance (18 x 10cm/dyne) AMG Teatro moving-coil cartridge tracked difficult grooves at the highest levels.


The AMG Teatro moving-coil cartridge
In his online coverage of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Michael Fremer described AMG's Teatro MC cartridge as "an international collaborative effort, combining a machined, two-piece Tiodize Type III Titanium body manufactured in America and a Japan-sourced generator system, featuring separate coils for each channel said to increase separation (most cartridges have two coils mounted on a single former)." Michael didn't mention the Teatro's neodymium magnets or its soft-alloy yoke containing cobalt and iron.

The Teatro has a 0.4mV output, an internal coil resistance of 12 ohms, and tracks at 2gm. Its 40x7µm line-contact stylus sits at the end of a solid-boron cantilever. Most important, the Teatro's shiny chunk of strangely green titanium looks really impressive on the end of AMG's 9W2 tonearm. Mikey also forgot the Teatro's most outstanding feature: It has the best, easiest-to-use stylus guard ever to protect a needle; made of machined aluminum, it fits like a glove.


Listening and comparing
No record player sounds bad while playing an LP as well-mastered as the new edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Unfortunately, too many record players make even well-mastered records sound dull, bright, or annoyingly confused. Only the best are capable of connecting the listener—directly, quietly, and organically—to the more hidden layers of a great recording's greatness. Both the AMG Giro G9 and Palmer 2.5 turntables communicated the subtler aspects of the Beatles' greatness, but in ways very different and almost opposite.

I am not yet fully evolved. My mind is still drawn to such dualities as big/small, hard/soft, warm/cool, yin/yang, and, of course, Apollonian/Dionysian—that last dichotomy is one of my favorite tools for describing the character of sound. These latter two oppositions effectively describe the main difference between my reference Palmer 2.5 turntable with Audio Origami PU7 tonearm, which is conspicuously Dionysian (broad on the bottom, and voluptuous, almost pregnant, through the midrange), and the Giro G9, which is distinctively Apollonian (a tight, firm bottom; a strong, solid mid-core; and very rational through the high frequencies). The Palmer leans towards flesh and blood while the Giro leans toward bone and brain.

Please understand: I use the Palmer 2.5 and Audio Origami PU7 not as a reviewer reference for neutrality, but as a personal reminder of the type of sound I like. I currently own three turntables: a 1957 Thorens TD 124, a 1984 Linn Sondek LP12, and the 2016 Palmer 2.5. Each in its own way reproduces the pulse, drive, and excitement of musical performances, and can connect me to the inner workings of a composer's mind. I purchased all three, because those things are important to me. The AMG Giro G9 did those things as well as my own turntables do—but as it did them, it sounded strikingly different.

Although the Giro G9 looks, feels, and plays music like a German science-lab instrument, it somehow managed to rock and unlock the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper's better than has any of my own turntables. It may be made in Germany, but the Giro G9 loved Rita, Ringo, and rapscallion John even more than my two British-made decks, the Linn and Palmer. I would never have gotten the full impact or the complete pleasures of the alternate-takes disc had the Giro not been so completely adept at recovering and sorting out complex music. Attached to AMG's 9W2 tonearm, each of the several cartridges I tried presented me with more information—especially quiet, low-level information—than did either of my British record players. Without feeling too sharp-edged or mechanical, the Giro G9 gave me a looking-glass view of Lovely Rita, Lucy, and Mr. Kite. The Giro G9 was especially good at directing my attention to the rhythmic differences and instrumental eccentricities of the Pepper alternate takes.


Fig.1 AMG Giro G9, speed stability data. (Left)

Fig.2 AMG Giro G9, speed stability (raw frequency yellow; low-pass filtered frequency green). (Right)

Every time Michael Trei visits, we nerd out on all topics analog. One night in early June, he came over with a just-like-new US first pressing of Sgt. Pepper's (Capitol SMAS-2653). I was excited to recover some teen memories. New and old Beatles pressings, two turntables, two tonearms, and two wildly different cartridges made for a long, "would you believe?" night.

At first, I was annoyed to discover how far from reality my memories of the Capitol edition were. Michael's pristine pressing (stamper #5/#4) sounded clean, solid (maybe a little hard), and surprisingly quiet, and the stereo was more attractive than annoying. That was on the AMG rig: Giro G9 with Teatro cartridge. On the Palmer 2.5 with Audio Origami PU7 arm and EMT TSD 75 cartridge, it sounded less clean, less solid, but equally quiet, and—I swear—almost '60s psychedelic. The bass from the Palmer was strong and enjoyably big, but not nearly as detailed or as well articulated as from the AMG. Listening first to the Apollonian Giro G9 made the Palmer sound excessively Dionysian.

