Zero Distortion: Tango Time

http://zero-distortion.org/cessaro-...merican-sound-sme-3012r-many-carts-much-more/

Here you go...was waiting for the platform change to post.

  • It is important to note that I was here for 4 days. My conclusions changed as we moved from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3. So, if you start reading, and stop somewhere in the middle, you could be simply be reading a thought in transition.
  • I have presented Day by Day, added quite a few notes record by record, which I am aware can be too much detail to follow in one reading. All has been summed up in the conclusion.
 

Comments

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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#41
Hi David do not know if I used the word tweak that you are referring to, but if I did, by tweak I meant changing the set up till the VTA/VTF/SRA sounded right. Also not modding vintage is a tweak, just like modding it is :). Rubber grommets are too.

ps: Is the SME V damped? Reason I ask is VDH himself was known to use SME V, but if 3012r is not damped except for the grommets, it is interesting to see how good it works in a non-damped arm.
Hi Ked,
I know you didn’t mention moded anywhere and by tweaked I meant tuned or setup to sound a certain way. I received a couple of emails from people who read your comments as if I was installing the 3012-R in a special way different from SME’s norm just wanted to clarify that wasn’t the case and the before & after difference you heard was setting the right VTA/SRA for each cartridge and not some special trick done to the tonearms.

3012-R’s grommets are for decoupling not dampening, SME sells a silicone kit for that purpose what you heard was a totally undamped tonearm.

David
 
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bonzo75

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#42
Btw David, I drew similarities between the highs of the AS to spectral just to wind you up a bit... Though if you get past your dislike of spectral the analogy is not inaccurate
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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#44
Tang, David,

I am very impressed, Tang, that you have become a true cartridge-meister, and I am impressed, David, that your technique is teachable! I do not understand how you guys do this without a digital microscope to see, an oscilloscope to watch, a Fogozometer to measure, an alignment block against which to view, etc.
Ron, you just listen using your ears. The key is to know what to listen for. Some people have a few specific recordings they know extremely well. Once the other parameters like overhang, alignment, VTF, Zenith, are all set up, very minor arm height adjustments can dramatically alter the sound. Once it is right, you will know it. Practice and knowing what it should sound like is all you need to know. The digital microscope is cool to look through and you can get some nice images, but it is only an approximation. Your ears are better. I suspect this is what David taught Tang, and the cards as an easy, repeatable guide/gauge.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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#45
Hi David do not know if I used the word tweak that you are referring to, but if I did, by tweak I meant changing the set up till the VTA/VTF/SRA sounded right. Also not modding vintage is a tweak, just like modding it is :). Rubber grommets are too.

ps: Is the SME V damped? Reason I ask is VDH himself was known to use SME V, but if 3012r is not damped except for the grommets, it is interesting to see how good it works in a non-damped arm.
Ked, the SME V has a damping trough near the bearing. The rubber grommets with the 3012R at the arm base interface with the armboard is a completely different application of damping. The silicone damping trough is suggested for fine tuning the cartridge/arm resonance frequency. Perhaps VdH thought he could improve that match between the SME arm and his cartridges which are on the light side, are basically nude designs, and may have different compliance. The rubber grommets are for addressing and tuning resonances traveling toward the arm from the turntable through the arm board. The SME V is meant to be completely rigid at this interface.
 
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ddk

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May 19, 2013
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#46
Btw David, I drew similarities between the highs of the AS to spectral just to wind you up a bit... Though if you get past your dislike of spectral the analogy is not inaccurate
I must have a blind spot my brain read past that word o_Oo_Oo_O and :) again! Just kidding all’s good very nice job Ked.

david
 
May 30, 2010
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#47
Very enjoyable report, many thanks. No doubt you had a great time, IMHO you would need many days more to settle opinions! It seems to me however that you masterly tuned the systems to particular recordings and your optimizations are excessively dependent on recording characteristics. Going through your narrative I remembered Bert van der Wolf words on analog recording:

"In the past, when the best technology captured less information, engineers tended to over-gather data, placing equal emphasis (or worse, over-emphasis) on all aspects of the potential mix. Then, to compensate for the lack of visual and other sensory information (the data our sight, skin, and scent collect at live performances), they created layers—depth of field—via supporting microphones, EQ, and dynamic alterations. They could offer focal points everywhere simultaneously, often incoherent in imaging and perspective. "

It is why I got the idea that your narrative shows us what can be done to optimize with vinyl systems to play the LPs at their best, taking in account the extreme variation of recording and mastering techniques used in their execution.

I think one point that should be addressed is the quality and performance of the turntable support. The Stacore rack used in the AS2000 is an exceptional product, probably superior to the other racks used in the other turntables? How would it affect the performance of the other turntables?
 

