Entry level Pro-ject Primay E turntable

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Back In my childhood, the whole family got its first "proper" stereo set. A Philips F1 463 with turntable, two casette decks and radio. Later on separete Philips CD-player was bought, but while LP was the format we used to search stores for music we liked. There was slight overlap that we bought both CDs and LPs, but I never liked the Philips, so I got my own JVC MX-S20 with CD-player. LP collection rised to 24+ albums.

At christmas I dig up the old collection of LPs and today I have enjoyed being hifi-enthusiast for decades and I own pretty good sounding system. Next years idea is to get back in to LPs and I bought pretty cheap 199€ Pro-ject Primary E turntable. I will hook it straight to Rega Brio-R, which has phono inputs. Speakers are Amphion Argon7LS. I have been playing .FLAC music files from USB HDD connected to Sony Playstation 4 + Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100. I also have more beafier Exposure 3010S2 int.amp. and for softer sounds Dynavox VR20E tube int.amp. The other int.amps don't have phono inputs.

Actually I have in my living room a streaming stereo system, which I will add the turntable. At bed room I have separate stereo system with CD-player and tube int.amp. Since the bed room is small space, I use only bookshelf speakers there.

The turntable is decent probably for that money. Twice the money, I could have bought something like Rega Planar 1. I wanted to start from the basics in here and invest more to LPs in future. I like to listen euro techno from 90's and some rock + metal. Does anybody else have experience with Pro-ject Primary E?
 
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I have no direct experience of the Primary E, but all the reviews I have read rate it as a competent entry level turntable.

The only omission is that the tone arm has no anti-skating adjustment, but it said to be optimised for the included Ortofon cartridge.

You can be reassured that your future investment in LPs will be secure in the hands of this turntable.
 
In case you're unaware, the Primary E was awarded 'Best Turntable under £200' in the 'What Hi-Fi?' UK, 2018 Yearbook.

Best turntable under £200. A great first turntable. For someone who just wants a capable and fuss-free affordable turntable, the Pro-Ject Primary E is a brilliant buy, and a worthy Award-winner.
Full review here: Pro-Ject Primary E budget turntable review | What Hi-Fi?
 
Thanks to postoffice, the unit was already delivered today and not next weeks tuesday.

It takes some time for ears to get used to different format. I guess the format has less dynamics and needs to amplified little bit more. Bass-mids-treble wise it's pretty balanced and natural sounding. I don't have any tone controls so I go with flat response. Now I feel it could need some tone controls.

MM-card for my Exposure 3010S2 costs 399€, so I have to keep looking for it. This int.amp has very powerful rock sound.

Some albums already played:
Jean Michel Jarre - Images
Miami Vice I + II original TV-series soundtracks
 
Thanks to postoffice, the unit was already delivered today and not next weeks tuesday.

It takes some time for ears to get used to different format. I guess the format has less dynamics and needs to amplified little bit more. Bass-mids-treble wise it's pretty balanced and natural sounding. I don't have any tone controls so I go with flat response. Now I feel it could need some tone controls.

MM-card for my Exposure 3010S2 costs 399€, so I have to keep looking for it. This int.amp has very powerful rock sound.

Some albums already played:
Jean Michel Jarre - Images
Miami Vice I + II original TV-series soundtracks





I haven't had a working turntable in many years, so I haven't purchased any recent vinyl. Sound quality of mass produced LPs could vary back in the day. Sometimes re-issues were also remixed or rebalanced, and not always to improve sound, and this opened up a market for "audiophile" specialty releases such a those from Mobile Fidelity.


When recording engineers mixed a stereo master tape to cut a record they generally balanced it knowing the limitations of that medium. If not, additional roll-off at both ends of the frequency spectrum might have to be applied during the cutting process. Low bass had to be limited due to groove spacing, and high frequencies to keep the cutter head velocity manageable. Too much bass amplitude would require wider groove spacing which would reduce the amount of music which could fit on a side. Too much high frequency energy would be impossible to cut because the side-to side motion of the cutter could cause its back edge to damage or destroy what the front edge just cut. The amount of high frequency energy allowed would decrease as the groove spiraled inward and groove velocity is reduced.


And this is all before the first discs are actually pressed.


After the master is cut it is plated and the first "father" disc is made. The electroplating process can make a single father disc, and removal of that disc destroys the fragile master. This father can be used as a "stamper", and at this point some test pressings will be made. But a stamper is only good for about 500 records. To produce more the father disc must be copied, a two-step process. The father is used to make some mother discs, and those mothers used to make more fathers/stampers. Each copy, inevitably, will degrade the quality of the record by some small amount. A long production run will go through multiple generations of fathers and mothers. The early pressings will sound the best. Eventually the quality can decline to the point where a new master must be cut, and the process begins again.


And with each remastering there is a chance to change something. Maybe the same engineers will oversee the process, sometimes not. These are not remasterings from the original recording tapes, but from the stereo master, which has already been mixed and placed in storage. Perhaps they will be working from a copy of that master. But sometimes there is a change in management philosophy, or a technological change.


I have two vinyl copies of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. That second copy was inferior, the most obvious flaw being a large reduction in bass. Tubular Bells was the first major success for Virgin Records, and the original release was excellent. The second copy was distributed by Epic in the USA, who were owned by CBS. That recording was remastered using the "CBC Discomputer" technology. Evidently this was a method for putting more music on a record by reducing the groove spacing, and removed as much bass as needed to get the desired spacing. This was bizarre because it was totally unnecessary on a re-release which did not include additional music. But it is an example of what can happen, and a remastering is no guarantee of improvement.