Michael had not yet heard the new edition of Sgt. Pepper's, and I was excited to play it for him. Listening to the remix through the Palmer made us laugh and smile. (A WOW emoji appeared above Michael's head.) Sides 1 and 2 sounded incredibly rich, unusually transparent (for a Beatles record), and super-tuneful in that uniquely Beatles way. Individual voices and instruments were easier than ever to recognize and follow. The music had an attention-grabbing flow, and microtextures that reminded me distinctly of analog tape. Michael kept smiling and staring straight ahead.

Then I played both sides again, on the AMG rig. The differences between these two fine record players were distinctly yin/yang, moon/sun, man/woman, etc. Too much so. The Palmer was too lush, big, and sunny. The AMG was too dark, strict, and analytical. So I said . . .

"Michael—you're good at installing cartridges, right? And fast! How long would it take you to swap these cartridges?" I wanted to install the AMG Teatro in the Audio Origami arm, and the EMT TSD 75 in the AMG 9W2. He laughed and frowned. Thirty minutes later, we were playing the Beatles on the Teatro-Palmer and shaking our heads incredulously. All I could do was stutter and smirk.

"Michael. Are you hearing what I think I'm hearing?"

"I think so."

"You know, in his review of the Palmer, Michael Fremer said that because of the Palmer's rich midrange, it would be wise for a user to choose a leaner, more analytical cartridge. It sounds like we've just done that." The AMG Teatro cartridge in the Palmer–Audio Origami rig was sounding as if its yin and its yang were balanced just right.

We played sides 1 and 3, comparing the final versions of the Pepper's songs to the alternate takes. Then we switched to the AMG rig with EMT cartridge.

Our incredulous looks returned—twice as emphatic. We both knew: This was it. The AMG's analytical designo had morphed into the lady on the half shell in Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. The EMT TSD 75 was adding exactly the right measures of seductive smile and rosy cheek to a sound that, only an hour earlier, had had a bit of an assassin's tight-lipped cool.

I couldn't resist: "So Michael—if you had to pick one of these two turntables to be your one and only, which would it be?" Always a pest.

He didn't hesitate: "No question—the AMG!"

I told him I thought the cartridge swap was a huge deal and, to me, extremely revealing. "Both 'tables are more exciting and descriptive than my Linn LP12 or Thorens TD 124. I could live happily with either. But the AMG seems to have it all going on: exquisite style, superb build quality, ease of setup, ease of use, and the ability to steer cartridges and play records with the world's finest record players."

But I'm a restless reviewer. Now I want to try the Palmer-Origami with a lean but elegant Lyra cartridge, and the AMG Giro G9 with a rich-toned Koetsu. Life in the bunker's get-ting bet-ter all the time.

dalethorn's picture

Regarding the Sgt Pepper remix, and the lavish praise heaped on recent mono releases of Beatles albums:

I have a few Beatles tracks from circa 1964 - And I Love Her, Things We Said Today, I'll Be Back, I'll Follow The Sun, etc. - and these tracks have an absolutely gorgeous sound and stereo soundstage/image.

The problem with many or most of the later albums, up to Abbey Road, is they migrated from a beautiful well-balanced stereo sound circa 1964 to gimmicks and experiments that they still haven't figured out how to fix. Forget mono - vast amounts of information are missing in mono - might as well go back to the Victrola.

Herb Reichert's picture

What "vast amounts of information" are missing in mono? Can you name a recording I could use to confirm this?

dalethorn's picture

It looks like I stumbled into a (insert favorite religious cult) meeting I wasn't invited to. Granted that you have some amazing mono recordings that make all of the technical things audible, but still, there's no soundstage in mono outside of one's imagination. Not to say that stereo is perfect or ideal - far from it, but there's a good reason why stereo has been dominant for 60 years now, and it isn't that way because of Mantovani or whoever is the latest mass-popular artist.

rt66indierock's picture

You wandered into something obvious enough that even the Herb of 2017 and I agree on it.

dalethorn's picture

You're wrong, but it's going to take time and more space than we have here to unwind you. If you really need to understand 1964 better, you can find me easily online and request a call.

rt66indierock's picture

Feel free to unwind me here. I’m leaving for RMAF 17 tonight so I may not be able to respond in as timely at manner as I would like until I return.

But I will let you cut the line of audiophiles who want to straighten me out. It’s apparently a very long line. I look forward to meeting many of them this weekend.

dalethorn's picture

Can't be done. You obviously have to have the last word, so it's a non-starter. Still, it's never too late for you to learn things.

