Turntable Turnaround: Analog and Digital Coexist

Here of late there has been what some may call a renaissance for the all but extinct turntable, a.k.a., record player. Some are discovering the merits of playing black vinyl discs the size of a small pizza with grooves cut into it with a needle that vaccinates the vinyl with sound patterns. And they play them on a rather large audio component with a rotating platter and an arm with a needle-carrying cartridge attached at one end and an adjustable counterweight at the other.

Actually, turntables may not be as popular as they were prior to the introduction of the compact disc (CD), which met its match with MP3s and smartphones that play them. However, turntables have never become extinct, in fact there is a small, yet very lucrative market for them. Audiophiles have been known to invest sums rivalling the latest Power Ball prize in finding the ultimate turntable to quench their thirst for perfect audio reproduction.

Of course, the sound quality of any audio component is almost purely subjective. Everyone hears differently and has different tastes. Some say analog rules while others shun the slight imperfections inherent in analog recordings. Yet others bask in the aura of MP3s that successfully eliminate overtones, making the bass guitar sound like an impotent piccolo.

At any rate, meeting both the continued and renewed interest in vinyl, Sony is introducing a reference quality turntable. The PS-HX500 is described as the first turntable to combine digital and analog technology within a unique design.  It integrates an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to supports hi-res digital transfers in either native DSD (up to 5.6 MHz) or WAV files (up to 192 KHz/24-bit resolution). Users can digitally store music from vinyl recordings and play them for personal use on virtually any compatible audio device.

An app with exclusive software is included that allows intuitive editing on either PCs or Macs. Users can combine tracks from both sides of an album or multiple tracks can be split and saved. A driver is also provided for recording compatible DSD streams.

Importantly, for the traditional user, the HX500 employs quality analog components associated with reference standard turntables. A straight tone arm designed with the stylus located in the central axis of the arm helps achieve accurate stereo balance. A lightweight, low resonance head shell comes with a moving magnet cartridge and produces three-dimensional sound while ensuring optimum tracking, even on warped records.

Other features include a two speed belt drive system, an aluminum die cast platter, a 5-mm thick rubber mat, and an integrated phono equalizer (phono preamp). The integral phono equalizer eliminates the need for an external preamplifier or having to use an amplifier with a dedicated phono input. Last, but not least, the turntable has a dust cover that’s designed to minimize vibration.

For more information, visit http://www.sony.com

~MD

 

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