Vinyl records are no longer mass produced in the same quantities as in the 1970s. I imagine that the quality may be higher because of this, but I do not know for sure.
 
Thanks for the background information of vinyl processes.

Most of my records are from early 90's.

I'm not sure that I'm talking with right terms, but in the vinyl it should be produced with certain curve, which dampens bass and rises highs. When played with right equalisation (R.I.A.A.?) it levels the response. Manufacturing of the record has limitations and this curve is needed. Unfortunatly it was not so standard to do it right. Analog format might have more limitations than the digital format. I was also in my youth into C-cassettes and never thought about sonic problems. I should keep the same attitude with vinyl.
 
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In my experience far too many pressings were off-centre, and this is not a hard thing to get right as there's a special machine with a microscope used to align the hole. I've seen pressings with lumps of grot inside the vinyl bulging out and causing stylus jumps.



Seeing "A porky prime cut" scratched on a disc is pretty good guarantee of mastering quality though, and he got to do a load of famous albums... Once out of the hands of the mastering engineer the quality is at the mercy of the pressing plant, can be very variable. Singles and EPs are much easier to master with less pressure to squeeze grooves close together. And 12" singles are the ultimate - but may push your stylus/cartridge into fairly high distortion levels due to the large amplitude.
 
Thanks for the background information of vinyl processes.

Most of my records are from early 90's.

I'm not sure that I'm talking with right terms, but in the vinyl it should be produced with certain curve, which dampens bass and rises highs. When played with right equalisation (R.I.A.A.?) it levels the response. Manufacturing of the record has limitations and this curve is needed. Unfortunatly it was not so standard to do it right. Analog format might have more limitations than the digital format. I was also in my youth into C-cassettes and never thought about sonic problems. I should keep the same attitude with vinyl.



The "pre-emphasis/de-emphasis" curves are a different issue. One is done during the cutting process and the other by the pre-amplifier during playback. It was a way to maximize signal to noise ratio on vinyl. By boosting higher frequencies you raise them farther above the noise floor, and during playback the reduction (de-emphasis) reduces the noise when the balance is returned to "flat".


For collectors of old records, in the earliest days there was no standard, and different labels used their own proprietary pre-emphasis curves. Some pre-amps designed for this market offer selectable playback equalization settings. The RIAA standard evolved in the 1950s. Several different organizations adopted the curve then being used by RCA Victor (and others). RIAA added their endorsement, and the standard became known as the RIAA curve.
 
Ah, a common misconception I think, that RIAA is for noise reduction at HF. Its more complicated that that.

Both recording cutters and (most) cartridges are velocity devices - thus for a flat amplitude response of the groove you'd need a differentator at recording and integrator at playback.



In the cutting head the winding current creates velocity, not displacement, there being a sense winding used in a feedback loop, and from school physics V = BLv - voltage proportional to velocity, just as in most cartridges.)

However a flat amplitude response for groove displacement means the slew-rates for HF signals are too steep for a stylus to follow, so the inverse RIAA curve has a deviation from pure differentiation to limit the magnitude of groove excursions at HF so the stylus can actually follow the curve.

From the point of view of the groove displacement, this is a treble _cut_, not a boost. It starts at 500Hz and drops 12.5dB by 2122Hz. There is also a bass boost below 50Hz. Look at the grooves through a pocket magnifier and you'll see they are mainly bass, treble is much smaller amplitude.

So in order to prevent mis-tracking due to over-sharp twists and turns of the groove the treble response is actually reduced (in displacement terms). This allows decreased noise at LF (due to the effective bass boost w.r.t. just differentiating), as bass signals don't have the problem of slew-rate limit. You can't lower HF noise, or else the stylus will mistrack, HF wiggles have to be very small, its a fundamental limitation of the medium (the cutting head is basically a chisel and much more agile, the stylus is the limiting factor, elliptical ones being much better than spherical)

There are very rare strain-gauge cartridges which are displacement transducers rather than velocity and they require treble-boost de-emphasis as they directly encode the groove displacement.

So why not just abandon pre-emphasis and de-emphasis completely - the velocity transducers limit the HF amplitude so that slew-rate is the same for any frequency of signal, which ought to be using the medium to its maximum? I think the answer is that the noise floor is flat in the displacement regime, so the closer you can get to flat in the displacement response the better, so long as treble signal is kept just below the mis-tracking threshold. Or put another way RIAA allows less overall noise given the treble is going to be limited anyway.
 
I would like to change the integrated amplifier to my Exposure 3010S2 and get a MM board upgrade to it. In the amplification point of view it's a reasonable upgrade to sound. I could listen a bit louder. In the phono section point of view, is the Exposure better sounding than Rega?
 

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In the phono section point of view, is the Exposure better sounding than Rega?
Considering that the Exposure costs three times more than the Rega, I would hope it has the more refined phono stage.

However the following extract from a review states that the Rega Brio-R has an excellent phono stage - for the price!

The phono stage delivers a great performance too. It’s impressively transparent, and consistent in character to the line stages. And that means that it’s vastly better than what we usually hear – or expect – at this price point.
 
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