Herb Reichert's picture

"...there's no soundstage in mono outside of one's imagination."

Says who? Microphones always pick up spatial information.

How come I see players in a space and you do not?

Please explain.

dalethorn's picture

This is a big subject, small soundstage notwithstanding. I do have a good imagination, but of course anyone can dispute it. And I do have a few mono recordings that somehow manage to have a sense of space, but unfortunately I seem to have chosen poorly since the majority of what I have in mono isn't good.

Ya know, this would be a great topic for you and other high-minded folks to expound on in dedicated articles, but I'm not gleaning much of anything useful from the occasional comment or brief mention in articles on other subjects.

By the way, music reviews generally cover many aspects of sound and performance, and even if I read a review of a mono recording, I don't know if that would tell me how I'll hear it. The same is true for reviews of stereo recordings, unfortunately. But, I'm all ears.

supamark's picture

but you don't have a clue how the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper's. It was done on several 4 track (Studer, I believe) multitracks. They'd fill up a 4 track machine, then bounce those 4 tracks down to 1 track on a separate 4 track machine (hence the reference to "pre-bounce" masters) - making it effectively mono. 8 track machines were too new for the stodgey EMI.

Those early recordings (first couple albums worth) were done on a 2 track, and mostly live. The only way to overdub (and they did do overdubs), would be to bounce the 2 track down to a single track on a separate machine, or the live take would all be on one track - either way, you ain't gettin' a legit stereo soundstage out of that process.

It looks like they played all the separate pre-bounce multitrack tapes into something like ProTools, sync'd 'em up, and did a proper modern mix. This means that even the vinyl copies are from a digital mix. I might have to get this though, because every bounce down degrades the quality of the signal on tape and adds noise so stripping that away should make this as revalatory as people are saying.

dalethorn's picture

Thanks for the info. Quite interesting info at that. But a non-sequitur to what anyone can hear in the 1964 Parlophone stereo recordings compared to the later junk.

ken mac's picture

In some instances, there is far more information on a mono pressing. More room ambience, more tonal balance, more drive and more energy. In saying that, I thought the Beatles recent mono reissues were rubbish. But gimme a mono Blue Note or Prestige any day.

volvic's picture

People pay a lot of money for those old Blue Note records, why? Because they sound great. Seek out Clifford Brown and Art Blakey live at Birdland and you'll see why. BTW Beatles recent mono reissue wasn't that bad, better than stereo imho.

rt66indierock's picture

On Breakfast with the Beatles (Sunday mornings in the Valley of the Sun) I've heard several times the Beatles never listened to the stereo versions only the mono versions of their music. And Pet Sounds is missing nothing in mono.

dalethorn's picture

I think we'd more want to know what their producers and managers listened to, unless the Beatles were 100 percent their own bosses at that point.

But that still points up the difference between the excellent stereo recordings of the Beatles, and in some cases the Rolling Stones circa 1964, and some or most of their later recordings. Generally, the later recordings were awful technically, unless you're allowing for artistic sound effects etc.

rt66indierock's picture

Please do some research before you throw stuff like this out this is common knowledge.

"In the band's official recording history, reference upon reference piles up: long toil into the night on the mono with all four present, stereo mixed with 'not a solitary Beatle' in sight," writes Britain's Uncut magazine.

From the Chicago Tribune October 5, 2014

dalethorn's picture

My ears are my primary research tool. My intimate familiarity with 1964 comes in pretty close. I'm not one for revisionist history BTW.

rt66indierock's picture

Dale I've seen pictures of the records that say when The Beatles were in the studio. You have to do that with your eyes.

dalethorn's picture

Good that you saw pictures. Not good that you keep evading the point. Maybe someday someone will have a listen to the tracks I listed and compare them to the manipulated noise of many of their later recordings, and realize that things went downhill after the original Parlophone recordings. Until then, these arguments go nowhere.

supamark's picture

you should rely on actual knowledge of the recording process ca. 1964 at EMI. 4 track was the highest tech they used, so bouncing happened and bouncing means mono in 1964.

In fact, except for some acoustic instruments (sometimes), drum overheads (sorta), and Bruce Swedien engineered records (Off the Wall, Thriller for example) there isn't any real stereo information in any pop/rock record you've ever heard - it eats up too many tracks and few modern rock/pop engineers ever worked in classical where it's occasionally used to even know how to properly utilize the technique.

