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The merits of VG Lps

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  • The merits of VG Lps

    I know most of us strive to get near mint to mint grade Lps to play on out high end phono systems. Nothing wrong with
    that but dismissing VG records just because they are not perfect can be a mistake if the item is rare or dirt cheap.
    Last week I was record shopping at Goodwill and came across an interesting Glen Campbell that looked to be in poor
    shape. Dozens of scuffs, several scratches, etc. A record I would never normally buy, but it was only 75 cents and
    I was curious how good/bad it would sound on my big rig. Much to my surprise, it was quite listenable. No loud pops
    or repetitive ticks, just some random background noise at a low level. Not that I'm going to start buying VG records as
    a habit, its just It's I'm just not afraid of them anymore.
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

  • #2
    I think its era dependant for sure, back in the day Id never pass up any orig. 161 lexington Ave Blue Note pressing (or 47 west 63rd), no matter how thrashed it looked. Early stereo era RCA's, Mercs, Blue Notes, etc. often play better than they look. i couldn't say the same for UK pressings of the same period. After cleaning and play grading literally thousands of records in my previous collecting life, my acuity for visual grading is 90% spot on. you develop a sixth sense of what defect will 'sound' or not and some are a coin toss. used pressings from around the late 60s onwards with minor scuffs/scratches are often unsellable from a commercial standpoint. 'listenable' is a different matter. That said, id say less than 5% of my present vinyl collection's grade is VG or lower.
    Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D Lino C | innous ZENMini | Kii Three

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    • #3
      Isn't that part of the allure of mono, played back with a mono cartridge? That the lateral movements of the stylus may not be as affected by some of the nasties on the surfaces?
      I have records that look like poop if you examine them closely under light but sound fine; and vice-versa, pristine looking copies that have suffered from groove chew.
      Grading, to me, is so all over the place, even M- is no assurance that the record doesn't have issues- off center pressings, warps, etc.
      Even though I ask sellers if they will give the record a spin and advise based on an eyeball if it is warped, I get representations of 'no warp' and get something warped. Thank goodness I've got one of those machines.
      Every copy is sui generis as far as I'm concerned.

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      • #4
        The point I was trying to make but failed to do so was that a really good TT and playback system really does minimize the flaws found on Lps.
        Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

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        • #5
          It is hard to tell how a LP will sound visually. The stylus that you are using will probably trace a part of the groove that was never used. It is possible that LP may have been traced by an advanced profile stylus but too many VG LPs come out sounding fine once they get cleaned up. The only explanation I can come up with is the part of the groove being traced is now something that the styli before could not reach.

          As such, if the LP can be cleaned up sufficiently and there are not too many deep scratches, the better stylus will likely play part of the groove that may be in surprising shape. I have plenty of older LPs that play a lot better than they look. Some of them are old warriors that have survived too many parties.

          The only thing that gives me nervous fits is spinning a LP with serious damage and ending up with serious cantilever/stylus damage. Yeah, I know the stylus should survive the spinning but when you have to pay serious money for a retipping job, you tend to act with caution.

          Recently I found a decent copy of Barbara Streisand's debut album. It looks like it was used for a coaster but it plays pretty good (no serious scratches anywhere). It is a mono copy but it isn't bad. Please don't send comments about my comment on "mono". I am not a big fan of mono by and of itself. I just like good sound on a large sound stage. The aforementioned LP is an example of a visually uninspired LP but plays better than expected.

          I am sure its because I am tracking it with an Ortofon Replicant 100 stylus now and it never saw that type of stylus in its grooves before. I am playing new vinyl down in those grooves.

          Ed

          Life is analog...digital is just samples thereof.
          https://www.edsstuff.org

          Analog: VPI Prime, 3 Belt Drive, Dual Pivot, ADS, Ortofon Windfeld Ti, Liberty B2B-1, Sky 30 Trans, Stereo Squares Dust Cover
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          • JCOConnell
            JCOConnell commented
            Editing a comment
            I thought about possible stylus damage, and yes I would NOT recommend playing records with severe scratches, not worth the risk.

