I want to set all the preamps on fire

Okay, so here’s what happened.

A few days ago I wrote a review for Daft Punk’s totally awesome Random Access Memories. As per usual with my uber-geeky reviews, I also went into some detail about the compression of the digital version of the album compared to the vinyl release. Then I went onto say that the vinyl also sounded slightly different, its drums seemed muted, and the bass seemed louder.

I can see what links people clicked on to get to my blog, and I like to do that everyday. It so happened that this review caught on with some people at an audiophile message board. Somewhere there commented that the album doesn’t actually sound like that on vinyl, and that if I had a certain cartridge on my turntable then it would sound better.

Now, I take audiophile comments with a grain of salt, especially when they’re along the lines of “you need this $500 cartridge to really appreciate your music, man.” But I have been unhappy with the quality of my rips for some time now.

This happens every year or so. I get a setup that I think I ‘ll finally be happy with, but then as I listen to more and more music and rip more and more vinyl, I start to pick out imperfections. In this case, I have long suspected that my rips were too, I don’t know how to describe it, muddy, I guess? Like they were muted and muddled a bit. Nothing horrible. I bet 90% of the people who listen to them think they’re fine, but it was bothering me. So I took a little more interest in what this guy had to say.

So then I went to my audiophile message board of choice, Audiokarma and asked about my problem at hand. I even brought audio samples. The people there suggested that I was looking for a more “aggressive” cartridge, and they steered me towards a couple that were much more in my price range. However, one person also suggested that something else could be at fault, that my setup might not be jiving well with my preamp.

Curious, I dug out an old cheap solid state preamp that I bought years ago and hooked it up to my system. Lo and behold, my audio sounded much crisper, the drums were no longer muted, nothing sounded “underwater.” I was happy. For about 20 seconds.

You see, the problem with this preamp is that it sucks. I guess that’s kind of vague, I’ll explain more. It has lousy shielding. it picks up radio frequencies like a motherfucker. If I crank it on full blast I can hear the classic rock station as well as I can my music. Additionally, it has a wicked hum that just never goes away.

So off to Radio Shack I went (yay) to pick up some grounding cable and a ground loop isolator. I figured if one didn’t do the trick the other would.

Hooked up the ground loop isolator, it made things worse.

Tried to hook up a grounding cable, and that presented itself with a whole other heap of problems. See, my turntable has been modified to not need a ground cable hooked up to it. That’s great, however it leaves me nowhere to hook up the ground cable coming out of my preamp. Feeling MacGuvyerish, I tried wrapping one end around a copper pipe in my bathroom (it was a long cable) but that also just made things worse.

So here’s how I stand right now. I have one preamp that gives me no interference, but it sounds like shit. I have another that sounds great, but it’s muddled with interference.

My head kinda wants to explode. Which is bullshit because I have exploding head syndrome so it does that shit already.

I’m looking into some other pre-amps, but this shouldn’t be that hard. I think that if I were able to properly ground my pre-amp then I would at least be able to eliminate the damn hum, and maybe from there I’d figure out a way to get rid of the RFI. Anyone have any suggestions? I keep reading things like “attach it to a three pin plug” but what the hell does that even mean? Wrap it around a three prong power plug? That doesn’t seem like a wise idea. As much as I love audiophile boards, they sure as hell have a hard time explaining the simplest of concepts. In fact, I still don’t entirely understand what a fucking ground loop is, other than that they’re bad and I don’t want them. Is it really such a complex fucking concept to get across?  Argh.

Anyways, I wrote another big thing at Mostly Retro, a guide to Giorgio Moroder’s music. I suspect that if you’re the kind of person who comes to this blog, you already know all there is to know about Moroder, but if you know someone who doesn’t and might be interested, send them my way. I’d appreciate it.

I also started putting “buy at Amazon” links on MR, and whenever you buy something from an affiliate link I get a cut. So hey, maybe check out that article and buy some motherfucking Donna Summer. (There’s also a Donate button there too, just sayin’).

Sigh, I’m fucking exhausted. And I really have nothing to say about tonight’s music other than “I like it a lot,” so enjoy.

DJ Rap
Bad Girl (BT’s Spoken Progenitor Mix)
Bad Girl (Bad Girl Roller Remix)
Bad Girl (BT’s Titanium Dub)

Panik Kontrol

A Guy Called Gerald
Voodoo Ray (Extended Mix)
Voodoo Ray (Gerald’s Rham On Acid Remix)
Voodoo Ray (Paradise Ballroom Mix)
Voodoo Ray (Penthouse Mix)
Voodoo Ray (Voodoo Raydio Mix)



5 Responses to “I want to set all the preamps on fire”

  1. GaryB says:

    Yay for you!

    Thanks for the Voodoo Ray!

  2. Jeremy says:

    Some of my best friends are audiophiles.

  3. ~R says:

    Right on on the update! Love it when it snaps together right!

  4. Mifimusic says:

    I went though a related experience. I ended up just throwing my pre-amp out and bought myself traditional speakers and a receiver and hooked up my turntable to it and my sound is awesome. Even the iPod sounds good through my hi-fi and the vinyl sound blows my mind. Reminds me of how music should sound and did sound in my room back in the 80’s.

  5. Stephen says:

    Thanks for the DJ Rap! I’d never heard of her, but all three tunes are wonderful. Another blind spot eliminated!

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