Dude, just accept that you're wrong and move on.

dalethorn's picture

No, you're wrong. Your willingness to "accept" things should make you a good Best Buy customer. The entire premise of Stereophile from the beginning is that the ears overrule the theory. Maybe if you really understood what I was getting at instead of trying to split hairs, you'd learn some things.

supamark's picture

I actually worked as a recording engineer - both classical (stereo mic'd, not that spot mic'd to death crap you usually get on major classical labels) and rock (mostly multi-mono miking, with some stereo). The only thing that I'm "accepting" is reality, you might want to get on board with the rest of us.

Let me reiterate - everything in the early Beatles catalog (through at least Sgt. Pepper's) was recorded for mono - that's why the whole rhythem section is often all together because they ended up on a single track. Maybe the mix engineer did some fun things with an echo chamber but these magical stereo mixes you claim to have heard aren't what you're claiming. They had 4 tracks, and on those they had to fit drums, bass, 2 guitar parts, lead vocals, backing vocals, the guitar solo (often on a vocal track - nobody sings during the gtr solo), strings/horns/keys... so the drums/bass/rhythm gtr generally goes to 1 track. lead vocal 1 track. backing vocals 1 track. piano/strings,etc 1 track. That wasn't stereo you were hearing.

dalethorn's picture

"Recorded For Mono"

Sure, that makes sense (not). Like you, I feel compelled to reiterate certain things, such as my ears are the ultimate judge of a good stereo recording, rather than your experience making facsimiles. Perhaps you'd like to comment on the specific Parlophone tracks that I listed.

Anton's picture

If I were in the market, I might buy that based purely on elegant looks!


tonykaz's picture

or Seismometer

These sensitive Turntables act like Seismographs, my old love the Linn LP12 is especially good at reacting to foot-falls.

The easy answer is to add mass which lowers the turntables resonance point to somewhere below the Pre-Amp's low pass filter cut point. ( a heavy VPI is a good example ).

Another quasi solution is to suspend the Turntable on springs hanging from a structural element or put the turntable on a massive springed support which can then sit on the floor.

Turntables are going to react to ambient vibrations, the react problem is exasperated by having powerful amps and large woofers playing in wooden rooms with wooden walls & floors.

Mass loaded ( 60 lbs. + ) player tables are engineered and decorative solutions, for a hefty price considering that a 100 lb. bag of play sand can provide the same function but at a $5 price.

Oh-well, being a committed Vinyl guy has it's costs, proper Audio Gear furniture is just one.

Tony in Michigan

DougM's picture

Just what the world needs is another turntable that only a CEO could afford. And people wonder why audio is dying. DUH!

ChrisS's picture

Affordable turntables, including the LP-12 are everywhere! Good turntables, like the Linn have been around for 45 years and still going!

No doubt a good used LP-12 is somewhere in your own neighborhood.

DougM's picture

Just did a search on Ebay. The least expensive LP12 is $1500! That's more than my whole system cost. Further proof of my assertion that audiophiles are out of touch with reality.

ChrisS's picture

Rega, Project, Music Hall, etc. etc. etc.

The only proof you've provided is how little you know about audio products.

DougM's picture

I'm aware of all those turntables. My post was in response to the post that a Linn LP12 was affordable. The only proof you've provided is how little you know about common courtesy.

johnnythunder's picture

DougM is not alone in thinking that $1500 is expensive. I'm a public school teacher and would have to save for like 6 mos. to afford that used Linn LP12 based on current expenses and overhead and paying for my kid's college.

johnnythunder's picture

DougM is not alone in thinking that $1500 is expensive. I'm a public school teacher and would have to save for like 6 mos. to afford that used Linn LP12 based on current expenses and overhead and paying for my kid's college.

johnnythunder's picture

DougM is not alone in thinking that $1500 is expensive. I'm a public school teacher and would have to save for like 6 mos. to afford that used Linn LP12 based on current expenses and overhead and paying for my kid's college.

johnnythunder's picture

DougM is not alone in thinking that $1500 is expensive. I'm a public school teacher and would have to save for like 6 mos. to afford that used Linn LP12 based on current expenses and overhead and paying for my kid's college.

johnnythunder's picture

DougM is not alone in thinking that $1500 is expensive. I'm a public school teacher and would have to save for like 6 mos. to afford that used Linn LP12 based on current expenses and overhead and paying for my kid's college.

ChrisS's picture

Why disparage those who can afford those items (and the items themselves) that you can't?

There are good sounding audio products at all price levels!

ChrisS's picture

Yes, great sounding analogue systems, which include a turntable, can be had for $1500 or less. If you've been reading this magazine, you would have known this...

However, those "many" who can afford $1500, $10000, or more for a single piece of audio gear are neither always CEO's nor out of touch with reality (except perhaps, yours).