        • #6
          Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
          The point I was trying to make but failed to do so was that a really good TT and playback system really does minimize the flaws found on Lps.
          or highlight them...it cuts both ways. I was always curious why on some systems clicks and pops were fixed at the speaker positions and on others it was spread across the soundfield. I've found that surface noise in and of itself can be a accentuated greatly on speakers which emphasize the presence range more than others. IMO Its not just your playback rig, its the whole system that can highlight or minimize surface noise with vinyl playback.
          Linn Kilmax LP12 | Channel D Lino C | innous ZENMini | Kii Three

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          • JCOConnell
            JCOConnell commented
            Editing a comment
            yeah, but the better the system, more music comes thru with the surface noise less audible.

        • #7
          I don't see or hear any "merits" to low graded LPs. Many people over-grade LPs they sell. Some people's "NM" are damn near trash. And yes, we have all bought new LPs that look pristine and are noisy on the first play. Can you say Sheffield Labs? I would rather go mow my grass than purchase a VG graded LP. I absolutely hate noisy LPs and I refuse to play them on my system. I take those LPs to Goodwill for someone else to enjoy.
          SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

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          • EdAInWestOC
            EdAInWestOC commented
            Editing a comment
            It is not a case of low graded LPs having any merits. It is that some of these LPs are better than expected. You correctly point out that many NM graded LPs are close to trash but the opposite also exists. I have purchased VG LPs that I would grade as NM.

            Visually grading LPs is almost worthless because you have no idea how they sound. Many sellers are going to grade their LPs as better than they are in order to sell them. Lets be honest with ourselves and call visual grading as what it is. Almost useless.

            Visually graded LPs from honest sellers gives you an idea of how well the LP looks and that is it. You have the fact that the seller has an interest in selling the LP and the fact that the visual grade says nothing about the sound of the LP.

            Long ago I began buying used LPs from Japan. Many Japanese audiophiles bought Japanese pressed LPs and recorded them to RTR tape. I was told it was a habit of many Japanese audiophiles. As a result, many used Japanese pressings are pristine and play as if they were never used.

            Almost every used Japanese LP I have bought has been close to perfect. Many are graded VG and play like NM.

            The used LP dealers I have dealt with in Japan are very conservative about their LP grading. VG LPs are very good.

          • mep
            mep commented
            Editing a comment
            I’m not even going to say that you can trust visual grading for how the LP looks let alone how it sounds. I’ve purchased “NM” LPs that looked like someone ate a PBJ sandwich on them after their cat finished sharpening their claws on it.

        • #8
          Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
          The point I was trying to make but failed to do so was that a really good TT and playback system really does minimize the flaws found on Lps.
          That combined with a good RCM can mean really great cheap thrills for sure.
          TAPE: Studer A807, A810; Revox B77 MkII; Tascam BR-20; Technics RS-1700; Pioneer RT-707, RT-909
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          • #9
            Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
            The point I was trying to make but failed to do so was that a really good TT and playback system really does minimize the flaws found on Lps.
            I think it is just the opposite. I high end setup could bring forth every flaw in a record.
            Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

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            • #10
              Originally posted by dminches View Post

              I think it is just the opposite. I high end setup could bring forth every flaw in a record.
              I disagree. a better stylus profile tracks the groove/music better. Better tonearm resonance control and damping reduces impulse noise etc
              Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

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              • #11
                Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post

                I disagree. a better stylus profile tracks the groove/music better. Better tonearm resonance control and damping reduces impulse noise etc
                I agree with your second comment but if the groove is damaged (that's what would cause an LP to be graded VG) a good stylus is not going to help that. In fact, it may pick up more noise.
                Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

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                • #12
                  There's only one way to know....

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