Vinyl Records - 180 Virgin LP Vinyl

TK7SU cartridge in TP-60 plugin Thorens shell
 A couple of years ago I resurrected my TD 165C manual turntable to advance my audio hobby. I quite literally dragged it up from the basement where it sat in a box for thirty plus years. At the time (2-3 years ago) vinyl recordings were starting to make a strong comeback. I guess people were not entirely pleased with the digital recordings of our new age and wanted to go back to the rich sound of vinyl. And yes, there is a difference! I was happy to see my turntable in action after almost thirty years and I was not in the least disappointed. Everything worked to a "T". Well, almost!

Attached to the Thorens TP-60 plug-in shell is an  Audio Technica TK7SU cartridge (the tonearm is a TP-11) which was a very respectable cartridge in its day and what I would consider to be in the medium to high end range. However, I discovered that the my Shibada stylus has a bent shaft. It's not that I didn't know this. I was pretty rough with it at the time and there were a few nights when I had too much to drink and manhandled my records.

Elliptical Stylus replaces original Shibada stylus
The turntable survived and is in remarkably good shape for it's age. A pity that the stylus was damaged because it was not really all that worn but it did not track very well, skipping and jumping grooves as I played my records. The Shibada stylus for the Audio Technica TK7SU is crazy expensive and I could not even consider paying several hundred dollars for the stylus alone but I did manage to find an elliptical stylus which was NOS (New Old Stock) and cost a little over $100 on the net which fits perfectly and sounds great though I had to wait 7 months for the company to get a supply. The stylus is the TKN22 which is a 0.2 mil. x 0.7 mil elliptical diamond bonded to an alloy tube cantilever.

While I was at it I bought a new drive belt as the old one had stretched quite a bit over the years.

Anyway, on to the recordings. To further my interest in audio I will only collect jazz and classical vinyl and as much 180 virgin vinyl as I can afford.

Most might think that 180 vinyl obviously means a better sounding recording. Not necessarily. I have some early Angel,  London and Deutsche Grammophon recordings that were done right at the time and still sound quite fantastic.

Thorens TD 165C
To begin with most LP records are between 120 and 140 Grams in weight. 180 is considered audiophile grade and of course, very desirable.

AT TK7SU doing it's job
Three things factor into a quality 180 vinyl record. First the quality of the recording itself; the miking, the acoustics and the care taken to record the sound in the right environment. Second is the editing and engineering. Once the sound is recorded it is mixed; the dynamics and positioning of the music is carefully manipulated to produce just the right ambiance. The third and final step is the pressing. Again, care must must be taken so that it is done right to ensure that the sonics are perfect or as good as good can be. Naturally the vinyl must have few imperfections (virgin vinyl has few impurities) during the pressing process. But a 180 pressing of something that was not good to begin with is not really going to impress.

Now to pursue recordings that will fit with my collection.

All photos are taken with an Olympus E-330 DSLR with the 50mm high grade F2 lens at between f2 and f5.6, tripod and no flash.

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