It would be a courtesy to yourself to find out more about what you are talking about.

Note: I bought my original Linn LP-12 with basic power supply, Basik tonearm and Linn K9 cartridge for about $900.

ChrisS's picture already know how to put together an affordable system.

dschian's picture

Define reality! America is filled with publications and ads extolling the virtues of $50,000-100,000 cars, $200 meals (in NY and LA, at least), fine wines, vacations, etc.- all costing much more than $1500 or at multiples that could soon exceed that in a modern affluent lifestyle. I work with younger people who spend over a hundred dollars buying drinks each weekend. Maybe some of them could afford a $1500 turntable (or more) if they were interested in them someday.
Granted, perhaps the majority of Americans couldn't afford these systems, but a very large sector of the population spends thousands, or many thousands on all kinds of things, including trips to Florida or on Cruises.
Are audiophiles truly "out of touch with reality," or do we just value certain expensive discretionary items that no one else does? I'd say the latter. These systems are no more out of touch with 'reality' than a large chunk of America. So depending upon the context, you're right and you're wrong.

ChrisS's picture

...who believe that every single item in a 99cent store is actually worth 99cents?

All those "millions" of dollars worth of junk usually go straight to the landfill or pollute the ocean.

Your concern regarding high priced audio gear is disproportionate and misplaced.

tonykaz's picture

Geez, any Stereophile reader will need mega Dollars to buy into Vinyl.

It's not just the cost of the Player, the Arms are pricy and the phono cartridges break and/or wear out.

Vinyl itself needs cleaning and proper storage on top of purchase prices.


Vinyl is for the well healed collector or the vintage old geezer ( like me ) that has legacy collections from a lifetime, there are Vinyl collectors (out there) with 12,000 + vinyl collections. All this reviewing of Vinyl players and talk about Vinyl Players is for us old geezers who have already established significant Career Income levels which will be Taxed even less as Washington pushes the money burden on the young and less affluents.

All this Analog Planet stuff is fantasy for regular folks who need to "stay" on their side of the "Velvet Rope". A proper Analog System is the cost of a Mercedes S Class Convertible. Saaaaa-reeeeee!

The best a budget person can get is lovely Tube gear and MQA digital. ( which the World's Recording Studios think is superb )

Tony in Michigan

ps. after 70 years of Analog, I too have gone Red Book Digital!

ChrisS's picture

Tony, maybe you got "offtrack" with the way you were doing vinyl...? You should read the many back issues of Stereophile regarding vinyl, especially Stephen Mejias' column, The Entry Level. Get back to basics. Even Mikey has written about putting together inexpensive AND good sounding vinyl systems.

tonykaz's picture

Back Issues, sure.

I spent years in the Vinyl Business, I've owned vinyl for decades. After all, it was all we had and it got pretty darn good.


Vinyl is very expensive now.

There is still plenty of Garage Sale/Flea Market Vinyl out there if a person wants to take-up Vinyl collecting as a hobby. A person should expect the Sound Quality to be horrible, for the most part. Even Chad Kassem only collects the great stuff ( which is very pricy ). Anyone can watch Acoustic Sounds YouTube Videos to discover and learn that good vinyl is very expensive.

I think its fine for any person to take up vinyl collecting but the claims of Vinyl's superiority are nonsense, as all recording studios already understand. Vinyl is seriously flawed and ignored by the Worlds Music Industry and music loving populations, it's a Cult niche, enter at your own risk.

Tony in Michigan

ChrisS's picture

There are many who do not share your experience.

tonykaz's picture

...of course, it's all just opinions powering action.

I'm happy with the collectors buying up all the old vinyl they can find, god bless em! None of it is getting thrown out in the trash.

I'm just disappointed with the Analog Press.

Still, there's room for all of us, my thousands collected fit in a Shirt pocket.

We've gone from a Playboy Mansion Wall of Stereo Gear down to shirt pocket sized music systems.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

I've been working toward the "shirt pocket system" ideal since circa 1959, when I started writing articles about future technology. My first memory was describing a music system that would exist in a virtual space where I could play tracks by calling them out verbally. We are pretty much there now. In 1972-73, Bill Hewlett of HP fame went against the advice of his financial people and created the predecessor of the shirt-pocket computer, which evolved into the first personal computer (in shirt-pocket size, no less) in 1974, *before* Rolling Stone magazine bestowed that moniker on a basically unusable desktop PC.

