Streaming Vinyl

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#1
I've been working on this project for a while now. My goal was to integrate a good Turntable into a fully digital system. This thread will serve two purposes. First, I want to inspire others to this as well; misery loves company. :D Secondly, I want to describe in detail how I am "streaming vinyl."

Many folks are ripping vinyl. I understand the many benefits to ripping vinyl from a convenience standpoint. I guess I am too impatient to wait to hear the music. Oh, and did I mention the "ritual." :rolleyes: The setup is very simple: Convert the vinyl from the Luxman PD-171AS turntable, Jelco 750 arm and Soundsmith MIMC cartridge using a high quality AtoD converter, process digitally and send back out to the same high quality DtoA converter. Of course, I need to amplify the TT output before the AtoD. For this, I do NOT use any analog EQ for RIAA. I use a pair of mono Earthworks ZDT 1021 mic preamps. The mic pres are consider by many to be the lowest noise and "cleanest" mic pres available. They can add up 60db of gain. They are direct coupled, balanced end-to-end and have no resistors or op amps anywhere in the signal path. All RIAA is done in the digital domain in this setup. For this, I use Audiolense to generate excellecent RIAA filters. Here's what they look like:
riaa.PNG

There are several advantages to doing EQ in the digital domain. The precision is greater in the digital domain and the the resolution is also better than any sanely prices phono preamp. The frequency and phase can easily be independently manipulated using high precision FIR filters. All digital processing is done at 64 bit floating pointing, so there's a clear advantage to doing this in the digital domain.

The digitized vinyl is sent into the ASIO line-in for Jriver. It is then processed through the Jriver convolution engine which applies all my digital filters.
jriver DSP.jpg

Once the vinyl is in the digital domain, I can also use high quality target based DSP. I also use Audiolense for this. You can see my preferred target curve here:
target.PNG

I am not going to post any REW measurement in this thread since I've done that elsewhere. My system is very accurate and the listening position music very closely matches this target curve for both channels.

The digital domain also offer THE BEST method for integrating subwoofers. I am a big believer in using subs in all 2CH systems. IME, I've never heard a pair a passive speakers which could match the ultimate dynamic range of 2CH system using properly integrated subs. The dynamics are truly hi-rez. Subs also offer the ability to get much smoother bass. I've done a lot of testing in my room using various 2 sub setups. IME, Floyd Toole's recommendation to use 2 subs on the frontwall, placed one quarter width each in mono, will give the BEST measured performance in both time and frequency. In my system, my speakers are crossed over using the Audiolense custom crossover at 80hz. This crossover is very similar to an NT crossover. It is phase coherent and totally inaudible. Bass sounds the way it was intended; very fast, full and natural. There are no downsides to using this setup and the upside is never heard before bass.

So, why vinyl? Why not just do all of this digital stuff on a digital file without converting it from analog? The answer has to do with my firmly held belief that many LPs offer superior mastering and transfer compared to their digital counterparts. I have no idea why this is the case and I think it varies depending on the recording. But it's clear that many LPs have superior dynamic range to their digital counterparts. I am not talking about the DR inherent in the specs for a TT vs. a DAC. I am referring to the music itself. The spec which matter most is the music, after all. ;)

What does it all sound like? Well, I am learning about LPs as I go. I am new to all of this. The best LPs I've heard in this system sound like the best vinyl I've heard. It retains that organic vinyl sound; the huge 3D soundstage, the front to back imaging is very extended and the stereo image is non-fatiguing. The surface noise is minimal and far less a distraction than I feared it would be. For a good LP, I would have to turn the volume up close to max to clearly hear any surface noise. The sound is very clean and low noise.

I'll post some more pictures as well as a quicky video I shot which shows the basic setup and connections.
 
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dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#4
This is very cool Michael...down to the white gloves from that side-way picture. ...Oops...you got it straight now. :cool:
Thanks. It's been a fun experiment and I look forward to finding more wonderful music! Here's the little video clip I did.

