SECRETS World of Vinyl

The vinyl record trade has accounted for the only growth of physical media sales in the music industry over the previous few years. In 2018, vinyl and playback component sales are predicted to hover around the $1 billion dollar mark. Quite a comeback for a “dead industry.” How did this happen? What spurred the resurrection?

That’s a raging debate, and one that likely won’t end soon. Some audiophiles swear by the sound quality, others prefer digital. Vinyl enthusiasts state that records can carry more sonic information than a CD: digital listeners will say that much of the information is lost in translation, usually during the mass production process or via playback equipment that can’t translate those details anyway. The difference in convenience is undeniable: records can take over your living space. They are easily damaged, and some are manufactured to more exacting standards than others. Digital files, on the other hand, are so easily transported, and stored, that they barely exist at all, and rarely does one encounter an outright defective compact laser disc. (We hear that they still make those, for some reason.)

Vinyl listeners often speak of an analog “warmth” that is hard to describe. One might gain a similar experience by asking a vintage electronics collector about the value and purpose of tube equipment. They will likely tell you that it sounds “better,” but struggle to tell you what the actual tubes even do. What if a record is produced from digital masters? How warm is that? What if you get your hands on a well-produced, all analog production that was gummed up by a poor pressing process? How do you know where a record was pressed in the first place? How much does it matter? Do some labels offer a higher quality of product than others? If so, which ones? These are some of the mysteries that we try to unravel at Secrets. We endeavor to do the legwork so that our readers can make more informed purchasing decisions (or simply be more informed).

Over the years, SECRETS has reviewed gear that is part of the vinyl world, including turntables, cartridges and phono preamplifiers. And we have published technical articles and editorials. SECRETS World of Vinyl assembles all of the vinyl recording reviews, product reviews and technical articles in one place. On the recording front, we will continue to explore more “pedestrian” or “fun” releases in addition to productions geared towards the more discerning listener and the true audiophile. And we will continue to discuss artwork and extras, availability, historical context, and production trivia. But mostly we will focus on the sound. The glorious details that an analog production can reveal, the depth and breadth of the soundstage, the three dimensionality of the listening experience, and the transparency. We look at reissued recordings and new works spanning many genres and eras. Mostly, we aim to have some fun exploring the vinyl medium, and hopefully discover some new music to enjoy as we go. Thanks for reading!

Review Categories

SECRETS World of Vinyl

Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Turntable Review

Today, I’ll be checking out the RT85 turntable from Canadian upstart Fluance. They have released a barrage of new products over the last few years. Entire ranges of speakers and music systems are now joined by turntables. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a few pieces and have been thoroughly impressed by the sound and build quality of their product, especially for the reasonable prices. How will the new Reference Turntable fare?

Mark Levinson No515 Turntable Review

I just had the good fortune to review a system comprising two cutting-edge Mark Levinson products – the No515 turntable and the No585.5 integrated amp. The No515 was fitted with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC cartridge on its 3D-printed, Gimbaled tonearm. The high torque AC motor drives three belts that provide precise speed control. The deck also has excellent isolation properties and a full set of calibration controls.

VPI Prime Turntable

VPI Prime Signature Turntable Review

The VPI Prime Signature turntable sits atop of their Production Line, and is priced at $6,000 without cartridge ($6,800 in Rosewood). Packing many of the features found in their Reference lineup of turntables, the VPI Prime Signature is a stunning piece of audio equipment both in sonics and aesthetics.