KeithR

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May 7, 2010
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#48
So my next question, naturally, is now that you've made pilgrimages to Tang, Mike, David, the General, and Marty - how has that impacted your own equipment selection for your (hopefully) soon to be purchased system?

ie. what conclusions have you come to throughout your travels as it relates to your build
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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#49
Hey Keith, you're joking, yes? Is this a USA sense of humour thing?
 
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#50
Ron, you just listen using your ears. The key is to know what to listen for. Some people have a few specific recordings they know extremely well. (...)
The part I quote in bold is not universal - IMHO it shows our preferences. I doubt that we all want to listen to the same things when setting up systems.

I am always very prudent when considering advice of people who tell us we need to adapt our-self and learn to listen to specific aspects. Our mind has to fill many gaps and remove many peaks when listening to stereo reproduction - if you focus excessively in some specific ones you will loosen up others.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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#52
Dear Ron,

I assume you are a person who also like the set-and-forget kind of thing. I was even more so. But now I realize that if you are a vinyl person you are best relying on yourself...your ears. All the apparatus only gonna give you initial setup accuracy. My tonearm guy likes these tools too. You have an opportunity to learn from ddk, take it.

Btw Ron, I see you have your eyes on both Opus1 and ZYX. If I may, I wish to suggest you get either one but not both. You would be much better off getting a second cart of other brand. Master Signature is highly recommended. Less expensive too.

Kind regards,
Tang
Thank you, Tang. I start out "set and forget" but if:

sonic benefit > annoyance of learning = happier audiophile

then I have no choice but to learn and tweak myself.

Thank you for your suggestion. II already have a ZYX UNIverse Premium. But based on David's enthusiasm for, and your reports and Kedar's reports on, the vdH Master Signature I think my ideal outcome is a vdH Master Signature on the 3012R and an Opus 1 on the Schroder LT.
 
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PeterA

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#53
I think one point that should be addressed is the quality and performance of the turntable support. The Stacore rack used in the AS2000 is an exceptional product, probably superior to the other racks used in the other turntables? How would it affect the performance of the other turntables?
This is an excellent observation. I also suspect the Stacore rack contributed a lot to the quality of the sound. In fact, the support and the phono stage being different between the AS and the other two tables really means Ked was not able to compare the various turntables. He was hearing different specific combinations which included the different turntables. Very hard to reach any conclusions under those conditions.

That is why I found the cartridge comparisons the most useful information in the report. They were the most direct comparisons.
 

bonzo75

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#54
This is an excellent observation. I also suspect the Stacore rack contributed a lot to the quality of the sound. In fact, the support and the phono stage being different between the AS and the other two tables really means Ked was not able to compare the various turntables. He was hearing different specific combinations which included the different turntables. Very hard to reach any conclusions under those conditions.

That is why I found the cartridge comparisons the most useful information in the report. They were the most direct comparisons.
Yes I mentioned the rack constraint towards the bottom of my report.

Keep in mind I have been lucky to previously compare the older AS, EMT, and techdas AF1 before at David's. There too it was the most extended, detailed. have compared another master Sig to top carts before recently, as well as Opus to atlas SL at Gian's before.

If anything, what surprised me the most was the EMT
 

ddk

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#55
I also suspect the Stacore rack contributed a lot to the quality of the sound.
Without knowing anything about the turntable the rack or how they came together how do you come up with something like this Peter? The beauty of the Stacore rack is that it does nothing aside from providing solid support, it wouldn't be in this system if it was adding, coloring or as you put it contributed even a little to the sound no less a lot as you mention. I'm sure Joe has something to say about his CMS racks being labeled as crappy with negative "contribution" to the system!

david
 

bonzo75

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#56
honest question, actually.

what's the whole point of the exercise at Tang's and others if it isn't. hearing many analog combinations has to have some consequence for Ked's future system, no?
Keith you might as well ask Tang what conclusions has he come to on what to purchase next, and then after that, and then after that. Audiophiles are like dogs. They chase cars. They don't know what to do once they catch up with it.

I will confirm my purchase decisions after I make my pilgrimage to Ron's completed system, after Microstrip buys his final final speaker with his final final set of electronics, and after Marc stops asking if he should upgrade his absolutely final speakers
 
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#57
Great report Ked and thanks to Tang for letting you loose on his system☠️
Very dense reading - don’t know how you kept track of all the variables.

The support certainly improves the performance of the TT - at least that has been my own experience with a custom designed specialist one compared to an off the shelf design.

Ked I know you mentioned Tang’s phono stages imo they play a vital role. I have found they all affect the cartridge differently even when set to the “correct” loading.

