SugarCube Follow up Report

SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Bill Stevenson » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:39 pm

A while back I asked if anyone here had tried a SugarCube yet and the answer was negative. So I bought one and took delivery last week. Labor Day was a washout here in South Florida so I had a lot of time to play with it. For those of you who may have read Mikey Fremer's reviews, he describes this device well as he usually does. The SugarCube works as advertised. That is, it removes ticks, pops and noise on old and worn records, although not always perfectly. I have found that badly damaged records can't be saved, but for many situations it removes the majority of the rice crispies. Very often old noisy records are transformed and have totally silent backgrounds. Does it alter sound? I believe so, very slightly, but for me the trade-off is well worth it. I have cherished records, no longer available, and often used replacements seem hard to find or in some cases prove to be ridiculously expensive. My wife finds me gems in used record bins, but most of the time they are too noisy to be fun to listen to. The SugarCube is the best solution I have found for listening to many old records. To illustrate, I have a fabulous Janis Siegel record that is probably just a bad pressing and is out of print of course. I gave up trying to find a good copy so bought the CD. Disappointing. Just sucks. But now through the SugarCube it is like magic, I mean it really sounds great. I have a fair number of records that are noisy for one reason or another: Some are just old and have been played a lot, others are just bad pressings, some are scratched. If they play, the SugarCube can make them listenable in most cases. In a lot of cases, they can sound indistinguishable from new records. The device is not perfect, however, as there are those records that are damaged beyond salvation, or that are so distorted that they still are un-listenable. Perhaps they were played to death on an old console, or someone set the tracking force too low back when that was fashionable, who knows? But this thing is capable of salvaging a lot of vinyl.

Notes on setup. The SugarCube can be set up in a variety of ways, I put mine in a tape loop on my line stage pre-amp because I have two turntables, a phono preamp, and a step up transformer to switch back and forth between moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. To capture all of that without complication, in my situation the tape loop worked best. For many it could be installed in series between the phono stage and the line stage. Or if you have an integrated with a built in phono stage use a tape loop. Also, even though the SugarCube does not seem to interfere with the music, if the record being played doesn't need it, I like to leave the whole deal completely out of the circuit, which is another argument in favor of using a tape loop if you have one. Finally a word on sensitivity. It is basically not sensitive at all. Set the control at about mid-point and that works for everything. Very easy to use.

Honestly, if you have a lot of records there are bound to be some dogs and cats in the mix. Music Direct offers their standard 60 day return privilege. Only you can decide if the retrieval of lost music in your collection is worth it to you or not. The only downside to this thing is the $2,000.00 entry fee (oh and don't forget you will need two more sets of cables too). For me it is a no-brainer.
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby DeeCee » Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:12 pm

Very nice review! Thanks for the info. Think I'll work on a "scratch it" lottery ticket and see if I can afford one of these units! :lol:
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby madrac » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:27 am

thanks for the review.
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby DeeCee » Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:40 pm

DeeCee wrote:Very nice review! Thanks for the info. Think I'll work on a "scratch it" lottery ticket and see if I can afford one of these units! :lol:

Ironically, I won $15 with scratch it tickets. Now I only need to do it 133 more times... :D
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Mat » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:39 pm

The Sugar Cube has been an interesting topic. I've had a lot of semi strong conversations about this unit with dealers, reviewers, and fellow manufacturers. I heard it at Fremer's house and what got me was being able to listen to the pops you are hearing in the record without the music. Helps paint a better picture of how much dirt gets in the way of you enjoying your actual music. The conversations I have had have told me that people either hate it because it "digitizes the files and ruins everything", love it because it actually works and removes the pops and clicks, or love/hate it because it works but is rather pricey. One dealer told me that the customers who would need the SugarCube the most because they are buying from the $1 bin wouldn't want to pay that kind of money to clean up their $1 record.

All of that being said, I really liked it when it was demoed to me at one of the shows and Fremers basement and I think the ability to upgrade/update it (speaks to the VPI language) is always a major plus! :D
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Bill Stevenson » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:37 pm

What I am learning is that there are new often very expensive records that benefit from the Sugar Cube on occasion. I used to just suck it up if one track was a bit noisy on a favorite record, now I can just click the button and listen without the noise. I think you are right that the dollar bin guys are not candidates for the Sugar Cube. But VPI people are not dollar bin types. I don't think any of us would deliberately put a crap record on our turntables and risk the lord only knows what kind of damage to an expensive stylus, it just doesn't make sense. But let's face it, we all own some records that we like that are less than perfection and I can tell you that it is really a pleasure to be able to listen to them without a lot pops and ticks. I just love the thing. And I also like that when it is not needed it can be completely removed from the circuit. That removes any lingering doubt about the analog to digital thing. And I do hear a very slight difference with it in the circuit, contrary marketing claims notwithstanding. I believe Mikey Fremer did too.
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Golear » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:58 pm

On Michael Fremer's site, there are two recordings. The first one is a noisy LP, and the second is the same LP played through Sugar Cube. The second recording didn't seem to be all that different from the first one. There seemed be slightly less of "constant noise" but there was still a fair bit of snap, crackle and pop happening at random.

Is that what Sugar Cube does?
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Bill Stevenson » Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:22 pm

Yes...But. Please don't think this answer is a cop-out. In my experience the Sugar Cube effectiveness varies depending on the amount and type of noise on each record. It is more effective on some records than others. If you do a search on the web there are several demos in addition to the Fremer ones. To get a better sense of what it does try listening to more of them. As I said in my OP, there are records that are so damaged that there is no advantage, there are other records that seem very noisy, but sound pristine through the SugarCube, and still others where there is still some noise getting through, but they are more listenable. The manufacturer is constantly working on the software to make it better, and updates are frequent and free. Music Direct offers a 60 money back guarantee too, which would allow you to really evaluate if it is worth it to you.
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Golear » Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:18 pm

Thanks. I don't look at your reply as a cop-out.
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Re: SugarCube Follow up Report

Postby Mr_Putty » Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:12 am

Totally agree with Bills insight.
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