It’s perfectly fine to play your records….really.

I read in the recent issue of Copper magazine an article written by a gentleman who is one of the leading experts in room and system set-up titled: “LP Playback: Is It Really Reference Quality?”
So I was double shocked when I read the article which was not about the title subject, but more about trashing vinyl as a medium and trying to convince folks that listen to vinyl whether exclusively or not, that they are not hearing all the music as intended. I was also shocked because the article is not in his field of expertise, but should be. In other words, would he go into a person’s home to do a system and room set-up and then refuse if that person wanted to include an analog front-end for vinyl playback? Judging by some of the things he wrote it sounds like there would be much bias. It’s perfectly fine to have ones own bias, but if you are doing a service of any type in audio, including writing about certain things you have to put certain personal bias aside if you want to help someone or at least be up front about it. I use and enjoy many different mediums myself and it would make no sense to focus solely on one. On top of that, considering this site was designed to be about music and a help to those seeking better sound or just starting out in audio reproduction, etc. it would be a disservice if I was bias against all but one medium or music genera, etc. and telling you that you are wrong for considering anything else. If I wanted to do that, my mission statement and this site would look far different.

So the article was supposed to be about whether or not vinyl LP playback can be considered reference quality, but sadly, the author fails to address that almost completely. The article just reads like one of Trump’s speeches, a rant against vinyl LPs and analog gear with a few insults thrown at those who listen to vinyl LPs and contradictions and half-truths twisted to fit an agenda.

First of all, while I have heard many an “audiophile” claim that vinyl LP playback is reference quality automatically and then qualifying that by stating that as long as one is using a five-figure turntable and cartridge in a six-figure system. The irony is that these same “audiophiles” will also claim that digital is the way to go qualifying it the same way. Not being an audiophile myself and being of a more scientific background, if you will, I don’t have such automatic responses. I believe it can be both ways in all media formats, just as there is good and bad in everything. The bottom line though is that it really is in the ears of the beholder. In other words, it is almost all subjective. The problem is that the article in reference does not really address that. Continue reading

Paul Kanter & Grace Slick – Sunfighter

Artist: Paul Kanter & Grace Slick
Genre: Rock
Title: Sunfighter
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:Paul Kantner – vocals, rhythm guitar, Grace Slick – vocals, piano
Jack Traylor – guitar, Jerry Garcia – guitar, Papa John Creach – electric violin, Craig Chaquico – lead guitar, Bill Laudner – vocals, Jack Casady – bass, Spencer Dryden – drums, David Crosby – vocals, Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, Graham Nash – Arp, vocals, Chris Wing – drums, Pat Gleeson – moog, piano, John Vierra – synthesizer, keyboards, Phill Sawyer – sound effects, Peter Kaukonen – guitar, mandolin, Shelley Silverman – drums, Joey Covington – drums, Edwin Hawkins Singers (Edwin Hawkins, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Davis Hawkins, Elaine Kelley, Norma J. King, Barbara Gill, Ruth Wyons, Daphne Henderson, Shirley Miller, Eddie Bayers) – vocals on “Sunfighter”, Steven Schuster – flute, saxophone, horn arrangements, Tower of Power (Greg Adams, Mic Gillette) – horns
Producer:Paul Kanter, Grace Slick
Engineer:Pat Ieraci & Phill Sawyer

Sunfighter is a 1971 album created by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane and judging by the musicians it is basically Jefferson Airplane as nearly all members of the Airplane are involved. The album is the second record released on the Airplane’s own Grunt label, backed by RCA. The album features a picture of their baby daughter, China Wing Kantner on the cover. Many big name Bay Area musicians perform on the album, including members of the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia), Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Graham Nash & David Crosby), and the horn group, Tower of Power. This album was also the first that Jazz guitarist Craig Chaquico performed on; he would become the lead guitarist for Jefferson Starship.

The album originally came with a booklet and I was lucky enough to get a copy of the LP with the booklet still included, an amazing thing seeing that it was a $2 used copy.