Cartridge azimuth is an other adjustment I have found quite critical.
 
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#58
(...) after Microstrip buys his final final speaker with his final final set of electronics(...)
Sorry to hasten you, but I already bought them ...
 

PeterA

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#59
Without knowing anything about the turntable the rack or how they came together how do you come up with something like this Peter? The beauty of the Stacore rack is that it does nothing aside from providing solid support, it wouldn't be in this system if it was adding, coloring or as you put it contributed even a little to the sound no less a lot as you mention. I'm sure Joe has something to say about his CMS racks being labeled as crappy with negative "contribution" to the system!

david
David, it is true that I have not heard the AS turntable or the Stacore rack system. But, if I am to believe what I read from the reports of experienced audiophiles about these two products, it is not quite fair to say "without knowing anything about...."

Marc writes convincingly about the efficacy of the Stacore pneumatic isolation platforms. These reports plus my own experience with the similar but slightly different Vibraplanes units I have, convince me that the isolation under the phono stage in that rack system is effective. The reports in WBF on the now two complete Stacore rack systems (Tang's and dcc's) are also convincing to me that these solutions are effective at improving the sound. Now, it is true that Tang did not hear the AS in his system without the Stacore rack, but, I have tried enough different support structures in my own system to know that how a turntable is supported can have a profound effect on the overall sonics of a system.

I can not say how the Stacore system under the AS sounds different from the CMS rack system under the other two turntables, but I feel confident that the three turntables would sound different if the racks were switched. Christian described the difference in sound of his system when he changed the support under his AS. From what you and Christian have written, it seems clear to me that the AC turntable cares about the support on which it is placed. It is not immune to the influences of the rack. DCC in his "My Little Barn" thread describes the difference in sound that the Stacore rack system made to his system. He has before and after experience with this Stacore product, as does Marc.

When I wrote this: "I also suspect the Stacore rack contributed a lot to the quality of the sound.", what I meant was that I suspect the Stacore rack has a positive influence on the sound of Tang's system. Not that the Stacore is adding a coloration or corrupting, or even changing the sound of the AS itself. Simply that the AS sounds different on different support structures. Do you disagree with this assumption?

I do disagree with you that Jarek's creation "does nothing aside from providing solid support." A heavy, rigid, and solid metal stand would do that (though the type of metal may influence the sound). No, I suspect the Stacore is doing more in terms of isolation in the main structural supports, plus the advantage of the pneumatic isolation for the phono stage. I think based on what I have read, that the Stacore is providing an environment on which the turntable and phono stage are supported, which enables those components to sound better than they would otherwise or on other supports. I can not know if the Stacore is the best support or not, but it is clearly a serious design with a lot of research behind it.

Yes, I am sure Joe from CMS would also have something to say about the efficacy of his products. The fact remains that two turntables and one phono stage are on the CMS racks, while the other pair is on the Stacore rack. I presume that those different support environments affect the overall sound in different ways. Kedar also mentions this fact clearly in his report. Of course, I have no way of knowing this without testing it, but it is a presumption based on what I have read and on my own experiments with support structures under the gear in my own system.

In a system as clearly accomplished, revealing and transparent as Tang's, I find it incomprehensible that the two different rack systems would not have different effects on the sound of the components and their contributions to the overall sonic result of what Kedar heard. And I am not saying that one solution is better or worse than the other. I am just saying that I presume they sound different.

EDIT: Here is Fransisco's statement which is along similar lines: "I think one point that should be addressed is the quality and performance of the turntable support. The Stacore rack used in the AS2000 is an exceptional product, probably superior to the other racks used in the other turntables? How would it affect the performance of the other turntables?"
 

bonzo75

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#60
Thanks Dave. To your and Ron's point, I made a table, as I mentioned to Peter, of the records, with brief impressions. I wrote down my notes daily with the table to keep my memories honest. The piece was only joined at the end, with time to add further reflections.

A key thing is, on the last day, my last page had none except one tick in the techdas column showing it did not impress me on any point.

Regarding the rack and the phonos, the two racks have not been compared, even by Tang.

Regarding the phono, I wanted to do the swap, but Tang did not let me as he wants me to revisit so had to leave something on the table.

So I did the next best thing, which is, that I posted Tang's impressions of the two phonos.

These notes have to be taken along with Tang's own impressions, my impressions between the older AS, AF1 and the EMT at David's, and Christian's impressions, all links which have been posted in the article. Of course, someone who wants to seriously verify can, as mentioned there, visit Christian and listen to both through the same phono. While they may get further insights, I doubt they will get a major contradiction.
 

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