In 1979, HP created the (as yet not capable of hi-fi music) first modular pocket computer, which could connect to a full-up desktop array of peripherals, where the CPU with its primitive screen could be detached to function as a pocket computer away from the desk. Shortly after that, Sony introduced the WMD6C cassette recorder that, playing Dolby-encoded chrome tapes, had a very good sound for a handheld stereo source.

By the late 1980's, you could "rip" CDs to a handheld Sony DAT recorder, which could serve as a source for a home hi-fi system as well as being used with portable headphone amps. Today you can buy a pocket-size DAP that has great hi-fi sound, nearly unlimited memory with plug-in MicroSD cards, and it can be a pocket "walkman" with premium headphones or the home-based music server.

Today's ideal of a powerhouse pocket-size music server isn't just for occasional convenience or the road warrior living in hotels, it could well be a godsend for people who have to evacuate disaster areas, who can now take their system source and entire music collection wherever they take their body.

Anton's picture

I feel that way about books.

Maybe that's how you feel about vinyl.

For me, 'read and release,' I am not a book storage facility and have no need to parade what I've read for other people to peruse.

I do still prefer the analog way of reading - book in hand, then pass it along.

For work, it's mostly electronic reading, however.


rt66indierock's picture

The world’s recording studios don’t think MQA is superb. The three most common responses from studio people are: 1) I’ve never heard of it, 2) it is just another audiophile format pass, 3) I don’t like it.

If it was worth using for sound quality improvements the MQA people would be willing to openly debate it. They have declined every opportunity most recently this Saturday at RMAF.

supamark's picture

have no use for MQA, because that's something done in the mastering process not in the recording studio. The studio will mix down to either high bit rate/sample freq. digital (like 24/192) or 30 ips 1/2" analog (or both). The label/band/producer/whomever then takes that mix to the mastering facility, which is where MQA processing would be added. Mastering is also where they compress the living shit out of the recording to make it as loud as possible for radio/ipods/etc.

rt66indierock's picture

We had this discussion on Stereophile's competitor's site. MQA envisions an end to end system with an ADC in the studio. According to Michael Ritter of Berkeley Audio Design he believes it would be possible for MQA to approach the sound of a complete 24/192 process theoretically but such an ADC is not on the drawing boards anywhere.

The practical reality seems to be MQA Ltd is doing most of the file conversations though Warner has started doing some late last spring.

supamark's picture

when 30 ips 1/2 inch is still a very popular mix format for major label stuff.

I'm not sure why this would happen at mix down from a practical standpoint either - even if you encode during the mix (assuming a digital mix, not a great assumption outside classical) the mastering engineer is still going to compress and EQ the mix, often in the analog domain. Yes, a lot of top mastering engineers will run the digital mix through an extra conversion step to use certain pieces of analog gear the sound of which can't be replicated in digital. The mastering engineer is best positioned in the recording chain to do MQA, and he's going to have the best equipment and monitoring to do it right.

I guess I can see it for classical (once they sync up all the mics and do a couple hundred edits to make a perfect performance), but that's such a small part of the industry I don't see the value and likely neither do any equipment makers.

Anton's picture


"Niche hobby:" So, so is CD collecting or seeking to acquire and hold any number of anachronistic objects. If calling something a 'niche market' is all you got, you got nothing. Go buy a nice 2 dollar bottle of wine at Trader Joe's and tell yourself that's all you are interested in and all the rest is a niche hobby. Same for any specific brand of gin or spirit you prefer.

Pretty much anything you specifically like and seek out is a 'niche hobby,' so, please, shut up about that part. It makes no sense.


New Shure M97XE, sounds great, 89 bucks. Toss it on a used turntable and it's great!

Staying in the new market: Pro-Ject Debut III which Includes Pre-Installed Ortofon OM-5e. 299 bucks.

Even a 'pretend poor' audiophile can spring for that.

299 for table.

PS Audio Sprout, 499 with phono.

Elac speakers: Debut 6 at 280 bucks.

For about 1,000 bucks, plus some Best Buy Monster interconnects and speaker wire, a person can get great sound from vinyl.

If you think vinyl is too pricey, go the real world. Loads of stores with good sounding records for cheap.

I just got a crystal clear brand new looking and sounding copy of Deodato's "Prelude" for....get ready for it...a dollar. The world is crawling with cheap vinyl. A recent 2 LP mint Miles "Live-Evil," 6 bucks.

Which would I pick, 5-10 records, or one new CD. Hmmmm.


A specific example:

My son found a Sony PS-X600 table in a friend's garage. Free.

MX97E 'needle," 90 bucks.

PS Audio Sprout, 499.

Cerwin Vega SL-5M speakers for 149 bucks. They came in second to the the KEF LS 50's at a recent club stand mount shoot out!

