Before you feel the burn

Regular readers will recall (and the rest of you can read this) that in the summer of ’05 I put out the long dollar for Teac’s GF-350 compact stereo system, which contained a CD recorder and a three-speed turntable. It produced decent, if not inspiring, CD versions of beloved (and merely tolerated) LPs, which at the time I attributed to the use of a ceramic phono cartridge, which can’t compensate especially well for the RIAA equalization baked into the grooves: recordings were bass-shy and a bit peaky at the top end.

Fixing the EQ after the fact is not especially difficult, but I kept wondering: maybe if I bypassed Teac’s own record player and used my own, I’d get better results. Today I tried exactly that, connecting my trusty Onkyo direct-drive turntable with Pickering XV-15/750E cartridge to the Teac’s AUX jacks by way of a preamp from these guys. After recording six LP tracks, none newer than the early 1980s, I am persuaded that I was correct, although it’s hard to tell the difference through the GF-350’s own speakers, which have their own limitations.

There is one downside: when using the AUX input, the automatic track-increment gizmo does not work. This is no particular problem, since my standard practice is to rip the CDs produced on the machine on the desktop PC and twiddle the resulting .wav file as needed; I can break it up myself, or mark the track breaks when I burn a fresh CD with Nero.

Still, it’s possible to eliminate one additional step: connect the output of the phono preamp to the line input of the PC’s sound card. And if I could find the line input of this box’s integrated audio, I would. (Actually, I know where it is, but I’m lacking in AC outlets on that side of the room, and I am loath to go buy a 20-socket power strip.)







7 comments

  1. scooby214 »

    6 January 2007 · 5:26 pm

    You would think that someone would make a system like yours with a good quality turntable. Anybody who was used to a good turntable would be disappointed with the sound from the ceramic cartridge, and there are probable some audiophiles out there who would shell out the big bucks if the unit was available.

  2. CGHill »

    6 January 2007 · 5:39 pm

    Then again, the hard-core audiophiles would likely have sprung for separate components anyway, which may have something to do with the fact that most standalone CD recorders are in the $250-350 range.

    And I have to wonder if maybe there was some tacit (or perhaps not so tacit) pressure from the music industry to insure that these units aren’t so good that they might discourage people from buying the same album on CD they’d already bought on LP.

  3. Shawn »

    7 January 2007 · 12:24 am

    My apologies if I misunderstood the meat of your post, but if ripping LPs is an important goal, you could try Numark’s TTUSB. I got one for my dad, who has hundreds of LPs (some still not available on CD), for Christmas, and it seems to be doing okay. When they’re back in stock, you can pick one up at Guitar Center.

  4. CGHill »

    7 January 2007 · 9:26 am

    I’ve seen that around. It might be a worthy addition to the arsenal at that.

    Also, ThinkGeek is selling a USB-based audio-input device bundled with some interesting software.

  5. Jeff Brokaw »

    13 January 2007 · 1:46 pm

    That ThinkGeek thing looks pretty useful, how did you find out about it? You are SO plugged in, Chaz.

    Have you heard anything about this software?

    I have lots of vinyl and even some cassettes and 45s that I’d like to get burned and eventually on my new IPod. I may rely on you for advice down the road, if you don’t mind.

  6. CGHill »

    13 January 2007 · 2:04 pm

    Actually, Trini (our IT tech at work) found that first; as she doesn’t have any vinyl, she passed the link on to me, and I filed it away for future reference.

    I looked over that software: the pricing looks reasonable, but most of the same facilities are available (if not as easily accessible) in open-source stuff like Audacity, which is what I’m using lately for final cleanup.

  7. Jeff Brokaw »

    13 January 2007 · 3:00 pm

    OK, I’ll check that out too. Thanks!

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