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  1. #1
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Why does the turntable sound like crap on a modern system but decent on a vintage?

    Hi everybody and greetings from Sweden.

    First of all, please excuse my bad english, this is not my mother tongue. If anything is unclear, please ask and I will try to ellaborate.

    I have been lurking quite a bit on the forum and found that now was a good time to finally join. As usual in dedicated forums, I follow the tradition of bad manners and start my career here with questions. Or actually, I'm starting with a novel, those of you uninterested in reading about HIFI-related daily life, skip to the end, where the more technical questions are located.

    After being bored and frustrated at the digital mass consumption of music today, I went down to the basement and got my old records and TT up. The TT was in a sad state and since it was a cheap one, part of a full set, there was no power adapter, only a loose cable. Sure, adapters can be bought, but I remember this thing being dropped in the concrete floor from a high altitude in the storage

    So I went to the electronics barn and picked up a new one. The seller recommended this particular model and said that they had many happy customers. I was sceptical at frist, since the TT had an USB out, not quite what I was looking for, but I thought, hey, times have changed, I'm sure they make good TT's nowadays!

    Back at home my problems started, for once in my life I read the manual and it mentioned something about line level current. I am thankful that I did read, because I'm not sure that my old amp would have enjoyed ten times the expected current straight to the phono input. Luckily, the amp have an AUX so I just plugged it in there. I put on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (by some old not so known british rock band, strange looking dudes with long hair, you wouldnt know them) and enjoyed. I went through old reggae albums and soundtracks and I really liked what I heard. Sure, the sound was not perfect, it crackled and popped a bit on some records and my old speakers is perhaps a bit large for my amp, but still, wow!

    Anyway, trying to cut to the chase here, the mrs does not care as much as I do for (visible) technology and electronics. She does definately not share my enthusiasm for large floor standing speakers and subwoofers. I have battled hard to keep the surround system and the floor speakers and I have managed to conceal the rest of the system (ever heard of IKEA?). I knew that it wouldn't be a healthy option to introduce another set of speakers (threeway, 21.5 x 10.5 x 8.5 inch) to the living room and I want to keep the truce around here. But I couldnt resist when she was away.

    But this is not a long term solution. I believe that love and relationships are a compromise and so is HIFI in a 2-room apartement. I really want her to be happy so I had to change my battle plan. I managed to build in the TT on a slide out shelf, thus concealing it (and protecting it from the wicked world) but it is harder to conceal two fat three way speakers so they had to go. "No biggie" I thought, I'll just hook up the TT to my AV-receiver from the future, since the TT is operating in line level, I'll just hook it up to any available input and go. Who knows, maybe it will sound awesome with a modern receiver, modern TT and modern speakers?

    Full of anticipation and excitement I put Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on the TT, fired it on and dropped the needle. The results were on a whole new level ... of disappointment. It was on a verly low sound level, sounded extremely thin and tinny. No precense of bass what so ever, and the treble was way to sharp and annoyed my ears. It sounded like a crappy 90's computer speaker set with small plastic boxes. No, it sounded worse. I had to turn the volume level up very high for some sound actually coming out.

    I connected my old speakers and the results were marginally better, on a Peter Tosh album I could actually hear hints of bass playing.

    This is not an option, I must find another solution. What I'm hoping here is that someone can enlighten me as to why this is happening.


    Problem system: Ion Pure LP to Pioneer VSX-921 to decent thick, shielded cables to Dynavoice M-65EX (page in swedish, specs are 1" tweeter, 5.25" mids x2, 6,5" woofers x2. 4-8O, 24-32000 Hz, 250W peak)

    Working system: Ion Pure LP to Pioneer SX-636 to Pioneer CS-3030 three way speakers (120W, 90dB, 45-20000Hz).


    Why does this sound decent at my old vintage system and so very very bad on my modern system?

    Sure, the TT is probably crap, but still works on the old amp.

    Is it a voltage/signal thing? The input sensitivity on the SX-636 is rated at 150mV and at the VSX-921 200mV, thus having lower sensitivity than the SX-636. I don't know what the TT is specified to, but might it be the issue here? Still, as it is a modern player, I guess that it's intended use is to hook it up through line level at a receiver, so it should be working.

    Is it a modern digital, sound "improving" thing? Perhaps all the digital DSP, PQLS, TrueHD, ADHD and so on is screwing up the signal here? Or is it perhaps that 2 channel stereo playback is not something prioritized in the making of this receiver? However, digital music sounds great, streaming through AirPlay, internet radio and CD all sound super, and I play in stereo.

    Is it worth trying to connect a RIIA amp from an old TT, or is the project doomed to fail?

    Any ideas, experiences, suggestions and thoughts are appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    St. Louis, MO, USA
    It sounds to me like you need a phono preamplifier, this steps up the turntables very low output signal up to a line level so you can use a regular AUX. Your vintage amp with a phono input most likely had this built in. Today the phono stage is left out of home theater receivers. You might also want to check your turntable to see if there is a higher level output switch. I bought a turntable to play with by Numark that had a switch where it could e used into both low & high level inputs. A turntable not going into a phono stage most definitely sounds bad.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Mr P is right. Your Pioneer does not have a built in Phono Preamp. You need to get one. You may also want to return the Ion and get a better TT. For a budget TT consider the Denon DP-300F, Teac TN-300 (both of these TT have built in Phono Preamps so you would not need to buy one, although you will get better sound with a decent external phono preamp), also consider a Pro-Ject Carbon TT. Denon makes some cheaper TT's, Marantz also makes budget TT's.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

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