750 bucks, out the door, and now he has vinyl parties.

Even a teacher can figure this LP "niche" out. ;-P

You vinyl haters are nuts.

Do y'all look like those old guys in the Muppets?

tonykaz's picture

Geez, I'm not a vinyl hater.

I ran a Vinyl Company specializing in all things Vinyl.

The World's population of 6 Billion moved past Vinyl 30 years ago.

Now, Vinyl is just a niche. My ritzy neighborhood doesn't have one single record player. My Mailman tells me that my city (of 12,000 people), has one Record Collector ( whom I haven't met ).

Only one of my Esoteric Audio Customers ( mid 1980s ) is still active in Vinyl, he was married but now divorced, he has a music system in every room of his house, he collects vinyl. phew. He never sells anything, a bonafide collector, he's kinda like Steve G of CNET.

Of course, people collect everything :

Mickey Mouse,
Boats ( my brother owns 7 boats & 4 retired Race Horses ),
Race Horses,
Tools ( that's me ),
of course Money $$$$$$ ( I've got lots of that ),
Stereophile Magazines and
TAS magazines,
even TV Guides going all the way back,
annnnd Comic Books.

Name it and people collect it.

If people wanna collect vinyl, go ahead, don't need my blessing. Besides, I was a Wilson Dealer and have a collection of Wilson Vinyls that sell on eBay for $200, I'll be selling all my Vinyl when I finally get around to it. ( or my grandchildren will sell them after I'm gone )

I'm not a vinyl hater,

Tony in Michigan

Anton's picture

Well, then, vinyl was never a thing in the first place, statistically speaking.

But keep pointing that out. It's your niche thing!

tonykaz's picture

Music Sales exploded when CD arrived.

Geez, I was selling quality Analog stuff back then. CD killed my business ( along with all my competitors ).

Now, today, digital music is superb.

So, why go back to that complex mechanical system?

Reason: there's plenty of $1 Vinyls at all the Flea Markets and some people want to collect things and it's part of the Plaid Shirt, Tattoo culture.

Probably a fad started by the DJs.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Acoustic in Salinas is Vinyl's last hope. I rather like Chad Kasssem, he stands alone as a Vinyl "truth teller".

Anton's picture

In the event of a boner that lasts more than 4 hours, seek care.

So, you've taken the time to tell us how over vinyl you are, how over vinyl the world is or always was, how your brother has boats and horsies, how you have $$$$$....and you managed to work in calling vinyl (now in it's 70th year, or so) a fad, how vinyl is for collector geezers, how it's also a a DJ driven thing (that motivates geezers?) how it's for hipsters, plaid shirt, tattoo types....

Some advice: use your vinyl boner on someone who would appreciate it and use all those six $$$$$$ signs worth of money you have to purchase a life.

Best wishes!

Any chance we could convince you to choose to haunt the "I own horsies and boats" forums instead of vinyl stalking?

tonykaz's picture

the part of the business that's profitable, Automotive.

I pay attention to the little things like phono cartridge stuff, etc.

Audio is a gigantic business, people love music, people demand music, they purchase Audio systems in all their cars. They rarely buy Audio for their home. They also have superb audio in their phones.

In any room filled with Audio people, my group are the gigantic Giants.

Stereophile is my territory,

I belong here.

Tony in Michigan

ps. every Car Dealer sells about 20 complete Audio systems every Day!!, a good many are branded Krell, Meridian, Levinson, etc...

Anton's picture

Hanging with the giants.

If you paid attention to "little things," then you'd know how good vinyl sounds.

All those 'ballas' in your posse are into superb phone sound, but not for at home. Got it!


tonykaz's picture

Lots of stuff sounds good without vinyl mechanisms and commitment. It's the actual recording, mixing and mastering that produces Sound Quality, it's not because it's vinyl or RedBook or 24x96. A great Recording will produce outstanding reproduced sound quality. The 90% of crap Vinyl was because of crap engineering. 1980s vinyl from RR, Linn, Sheffield and a good many others was superb. But, you can't carry around vinyl music like you can with a Walkman CD. The world saw the light.

People buy Sound for their Video ( TV ): a "SoundBar".
They might have an Oppo player but mostly rely on what the Cable Company provides.

Geez, I'm not being a smart ass here, I'm relating the reality of today's marketplace, for gods sake.

By the way, Movie sound is higher quality than what's available on music only recordings ( including vinyl ).

I'm GM Corp., I am one of the Giants, I have a financial position here.

