Bill Evans on a Denon DP-2000 Turntable

Monster Cable Alpha 1 Cartridge, missing stylus

The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”

– Alex Gregory, in The New Yorker.

The last integrated amplifier I had that had a phono input was a NAD 3020. I gave it away one of the times that I moved because I had two or three other amps.

I still have a Denon DP-2000 turntable that I got from Kenny sometime in the 1980’s. There’s a Monster Cable Alpha 1 cartridge mounted on the Denon DA-50 tonearm. The Alpha 1 is a low output moving coil cartridge (0.3 mv), so Kenny also bought a SOTA Head Amplifier. Such is the era of my HiFi equipment.

When I thought about setting up the Denon with my NAD 317, I tried to take a closer look at the condition of the stylus of the Apha 1. There wasn’t one. Through years of moving the turntable, even with the tonearm tied down to the arm rest, the stylus had disappeared. (“That’s why we can’t have nice things.”)

Even the idea of low end high end stereo components has lost its interest. I bought an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge. When I attempted to mount it on the Denon headshell, the Ortofon cartridge was too wide. I bought an Ortofon SH-4 headshell.

The NAD 317 doesn’t have a built-in phono stage, so I needed a phono preamplifier. After a little research, I settled on the ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier.

After finally getting everything to work, the sound was a revelation. I have been listening to streaming audio (Google Play, SiriusXM, Spotify) through a Sonos One. The sound always seemed compressed or canned – maybe the electronic processing to get the sound out of that little speaker bothers me. In comparison, the sound out of the NAD, Denon and KEF RDM Two speakers (SP3254) is clear, open and deep.

Though that Alex Gordon New Yorker cartoon is often quoted by cynics and audiophiles, the sonic results do seem to be worth it.

Bill Evans – Montreaux II record album playing on a Denon DP-2000 turntable

Sony MDR-V6 and Sennheiser CX300 Headphones

Sony MDR-V6 Monitor Series Headphones

In the past couple of months, my headphones have failed. The ear pads on my fifteen year-old Sony MDR-V2 headphones began to deteriorate. The wiring connections at the jack and drivers became intermittent. I soldered on a new jack, but it was difficult to get the insulation off the fine gauge wire. I got tired of fixing them and figured I got my money’s worth. My earbuds started having an intermittent connection too.

It was time for new headphones. I’ve been in a few recording studios in the past 30 years, and I often saw Sony MDR-V6 Studio Monitor Series Headphones being used. These fit my budget (~$70 USD) and all those recording studios can’t be wrong. There’s even a Wikipedia entry for the MDR-V6. The headphones are circumaural – they go over your ears. The sound reproduction is accurate.

Sennheiser CX300-B Earbuds

When I ride my bike, I use earbuds, but only in one ear, so I’ll be able to hear the SUV, driven by a person talking on the phone, nearly kill me.

I chose a lower price point for earbuds, since I’m mostly listening to podcasts and the whizzing wind isn’t really conducive to high fidelity. Most of my music is ripped at 192 kbps VBR anyway.

I narrowed it down to the USD ~$30 Sennheiser CX300 in-ear stereo headphones and the USD ~$33 Sony MDR-EX75. I bought the Sennheisers. Hopefully they’re not counterfeit .