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Stereophile reviewer and analog guru Michael Fremer came by the room at RMAF and, of course, brought an LP to listen to. What really caught my attention is he brought a collection of CDR's that were recordings from the output of his turntable setup.

We've discussed this issue at length in these posts but I am reminded once again of just how valuable an insight into the nature of analog vs. digital listening to these digital representations of vinyl are.

Of greatest interest to me and the room full of people lucky enough to hear the demonstration, was a single CD with two tracks on it. On track one the end of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue played on one high end table with a linear tracking arm and cartridge, the second track contained the same passage but played on a pivot arm on another table and a different cartridge. The test was to show that neither track had any noticeable distortion due to the type of arm (some linear tracking advocates claim pivotal arms distort near the end of an album).

Of course no one in the room had any idea which rack was which and Michael asked for a voice vote if anyone could tell a difference in distortion or tracking: none could. But what was fascinating to me was not that we couldn't hear any distortion, proving his point, but that we all could hear such significant differences in sound quality between tables, arms and cartridges - and all through a CD medium. The differences between the two tracks, both recorded through identical electronics, were huge. No one in the room could have missed them and most of us forgot we were listening to a CD.


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Paul McGowan

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