|FEATURED PRODUCT: FEBRUARY 2012
Since 1877 when the technology was invented, the Phonograph has been one of the most common devices for reproducing music recordings. It dominated the music industry until the invention of the Compact Disc, 100 years later. Now, despite the digital audio revolution, the Phonograph continues to be a well loved and used music player by casual music lover and staunch audiophile alike.
Jason Robinson, Editor of Georgia Home Theater Blog: What company and product are we going to be talking about today?
David Privitera: Pro-ject, our featured manufacturer, started out in Austria in 1990 when the founder, Heinz Lichtenegger, wanted to renovate an old turntable factory and provide low cost, affordable, but high end tables to the mass market. This was when there weren’t many LPs out there, compared to CD’s. Later, Pro-ject created this product, a mid level turntable at $1,500, called the Pro-ject Xperience Classic. It’s a classic looking turntable with a wood base plinth and a standard platter and tone arm.
GHT: You seem pretty excited about this product.
DAVID: I am! I think everyone should own a turntable like this.
GHT: Really? Why do you say that?
DAVID: I say that because LP’s have the most dynamic reproduction of music compared to most media. Even if you rip music into digital format or download music in a “Lossless” format, there is still a small amount of distortion and compression. LPs are a true analog source, so there is no compression and the sound is straight from the source.
GHT: Would you say that a recording on an LP is better than a recording on a CD or even a FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) file?
DAVID: Without having done the comparisons myself, I would say, theoretically yes. However, the playback is more dependent on the playback components with LP’s, such as the turntable, the cartridge, the arm, the stylus. All of those components put together determine the quality of the playback. In terms of the signal though, if you were to look at the waveform of an LP signal versus a FLAC file, you would see a physical difference. That is because no matter how high your digital sampling of the audio source, you still have an incomplete, digitized wave form. Computers and digital technology can only use a binary system, whereas vinyl is true analog, with an infinitely higher recording ability. So to compete with an analog recording, a digital recording would have to have an infinitesimally small gap between samples of the source to compare.
GHT: Does the analog nature of an LP translate to a better listening experience in your opinion?
DAVID: Well, I’m a little less critical of the specifications and the technicality of my music. My enjoyment of LPs comes from the involvement that you have in the experience. It’s more about being involved in the listening experience. For instance, the LP covers themselves are nice and big, there’s lots to look at and depending on the artist, there’s nice artwork and lyrics or liner notes on the inside. Sure, CD’s have that too, but they’re small, hard to read. It’s just different than a CD case. CD cases just aren’t as personal as an LP cover in my opinion. Plus, I grew up in the LP era, so it brings back good memories.
GHT: LP’s, then, are not just better quality, but they are a way to reminisce?
DAVID: Yeah. It’s a process, a music romance for me. When you start to play that album, there’s no way to skip tracks. There’s no fast forward, no button to press to skip something or reverse something. You put the needle down, you’re listening to the album the whole way through. With CD’s and especially now with digital downloads, you can pick a single song or a few songs, but with an LP, you have the enjoyment of listening to the whole album. It just allows you to be more involved and engaged in the music, and it sounds better than a CD could, provided you have the right equipment of course.
GHT: Back to this particular product then, what makes the Pro-Ject Xperience Classic special?
DAVID: Well this is their Classic turntable, so it brings all of the classic characteristics of a turntable, without going into the stratosphere in price. So at $1500 it gets you a fantastic foundation for terrific audio and it gives you high end conveniences, like a carbon fiber tone arm, a moving coil cartridge, as well as an isolated motor.
GHT: Would you suggest any accessories that would improve the listening experience?
DAVID: Definitely! There’s accessories that you can add to any system to improve performance, but with everything this turntable comes with, it will sound fantastic out of the box. There are always little tweaks you can make though, that can make significant improvements. For instance, on the table in our showroom, we have a speed controller also made by Pro-ject, which is a regulated power supply made specifically for this turntable. It keeps the voltage constant to the turntable motor. That way, there are no fluctuations in the motor speed, keeping the motor from distorting the music or creating a poor soundstage and depth. It allows for a more accurate and dynamic playback.
GHT: How well does this table connect to a sound system?
DAVID: Very well. If a system has a Phono input, we can connect straight to that, which is preferable. If it doesn’t, Pro-Ject makes a Phono converter that allows us to connect to an input that a CD player would connect into. It’s just as modern as anything else you might want to connect to your stereo or even surround sound receiver.
GHT: As far as the music itself, obviously CD’s and MP3s have taken over the music industry. How easy is it to find LPs for sale?
DAVID: It’s amazing how much the market for LP’s is growing. In the beginning of 2011, vinyl sales increased 37% (As reported by the Nielsen Company). Today there are more used LP shops opening, you can find them more and more at major retailers, as well as a significant increase in online traffic for new pressings and re-pressings of current and legacy artists. There’s a lot of music that has never been released on CD too, and can only be found on LPs. Not only that, but Pro-ject has a full line-up of turntables, from entry level to high-end, so no matter what your commitment to LP’s, you can find a turntable that’s right for you.
GHT: Is there anything else you like to say to someone who my be interested in this month’s featured product?
DAVID: LP’s are so much fun, and I highly encourage anyone thinking about getting into LPs to do it. They are not only great conversation and entertainment pieces, but you can discover music you might not have thought to listen to before. You can even re-discover your music collection in ways you haven’t been able to, and start to see it and enjoy it in a whole new way.
David proceeded to place a record on the table, and we sat and listened for a while. I have to agree with David; music lovers will thoroughly enjoy the Pro-ject Xperience Classic turntable. The warmth and quality of the sound and the ability of the table to produce a surprisingly coherent sound stage blew me away. This is the turntable that will keep analog audio recording and playback around for another 100 years.
All the best,
Since 1989 Atlanta’s Leading Lighting Control,
2-Channel Audio, and Home Automation Integrators
Phone 770-955-8909 | www.GeorgiaHomeTheater.com
2516 Cobb Parkway | Smyrna/Atlanta, GA 30080