Dr. Perry Alexander

The University of Kansas

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Back to the future

Well gang, I’ve decided to move my music discussions back to my blog. Easy enough to link in slack if I want to, but everyone who wants to see can see. I think music is a tell - you can learn quite a bit about someone by understanding their music. I’ve got no problem with people finding me that way. So, here we go again for the nth time trying to bring the music blog back to life.

Lots of gear updates, some major but most minor. My work headphones broke and I decided to get away from open-back headphones. Time to stop annoying everyone around me. I went with Focal Elegea phones. Focal makes some great phones and I found these at a heavy discount. The Elegeas are the previous generation Focals, but still great cans. I must say I prefer the sound of my old Grados just a bit, but the Focals are far more comfortable and closed back. Also come with a great carrying case if I want to take them somewhere. That’s doubtful, but you never know.

Replaced the Rega turntable and custom phono preamp with a Pro-Ject Carbon 3 table and a Parasound phono preamp. The Parasound is fantastic. Quiet and delivers a signal like a champ. Sounds great just great. The Proj-Ject Carbon 3 comes with a Sumiko Moonstone stylus that I’m also enjoying a great deal. The sound is definitely a steo up from my Rega turntable, but I have to be fair and admit I paid for it. I did switch vendors, but I think the sound update is more due to moving up in model rather than the source.

Unfortunately, I have to be honest about the Pro-Ject table. I chose it because the turntable motor is physically and electronically separate from the arm and stylus. This seems a great design. The implementation turns out to be less than great. I started having problems about 6 months after my purchase. The pulley wheel on the motor separated from the drive shaft. Pro-Ject offered to let me buy a new one for $300 or so. Then I learned the pulley wheel is glued onto the shaft. Glued. Not what I expected from a high-end table. However, a drop of superglue seemed to do the trick and I have a functioning motor. However, the motor itself is noisy. Physical noise you get from a cheap motor. Again, not what I expected from a high-end device. Finally, the tone arm lift is somewhat wonky, but that may be due to my setup. I need to recalibrate before I make a judgement about that.

Bottom line is I’m not sure I would buy the Pro-Ject again. Maybe the Carbon 5 is better. The design seems to be, but I had none of these problems with my entry level Rega. (BTW: The Rega is going to my son who spins a ton of vinyl.)