Sunday, January 15, 2012

Something Old, Something New

Technics SL-23, Audio Technica AT440mla
I picked this Technics SL-23 (1976) off of Craigslist for reasonable money and I've been very pleased with it. It is vastly superior, in my opinion, to the SL-B10 I was using temporarily. The SL-B10 has a plastic plinth, straight P Mount arm with an Empire LTD-280 cartridge. The SL-23 is similar only in platter and belt, the rest is quite different. The plinth is a heavier covered particle board stock, with birch type plywood blocks on the underside which hold sprung rubber feet. The knobs and controls have a nice feel and the speed appears to be very stable. The "S" arm looks like decent quality and offers more cartridge options then the prior table. While the SL-B10 might have performed better with a new cartridge, it just didn't look like it was worth doing anything with. (now used for cleaning records).

The seller had an AT70 on it, nothing special really, but it sounded very nice. Already it was better then anything else I've owned, which includes a Project 1.2 (oyster/ortofon), Project Debut III (stock ortofon), Stanton DJ TT (stanton) and the SL-B10 (empire). All of these tables, with the cartridges they had, didn't give me the sound that everyone talks about when it comes to vinyl. The Debut III, was probably the runner up, but with the wobble issue (elsewhere in this blog) it had to go. It worked pretty well with the stock ortofon.

I fell to temptation at a shop I was visiting, and picked up the AT440mla I had heard so much about. The SL-23 with this cartridge sounds absolutely awesome. At it's present pricing, the cartridge is not cheap, but I don't regret buying it, not one bit. Even still, the price of that cartridge plus a decent used table is still going to be less then the price of a new "budget" table with a so-so cart. I can honestly say that not only does the AT440mla provide a great listening experience, it has the ability to track grooves like nothing else I've heard. The only time I seem to get any inner groove distortion, is from an old album that's been played incorrectly and damaged. Other then that, the Micro-Line stylus on this thing goes deeper, often avoiding issues caused by old wear. I've tried a few albums that were at times unlistenable, only to find that this AT will pass the issues by and give a great performance. This is a boon when buying used records.

While I'm not sure where I'll go next for an upgrade on a TT, I do know I'll be making more trips to the local record store.