The sound of this LP seems to have been recorded at a low-level and guitars seem a bit thin. The record itself is also amazingly thin, like one of those records that used to come in cereal boxes or the kind you sent away for as a kid back in the sixties or something. I don’t know that it has anything to do with the sound though, usually not. That detraction said though the instrumentation and musicianship is top-notch, which is not that surprising considering the fact that Jefferson Airplane consisted of highly skilled musicians and adding the other big names to the list here.
All the songs were written by Paul Kanter and or Grace Slick with the exception of “Titanic”, “Earth Mother ” and “Universal Copernican Mumbles”

Side One:
1. “Silver Spoon” – This strong opener with Jack Cassady’s feed-back bass and Papa John Creach’s electric violin drive, that show cases Grace Slick’s vocals to the hilt. This song has to be considered among some of her best work. Strong lyrics too.
2. “Diana” – This 52 second ditty features Grace’s vocals with acoustic guitar and piano.
3. “Sunfighter” – The obvious title track here features Grace on lead vocals along with the Edwin Hawkins singers. Great instrumentation on this cut.
4. “Titanic” Phill Sawyer – This is one of the songs, if you can call it that, not written by Paul Kanter or Grace Slick. This two and half-minute ride of torture opens with the sound of ocean waves and then goes into a ships warning with synth that runs the entire track and nothing else. A rather unfortunate inclusion on this LP in my opinion.
5. “Look at the Wood” – This great song about a woodworker starts with acoustic guitar and vocals with electric guitar and drums, etc. coming in later. Good song.
6. “When I Was a Boy I Watched the Wolves” – This suspected “filler” song is a bit more interesting with the time change in it.

Side Two
1. “Million” – There is an interesting electric guitar effect in this song, which also includes piano, acoustic guitar and synth. I think it’s a song about the level of awareness that was back in the late sixties and related things. That’s my interpretation of it anyway.
2. “China” – This song is about Paul Kanter and Grace Slick’s daughter, China. It’s kind of a jazz ballad featuring piano, bass and acoustic guitar with drums coming in later. Once again Grace’s vocals are showcased here.
3. “Earth Mother” Jack Traylor – Who didn’t see the one coming? This is a good folk rock song with good lyrics as well about guess what.
4. “Diana 2” – This is just a reprise of the 52 second song from side one.
5. “Universal Copernican Mumbles” Pat Gleeson, John Vierra, Kantner – This is another song like Titanic with piano and Synth and not much better than Titanic either.
6. “Holding Together” – As the longest song on the LP at over 7 minutes, it is ironic that it is not one of the better songs in my opinion.


Silver Spoon:

Rotel CD Players

Rotel CD14
The CD14 design begins with a carefully engineered power supply to ensure separate, ripple-free voltage and current to both digital and analogue circuits.
DIMENSIONS (W × H × D)17″ × 3.8″ × 12.3″
NET WEIGHT 5.9kg (13lbs.)
S/N RATIO (IHF “A” Weighted) >118dB

One of the RCD-1572’s most important features is the Wolfson WM8740 digital filter/stereo digital-to-analog converter processes digital signals up to 24-bits in length at sampling rates from 8 kHz to 192 kHz.

The post-converter analog circuitry benefits from crafting the sounding pathway from the DAC’s internal output to RCA and XLR rear panel connectors that bridge the gap between the RCD-1572 and down-stream components. All circuit components – resistors, capacitors, inductors – are chosen only after their positive contribution to sound quality were quantified and verified qualitatively by extensive listening sessions.

All of these circuits draw on a power supply based on an oversized custom Rotel-designed and precision-manufactured toroidal power transformer that, in turn, feeds precise rectifiers, tight-tolerance voltage regulators, and advanced Slit-Foil low-ESR storage capacitors, all globally sourced to ensure musically accurate operation under even the most demanding conditions.
DIMENSIONS (W × H × D) 17″ × 4″ × 12.6″
NET WEIGHT 6.7kg (15lbs.)
S/N RATIO (IHF “A” Weighted) >118dB