With both balanced and single-ended outputs, an almost limitless number of configurations to suit just about any cartridge needs, and an improved input stage for less noise, the Pass Labs XP-17 Phono Preamplifier packs a tremendous offering of features and performance in its $4,300 price tag.
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!