Cart shootout: NEAT Vertex V70 vs Ortofon MC-3 Turbo

MajorFubar

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Ok here we go, a follow up to the Small Experiment thread where I detailed buying a £3 stylus off eBay for my old NEAT Vertex V70, which was my TD160's original cartridge nearly 45 years ago and cost something like £7.

Here's the result, A-B'd with my regular catridge, the Ortofon MC-3 Turbo, which is a high-output MC that I bought for about £250 some 7-8 years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=902NEmRNQ7I

The song is 'Starman' by David Bowie, from the currently-available 180g pressing of The Rise And Fall...

I think it's obvious which is which, but I have the clear benefit of knowing. Second cart starts around 4:10.

The ONLY post-capture processing was normalising the two files, which is a process that describes increasing the overall volume of the files (as though with a record level control) until the absolute highest peaks in each one hit zero, or in this case, -0.1dB. It does not compress the files, nor volume-match them in any way. No EQ or other processing was added.

Enjoy and feel free to comment.
 

avole

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Probably not as detailed, but an easier listen. That's through the mac speakers, though, whichare assuredly not the best.
 

MajorFubar

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avole said:
...That's through the mac speakers, though, whichare assuredly not the best.

Yeah I think the problem here, in so far as people listening to my recordings on decent speakers, is the majority of turntable enthusiasts won't have a computer or mobile device rigged up to their HiFi through which they can play my YouTube video. So in some respects I've posted to completely the wrong forum.
 

Al ears

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MajorFubar said:
avole said:
...That's through the mac speakers, though, whichare assuredly not the best.

Yeah I think the problem here, in so far as people listening to my recordings on decent speakers, is the majority of turntable enthusiasts won't have a computer or mobile device rigged up to their HiFi through which they can play my YouTube video. So in some respects I've posted to completely the wrong forum.

I'm afraid you could be right. There is no way anyone can make a valid comparison of anything by listening to a Youtube demo.
 
D

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Major, totally off topic but your rips sound amazing *good*. What software do you use to remove the usual noise artefacts associated with vinyl playback. Only asking because I've just started digitizing my small collection and every tool I use to de-click and de-noise has a detrimental affect on the quality of the raw file.
 

MajorFubar

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DougK said:
Major, totally off topic but your rips sound amazing *good*. What software do you use to remove the usual noise artefacts associated with vinyl playback. Only asking because I've just started digitizing my small collection and every tool I use to de-click and de-noise has a detrimental affect on the quality of the raw file.

Tape Out from my Cyrus 2 was connected to the audio input on my Mac Mini. Not the world's greatest sounding ADC by any means but at least it was consistent for both recordings. Audacity was used to record the audio. I didn't use any post-capture processing to remove noise or clicks, what you hear is the raw recording other than for volume normalisation and fading the tracks out at the end, both accomplished with Audacity. For audio clean up I would normally use Adobe Audition.

You never said which recording was the V70 or which you prefer :)
 

Al ears

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MajorFubar said:
Al ears said:
There is no way anyone can make a valid comparison of anything by listening to a Youtube demo.

In absolute terms compared to the actual playback from the LP I agree, but play the YT video through a decent DAC and speakers and the difference in sound between the two is still obvious, because any degradation is at least consistent across both recordings.

Possibly but most people I know simply play YouTube through their phones. Haven't listened myself, which do you feel is best?
 

MajorFubar

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Al ears said:
There is no way anyone can make a valid comparison of anything by listening to a Youtube demo.

In absolute terms compared to the actual playback from the LP I agree, but play the YT video through a decent DAC and speakers and the difference in sound between the two recordings is still obvious, because any degradation is at least consistent across both.
 

MajorFubar

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Al ears said:
which do you feel is best?

i prefer the MC-3. Having played the full album with the V70, it sounds congested and less spacious than the MC-3 during busy tracks such as Suffragette City, which sadly I didn't record prior to swapping over so I can't show you how the MC-3 compared. During quieter tracks vinyl roar is considerably more obvious and overall the whole sound is less refined. Conversely, considering the age difference, price difference and this infamous £3 stylus, it's amazing how favourably it does compare.
 