[video=vimeo;135821471]https://vimeo.com/135821471[/video]
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#7
Did you measure its azimuth...adjust it perfectly with your friend's help?
Phillip O'Hanlon setup the cartridge and my dealer measured it before setting up the table. It sounds great.

I don't want to become a persistent vinyl tweaker. If I want to change the target curve, I can much more easily do that in Audiolense according my preference.
 

ack

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May 6, 2010
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#8
Nice! This site is a bad influence, isn't it
 
May 30, 2010
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#9
Nice! This site is a bad influence, isn't it
Yes, it is really a bad influence!

We have just found that vinyl listeners can tweak curves to their preference and digital listeners must stick to someone else statistically determined preference. :)
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#10
Yes, it is really a bad influence!

We have just found that vinyl listeners can tweak curves to their preference and digital listeners must stick to someone else statistically determined preference. :)
Actually, I do plan to modify my target curve for the TT. If you look at the video, you'll see that I setup jriver zones. Each zone has it's own custom filters in the convolver. Right now, my RIAA zone uses my standard "perceived flat" target curve. However, I plan to modify it a bit. Since there's really no good way to do a logsweep from a needle, like there is in the digital domain, I need more time with the setup to get a feel for what I want to adjust and how much. However, the music is so good, I'm not in a hurry to do much to my target curve in the RIAA zone, at this time.
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#11
Nice! This site is a bad influence, isn't it
It is. But I have never spent any time in the vinyl subforum. If you look, I've never posted over there. I am not so much interested in vinyl playback gear. I am much more interested in the medium itself. I feel like it has a lot to offer in many cases. So far, most of the LPs I've played confirm this. However, I can't say that all of the LPs I've played sound great. There seems to be a much bigger variation from disc to disc than I expected.
 
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ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
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#12
The medium is fine; the analog chain is complex; you will be quickly upgrading your analog gear.
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#15
can you make tweeks in real time?
Not with Audiolense filters. But I could do that using Jriver's PEQ. But I could setup several different zones, each with their own custom target curve and switch between them. I may try that.

I need to listen more to know what is consistent across all LPs.
 
Nov 3, 2014
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#16
There seems to be a much bigger variation from disc to disc than I expected.
Quite true in my experience with a very large library of mainly classical vinyl over many years. Vinyl afficianodos seldom mention this downside. I found CD better in that regard, if still far from "perfect sound forever". I have found hi rez digital audio lower still in sonic variability, but that might be due partly to my paying closer attention before purchase to the reviews that have been available via sa-cd.net and other web sources.
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#18
Michael

Nice thread! I'm guessing you're converting A->D at 96khz?

-Jim
Yes. I couldn't set hifi cable up to use two ASIO's at the same time, even though my Hilo will support multi-client. I would love to know whether there's any other ASIO routing program which could handle two ASIO at the same time. That way, I could take Hilo input and route to Jriver ASIO.
 

dallasjustice

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Apr 12, 2011
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#19
I couldn't help but notice you trying to foment some vinyl progress on the Jriver forum. It looks like jriver doesn't care about vinyl, which is foolish, IMO.

Maybe you could try agitating with the vbaudio developer to make HIFI cable multi ASIO?

Michael

Nice thread! I'm guessing you're converting A->D at 96khz?

-Jim
 

jdubs

New Member
Apr 3, 2012
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#20
Yes. I couldn't set hifi cable up to use two ASIO's at the same time, even though my Hilo will support multi-client. I would love to know whether there's any other ASIO routing program which could handle two ASIO at the same time. That way, I could take Hilo input and route to Jriver ASIO.
I'm not sure that you could. If you take a look at the ASIO input section in JRiver, its (seemingly) explicitly limited to 96khz. So, you can't feed it anything at a higher sample rate.

I think this is the whole problem - there are no playback programs out there that can be fed a >96khz ASIO input stream.

-Jim
 

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