Tony in Michigan

ps. don't get all pissed at me, I'm only the messenger, get pissed at the engineers creating all these improvements. Maybe join the Amish, they play music without electricity, the good ole way!

Anton's picture

"I am one of the Giants, I have a financial position here."

"I have (insert six dollar signs here.)"

Spare us the link to a pic of you diving into your vault full of gold coins, Uncle McDuck!

tonykaz's picture

Hmm, Sarcasm is anger.

Hey, Music is still profitable, not vinyl ( of course ) or Analog.

I'm not angry, just disappointed in the Vinyl Guru turning all this into a religion.

It's Science

Tony in Michigan

supamark's picture

People can appreciate what vinyl does well but still prefer digital. They each have their strengths and weaknesses just as everyone has their preferences which distortions they prefer (all analog and digital systems have distortions, and which you prefer is a matter of personal taste). Also don't discount that digital is both a lot easier to deal with/store (media-wise) and a top notch system can be had for significantly less cash than a comparable vinyl system. both are very important to consumers.

I am also convinced that vinyl will be around for a long time yet, both for its distortions that are so different than digital's, and because the format still has popularity in multiple demographic groups.

dalethorn's picture

If I was a multi-millionaire, detached from daily worries (about money, mostly), I would want to go a big step further and create a cost-no-object mechanical recording system. No electronics on the recording end, but a modern playback system for listening. It should be possible with 2017 materials technology to capture a wide range of frequencies (say, 35 hz to 15 khz) and suppress any resonances, resulting in a pure hi-fi sound with no electronics distortions introduced in the recording process. Capturing the sound without microphones is where the big challenge would be, but much could be learned from the process and carried over to other things.

ken mac's picture

...Anton, the voice of vinyl reason. Getting into vinyl is even cheaper, get a U Turn Orbit for $180 I think it is. I work weekends at a popular 35 years old record store in NYC. We have seen our customer base explode from old geezers collecting jazz to young people between 18 and their early 30s, all buying vinyl and all buying jazz. Our vinyl sales far exceed the CDs, and we stock import and domestic CDs that are available nowhere else in the city. It's the old, close-minded codgers that write off vinyl. Niche, my ass.

fetuso's picture

All this debate about vinyl vs digital, it's all so silly already. There's room in the world for both. I don't get why some have to take exception to what makes others happy. I collect both cd's and records and I get great joy from both.

supamark's picture

I think a lot of it is people trying to validate their tastes, without realizing that taste isn't objective... except Adam Sandler movies, they are somehow getting objectively worse every year. I mean, you think, "holy crap, how could he make a worse movie than Pixels?" and then he casts Rob Schneider again and it happens.

volvic's picture

Ken Mac is right, drive over to Priceton Record Exchange and Academy here in NYC and you have to push your way through the vinyl section from all the young kids perusing records. Met one of these youngins at Academy one day who had an Audio Technica table and was a McGill student from Montreal, my alma mater, he came by bus for a few days just to buy vinyl. Said he mostly listens to records and uses his CD player less and less.

tonykaz's picture

Enter a Time Machine

tonykaz's picture

Jon Labert keeps it nice, prices are low, people are friendly and helpful.

Places like Priceton are the "Core" of a wonderful hobby.

I recall every City having a "Record" store, we'd go record shopping every weekend, we didn't need lots of money and we'd find "Treasures", we could meet people at record stores, it was our fun adventure.

I wish we could have them all ( Used Record Stores ) back.

It was sad news to learn of our Royal Oak used Record & Book Store closed.

Used Vinyl is viable as a business. eBay sold about 425,000 over the last 3 months, 5,000 of these sold for over $200. I've sold most of my "Store-demo" collection on eBay. I buy rare music on eBay.

Jon Labert is right, you can't find "everything" on eBay or his store, discovering rare music is an exciting adventure and a wonderful hobby, all on it's own.

Used Record Stores are a Treasure.

Tony in Michigan

ps. the dark lining of this silver cloud is actually listening to all our collected music. It would take decades of time to listen to the entirety of my personal Collection, soooooo, I'm buying music that I'll never listen to. Phew

ps2. Room & Tidal seems like the 21 Century solution. Should I sell everything and Rent from now on?

volvic's picture

Great prices and the inventory is awesome. They understand their customers. Jazz record center in NYC that Mr. Cohen runs is awesome as well as Academy on 18th, great people great selection. In Montreal visiting the folks once the formalities are over, I am off to the record stores here. Having said that why wouldn't anyone want to own an AMG or Linn Or SME to enjoy all this great vinyl. I feel sorry for people who sold their tables in the 80's and their collections, but it's not too late to start again.