The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Dorian » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:24 pm

I picked up this Analogue Productions release last week and listened to it for the first time over the weekend. I’ve never heard any of these recordings before and haven’t really played anything like this before on my system. All is can say is WOW, incredible sound. It’s like the performers are in the room with me. I think this now must be the highest resolution record in my collection.

So why am I posting about this in the Support forum? The playback of most of these tracks is so incredibly clear and pure, that when there is a passage that isn’t completely clear, it really stands out. On these few passages I hear what sounds like minor distortion and slight harshness in the vocal itself. I’ve read others who’ve said that certain female vocal performances can be a real test for a system, so perhaps it’s just that I’ve never heard these tracks before in my system.

After the first session with this album I actually went back and redid my setup with the SMARTrator and Adjust+ and redid anti-skate using the Soundsmith method. I still hear these occasional imperfections though. The only thing I can think of is that when using the SMARTractor I did choose the Baerwald / Loefgren A IEC curve, as recommended in the SMARTractor manual as most of my records are modern recordings. The manual does however recommend using UNI-DIN if the majority of your records are classical or human voices.

So perhaps I need to use the UNI-DIN alignment? Or perhaps I am just reaching the maximum performance of my 10 inch arm and/or my cart?

Any advice much appreciated as always!

Thanks.
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Brf » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:38 pm

Did you hear the distortions towards the label? If so, the UNI-DIN provide less distortion after the first null point when compared to Lofgren. In addition, the sound artifact may be present in the recording
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Dorian » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:18 pm

Brf wrote:Did you hear the distortions towards the label? If so, the UNI-DIN provide less distortion after the first null point when compared to Lofgren. In addition, the sound artifact may be present in the recording

Yes, towards the label. OK thanks Brf, I guess I should try UNI-DIN. I wonder, though, why UNI-DIN wouldn't be as suitable as Lofgren for modern recordings?
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Kaloman » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:39 pm

I am so glad that I’m not the only one hearing harshness or sibilance. I thought I was going crazy. For me, it’s a few of the tracks, but Nina Simone’s in particular. Not really in her vocals, but during the parts with the piano. It’s crazy how much harshness I’m getting. To the point I cringe when that piano crescendos. I had bought another copy to see if it was a bad pressing, nope. Rechecked VTA, VTF, and everything under the sun. Nope. Finally went to a local record store to have them play it back and they had the same result.

I even posted this question on Analog Planet, hoping that someone including Michael Fremer responded. No response.
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Dorian » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:46 pm

Kaloman wrote:I am so glad that I’m not the only one hearing harshness or sibilance. I thought I was going crazy. For me, it’s a few of the tracks, but Nina Simone’s in particular. Not really in her vocals, but during the parts with the piano. It’s crazy how much harshness I’m getting. To the point I cringe when that piano crescendos. I had bought another copy to see if it was a bad pressing, nope. Rechecked VTA, VTF, and everything under the sun. Nope. Finally went to a local record store to have them play it back and they had the same result.

I even posted this question on Analog Planet, hoping that someone including Michael Fremer responded. No response.

Yes you're right, the Nina Simone track was one where I also heard harshness/glare (don't think any sibilance from memory). It's such a beautiful piece, and so spare, that anything that is slightly off is really noticeable.

Well I'm glad to hear that perhaps it's not an issue with my set up.
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Kaloman » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:52 pm

Dorian wrote:
Kaloman wrote:I am so glad that I’m not the only one hearing harshness or sibilance. I thought I was going crazy. For me, it’s a few of the tracks, but Nina Simone’s in particular. Not really in her vocals, but during the parts with the piano. It’s crazy how much harshness I’m getting. To the point I cringe when that piano crescendos. I had bought another copy to see if it was a bad pressing, nope. Rechecked VTA, VTF, and everything under the sun. Nope. Finally went to a local record store to have them play it back and they had the same result.

I even posted this question on Analog Planet, hoping that someone including Michael Fremer responded. No response.

Yes you're right, the Nina Simone track was one where I also heard harshness/glare (don't think any sibilance from memory). It's such a beautiful piece, and so spare, that anything that is slightly off is really noticeable.

Well I'm glad to hear that perhaps it's not an issue with my set up.


I’m really novice to all the audiophile listening terms, so sibilance was what I thought that sound was defined as. I can’t remember off the top of my head what other tracks had that harshness, but I’m almost certain our pressings would playback the same. I listened to a streaming version of Nina Simone’s track and the piano was super clear and wonderful sounding. Made me sad. Haha

Otherwise, this album is fantastic. I’ve read that a male version is coming out shortly?
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby TCat » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:24 pm

It's kind of surprising that a joint effort between Fremer and Chad Kassem is sourced from digital files, but I believe that in Michael's announcement of the release on Analog Planet, he comes right out and says the lacquers for this issue were cut from digital files. The reason being that using tape wasn't practical because the material came from so many different sources. I wonder if that's part of what you're hearing, the fact that it's vinyl made from digital instead of tape (or, I suppose, more exactly, lacquers cut from digital, which was in turn made from tape).
I recently received my copy of that record, and I agree the sound is quite good. I'm not hearing the distortion you are describing. My cartridge is set up using the metal jig supplied by VPI. It's my understanding that the Stevenson alignment is used by VPI, which gives the lowest inner groove distortion of all the widely accepted alternatives. Could that be what you're hearing?
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Kaloman » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:32 pm

TCat wrote:It's kind of surprising that a joint effort between Fremer and Chad Kassem is sourced from digital files, but I believe that in Michael's announcement of the release on Analog Planet, he comes right out and says the lacquers for this issue were cut from digital files. The reason being that using tape wasn't practical because the material came from so many different sources. I wonder if that's part of what you're hearing, the fact that it's vinyl made from digital instead of tape (or, I suppose, more exactly, lacquers cut from digital, which was in turn made from tape).
I recently received my copy of that record, and I agree the sound is quite good. I'm not hearing the distortion you are describing. My cartridge is set up using the metal jig supplied by VPI. It's my understanding that the Stevenson alignment is used by VPI, which gives the lowest inner groove distortion of all the widely accepted alternatives. Could that be what you're hearing?


I’m not sure if I’m hearing inner groove distortion. Last night I installed a Soundsmith Counter Intuitive and dialed in VTF to 1.6g on my 2M bronze, and leveled out VTA and Azimuth using a Hudson acrylic block, as best I could. Distortion was still there at the exact same spot, sounding exactly the same. At this point I’ve learned to live with it because it’s only apparent on a few tracks, from what I can hear.
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby Dorian » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:26 pm

I broke my cantilever off trying to improve my alignment because of this record!!! *($_@)(#*&%&#(%$^^!

WIll see how it sounds when it gets back from SoundSmith.
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Re: The (Not So) Wonderful Sound of Female Vocals

Postby gene9p » Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:05 pm

sometimes I wish I had my old DUAL and cheapo cartridge..lol

Hope it gets fixed fast and not too costly.
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