Al ears

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MajorFubar said:
Al ears said:
which do you feel is best?

i prefer the MC-3. Having played the full album with the V70, it sounds congested and less spacious than the MC-3 during busy tracks such as Suffragette City, which sadly I didn't record prior to swapping over so I can't show you how the MC-3 compared. During quieter tracks vinyl roar is considerably more obvious and overall the whole sound is less refined. Conversely, considering the age difference, price difference and this infamous £3 stylus, it's amazing how favourably it does compare.

Very interesting especially when, as you say, there was quite a price difference between them.
 

MajorFubar

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I was hoping this thread would spawn some interesting debate of A vs B before I revealed which is which. But it seems to have fallen at the first hurdle, where most people either can't be arsed to listen and contribute, and/or they have no means of listening to a YT video through anything better than laptop speakers.
 
D

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MajorFubar said:
Tape Out from my Cyrus 2 was connected to the audio input on my Mac Mini. Not the world's greatest sounding ADC by any means but at least it was consistent for both recordings. Audacity was used to record the audio. I didn't use any post-capture processing to remove noise or clicks, what you hear is the raw recording other than for volume normalisation and fading the tracks out at the end, both accomplished with Audacity. For audio clean up I would normally use Adobe Audition.

You never said which recording was the V70 or which you prefer :)

Okay, my audio memory is worse than a goldfish so I'm really not sure which one sounds better to my old ears as they both have their qualities. What is amazing, considering the price differential between these two carts, is one would have thought that it would be so easy to choose the better/pricier one, not so! Very interesting, and is worthy of debate...

Many thanks for the reply re audio capture, I'm doing the same: Tape Out from amp to Windows PC running Audacity but surface noise is an issue. In Audacity what recording level do you use?
 

Jim_W

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It's not that easy because audio memory is a notoriously difficult thing, but I wanted to have a go, Major. I must confess it's something I'm doing quite a bit of myself atm.

Cart A seems more airy, more air around instruments and more tonally neutral, perhaps a more extended treble too. Bass seems more natural. It's an enjoyable presentation to my ears.

Cart B seems to sound thicker and a tad more congested It also sounds more unnatural, as if the lower frequencies have issues somewhere...maybe a forced/artificial bass. Still reproduces the record well and there really isn't much in it, which, as you say, is remarkable given the cost.

I kept switching between the two and I thought Cart A as the slightly better sound. I could live with either of them and would use the cart I didn't think was best for records in less than pristine condition.

If I have chosen the 'wrong' cart, then just put it down to my hearing.
 

avole

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but not so marked as might be thought. A sounds a touch more detailed although B is by no means bad. Having not heard either cartridge I wouldn't be in a position to say which is which, but, compared to the CD, they both sound a bit bass heavy, more evident on A than B. I listened this time on my Goldring headphones, which aren't brilliant quality but certainly beat the computer speakers.

That said, I had a vague idea when listening the first time round that the speed didn't sound quite right. There was a touch of wow and flutter, but that wasn't the problem. I checked with Wikipedia, and the track is supposed to run for 4:16, while it runs for 4:10 on your versions. I checked this with the CD version - I do have the record, but not with me - and found it to be 4:15. In all cases that's taking the time to the point where the fade out is inaudible.

Whether this is really the case and whether it matters isn't really important, and it's not unusual for some turntables to play deliberately fast, but thought you might be interested to know.
 

Freddy58

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the first sample had a crisper sound, the second sounding a bit 'thicker'. I therefore preferred the first. Not a million miles apart though.
 

Jim_W

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I played my UK RCA , 'Gem Productions'...no mainman credits lp and the bass sounded pretty much like Major's...it is pretty prominently mixed. What did startle me was 'hazy cosmic jive' section which has a sort of phased guitar from 0.52 to 0.56; it sounded recessed, distant and much quieter than my record. It was very noticeable. Maybe it was remixed as the other clear-sounding version on youtube sounds like yours rather than mine. The phased guitar is much louder on my record. Interesting, though.
 

Al ears

Well-known member
MajorFubar said:
I was hoping this thread would spawn some interesting debate of A vs B before I revealed which is which. But it seems to have fallen at the first hurdle, where most people either can't be arsed to listen and contribute, and/or they have no means of listening to a YT video through anything better than laptop speakers.

I will listen when I kick my main PC into action, at least it has some decent desktop speakers. I tend to avoid the 'listen to this' stuff on YT though as it basically all sounds the same through my tablet. ;-)

It's useful for video demos but I wouldn't like to quantify anything sound quality wise that it.
 

MajorFubar

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Thanks for the responses so far. I do realise it's difficult for many because not everybody has a means of listening YouTube videos through a decent replay system.

DougK said:
Many thanks for the reply re audio capture, I'm doing the same: Tape Out from amp to Windows PC running Audacity but surface noise is an issue. In Audacity what recording level do you use?

It was peaking at around -7 dB for cartridge A and -5dB for B, though afterwards I normalised both recordings to -0.1dB. It's strange you should be having such a bad case of surface noise (by which I take it you mean general vinyl 'roar' as opposed to clicks and pops) considering your turntable isn't exactly budget by any stretch of the imagination. You'e right t can be very difficult to remove digitally without leaving other unwanted artifacts.
 

MajorFubar

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avole said:
I had a vague idea when listening the first time round that the speed didn't sound quite right. There was a touch of wow and flutter, but that wasn't the problem. I checked with Wikipedia, and the track is supposed to run for 4:16, while it runs for 4:10 on your versions. I checked this with the CD version - I do have the record, but not with me - and found it to be 4:15. In all cases that's taking the time to the point where the fade out is inaudible.

Whether this is really the case and whether it matters isn't really important, and it's not unusual for some turntables to play deliberately fast, but thought you might be interested to know.

I have checked the deck with a strobe before and you're right it does run ever so slightly fast but not by five seconds; I faded them myself at around 4:10 after making the recordings.
 

MajorFubar

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Jim_W said:
I played my UK RCA , 'Gem Productions'...no mainman credits lp and the bass sounded pretty much like Major's...it is pretty prominently mixed. What did startle me was 'hazy cosmic jive' section which has a sort of phased guitar from 0.52 to 0.56; it sounded recessed, distant and much quieter than my record. It was very noticeable. Maybe it was remixed as the other clear-sounding version on youtube sounds like yours rather than mine. The phased guitar is much louder on my record. Interesting, though.

Yes it's more prominent on my CD version of the album as well, which is the 1999 remaster. There's at least four different remasters of this album that I know of, all of which sound different. Possibly there are more. Just shows that when there are so many different versions of the truth, trying to build a hifi system which has 'accurate sound' is sometimes p*ssing against the wind.
 

MajorFubar

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Just to bring this thread to a close because I'm not expecting anyone else to contribute, Cartridge A was the Ortofon MC-3 Turbo and Cartridge B was the NEAT Vertex V70.
 

avole

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I did wonder about that, given the speed difference is barely detectable unless you compare with a digital source, and even then, it's problematic.

Back to the cartridges, the MC3 comes across more neutral and with more detail. You can hear the extra detail the fine line stylus gives you over the Neat elliptical, but it isn't as marked as I thought.

Al ears, headphones and a tablet are an easy way to get round your problem, which is essentially what I did, albeit with an iphone.
 

MajorFubar

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Freddy58 said:
I have the recent re-release of 'Spiders'. It sounds very good, but it too has that guitar part way in the background. It's not right!

Indeed. I'm not sure which is more like the original, because I don't know anyone with an original 70s copy to compare it against.
 

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